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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: February 01, 2019 05:40PM

There have recently been several threads broadly on childhood and family experiences and how they influence adult behavior. Elder Berry, in particular, has written things that at least I find insightful and provocative.

Mulling over some of those discussions, the author Alice Miller came to mind this morning. Alice Miller is the anglicized name of a Polish Jew who was in Germany during Hitler's seizure of power, spent years in the Jewish ghettos in Poland into which her people were herded like animals in the 1930s and early 1940s. She smuggled some of her family out, but her father died in one such hellhole. After the war, she moved to Switzerland and earned a Ph.D. in psychology and sociology.

Miller worked as a psychotherapist for a long time but then moved into academic work to address problems she thought the nascent field did not understand well. Foremost among these was childhood and its effect on adults and society. Her most famous book was The Drama of the Gifted Child, which basically argued that you can teach kids potty training and reading and writing at very early ages but that doing so does serious damage to the child. She went on to write serious books on related subjects, including the fact that neglect and abuse of a pre-cognizant child have lifelong effects despite the fact that the adult has no memory of the abuse--a point that modern neuroscience vindicates by noting how infantile pain permanently alters hormone levels--and psycho-biographies of people like Hitler, showing how such monsters are created.

Interestingly, her work coincided with independent analysis by the English MD John Bowlby and other Attachment theorists, who realized that teenaged sociopaths tended to have very similar childhoods; and James Masterson, who was learning that the personality disorders, particularly borderline PD, were likewise much more likely to emerge from that sort of childhood. It was almost like psychology and medicine had escaped the limitations of Freudianism and Jungian thought to an extent that allowed specialists who were aware of psychological dynamics to start recognizing the same patterns. There was consequently a big jump forward in child psychology that occurred roughly in the 1970s.

There is, however, another theme to Miller's writing, one that is not fully developed in her earlier books but comes through forcefully later. Her point is that if a society has systemic childrearing norms that contradict children's developmental needs, that society will have a disproportionate percentage of adults who are dysfunctional in similar ways. In such a society, the odds of certain forms of social or even national malfunction become much more probable. Since Germany and international German culture had certain patterns of parenting, including conditional love, "seen and not heard" attitudes, physical punishment, and insistence on relatively mature behaviors at an early age, particular sorts of psychological problems were far more prevalent there than in other cultures.

In particular, she makes a strong case that Nazism, if not impossible in other cultures, was far more likely in Germany due to the psychological characteristics engendered by flaws in that culture's child rearing. To put the point simply, and somewhat simplistically, Germany created a lot of people who were lacking in a strong sense of personal identity, consequently felt rage and betrayal, and were predisposed to tolerate or even support a mass movement that answered their questions about the purpose of life, the future of the "folk," and the need for dictatorial government. Miller did not do this sort of analysis on other countries and cultures because she lacked as thorough a comprehension of them as she had of her own culture and her German clients.

Why is this related to Mormonism? Initially because the same internal inadequacies that render people susceptible to totalitarian political ideologies also predispose them to religion in general and authoritarian religions in particular. And more precisely, a lot of us ex-Mormons feel that our parents were dysfunctional in ways that, to one degree or another, affect us as well. My personal surmise, offered as nothing more than anecdote and the impression conveyed by copious reading, is that polygamy divided men from their families, set wives against each other in political struggle, and left the kids with inadequate resources and a need to compete for status. Those are not things that kids should have to experience.

If I am right, the resulting anxieties and inadequacies may have inclined Mormon children to seek answers and purpose in the very faith that had harmed them. Thus Mormonism created "needs" that people fulfilled by cleaving to the church even as they persisted in the child rearing techniques--father out of the home, mother too busy or depressed to provide adequate care, conditional love, constant criticism for various "sins"--that made the next generation more likely to commit themselves to Mormonism as well.

