Sunday, June 10, 2012

Shame and Justification (part 3)

Under the title "The Moral Diet," NY Times op-ed columnist David Brooks reviews Dan Ariely’s new book “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty” (Ariely is also the author of the recent Conscience+, the app).  Ariely told the story of how the gift shop at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was the victim of rampant embezzlement, mainly by elderly volunteers manning an unsecured cash drawer.  Interestingly, there wasn't one person who was stealing tons, but many stealing just a little.  The conclusion: "Nearly everybody cheats, but usually only a little."  The reason being that "most of us think we are pretty wonderful. We can cheat a little and still keep that 'good person' identity. Most people won’t cheat so much that it makes it harder to feel good about themselves."  In an experiment, Ariely found that cab drivers were more likely to cheat their standard fare than someone who is blind, because of what David Brooks calls "the good person construct."

Ariely points out that we are driven by morality much more than standard economic models allow. But I was struck by what you might call the Good Person Construct and the moral calculus it implies. For the past several centuries, most Westerners would have identified themselves fundamentally as Depraved Sinners. In this construct, sin is something you fight like a recurring cancer — part of a daily battle against evil.

But these days, people are more likely to believe in their essential goodness. People who live by the Good Person Construct try to balance their virtuous self-image with their selfish desires. They try to manage the moral plusses and minuses and keep their overall record in positive territory. In this construct, moral life is more like dieting: I give myself permission to have a few cookies because I had salads for lunch and dinner. I give myself permission to cheat a little because, when I look at my overall life, I see that I’m still a good person.

The Good Person isn’t shooting for perfection any more than most dieters are following their diet 100 percent. It’s enough to be workably suboptimal, a tolerant, harmless sinner and a generally good guy.

Obviously, though, there’s a measurement problem. You can buy a weight scale to get an objective measure of your diet. But you can’t buy a scale of virtues to put on the bathroom floor. And given our awesome capacities for rationalization and self-deception, most of us are going to measure ourselves leniently: I was honest with that blind passenger because I’m a wonderful person. I cheated the sighted one because she probably has too much money anyway.

I think this is actually an insightful and accurate observation.  I have noticed this a lot recently, more in discussions I see on the blog than in real life, but probably only because the topic of morality comes up a lot more here than it does in real life and people tend to feel the need to take some kind of moral high ground when advocating something horrible like killing all sociopaths (or even just the simple art of accusing anyone of anything), so there is a lot of self-justification going on here.  The weird thing is that many people will unashamedly admit that they're not perfect, but then go on to assert something categorically negative about sociopaths.  I guess the price of admission to the moral high ground is not what it used to be.    


98 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Fuck ya bitch

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    2. You got a limited range there, Extremity he he

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  2. you don't stutter?

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    1. It's unattractive lol.

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    2. pitty play works great i also walk with a limp and have one lazy eye

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  3. and a verry small dick and i'm fat

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    1. I will continue. I have gas problems. Next...........

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    2. I can't get my horse to canter :(

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    3. Great one. Only here ^^

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    4. pitty me yet?

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  4. People who steal for no good reason are stupid fools. People who steal for good reason aren't, like those who steal money back, because they were ripped off on pay somehow. Sociopaths are completely different from this delight in hurting people who have no, and never did intention of hurting anyone. This is the definition of sociopathy, and any other definition of sociopathy is not it. That is why they should be shot.

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    1. I always had a good reason. "Because I needed the money ..."

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    2. So why did you steal my middle finger logo !!?? I was the one that introduced it to the blog. I want money for the use of it!

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    3. Nice avatar choice, Mee - still think you should've gone with the hamster though.

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    4. <-- Can't handle the cuteness ;3

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    5. Yes! Would it be narcissistic of me to say I'm now in love with you for choosing one of the avatars I put up for you?! Very well... I am a narcissist! :D

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    6. You should play the cuteness factor up, Mee. You'd be surprised at how much you can control people by being irresistibly adorable. I have a guy in my life right now who almost has me in a collar and leash, because he knows how to play up the submissive, adorable thing with me. He takes my seduction techniques, and all my manipulation, and matches it with his own submissive act.

