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Feb 13 2012

No. 2 Science Information

“Idleness is the parent of all psychology.”

Nietzsche said it, I believe it, and that settles it!

The gasbag Nietzsche, as you know, was a horse lover. Like many horse lovers, he went nuts trying to save a cart horse from being beaten in the streets of Turin and died, a madman of the first water, 11 years later.

O how I tire of the gasbag Nietzsche and the tragic donkey he rode in on.

I cannot say whether the gasbag Nietzsche, when aphorizing about idleness and the ancestry of psychology, was alluding to brainiacal afflictions of lazy people, or to Psychology itself, that pseudo-discipline purporting to liberate from the tyranny of perpetual mystery the darkest, clammiest secrets of human behavior, but his remark rings kind of semi-true in either case.

To wit: are you a delusional visionary with a drug problem and too much time on your hands? Invent psychoanalysis! Conversely, are you a disaffected 21st century neurotic with an hour to kill and $150 in your pocket? Seal your fate with some psychotherapy! It’s all your mother’s fault!

Psychology, it may be argued, is an affliction of the patriarchally-invested leisure class. How many hunter-gatherers, their waking hours immersed, not in the contemplation of their “issues,” but in the exigency of rudimentary survival, do you suppose suffered from anal retentiveness, penis envy, or “unconscious conflict” arising from kind of potty training mishap?

Psychology is on our last nerve here at Spinster HQ. The mythology! The misogyny! The introspection! The jargon! And omigod, the specialized branches! Omigod, evolutionary psychology! Also known as Dudely Wish-Fulfillment psychology, where No. 3 Scientists claim not merely to know the psychology of cavemen — deduced, apparently, from studying modern chimpanzees because obviously we’re identical in every way — but also to “know” that this imaginary caveman behavior is inexorably “hardwired” in modern humans, causing war, football, femininity, pornography, and dudes like omegapoint7@gmail.com [66.68.95.191] to write on my blog, “You live in Texas eh? I’m going to find you and rape you.”

Given that the whole enterprise threatens the structural integrity of my lobe, I was surprised to catch myself nodding at an article in Psychology Today, which is a humor magazine, concerning the role of readily available internet porn in “rewiring” the dudely brain to manifest a sexual response to “hairless genitals” and concomitantly, prepubescent girls.

The thesis — get ready for the shock of a lifetime — is that “intense stimulation can alter sexual tastes in some brains.” Dudes look at porn, look at porn, look at porn, all the live long day, it’s normal and healthy to jack off on computers, it isn’t hurting anyone, right, but ruh-roh, suddenly they discover that they’re looking at eight-year-old girls and seeing sexholes.

You see, there are these chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, and –

All right, I admit it. It is not altogether sciencesque to identify a phenomenon based solely on a single observer’s sense of her own common sense, but, fuck, it’s just common sense. Of course prolonged exposure to a buttload of pornulated imagery, when persistently rewarded by orgasm, will result in acclimation to the “aesthetic.” Of course jagoffs who jagoff at images of depilated, labiaplastied women are gonna start giving little kids the eye. Phenotypically, there is little to distinguish the genitalia of pornulated women from that of actual children. Little kids = orgasm, dudes! Operant conditioning!

Slap me with a Skinner Box if you must, but dang it, operant conditioning works. At least it’s the basis of all animal training here at Spinster HQ. You reward the desired behavior, the behavior becomes associated with the reward, you add the command, and presto, the command produces the behavior. I have used operant conditioning to train my horse Pearl to play catch, to teach my horse Stanley to distinguish between a blue and a yellow traffic cone, and to make my dog Bert pick up a Frisbee and put it in a laundry basket. Why I don’t train them to do anything worthwhile, like clean out the refrigerator, remains one of the last great cosmic enigmas.

You can operantly condition a simple behavior in any reasonably sentient being in about 15 minutes, but it takes a little finesse. Timing is critical, lest you accidentally select for an undesirable behavior. It was through sloppy timing that I inadvertently taught my horse Stella to bite the crap out of my arm in an effort to make me produce a carrot. Obviously, unfavorable outcomes are possible if you’re not paying attention. So, as stupid as psychology generally sort of is, I gotta say I’m on board with this notion that dudes are using porn, whether inadvertently or not, to self-condition into oblivion any last, lonely vestiges of their aversion to sexing up little girls. Because let’s face it, who is paying less attention to the adverse effects of pornography than dudes who use pornography? Fucking knobs.

_______________________
“Can a donkey be tragic? – To perish beneath a load that one can neither bear nor throw off? This is the case of the [gasbag] philosopher” [and of the feminist]. Fred Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, “Maxim #11.” 1889.

Also, one of you blamers originally hipped me to this Psychology Today article, but my sieve-brain has apparently leaked the fluid containing your identity. Thanks, though, you know who you are!

235 comments

1 ping

  1. yttik

    Speaking of psychology, BDSM, Valentine’s day, and training horses, the “symptoms of romantic love” are getting on my nerves this year. Butterflies in the stomach in every other situation is your body expressing it’s fight or flight response. This is how you feel when you’re about to commit a felony or awaiting a bad lab result. Breaking out in a cold sweat, flip flopping stomach, feeling faint, these are all symptoms of anxiety and terror. Apparently they are also symptoms of meeting the perfect man. I’ve never seen so many “love sick” women on TV in my life.

    I’m sure porn is a part of sexual conditioning, with a negative impact on women and children, but I’m not sure it’s the whole story. Far too many men have always been oriented towards young girls, towards young boys too. Violence and abuse of women probably even predates written history. So I tend to blame the cultural acceptance and encouragement of it, more than sexual conditioning. It’s that chicken and the egg thing, are men simply victims of their porn conditioning or do they deliberately seek out porn themes that have already been instilled in them?

  2. Kathleen

    While this example is rilly depressing, the general principle is one that gives me a lot of hope. every little bit of feminist “operant conditioning” in the world is nudging us toward better behaviors and outcomes. Gets me up in the morning.

  3. Vera

    My dogs would be happy to clean out your refrigerator.

  4. Owly

    I was hassled by my doctor about going to a therapist even though I’ve already been diagnosed with an illness that is due to rebellious chemicals in my brain. I called bullshit on that. I’ll stick to (certain parts of) the internets when I need help “learning to help myself” (vomit).

    Positive reinforcement works wonders with the rest of us as well. Looking foxy? Here’s a carrot for you! Obediently doing what you’re told? Here’s another! Fun feminist carrots are my favorite though, as I was craving them at around age 19. And negative reinforcement, that’s even handier. Not obediently doing what you’re told? Social, economic, and physical consequences! Who says psychology is useless?

    (Not trying to blame anyone for doing what they have to do to get by in this screwed-up world, of course. We all have to get by somehow.)

  5. Yessenia

    My favorite was the doctor that refused to treat my stomach disorder until I got counseling for “bulimia.” I was still living at home, and apparently, my single mom’s inability to afford $150/hour conversations meant I was not new-patient material.

    A gym membership is much cheaper than a therapist, actually makes you feel better, and even gives you useful tools, like strength, to fight off the kinds of dudebrethren that give you the very problems that inspire other people to suggest therapy.

    This is of course why girl and women are heavily propagandized against strength training and subsequently “bulking up.” They’re worried we’ll realize exercise improves our mood and never stop. We might stop being the weaker sex. We might stop having those “ideal” waist to hip ratios when we start building up our upper body and core strength. We might fight back next time! THE HORROR!

  6. EmilyBites

    Oh, come on. Orgasming over and over to the same thing over a period of years is NOT going to make you like that thing more. As though the human brain is PLASTIC, or something. WILD speculation.

    I hurt my eyeballs.

  7. stacey

    No, no, the human brain can’t change. That’s why they never bother updating operating systems, for instance.

  8. Kea

    Duh, obviously the human brain can change. Everyone knows that all women born before 1985 are complete idiots who don’t deserve a decent job anywhere, while women born after 1985 are all smart and educated and they are sooo totally going to be OK and not ever need counselling, you dumb b…

  9. AlienNumber

    Hey, it’s not just bep*nised people who get to see everything as holes after watching shitton of porn, it’s also anybody else who gets to watch shitton of porn! As Natalie Dee brilliantly put it in this little cartoon:

    http://www.nataliedee.com/011812/i-will-never-look-at-a-melon-the-same.jpg

  10. otoc

    Yeah, no shit. And no duh. (Not directed at anyone in particular.) Neuroplasticity is one of those things I thought everyone knew about. I guess a lot of people think humans are above Pavlovian responses.

    **Trigger Warning**
    There was a case not that long ago of a guy who murdered his neighbor in the UK in the exact manner of the porn he watched right before, or was it right after, or was it all the time? I don’t want to get into details but it was pretty specific. Don’t worry, her father came out publicly and said the porn couldn’t have had anything to do with it. End of discussion, everyone can relax.

  11. EmilyBites

    I think you mean Vincent Tabak, otoc.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/28/vincent-tabak-porn-searches-jury

    That Graun article is maddening though.

    It seems odd that Tabak went from being a viewer of pornography and, possibly, a user of prostitutes to a killer in one leap. Tabak has no criminal record and said in the witness box that he had never been in a police station before his arrest. He steadfastly denied he had got a sexual thrill out of killing Yeates or being aroused when he strangled her.

    Most of the mysteries that captivated the public at the time of Yeates’s disappearance – the missing pizza and the sock missing from Yeates’s body when it was found – have been resolved. Tabak says he threw them in the bin and did not eat the pizza. The central puzzle – exactly why he acted as he did – remains the biggest mystery of all.

    Gosh, what a…mystery.

  12. stacey

    I mean, mainstream society has heard about “desensitization,” right? All those studies of the 70s and 80s, violence on TV, porn, advertising… RIGHT? I know they’ve heard of it. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, and I don’t mean that in an ableist way.

    Violent video games beget violent youth. Violent porn begets violent sex. Why do they think it doesn’t apply to them? AAAAAGH.

    [Lobe blown, for about the third time today. Must go outside and recharge.]

  13. otoc

    Yes, Tabak is the one. It’s just impossible to understand.

    Am I the only one who doesn’t remember gang-rape being a thing 10+ years ago? I don’t remember hearing about it at all until after gang-bang porn became popular, then gang-rape started showing up in the news all over the place. I’m sure there’s no connection.

  14. Celeste

    Also problematic is the oft-heard suggestion to “consider counseling” when one expresses repeated negative or troubling thoughts. This suggestion is thrown around in seemingly progressive spaces, somewhat overlooking the huge economic privilege necessary for these services.

    Although sometimes these thoughts can be countered with a sharp blast of physical activity: strength training as suggested by Yessenia, or cultivating a garden (in my experience).

  15. yttik

    “but, fuck, it’s just common sense.”

    Maybe not. Desensitization and self conditioning just doesn’t explain everything.

    We do this with many male perps. If you batter your wife, you just need anger management so you will be reprogrammed. If a cop kicks somebody in the head and calls him racial slurs, he just needs diversity training so he will reprogrammed. If you molest kids and rape women, it must be all the porn you’ve self conditioned yourself to.

    Gawd, I’m going to sound like a right winger, but whatever happened to personal responsibility? Are human men really unable to control their sexual urges? Is it possible that the explanation is actually simple, that men do these things because they believe it is acceptable and they think they can get away with it? Is it possible that they create the porn, view the porn, to validate and legitimize their own behavior?

    You know what the psychological explanation for a woman who does bad things is? She’s an evil bitch who hates men.

  16. Sylvie

    Nietzsche and that fecker of an annoying phrase/word, hard-wired, in one post. Lo and behold. Hi otoc – gang rape – if not as old Adam – at least as old as Cain and Abel.

  17. margin-dwelling mammal

    I remember reading about studies eons ago that shockingly – shockingly! – found that porn users were less satisfied with their sex lives and partners’ bodies after being chronically exposed to VS model look-a-likes performing sexual circus acts. I didn’t need science to tell me that, but it was refreshingly validating.

    If I pored over foodie sites daily that featured a gallery of mouth-wateringly sinful desserts, I would probably cry a little into my pedestrian mug of Swiss Miss. It should be common sense that you don’t fight temptation by rubbing your nose in it repeatedly.

  18. Alie

    What about that ever-so-lovely empowering show Sex and The City? I remember gals losing their shit clambering over each other trying to book waxer appointments to make sure their labia looked pre-pubescent, lest men think they’re gross, smelly, and not porny enough. Lard help me, I fell for it too, until I decided there was nothing wrong with my genitals in the first fucking place, just with the men that I let look at them.

  19. Framboise

    On the topic of anti-feminist Psychology: So I can no longer find the original article I read on this and am therefore no longer sure if it is bull-shit or not (any blamers who know better please advise, because hell if this doesn’t make more sense than anything Freud actually claimed), but I once read that prior to inventing his psycho-sexual stages of development bullshit Freud believed (because it was what his patients actually told him) that the women he was treating suffered not from some weird penis envy crap but because they had been sexually abused by men in their family as children. He was going to publish these finding when it was pointed out to him that he was treating the daughters of the wealthiest, whitest, most middle-class men in Vienna. Obviously, that sort of man doesn’t sexually abuse his daughter (or niece, or wevs), that’s just crazy talk. Obviously the women were just lying whores who were mis-remembering freaky sex fantasies with their dad’s because penis envy.
    Basically the upshot was that psychoanalysis was invented to cover up the abuse of women by privileged dudes. I know, you’re shocked right.

  20. Cyberwulf

    This is of course why girl and women are heavily propagandized against strength training and subsequently “bulking up.”

    It’s especially ridiculous because girls and women don’t “bulk up” the way men do unless they take steroids.

  21. Mujerylegs

    I second (really third) the inanity of the “got counseling?” response to negative emotions and experiences. As if when you are physically ill, you must treat the emotional/psychological diagnoses of exclusion before getting to the real problem. Or when you are wounded by patriarchy, you must wallow in your individual victimhood before addressing societal-level injustice.

    Would bet women get this a lot more than men; and racial minorities more than whites, too.

    On topic for once, speaking of the idiocy of evolutionary psych, I hope you have read Susan Schorn’s McSweeney’s column and met her. She is in Austin, and has written an awesome take-down of Dudely Pseudoscientific Idiocy (aka evolutionary psych). Le voila: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/column-26-below-the-belt.

  22. Judith

    So, a couple of weeks ago, the Huffington Post (sorry, I have to read something) published this article:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-engelhart/jimmy-wales-wikipedia-vulva_b_1221760.html, entitled, ‘Why Jimmy Wales Allows “Vulva” on Wikipedia”, which turned out, to my surprise, to be mostly about Muhammed cartoons.

    In fact, the only sentence about vulvas in the article was:

    “Similar debates are taking place around the world. In 2010, one kicked off in Germany, after Wikipedia.de published an entry on “Vulva” (complete with in-between-the-legs photographs) on its main site.”

    In the interests of research, I looked up vulva in Wikipedia, and found not one photograph, but twenty. Sixteen of them were hairless, seventeen were mostly so.

    Who needs to look for kiddie porn? Just look up dirty words in the encyclopedia as kids have been doing since encyclopedias were invented.

  23. Mujerylegs

    Not that this solves anything, but I think making a violent threat over the Internets is probably a crime? So you could provide that IP address, comment, and email address to the popo, who could pay a visit to your little friend.

    Haven’t read this carefully, but probably that was illegal under Texas law: http://www.haltabuse.org/resources/laws/texas.shtml.

  24. otoc

    Hi Sylvie, my question is whether it has become more common after GB porn. I was born in the 80′s and do not remember being aware of GR until roughly about 2003. Does anyone born in the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s remember GR being common in the news growing up? It’s possible I am imagining the change, and it was common but I just wasn’t aware.

  25. qvaken

    Well, I already made my feelings on the whole “I’m really struggling” “well you should really get counselling” thing clear a few articles ago. I’m sorry, just- If it’s not in your blood, then it’s in your surroundings. Make your surroundings get counselling! They’re the ones who are messed up!

    Porn is dangerous. I’m only just realising that now. I’ve been looking up a lot of adverts for a little project that I’m working on, and the images of immaculate women, sexualised women, sexualised couples and women’s body parts… Well, I wish that I could report that I’m just beyond that and they’re not at all sexually triggering for me. I’m just getting onto the ones where they sexualise children, and thank goodness that my worst problem is feeling guilty because “But kids have so much fun dressing up as though they’re older! But this is making them sexual for some creepy older person’s fantasy! But they have fun! But…!”

    I can’t help but wonder about this oft-thrust-in-our-faces image where the skin on women’s faces is immaculate and porcelain-like and that’s what’s “beautiful”. We’re all like that up until we hit 12 or 13 and get our first pimples, right?

  26. tinfoil hattie

    Therapy saved my life. Made me not kill myself. Led me to a brilliant woman with whom I partner in trying to alter my brain chemistry for the better. Therapy injected sanity, reasonableness, validation, and safety into my life.

    So “Psychology is bad!” is a sentiment with which I never will agree.

  27. Lidon

    It’s especially ridiculous because girls and women don’t “bulk up” the way men do unless they take steroids.

    Well yeah they probably won’t look like juice pigs, but I have seen women get considerably more muscular, and larger, from working out. It depends on the body type. I remember seeing some ad on TV for some workout device and all of the women advertising how great it was were very thin and lean (of course). Not all women (myself included) get little and lean when working out; we get bulkier. Heaven forbid!

  28. Kea

    tinfoil, psychology pretty much hinges on the existence of enlightened counsellors who have insights that one may have missed about one’s life. For many of us, it is highly unlikely that such people exist.