In short, the church had stumbled on, and then institutionalized, a system of child rearing that damaged generation after generation in a way that reinforced church power. That is one reason why a full recovery--not just rejecting the faith but also turning aside from the habits of deference to authority, the disproportionately frequent tendency to embrace authoritarian religions/political movements, the impulsive search for Gadianton explanations for neutral social developments, and perhaps a penchant for seeing distinct races or genders as naturally and morally different--is so conspicuously difficult.

Ex-Mormons are seeking not just to withdraw from a religion: they are trying to escape what may, with some overstatement, be described as a common abusive cultural and familial experience. Cults are not normal religions, and leaving one is a far more fraught, and painful, and lengthy process.

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Posted by: Richard Foxe ( )
Date: February 01, 2019 06:19PM

What struck me in Miller was her analysis of why concentration camp guards, men and women, were so inured to the sufferings of inmates. Yes, a kind of cultural attachment disorder (she looked at Nazi-era childrearing manuals) stemming from generations of harsh Prussian parenting methods. This resulted in the ideal of Nazi youth and adults indifferent to the sufferings inflicted on others in the name of some greater goal.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: February 01, 2019 06:25PM

Yes.

As you know, she goes a lot farther than that as well: addressing how a whole nation could surrender its moral integrity to a monster and his monstrous movement. The shopkeeper-turned-guard-turned-torturer is part of that but so too is the mother who takes her children to a Nurenburg rally and teaches them to salute Hitler.

The high-level observation that differences in how cultures treat children should produce differences in how adults behave individually and collectively is also a critically important one, opening the way for lots of valuable research.

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Posted by: anono this week ( )
Date: February 01, 2019 07:52PM

I'm failing to see how people integrated in mormonism are predisposed to totalitarian political movements? All the mormons I know have the libertarian attitude of general freedom and that big government tends to go in the direction of tyranny and so less is better. They lament the expansion of government bureaucracies, and power.

This is an interesting statement that takes some thought: Mormons "have an eye for seeing distinct races or genders as naturally and morally different." I suppose that's true or they wouldn't have a missionary force out to proselytize the world in the ways of traditional Utah culture and beliefs.

Mormons may not necessarily believe that one race is morally different or better but they do believe that where your born is the result of moral decisions in the pre-existance.

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Posted by: slskipper ( )
Date: February 01, 2019 08:49PM

They substitute the church for the "government". Yes, they insist on total independence from the secular government of the US, but they insist on 100% strict obedience on the part of their offspring to the decrees of leaders of the church, and even go so far as to insist tacitly on total control of Utah state politics via decrees from the COB as well. So yes, Mormons tend to worship strict obedience to their church's authority as an end in itself.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: February 02, 2019 03:45AM

On the political point, I'll just say that sometimes people don't recognize the nature of nascent political movements. The marketing and the reality often differ.

On the other point, the one about persistent prejudice, my comment was phrased as "perhaps a penchant for seeing distinct races or genders as naturally and morally different." I am referring to the deeply entrenched habits of people, Mormon and sometimes ex-Mormon, to see race as a meaningful construct and to assume that it has significance beyond genetic combinations well within the scope of the human genome. Regarding gender, my observation is that a surprising large number of Mormons and ex-Mormons continue to believe that gender implies enduring fundamental differences in attitudes and preferences. There are some such distinctions, to be sure, but we are talking about bimodal distributions in a probability diagram and hence not about the solid boundaries that are sometimes asserted on RfM.

I am not sure how far one can go with this observation, which is why I prefaced it with the word "perhaps." But I do believe that the expectation of gender roles, including acceptable speech patterns, aggression versus passive aggression, whether to defer to authority, are more common in Mormon and ex-Mormon communities than in the general public.

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: February 01, 2019 08:53PM

Although I am not familiar with Alice Miller's writing, I am familiar with psychological theories generally that try to explain Nazi Germany and all of its nuances, including, of course, the Holocaust. (See, most recently, George R. Mastroianni, Of Mind and Murder: Toward a More Comprehensive Psychology of the Holocaust) My reading of such writings left me very skeptical of psychological explanations that are clearly either gross over-generalizations, or gross over-simplifications, or both.

