Relationships

Holiday Gift Ideas for Everyone

Holiday Gifts

Holiday Gifts

Since I’m being inundated with emails from stores I rarely hear from, it must be time to buy things for friends and family.

Let me suggest — for those friends and loved ones who are looking for love and ending up with all the wrong people: Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner, on Amazon in Kindle and trade paperback formats. You can also get it at any bookstore by special order, or at the online sources below:

Amazon UK – Sale!

Amazon Canada – Sale!

Amazon Australia – Sale!

Barnes and Noble trade paperback

For those friends and family married or seeing “difficult” avoidants (dismissive or fearful), I suggest: Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner, on Amazon in Kindle and trade paperback formats. If you’re especially close to an avoidant and you want to get him or her to understand themselves better, you might dare to give them the book and stand back; tough love is not always appreciated!

And if you want to support this web site, you can do so by shopping through this Amazon portal: once you follow this link, a small percent of your purchases will be credited to this web site, and it doesn’t affect your prices at all: Amazon Cyber Monday Deals Week

More “50 Shades of Grey” Pseudoscience Reporting

Fifty Shades of Grey cover

“Fifty Shades of Grey” cover

Perhaps it’s not really “pseudoscience” — which connotes the promotion of definitely false beliefs — but “junk science,” where research studies are done by academics who cloak themselves in the authority of Science but actually commit logical fallacies in promoting their work to appear to confirm the beliefs they already hold about the world.

My earlier post, “Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!”, reporting on the feminist junk science study trying to associate 50 Shades of Grey with anorexia and abusive relationships has company in two much-more-detailed critiques in Psychology Today blogs. Both are worth reading in full, but I’ll quote some points. First, we have this piece by Robert James King, Ph.D.:

Let’s start with the so-called eating disorders. What was actually measured? Two things.

Q1 “Have you ever fasted for a day (or more)?”

and

Q2 “Have you ever used diet aids?”

That’s the lot. No. Calling the use of diet aids an eating disorder is just scare-mongering. These people didn’t have eating disorders—at least not that we know of. I could have got the same results by dividing the group into “gym members” and “non-gym members”

The binge-drinking measure (“Having 5 or more drinks on 6 or more days in the last month”) was technically correct. For doctors, five or more drinks is a binge. For most of us—it’s a quiet night in—but let’s pass over that one to the juicy stuff, “risky sexual practices”.

The criteria the authors use for prevalence of risky sexual practices were two:

Q1: “Have you had five or more sexual partners?”

Q2: “Have you ever had anal sex?”

Really? Boy, you young people! These are the criteria for risky sexuality? ….

Running a bunch of correlations without having any controls is a thing that we scientists call (and stop me if I’m getting too technical here) “Not doing science”.

Let’s say I have a hunch that there is a nefarious plot that links people who have been killed by falling out of bed and the number of lawyers in Puerto Rico. It correlates .96 over twelve years—I bet you didn’t know that. Well, how could you? It’s a plot by Puerto-Rican Lawyers…

Well, I can search around for some correlations—but all this really tells the world is that I am obsessed with Puerto Rican lawyers (for some reason). (3) That’s why scientist control for certain factors. Here are some possible ones that don’t seem to have occurred to the authors:

Did their sample read other books? Other erotic books? Do they even have sexual partners? Have they ever had sex at all?

Here’s the thing—if you build in your assumptions at the start (that kink is bad) then maybe you can find a correlation there. Without controls all the authors have done is import their moralising and attached some numbers to it.

The next piece is by Jen Kim (who has read the books!):

“The study did not distinguish whether women experienced the health behaviors before or after reading the books.”

Lead researcher Amy Bonomi says it’s a potential problem either way, but I have to disagree.

The distinction is quite important, because one interpretation suggests that girls who read the book already have a proclivity for certain behaviors, while the other suggests that the book creates such behaviors.

As a reader of two (!) out of the three books by E.L. James, I have a difficult time seeing the latter case.

Ana Steele, the dimwitted ingénue of the story, chooses to participate in a consensual S&M relationship with handsome stalker, Christian Grey. As far as I can recall, she enjoys (or is at least, open) to this arrangement. Furthermore, Christian has more of a predilection for physical spanking than verbal abuse, right?
For some reason, Ana forgets to eat. It is certainly never implied that she is purposely trying to lose weight or suffers from an eating disorder. The girl just doesn’t like to eat.