  29. Hattie

    I’ve never seen a blue traffic cone. Is that a Texas thing? Our traffic cones are all orange and slender.

  30. quixote

    The commenter who linked to the Psych article was polarcloud in the ever-lengthening beedeeessemm thread.

  31. Saurs

    otoc, eschewing the polite, more sanitized alternatives–”molested,” “assaulted,” “interfered with”–in favor of calling rape, sexual torture, and actual molestation (kiddy diddling) what they are isn’t even standard practice in English language journalism right now, it seems, which is I think what you’re talking about: the reporting of incidences rather than the incidents themselves*. At a certain point the justification for this obfuscation transitioned from potentially offending one’s delicate female readers with frank talk about sex** (rape just being a kind of sex act, bogstandard treatment for bad women but inappropriate and, indeed, a crime worse than death against Ladies, forever tainting their purity and ruining their souls or whatever) to potentially offending one’s male readers by possibly lending credence to the testimony of mere women or children. Now every rape is an unspecified assault and every assault alleged, lest the journalist be guilty of the terrible crime of objectively reporting criminal charges or investigations into potential crimes.

    *Gang rape has always been the favored morale-booster for military units abroad, as disgusting as that sounds. A method of bigging one another up, proving onesself to your fellow fellows, and exhausting one’s supposed ever-increasing supply of testosterone and pent-up rage, fear, and confusion. In less, erm, enlightened times? ‘Twasn’t even considered a crime of war, but rather a triumph to be won so long as it was won fair and square and a reward sometimes proferred to units for performing especially daunting duties, like killing other adult male soldiers.

    **EG this bit from Brand’s Suddenly at His Residence (1947) — “Back among the family, Ellen and Claire were united for a moment in a paroxysm of hysterical giggling because ‘interfered’ always made them think of newspaper accounts of girls who were found stabbed, strangled, mutilated, and naked, but not, the paper solemnly informed its readers, ‘interfered with’…”

  32. Saurs

    (Should probably note that the Ellen and Claire referenced above are giggling not because rape is jolly but because their cousin is being cross-examined by a fastidious bewigged type who wants to know whether she “interfered with” a glass that could have contained the poison that could have killed her grandfather, whose will is in question, et cetera et cetera et cetera I have terrible taste in books et cetera.)

  33. qvaken

    @tinfoil: I’m actually for the practise of Psychology. The whole point of seeing a Psychologist for me, was to have a fortnightly appointment where I was told how non-crazy I was, in a world that insisted that I was crazy for not doing what they wanted me to do, or for struggling when things got tough. I think that it’s good for people to know that the service is available to them, and what it’s for, in case they want to try it out.

    What bothers me, though, is that laymen view counsellors and psychologists as the doctors that you go to for a tweaking when you’re mentally defective. The nastier people will explain just how defective you are and always have been, and demand that you go to a professional to get yourself fixed because you’re troublesome for everybody around you. The well-intentioned people will explain that they or someone they know has been there, and the stuff that you need to talk about isn’t appropriate to talk to friends about and it’s only appropriate to tell it to a professional, and you don’t realise how much counselling can help, and I heard you the first time when you said that that’s not what you want to do at this stage but I’m not sure that you’ve really thought this decision through and maybe if I talk at you for a long time then you’ll come around…

  34. Kea

    The nastier people will explain just how defective you are and always have been, and demand that you go to a professional to get yourself fixed because you’re troublesome for everybody around you.

    Actually, the nastiest people will say this to others, behind your back, and then pretty much ignore you.

  35. polarcontrol

    Psychology can also be utilised in the struggle against psychology! For instance, feminist psychoanalytical theory undermines the biological determinism of evolutionary psychology; see Nancy Chodorow: “The Reproduction of Mothering”

    (Even though the book is problematic in many ways, Chodorow’s argument is not “cultural essentialism”. It attempts to explain some seemingly everlasting patterns in gender relations by the early development of the psyche, in relation to culture..)

  36. Hari

    tinfoil hattie: “So “Psychology is bad!” is a sentiment with which I never will agree.”

    Thanks for this.

    That said, it is extremely difficult to find a good therapist, one who is not playing guru while hiding (and hiding from) their own issues, and/or getting off on boundary violating/controlling their clients. And there are such a crapload of idiotic psych theories and therapy modes out there.

    Best therapist-moment ever: the middle aged womyn working at the local battered womyn’s shelter, who gave a great big lovely belly laugh when I told her about my hand-drawn “Boycott Deadbeat Dads” posters which I posted prominently where the abuser hung out. And told me how much she wished other abused womyn would find and use their righteous outrage to get free–for their own sake, and also because men might think twice about abusing womyn if they knew their abuse could well go public. This was the opposite of most people’s reactions which were more along the lines of “OMG, Hari, you just can’t DO that! You are TOO angry!!!” Unfortunately, we had only a couple sessions because she was leaving the work due to burn out. But yeah, tinfoil hattie, she kept me going at a time when I really wasn’t sure I could.

    Worst therapy moment, soon after the best: another middle aged womyn, very high on her guru pedestal, who first asked me what I wanted from therapy, then when I told her, she waved it away (cuz obviously poor sick me couldn’t possibly know what I needed). And said “We need to work on your anger”. Nope, sorry, no wish here for pyschological castration and btw, it’s not your job to tell me what I need from therapy. No need to schedule another appt, thanks anyway.

    Patriarchy is the reason anyone might need therapy in the first place. Wonder when anyone will stop to consider the huge numbers of people on meds/in therapy, and finally decide it’s NOT because people are so naturally fucked up, but because we have a vast social problem that is fucking too many people up? Yeah, I know, that’s asking a lot.

  37. Katherine

    Isn’t psychology just like many of the other *ologies? Ie capable of producing interesting simulacra of truth, but incredibly dependent on the interpretation and use of the practioner? Hence why a feminist psychologist, say, has a lower chance of being a patriarchal choad than, say, a Freudian psychologist.

    Any literature recommendations from those in the know?

  38. Lovepug

    A fun link (no, really) where a Nietzchze quote is randomly combined with a Family Circus comic. Suddenly, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ become visionaries:

    http://www.losanjealous.com/nfc/

    And pugs require waaaaaay more than 15 minutes of operant conditioning. A week at least. I think Border Collies need about a minute and a half.

  39. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    The drugs that adjust my brain chemistry keep me from having brief, disastrous affairs with sharp objects. The first 25 years of my life were spent with a person who told me I was a) crazy, or b) stupid on a daily basis. It has taken me another 25 years to determine that I am neither. Every time my primary care guy asks me delicately if I want to “talk with someone”, I say no.

  40. Marcie

    @yttik:
    “Gawd, I’m going to sound like a right winger, but whatever happened to personal responsibility?”
    I guess it’s earier to just blame away.

  41. Twisty

    So “Psychology is bad!” is a sentiment with which I never will agree.

    As always, there are exceptions to every Savage Death Pronouncement. For every happy ending there’s some bullshit quack situation. I know people who have been in therapy literally for years and are at least as messed up now as they were when they started.

  42. Keri

    Psychology is chock full of hilarity indeed. On this issue of dudes and exposure to shaven pie, I envision a nice Clockwork Orange treatment that would recondition them to become ill at the sight of prepubescent parts and thus, stay the hell away from them.

    I have to admit though that I very recently started seeing someone for PTSD. She is a forensic psychologist who specializes in effed up dudes though and is giving me some decent coping techniques. It’s more like talking to an insightful gal in a comfy chair than feeling like I am getting psychologized.

    Seems like everyone in western society would fit somewhere in the DSM-IV (manual for psychological conditions). One of them has be: born female, because ya know, that’s just fucked up.

  43. Twisty

    I’m going to sound like a right winger, but whatever happened to personal responsibility?

    Yikes, I’m not saying dudes can’t help it. Quite the opposite. Porn use is a voluntary behavior. Porn-using knobs can stop using porn and in fact do have a personal responsibility to stop using porn. If not because it makes them drool over children, then because it degrades and oppresses all women.

  44. Ginjoint

    Tinfoil hattie, thanks for always being brave enough for those of us who are not brave enough. Thanks.

  45. Slackajawea

    I think it’s time Psychology Today just went ahead and changed its name to Psychology of Porn Today to more accurately reflect its content/obsession. It seems like every single month PT is documenting another harmful aspect of porn without ever questioning its omnipresence in dudely lives. In the PT world, porn is inevitable, like winter, and viewing it is also inevitable. Never is the suggestion made that perhaps pornsick dudes could turn their attention to something less noxious. Humor magazine indeed.

    My own experiences with therapists has been less than warm and fuzzy. One sent me to an inappropriate 12 step program and another one set me up with her son. After that I quit trying. I think there might be some genuinely helpful people out there, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

  46. Embee

    Are human men really unable to control their sexual urges? – Nope, they can, they just don’t.

    Is it possible that the explanation is actually simple, that men do these things because they believe it is acceptable and they think they can get away with it? – They don’t think it is acceptable (they wouldn’t let it happen to them), but they do know they are likely to get away with it, which is enough to justify the action.

    Is it possible that they create the porn, view the porn, to validate and legitimize their own behavior? – I don’t give them that much credit. They create and view it for the same reason they do anything else: it feels good to them.

  47. JR

    I’m continually amazed at how the entire history of psychology/psychiatry is one of abusing women and other disempowered groups (look up Bedlam, Nellie Bly, Dorothea Dix, ice water baths, electroshock “treatment”, lobotomies, straitjackets, and forced medication) yet in spite of the fact that these abuses are ongoing, we are encouraged to think of those as “the bad old days” and be assured that now it is all a nice touchy feely profession that is really just there to help us, not to force us all into social conformity – or else.

    My very last therapist gently scolded me “What about the men?” when I was expressing frustration about some particularly galling bit of misogyny, and asked me why I kept “putting myself” into a position where others would use me as a scapegoat – what I was “getting out of it” that I “needed to be there”. That’s a classic feature of psychology – believing that the scapegoat is responsible for being scapegoated, believing they are fulfilling some deeply unmet psychological need by “letting” others bully them. Blaming the victim, in other words.

    Psychology is a tool of the Patriarchy.

  48. Hari

    It is indeed very hard to find a therapist who is NOT using therapy as a tool of patriarchy.

  49. yttik

    “then because it degrades and oppresses all women.”

    “It” doesn’t, MEN do. What bothers me about psychology is we’re (the culture at large) always looking for an outside explanation for male behavior. Brain plasticity, porn, the way your mother raised you. The excuses and analysis the culture puts forth to excuse male behavior is just staggering. Women also internalize these messages, so “he just hits me because he had a troubled relationship with his parents” or “he’s just attracted to children because he spent too much time watching porn.”

    Reading that article, one of the men talked about how his wife had just had a baby and what a feminist she was and the stress of parenting and how he had sought out porn to “give her a break” and to engage in some “harmless fun.” What does that really mean? I was no longer the center of the universe and felt deprived of my entitled right to dominate and control my woman, so I went looking for that in internet porn. So the porn itself didn’t make him a knob, the culture that taught him to believe he was entitled to have dominion over women and kids, made him a knob. The porn was simply how he expressed and validated what he was already feeling. Then the guy has the nerve to blame the porn! As if “IT” was what made him start looking at children as things, as sexual objects. More likely he was resentful of the baby that had usurped his authority. What do men do to cure uppity women and kids? Demote them to sex objects. “Sex” for many men, isn’t even about sex, it’s about domination and control.

  50. Wandering Uterus

    Interesting how the P says ads can change behavior but porn can’t. People often see the same ads over and over again, and sometimes emulate the depicted behavior by purchasing the product and using it. The P is willing to acknowledge an impact of advertising, but won’t admit that this imitative phenomenon works for sexual behaviors also.

  51. Hari

    The logic can be found by following the money, Wandering Uterus.

  52. JR

    I actually see a large number of people who claim to be unaffected by advertising, because they are intellectually above all of that.

    There’s a sort of bait-n-switch tactic I see a lot of liberals using in their pro-porn arguments, with them slipping it in alongside a whole list of things that they claim the religious right are against (and if the religious right is against it, well then of course it then follows it is a Good Thing and you must be heartily in favor of it, because everyone who is a part of the religious right is 100% wrong 100% of the time). The argument is framed thus: “Think abortion is wrong? Don’t have one. Think gay marriage is wrong? Don’t have one. Think porn is wrong? Don’t watch it. Since these things aren’t hurting anyone else you just have to refrain from doing them yourself!”

    The kind of privileged blindness you have to maintain to believe that no one is hurt by porn, that it isn’t a systematic degrading of its “employees”, is nothing short of amazing.

  53. Saurs

    Awesome blaming, yttik.

  54. Darragh Murphy

    Number 1 Rule for links to articles about Number 2 Science storied: Don’t read the ever loving comments. Ack!

    Great blamin’ yttik.

  55. Kali

    “It” doesn’t, MEN do.

    It does and men do too. What I believe is that typical male sexuality is sociopathic to begin with. That is why they create the porn that they do. Porn doesn’t fall out of the sky on men, men create it. Then, porn use further reinforces and aggravates the sociopathic sexuality through pavlovian association between sexual reward and torture of women and children. With each iteration, men eagerly follow their basest instincts into deeper and deeper sociopathy – because they can do so without suffering negative consequences and because they get off on it, because the primary victims are women and children who do not have the power to stop it.

  56. otoc

    Men were once boys. Boys now grow up watching absurd amounts of porn. It’s not like we’re dropped out of the sky and then raise ourselves in a vacuum. We are affected by what’s around us, in our family, in our culture, what we see, what we’re taught, our experiences. Boys are taught that they are better than girls, that girls and women are weird and inferior, and they choose to believe that and not question it. They hold tight to it because it makes them feel good. Then it is solidified in the extreme in the assbackwards teenage years when girls become solely for sex (Aha! This is why those stupid things exist!). Then as men they perpetuate the same ideas using their positions of relative power.

    Hate is both a choice and is taught. It’s both. We teach it to boys, then are “confused” when we find it in men. I don’t believe hate for women comes with male DNA.

  57. quixote

    JR, “therapist … asked me why I kept “putting myself” into a position where others would use me as a scapegoat”

    Reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon of two ducks floating in pond surrounded by reeds. The one duck is saying to the other duck (from memory, approximate), “Why are you inviting all this hunting into your life?”

  58. EmilyBites

    What I believe is that typical male sexuality is sociopathic to begin with

    Really? Yikes.

    yttik, I think that individualistic analysis is also wrongly applied to women with psychological problems – there’s always an external ‘reason’ why they’re angry, depressed or needing therapy, usually their own failure, rather than a lifetime of living under the boot of the P.

  59. Kali

    Boys are taught that they are better than girls, that girls and women are weird and inferior.

    Who teaches boys this and why? We can blame the culture but who created this culture and why? If misogyny is not in the male DNA, where and how did it originate?

  60. otoc

    As I said, men and the system teach boys to hate. Men created the culture because it gives them power. They perpetuate it because they like it.

    If hate was in DNA all German people would be anti-semites. No, see, Hitler had something to do with that whole Holocaust thing, with his intense speeches and the crowds, the hysteria, overloading peoples’ reasoning capabilities and higher brain functions. Hating Jewish people may not have originated with him, but he convinced a lot of people to hate them, and to an extreme degree, who might not have otherwise.

    My opinion is that hate is an idea that some people are more susceptible to than others, whether because of experiences or lack of them, or possibly some kind of physiological explanation. But we see that it has to be taught. We have seen, again and again, that kids can be taught to hate or taught to have empathy and get along with others. It’s rare that you find someone who was taught to sympathize and empathize with the Other (that the Other is the same as they are) as a kid who then grows up and says, oh fuck that, I’m just going to hate.

  61. JR

    Ah, Quixote, I will have to see if I can find that cartoon. I will need to blow it up, print it out, and tape it to my fridge. Thanks!

  62. JR

    And I found it! The power of Google image search is strong!

  63. Hari

    Boys are taught they are better than girls–while girls are concurrently taught that they are inferior to boys. Boys are taught to be masculine, girls, feminine. It’s a system of culture bound to result in some fucked up people, because no one is allowed to grow up free to be themselves, in an atmosphere that loves all and privileges none over others. Simply put.

  64. Framboise

    “Porn doesn’t fall out of the sky on men, men create it. ”

    I read an article on Slate basically claiming that Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner, and the other granddaddies of modern porn were all individually just virulent misogynists and if only some other dudes had created the modern porn industry we wouldn’t see so much creepy woman-hating stuff in porn. So, men are not responsible for creating awful porn, a couple of men are. It not so much systemic oppression as triumvarate oppression. It apparently did not occur to the author that perhaps one needs to be a virulent misogynist to devote ones life to turning women into sex objects for male gratification, or that the fact that men continue to view and enjoy such awfulness is proof that they may not consider it all that awful. Obviously there is no suggestion within the article that viewing horrific pornography makes men more likely to enjoy doing horrific things to actual women.

    I won’t in-link the article to this blog, but for anyone who is interested it is on Slate and titled “If Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner, and Bob Guccione hadn’t had personal issues with women, would today’s porn be less awful?” and is in the section “Lady Problems” (no, really).

  65. yttik

    I think that Psychology Today article also got on my nerves because it’s so male centered and selfish. Should you avoid porn because it objectifies and oppresses women? Nope, that wasn’t even mentioned. One guy started looking at other dude’s crotches. Porn can make men gay! Another guy was sexually attracted to kids. Porn can make men go to jail!

