Emotional Crippling

Here is something interesting from Ian Welsh’s article:

And the medicalization of every bad mood, as if we’re supposed to never experience negative emotions, is more psychotic than the “diseases” [the drugs] are intended to treat.

A sign of severe emotional immaturity is an incapacity to tolerate negative emotions. Normally, people know how to deal with frustration and negative emotions on their own by the age of 2. Two and a half at the latest. Those who come into adulthood without that knowledge are emotionally crippled for life. Obviously, this is not a problem that can be solved with medication. Drugs can only temporarily remove the most painful symptoms of anxiety which is caused by the realization that one has fallen decades behind what should be one’s true emotional age.

Welsh’s only mistake here is the baseless belief that there are drugs that purport to treat mood “disorders.” Not even the most shameless among pharmaceutical companies promise to cure depression, mood swings, anxiety, etc. They only manage to alleviate the symptoms to some degree while causing a host of other symptoms that require temporary alleviation with more pills that cause a host of other symptoms, etc., etc., etc.

The important step forward for those who want to treat (and not somewhat temporarily keep at bay) this issue is analyze where it started. As the always brilliant musteryou says:

Perhaps the helicoptering tendency of parents makes it so that they become processing devices for the child’s negative emotions, whereas many children might actually fare much better with much less attention, so that they would have to see their emotional storms through to the other side and realize that these have a sequence that passes. Others grow up not to be able to do this, and they rely on authority figures to mediate their emotions for them.

Emotionally immature people are very easy to manage and control. Here is the simple answer to why there are so many of them around.

It Works!

I just received 13 emails with final essays from students. Every single one is accompanied with a text like the following (in Spanish):

Dear Professor Clarissa,

attached please find a file with my final essay in the course SPAN XXX-XXX.

Thank you and have a happy Easter!

Sincerely yours,

“Pepita Perez.”

And it only took until the Senior year.

It feels great to have such civilized exchanges with students.

Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

The humanities only thrive in crisis mode, because they are the disciplines whose primary function is to confer value on their own subject matter, to certify and credentialize forms of cultural capital.

I’d feel a lot more compassion towards these female journalists who complain that they are being condescended to by male colleagues if they knew the difference between “effect” and “affect.” As a wise old Jew used to say, “If you keep getting passed up for promotions and people tend to shun you, first consider whether you are an unqualified employee and a lousy human being and only then suspect people of anti-Semitism.”

“Steven E. Landsburg, a professor of Economics at The University of Rochester, has reduced the rape of the Steubenville victim, and in turn, all other rapes around the world, to an inflammatory and obnoxious economics equation.” This is a post that responds to Landsburg’s egregiously insulting argument.

Against excessive stigmatization of anger and hatred.

Poor Ukraine, so far from heaven and so close to Russia: “Under President Putin, the Kremlin has taken similar initiatives. In Ukraine, the Kremlin party United Russia, signed an agreement to cooperate with the pro-Russian Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, who was unsympathetic to the country’s Orange Revolution of the early 2000s. Kremlin support, including a promise to lower gas prices, helped to secure the presidency for Mr. Yanukovych in 2010. Russia has continued to provide strong support for his repressive government.”

A really great post on why students are not customers: “That effective, mutual relationship does not happen when students are viewed as “customers.” I’ve had customers, and I’ve had students. I assure you that you do not want me confusing the two.

The European Union is moving towards fascism. The hard push in the direction of Christian fundamentalism and moral panic experienced in many Western European countries is the result of completely botched immigration policies. It looks like within a decade we will see a liberated, socially progressive US and an ultra-conservative, repressed, witch-hunting EU.

Pictures of phenomenal, beautifully designed books. The text is in Russian, but who cares? The photos speak for themselves.

Show your passport to Jesus. Benedict Anderson would have really appreciated the last photo in this post.

When white men try to divert attention from gun control by talking about mental health issues, many people buy into the idea that the United States has a national mental health problem, or flawed systems with which to address those problems, and they think that is what produces mass shootings.”

And here is a really great review of the above-linked article: “If you’re white and male (and middle- or upper-middle-class), the culture tells you that you can have it all. If you’re white, male, and developing paranoid schizophrenia, or having profound difficulties with socialization, you’re falling short of very, very high expectations. Why aren’t you thriving? You’re a person who’s supposed to be thriving!

Now that there is somebody else to take down Ross Douthat, I don’t have to do it. As much.

Alaska hates women.