I haven’t read the third book, but I believe Ana gets drunk once in the first book (to the point of getting sick) and then gets tipsy a few more times. How does this behavior differ from any other 21 year old’s?
Ana’s only sexual partner was and is Christian, which hardly makes her as promiscuous as this study claims its readers to be….

A lot of this criticism is reminiscent of the blowback against violent video games and films like The Matrix in the wake of the Columbine shooting. Keanu’s kung-fu skills were to blame, not the shooters’ mental health or upbringing.

But, a recent study from the University of Oxford, The University of Rochester and the company Immersyve, has found that playing so-called violent video games (e.g., Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto) do not give rise to real-world aggression.

Previous post on topic: Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!

For more on pop culture:

“Game of Thrones” and the Problem of PowerThe Lessons of Walter White
“Blue Valentine”
“Mad Men”
The Morality of Glamour
“Mockingjay” Propaganda Posters
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
“Raising Arizona” — Dream of a Family

Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!

Fifty Shades of Grey cover

“Fifty Shades of Grey” cover

Not really.

Echoing the previous post, we have here a “study” that tells us that young women who have certain tendencies are more likely to have read 50 Shades of Grey. The study authors (as reported in Science Daily) try very hard to make it sound like reading the book causes anorexia and abuse [my annotations in brackets]:

Young adult women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” are more likely than nonreaders to exhibit signs of eating disorders and have a verbally abusive partner, finds a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher. Further, women who read all three books in the blockbuster “Fifty Shades” erotic romance series are at increased risk of engaging in binge drinking and having multiple sex partners. All are known risks associated with being in an abusive relationship, much like the lead character, Anastasia, is in “Fifty Shades,” said Amy Bonomi, the study’s lead investigator. And while the study did not distinguish whether women experienced the health behaviors before or after reading the books, it’s a potential problem either way, she said. [Ed. note: By “problem” she means “pay me to study bad literature and develop a censorship agenda.”]

“If women experienced adverse health behaviors such as disordered eating first, reading ‘Fifty Shades’ might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma,” said Bonomi, chairperson and professor in MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

“Likewise, if they read ‘Fifty Shades’ before experiencing the health behaviors seen in our study, it’s possible the books influenced the onset of these behaviors.” [Possible but unlikely.]

The study, which appears in the Journal of Women’s Health, [which apparently has very low standards] is one of the first to investigate the relationship between health risks and reading popular fiction depicting violence against women. [Pioneers in finding problems that don’t exist.] Past [ideology-driven] research has tied watching violent television programs to real-life violence and antisocial behaviors, as well as reading glamour magazines to being obsessed with body image.

The researchers studied more than 650 women aged 18-24, a prime period for exploring greater sexual intimacy in relationships, Bonomi said. Compared to participants who didn’t read the book, those who read the first “Fifty Shades” novel were 25 percent more likely to have a partner who yelled or swore at them; 34 percent more likely to have a partner who demonstrated stalking tendencies; and more than 75 percent more likely to have used diet aids or fasted for more than 24 hours.

Those who read all three books in the series were 65 percent more likely than nonreaders to binge drink — or drink five or more drinks on a single occasion on six or more days per month — and 63 percent more likely to have five or more intercourse partners during their lifetime. [This is some evil book! The public health consequences are so severe, we must consider censoring all popular entertainment that might hurt young women.]

Bonomi, who has a doctoral degree in health services and a master’s in public health, said she is not suggesting the book be banned or that women should not be free to read whatever books they wish or to have a love life. However, it’s important women understand that the health behaviors assessed in the study are known risk factors for being in a violent relationship. Toward that end, Bonomi said parents and educators should engage kids in constructive conversations about sexuality, body image and gender role expectations — and that these conversations start as early as grade school. [Nobody’s been talking about any of those things with kids. Uh-huh.]

A previous study led by Bonomi found that “Fifty Shades” perpetuated the problem of violence against women. [Another unsupported conclusion which will now be cited as fact by feminist “scholars” — “studies show….”]