    I think that if you pointed out to these guys that porn was wrong because it hurts women and women don’t deserve to be treated with such hatred, they’d look at you blankly and say, “huh? Who?” Once again, women aren’t even part of the equation, the possibility that they might be full human beings entitled to human rights doesn’t even enter the picture. Porn is only dangerous because sometimes it harms men.

  66. Kali

    As I said, men and the system teach boys to hate. Men created the culture because it gives them power. They perpetuate it because they like it. If hate was in DNA all German people would be anti-semites.

    If it is only a few individual deviants in history generating mass hatred, how is it that there has been no known period in human history where women have hated men while men have expressed their hatred of women for all of known human history? What is it in men that makes them susceptible to hatred – and objectification, I might add, because hate alone doesn’t lead to oppression. I hate men plenty for what they do to women and girls, but I would never oppress or harm a man. I would never get off on violent and degrading porn that tortures anyone. Why do men get off on porn. How and why do they transition from “women and girls are inferior” to “torturing and degrading women and girls is sexy fun.” Now, I’ve been taught all my life by society that animals are inferior to humans, but somehow that doesn’t make me get off on torturing and degrading animals.

  67. echristensen

    Sorry to derail the topic a bit but to those who question the prevalence of gang rape before porn of it? I can’t say anything about the mainstream white culture but in the black community back in the 60s-70s gang rape was called a ‘train’ and these occurences were not as infrequent as any of us would have liked. Take from this what you will about prevalence, occurences, whatever, there is an inclination as a PoC to assume that it only began to show up in the common media as a problem when it was damaging to white people. Sorry to show my reverse-bigotry, IBTP.

  68. margin-dwelling mammal

    Why do men get off on porn.

    It’s easy to overlook on a radical feminist blog because there aren’t any porn users among us, but take into consideration that the number of women getting off on porn has increased dramatically over the past decade. Porny content is a regular feature on many women-run blogs these days, and of course it’s replete with misogynistic content. So now we have legions of women getting off to images of their sex’s degradation on a regular basis, and surely you aren’t going to tell me that it’s encoded into female DNA to hate ourselves.

    Who teaches boys this and why? We can blame the culture but who created this culture and why? If misogyny is not in the male DNA, where and how did it originate?

    Where did racism originate? Where did classism originate? Where did ableism originate? What if humans are born with a hierarchal instinct, in much the same way the rest of the animal kingdom is, and if we aren’t presented with a realistically achieveable means of rising to the top of our social hierarchy, or if we aren’t made to feel that our hierarchal niche has value within the system, we reflexively create abstract hierarchies in the mind where we can reign supreme. Maybe the problem isn’t an inborn hatred of anyone, but rather the glorification of the hierarchal instinct.

    And that’s not to say men aren’t naturally predisposed to be at least somewhat sociopathic, because the vast majority of psychopaths are men, we know that for a fact, but we also know that psychopathy requires a social trigger. The potential is inborn, but the disease itself is not. I can’t help but think misogyny also requires a social trigger.

    But who really knows. Anyway, biological scapegoats aren’t a satisfactory explanation because they can be transcended by any reasonably intelligent human being.

  69. Logoskaieros

    I now want to find situations in life where I can say “Well slap me with a Skinner box.”

    Also, ““intense [repeated] stimulation can alter [...] tastes in some brains.” describes a whole lot of the living and breathing business.

  70. Kea

    JR, the modern guru type believes in blaming the victim also because they follow a dogma of karma and the creator within, whereby one creates everything in the world about Oneself; interpret that as you will. Their arrogance comes from failing to understand the most fundamental lesson of such theology: granting others the same respect and power. In the end it’s not that different to fascist politics, whereby one’s worth is proven by obedience. There is no point trying to explain anything to someone who thinks they are that superior to you.

  71. Bushfire

    “It’s easy to overlook on a radical feminist blog because there aren’t any porn users among us, but take into consideration that the number of women getting off on porn has increased dramatically over the past decade.”

    True. I used to use porn and get off on it. Then I discovered feminism. I think women can overlook the obvious degradation in porn because we’re taught to think that it’s natural to abuse women so we don’t even see it when looking at it. Also, it’s easy for people in our culture to dehumanize others. In stories there’s always a “bad guy” and we’re happy when he dies, we laugh at violence all the time, we take pride in coming up with creative insults to call people. Our whole world is based on dominance and submission. It’s like the fish in the water– women can look at porn and not see anything wrong because they’re just seeing the same paradigm that’s present everywhere else. Feminism causes us to take a step back and analyze what we’ve been taught.

    As for therapy, you folks have encountered some really bad therapists. I’d likely be dead right now if it weren’t for the therapists I’ve had, and I’m somewhat privileged but I’m not rich. I went because I had to. It wasn’t because I had too much leisure time but because I wasn’t capable of living my life and I had no other choice. I seem to have the opposite view of a lot of you– I think therapy should be available to MORE people. I’ve only seen women therapists and none of them were invested in patriarchy. If any of them were, I would have switched I guess.

  72. tinfoil hattie

    Depression is real. PTSD is real. The unfortunately-named “Battered Women’s Syndrome” is real. Anxiety is real. Mental illness is real.

    A lot of crappy therapists exist, for sure. That’s patriarchy for you. It’s exceedingly difficult to find a good therapist.

    It’s harder to pay for therapy. Most “in-plan” therapists are reimbursed at a rate of $12-28 per hour, so most therapists no longer sign up with insurance companies. Hourly rates vary from $80/hr to $300/hr (i.e., for med checks) in my part of the US.

    IBTP that it is nearly impossible to get good mental health care in the U.S. IBTP that when people need “help,” that is taken to mean there is something “wrong” with them.

    You know what that really means? A person who needs “help,” in most cases, is someone who can’t struggle along anymore with the day-to-day cognitive dissonance of life. People who have been abused, battered, and – yes, yttik – treated like shit by their mothers and fathers. What person wouldn’t need “help” with this kind of shit? We need “help” because we can’t stand to just suck it up and take the bullshit; we can’t stand being told that there’s something wrong with US, not that there’s something wrong with the cesspool through which we all slog every minute of every day.

    There are many commenters here who have survived only through good PSYCHOLOGICAL and PSYCHIATRIC intervention. To airily dismiss the usefulness, not to mention the necessity, of psychology for some of us with “I know people who have been in therapy literally for years and are at least as messed up now as they were when they started,” for instance, is a bullshit silencing tactic.

    OF COURSE they are still messed up. Does anyone here believe that therapy cures, or undoes, the lifetime of abuse, crap, patriarchy, hatred, poverty, hunger – fill in your own misery – that people suffer? NO. A good therapist helps you cope with the fucking reality that exists. A good therapist says, “Damn right that shit is fucked up. No way should that dude have a right to your body. No way should old men get to tell women what to do with their bodies. No way should your father have raped you/your mother have abused you/your granny have punished you by withholding food/name your horror here. And there’s nothing wrong with YOU for seeing the horror and naming it.”

    Yeah, good therapists are hard to find. So any lurking blamer here who lives in Northern Virginia and has been just about convinced by this thread that you are some kind of loser for wanting psychological help, e-mail me at tinfoil hattie at gmail dot com. I have tapped into some good therapists. Others in the DC area, I may be able to help you connect. Others in the US, e-mail me anyway, and maybe we can put our heads together.

  73. Kea

    tinfoil, reassurance is not necessarily what is needed. I knew in 1970 that the P sucked. I don’t need some poorly educated therapist to tell me I’m right. Money, for instance, would be far more helpful, in order to improve nutrition and lifestyle, the best one can do for depression. Priorities, priorities. The poor cannot afford to see a doctor, let alone a therapist. Ever.

  74. Linda

    Psychology is totes dudecentric, pathologises women and is fundamentally misogynistic, but not all counselling has to be of the psy variety. Social workers, most of whom are women, make better counsellors for women because the discipline is fundamentally feminist and based on understanding people within the broader social context. It’s possible to be critical of psy discourse while still acknowledging the need to help women cope.

  75. tinfoil hattie

    Well, Kea: You’re wrong. On many counts. And YOU may not need reassurance, but there are women here who do. If it doesn’t apply to you, DON’T take it on!

  76. Wandering Uterus

    Hey margin-dwelling mammal, are you an ecology/bio type person?

    There will always be hierarchies, but when they are rigid, entrenched, and enforced with violence (like the P) they create mental disorders and delusions on a massive scale. It isn’t glorification of instinct so much as perversion of it.

    “biological scapegoats aren’t a satisfactory explanation because they can be transcended by any reasonably intelligent human being.”

    Thus rendering evo-psych even more pointless.

  77. Wandering Uterus

    Oh, and happy League of Women Voters founding day to you all!

  78. FemmeForever

    @tinfoil hattie

    *standing o*

    I just got new coverage that gives a phone number for mental health. I called to find out what the coverage is. As in do they cover therapy or do you have to have a diagnosis to be seen? I was told I could not find out ANY info about the program until I put my name and info into the system first, so someone can then come on the phone and give me a psychological evaluation. Ah… Hellllll no, I’m not doing that. I just want someone to talk to about life. I’m not getting stamped with some false label that will follow me around for life.

  79. tinfoil hattie

    As for porn, pederasty, and the patriarchy: Men invented porn, men promulgate porn, men destroy women through porn. Why? Because they can. Because they get off on it.

  80. caterwaul

    Speaking from experience – psychology, CBT, what have you, can be pretty useful tools in understanding and untangling oneself from eating disorders, abusive family dynamics, and other symptoms of patriarchy. But as you say, like any institution in this society, it is also full of mansplaining propaganda and bullshit. And like prescripion drugs, vacations, and gym memberships, it is a privilege.

  81. Ginjoint

    NO. A good therapist helps you cope with the fucking reality that exists.

    Tinfoil, you may appreciate these words from Jungian writer James Hollis:
    Were therapists required by “truth in advertising” legislation to tell their reality, then virtually no one would enter therapy. The therapist would be obliged to say at least three things in return to the suffering supplicant:

    First, you will have to deal with this core issue the rest of your life, and at best you will manage to win a few skirmishes in your long uncivil war with yourself. Decades from now you will be fighting on these familiar fronts, though the terrain may have shifted so much that you may have difficulty recognizing the same old, same old.

    Second, you will be obliged to disassemble the many forces you have gathered to defend against your wound. At this late date it is your defenses, not your wound, that cause the problem and arrest your journey. But removing these defenses will oblige you to feel all the pain of that wound again.

    And third, you will not be spared pain, vouchsafed wisdom or granted exemption from future suffering. In fact, genuine disclosure would require a therapist to reveal the shabby sham of managed care as a fraud, and make a much more modest claim for long-term depth therapy or analysis.

    Yet, however modest that claim, it is, I believe, true. Therapy will not heal you, make your problems go away or make your life work out. It will, quite simply, make your life more interesting. You will come to more and more complex riddles wrapped within yourself and your relationships. This claim seems small potatoes to the anxious consumer world, but it is an immense gift, a stupendous contribution. Think of it: your own life might become more interesting to you!
    Consciousness is the gift, and that is the best it gets.

    What’s not to love about suffering supplicant?

  82. Ginjoint

    Omigosh that was long! Sorry! {{embarrassment}}

  83. Ginjoint

    That’ll teach me to simply cunt and paste.

  84. Ginjoint

    Aw fuck me CUT, CUT, CUT AND PASTE!!!!!

    Slinking away now.

  85. Linda

    Nice bit of mansplaining by proxy you’ve facilitated there, Ginjoint.

  86. Ginjoint

    So anything that comes out of a male’s mouth is automatically mansplaining. Good to know, Linda.

    Apologies to all for that typo above. Jesus. That’ll teach me to type fast and hit “blame” without doublechecking.

  87. tinfoil hattie

    KEA: I’m sorry I was rude to you. I have no excuse. You did not deserve it, and I apologize sincerely. I merely disagree. I am not the boss of the internet, and I don’t get to tell you you’re wrong.

    GINJOINT: That was AWESOME! HOW did it get through the spamulator? I LOVE IT.

    In genteral: Yes, Psychology Today is one fucking porn mag without the naked women. The therapists I know HATE Psych Today.

    Also, very good questions from Kali. I think porn and other ways of mistreating women have just continued and worsened, unabated, as men gain more and more power and women are more and more oppressed. Every time women even hint that we might just be worth more than the dirt under our feet (see: “Swiffer” ads), we are punished violently.

    Oppression of women is like a drug: Merely treating us as property doesn’t work anymore. Men need a harder, more intense drug to get the same orgasmic high.

    I no longer believe women will make any strides in our society. We will never be post-patriarchy, there will never be a real Savage Death Island, the revolution will never begin. There is no way men are ever going to let that happen, and they’re much better at oppressing than women are at seeing our own oppression (blamers herein excepted) and determining to change it.

    I have no answers. Just plenty of anger and despair to share.

  88. Kea

    Thanks, tinfoil, that’s cool. I am happy to hear about anything that helps IBTPers, even when points of view, or rather experiences, differ. And I share your opinion that humanity’s myopia will soon cause our extinction.

  89. thatlush

    Ginjoint, as someone who frequently sends unfortunate typos out into the Internet, I found that one to be particularly spectacular. Heh.

  90. Saurs

    Thanks for that, Ginjoint.

  91. redpeachmoon

    Sorry! posted this on the wrong place.

    Great conversation. Very illuminating, but I am still very disturbed by ‘omegapoint7’s threatening mail to Twisty. I’ve googled him, and found he has recently threatened Pres. Obama, and several posters on the site (TPM) suggested reporting him here; http://www.secretservice.gov/field_offices.shtm. Should this creep be reported here too?
    What’s the protocal? Can the blametariat come together and ’speak to him’? Suggestions?

  92. JR

    There may be good therapists but they are good in spite of their profession, not because of it. In 20 odd years I’ve never found one. The system of psychiatry/psychology in every way exists to continue to marginalize and oppress PTSD victims, victims of battering, etc., not to help them. Why else would it be so hard to find a good therapist? Feminist politics have helped me more than any therapy, forced drugging (which ended up being not medically indicated, as it is not for most women), hospitalization (worse than useless and more traumatizing in the end.) Of course we need help after living through the patriarchy’s wringer. I remain unconvinced of the wisdom of turning to the patriarchy’s servants to help us get over the wound’s it has dealt us.

    The lines around “mental illness” keep being redrawn until no one even knows what they are. I’ve been formally diagnosed with a variety of contradictory things in my life, and the only one I accept is PTSD. As for the rest, am I mentally ill because I am too angry, because I refuse to conform to my place as a woman, or is my anger at the patriarchy just and are gender roles just stupid? Female activists have been lobotomized with their “consent”. Women who did not want children have been lobotomized. Dissidents have been forcibly drugged. Have I experienced massive amounts of mental distress in my life that was very real? Indeed I have. What makes me think that therapists who have bought into a system reeking of patriarchy are going to “fix” me?

    For a final insult to it all, some of my “insanity” in the end turned out to be not “mental illness” at all, but a neurological condition – one which went untreated for years because women’s illness is always due to being insane. Psychiatry kept my illness from being taken seriously or recognized. (This too, fits in with the bullshit idea of karma and creating one’s own reality – I was told by many people that the pain and other symptoms I experienced I brought on myself by being too angry and I had to meditate more and let it go – become more passive.)

    While some might find a good therapist, I would suggest a long, long, LONG list of extremely picky questions before accepting one, and be sure they understand you are their boss. The ugliest thing I’ve seen about psychologists is their attitude that they are the boss of you, as if they forget that you are their bread and butter. Perhaps they do. Make it multiple choice, like, “Is Nietzsche a schmuck, yes or no?”

  93. Phledge

    Cunt n’ Paste is my new band name.

    First World Problems [sic] being what they are, most folks assume that going to a therapist is what white, upper-middle-class, educated women do to make themselves feel better about their guilty privilege between tennis lessons and the mani-pedi at two. I’m paying a sliding scale in lieu of eating as much. Therapy, for me, like tinfoil hattie, is quite literally the only thing that has kept me from completely imploding. When you have no role models for even remotely healthy behavior (and I’m talking no self-discipline, no interpersonal skills, no concept of assertive vs passive-aggressive and/or aggressive communication, no budgeting skills, etc ad nauseam), someone needs to step in and show you how to grow the fuck up. I am going to be 38 years old in a few hours and I lost everything I had to poor impulse control and non-existent goal-oriented behavior, only in the past few years. That, mes amies, requires a huge step of trust with someone who can objectively help you get out of your own way. I may not be able to recover materially from what has happened in my life, but I know how to move on now–and how to navigate what’s mine and what belongs to the fucking chicken patriarchy. The former, I cultivate; the latter, I blame. Do I think that the big P had anything to do with my problems? Hells yeah–my mother was such a fucked-up disaster from her internalized misogyny that she killed herself at the age of 50. But not before she had six babies, none of whom didn’t go on a diet or get harassed for their looks or weren’t told to quiet down and stop being so smart. She knew that the patriarchy had horrible consequences for the woman who didn’t comply; she just told us to comply, instead of telling us to challenge it.

    I am in absolute solidarity with anyone for whom therapy has been a rock of sanity. Therapy, with SDI, has brought me from a very, very dark place indeed.

  94. Kea

    I had to meditate more and let it go – become more passive.

    Convenient dogma, indeed, and without faith at that. Not much of a therapist, if they don’t permit a zeitgeist in the world.