Much of this work, including perhaps Millar, is by people who want to salvage human nature by appealing to unique environmental influences, or cross-cultural personality traits, that are supposedly linked to mass negative behavioral dispositions. I am not buying any of it. The well-known Milgram obedience experiments explain that there is a deep-seated human nature that dictates obedience to authority figures, regardless of personality or upbringing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

The Stanford Prison experiment confirms this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

In short, there was nothing unique about Nazi Germans, as a people, or its pre-Nazi culture, or for that matter Mormon culture (per se) that establishes an explanation as to why people follow authority figures when placed in an environment where the following of such leaders is deeply entrenched, politically or socially. That is just what human beings are inclined to do. Further psychological speculations are unconvincing to me, except perhaps as isolated factors in particular cases.

After extensive reading of the Holocaust literature, and grappling with the problem of human nature, I became convinced that most of us, if placed within the same social pressures of Nazi Germany, would have responded as did the German people. I take some solace in the fact that resisters showed that morality and freewill, and personal courage, are also part of human nature, and can, with effort, overcome and free someone from such influences.

-

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: February 02, 2019 04:27AM

Henry Bemis Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Although I am not familiar with Alice Miller's
> writing, I am familiar with psychological theories
> generally that try to explain Nazi Germany and all
> of its nuances, including, of course, the
> Holocaust. (See, most recently, George R.
> Mastroianni, Of Mind and Murder: Toward a More
> Comprehensive Psychology of the Holocaust)

Henry, have you read this book? It's not available in the States yet, is it?


-------------------
> My
> reading of such writings left me very skeptical of
> psychological explanations that are clearly either
> gross over-generalizations, or gross
> over-simplifications, or both.

Me too.


-------------------
> Much of this work, including perhaps Millar, is by
> people who want to salvage human nature by
> appealing to unique environmental influences, or
> cross-cultural personality traits, that are
> supposedly linked to mass negative behavioral
> dispositions.


That is an overstatement. I am not aware of anyone--they probably exist, but not Miller and the Attachment theorists--who is either trying to explain away genetics or to exculpate humanity.

With your argument, however, you run the risk of discounting the effects of child development and human trauma. If, like Bowlby, you are studying teenage sociopaths and you discover that well over half of them suffered extended separations from their primary caregivers in the first two years of life, are you to assume that there is no correlation? If you are Masterson and studying people who will soon be termed "borderlines" and you find that they tend to have had very similar childhoods and that they disproportionately commit themselves to extreme religions and political movements, are you to discount those connections? The point is that human behavior is on a bell curve, or rather a multi-modal distribution. The question is what changes the probabilities that certain groups of people will tend to cluster at different modes.


------------------
> The
> well-known Milgram obedience experiments explain
> that there is a deep-seated human nature that
> dictates obedience to authority figures,
> regardless of personality or upbringing.

You go too far here. The Milgram experiments found that people tended to behave badly in certain circumstances but it did not say the tendency was the same "regardless of personality or upbringing." Moreover, since the experiments were conducted on American subjects with similar educational, cultural, linguistic, and social experiences, there was no attempt to compare differences across national or cultural boundaries. By construction, the study did not consider the international dimension.


------------------
> The Stanford Prison experiment confirms this.
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_expe
> riment

Again, this was a study of American students--roughly the same age, generally the same gender, the same educational and socioeconomic levels, etc--and found that those subjects behaved badly in certain circumstances. We may infer a probability that all humans have that tendency but not that the degree of susceptibility is same across cultures or national and linguistic boundaries. You are claiming domestic experiments in support of your generalization about (the insignificance of) international cultural differences.


-----------------
> In short, there was nothing unique about Nazi
> Germans, as a people, or its pre-Nazi culture, or
> for that matter Mormon culture (per se) that
> establishes an explanation as to why people follow
> authority figures when placed in an environment
> where the following of such leaders is deeply
> entrenched, politically or socially.