For more on pop culture:

“Game of Thrones” and the Problem of PowerThe Lessons of Walter White
“Blue Valentine”
“Mad Men”
The Morality of Glamour
“Mockingjay” Propaganda Posters
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
“Raising Arizona” — Dream of a Family

The Curriculum of Freedom

The Library

The Library

I’ve put up a permanent page with suggested readings on how to think about economic and political questions. Just a start so far:

While I went to some great schools like MIT, I was primarily self-educated. Anyone can pick up the ability to think through problems independently and do the research needed on the Internet, but it helps to have a base of organized knowledge to give yourself a head start on your individual contribution to the world’s knowledge. A great book on a subject area will allow you to quickly reach the level of understanding needed to start your own research; then a bit of reading on the more recent research results available online will catch you up to the current edge of the field and where you can contribute.

If you or someone you love want to have a deeper understanding of how the world works, these books are a great way to start. I’ve read all of them and guarantee that reading them will boost your understanding of what you may have learned in school, where textbooks are watered-down, homogenized committee efforts and subject to political bias.

Many of these authors are prolific and have written more than one book amplifying their thoughts. If one turns you on to a topic, you may want to go on and read others they’ve written. I’ll be filling in my take on each book later, but for now you can read the Amazon description to get an idea.

Malignant Narcissists

The Charming Narcissist

The Charming Narcissist

There are few encounters more damaging than those you have with extreme narcissists — in romance or as managers they often end up trying to control you through abuse. Here’s part of the chapter on narcissists from Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner:

Extreme versions of the attachment types can be diagnosed in adults as disorders. Many theorists believe that an entrenched avoidant attachment is at the core of the narcissistic personality disorder.[1]

Narcissism to varying degrees is a normal personality trait—we could substitute “self-centered” for the term and be correct. Psychologists think youthful narcissism is a part of typical emotional development—the stage where you say “Mine!” when asked about any toy. Normal children grow out of this as they experience the evaluations of others, and create a more realistic view of themselves and others as they grow up.

Many high-achieving adults score high on a narcissism test, being preoccupied with how they look to the world and working hard to increase the admiration received from others. In many professions this can be a useful and even necessary trait. But the most effective of them also understand and value the feelings of others, and thus are more successfully manipulative in getting them to do their bidding.

When we talk about dysfunctional narcissism, we are talking about adults whose self-centeredness and use of others to satisfy a deep need to be the center of attention has gone beyond functional to become abusive. The harm they do to their partners comes from manipulation, verbal and physical abuse, and abandonment—because the attention of a partner is only valued when it is shiny and new, and the increasing distress of a narcissist’s partner is met with hostility instead of efforts to reassure. The narcissist has little empathy or sympathy for the feelings of others since he or she is only concerned about getting the attention needed to cover up the hollowness of their low self-esteem.

How does the narcissist get that way? As a defense to caregiving that devalues the child’s true self, often provided by a narcissistic caregiver who needs the child to be “perfect” and “special” because that is how the caregiver views herself.

Babies crave having their performance validated, they need to be seen and loved for who they truly are, and they need to be given an ongoing sense of belonging, of being a valued fellow being in the family. If a mother fails consistently to attune to her baby in this way and to respond to his complex emotional needs, the young child, feeling unknown and unappreciated, is unable to know or appreciate himself. He shrinks back into a sense of helplessness, smallness, defectiveness, and shame, which he may then defend against by clinging to his infantile grandiosity, a grandiosity one or both of his parents may promote.… Outwardly self-important, prone to pomposity, self-adoration, and an annoying attitude of entitlement, he is haunted by a fragile self-esteem. His friends complain he’s only interested in talking about himself, his boss that he takes frustrations too personally, his neighbors that he’s pushy and conceited.[2]

Narcissistic personalty disorder is a recognized diagnostic category defined by the DSM-IV-TR, with these symptoms:

• Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments
• Expects constant attention, admiration, and positive reinforcement from others
• Envies others and believes others envy him/her
• Preoccupied with thoughts of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence
• Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
• Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior
• Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic

Splitting is the defense mechanism narcissists use to save their fragile self-images from real-world negative evaluation. The self is grandiosely inflated and all which fails to reflect this false high self-esteem is devalued, “splitting” the world into good self-and-adherents and bad everything else. “Other people are either manipulated as an extension of one’s own self, who serve the sole role of giving admiration and approval, or they are seen as worthless (because they cannot collude with the narcissist’s grandiosity).”[3]

Narcissists are users: they exploit others ruthlessly for their own needs, and as a result tend to have few or no long-term relationships, with shallow and utilitarian relationships predominant.