      Even though I know this to be an illusion... I still can't resist him!

      It's a fucking weakness to be sure. :)

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    7. Sounds great - where can I get one? Or shall I adopt Mee, since he's so amenable to suggestion? ;)

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    8. I stumbled on mine by chance. I was looking for new stimulation and found him on a random chat site. He had been there for a month. Searching for just the right person. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, and found exactly what I was in need of.

      He's brilliant. I'm not sure he is even aware of just how brilliant he is. A fucking natural. Comes from good stock. I call him American Pie. He comes from a old vision of the American dream.

      He's no victim. Which makes his taste in partnership unusual, and unpredictable. I have a strong desire to wrap his brain in bondage. But yet I know it would be a shame to tame such a beautiful creature.

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  5. I'd be astonished if these volunteers stopped at skimming the tills. There's also 'sweethearting' and theft of goods.

    A relative of mine worked at a charity shop where 20% of the goods went out the door without ever seeing a price sticker, especially designer goods and collectables. Half of the sweet old dears who control the stock are married to antiques dealers, looking for rare ceramics and first edition books.

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  6. Great post, very interesting insight. I realized only this year (I'm 25 years old) how self-centered, egotistical and functional morality is in reality. It usually has nothing to do with others at all. People just love to believe they are great guy, and then we all love a boundarie: it is but human to need to know were you stand, what you can expect from yourself... it gives you a phoney but functional feel of control. I had this crisis, I have already mentioned it here, when I realized I lived in self-deception and this image of myself as a basically good girl was completely unessential. I keep telling my shrink: I chose to do the right thing, but I could have done otherwise, I just find an egotistical reassurance in playing it by the rules. This post has helped me to give credit to this shrink point of view: everyone else is the same. Except for socios, I guess. The fact that I realize all the fucking time makes me socio or just plain smart? Can people really help feeling self disgusted most of the time? Not morally self disgusted, self disguted in terms of weakness, self deception and fakeness.

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    1. "Not morally self disgusted, self disguted in terms of weakness, self deception and fakeness."

      Being a "good girl", fuck that, the definition of "good girl" is what society told you from day one. Forget it. Be out for yourself, but not if it will harm the undeserving. The "fucked up real you"?, there is but one moral just mentioned above, so who or what is to say what is "fucked up" but you and only you?

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    2. I have my own definition of a good girl, of course socially influenced, you can't avoid that, and if you think you do you either are a socio (probably the most "pure" people on Earth in a sense) or you are cheating yourself. But it's also quite personal, you know, and it's basically a question of taste. I like noble characters, I try to be noble, though I am not. Is that worth it? I guess not. Anyway if my real me is fucked up, I don´t give a damn what people think about it, but I have to say that if "fucked up" means different, it is more complicated to identify, control and deal with. And I don´t want to be self-destroyed by myself.

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    3. Truthfully, you don't have to follow anything but your own heart to be noble, as long as your heart isn't hypnotized by societies lies, and if you just don't harm the undeserving, then what else is there to being noble? Absolutely nothing.

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    4. Good one, Bird!

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  7. Miss Sharp,
    You copy that down and look at it at least once a year because deviations occur and you really need to remind yourself this wisdom.

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    1. Thanks for the advice anon. Could I borrow you a minute ? By deviations you mean deception, or________? Could you please give a synonym? I'm Spanish, sorry.

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    2. Deviation is separation from the desired state, in this case occasionally getting away from something you knew well in the past. Could also use 'variation.'

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    3. Thanks!!! Yeah, I guess I have to get used to it, it's like that it's going to be like, right? I guess I'm a bit of a control freak. No, that's not true... I just need to feel that things make more or less sense, that there is some truth somewhere. Thank you for your explanation.

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  8. Why did the blonde sneak past the medicine cabinet?
    .....
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    She didn't want to wake up the sleeping pills.