You have offered no evidence for any of that. The Stanford and Milgram studies examined neither international variability nor the specific characteristics of Germans or Mormons. Before you can make any statements about those groups, you would need to conduct an experiment comparing them to controls.


--------------------
>That is just
> what human beings are inclined to do. Further
> psychological speculations are unconvincing to me,
> except perhaps as isolated factors in particular
> cases.


Yes, humans seem to be susceptible to the sort of evil you describe. But you have presented no evidence that that rule applies equally to all societies and cultures. Have you lived extensively abroad? I ask because it is hard to believe that someone who had done so would discount the profound differences on these moral issues between different societies.

To put the point another way, you say that you would be willing to consider the possibility that "isolated factors in particular cases" could make a difference in how peoples react to authority. That is clearly correct. But--and this is critical--often the "particular cases" are specific cultures on which "isolated factors" work. Is not the group consciousness and emperor worship of Japan before World War Two relevant? Yes, it is. Likewise, the child rearing practices of post-revolutionary China had an immense effect on subsequent generations, as do the prevalence of poverty and broken homes in some segments of the US population and the suffering inflicted in war-torn regions of the world. Those are all powerful factors affecting the qualities of childhood experience and changing the distribution of probabilities for how children will develop over time.


-------------------
> After extensive reading of the Holocaust
> literature, and grappling with the problem of
> human nature, I became convinced that most of us,
> if placed within the same social pressures of Nazi
> Germany, would have responded as did the German
> people. I take some solace in the fact that
> resisters showed that morality and freewill, and
> personal courage, are also part of human nature,
> and can, with effort, overcome and free someone
> from such influences.

Yeah, this is overstatement. I agree that all humans are to one degree or another capable of atrocities, and all societies also have those who will stand against such things. But the probabilities of both collective evil and individual resistance vary from culture to culture; the modes differ from culture to culture.


----------------
There is indeed a danger in making sweeping generalizations about different nationalities. Empirically, however, the probabilities of certain behaviors do differ across national and cultural boundaries. There is, furthermore, a countervailing danger of ignoring or minimizing the significance of culture as a force in deciding political and social outcomes.

I do not share your belief that Mormons have the same attitudes towards authority figures as non-Mormons. Nor do I believe that the legacy of World War One and the culture of Weimar Germany were immaterial to the rise of Nazism and the ways in which the German people interacted with their leaders during the 1930s and early 1940s.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/02/2019 04:33AM by Lot's Wife.

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Posted by: jay ( )
Date: February 02, 2019 11:31PM

"I do not share your belief that Mormons have the same attitudes towards authority figures as non-Mormons."

Aren't mormons taught to obey authority?

I was taught to question authority. I think I was . . . because I did.

I had the conversation with a mormon friend discussing raising our respective sons. Somewhere along the way he said, "well, as long they learn to respect authority" - it jolted me. What? I said, "you mean question authority?"

Anyways, this takes me back to a thread I started not long ago.

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: February 02, 2019 12:03PM

Thanks for all of this, LW. I read it carefully and was dutifully informed. I cannot respond to each point, as is my usual practice, but offer the following points to clarify my prior comments:

First, we can agree that individual human behavior is complicated by a host of factors. For simplicity, we can label them genetic and/or environmental while agreeing that within each such category the relevant variables are enormous. Thus, to explain the behavior of each individual perpetrator of the Holocaust we have to abstract from these variables in an attempt to provide some causal explanation. Now, that is just for individual behavior. If we want an explanation for the Holocaust generally, we need a further abstraction from the behavior of individuals to the behavior of the group. Here again, a host of social, cultural, economic and political variables complicate this process. The question is whether we can still get anything meaningful beyond the platitudes we started with; i.e. it was genetics and environment. Since the genetics of human behavior is notoriously elusive, commentators have naturally focused on the causal effects of the environment in Nazi and pre-Nazi Germany. Fine, and people can argue about that. But my point is that such a focus unduly minimizes the role of human nature in the context of social authority, which at bottom provides the best general explanation. First, it focuses on the genetic dispositions of the individual perpetrators as human beings, rather than individual genetics or social factors that are either unavailable or subject to too high a level of abstraction.