    Personally, I have met a few genuinely insightful psychiatrists, but no such psychologists. These psychiatrists were all anti-drugs, for which I am extremely thankful, supposedly not being in a position to decide for myself. Then again, the hospital had some insane interview testing system that a five year old could scam.

  95. Shelby

    margin-dwelling mammal

    Some women do get off on porn but that’s because P insists we live in a world that largely views a bloke sticking his dick in anything as the ultimate naughty titilation. Hetero sex is not viewed as people coming together as equals but rather as an aggression committed by a man against a woman. He says I’m going to nail you. She says take me. Conquer and submit. It’s something that men do and women have done to them. That’s what we’re brainwashed into believing from the beginning. There is no alternative according to P. Just like pornography, if you get to have an orgasm after this one dimensional sexual experience – and that’s your only available experience – then this is what you will come to believe is your sexual desire.

    Fuck Hierarchy along with Patriarchy. Both are entirely dispensible.

  96. piratequeen

    Radfem psychologists exist; I’m one.

  97. ivyleaves

    In today’s world of managed care in the US, psychiatrist (MD) = dispenser of drugs and psychologist, social worker, etc. = therapist. The insurance companies or HMOs don’t waste money paying someone with a medical degree to just talk to people, that is for the lowly folks, generally with degrees below PhD. The (mostly male) MD psychiatrists dispense the meds, the (mostly male) PhDs have private practices with expensive hourly fees and also teach all of the (mostly female) students studying psychology so they can get a license and actually try to help people.

    I completely agree that one of the most important things is to remember that the therapist works for you, you are the boss. If you get one who is a manipulator, fire them asap.

    I do have to agree with the sentiment that learning about radical feminism, such as I did on this blog, had a much greater affect upon my progress in sorting out stuff than anything else, but it was only a part of the journey I embarked upon as a result of having a child that needed help beyond what I knew how to give.

  98. ivyleaves

    I think I misused affect/effect AGAIN. I only seem to be able to spot it after someone else does it, or after it’s too late to change what I wrote.

  99. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    @Ginjoint, that was some awesome blaming. Including your typo.

  100. procrastinatrix

    In a post-patriarchal world, psychology and psychiatry wouldn’t exist. We would have other ways to help each other deal with those tragedies that would still occur–but thanks to the domination/submission paradigm being overthrown would at least afflict everyone more equally (barring genetic contributions to certain conditions, etc).

    For now, I’m just glad the drugs are better for treating women driven crazy by the P than in the olden days. I’m with TFH–more access to feminist therapists for all!

    It is a faulty assumption that poor and busy people, whether in developing countries or developed, don’t have depression, PTSD, or other non-typical brain chemistry type do-dads. Are you kidding me? Do you think they are so non-human that their brains work completely differently from whitey-white middle-class Americans who are the stereotypical therapy patient? Every culture has a paradigm for understanding and dealing with non-typical psychologies or the effects of trauma. Some of them really suck–I’m not reifying or defending culture because it is culture. Some of them seem to work okay without inflicting greater damaged on the oppressed.

    My biggest beef with psychology in the US (leaving out evo-psych BS); is that alcoholism is not dealt with or even recognized in the paradigms that I’m familiar with. Please educate me on this front if there are ones out there. Alcohol dependency is a massive health issue for women in the US, and the health care system, such as it is, remains completely indifferent to or in denial of it. Please note I am not criticizing individual alcoholics–IBTP! Too much money to be made in selling the stuff, and then treating the secondary symptoms caused by it, I guess. IBTP again!

  101. speedbudget

    When I needed therapy, I looked in my book of providers and found a female Licensed Clinical Social Worker. It was the best move I ever made. She was a blamer extraordinaire, and she helped me realize I am a normal human being who is fucked up by the patriarchy. I will forever be grateful to her, and you will pry her from my cold, dead fingers.

    On the porn and hating women front, it starts in childhood. Children are inculcated into hating women and girls. The worst insult on a schoolyard is “being a girl”: i.e., you throw like a girl, you run like a girl, you must be a girl. It starts young, and it is implicit in everything. It continues with games and toys. These things are separated out. Consumers are alerted to the icky girls’ games and toys by the Pepto Bismol pink so there can be no mistake and you won’t accidentally give something meant for those awful girls to your precious son.

    I also believe that men are indoctrinated into porn by peer pressure. If you aren’t using porn, you ain’t no man. Even men who have no interest in it, who understand implicitly there is something wrong here, are pressured by other men to enjoy it. “What’s the big deal? What are you? Gay or something?” I’m not excusing men, because there are men who are willing and able to refuse to participate, but it starts young. There are fathers who introduce it to their sons, and then monitor whether or not their sons are using it. There are fathers who will take their sons to strip joints and prostitutes in order to “make them a man.” I don’t believe the porn sexuality is something inborn. It is something taught, and it is something that men work hard to perpetuate.

  102. Owly

    Psychiatrists can be just as shady as therapists. Every one I’ve seen would probably prescribe anyone anything they wanted if they asked for it or pretended they needed it. All my psychiatrist cares about is getting paid. I’m very fortunate that the two meds she prescribed me are actually working. Actually, she originally only had me on one med because she ignored what I said about my symptoms. It took an outside opinion, which she didn’t question at all, for her to prescribe the other.

    Anyone who has spent time in a mental hospital knows that the “bad old days” are not over. I wasn’t allowed to go outside for 4 days, not to mention the way some members of the staff treated us.

    As for porn use and personal responsibility, for what it’s worth, I’ve been with two guys who gave it up with relatively little debate. Both of them admitted they secretly knew it was wrong. It only took one discussion for both of them to see things my way, and I believe it’s because they genuinely saw the light. And I brought the subject up at the very beginning of both relationships, because I don’t put up with that shit. Granted, they were infrequent users, but it is entirely possible for dudes to stop using porn. Maybe I’m just lucky though.

  103. Ginjoint

    Antoinette, thanks for the compliment but I can’t tell from your comment if you’re aware that those weren’t my words, they were those of writer James Hollis. I probably should’ve put that line in bold. I only wish I could write that well. And thanks to those who’ve had a sense of humor about that typo – me, I’m still cringing.

    Reading this thread, I’m once again reminded of how extremely fortunate I’ve been with the therapists I’ve seen – all wise women, who frequently reminded me that I was the one in charge in the room. They taught me how to have boundaries (something I wasn’t shown growing up, which definitely had, ahem, consequences), as well as everything tinfoil hattie mentioned. I often worry about being a narcissistic jackass or a “disaffected 21st century neurotic with an hour to kill and $150 in (my) pocket”. I’ll cop to being those things, if it means I get to hang on to what those women taught me.

    I do agree with Jill’s point about the operant conditioning and porn – this of course also applies to the escalating levels of violence shown toward women in porn. (And not even in porn – I hate to think of what more Law & Order: Special Victims Unit can do to womens’ bodies in order to keep those ratings up.) Which makes me also think Jill should report that jagoff omegapoint’s ass. God only knows what he’s been looking at.

  104. yttik

    If therapy isn’t an option, sometimes women’s groups can be. Feminists used to come together for consciousness raising groups. Women can be a real resource for each other, whether you’re simply listening to other people who have experiences similar to yours or actually networking with them to find jobs or housing.

    There’s a reason the patriarchy invests so much energy in keeping women isolated, in making us think we’re in competition with each other. Women putting their heads together is an incredibly powerful thing. There is strength in numbers.

  105. speedbudget

    Owly, no porn use is a condition for anybody I date, and I find it weeds out the assholes and porn addicts. If I state on the first date I won’t tolerate anybody who uses porn, the ones who don’t won’t argue with me and don’t give two shits about it. They might ask why, which leads to an interesting discussion and tends to open a few eyes, but I just refuse to date anybody who uses porn.

  106. Hari

    Awesome stuff here, thanks all. Ginjoint, sorry you’re still cringing! I’m still giggling over cunt and paste. And thanks for sharing Hollis’ words–I don’t care if he’s a man. Every so often a man actually does see the bs for what it is, and is able to call it out accurately–and he named all that just so precisely spot-on.

    Otherwise, for those who’ve never heard of it, I suggest you look into Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), which is more to the point for those us not just recovering from particular short term events, but from a lifetime of abuse in the P. Judith Herman is the name to look for, although in recent searches it appears that various ppl in the therapy world have been working with C-PTSD. Recently discovering this has been so helpful–adding another level of understanding and ways to deal.

  107. qvaken

    Ginjoint: Your typo absolutely made my day. You have no idea.

    tinfoil: You’re absolutely right. Nobody should be deterred from trying out visiting a counsellor for a few sessions to see how it works for them. Sure, I’m sitting here all hunky dorey right now, but there have been times when I can’t stop crying, thinking “I wish that I were strong enough to cope with this but obviously I’m not, this has been going on for years and maybe it’s time to just give up on life once and for all, it’s never going to get better, why can’t I just make friends and get along with people, what is so wrong with me I must just be like this naturally I wish I were one of the normal people but I’m just fucked up,” and so on.

    If you’re in that place and you’re having these thoughts and feeling this way, then you’re most likely upset about something that it’s perfectly understandable to be upset about. You’re NOT any of those bad things that you think you are. It probably feels impossible to see that that’s true, but like my psych used to tell me: “When your life is in the poo, all you can smell is shit.”

    If you’re in a terrible place, or if you’re okay today but you know that sometimes you go to that terrible place, and you’re looking around at your options: Definitely! Definitely! Give counselling a go! DO NOT feel ashamed. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help from a friend that you trust in booking the appointment, or if you’re on your own, don’t feel ashamed to make that phone call. Don’t feel afraid. The counsellors and the receptionists are trained to be sensitive toward people who are in a tough place.

    If you’re scared of people finding out and thinking that you’re “crazy” or something, well, most people are accepting of counselling these days, and in any case, it’s nobody else’s damn business but yours, so you needn’t tell anybody if you don’t want to.

    Don’t feel ashamed to call up if you feel like it’s a bit of an emergency situation, where you need to see somebody pretty urgently, either. They might be able to squeeze you in, or give you other phone numbers to try.

    And if you go to an appointment and you leave feeling like shit, and feeling even worse about yourself, then don’t give up – rest up, then phone up and book an appointment with a DIFFERENT counsellor. The one that you just saw wasn’t for you. You’ll know that you’ve found the right one when you leave feeling perfectly fine, or even great, about yourself. That’s the whole point of it.

    On the other side of things:

    If you’re in a place where you DON’T want to go down the path of counselling – if you feel like you’re managing pretty well, and if friends’ suggestions that you need counselling actually don’t sit well with you, and if the idea of counselling doesn’t feel good for you, then don’t phone a counsellor. Nobody can force you to do that! And you know better than other people what’s right for you right now.

    Nobody can force you to do anything, or force you to NOT do anything. Whichever option is right for you: do it. Want to try out counselling to see if it helps? That’s a good idea, so give it a go. Counselling not really your thing right now? You don’t have to, so don’t listen to people who are telling you that you need it, and keep on doing what’s working for you right now.

  108. qvaken

    For my part, if I’m ever feeling down, then all I’m going to need is Ginjoint accidentally saying a swear. That seriously brightened my day.

  109. blah

    ‘hate alone doesn’t lead to oppression’ (Kali)
    Hate makes it a lot easier. At least the face to face oppression where you have to see your victims.

  110. Twisty

    Me: “because it degrades and oppresses all women.”

    Yttik: “It” doesn’t, MEN do.

    Sometimes I think you deliberately misunderstand me just to be argumentative, yttik, but then I think “why would she do that?”

    By “it” I of course mean “when men use pornography.”

  111. Twisty

    tinfoil hattie, I in no way intended to come off as cavalier toward you, or to bullshittily silence you — certainly not you! — or anyone who has had mental health issues. And I apologize that this is what happened.

    I certainly do not look upon people who seek psychological help as “losers.” My issue is, as always, is not with women who do what they can to scrape by. My issue is with the fucked-upedness of the megatheocorporatocracy, with the role oppression and rape culture plays in making women crazy, with the embedded misogyny in Psychology the Discipline, with the high cost of therapy, and with ineffectual or dangerous “therapists,” of which species most of us here have encountered at least one member at some point or another.

    If, as you say, the purpose of a “good” therapist is to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you and reassure you that you’re not a loser for feeling bad about bad shit that happens, and that this kind of therapy helps you, and you can find such a person, I wish you and everyone well in this pursuit. I wish you well no matter what.

  112. Kali

    It’s easy to overlook on a radical feminist blog because there aren’t any porn users among us, but take into consideration that the number of women getting off on porn has increased dramatically over the past decade.

    I fully acknowledge that pavlovian associations between sex and torture work on both male and female brains. However, porn is still much more popular with men than with women and the more violent the porn, the more male dominated is the user-base for it. Though it is getting more and more violent, it has always existed and enjoyed great popularity with men. The origins are primarily male-defined and serving male interests at the cost of women. The few-bad-apples explanation doesn’t address this.

    Where did racism originate? Where did classism originate? Where did ableism originate?

    Even here, men are the worst and the most violent offenders. During the partition in India, during the regular Hindu-Muslim riots in India, it is men who are burning, killing, raping, torturing, dismembering women, children and men. Take any civil war or ethnic clashes in the middle-east, Africa, Europe, Far east – it is men who are, on their own initiative, burning, killing, raping, torturing, dismembering women, children and men. For the vast majority of them, it is not the government or the military telling them to do this.

    And that’s not to say men aren’t naturally predisposed to be at least somewhat sociopathic, because the vast majority of psychopaths are men, we know that for a fact,

    Sociopathy is at one end of a normally distributed trait called machiavellianism. Men are distributed more towards the greater machiavellianism side of that curve as compared with women. We focus only on the sociopathic end of that curve and therefore address the problem of the patriarchy as a problem of a few-bad-apples influencing the innocent masses. I think that is a mistake and we should look at the entire curve.

    but we also know that psychopathy requires a social trigger.

    No, it doesn’t. There are plenty of sociopathic killers and torturers with happy childhoods and good upbringing. The culture may give them justification and entitlement, that’s different from giving them a social trigger.

    Anyway, biological scapegoats aren’t a satisfactory explanation because they can be transcended by any reasonably intelligent human being.

    The same goes for cultural scapegoats.

  113. yttik

    Sorry Twisty, I have no idea how to argue a point without being argumentative. It’s nothing personal, it’s simply that the tone of that article was “the porn made me do it,” as if porn is an actual entity all by itself that manipulates the brain plasticity of innocent men.

    “why would she do that?”

    Probably not because I’m innately evil and spend my days withering crops and causing infertility. Possibly because I didn’t want any women to read that article, read some of the comments, and use it as yet another example of how men are not really responsible for their behavior. I know that men are often portrayed as being slightly stupid, easily manipulated, completely ruled by their sexual urges, practically like horses or dogs you can train with treats, but it isn’t true. That’s a patriarchal myth.

  114. JR

    “It is a faulty assumption that poor and busy people, whether in developing countries or developed, don’t have depression, PTSD, or other non-typical brain chemistry type do-dads.” Indeed. I’ve been on the poor to lower middle class spectrum my entire life and I “have” PTSD. Perhaps that accounts for my hate of the profession – it is very likely true that richer patients are treated with something approaching compassion. I wouldn’t know.

    I put the scare quotes aruond PTSD because the older I get the less I feel PTSD should be seen as an individual problem and the more I feel it should be seen as an effect of class/gender oppression, given the circumstances under which I acquired it, which are tiresomely mundane and awful enough to hardly be worth mentioning because they happen to so many women and children. It is with sour amusement that I note a “symptom” of PTSD is “distrust of authority”. Should I be cured of this? To whose benefit would that be? Not mine.

  115. AK

    Reading Freud in my teens, I immediately ascertained that he was wrong about women because he had generalized to all women the things he had learned from the terribly oppressed women of his time. In our current, liberated era, I reasoned, none of his conclusions would any longer apply, and were interesting only as a historical commentary on the sickness of society in his time. It took a while to realize our era isn’t all that liberated.

    I think now that the most interesting part of Freud and the rest of the whole psychology movement is its potential to diagnose sick societies rather than sick individuals. As an epidemic of cholera can be traced to bad water, so an epidemic of depression can be traced to oppression.

  116. Kali

    I think now that the most interesting part of Freud and the rest of the whole psychology movement is its potential to diagnose sick societies rather than sick individuals.

    I thought it was the opposite, i.e. Freud and friends would rather scold people who have cholera for drinking water rather than examining the water for impurities.

  117. Darragh Murphy

    ” the most interesting part of Freud and the rest of the whole psychology movement is its potential to diagnose sick societies rather than sick individuals. As an epidemic of cholera can be traced to bad water, so an epidemic of depression can be traced to oppression.”

    Love this. Was just reading some Freud the other week (The Future of an Illusion – he was a skilled writer, I’ll give him that) and was both appalled and impressed at the same time. His diagnosis of human nature was wack, but his critique of society and its institutions was pretty damn good.

  118. Darragh Murphy

    Freud was a huge critic of modern society (Civ and Its Discontents etc) and many of his observations were right on. He was also raging misogynist, pervert, and grade-A f*cknozzle. So there’s that.

  119. Kali

    ‘hate alone doesn’t lead to oppression’ (Kali)
    Hate makes it a lot easier. At least the face to face oppression where you have to see your victims.

    I think objectification is a much bigger factor in oppression than hate. Hate makes objectification of humans easier, but objectification is an absolute necessity for oppression and hate isn’t.