Because of their underlying lack of self-esteem and dependence on others, they are deeply hurt or angered by criticism or a lack of the attention they feel they deserve, imagining slights in the most minor incidents.[4] Not having a realistic understanding of the emotional states of others, constant reinforcement of their egos (called narcissistic supply) is required for them to remain stable. If a relationship partner is critical or fails to provide the needed supply of ego-boosting attention, the narcissist will go into a rage and devalue the partner, with physical or emotional abuse being a common control technique. Tearing down others makes the narcissist feel better about themselves, and one key to recognizing a narcissist quickly is a self-reported history of being involved almost entirely with unreliable, crazy, or otherwise defective partners. No relationship breakdown is ever the narcissist’s fault!

Narcissists believe they are special and better than other people, and if the universe fails to confirm their belief as it becomes clear in later life that their grandiose expectations will remain unsatisfied, psychic collapse and depression can result. Narcissists rarely recognize any problem with their condition until depression and loss have made them desperate.

How to Recognize a Narcissist

A narcissist tends to talk about himself in glowing terms and denigrate or diminish others in his life; if your date mentions several previous partners and has something bad to say about all of them, he’s probably a narcissist, because no relationship issue is ever his fault. Putting down others to feel superior is their thing.

The narcissist may have the outward trappings of success, but of all the types in this book, the narcissist is the most likely to be deeply in debt to keep up appearances. The car is leased, the teeth are capped, the successes they talk about are exaggerations. If no one you’ve met knows him well and you can’t confirm his stories, beware.

In conversation, if he seems unwilling to listen to you talking about your life and your feelings, beware. No matter how interesting he seems to be, if he doesn’t show signs of caring about how you feel, don’t get sucked in. Ask yourself why this person wants you around if they don’t care to know your history, your feelings, your friends, and your family—is it because you make a great fashion accessory? Does he look more successful when you’re with him?

Any hint of controlling behavior—extreme jealousy, paranoid accusations, the sense that you have to justify yourself constantly—is a red flag. Also note as signs: overreacting to mild criticism, rages and tantrums when questioned, denial of obvious facts and events you have witnessed, and frequent lies and evasions.

The Abusive Narcissist

The classic abusive partner is a narcissist. Using verbal and physical abuse to control and maintain his relationship with a partner treated as an accessory, a narcissist can spend years demeaning and abusing a partner who is locked into a co-dependence; commonly the partner has fallen into extreme dependence as the narcissist has manipulated his partner into cutting off relationships with friends and family who might help. The narcissist will at first build up a victim and treat the victim well, then devalue and abuse, and this can be cyclic—if about to actually lose their partner, they will pretend to feel remorse and behave more sensitively for just long enough to lull the victim into staying. A long-term relationship with an abusive narcissist can severely damage the victim’s self-esteem, finances, and support network, leaving him or her with few resources to recover.

Be aware that some of the more attractive people you will meet are narcissists, and they are life-destroying in a long-term relationship. Run like hell if you meet one.

Further Reading

Footnotes:

[1] Karen, p. 390
[2] Karen, p. 390
[3] Kernberg, O.F. (1970). “Factors in the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personalities.” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 18:51–85
[4] Jordan, C. H.; Spencer, S. J.; Zanna, M. P.; Hoshino-Browne, E.; Correll, J. (2003). “Secure and defensive high self-esteem”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85 (5): 969–978. “A person can have a high self-esteem and hold it confidently where they do not need reassurance from others to maintain their positive self view, whereas others with defensive, high self-esteem may still report positive self-evaluations on the Rosenberg Scale, as all high self-esteem individuals do; however, their positive self-views are fragile and vulnerable to criticism. Defensive high self-esteem individuals internalize subconscious self-doubts and insecurities causing them to react very negatively to any criticism they may receive. There is a need for constant positive feedback from others for these individuals to maintain their feelings of self-worth. The necessity of repeated praise can be associated with boastful, arrogant behavior or sometimes even aggressive and hostile feelings toward anyone who questions the individual’s self-worth, an example of threatened egotism.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-esteem

More on Narcissists:

Malignant Narcissists
Teaching Narcissists to Activate Empathy

More on Attachment and Personality Types:

What Attachment Type Are You?
Type: Secure
Type: Anxious-Preoccupied
Type: Dismissive-Avoidant
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
nxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
Domestic Violence: Ray and Janay Rice
Histrionic Personality: Seductive, Dramatic, Theatrical
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
On Addiction and the Urge to Rescue
Sale! Sale! Sale! – “Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
Controlling Your Inner Critic: Subpersonalities
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Porn Addiction and NoFAP
Introverts in Management