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  9. In my further attempt to understand the roots of my narcissism I came across Reactive Attachment Disorder (when children are not loved properly in the first few years of life), and one form of that, the disinhibited kind, surely fits my nature. I remember when mom used to occasionally run away after beaten by dad and intentionally leaving me behind to show him a lesson that it is not easy to take care of a child. So, instead of crying and running to her when she got back I used to be too proud and simply observe her holding my younger brother whom she took with her.. I am pretty sure my narcissism has a lot to do with my mom's abandonment a few times. I look at her now, and it is so funny that it is still all about her in her world. I am at least blessed that I see what's going on now and have a chance at learning proper attachment with my own parenting.

    More importantly below is what these therapists are suggesting for the acting out types that are suffering from this disorder. If that is therapy I am not sure what severe abuse is.

    "According to the APSAC Task Force, because it is believed children with attachment problems resist attachment, fight against it and seek to control others to avoid attaching, the child's character flaws must be broken before attachment can occur. Attachment parenting may include keeping the child at home with no social contacts, home schooling, hard labor or meaningless repetitive chores throughout the day, motionless sitting for prolonged periods of time, and control of all food and water intake and bathroom needs. Children described as attachment-disordered are expected by attachment therapists[22] to comply with parental commands "fast and snappy and right the first time", and to always be "fun to be around" for their parents.[3] Deviation from this standard, such as not finishing chores or arguing, is interpreted as a sign of attachment disorder that must be forcibly eradicated. From this perspective, parenting a child with an attachment disorder is a battle, and winning the battle by defeating the child is paramount.[3]"
    P

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    1. Come to think of it this is exactly what my dad forced me to be (taking from the suggested therapy above):

      to comply with parental commands "fast and snappy and right the first time", and
      to always be "fun to be around" for their parents.

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    2. Why am I sharing all this?

      Because if anybody is like me I want them to see that they are not alone.

      Because I am curious how some still consider the way I think about my life or attempts to solve my problems is bullshit. I used to get emotionally charged when I read these in the past. SW has been great in my desensitizing to criticism (huge thing with narcissists, since we believe we do everything for such good reasons and so well, criticism hits like a hugely unfair response). Instead of reacting to that feeling I am now only observing the feeling, and focusing on how I feel as opposed to showing the other party that I was right, or this or that. I really think I am learning slowly to get out of this trap.

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    3. Children described as attachment-disordered are expected by attachment therapists[22] to comply with parental commands "fast and snappy and right the first time", and to always be "fun to be around" for their parents.[3] Deviation from this standard, such as not finishing chores or arguing, is interpreted as a sign of attachment disorder that must be forcibly eradicated.

      crazy

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    4. N to S
      I can't get a feel for you. Maybe, it is me. My mind is kind of full, lately. Can you talk about yourself in a simple way, if you care to.

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    5. Monica, you are still searching for an identity, and I feel I was born with one. You are scared of your mom, mine was scared of me ever since she saw my reaction upon her return home after deserting me. How can you get a feel for me?

      Plus you are numb and frozen, remember?

      What I suggested to you wrt confronting your mom is no different than what UKan said in action. What are you trying to figure out, that I sympathize for you or not? I am sorry, I am not sadist like Eden, but I still don't sympathize with you because you are hiding with a version of truth.

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    6. Well, I realized something today. I choose to save her life, and not mine. I hid what she did to keep her safe, while I went down the tubes. I sacrificed my concept of right and wrong and even my desire to have my own life have meaning, so she would not have to FACE what she did to me and thus, to see her own face.

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    7. I still don't want to make her feel bad or look bad to anyone. She is a therapist and practicing. I knifed myself, rather than her.

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    8. Fuck her feelings, Monica. She doesn't deserve or need your protection.

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    9. I was always afraid I would kill her if I was honest. She always seemed so weak and helpless and pitiful and I was strong and smart before I went numb.

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    10. Monica... you're really strange. You know that? Do you really think it's that easy to kill someone with words? If that were true... my father would have been 6 feet under a million years ago.

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    11. Eden said...
      Fuck her feelings, Monica. She doesn't deserve or need your protection.


      agreed!

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    12. You got a point, Eden.
      Zoe!