  120. aphrabean

    Not wanting to pile-on too much about the efficacy of psychology & psychiatry, but I’m another one whose life was saved by therapy, and I just wanted to tell tinfoil hattie how important her words on this thread are to me, personally.

    Many people suffering from PTSD can tell you that sometimes your traumas overwhelm your ability to act in the world without harm to yourself or others. A good therapist (and I only have ever developed relationships with feminist-identified, queer-friendly therapists who charge on a sliding scale) can help give you the tools to find yourself again, to rebuild your life. I’m happy for those who are resilient enough not to need that kind of help, but without it, I would be dead now. That is not hyperbole. One of the deepest wishes of my life is that my own mother had found such a therapist before she decided to have kids, and the same for her mother before her.

    In the crappy, conservative, podunk town where I grew up, I found someone who helped me crawl out of debilitating depression & anxiety for $10 a session when I was a teenager who’d been kicked out of the house for being crazy & queer. Before that, there were really unbelievable experiences with psychologists & psychiatrists – so many drugs that my liver started shutting down, talk of demonic possession, the like. I fully understand how many terrible therapists there are in the world, and how deeply the institution is founded in misogyny, classism, and racism.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that just because most psychologists are shitty doesn’t erase the need for good psychologists, and the good that they can do. Sorry for all the first-person-ing.

  121. tinfoil hattie

    @Kea: And I share your opinion that humanity’s myopia will soon cause our extinction.

    Seems like none too soon. Thanks also for your gracious response to my dickishness.

    @Twisty: You are amazing and kind and I am sorry I had a knee-jerk YOU-ARE-INSULTING-ME-PERSONALLY! moment. Hell, it’s a wonder ANY woman is freaking making it through yer average woman-hating day.

    We are all to be commended. Every one of us.

    @Phledge, I admire you so much. You have no idea. Your story is at once heartbreaking and heartening. You will do amazing things, I’ll bet. Even more amazing. So you lost everything? So fucking what. IBTP.

    @procrastinatrix, YES to everything you said about those weird people in other countries! (rolls eyes) Would love to hear more from you here! Your blaming is always great.

    @EVERYONE, Thanks for the great help, support, understanding, forgiveness. Swear to FSM I have come here during my worst depressions and somehow made it through to the next day after reading and re-reading comments.

    Re-vamping psychology from a RadFem viewpoint! I’m down with THAT. We can call it cunt-n-psychology. (GINJOINT! Please don’t cringe! That made my DAY and I am going to use cunt-n-paste as a nym on dude-heavy blogs! Then they can threaten me, too! Yay.)

  122. tinfoil hattie

    Wyttik, Probably not because I’m innately evil and spend my days withering crops and causing infertility.

    Well, why not? That sounds like fun.

    aphrabean, virtual big hug if you want one.

    JR, you too.

    I am astonished and humbled by the brilliance of my fellow blamers. What a mind-blowing read this has been. I will carry it with me for days and days.

  123. tinfoil hattie

    Shit, I messed up my tags to yttik. So I will stop hogging up the thread now!

    Sweet blaming, all.

  124. Hari

    tinfoil hattie, even if it puts you hogging up the thread a wee bit more with my help, this bore repeating: “I am astonished and humbled by the brilliance of my fellow blamers. What a mind-blowing read this has been. I will carry it with me for days and days.”

    Yes, thanks–to you Ms hattie, and all here.

  125. Kea

    Owly: I wasn’t allowed to go outside for 4 days, not to mention the way some members of the staff treated us.

    Yes, when one discovers they can (i) take all forms of communication away from you, and (ii) lock you away, it certainly puts 21st century neofascism in a new light.

  126. yttik

    “(PTSD)Should I be cured of this?”

    I hear you, JR! PTSD takes a terrible toll on your health and is a miserable way to live, but darned if it isn’t also an excellent survival skill. PTSD makes you hyper-alert and tuned into danger.

  127. roseh

    I agree with the statements about how pornography use desensitizes men and makes them crave sicker and more violent forms of pornography. Just as bad is the pornification of girls. When girls are exposed to sexualized images it deflates their self esteem and makes them internalize misogyny. If they are exposed to pornography then they are at even greater risk of believing that women were designed to be sex toilets. Girls who grow up in our fucked-up misogynistic culture and don’t have strong positive role models are at high risk of believing the bullshit “sex-pozzy” hype and believing that it’s empowerful to be a sex toilet for men. I think about this every time I see little girls in inappropriate clothing, or skeevy dudes brazenly leering at girls and women. IBTP

  128. lizor

    Porn has truly imprinted its “all sex is rape and wimmins are all gagging to be raped” message. Anyone seen the brand new PETA video? I’d prefer not to link and bring more eyes to it, but the story is essentially a pantless young woman wearing a whiplash collar and who is walking like she’s injured is buying her vegan BF more lettuce as it apparently fuels his raping abilities which she can’t get enough of. I want to crush the patriarchy.

  129. Hari

    yttik: “PTSD takes a terrible toll on your health and is a miserable way to live, but darned if it isn’t also an excellent survival skill. PTSD makes you hyper-alert and tuned into danger.”

    How on earth can something that takes a terrible toll on health, and is otherwise a miserable way to live, *also* a valuable survival skill? How does being hyper-alert–by definition excessively alert, i.e., you don’t sleep well, ever, and are so paranoid you see danger even where it isn’t, thus driving even potential friends and allies away–how can this possibly be helpful?

    How about a healing that gives on the abilities of good boundaries, awake intuition and a healthy sense self-preservation, instead? One does not have to be suffering from a life-draining disorder to have excellent survival skills. I reject the notion that having survived abuse, I must go on killing myself by maximizing the fallout of abuse in myself–holding my PTSD near and dear– in order to sense danger and be safe. There are reasons aplenty in the P, to despair and to fear. FFS, are we to know NO joy or relaxation at all, in the name of ‘surviving’?

  130. Hari

    dang it, typos. But y’all are smart, you’ll probably figure me out.

  131. yttik

    “How on earth can something that takes a terrible toll on health, and is otherwise a miserable way to live, *also* a valuable survival skill?”

    Do we try to cure men in the midst of battle of their PTSD? No, because we want them hyper alert to danger, ducking at the slightest hint of trouble, sleeping with one eye open. That’s what helps to keep them safe. In fact, PTSD is the brain’s very clever way of surviving trauma and trying to protect you from future danger.

    Except for a privileged few, many women never really get to leave the battlefield.

  132. Shiloh

    Yes, lizor. And soon after hurling all over that PETA trash, I came across an article mocking would-be rescuers who called the cops upon seeing a nude, bound woman in the back of an SUV. What prudes! It was just a rapey-fun Valentine’s abduction charade! Mind your own beeswax, killjoys!

    Men are into this because they enjoy it. No way around it. Would that all the my-porny-submission-is-empowering femnists would seriously consider the implications of the dudely I-get-off-on-your-utter-degradation flipside.

  133. Treefinger

    Only just chiming in now, but I appreciated this post and comments, about psychology in general especially. It’s sometimes really difficult to tell the difference between a chemical imbalance (or other biological cause) and feeling down because you pay attention to society. It’s even harder when you start second-guessing your ability to answer that question because “if I am crazy, I wouldn’t be able to tell which is which”*.

    I’m currently trying to get some sort of proper diagnosis for whatever is going on in my brain right now. My new GP thinks I don’t have depression, but he hasn’t been able to come up with an alternate diagnosis (“Maybe you have dyspraxia? Maybe you have CFS? Hmmm…”- yeah, take your time, it’s not like I’ve been given 6 months to recover or get kicked out of university or anything). I’ve had my blood checked several times in case I inherited my mother’s anaemia and thyroid problems, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Anti-depressants mitigate the problem, but I suspect it’s just because they make me too apathetic to get worked up over the P. Although I feel pretty hopeless about counselling/therapy, I think I’d like to get some anyway, because it’s been 2 years and I haven’t seen anyone. I hope I get someone like tinfoil hattie’s therapist rather than a douchey Freud-wannabe./personal anecdata

    *I realize this is a fucked-up view of people who DO have a biologically-determined condition, but I think when we ourselves enter a marginalized social category, we revert to patriarchal constructs much faster. We’re harsher on ourselves than we would be on another person in the same situation.

  134. Metal Teapot

    Maybe this is because I’m a different generation, but Owly and Speedbudget how do you find partners who don’t use porn? I have grown up to believe that if a man says he doesn’t watch porn he is lying to you. I think, I’d rather a partner didn’t watch porn, but I’d also like several million dollars and to never have to work again. I certainly get the impression that men just tell you what you want to hear then continue to act the same. I guess that is where trust comes in but once again my cultural programming tells me that I’m not meant to see a guy lying about porn use as a violation of trust because I was being unreasonable.

    I have had therapy and counciling before (on NHS). I found the counselling useless and was made to feel quilty for being there. The CBT helped because it made me feel more comfortable in myself. I think councilling is only useful if talking about things helps. If you know what is wrong and need advice then it isn’t helpful.

  135. Phledge

    PTSD: I wonder if there is such a thing as a woman in the patriarchy that does not have it.

    This, with the growing appreciation of mental health happening in certain atheist circles in which I traipse, has been a brutally loving thread. Thanks, y’all.

  136. little earthquakes

    Yeah, Freud abandoned his original theory of trauma when the implications became clear and totally “unthinkable.”

    (From “Trauma and Recovery” by Judith Herman p.13-14):

    “Hysteria was so common among women that if his patient’s stories were true, and if his theory were correct, he would be forced to conclude that what he called “perverted acts against children” were endemic, not only among the proletariat of Paris, where he had first studied hysteria, but also among the respectable bourgois families of Vienna, where he had established his practice. This idea was simply unacceptable. It was beyond credibility. Faced with this dilemma, Freud stopped listening to his female patients. [...] Out of the ruins of the traumatic theory of hysteria, Freud created psychoanalysis. The dominant psychological theory of the next century was founded in the denial of women’s reality.”

    The above-mentioned book helped me more than counselling for sexual abuse did, and I keep going back to it whenever I start to feel like I’m crazy. I’m not crazy, the world is crazy. Up until the late 1970′s, father-daughter incest was considered developmentally “normal” and benign by psychiatry (not making that up: http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/Complex_PTSD.pdf)

    However, PTSD (and complex-PTSD, which I live with) is only adaptive in the short-term. Above, yttik mentions PTSD being a survival trait, and while that’s witty and poetic and all, it doesn’t really speak to the reality of what it’s like to live with PTSD for the most part. And soldiers diagnosed with PTSD aren’t routinely sent back out into battle without treatment, because PTSD causes, among other things, *impaired* fight or flight response – freezing when one should run, running when one should freeze. True, soldiers in the field rarely receive *adequate* treatment for PTSD – few of us do, soldiers OR women. On the other hand, it was my undiagnosed PTSD that got me out of a dangerous and extremely triggering job, not to mention soul-destroying – I was working in an “adult store.” A porn shop, in other words. I recently realised I needed to find a new counsellor when she told me that there was nothing wrong with that kind of job, that lots of people work in that kind of job and are fine, it was me and my PTSD that was responsible for me not being able to work there. Great example of the cover-up done on cognitive dissonance: other people think it’s ok, so it must be ok. You found it not ok, so that means you are not ok. Right, it’s not that everybody else is just ignoring how messed up it is – I’m having a wildly irrational reaction to, y’know, having to look at porn all day and being cornered by groups of dudes asking me about penis-enlargement and what my boyfriend thinks of me working there. Because if I hadn’t been sexually abused, surely I’d be okay with dudes commenting on my ass and calling me a slut for working there. Sheesh, trauma just ruins *everything* doesn’t it?

    For the record, I’m not hating on counsellors/psychs in general. I’m just looking for a new one. Mostly so I can make a (second) claim for disability support, which is really difficult to get when you have PTSD, because the government covers it’s ass – after all, like Phledge said, is there such a thing as a woman in the patriarchy that does not have PTSD? If they give it to one of us, eventually we might ALL want some kind of recompense. Imagine that.

  137. Hari

    Phledge: “PTSD: I wonder if there is such a thing as a woman in the patriarchy that does not have it.”

    Yeah, me too–PTSD, and/or Complex PTSD. Whether or not a little girl is actually abused physically or sexually, we all grow up with the threat of violence, learning how to soothe the beast of male aggression without even knowing it. And we are all raised in a media environment that is a form of mental/emotional sexual abuse for us all. Of course, we are raised in this environment while boys are raised to value and practice aggression (esp against womyn/anyone more vulnerable), raised to sexually objectify all girls and womyn. I’ve known quite a few men suffering PTSD/CPTSD as well–and while a few end up in the sub position, most take the dom–which means taking their pain out on others.

    yttik–there is so much bullshit in what you are posing that I’m not going to bother responding beyond saying this: there is a load of bullshit in what you are posing for us where PTSD is concerned.

  138. Hari

    oops–male PTSD sufferers take their pain out on others–most especially girls and womyn!

  139. Keri

    There are ways to gain insight and protect yourself/be aware of danger in healthy ways. For example, one might do that by being a radical feminist.

    PTSD on the other hand is, as Hari said, completely miserable and does not give you any rational awareness of danger. That’s because you can’t think rationally with the sleeplessness, inexplicable panic, hyper-vigilance, and my personal favorite – depersonalization. Given a trigger, you get to feel out of body for a while, just watching yourself living from the outside. You hear your own voice and see your hands moving around but you can’t feel anything. Not so good for helping make quick and important decisions.

    Yeah, I’m gonna have to call bullshit Yttik.

  140. f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact

    PTSD is not a survival skill. Men and women in battle aren’t treated for PTSD for many reasons but none of those reasons are because anyone thinks PTSD is a survival skill. That anyone could think it was helpful to ones survival makes me think they don’t know what it actually is.

  141. TwissB

    Research psychologist Melissa Farley and others have found that many prostituted women suffer from PTSD.

  142. KittyWrangler

    @tinfoil hattie, I echo your defense of psychology. It saved my life twice: once from suicide, once from a temporarily psychotic Nigel (saved his life, too). Luckily my life is sprinkled with loving, wise and well-intentioned friends and family, but they almost all completely suck at giving appropriate psychological advice or effective help (or they simply don’t have the time and resources). That’s why I saw a professional. It took several tries before finding a fit but it also took several tries to find a good washing machine repair-person, taco vendor and so forth.

    On a dish-washer’s “salary” I was able to scrape enough together to participate in a cheap program at the local university where a student provides counseling (under the weekly guidance of an instructor) and the sessions are videotaped through one-way glass for the purposes of educating psych students. So I hope y’all are happy to know that a new crop of psych students is being educated with a video of a respectful talented psychologist successfully treating a depressed feminist. And to tie it all back to animal training, this same therapist recommended a dog training book to deal with a Nigel (ever so respectfully, of course). It worked.

  143. yttik

    “Yeah, I’m gonna have to call bullshit Yttik.”

    PTSD is not a defect, it’s the brain’s pretty remarkable mechanism for coping and surviving. It only becomes a burden when it persists long after the danger has passed and starts to interfere with your life.

    It’s kind of privileged and arrogant for us to imply that all woman HAVE to give up their PTSD. We don’t know what their circumstances are. It’s like telling them there is something wrong with them and attempting to take away a survival skill they have developed.

    What’s BS is not realizing that there are women out there who do not have the privilege and safety required to simply become a rad fem or Spinster Aunt. Who are we to tell them that their hyper-vigilance is wrong? Who are we to tell them that their distrust of authority is irrational?

  144. josquin

    I’m gratified by this thread, these comments, this community. I’m chiming in to say that the PTSD is generally a disabling paralyzing affliction. It doesn’t give rise to the honed focused awareness that soldiers need to stay alive, but leaves them curled up trembling in fear or shooting innocent civilians out of rage and hyper-vigilance. I had a little bout of it for a several years, and it just left me anxious, fearful, and so hyper-vigilant that I couldn’t discern real threat from a puff of air. And I’ve had the therapist who told me that children should just enjoy the physical sensations of sexual abuse, the memory of which still leaves me seething with shame and rage, but I’ve also had the therapist who helped me get on with life.
    Last but certainly not least, Porn is a toxic destructive dump always.

  145. josquin

    ps: I was very very happy to be freed of my PTSD. It did a ton of nothing for my well-being, my ability to navigate life’s dangers, or my ability to even get through the day. It just left me in a fearful heap.
    Maybe there’s some disagreement amongst the commenters about the definition of PTSD.

    pps: a dog-training book to deal with a Nigel – That’s funny!

  146. procrastinatrix

    Like others, I don’t agree that PTSD is a survival mechanism–it is a cluster of symptoms relating to changes in the brain and autonomic nervous system caused by one or more traumas. Hyperarousal and hypervigilance mean that it becomes difficult to separate real threats from non-real threats. I don’t see how that constitutes a survival mechanism, including for women and girls living in currently dangerous circumstances.

  147. aphrabean

    The romanticization of mental illness & PTSD is so harmful – men are not the only people who are capable of taking their PTSD out on their partners and children. As someone who depersonalizes when faced with triggers, still, after years of therapy, I can state very definitely that it effects my ability to empathize. Therapy has helped me to close the gap between the trigger and my ability to recognize it as such. There’s still a substantial lag time between an event and my ability to actually experience it, and that lag time has the potential to be dangerous for myself & for the people I love & care about.

    This thread is really, really great, and another heartfelt thank you to all the Blamers who have contributed to their stories & insights here.

  148. yttik

    When a woman is with an abusive man, hyper-vigilant, hyper alert, tuned into all HIS triggers, trying to predict what’s coming next, that’s PTSD working to help you survive the violence.