Now, if you take the population of a modern liberal democracy, like Denmark, or better yet some utopian moral society of your choosing and with a thought experiment drop them into pre-Nazi Germany, my suspicion is that the results would be the same. Just as such people followed the mores of Denmark, they would soon adapt and be subject to, the moral dictates of German culture. Thus, the dominant influence is human nature, not a predisposition engrained by culture itself. Of course, I could be wrong about this. This does not mean that culture is irrelevant to human behavior, it just means that whatever culture might be in place at any given time, human beings will generally respond accordingly; i.e. they will, more-less, follow the "leader" or the norms dictated by the culture.

The implication of the above, is that we cannot blame the German people for the Holocaust by taking a "holier than thou" attitude, and assuming that had we been there we would have acted differently.

Now, I have to add an important caveat encompassing my personal worldview. What is interesting to me about the Holocaust is not trying to explain the behavior of the perpetrators, but rather the resisters. For me, this demonstrates that the moral instinct, shaped as it is by genetics and culture, coupled with genuine agent freewill, can transcend otherwise compelling environmental and genetic influences. This, of course, is very controversial, but I do not know how else to explain the resisters. And it is this belief, coupled with my skepticism of social psychology generally, that explains my reaction to "studies" that attempt to isolate and explain human behavior in simplistic terms. In many cases, particularly the more mundane cases, human behavior is just a matter of free choice--environmental and genetic factors notwithstanding. Studies, like the ones you note, invariably overlook that fact, focusing on environmental factors (e.g. separation syndrome), and weak statistical correlations. When you factor in the complexity of human behavior, I wonder just what we have learned by such studies.

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Posted by: Richard Foxe ( )
Date: February 02, 2019 07:07PM

The Nazi myth, at least in the heyday of the Third Reich, and the resisters even then--Ursula Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omegas"...

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Posted by: Richard Foxe ( )
Date: February 02, 2019 07:18PM

"Omelas" (autocorrect tries to stifle resistance)

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: February 02, 2019 08:02PM

Hi Henry,

First, we agree on the complexity of human behavior and the greater complexity of social behavior. Where we disagree is probably over the ability of analysis to identify, with some degree of confidence, the causal factors informing each.

With that said, please note that I never brought up the Holocaust. I do not think that was programmed in German culture. The question is about the relationship between culture and authority, not any particular encorporation of that relationship.


----------------
> Now, if you take the population of a modern
> liberal democracy, like Denmark, or better yet
> some utopian moral society of your choosing and
> with a thought experiment drop them into pre-Nazi
> Germany, my suspicion is that the results would be
> the same. Just as such people followed the mores
> of Denmark, they would soon adapt and be subject
> to, the moral dictates of German culture.

This is beside the point. The question isn't whether a Dane would act German if put in Germany, it is how the collective cultures differ. Would the Danish people have embraced someone like Hitler if he arose within Denmark? How about other European countries? Well, we know the results of such experiments because people like Hitler (or Mussolini) did arise in the Germano-centric (Latin European) world. The answer is that, in varying degrees, those cultures did NOT embrace such leaders.


--------------
> This . . .means that whatever culture
> might be in place at any given time, human beings
> will generally respond accordingly; i.e. they
> will, more-less, follow the "leader" or the norms
> dictated by the culture.

Precisely. The subsequent question then becomes, what cultural characteristics imply a higher probability of acquiescence in a totalitarian transformation? There are tons of good studies of this, beginning with de Toqueville's D in A, Edmund Burke on the revolution in France, Samuel Huntington on the cultural prerequisites for democracies and tyrannies, Barrington Moore's case studies on that question, Richard Pipes' treatment of Russia, etc. We know a lot about what variables that change the probabilities.


----------------------
> The implication of the above, is that we cannot
> blame the German people for the Holocaust by
> taking a "holier than thou" attitude, and assuming
> that had we been there we would have acted
> differently.