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    13. Eden...
      Monica... you're really strange. You know that? Do you really think it's that easy to kill someone with words? If that were true... my father would have been 6 feet under a million years ago.


      it's a narcissist parent thing. they make you think that maintaining their identity is your duty, that it's a matter of their survival, and that any manifestations of your identity will destroy them.

      the by product, and real issue, is that your independence from them is never encouraged as you grow up, and your identity as a separate being from them is never acknowledged. that can either make you stronger as they say, and super independent, or turn you into a guilt ridden hermit that hides their dead bodies in the back bedroom, buried somewhere in piles of plastic bags and tin cans.

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    14. YES, Zoe, that is it. They act like you really will kill them and it will be ON YOU, for wanting your own identity.

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    15. the world won't end if you're bad

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    16. I have a friend. This guy is the closest to God of anyone I have ever met. He has had 4 NDE( near death experiences). He literally was in Heaven, begging God not to send him back. God told him his time on earth was not done. Then, he met me :P He says that you guys are telling me right. I have to confront her and have the full force of my personal power--not as nasty, but as strong and centered in my own power.

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    17. he almost died 4 times? wow

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    18. Yep I was just talking to him. I told him all about SW. He is a Goth: pierced, tattooed, says fuck, all the time, but he has a heart that is the closest to God I have ever seen.

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    19. I hate these wimpy Christian guys.

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    20. Zoe... I had a father that was 4 times the narcissist your parents were. I still stood up to him in my early teens. Don't talk to me like I don't know that narc parent. He assigned me my favorite color. Remember that conversation?

      Probably not.

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    21. I remember the whole thing. you write well.

      maybe there are different styles of narc? i mean i don't think Monica's attitude is strange. it makes sense... given all.

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    22. I was at a pivotal point at 14. I could have become hardened, with sociopath traits, I think. I choose the numb. I think there was a choice that I made. I remember that prior to becoming numb, I could hurt people and not feel anything. I didn't like this. I didn't want it. I went numb, instead.

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    23. Numb to what exactly, and why?

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    24. "He has had 4 NDE( near death experiences). He literally was in Heaven, begging God not to send him back. God told him his time on earth was not done."

      You actually believe this guy's bullshit?

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    25. I'm too drunk right now. Ill analyze this later today.

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    26. Anon 8:49

      I had a lot of trauma from my mother. I stayed intact by convincing myself that my father was on my side, as my father was good, just a total wimp. I stayed mentally sane as I convinced myself that my father and I were on the same side. We just never spoke about it, but it was unspoken.

      One day, I asked him "Is there something wrong with her or is if me?" He said it was me and I went numb at that instant, in my early teens and never came out of it, until now.

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    27. I stayed mentally sane as I convinced myself that my father and I were on the same side

      This is interesting because you do this here all the time. You seem to adopt an us and them view of everyone here. Every new narc that turns up you praise and hang off their every word, yet they all turn out to be wimps and full of crap just like your father.

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    28. WOW Ell
      That is pretty interesting. See what friggin therapy you can get here. Thanks, by the way!

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    29. "I had a lot of trauma from my mother. I stayed intact by convincing myself that my father was on my side, as my father was good, just a total wimp."

      Fuck both your father, and your mother. Just because they are parents doesn't make them not assholes. My father sucks totally, I totally hate his guts. So? Right!- who the fuck cares! I know that. I sure as hell don't. I dont need such a loser in my life anyway, that fucking bitch is nothing but toxic. Sadly, my mother is too gullible to see what a fucking toxic asshole this guy is.

      Did I go "numb"? No. Because I can see for truth what this piece of garbage really is.

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    30. Yes Anon, if you can face the truth and don't lose that ability, you don't have to go numb.

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    31. RIght. I can tell right off the bat, your father was scared of your mother, and what would happen if he said "yes, it's her", and she found out, your crazy mother would have fucked that pussy right up.

      Consider this hypothetical: Any honorable person wouldn't say, "yes, it's you" because that is theoretically impossible, since it can't be just one person as no one is even nearly perfect. You father lied, to save his ass from getting totally fucked over by your shit mother.

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    32. You got that friggin right, Anon @@@@ that is applause

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    33. And the crowd goes wild......hhhhhhssshhhhhsssssshhhhhhhh.....Why Thank You, Thank YOU!!

