We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Few like to admit that hate and anger are enjoyable for human beings. From a psychiatric standpoint, hate and anger are "pleasurable" emotions, and righteous anger and hate are among the most satisfying of human emotions.
I had planned to write Part 2 on Depression this week, but this is more pressing. Our News Junkie put his finger on it yesterday when he referred to the "Hate Party" going on in the Middle East. Indeed it is a party. What we are not permitted to report, in this modern-day New Puritanism world, is how much fun they are having.
Those Moslem haters of the Western World are having a great time. Adrenaline flowing. Peer-sanctioned excuses for disinhibition of emotion, leading to destruction. Mobs led by instigators getting everyone high on regressive group-think. Riots, fights, and mayhem run deep in human nature. Don't we enjoy watching it on the news, and in movies?
This is not unique to extremist Moslems, by any means. The NJ referred to the KKK's fire-lit Parties of Hate, but I can simply point to yesterday's Coretta King funeral for the most recent American Hate Fest, or the Kos website. People, sad to say, do enjoy opportunities for free expression of hate and anger. It is common, in Psychiatry, to find patients who refuse to let go of it, it is so satisfying and enjoyable. (I know, this truth is not supposed to be stated. People are just so nice at heart, aren't they, Jimmy Carter?)
It is not necessary to be a paranoid to be looking for a fight. All humans are energized by a battle, but generally the guard-rails of culture and civilization contain the expression of these impulses. But humans welcome socially-sanctioned opportunities for it. Paranoid individuals, and those from paranoid-tinged cultures, have an easier time finding those opportunities, especially when led by clever manipulators. Europe, and the Middle East, now are filled with such folks who are like the half-in-the-bag guy at the bar saying "What you lookin' at?"
Spoiling for an exciting fight. And dangerous, because they haven't signed the Social Contract. It's one of the reasons we need civilization: not to repress such emotions, but to contain our base human nature so we can pursue more worthy goals and more benign relationships.
In this New Age of psychology run amuck, we all give too much validity and credibility to emotion. Since when are we expected to "understand people's feelings"? That is pop psychobabble, for the most part. It's very odd that a revolution of Reason, The Enlightenment, has led to this idealization of emotion. Can we blame it all on Rousseau? As irrational biological instincts which really cannot be controlled (although behavior in response to them can be, by normal sober adults), emotions deserve no particular respect, and they are meaningful data only in a shrink's office (or, if the emotion is passionate love, to your beloved). How come on this blog we constantly feel the need to repeat the AA Mantra: "Feelings aren't Facts."?
How to deal with out of control anger, tantrum, and mayhem? In my profession, with firm limits. In the big world, with the firm limits of force. Such things wake people up to an anti-regressive reality. Nothing else will. Reason does not work with the regressed, with the paranoid, or with those intoxicated with the barbarian, yet human, joys of rage and destruction. Fight for free speech? With great pleasure!
Anger and hatred most decidedly are not pleasant emotions to be in the grip of. Your tone, dear analyst, is smug and full of yourself today. Perhaps your bread and butter patients are getting to you so you are blaming the victim. Understandable--take a day off, go kill something defenseless, so that you can put your compassionate wizard's hat back on.
Everyone I know, myself included, who has horrified themselves catching themselves in the midst of a tantrum, knows how disgusted with oneself, repentant and wanting to make amends one feels afterwards. Perhaps if you had actually raised your toddlers instead of leaving a mere woman to do it (not the genius MD who is above diapers and 24/7 child care) you might realize this.
Adult tantrums are a regression that the victim in no way wills or enjoys. Of course we should be held accountable for them, urged to behave better, etc. But if, as a shrink, you think anyone enjoys them, you are in the wrong profession. Your vocation is to be empathic, help your patients develop better self control so that they no longer disgrace themselves and all that they hold dear. Being vicious and critical and judgmental and even your touted firm limits do not always work. Kind sympathy, encouragement, making the person feel understood and believed in are far more likely to promote adult behavior than limits alone. Yes, boundaries (and certainly border fences) matter. But the root causes of emotional and economic and political agony cannot be solved by firm police work alone.
If I were to treat my rebellious adolescent with the typical "these people need limits" approach which you advocate (and, indeed, there are moments when it would be satisfying in the short term to feel the boss, the superior, as if I know what the hell I am doing) she would spit in my eye, run away from home, and be lost to me forever. Tough love is easier for people who aren't very loving to begin with. Oh, and by the way, those tough love programs don't actually work. They are excuses for people to indulge their frustrations and vindictiveness at the kids who have caused them so much trouble and expense.