Press Kit: The Long Bio

Press_Kit

Putting together a press kit (which saves time when contacting bookstores and the like.) Converted the short bio used in the book to first person and added some of the colorful details:

I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, child of a schizophrenic father and a hardworking single mother. In high school, I was written up by the local newspaper for my perfect record on math tests. When I was selected for a student question panel for a book tour lecture by Jonas Salk, I asked Dr. Salk why he had written a book of strained analogies and unsupported assertions (Man Unfolding.) I won a variety of awards, including the ACS award for best chemistry student in the city.

I studied astronomy and computer and cognitive science at MIT. My advisor was earth scientist Frank Press, Jimmy Carter’s science advisor at the time. TA’d and wrote exams for Planetary Physics and Chemistry. Studied with Hal Abelson (co-inventor of Logo and Scheme) and wrote a Scheme (Lisp) interpreter for 8080 machines, a notable feat because of memory size limitations. Short-term jobs at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Short-Lived Phenomena and Electromagnetic Launch Research under Henry Kolm, who was revealed much later to have been the intelligence officer who ran Project Paperclip to secretly bring Nazi rocket scientists to the US.

At Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BBN) Labs, member of the team developing a multiprocessor testbed for AI applications as part of the Strategic Computing Initiative under DARPA. Ray Tomlinson, who chose ‘@’ as the email separator when designing the first internetwork email system, worked down the hall. Wrote Multilisp manual, found multiprocessor garbage collection bugs that no previous machine had seen. Moved to Symbolics and started work on their parallel processor, but but funding setbacks ended that project. After a short stint in grad school, moved to Vancouver, BC, Canada to start a software company.

In Vancouver, started a land development project on a nearby island and subdivided despite fierce political opposition. Gained experience in logging, road-building, and water and sewer systems. On the island’s Water and Waste Subcommittee for the new Community Plan. Stayed five years and became a landed immigrant, but decided to return to the US.

Software work included programs modeling the behavior of simulated stock traders using genetic algorithms and participation in the design work for Apple’s Dylan, a new object-oriented language (scrapped before release.)

Moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to start a family office for a Stanford professor (an old MIT friend) whose company had gone public, making him suddenly wealthy. Managed a large portfolio and timed sales of company stock to diversify. Woke up one morning to see the World Trade Center in flames and the market closed; advised client not to sell when the market reopened. Retired some years later when I faced the choice of starting a much larger hedge fund or starting a new career (again.)

Happily married and retired to Palm Springs now, I write to explain how things really work.

More on Avoidant and Bad Boyfriends:












“Bad Boyfriends” Reviewed by Indie Reader

Indie Reviews is the first major reviewer to get to the book. The reviewer understood what I was trying to do with it — I’m lucky. Four stars is high praise from them.

★★★★☆
IR Verdict: BAD BOYFRIENDS offers some sensible and intelligent advice for those looking for a romantic relationship, or wondering why all their relationships seem to go sour.

Kinnison rightly attacks society’s emphasis on the hormonal/sexual state of being “in love” as a foundation for a long-term relationship or marriage, and encourages readers to seek a deeper, more intelligent connection between lovers and/or spouses. He shows, with empathy and perceptiveness, how different personality types are likely to interact, and what can be done in some cases to mitigate the negative effects of different insecurities and problems. His discussion of how to recognize and avoid a psychopath and/or an abusive mate is clear, precise, and firm. And the reader who takes nothing else away from the book should at least note his repeated advice to avoid anyone who has lots of exes, all of whom he or she describes as crazy or evil.

Kinnison does occasionally tend to oversimplify, as one must when categorizing personality types. The author also tends to put most of the blame for personality issues on bad parenting rather than on genetics or non-parental environmental influences, which is debatable but true to the attachment-theory perspective. The title’s gender-specificity might discourage straight men and lesbians from picking up the book, when in fact its advice is pretty gender-neutral. These minor problems, however, do not substantially interfere with the actual advice, which is generally sound.

Still at Amazon: Kindle version link and paperback version link. IR Approved Sticker 2

IR Approved Sticker 2
Full Review here.

More on Avoidant and Bad Boyfriends: