and a bit silly, but I did a lot of work today and I’m tired.
(Sparkly don’t read)
and the highlights/notes I made when I first read it. So here is an idea I jotted down ages ago, expressed in a series of quotes.
When I first read An Unlcean Legacy, I loved some of Sophie’s interactions with the Devil, but I didn’t really get this particular line. Now I think I get what it’s about.
(Some of the quotes are about the Judge Rotenberg Center, and about bullying and abuse in general, fyi.)
I might not actually do any more of these, because digging the right quotes out of my brain and finding the sources to link to takes a surprisingly long time. But consider this a proof-of-concept.
A. The Hitherby Dragons quote I was talking about here:
It is in a state of uncertainty that Belshazzar returns to his father Nabonidus.
“What is a monster?” Belshazzar asks.
“It’s someone who thinks it’s all right to be a monster,” Nabonidus says.
“Is it all right?”
Nabonidus smiles at him. “I think so.”
B. Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
As I have explained in earlier chapters, abusiveness has little to do with psychological problems and everything to do with values and beliefs. Where do a boy’s values about partner relationships come from? The sources are many. The most important ones include the family he grows up in, his neighborhood, the television he watches and books he reads, jokes he hears, messages that he receives from the toys he is given, and his most influential adult role models. His role models are important not just for which behaviors they exhibit to the boy but also for which values they teach him in words and what expectations they instill in him for the future. In sum, a boy’s values develop from the full range of his experiences within his culture.
I wrote this ages ago and didn’t post it, I’m not sure why. Probably I was going to collect more links.
Fuuuuck I bet I know who siggorts are supposed to be and ouch that is awkward. I mean, assuming they’re meant to represent any specific existing thing and not just a philosophical situation.
(X) Sid has difficulty with his identity
(X) Max has difficult with Sid’s identity and then has a bright idea
(X) Siggorts in general
And why Rose writing it out gives me a lot of feelings when I don’t really give a shit about the Declaration of Independence.
To say that something is an inalienable right when you don’t currently have it is a brave thing. To speak up and say that you should have something, when you know the people you’re talking to disagree, and you don’t have the power to actually take it, is a brave thing. “It shouldn’t be this way” is the foundation and starting point for all the actual fighting. But saying it when there’s nothing you can do to change things makes it feel more like an admission of weakness. It means you stop trying to accept and live with what you’ve got, and you have to look at just how far it is to the unattainable things you should have, just how much you’ve been hurt, just how much you’ve been denied.
(Hitherby Dragons for this is Jane offering freedom to the Elm Hill staff in exchange for, not even an apology, but a statement of fault. “It was wrong, it was vile, I had no right.” That’s literally all she wants. And Micah saying to Melanie, “What you do? It’s wrong,” at the big showdown like it’s a great revelation, after building up to it with Biblical quotes. The site is down so I can’t get links right now.)
(Title refers to this.)
I’ve really been struggling to explain my reaction to this. It really strongly pings a group of tropes or archetypes in my brain, but I’m not sure I have the right words for them.
Basically: Lovaas thinks it would be cool to be a controlling, abusive parent. He thinks that’s what therapists should be to autistic children. The “benevolent dictator” kind, specifically. Dispenser of punishment and comfort, absolute authority. He thinks this is a GOOD, USEFUL strategy. To encourage social behavior, by using reward and punishment to steer children into acting like they love you.
These three aspects of the use of pain can be illustrated by observations of parent-child relationships. The first two are obvious; a parent will punish his child to suppress specific behaviors, and his child will learn to behave so as to escape or avoid punishment. The third aspect of the use of pain is more subtle, but more typical. In this case, a parent “rescues” his child from discomfort. In reinforcement theory terms, the parent becomes discriminative for the reduction or removal of negative reinforcers or noxious stimuli. During the first year of life many of the interactions a parent has with his children may be of this nature. An infant will fuss, cry, and give signs indicative of pain or distress many times during the day, whereupon most parents will pick him up and attempt to remove the discomfort. Such situations must contribute a basis for subsequente meaningful relationships between people; individuals are seen as important to each other if they have faced and worked through a stressful experience together. It may well be that much of a child’s love for his parents develops in situations which pair parents with stress reductions. Later in life, the normal child does turn to his parent when he is frightened or hurt by nightmares, by threat of punishment from his peers, by fears of failure in school, and so on.
In view of these considerations, it was considered appropriate to investigate the usefulness of pain in modifying the behaviors of autistic children. Autistic children were selected for two reasons: (1) because they show no improvement with conventional psychiatric treatment; and (2) because they are largely unresponsive to everyday interpersonal events.
In the present study, pain was induced by means of an electrified grid on the floor upon which the children stood. The shock was turned on immediately following pathological behaviors. It was turned off or withheld when the children came to the adults who were present. Thus, these adults “saved” the children from a dangerous situation; they were the only “safe” objects in a painful environment.
“Individuals are seen as important to each other if they have faced and worked through a stressful experience together,” and Lovaas wants to ENGINEER that, by causing the stressful experience and then offering the “help”. And he thinks that’ll be a useful foundation for genuine relationships.
From earlier in the introduction:
Despite the pervasiveness of pain in daily functioning, and its possible necessity for maintaining some behaviors, psychology and related professions have shied away from, and often condemned, the use of pain for therapeutic purposes. We agree with Solomon (1964) that such objections to the use of pain have a moral rather than a scientific basis. Recent research, as reviewed by Solomon, indicated that hte scientific premises offered by psychologists for the rejection of punishment are not tenable. Rather, punishment can be a very useful tool for effecting behavior change.
He thinks this is totally cool! A useful, overlooked tool. He thinks there should be NO moral qualms whatsoever, about pretending that controlling someone through fear of punishment is a medical treatment.
I said I understood what Jenna Moran means by the title of this post, but I never expected to hear someone say it so baldly. He really thinks it’s totally okay, to use the tools of a really straightforward literal monster. A domestic abuser. Someone torturing prisoners of war to get them to collaborate. He thinks that’s cool.
Edit: I came across this on Tumblr, and yeah, I think “trauma bond” is the phrase I was looking for and not remembering. Or at least, that’s a large part of what I’m talking about here.
“That’s the same thing as that other thing!”
Thing 1. (X)
Specifically: “There’s a certain amount of objectivity to it, or honesty…”
Thing 2. (X)
It is, perhaps, ten years before Montechristien’s death.
Sophie is fighting the Devil. She has seen the color of his power, and that color is red. She has answered it in a fashion unique in the history of the world: she has manifested in herself that same red power and used it against him. She has flung the Devil backwards through seven trees and deep into a hill; but the Devil is smiling, smiling still. The red roars in her soul.
“I understand you,” Sophie says. And she does. The Devil drags himself to his feet. He walks over to her — one of his legs is broken, but he doesn’t seem to mind — and he squats down, with one fist under his chin. He says, “Oh?”
“Everywhere there is horrible suffering but a world without that suffering is the world of picture-books, the world of grass, the world of those who cannot look up and bear witness to the truth.”
“Yes,” the Devil says. “And that is why Montechristien Groeneveldt must die.”
Sophie peers at him. The red is a thunder in her ears. It is tinting the world she sees.
“When humans strive against God,” the Devil says, “and God strikes them down, it is the most perfect of all symmetries. But there, you see, there, still, Montechristien stands.”
Sophie looks around. She has loved the trees, but she does not love them now; they are hideous in the peace of them. There is a robin nesting in the branches thirty trees away. It’s horrible in the mindless service of its life. And all around in the forest and the lands beyond the forest are sleeping children who day by day forsake their grace; and adults pointlessly alive; and kings and bishops who callous, jest at scars. And it is with a peculiarly sickening sensation that she realizes that nowhere in the world she sees is any sense of higher meaning, or of love; that she is staring on a world of not-yet corpses jerked about by the transient pulse of life; that there is no power to lift her up from utter despair save the Devil’s choice of prizing one’s own damnation.
“I hate him too,” she says meekly. She does. It is insane to her now that with his soul in Hell Montechristien should still stagger through the castle halls and make the motions of life; that he should snore and wear his nightcap and try, however grumpily and falteringly, to raise the children of his blood. It is laughable and hateful because there is no hope for him. It is as appalling as children laughing and puppies barking on a field covered in wartime dead; as appalling as men and women, forced to cannibalism to survive, who sip their comrade soup and jest about its flavor; as horrid as everyone in the long years of the world who has stretched and smiled at the morning while the diseased cough up their blood in agony and the monsters rape children and the victims gasp for breath in the torture chambers of the rich. Sophie can taste the hate. She can taste the red hate in her mouth for the damned and still walking Montechristien Groeneveldt.
Well, I guess I do have something more to say about it, which is that I rarely fall into this way of thinking but I find it very sympathetic. And so I’m forever singing Jenna’s praises for giving the Devil understandable motivations.
Here is your opportunity to compare the measured, explicative version of something with the sad unedited rambling version, below. Though, actually, on third reading, the first version really doesn’t understate it that much and I’m not sure if this really adds anything.
It’s like I’m a siggort. There’s a thing that seems normal and reasonable and non-harmful to me, and the world is like NO, and all I have is “But… I thought this was okay?”
(This is a tricky comparison, because I’m not actually going around hurting other people. I’m just collaterally upsetting people like Max. Sid would actually theoretically kill people, he just hasn’t yet. But. The part where Max loves him simultaneously with thinking he’s just Wrong. So Wrong that he shouldn’t even exist in the world. And how Sid is already sort of in an awkward situation with his theoretical purpose, in that he hasn’t fulfilled it yet and the other siggorts don’t trust that. It’s actually kind of like Dax’s thing. This thing. Evil space monsters inimical to human life exist, and they’re sitting across from you sipping coffee and talking to you like they like you.)