Again, I'm not discussing the Holocaust or any other specific manifestation of the combination of human nature and environment. My intuition is that a modern liberal Briton, for instance, would act like a 1930s German if--and this is the key--that Briton had grown up in Germany. What I am discussing is the spots on the spectrum occupied not by individuals but by cultures.


-------------
> Now, I have to add an important caveat
> encompassing my personal worldview. What is
> interesting to me about the Holocaust is not
> trying to explain the behavior of the
> perpetrators, but rather the resisters. For me,
> this demonstrates that the moral instinct, shaped
> as it is by genetics and culture, coupled with
> genuine agent freewill, can transcend otherwise
> compelling environmental and genetic influences.
> This, of course, is very controversial, but I do
> not know how else to explain the resisters.

My point is that some societies produce more "resisters," and conversely fewer lockstep followers, than others. Japan is a great example of this. In pre-war Japan, group consciousness and the diffusion of authority were so pronounced that it is very difficult to find "resisters." The situation is different now in large part because the occupation powers fundamentally restructured Japanese political culture--again demonstrating that the same genetics can produce very different collective outcomes depending on how the political and cultural context evolves.


-------------------
> And
> it is this belief, coupled with my skepticism of
> social psychology generally, that explains my
> reaction to "studies" that attempt to isolate and
> explain human behavior in simplistic terms. In
> many cases, particularly the more mundane cases,
> human behavior is just a matter of free
> choice--environmental and genetic factors
> notwithstanding.

I'm not sure what "free will" means--and I don't mean that as rejection, just as a sincere statement that I don't know how one could test your hypothesis. Clearly genetic realities constrain the range of human freedom and hence freedom of choice. So too social institutions. Are either genetics or institutions determinative? No, but they do have major effects on probabilities.


-----------------
> Studies, like the ones you note,
> invariably overlook that fact, focusing on
> environmental factors (e.g. separation syndrome),
> and weak statistical correlations. When you
> factor in the complexity of human behavior, I
> wonder just what we have learned by such studies.

I share your skepticism about reductive explanations, but the people I am citing assuredly do not "invariably overlook" the complexities. Quite the contrary. But they do notice very strong correlations and then seek to investigate them. Put simply, when Bowlby studied adolescent sociopaths and discovered that over half of them shared a common infantile experience, is he to ignore that fact? What about when Robert Karen and others replicate the studies decades later and find the same patterns? Similarly, when experts on criminal psychology find that 40+ percent of violent male convicts are socio/psychopaths and roughly 30% are borderlines, are they to conclude that those findings are coincidental?

What about when such studies identify the causes of personality disorders--child neglect, child abuse, sexual abuse, parental deprivation? These things are in fact established on the basis of statistical analysis as later vindicated by neuroscience. No one claims the relationships are perfect. You can kick the hell out of some kids and they will grow up okay, but the odds are much lower for those kids than for children in good homes.


-------------
Miller never wrote that she had an explanation for Nazism or the Holocaust. What she noted was that German child rearing techniques as they existed in the chaos of World War One and its aftermath and the hyperinflation of 1923-1925 caused widespread problems for children and that those problems left a relatively large number of people seeking external validation and identification with a movements that offered meaning. Similar things would later happen in China--not just the chaos of pre-revolutionary China but, as a result of state planning, the intentional destruction of the family unit in the late 1940s through 1968.

These things do not determine outcomes, but they change probabilities in predictable ways.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: February 03, 2019 07:49AM

Might appeal to those with "entitlement issues" (Think "speshul"). However, I found her "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing" offered broader insights into the effects of child rearing on adult psychopathology. My old therapist/mentor pointed me to it decades ago.

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Own-Good-Child-Rearing-Violence/dp/0374522693

>>This important study paints a shocking picture of the violent world―indeed, of the ever-more-violent world―that each generation helps to create when traditional upbringing, with its hidden cruelty, is perpetuated. The book also presents readers with useful solutions in this regard―namely, to resensitize the victimized child who has been trapped within the adult, and to unlock the emotional life that has been frozen in repression.