Tennessee is fast on its way towards taking over Alabama and Mississippi for the title of most bigoted and backward state in the Union.  And this week’s story of how GOP legislators in the state capitol building confused a custodian’s wash basin for a “Muslim foot bath” will only further help to cement Tennessee’s reputation for intolerance.” What’s with this obsession with other people’s foot baths, anyways? Freud would see this as the terror of the penis, and a “foreign” one at that. What do you think?

Bad Business

Five years ago, in the midst of the global economic crisis, our university made the brilliant decision to hire dozens of talented young PhDs who suddenly (and temporarily) were not wanted anywhere. The goal was to give employment to people who will publish a lot and raise the university’s profile dramatically. In short, the university used the crisis to its advantage.

The strategy worked. Within 5 years, we started attracting bright students from places where nobody had heard we existed before, getting a lot of positive coverage in the national press, and topping the charts of the most promising young universities. Reputation is a precious thing that takes forever to build and a very short time to destroy. We were on our way to building a really strong, respectable reputation.

And then a bunch of brainless bureaucrats in the state’s legislature has failed to pay its bills yet again. Now we are being threatened with severe budget cuts. There are rumors that the university will get rid of its part-time staff and give professors a 4 courses per semester teaching load. Not only does such teaching load at a university constitute fraud against students, it also makes it impossible for scholars to engage in any research. The administration understands that and will subvert its labor-intensive process of raising research requirements (that we all have been engaged in for the past 5 years) in order to remove research expectations altogether.

The amount of money that will be saved in a semester by making me teach an extra 100-level course is $2,700. The actual cost of this pathetic pretense at saving is the end of all scholarly life at the university, the loss of reputation, and a prompt transformation of a promising university into a diploma mill.

We keep hearing that universities are being run like businesses. This is a stupid lie. I cannot imagine a business that hires PhDs and pays them PhD salaries and then prevents them from doing what they were hired to do so that they can perform menial, minimum-wage tasks. I cannot imagine a business that would sacrifice its hard-won reputation to solve some petty, momentary cash-flow issue that everybody will forget about three months from now*.

The problem here is not some completely imaginary “business model” but the irredeemable idiocy of people we keep electing to represent us at the state and federal level. It begins to look to me like only the most inept, useless, dense and idiotic people end up getting elected.

* This is not just a figure of speech. Senior colleagues tell me that they remember half a dozen of such invented crises, and today nobody can even remember what they were all about. The problem is that idiots in the state legislature who are incapable of a long-term vision, take drastic measures to address these silly little crises and then have no idea how to dig themselves from under the consequences. They have probably never heard that a cure should never cause more damage than the disease it purports to treat.

Subliminal Messages, C’td


He still persevered, though, and ordered some orange juice. After 10 minutes, the waiter came by. “Sorry for the wait, sir. She needs time to slice them up,” he said cryptically. In a few minutes, the waiter triumphantly placed the plate with a sliced orange you can see on the photo in front of the hapless customer. “Should I just ask for a Coke?” the customer wondered aloud.

Subliminal Message


First, he ordered a coffee and was served a burned, disgusting, bitter brew. Then he ordered grape juice and was served a weird, unwieldy carton with a “flavored juice blend.” The message of “Just stop screwing with us and order a Coke already” was loud and clear.

Incompatible Qualities

N’s work evaluations say he “totally rocks” (this is the official formulation)  on research and needs to improve the sales aspect and interaction with customers.

What nobody seems to realize is that nobody can be both things at once. Good salespeople lack the personal qualities that make good researchers. And scholars don’t have the qualities needed to make good sales.

It’s the same in one’s personal life. If you want a romantic partner who is sensitive, gentle and kind, don’t expect this same person to make a packet of money and buy you a jet. If you want a sexually voracious, passionate partner, don’t expect this same person to be calm, quiet, meek and reasonable when discussing what to make for dinner or what political party to support.

Or, to put it more succinctly, if a person possesses a certain quality, this quality will make itself felt in a wide variety of circumstances.


Over the last 4 months, this fetus has made it crystal clear to me that it is opposed to meetings. It is fine with teaching, likes research, accepts service, but really really hates meetings.

First, it would make me nauseous and dizzy during every meeting and at no other time. And now that it has learned to flutter, it is fluttering. The fluttering is a preview of how it will kick me if I take it to meetings once it’s ready to kick.

And it’s crafty, too. It knows that I find these flutters very creepy. They make me feel like a human aquarium.

It is extremely weird to know that there is something growing inside you that will one day learn to roll its eyes and say, “Mama, you just don’t get this.”