    When a young girl is laying in bed, anxious, sleepless, and the sound of footsteps outside her door triggers her to jump out the bedroom window, that’s PTSD working hard to prevent another sexual assault.

    When a woman is on a date and some knob is talking to her about the empowerfullness of BDSM and she’s nauseated, faint, feels like she’s leaving her body, that’s PTSD trying to keep her safe.

    Yes, PTSD can be a real drag if you’re like 40 and still jumping out the bedroom window at the sound of footsteps in the house. However, PTSD is not a defect, it is/was a survival skill. It developed for a reason.

  149. Hari

    yttik: “What’s BS is not realizing that there are women out there who do not have the privilege and safety required to simply become a rad fem or Spinster Aunt. Who are we to tell them that their hyper-vigilance is wrong? Who are we to tell them that their distrust of authority is irrational?”

    No one has said that hypervigilance is wrong and distrust is irrational. Some of us are saying PTSD is a symptom of trauma, and is harmful in deep ongoing ways–that it’s a true disorder, *not* a survival strategy. That is not a judgement against any womyn/child who does not have the safety or other resources to seek healing, just a statement of fact. For the fact that so many of us suffer PTSD/CPTSD regardless of privilege, and for the fact that so few of us can afford the rest, TLC and therapy we need to heal, IBTP–NOT the victims.

  150. Twisty

    KittyWrangler sez:

    this same therapist recommended a dog training book to deal with a Nigel

    For some reason this reminds me of an abusive Nigel I had one time who (while under the care of therapist, ironically), showed up at my apartment, went berserk, and started pelting the windows with the shitloads of therapeutic self-help books he’d bought to self-help himself.

    OK, not the same thing at all.

  151. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    After a number of (ahem) relationships with people from whose eyes the pleasing light of sanity had long departed, I now demand the right to be the crazy one.

  152. quixote

    @KittyWrangler: “a dog training book to deal with a Nigel”

    Bwahahahahahahaha. Operant conditioning works on everybody. Everybody. Get the hell away from it if it’s being used against you for the P. If you can. Tall order, I know.

    @Metal Teapot:

    “Maybe this is because I’m a different generation, but Owly and Speedbudget how do you find partners who don’t use porn? … I’m not meant to see a guy lying about porn use as a violation of trust because I was being unreasonable.”

    That just makes me want to cry. Things are getting worse so fast, I wonder what’s the point of fighting. And I really don’t know. I just can’t do anything else. Anyway, MT, never, ever, ever doubt yourself. You know you’re right. Buying women is wrong. It’s wrong if you just rent them. It’s wrong if you do it long distance. It’s wrong. It doesn’t matter if the whole world does it and you’re the only one who knows it’s wrong. It’s still wrong. Slavery is a crime, even when it happens now.

  153. JR

    Well, I am 40, and I still jump at sounds and don’t trust anyone – no, I don’t have many friends, I find few people trust-worthy enough to let them in close. But what would this amorphous thing called “healing” accomplish? Do I really want to be super popular? I have “healing” preached at me all the time, and after years of having been scolded about “not wanting to do the hard work of healing” by many, many people, what I have gathered it means is “take the drugs we prescribe you, make peace with your past, forgive yourself for your past mistakes in being victimized and forgive the people who hurt you and realize all men aren’t bad! Stop being such a bitch – go out on a limb and trust more people (especially men)! Open yourself to the possibility of being screwed over, raped and beaten more! But remember, when this happens to you, we will blame you for having been dumb.”

    No thanks.

  154. TotallyDorkin

    When a young girl is laying in bed, anxious, sleepless, and the sound of footsteps (of her sister) outside her door triggers her to jump out the bedroom window and break her ankle, that’s PTSD working hard to prevent another sexual assault and fucking up her life and body.

    When a woman is at a professionally required party and some knob is talking to her about the empowerfullness of BDSM and she’s nauseated, faint, feels like she’s leaving her body, that’s PTSD trying to keep her safe and potentially fucking up her career.

    Fixed that for you yttik.

  155. KittyWrangler

    @Metal Teapot re: how to find men who don’t use porn– I don’t know. But what you said about unreasonable expectations and how men simply lie about porn usage struck a nerve. Male proponents of porn use this argument constantly as part of the “men are just dirty dogs who can’t help themselves,” argument. They want to pressure other men into saying porn is great (usually the same dudes who pressure other men into acting “straight” and macho). So whenever a woman brings up that [so & so man] doesn’t use porn as a counter-argument these men condescendingly inform the woman that the man is lying to her, as all men lie to women and all men use porn, so she couldn’t possibly trust her own experiences.

    I don’t want to imply that you didn’t reach these conclusions through some completely separate reasoning or that they aren’t legitimate. But if these macho “silly woman, men lie!” dudes are informing your dating standards, IMO those dudes are full of sh*t.

  156. Owly

    I’m 24, so I’m not sure if we’re in the same generation, Metal Teapot. Really, there was a third that gave it up on his own, too, in my pre-radfem days. The only answer I can think of is this:

    All of the dudes I date are politically pretty far to the left. The current Nigel is a socialist (to put it mildly)and the argument I used to win him over was that he was using his fellow human beings as faceless bodies to be bought, sold, and trashed when they are no longer of any use, all for personal gain. Sound familiar?
    He asked about those “loving exhibitionist couples who love for people to watch them” and if it was ok to use that. My response: whatever helps you sleep at night.

    It worked, and I know he’s not lying. (He likes this website, so I might get in trouble here) I’ve done a bit of light snooping to make sure that, as far as I can tell, he’s either given it up or is much, much cleverer than me. He is one of the most stubborn people I know so he would have refused to give up porn if he thought it was still ok. Which would end in me dumping him, of course. Maybe he didn’t changed his mind and just gave it up because he’s afraid of me leaving him, but that would be very out of character for him. I hope not.

    Since I’ve had luck with 3 guys in a row, I always wonder what would happen to me if things with my current partner didn’t work out. I like being by myself, but if I ever did want to get into another relationship, my (woefully straight) self would have to weed through all the trash to find someone who agrees with me politically. And I refuse to do otherwise, I’d much rather be alone for the rest of my life.

    Good luck to you.

  157. Hari

    Healing, for me, means being ok with but a few trusted friends, and otherwise being ok alone. It means knowing my frequent feelings of rage and grief are normal. It has meant refusing the meds and the ‘adjustment’ therapies, because I know what’s ‘crazy’ is adjusting to the horror. It’s also beginning to mean I don’t need to be hyperalert at all times, so I can relax more and sleep better. It means I can set boundaries w/people–and if they don’t like that, we can’t be friends or work together, fine with me. Life in the P sucks. Life for myself, with myself and in company occasionally with a chosen few, doesn’t have to every minute.

  158. Kea

    I’m with yttik, TotallyDorkin et al on PTSD. It is certainly debilitating, but the alternative (being ‘cured’) is too horrific to contemplate. There may be a few radfem women for whom this is not the case, but surely a true awareness of one’s surroundings (ie. the P) is almost identified with this altered state of mind. Personally, one way the P has got at me is to deliberately ignore the PTSD and deny me any potential ‘treatment’. Once a doctor said (on national TV!) that I might suffer PTSD as a result of XYZ. The response I got from people I knew was mostly along the lines of, “hah! your the one who has caused US PTSD!”. So, it’s possible to be proud of the PTSD, as a radfem soldier.

  159. Kea

    (sic) your

  160. f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact

    In regards to PTSD being a survival skill or coping mechanism I don’t think my PTSD is going to prevent another assault from happening.

  161. phio gistic

    Zillmann and Bryant did studies showing that porn users wildly overestimate the incidence of bizarre sexual practices in the real world. Naturally they are going to overestimate incidence of porn use. Users and sellers also both have a significant interest in convincing the world that ‘everybody does it.’

  162. Margaret

    Back in the day, ex-hubbie went to marriage counseling with me because it was a last-ditch attempt to keep me from leaving because he was a father who had little to do with our two babies and was extremely abusive towards me, and absolutely never helped with the house or babies even though I worked full time and probably lived on 5 hours sleep a night. The counsellor fell for hubbies’ “I love my wife and am terribly confused about why she’s so angry” take on the situation and told me the problems were due to my “postpartum depression”. Fast forward to today – I have PTSD. IBTP.

    Which reminds me, a lot of postpartum depression might be about blaming the patriarchy before one can fully comprehend what the P is.

  163. Phledge

    So, one of the important diagnostic criteria for PTSD is that it, the disease itself, must cause significant distress or functional impairment. Let’s dismiss the possibility of functionality from PTSD, since that’s a bullshit description of the disease. I was being flippant about every woman having PTSD; what we really all have is resilience, stealth, creativity, and strength in the face of a dismal and hostile environment. Two totally different things.

    So, yttik, without speaking for you I think that may be where you’re coming from? I hope you can’t be suggesting that losing functionality is a good thing for anyone, let alone women in (more) treacherous trenches.

  164. little earthquakes

    While I would rather not have complex-PTSD, there’s no doubt that traumatic disorders are stigmatized, and they shouldn’t be. No woman anywhere should be pressured to heal from PTSD, especially not because nobody wants to have to deal with some bothersome woman with PTSD, but unfortunately that’s just how it is with anything to do with women – nobody wants to put up with our whining blah blah.

    However, recovery is possible, and undoing the past is not, so I look forward to the day when my intelligence and understanding and the insights I’ve gained from my own experiences serve me as a survival skill – y’know, just like they do now – *without* the shitful PTSD.

    The thing is, yttik, I had PTSD for *years* and it never did me any good until I could a)name my experience and b)recover the attendant memories. 13 years of a whole lot of shit, including (and this is common to a LOT of survivors) repeated revictimization. That is something PTSD leaves you susceptible to – revictimization. PTSD is, in a lot of ways, an injury to instinct. Of course no woman should be blamed for being injured, just like no woman should be blamed for being raped or harrassed or oppressed.

    Trouble is, the first two examples you give, yttik, aren’t actually *of* PTSD – they’re examples of fight or flight response acting in the moment. It’s *post* traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes it doesn’t manifest for months or years. And when you have PTSD and don’t know what’s happening to you, or that you have it, you’re on a date with some knob who’s talking about how empowerfulizing exploitation can be and you’re feeling faint and nauseated and you’re nodding along with him thinking wow, there’s something really wrong with me, my brain and body can’t be trusted, he probably has a really good point.

    This is such a great discussion by the way, thank-you everybody, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to talk about PTSD with other actual feminists.

  165. qvaken

    Metal Teapot: “I have grown up to believe that if a man says he doesn’t watch porn he is lying to you. I think, I’d rather a partner didn’t watch porn, but I’d also like several million dollars and to never have to work again. … my cultural programming tells me that I’m not meant to see a guy lying about porn use as a violation of trust because I was being unreasonable.”

    I’ve grown up to believe a LOT of things about men and women that basically state that men are allowed to do whatever they want without repercussions because they’re awesome and great, and women are hopeless and they should really learn to take responsibility and they should also learn that this is the way things are and this is the way things are meant to be and don’t complain.

    All men watch porn! Men are sexual beings – it’s biological. Men are visual beings. All men lie to women. Men are more commanding in job interviews and in the workplace. Men tend to be upfront and get things off of their chests right away so that problems get sorted. Men are naturally more aggressive – it’s their high levels of testosterone. Men are naturally pursuant. Men can’t get pregnant. Men are only likely to get STIs if they’re gay. Men need man-time.

    Women are sensual beings. Women require romantic security. Women give their male partners a hard time all the time! Women do what it takes to keep an ideal man. Women are demure and therefore less likely to be successful in job interviews and in the workplace. Women go behind people’s backs when there are problems and so they get worse. Women are naturally more nurturing and nesting – it’s their high levels of estrogen. Women are naturally enchanting. Women get pregnant and get STIs if they have sex. Women require men all the time.

    Not that I rely on online dictionaries and thesauruses when I’m commenting on blog entries, but I did happen to stumble upon this just now:

    coy/koi/
    Adjective:

    (esp. of a woman) Making a pretense of shyness or modesty that is intended to be alluring but is often regarded as irritating.

    See? It’s even in the dictionary!

    And yeah, my point is that I grew up believing that men are meant to be that way, men are great, and it’s bad of women to complain, bad bad women – bad.

    Once I realised that it was all just deliberate cultural education, then I started to smell the bullshit, and I realised that it was fine and good to stand up for myself, and who I was, and what I wanted. Not that It’s Just That Easy! because I still receive heavy opposition and I get unsure of myself all the time, but it does set you on a good path toward trusting yourself more and taking less crap from others.

  166. qvaken

    Oh, also, Metal Teapot: “I’d rather a partner didn’t watch porn, but I’d also like several million dollars and to never have to work again.” Remember this: It’s REALLY NOT THAT BIG AN ASK to request that he not watch porn. I say that to mean, if you’re leaning toward wanting him to not watch it, then do go ahead and tell him so, because he’s not going to die on the spot and you won’t go to jail for nag-murder.

  167. Hari

    Thank you, little earthquakes for all of that!

    qvaken: “…he’s not going to die on the spot and you won’t go to jail for nag-murder.”

    Quite right! “What’s the worst that could happen?” is a good question to ask when confronted with breaking taboos that make one feel afraid.

  168. tinfoil hattie

    “not wanting to do the hard work of healing”

    Yeah, because living with the effects of constant trauma and abuse is so fucking easy.

    Kiss my ass, JR’s “friends.”

  169. yttik

    All symptoms of PTSD begin as survival skills that are built into the brain. There really are these chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters! PTSD is really hard to get rid of for just that reason, it has been laid down in your brain pathways as a set of survival skills. Until you can convince your brain that the danger is gone and not coming back, it’s going to continue right on in survival mode. Your brain in survival mode sucks and yes, creates functional impairment as well as stress on your physical body. We’re designed to be in flight or fight mode for a few minutes, not 30 yrs.

    PTSD is not a character defect, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is a normal, rational, healthy response to a horrendous situation.

    This is real problem with much of psychology, women themselves are often treated as if they were the illness, rather then simply healthy beings responding quite naturally to a set of unpleasant circumstances. We are hysterical, paranoid, suffering from PTSD, needing treatment for our “issues”, as if all the symptoms of abuse are the actual problem itself.

    The fact that so many women are unwilling to even discuss that PTSD stems from a set of survival skills, surprises me. It doesn’t just manifest itself out of nowhere. Can we honor women and the brain’s amazing coping strategy? No!

    Kea said, “So, it’s possible to be proud of the PTSD, as a radfem soldier.” Yep! Yes, it sure is.

  170. Hari

    yttik, you are mixing up so much misunderstanding with a little truth that it’s very hard to hear you. Of course PTSD is not a character defect or sign of weakness, forfucksake. Why is it so damn impossible to acknowledge that it is a disease? That is, it’s a bodymind syndrome that undermines the physical and mental health of the sufferer in measurable ways that get worse over time. THAT GET WORSE OVER TIME. Just like an infection that goes unchecked, like a cancer or a fucking vitamin deficiency all do as well–create deeper ill-health over time. If you have PTSD and love the hell out of it, fine–but it’s plain nonsense to tell any of the rest of us that it’s any kind of help to our lives, whatsoever. We know exactly what it is, for ourselves.

  171. Darragh Murphy

    The words Post and Disorder are in there for a reason. PTSD is, by definition, a response to traumatic stress AFTER the trauma is over. Watching your child be hit by a car is a traumatic experience that the body smartly and productively responds to by filling you with adrenaline and shutting down the analytical part of your brain — you immediately REACT to help your child.

    Watching your child be hit by that same car over and over again in your nightmares every day for the rest of your life is PTSD and it disorders your ability to function effectively in your environment. It retards your ability to protect your other children and serves no good purpose at all.

  172. Darragh Murphy

    Or, to put it another way, PTSD could only ever be present for women in Patriarchy AFTER the revolution when we are all throwing back margs on Savage Death Island. Until the traumatic stress is in the past, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not in play. Coping mechanisms and physical responses to fear/danger/hatred are definitely in play for women in Patriarchy, but those things aren’t PTSD.

  173. Kali

    Maybe this is because I’m a different generation, but Owly and Speedbudget how do you find partners who don’t use porn? I have grown up to believe that if a man says he doesn’t watch porn he is lying to you.

    This is one big reason why I prefer to be single. I don’t even want to think about whether or not Nigel is using porn. He may be telling the truth or he may not. I don’t want to go through the doubt, the questioning, the snooping, the trying to convince myself that he is telling the truth. I don’t think it is worth it. It might be for others, but not for me.

  174. yttik

    You know, paranoia is not a disease when everybody really is out to get you.

  175. Darragh Murphy

    If everyone is out to get you, it’s not paranoia. Paranoia is, by definition, “a delusion of persecution,” it’s not actual persecution. Not trying to nitpick, but the distinction is important. PTSD takes a terrible toll on people — it leads to drug abuse, self-harm, and feelings of destitution, despair, and worthlessness.

    With regard to women in patriarchy it’s not PTSD that causes those same feelings, it’s the P! For those of us who have suffered extreme harm under the P, the ongoing PTSD is not helpful. The only thing that can help extreme sufferers under the P is radical feminism, not PTSD.

