The system of development levels I wrote about recently is actually very helpful. I’m reading the novel Hey Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, and it’s incomprehensible without the knowledge of these levels. The characters do the most outrageous things to each other for absolutely no reason.
A mother treats her grown daughters like absolute garbage. They’ve done nothing wrong. She simply feels like hurting them.
A man tries to commit suicide, and when his parents learn about it, they say, “we don’t care. Please leave us alone.” The man never had a fight or a conflict of any sort with the parents. They simply don’t understand why they are supposed to care that their only son has been fished out of Lake Michigan half-dead.
A young woman decides not to inform the father of her baby that she gave birth to his child. He never hurt her in any way. She just feels like excluding him, so that’s what she does. Nobody asks why she does it. People accept her decision stupidly, like they accept everything else.
A man decides to walk out on his wife and newborn baby and relinquish parental rights. Why? Why do these people ever do anything? They simply feel like it.
The amounts of casual cruelty these characters engage in towards each other is stunning. These aren’t stupid or uneducated people. They get college degrees, go to graduate school, and love books. It’s not a problem of low IQ or being congenitally stupid. So what’s causing this?
Everything becomes completely clear once you realize that these are first-level people. They don’t have even the most basic philosophy of life or a moral code. They have no insight into their own behavior or feelings. They don’t even know it’s possible to have insight. “But I wanna” is the main – no, the only – driving force of their lives. As a result, they often can only exist if they are constantly and aggressively medicated. Otherwise, they become too destructive.
The book is very enjoyable if you know about first-level people. If not, it becomes completely incomprehensible.
2 thoughts on “Levels Theory in Practice”
A friend of mine, now deceased, fathered a child when he was 16 or 17 years old. The mother was about the same age. She did not tell him about the child until the child turned 18. She thought my friend might feel obligated to support the child, so she waited until the child was an adult. He was distressed when he found out, since he would have loved being a father.
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Exactly! It’s a terrible thing to do. And imagine how that child feels. It’s horrible from any perspective.