Just a little "note" to those just beginning this journey: Be prepared to be angry, very angry, for a long time, and I trust you'll avail yourself of a suitable support system.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/2019 01:06PM by SL Cabbie.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: February 04, 2019 01:20PM

SL Cabbie Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Just a little "note" to those just beginning this
> journey: Be prepared to be angry, very angry, for
> a long time, and I trust you'll avail yourself of
> a suitable support system.

Great insight!

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: February 04, 2019 01:42PM

"She went on to write serious books on related subjects, including the fact that neglect and abuse of a pre-cognizant child have lifelong effects despite the fact that the adult has no memory of the abuse--a point that modern neuroscience vindicates by noting how infantile pain permanently alters hormone levels--and psycho-biographies of people like Hitler, showing how such monsters are created."

Learning this only a few short years ago stunned me. How much have I judged people with no idea how their particular genes might have played a part in who they were from their earliest ages?


My own mother was hyper-focused upon us as infants and toddlers. After that she fed us to the wolves (older sibs.) My siblings have accused me of not getting thrown off the cliff/left for the dingoes as much as them. In this way I feel a lot like Mikal's Gilmore in his book "Shot Through The Heart" explaining Gary's relationship with their mother Bessie.


I was I think the son to carry out my mother's quest for her to produce a child like her father for whom she had an intense hate relationship. She wasn't as harsh on me growing up and I acted out more than my siblings under her iron rule. I'm no Erwin Kerby but I'm the only child to rebel. A just older than me brother was one of her children she made fight for her love. He has since rebelled from in his late 40s. We are the only ones to reject her conditions for love.

We have a very mild mannered (unless he is stoked by our mother to beat me up) father and so our male role model as well as our probably genetic predisposition wasn't toward the inflammatory nature of our maternal grandfather of whom only our oldest brother even knew since he died when he was 9. We brothers are all fairly mild mannered men.

Our neglect and abuse centered on the divide between a mother insecure about her Mormonism, her paternal alcoholism and abuse, our absent father, and a social culture of judgement that both parents supported in wildly different ways.

The patterns of neglect and abuse supported by Mormonism are varied but their basic pivot point is their worship of the family. They are not about its evolution or naturally flexible varied conditions. Worship of one of these (polygamy) is another aspect many Mormons love and hate and sits like a steaming pile of poop in the minds of its family worshiping adherents.

I should know. My father's father was an infamous polygamist. And my father loved and hated that man as much as his wife loved and hated her father.

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Posted by: kathleen ( )
Date: February 09, 2019 03:58PM

up

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: February 12, 2019 02:05PM

"Why is this related to Mormonism? Initially because the same internal inadequacies that render people susceptible to totalitarian political ideologies also predispose them to religion in general and authoritarian religions in particular."

Mormonism seems to be beyond an authoritarian religion in that there is no way possible to be considered a full fledged member and a dissident in any way. Maybe it is a totalitarian religion. Thus the oft allusion to a "cult." ?

" And more precisely, a lot of us ex-Mormons feel that our parents were dysfunctional in ways that, to one degree or another, affect us as well."

My own seem to have accepted Mormonism as a sort of surrogate parental influence. It is the cradle to the grave type of corporate identity. And Mormonism has little to offer them in their now aged dependency on others.

"My personal surmise, offered as nothing more than anecdote and the impression conveyed by copious reading, is that polygamy divided men from their families, set wives against each other in political struggle, and left the kids with inadequate resources and a need to compete for status. Those are not things that kids should have to experience."

I agree with regards to Mormon polygamy. My sister's kids were all mixed with their half-siblings in some sort of tribal rearing situation. The difference is their strong identity to their beliefs and their blood. These seem to compete within them for loyalty to the greater group. I've seen lots of people raised in polygamy struggling with an identity outside their patriarchy.

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