Research Fields

As I mentioned before, I’m on the committee that distributes research grants to faculty members. This year I have observed a disturbing trend. The number of research projects in the Humanities has dropped off a cliff. We received almost 3 times (!) fewer research projects in the Humanities this year than we had back in 2012. (I wasn’t on the committee in the Fall of 2013, for obvious reasons.)

There is one field of knowledge, however, where the number of research projects has soared. This is the field that has the greatest number of projects than any other. Can you guess what this field is?

Colonizer’s Mentality

A hilarious link contributed by reader el tells the story of a min-scandal on LiveJournal, the Russian-language blogging community. An American woman decided to tone-police the Russian bloggers who are unfamiliar with trigger warnings and the mellifluous, saccharine writing style that is widely accepted among the most primitive of the English-language bloggers. 

In the condescending tone of a kindly missionary offering a string of beads to savages and expecting eternal gratitude, the woman chides Russian-speaking bloggers for not being the way she wants them to be. Of course, when the savages do not respond with wholehearted worship of this valiant benefactor, she, like all missionaries, becomes very angry, referring to the Russian-speaking bloggers as animals and attacking them. 

I thought this scenario was dead and buried but now I’m witnessing colonizer mentality in action and it’s creepy. 

P.S. The link is mostly in English.

The Curse of Narcissism, Part VI

She will deliver generalized barbs that are almost impossible to rebut (always in a loving, caring tone): “You were always difficult” “You can be very difficult to love” “You never seemed to be able to finish anything” “You were very hard to live with” “You’re always causing trouble” “No one could put up with the things you do.” She will deliver slams in a sidelong way – for example she’ll complain about how “no one” loves her, does anything for her, or cares about her, or she’ll complain that “everyone” is so selfish, when you’re the only person in the room. As always, this combines criticism with deniability.

A narcissist creates an image of yourself that she then uses to guilt you into submission. Here is how the process works:

1. “You are unsociable, taciturn, and melancholy by mature,” the narcissist informs you and keeps repeating the message until you believe that this is what you are really like.

2. When you start behaving in accordance with this image of yourself, the narcissist sighs, “Why do you have to be so unsociable, taciturn, and melancholy? I so wish you were different. 

3. The message you take away from this is that you are, by your very nature, a profound disappointment.

She minimizes, discounts or ignores your opinions and experiences. Your insights are met with condescension, denials and accusations (“I think you read too much!”) and she will brush off your information even on subjects on which you are an acknowledged expert. Whatever you say is met with smirks and amused sounding or exaggerated exclamations (“Uh hunh!” “You don’t say!” “Really!”). She’ll then make it clear that she didn’t listen to a word you said.

The most crucial feature of this is, once again, deniability. Nothing is easier than making one feel completely insane by saying, “What do you mean? You are imagining all this. Of course, I supported you.”

About the Series on Narcissism

The point of the series on narcissism is to help me. However, I don’t want to be helped at the expense of other people and their progress in dealing with their issues. So if after reading these posts, you find yourself going in the direction of “I haven’t experienced anything as hard-core, so what do I have to complain about?”, please stop. I don’t want you to go in this direction. This is counterproductive and sad.

Remember, the only measure of parenting success is the happiness of a grown child. Are you ecstatically happy in your personal and professional life? Are you unfamiliar with feelings of constant guilt and anxiety? Do you never experience chronic fatigue, apathy, inexplicable sadness? If so, then congratulations, your parents did an amazing job, I’m happy for you.

However, if you constantly feel that things are not working out for you, if you are unhappy in the major areas of human existence, if you are constantly exhausted even after having tons of rest, if you engage in addictive compensatory behaviors (smoking, drinking, gaming, gambling, high-risk behaviors, overeating, cutting, etc.), if you experience anxiety on a regular level, then it’s time to grow up and realize that this is not normal. Somebody fucked up really bad for you to be in this place. Of course, this doesn’t mean that somebody in your family had to be a narcissist. There is a million and one ways of messing up a person that don’t have anything to do with narcissism. 

Things will only start getting better when you recognize that living in misery is not normal. Happiness is the only normal state of human existence. After acknowledging this, you will be able to start walking away from misery.

And for those who have narcissists in their lives, remember: narcissism is a personality disorder. It has nothing to do with you. It doesn’t in any way depend on what you do or don’t do. The narcissist is this way because of his or her own narcissistic trauma that predates your existence. Every day, a narcissist makes a choice to keep victimizing people instead of getting better. This is not about you. You are not to blame. You can’t help a narcissist because she or he is not asking for help. The narcissist is having a blast while you cringe in misery. The only person here in need of help is you.