Jul. 27th, 2012

xenologer: (Lisbeth)
CaptainAwkward #247: Marrying into a family with awful boundary issues, or, secrets of dealing with Highly Difficult People
Here are some underlying principles that might help you in dealing with Alice.

You cannot control Alice’s behavior. You cannot predict Alice’s behavior. You cannot prevent Alice’s behavior. Alice is gonna do what Alice is gonna do, which is cry and shower displeasure and guilt on her family, who will cheerfully pass it onto you, because that’s how they roll.

Alice is going to throw tantrums and be shitty NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO. I think that is helpful to know. Keep reminding yourself. Alice will find ways to be shitty and intrusive, because she is a shitty intrusive control freak who needs to make everything about her and who will projectile vomit blame all over everyone.

Also, Alice is not going to get better. She is not going to have a sudden revelation of self-awareness and stop this stuff. She may mellow with age and time, but she is always going to be somewhat like this.

Here’s what’s powerful about realizing this: Once a person shows that they don’t give a shit about the social contract and have no shame about throwing adult temper tantrums in public, it kind of frees you from giving a shit about what they think of you. They hold the threat of their tantrum (displeasure, guilt trip, sulk, whatever) over the family if they don’t get what they want, but you have the power to say “Huh” and not really even acknowledge that it affects you. (...)

When Alice throws a tantrum, she wants you to inventory your behavior and wonder what you’ve done to upset her, and she wants you to walk on eggshells and be worried about upsetting her and to actively try not to upset her (Secret: This will always be a mysterious, moving target and you will never figure out how to prevent upsetting her). Her family wants this too – it’s like they are afraid she’ll turn green and bust out into nothing but purple shorts and wreck the secret flying Avengers lair dining room. Once you figure out “Oh wait, what did I do to cause this…NOTHING, because Alice reacts like this to EVERYTHING” you are free of running that little guilt-game on yourself. Alice, like Hulk, is always angry.


I will say that the de-escalation techniques that Captain Awkward mention do work. It is a tried and tested way of talking someone down out of the Crazy Tree to continue talking to them like they aren't having a complete shit fit because eventually they will realize that your ruthless sanity cannot be impacted by their childish bullshit, and if they want their way they're going to have to stop throwing feces and sit down on the ground under the Tree with the adults and actually work shit out like a human.

I will also say that this is fucking exhausting, and some people aren't worth it.


Yeah, I fucking said it.

Read more... )
xenologer: (human monsters)
So there have been a lot of suggestions that James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, for those of you who somehow haven't heard, may not have been well. Like, mentally, this may not have been a healthy person. This, according to many, is an ablist inference to make.

Here's one.

I have seen this linked around as well.
We are the ones who have to live with the stigma you perpetuate. I am at risk of being killed because you tell the population that I am dangerous-despite that I am one of the 97% of developmentally disabled people who has been the victim of non mentally ill, non disabled violent perpetrators. You make the world more dangerous for me every time you do this. You make it more dangerous for my entire community.

We are not your scapegoat, and the trope of the dangerous neurodivergent is not only irresponsible, it is sloppy. Do some real research instead of lazily reaching into the bag of tropes every time someone does something terrible. Statistically speaking, we didn't do it, and spreading the idea that we did has very real consequences that can mean life and death for us.

Here's my vibe on it. I think that unaddressed disordered thinking is a necessary, if insufficient on its own, component of this kind of tragedy. And I am not sure that's ablist. Like, "making unhealthy and even destructive decisions that impair your life and those lives around you" is... um... kind of what disordered thinking results in if nobody does anything; that's why it's bad.

I think for me it comes down to this: the vast majority of mentally ill people are a danger to no one and a few are a danger to themselves at most. The number of mentally ill people who are a threat to others is a vanishingly small portion of the vast and diverse population of people who have (or should have) a diagnosis.

So James Holmes.

Nobody is assuming out of nothing and nowhere with no evidence that Holmes is mentally ill. He has demonstrated grossly disordered behavior, and odds seem good that his behavior seems reasonable to him! Which... means we're probably looking at disordered thinking. The people crying "ablism" say all we know about him is that he massacred strangers and told the cops he's a comic book supervillain. Which is... not nothing. I would say that is actually a very significant thing for us to know here.

I just... you know, it's that he told the cops he's a comic book supervillain. Until then I was riding right along thinking, "This looks like the action of a stable and reasonable individual. I see no evidence of disordered thinking in this massacre," but then he had to go and say he's the Joker.


A civilian opened fire on dozens of strangers at a movie premiere. If that is not a mentally ill person, that's a funny goddamn picture of healthy and adaptive thinking. Add in that he claimed to be the Joker and my doubts become very smallish indeed. It's icing, though, really.

Yes, I am aware that there is a stigma against mentally ill people that makes it harder for them to get treatment. I think about that every time I see dissociatives portrayed on TV and in books and in roleplaying/writing communities as having an "evil" personality that hacks people up for funsies. It makes perfect sense to me that most mentally ill people are not violent, nor are most acts of violence pinnable on mental illness.

I am also aware that individuals whose mental illnesses are being addressed really are no more dangerous than anyone else. I am also aware that untreated mental illness eats away at the things that make people not just pleasant to be around, but safe to be around, especially in the case of things like personality disorders. Read that link again. Does reality have an ablist bias?

Not all acts of violence are attributable to mental illness, but the denialism surrounding the mere possibility that Holmes's might be is really puzzling to me right now. People without a mental illness commit violence all the time. A lot of that is because of pervasive bullshit like racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, etcetera, and these are sane people who have been fed bullshitbullshitbullshit by society, but unfortunately because it's society telling them "those people don't count" and not a voice in their head, they're sane. They're wrong and they're horrible, but they're sane. If we really must divide it into teams, they're on my "team," much to my dismay.

Because seriously, if we aren't going to say that James Holmes's behavior was influenced by mental illness, then we have to say that he was mentally healthy. We don't have all the evidence, but contrary to some people's assertions, we don't know nothing and what we do know sorta has that "this boy ain't right" smell about it.

We can do the equivalent of "LALALALA HE WAS JUST HORRIBLE SO THERE IS NO EXPLANATION" or "LALALA THE DEVIL MADE HIM DO IT" but both amount to "we don't like the explanation so let's just pretend there isn't one." We really can begin to venture a guess that Holmes may not be wired particularly well. I am surprised we can't say that without every fucking anxious or depressed person on Tumblr screaming "HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT I AM A MURDERER!"

Joe Scarborough was being ablist, though. It's a little ridic to be like "I think these mass murderers are all a little autistic" because that is so fucking far distant from how autism works that the only reason he could possibly say that is a certain "well all mental illnesses are interchangeable so w/e they're all psycho" sort of thinking that is not useful and is ablist.

But what doesn't seem ablist to me is looking at someone who caused brutal murderous random mayhem in the style of a comic book and movie supervillain he later claimed to the cops to be and saying, "That boy doesn't seem right."

Just like how all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, we can say that as a general rule people who re-enact violent large-scale comic book supervillainy are mentally ill without arguing the reverse: that as a general rule mentally ill people re-enact violent large-scale comic book supervillainy.

Going to go out on a limb and say that that kind of thing is probably a fairly reasonable warning sign where mental health is concerned. I mean, it's a red flag by my personal standards. Y'all people on Tumblr are welcome to consider it a non-factor, though. You go ahead and suspend judgement until you get a more obvious sign of his mental problems than... you know, the attempted supervillainy.

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