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    34. No one was talking to you, Bird

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  10. The Good Person isn’t shooting for perfection any more than most dieters are following their diet 100 percent. It’s enough to be workably suboptimal, a tolerant, harmless sinner and a generally good guy.

    i wonder if some of the motivation comes from the need to keep up with the joneses. if all are stealing a little, conscience eases up so you don't get left behind. you have to keep up with the herd at all costs right?

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    1. Any UK readers seeing parallels with the parliamentary expenses scandal?

      "Everyone else was doing it ..."

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    2. "He has had 4 NDE( near death experiences). He literally was in Heaven, begging God not to send him back. God told him his time on earth was not done."

      You actually believe this guy's bullshit?

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    3. Yes Anon. I, totally, believe it. Many people have them and the people are radically changed. A female MD just wrote a book about having an NDE. She drowned. I did not read the book but heard an interview on Coast to Coast with George Noory. You can probably get the interview. I think her name is Mary Neal. I may be wrong but the Coast to Coast website will have her name. The interview was in the last few months.

      You can tell that she is a very scientific type, not an airy fairy hippie type or a religious freak type.

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    4. Eden finds a sub. I find a pierced, tattooed, Goth who is a Christian.

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    5. Many psychos hide behind religion.

      So, shut the fuck up!!!!!!!!!!!

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  11. Zoe, beeper, socio? Typical? What's your flavour? :)

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    1. empath with a dash of narc and socio ripples :)

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    2. Yeah, we all are that way sometimes :)
      Good luck!

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    3. so, what's your flavour, Rem?

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    4. Cherry :)

      Other than that, probably a narcissist.

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  12. I have been thinking a lot about what UKan said, yesterday, about re-claiming my power, with my mother. I think he is 100% right. When you are victimized, you think of the other person's feelings ahead of your own. You don't want to hurt THEM, even if you suffer, greatly, as a result.

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    1. Stop talking you cunt. What matters are your actions, not your worthless words you've been throwing at us for months.

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    2. GRRRR the feel good vibes were too good to be true.

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    3. You can keep your feel good vibes, Monica. Why should his comment stop you? You don't need his approval. I think it's a very good idea to approach your mother. Not with the hopes of an apology, but with the assertion that she has lost her power over you.

      You're a grown woman, Monica. Power is an illusion. The mind can not be broken if the will is strong enough. What can she really do to you? It's all made up. A complete fabrication in your head... because the past is not what's happening now.

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    4. Eden you seem relaxed lately. Does it have to do with feeling in love and control of your submissive?

      Will you make him lick your kitchen floors?

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    5. hahaha! Actually I think I'm just getting bored with the usual dynamic in this place. It's been a year that I've been coming here almost religiously. It was fucking good. It was really good; this 12 month affair. But the buzz is wearing off now, and I must replace it.

      My sub is now fulfilling my misplaced urges, and of course, the real deal is always better than a simulated version. Which is all that SW has ever been for me.

      I need live action now. I'm done with the cyber foreplay. It's true that I'm in love. It's a strong opiate, is it not? I will enjoy my slow descent into whatever hell that has in store for me. ;)

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    6. Yup, strong opiate indeed it is. After the effect wears off you're like what the fuck did i do last night, and who's the fuck panties are these ?! And then you're stuck with the morning after look everytime you see her. Sometimes she wants more, sometimes she looks the other way and you smile. Haha!

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    7. It's a guy.

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  13. I think you are off the mark, but nearly hit it in the last paragraph - every example of people cheating other people was of "little people taking back from the 1%". The cookies don't count, that is against yourself, a poor example in the first place for "sociopaths" [narcciopath maybe?]

    We have a DUTY to steal from WalMart, it has nothing to do with morality.

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  14. I've noticed over a series of the more recent blog postings a lot of "Instant Messenger" comments rather what used to be questions and insightful statements.

    Basically: I miss the common abstract thinking and would like to remind users that almost every user has email and/or AIM. It would make more sense to have a more personal conversation on there considering a lot has little or nothing to do with the context of the initial post.

    ReplyDelete

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