  176. Kea

    Darragh, that’s BS. The PTSD results after specific events, or more likely a long sequence of them, that occur in the P. How dare you suggest we can’t generically have it until after the P is gone. I think we can all agree, those of us with the real experience, that PTSD is not the healthiest possible frame of mind. It is a concrete condition, and I think yttik describes its origin quite well. People also say autism is a disease. A disease is NOT the same thing as a disorder, which appears to be a natural process in the mind. And if we weren’t in the P, we wouldn’t need to use a negative word like disorder, implying that one should always aim to conform.

  177. Darragh Murphy

    Because you can’t have a post traumatic disorder while the trauma is ongoing. Duh.

  178. Kea

    No, Darragh, just no. One can have PTSD generated by some events, and still be suffering from it when the next few events come along, as they certainly will. The PTSD does not magically disappear when something terrible happens! Rather, it just gets worse afterwards.

  179. Kea

    Darragh, when a war ends, it is not the party at the end of the war that generates the PTSD. It is the specific, horrific events that were faced during the war. And the PTSD does not necessarily wait until the end of the war to set in.

  180. Darragh Murphy

    Kea, I totally agree. My point is that PTSD is not a coping strategy and it doesn’t mitigate the ongoing trauma of living as a woman in the Patriarchy. Brain/body responses to ongoing trauma, like fight/flight, hyper-vigilance, and adrenalin rushes are good, effective, and normal responses to traumatic threats and experiences (like being a woman in an oppressive patriarchy). They are not symptoms of a disorder and having them means youre sane, not mentally ill.

    The PTSD so many women suffer after sexual assault, violence at home, and even just day to day life is not helpful to us after the events are over or as we continue to live in the war that is the P.

  181. yttik

    “The PTSD so many women suffer after sexual assault, violence at home, and even just day to day life is not helpful to us after the events are over”

    But see, several women on this thread pointed out that the war is NOT over and they don’t feel as if healing and therapy is the solution FOR THEM, because they don’t feel as if they are the problem. Rather than just accept that as their own perception of their own experience, a dozen people came forward and insisted that everybody CONFORM to the idea that PTSD is a disease requiring therapy, healing, and treatment.

    People need to back off, because what worked for you or I may not work for somebody else. Some women have been grossly harmed by bad therapy and some women feel as if they still need their survival skills. It’s disrespectful to demand that they just CONFORM to a therapeutic ideal because you or I think we know what’s best for them.

    I didn’t pull this crap out of my ear, those who do the best work with PTSD survivors will clearly tell you that PTSD is a condition, NOT a disease, NOT a mental illness. It is a lasting reaction to a horrifying event.
    PTSD is a response by normal people to an abnormal event.

  182. Kea

    Darragh, people also call autism a ‘mental illness’ which needs to be ‘cured’, but many of us auties call this by another name: genocide. One should be very, very careful about putting labels on (non disease) mental conditions where the ‘Cure’ inevitably involves Conformity, with a capital C. Nobody is saying they want to live with PTSD if their is an alternative. Heck, no.

  183. Kea

    there, duh

  184. Darragh Murphy

    Absolutely, the war is not over. Not for individual women, to greater and lesser degrees, and definitely not for women as a class.

    PTSD is not a mental illness, sorry if I implied I think it is. All those words are so loaded though. I know people who suffer from PTSD, as we all do, and they are definitely NOT crazy. Normal reactions to abnormal situations lead to PTSD for many people, depending on the type and intensity of the trauma. Normal reactions.

    For anyone who finds that dissociative thinking, nightmares, inability to focus, stay employed, or relax enough to ever feel joy or peace in your daily life are reactions you find HELPFULin dealing with ongoing trauma, well more power to you.

    I’m emphatically NOT suggesting therapy. In my experience therapy is bs. What works: money, freedom from overwhelming burdens, loving friends/family, and (drumroll) radical feminism.

  185. Kea

    For anyone who finds that dissociative thinking, nightmares, inability to focus, stay employed, or relax enough to ever feel joy or peace in your daily life are reactions you find HELPFUL …

    Nah, not helpful, think we can all agree on this one, Darragh.

  186. qvaken

    I sorta see where yttik is coming from. But I think that I’m really not well-versed enough on PTSD, so don’t take my word for it.

    At work, I was told that I wouldn’t be getting the full time position, and I would only be offered hours that I knew weren’t enough for me to pay the bills. I cried for about 6 hours straight at work, and then a co-worker invited me over for dinner after work because I was still distraught. Then, I was “sick” (depressed, unable to sleep, unable to get up in the morning) for four days.

    What was getting me so upset was the memory of becoming homeless from my housemate’s violence less than a year earlier, accepting an ex-boyfriend’s invitation for a place to stay the night and giving in to him raping me (after hours of saying no and crying) in the hope that I could stay, getting kicked out by him, and his telling me, “You need to grow up and quit university and get a full time job and buy a house. If you keep staying at other people’s houses, then you’ve got to expect that they can kick you out if they want to.”

    My boss (said a lot of inappropriate things after seeing my response, and I’ve spoken to HIS boss and he’s going to get a talking-to, but he also) reminded me that these decisions are made to suit the best interests of the business, and so while individuals want what they want, they’ve got to deal with the fact that they’re not always going to get it. I told him, “Yes, but you’ve got to realise that people are GOING to get upset when you don’t give them what they want. Don’t expect them to be happy about it.”

    And so my crying so much and becoming depressed WAS because of a trauma from some time ago, but I was really proud of myself for sticking up for myself and saying, “Yes I got really upset, and I’m allowed to. Don’t tell me to do it differently.”

  187. Kea

    What was getting me so upset was the memory of becoming homeless …

    Yes, the patronising attitude of the privileged is at its worst when they tell you not to be upset over a trifle, when in reality they are calmly destroying your entire life. I had the leave uni, buy house thing screamed at me by everybody I knew at the age of 20, and then enforced. As an older warrior I can now look back on this as a childhood battle, with plastic swords that won’t actually kill you. So when some dude who never even went through that ONE THING tries to talk down to me (which they ALL do) I SEE THEM for what they are.

  188. Hari

    yttik: “those who do the best work with PTSD survivors will clearly tell you that PTSD is a condition, NOT a disease,…”

    It is a condition that, if unchecked, does lead to disease. It is a state of profound and encompassing dis-ease that disrupts sleep, digestion, heart/circulation and all body systems. Over time, those disruptions can and often do lead to physical disease and potentially mental illness as well. For instance: lack of sleep due to hyperalertness over long periods can lead to weight gain and general lethargy, which can lead to diabetes along with knee and foot problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, poor immune system functioning (including greater risk of auto-immune disorders); lack of sleep can cause great difficulty maintaining emotional stability, leading to potential loss of workdays and even one’s job, disruptions of relationships with family/friends, poor anger control, suicidal depression…the list goes on.

    PTSD is indeed a normal reaction to trauma, and as others have said, it can be complexified/compounded by further traumatic events. Professional therapy may or may not be helpful, depending on the individual and also on what resources they have to find/pay for therapy. But professional therapy is not a requirement for healing–I certainly have not used it. People can help themselves in a lot of ways. It’s a highly personal choice, of course, and if someone is happy living with their PTSD and wants nothing more for any reason, that’s up to her.

    If someone gave you an infection, or exposed you to toxins that caused you cancer, it would not be your fault–but it would still be your problem. You would not be ‘wrong’, not a bad or abnormal person for having been victimized in that way–but you would still have a problem that could kill you, or at least make your life more wretched over time. If you someone had infected you, or exposed you to cancer causing toxins, you would just ordinarily and without much ado figure out how to get help, or help yourself, rather than die/suffer. Why should PTSD be any different in our minds? Sure, hold onto it if that’s what means the most to you. No one wants to take it away, or judge you for feeling a need to keep it. As an individual, that’s your choice to make.

    And there are womyn reading here who JUST MIGHT want to know that there are choices they can make to stop PTSD from running–and ruining– their lives. It’s not that anyone wants everyone to do as some choose to do, in seeking healing in some way–but some of us want to make sure that at least, everyone knows there actually are choices. Anyone who continues to argue against that would seem to be hoping for all others to conform to their choices, much as they might claim that it is we who are somehow pressuring for conformity.

  189. Kea

    Hari, nobody WANTS something so horrible as PTSD. The point is that there are circumstances where it is inevitable, the only alternative being, essentially, a labotomy. If someone wants to give me a million dollars, then sure, that would help. Don’t see it happening.

  190. susanw

    A RadFem psychiatrist saved my life. Twenty years of bobbing, weaving and groveling to avoid my mother’s relentless and insanely inventive attempts to kill me took a terrible toll. I still jump a foot if someone comes up behind me. I can’t make that go away; it’s in my bones. However, I haven’t disassociated for over forty years. I used to slip out of my body and watch myself from a very high box in an opera house whenever I was in a situation that hinted of emotional closeness. PTSD is not my friend. It does not and did not protect me. Being hyper-vigilant is natural in dangerous situations, but a state of constant Red Alert is exhausting and renders all threats, real and imagined, equal. It also numbed me out and made me even more vulnerable to danger. No, not a big fan of PTSD. LOVE Cunt’n'Paste.

  191. Hari

    Kea: “nobody WANTS something so horrible as PTSD. The point is that there are circumstances where it is inevitable, the only alternative being, essentially, a labotomy”

    Yes, your point is clear–we agree. My comments were mainly directed at yttik, or others who have not just defended their choices wrt PTSD, but have made very strong and inaccurate statements about it otherwise. yttik, for instance, who accuses some of pressuring others to “CONFORM”, while insisting that PTSD is our friend.

    susanw–thanks for all that. “Healing” is definitely a relative term with PTSD. And I’ll take what I can get for myself, for sure–and encourage others to do the same, if they are interested in a less awful life.

  192. Keri

    Before this thread started, I ironically just ordered a 10 week PTSD workbook that came in the mail yesterday. I would very much like to lessen the reaction to my triggers if possible because PTSD is also not my friend and it definitely does not keep me safer. Instead, it causes much deer in the headlights can’t move, can’t feel, can’t react appropriately terrifying paralysis.

    I’ll report back in 10 weeks and let you know if it helped because PTSD is NOT useful. It’s just all kinds of fucked up and thanks again to the P for a lifetime of dudely violence and torture that gave it to me.

  193. Hari

    Hey Keri–do let us know about it as you learn more. I am interested in all kinds of tools in this ongoing process of healing. If Twisty doesn’t mind–got a link to info on that workbook?

  194. Keri

    I bought it off the Amazon: http://ptsdworkbook.com/

    I like concrete steps to things rather than just random processing of shit that affects you so I thought I would give this a whirl. As someone said earlier, I hate how my PTSD impacts those that I love making me an unreachable mess. I don’t want to be like that. And it makes me really angry that the impact of dudes stays with me and interferes with my life and interactions. IBTP.

  195. Hari

    thanks!

  196. otoc

    I found “Healing Trauma” by Peter Levine helpful. It’s also a short read which is nice if you’re in a bad place.

  197. otoc

    EMDR also got rid of one of my obsessive flashbacks I had struggled with for years. I couldn’t do EMDR with the eye tracking and wrist tapping stuff though, so the first couple of times I tried it, it didn’t work at all. There’s an EMDR machine some therapists use and I did it once and have not had that flashback since.

  198. qvaken

    Kea: what did the people around you do to enforce the “leave uni, buy house” thing? (I nearly wrote, “leave house, buy uni” just then.)

    Keri: “I hate how my PTSD impacts those that I love making me an unreachable mess.”

    I think that I just realised why I’ve wound up in a couple of disagreements in these comments sections, being on the “Leave people alone and let them make their own decisions and don’t force them into therapy!” camp. I don’t HAVE loved ones. When I was seven and got a phone call from a pedophile, my parents left me to figure out the emotional, sexual and identity side of things on my own, and they did that with every issue from there on. These days I SMS my family at Christmas and that’s it.

    Every time that somebody is desperate to help me out, they’re NOT a loved one, and so basically it’s been a bad (sometimes dangerous) experience. The best thing that anyone can do to help me is to fully respect my agency and my ability to (at least eventually) figure out what I need to do to get through it.

    So yeah. I don’t mean that as a comparison, I mean it as a, “Sometimes I’m going to have a lot of trouble understanding where people in these comments are coming from, and they might have trouble understanding what the heck I’m on about, and now I realise why that is.”

  199. Kea

    qvaken, they managed to completely convince me that I would be left to starve to death if I didn’t get a ‘proper’ job. Of course, I never actually bought a house. All my income went on food for the partner’s household, so that when I eventually left him I had zippo.

  200. Phledge

    Piratequeen: WHERE ARE YOU? Radfem mental healthcare? Really? That is SO AWESOME.

  201. qvaken

    Kea: That’s a huge fear to instill in you. It’s ridiculous. Was it that trendy theme, “You’ve got to do it on your own. If you expect anybody to help you out, then you’re being a spoiled brat”? Also, buying a house is an extremely difficult, sometimes impossible, ask, because of the aforementioned trend.

  202. nails

    I’m kind of late to the party, but I don’t understand the psychology hatred at all. If you’re complaining about freud/his theories of psychoanalysis, you’re way the hell behind. It is very difficult to discredit things like cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapies (for people with OCD and phobias). There is hard evidence that they help people. Psychological strategies used in acute psychiatric episodes save lives. Drugs do not do all the work in helping people with serious mental disorders. They help countless people live more fulfilling lives. The feeling good handbook has a lot of information about the effectiveness of CBT methods and examples of problems people had that made their lives unlivable. It is easy to dismiss the need for psychological help when you can live normally. When you can’t (or have cared for people who couldn’t) its obvious how needed the service is.

    I have actually always seen this issue in the exact opposite way than many of the people here- why do you think mental health care had different premiums than normal doctors visits? It is because women were the primary patients of mental health practitioners. It isn’t because of anything made up, living as a woman often means being traumatized repeatedly, and *any* population that goes through that will have members who need help from other people. There are better outcomes associated with using mental health services and so I believe that they should be freely available to everyone.

    What did people do before that? They got put in institutions or people tried to exercise the demons out of them. They went to their religious leaders and got told to pray the gay away or to put on a happy face until they really feel happy. They were told to do a lot of things that don’t work.

    I also believe that concepts such as personality disorders are useful for understanding many of the people who live in the world.

    “PTSD is not a mental illness, sorry if I implied I think it is. All those words are so loaded though. I know people who suffer from PTSD, as we all do, and they are definitely NOT crazy.”

    what the hell is this? Of course it is a mental illness. You can say that mesothelioma is a natural reaction to asbestos exposure (and it is), but that doesn’t make mesothelioma not a disease. You can say that AIDS is a natural outcome to HIV infection (it is), that doesn’t make AIDS non-pathenogenic.

    Mental illness is like any other illness. The person who has it isn’t asking for it or “crazy” or weak or anything else. Mental illness isn’t a reason to discredit someone, and mental illness is generally only diagnosed if the person with it is having a serious life difficulty as a result of the symptoms. PTSD can and does make people unable to work or live their lives. That is a problem that needs treatment.

  203. Hari

    Nails–your general point is well-taken, but the issue for many with the term ‘mental illness’ is that it too often is used against womyn. As in, “she was just nuts anyway. Nothing so awful happened to her, it was just that she couldn’t normally adjust to what happened (or to ‘the way it IS’, in our society) because of her mental illness”.

    Most people think of mental illness far differently than physical illness. One might get an infection, and be unafraid to say “I’m physically ill and need healing help”–we all know such things happen to people on a regular basis, physical illnesses come and go in every perfectly normal person. Mental illness, on the other hand, is seen as an inherent, born defect. Indeed, there is a lot of #2 science going on right now, to prove the genetic links to any/all mental illness. I’m not saying that no one is ever born with a genetic pre-disposition to some forms of mental illness. I do reject the idea that all mental illness is the result of genetics, when it is so obvious that quite a bit of it (for womyn anyway) is the result of trauma, abuse, social/environmental factors that place too intense a degree of chronic stress upon us.

    That makes the society inherently sick, not us. Even though I do know PTSD as a condition of dis-ease, and know womyn can benefit from getting (or giving themselves) healing help, it still important to keep the focus of ‘illness’ on the source.

  204. yttik

    Women have a long and horrendous history with psychology and the patriarchy, especially less privileged women. Given that very real history and the negative experiences some women still report today, I have no idea why there would be so much resistance to even discussing the issue.

    Those who are vehemently defending psychology with comments like “kiss my ass” and “cuntnpaste” are simply replicating the patriarchy and attempting to silence other women. There’s no need to worry, the entire mental health system is a huge and dominant institution that will not fall apart simply because of the comments of a few women on a blog.

  205. Fictional Queen

    I don’t understand why a man accidentally saying c*nt is so funny and cool!

  206. pheeno

    For the same reason it was funny in 5th grade when I repeatedly (and not on purpose) mispronounced organism as orgasm while reading aloud in Social Studies. I didn’t mean to do it the first time, and the few times after that it was as if I was doomed to forever mispronounce that damned word.

    Sometimes, mild embarrassment is amusing. This is why damnyouautocorrect is hilarious. And few people escape these types of embarrassing moments, so we find humor in it when others land in it as well.

  207. Kea

    qvaken: If you expect anybody to help you out, then you’re being a spoiled brat …

    It often starts that way, doesn’t it? However, they knew that I had no expectations whatsoever that anyone would ever help me out. No, the problem came down to wanting a path into ManWorld. Most men in those days (the 1980s) pretty much either ignored me or harrassed me, so it was mostly the women, and their concern that no woman could ever possibly be happy without a large family to care for. Hence the house requirement.

  208. tinfoil hattie

    Ginjoint is a man?

  209. Hari

    yttik: “Those who are vehemently defending psychology… are simply replicating the patriarchy and attempting to silence other women. ”

    Oh snap!

    Womyn defending their point of view as equally valid as any and refusing to be silenced by anyone–this is patriarchy replication? Seems it’s just very hard to step outside of the P’s power dynamics to allow that ‘what is good for me’ and ‘what is good for you’ might differ significantly, and still both be valid. There just always has to be a winner and loser somehow.

  210. yttik

    Hari, you deliberately replaced the whole meaning of my sentence with a series of dots! Those words you left out were specific examples of negative attacks, that yes, replicate the patriarchy.

    Psychology is the dominant institution here. Women who want to discuss some of it’s negative aspects should not be told they are full of bullshit, their perceptions are wrong, kiss my ass, or any other assorted personal attack. That’s not defending your view as equal and valid, that’s telling women to shut up.

    I thought there were some interesting points made by Twisty, “Psychology, it may be argued, is an affliction of the patriarchally-invested leisure class.” Several other comments expanded on these themes but then it was all shut down when people began defending psychology and getting quite cranky about it.

  211. Hari

    yttik: no, not deliberately–I did not intend to distort your meaning and apologize if it seems so. It was a judgement call that apparently failed in your eyes. Since you were the author, I’ll take your word for it–sorry.

    Otherwise, I’m going to let this point rest now. Maybe later, we will each be able to see a common ground where now we can’t seem to. Or it will cease to matter!

  212. stacey

    Every time a man is uncovered in the comments, I always think of the line from Austin Powers: “She’s a MAN, man!”

  213. Cyberwulf

    Yttik, why are you so irked by the fact that some blamers here say that therapy has worked for them, and that living with PTSD is not a nice thing? You don’t think that maybe some of the things you said were perceived by those blamers as an attack on and an attempt to silence them?

  214. yttik

    Cyberwolf, therapy is great, more power to you if you found some that worked! However, some women have been abused by the system and others simply don’t feel like they are the ones in need of healing. I’m not insisting that anybody give up their therapy but it sure seems like others are demanding that everybody else view therapy completely positively.

    Living with PTSD is never a nice thing. I never said anything about it being nice. I’m trying to point out the ugly truth that for many women, living with it is the best choice they can make given their circumstances. Rather than insisting that women need to heal their PTSD, why aren’t we insisting that men stop terrorizing them?

  215. Jezebella

    Yttik, that’s about as useful as telling a pregnant woman who wants an abortion that she shouldn’t have sex in the first place. The bell has been rung, a woman has a debilitating condition, and she’s entitled to want to get rid of said condition. It’s not either/or: we can both support women in recovery from PTSD AND insist that men stop terrorizing them.

  216. Kea

    Jezebella, your sentiment is reasonable, but the point is that some women have NO support, including no acceptable option for therapy, even if they had money to pay for it.

  217. yttik

    “a woman has a debilitating condition”

    For many, simply being a woman in the patriarchy is the debilitating condition.

  218. KittyWrangler

    @yttik
    The points you made about PTSD were interesting. Considering how mental illness and disorders have been defined, regarded and treated in modern Western culture it’s important to re-think those definitions.

    But there’s also a history of privileged people regarding a someone’s real live personal struggle with mental illness as some sort of poetry just waiting to be interpreted by “normal” people, some sort of life lesson for the benefit of others– like the stars or grains of sand on the beach. Meanwhile they’re not doing shit to help those struggling or examining the role of mainstream society or really listening to what people with mental illnesses are saying.

    I can’t comment on anything to do with PTSD because I’m speaking from the POV of someone with a different mental illness. But I’m guessing that history may be why many are bristling at the suggestion that their struggle with PTSD is a lesson learned for society.

  219. KittyWrangler

    I’m not saying you are privileged, btw, just pointing out that context.

  220. little earthquakes

    Arguing that PTSD sucks and isn’t useful is NOT an argument for the total fabulousness of therapy and mental health institutions. Many, like myself, think PTSD sucks, is maladaptive, want to heal, and aren’t thrilled with the mental health system – can’t afford it, the free program’s inadequate, there’s little real support – but on the other hand, a lot of women find it useful, just as I did in the beginning of my horrendous trip down the rabbit hole of discovering I’d been sexually abused as a teenager. I don’t anymore, but these positions aren’t mutually exclusive.

    It seems to me, yttik, that you’re mistaking arguments in favour of how shitty PTSD is for arguments exclusively in favour of: therapy, a diagnosis of crazy, and a complete disempowerment of a woman’s right to deal with her problems any way she damn well wishes, not to mention how unrealistic it is for most PTSD sufferers to actually receive any decent support. Also, some – like me – do get bitey when PTSD is romanticized.

    However, I agree that so often, “healing from PTSD is conflated with “becoming normal again so people can keep abusing you.” Mental illness and mental disorders and pretty much anything to do with the “science” of the mind, all of it’s highly stigmatized, and so yeah, there’s the risk of women being branded with a diagnosis of mental illness to make them invisible. But the cure for stigma isn’t to remove yourself from the stigmatized group (in my case, to say I don’t have PTSD I have “survival skills,”) the solution is to end stigma.

    PTSD is STILL not widely accepted as even being a real condition at all, I’ve seen it referred to as “bullshit made up by psychiatrists in order to stigmatize the military,” PTSD is NOT talked about by anybody who doesn’t actually have it, and rather than encourage women to reject the stigmatizing label, it’s better to encourage women to reject stigma itself. Especially when for so many of us, “accepting” a stigmatized label was the only way we could crawl up out of the hole of confusion and shame and stop thinking we’re crazy, start connecting with resources that confirmed and validated our experiences, and end the cycle of aiming all that pain and trauma inwards.

    That said, while I own my condition and call it what it is, I have no plans for becoming “normal” again. “Normal” was 14 years of PTSD without knowing I had it, and “normal” before that was being a child at the mercy of the patriarchy. Healing from PTSD will never be, for me, about getting rid of it. I’ll never be past it. I live with it and it lives with me, and hopefully that process will simply get smarter, keener, easier, and more peaceful.

  221. qvaken

    Yeah, I was going to say that it’s really the stigma that makes the topic of mental illness so sensitive – for me, at least.

    You know that it has negative connotations – in fact, the very label can be used to deny you your voice and your agency; to remove your humanity. You hear over and over about the person who went crazy at work, or that person’s crazy ex-girlfriend, and the speculation about mental illnesses that they might have. The gratification that the critic feels is only amplified if their target has actually been diagnosed.

    You’re warned that if you’re diagnosed, that could impede on your chances of employers hiring you, should they find out – this also means that psychologists, I’ve heard, are trained to try to avoid reaching such conclusions about clients’ mental states. I’ve even had a GP – who I went to to figure out a way to deal with my misery from my uni lecturer bullying me – give me a questionnaire and decide that I was depressed, and then advise me that depressed people are very difficult to deal with, that was why my lecturer was reacting to me the way he was, and I should work to regulate my emotions and behaviour toward others more during my depressed state.

    So let’s face it: no matter what angle you’re coming from about mental illness at the moment – whether you’re doing just fine and don’t want your life to get intercepted by an accusation, or you’re not sure what’s going on and you want to start doing some research, or if you’ve just figured something out about yourself and started a treatment plan, or if you’re years into it, or something else – if it hits close to home, then it’s going to be a really sensitive issue.

  222. qvaken

    I do have a question though: what’s your definition of PTSD? What does it mean to you? I’m asking everybody. I haven’t suffered from PTSD – certainly not a severe kind.

  223. Hari

    Many thanks to all in recent posts who helped try to clarify things with respect to PTSD and healing/therapy. For the record, although I’m white and educated, I’ve also been living below poverty line my whole adult life, and a single parent for far more years than coupled. That is, I’m not so privileged as to have access to decent therpeutic assistance–and otherwise have lived with chronic stress of poverty and marginalization in the P.

    I have no delusions about the P, and my place in it; I sure don’t imagine that choosing to do what healing I can, will have any impact on the P at all. Of course I want men to stop terrorizing us–does that even need to be said for fuck’s sake? But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let PTSD lead me to further fuck up my own life, and I’m sure as hell not going to wait around for the P to die, to get some help when I can help myself in whatever ways. To say and do that is to speak for, to stand up for myself when no one else is going to–a daring feminist act if there is one. And to say/do that is not to judge anyone else at all, for their choices–or for being in a situation imposed by the P, where there are even fewer choices than I have. Or for just feeling, regardless of circumstances, that living with PTSD as it is, without trying to change it, is possibly the only way to remain loyal to one’s victimized self and/or the only way to survive at all. There are certainly times I think very directly that to ever feel ok again would be a betrayal of loyalty to my violated, wounded self–NO, I’ll never pretend all that didn’t happen to me/my kids, ISN’T PRESENTLY HAPPENING in the P! No, I’ll never give up the hyperalertness and so forth, because it’s the only protection I’ve got while living under siege! Those are perfectly valid thoughts leading to perfectly acceptable choices for any survivor.

    In too many ways my personal situation is pretty dire, in fact–my age, health, finances, debt, social isolation playing hugely restrictive parts in my present life and future prospects. It is not at all uncommon for me to consider suicide in detail–or just giving in to the urge to go crazy and be institutionalized at whatever price–to check out mentally, forever, if not actually kill myself. But then I think–NO! I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the P kill me by my own hand–they’ll have to do it themselves and only succeed after dealing with my ferocious fight for my life. Then I think–if I’m going to live, by golly, then I’m going to also smile/laugh sometimes, enjoy my talents, nature and my last kid, get what good I can in being alive. And doing that means carrying on with my work to overcome PTSD as best I can, in any moment I’m able. It’ll never mean the end of the P, nor of my PTSD. And it will mean that I’m doing what I can for ME, being the only person who will, or can. It’s enough for now.

  224. Hari

    qvaken: http://www.uic.edu/classes/psych/psych270/PTSD.htm

    Try this, a sort of synopsis/outline of Judith Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery”. It starts with basics of PTSD and CPTSD and goes into some therapeutic basics.

  225. Kea

    Gee, Hari, you have a very clear way of explaining things. Yes, the only reason not to kill oneself is that it is precisely what they want. But I think they will force me to starve to death in the end.

  226. JR

    qvaken: well I’ve been diagnosed so it isn’t my definition per se. I can tell you how the symptoms manifest for me and they are similar to how many others here speak about them. I have frequent nightmares and don’t sleep well or very much. So I tend to get a lot of things done while other people in the house are asleep, at 40 I’m not used to not sleeping and have trouble imagining non-drugged sleep There are meds to help one sleep but they are addictive or have nasty side effects. I’m “hypervigilant” and don’t trust people. But I’m okay with that. I don’t think most people are worthy of trust, especially men. I live in a crappy neighborhood. I’m constantly rehearsing in my head what I might do in any violent scenario that could come upon me unawares. It makes me feel prepared and in control. I don’t trust authority and this is supposed to be a negative symptom of PTSD. Authority abused and lied to me all my life. But I think people who trust authority are fools. Authority is a tool to make people into slaves. I’m not pretending I’m happier but I feel I have a clearer grasp on things. I feel like maybe it’s a choice between naive happiness and having one’s illusions shattered but knowing the truth and now I know the truth and that can’t be undone. So that’s what it means to me – I know how bad and how fast things can go at any time and any place and I’m always ready for it. I don’t ever really relax.

  227. Hari

    Kea, apparently I didn’t explain very well at all. The point is that *I* don’t want to be dead, but certain people and the P in general would be glad if I was–one more non-compliant womyn out of the way. Yeah, maybe in the end I’ll starve or die of poor health far sooner than my very long lived relations have done, with life in the P for poor, and especially older poor womyn being what it is. But *I* only think of suicide because of the P–not because I’m done desiring to enjoy myself/life, and do a few more worthwhile things. As long as I know I’m still capable of joy and creation, I’ll stick around.

    JR–I agree, a lot of people are really not trustworthy, and especially not men. I also think authority under the P is nothing but a ripoff of agency, control for the benefit solely of the controllers–so I just reject those as ‘symptoms’. They are signs that I’m awake to reality in the P–not something I want cured of. When people say “you have problems with authority”, I say “no, authorities tend to have problems with me, because while I’m capable of being cooperative for good reasons, I am not the least bit compliant for compliancy’s sake. There’s a difference!”

    But I do want to be able to relax better, sleep better, for lots of reasons. None of them having anything to do with putting myself in situations where I have to trust men or be compliant to false authorities more than absolutely necessary. Just for my own enjoyment. Nothing I’ve been through (and still experience in the P) can be undone. Nothing I now fully understand can be unseen. And even carrying the rage, grief and horror, I can also experience enjoyment of life. I’m a complicated person, with great strength borne of surviving along with multiple layers and talents. My grief, rage, horror, my memories and present conditions are all part of me; but they are not ALL of me.

  228. Kea

    Well put again, Hari, except to note that sufficiently powerful authorities have no problem at all in getting rid of non-compliant women.

  229. Hari

    Oh snap again!

    And the day those authorities do, I guess I’ll be in a pickle. Til then, I’m not going to live as if they’ve already gotten rid of me.

  230. qvaken

    Thanks Hari. JR: Well, it’s still your experience, not a textbook’s. So for you, it sounds like it’s constant stress and alertness. Is that exhausting, or do you cope just fine? Re: the authority thing. I’m probably overly optimistic, but although I’ve had a lot of shitty experiences with authority, then I’m still holding on to my idea that it’s not authority per se that’s flawed, it’s what a person who has authority chooses to do with it. Mainly, what I want from a person in authority or who has power over me, is for them to leave me alone, be benign – hopefully that’s realistic…

  231. Twisty

    Rather than insisting that women need to heal their PTSD, why aren’t we insisting that men stop terrorizing them?

    Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.

  232. qvaken

    Twisty: Well, us INSISTING it: THAT part will happen.

  233. TA

    Dang it, is anyone else watching this Hemy Neuman trial on TV? I have been transfixed since yesterday morning and I have woken up the dogs quite a few times yelling at the TV. I apologize for hijacking a thread to get this out, but I don’t know where else to say it.

    In November 2010 there was a mysterious murder here in Atlanta – handsome young father gunned down in broad daylight just minutes after dropping off his son at daycare. Seemed like a professional hit or something.

    Turns out the shooter (Neuman) was the boss of the victim’s wife. For more than a year it’s been insinuated that they (the wife and the shooter) were having an affair. But only the boss was charged, he has confessed, and his plea at this trial is not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity.

    I have been suspicious of this “affair” nonsense from the beginning, and rightly so. He was her BOSS and he was STALKING her. Inappropriate comments, emails, gifts, showing up unexpectedly, etc. – to which she responded diplomatically and repeatedly: I’m a married woman. No, she did not go to H.R. No, she didn’t kick him in the balls, either. She walked that tightrope where you say “no” but in the nicest possible way without offending the guy who WILL NOT LISTEN but who has the power to fire you.

    She had only been employed a few weeks or months when all this started. It doesn’t sound like Neuman was threatening, or that he had any history of violence or harassment. He just made her job and her life difficult. He squicked her out and made her uncomfortable. She said she once held his hand and expressed regret later for that (to my mind, not because she felt guilty but because she felt “crap, now I’ll never get rid of him.”)

    He’s a nebbishy middle-aged engineer. He looks about as physically threatening as Woody Allen. Less creepy, better hair.

    I have watched BOTH the prosecution and the defense rake the victim’s wife over the coals for not rebuffing her boss more forcefully, for telling her friends and her mom but not her husband, for having wine at her business dinners with her boss. WE GET THE POINT – they think she led him on.

    AND SO WHAT IF SHE DID? I have figured out that both sides want to show that Neuman thought they had a torrid sexual relationship. Whether it actually happened or was only his fantasy.

    The prosecution: he was in love and saw the husband as the only barrier to future happiness. = Motive to murder. Which he only had because she didn’t kick him in the balls.

    The defense: he was in love and saw the victim as a threat to his woman and her kids. = Insane but understandable reason to kill. Which wouldn’t have happened if she’d kicked him in the balls.

    Me yelling at TV: he was obsessed with a woman who did not want him but could only obliquely reject him. Her wishes meant nothing to him. He killed her husband, her current title-holder, so that he would inherit her. Entitled male bullshit. Sociopathic and narcissistic, but that’s how the patriarchy works. She couldn’t have changed this because he couldn’t hear her. SHE IS NOT THE ONE ON TRIAL. Except she is.

    P.S. Oh, ick, it’s getting worse now that there are all these other people testifying. Apparently this dude told anyone and everyone that he was totally doing this chick. A whole lot. Which made these witnesses all squirmy and uncomfortable because that’s just not appropriate break-room talk.

    I apologize again, but the internet is all I got.

  234. Cyberwulf

    And I bet if she’d told him to fuck off, he’d have gunned down her husband anyway because clearly that was the only reason she told him to fuck off.

  235. Hari

    Yeah Cyberwulf–

    That, or fired her. And maybe stalked her, and gunned HER down.

    And you know, I just had to hear some smug Marxist ‘feminist’ spew a whole lotta hogwash about feminism-bourgeousie-this-and-proletariat-that, ending with “Because the key obstacle to women’s liberation is the capitalist system, and feminism points to every man as the enemy, it disarms the women’s movement and points them at the wrong target.”

    Yeah, because there is no such thing as the hatred of womyn in the real world. I guess that M-F (marxist feminist, of course) is so busy reading what men have to say about feminism, she doesn’t have time to watch the news.

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