Sunday, December 8, 2013

When saw we thee a stranger?

I grew up in a very welcoming church in which the primary doctrine was that we are all children of God (spirit siblings) with the divine potential to become gods ourselves. Over the recent holiday I asked my uncle how he converted to the church. He told me a story of being 17 years-old, searching for truth, and finding it in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I asked him what were the church teachings that inspired him to make such a change. He said primarily the belief in the pre-existence -- that we had spiritual lives before this one and that we each chose to come to this planet and receive a body to have a physical existence.

After he answered my questions he turned it back on me. He had read the book and wanted to know what about the church made me keep believing, despite being the way I am. The truth is that I have always believed and never doubted. My mother thinks that is a gift of the spirit. But I've also never had reason to doubt. The teachings of the church have always felt as true to me as anything else people have told me. But I told my uncle, I have learned that everyone has their own view of any belief. There are no identical Mormons -- there are no identical political conservatives, or feminists, or humanists, or even sociopaths. Even though you can categorize people into big groups, people really are special snowflakes and they will not always fit the mold in the way that other members of that group will expect. That doesn't mean they don't belong to that group or groupings are not useful, We were never meant to be the same and we're all too complex to describe with just a few categories or characteristics. For instance, I used to fixate on the "criminal" description of criminal sociopaths, thinking that they must be the "low-functioning ones." It wasn't until I interacted with some that I realized that "criminal" didn't really mean everything I had just sort of assumed it did. Now I don't have such rigid views about how I expect people to manifest their personality disorders or other mental issues.

But bringing it back to religion, I liked this talk from a LDS Bishop about gay mormons:

Even in the Church, among brothers and sisters, we are sometimes strangers. We have a tendency to judge one another for failure to understand the gospel as we understand it or abide by the commandments as we ourselves do. In every ward there are members who speak disparagingly of those who are different, who question the devotion of their brothers and sisters on some basis, who treat them as strange.

In Romans, Paul emphasizes the importance of the saints having tolerance and charity for those who are different. To those who may make judgments about others in regard to their eating habits, for example, he says, “If a man is weak in his faith, you must accept him without attempting to settle doubtful points. For instance, one man will have faith enough to eat all kinds of food, while a weaker man eats only vegetables. The man who eats must not hold in contempt the man who does not, and he who does not eat must not pass judgement on the one who does; for God has accepted him” (14: 1-3, New English Bible; hereafter NEB). Disputations about the Sabbath day are seen in the same light. “This man regards one day more highly than another, while that man regards all days alike. On such a point everyone should have reached conviction in his own mind. He who respects the day has the Lord in mind in doing so, and he who eats meat has the Lord in mind when he eats, since he gives thanks to God. For no one of us lives, and, equally, no one of us dies, for himself alone. . . . Let us therefore cease judging one another. . . . Let us then pursue the things that make for peace and build up the common life” (14:5-7, NEB). Building that common life is our common stewardship and when we take it seriously we progress as individuals and as a Church.

I am struck by what Paul says because I think he is trying to teach a very important lesson: there are a number of things about which the Lord seems not to care, in which He gives us choice. It seems there are many issues over which we choose to be divisive, which are of no consequence to God. He doesn’t care whether we are Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, rich or poor, sophisticated or simple. It is probably of no concern to Him if we are vegetarians, eat white flour, have beards, wear colored shirts to Church, or the myriad other things that some of us consider important enough to judge, condemn, or spiritually disfellowship one another over.

Instead of focusing on such trivia, we should, as Paul says, “pursue the things that make for peace, and build up the common life.” Those things generally are love, understanding, tolerance, acceptance, liberality of spirit, magnanimity, and forgiveness.
[T]he following statements by Joseph Smith might prove instructive:

“The nearer we get to our Heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls. We feel we should want to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our backs.”

“Nothing is so much calculated to lead a people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O What power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.”

“Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and [more] boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.”
The entire burden of Christ’s message is that we should be slow to judge and quick to forgive, that we should consider all people as ourselves, and that we should love one another without regard to our differences. The Golden Rule applies especially to all those whom we consider strange, queer, abnormal—all those whom we might see as different from or less than we are.

The truth is that despite all being special snowflakes, we have much more in common with each other than we would ever have separating us and we are interconnected in ways that we cannot comprehend.


  1. But isn't what you're advocating a complete condradiction of the
    sociopathic mindset? This is a rare viewpoint for ANY sociopath
    to take, even a "Mormon" one.
    I take it as yet more evidence that you are NOT a sociopath, or at
    the least, a very good Parrot.
    In truth though, I always knew that M.E. was no sociopath. I knew
    she was conserned with "fairness and justice" because her true
    first name begins with the letter "J." I also knew it was very unlikely
    that M.E. was a sociopath because her real first name comes to the
    number 12 under the Chaldean numerological system which is far
    from a "wicked" sociopathic number. (See www.thereadingroom101.
    com for answers.)
    For those of us who admire M.E. our task is to support her in
    whatever limited way we can. Offer her encouragement and buy
    her books whenever she comes out with a new one.
    I don't want to see her end up like Ira Hayes, the character in the film
    "The Outsider."

    1. No she's definitely a sociopath. It can be really difficult for people who don't have sociopathy to come to terms with someone actually being sociopathic. I admit, several cases I have read about my initial thought was "they have borderline personality disorder" because of this way of thinking. I did the same when I first started reading M.E. Thomas's article in Psychology Today. By the time I was done reading it I realized she really does have sociopathy. The problem is, the field of psychology has portrayed sociopathy a certain way. Psychologists generally are not interested in seeing all of the complexities in humans. They tend to want to attribute everything to pathology, and not see all of the complexities. Unfortunately this is how they are trained to think. They are trained to perceive people through very narrow prisms of mental illness. The fact is the field of psychology has a long way to go. If you think about it, it's still in its infancy compared to other disciplines. I received the same training, but years ago I couldn’t help but notice there is a lot of good, positive characteristics of borderline personality disorder. Shortly after I started to realize there are also traits of sociopathy that are beneficial to the individual and at times society. Also, I was bothered by the fact that psychologists tend to think everything a sociopath does is done with the intent of manipulating. At some point these individuals have to do things they enjoy. John Wayne Gayce dressed up as a clown to entertain children at parties, and if you ask any psychologist they will say it was done with intent to manipulate others, and fool them in to thinking he was a good, upstanding guy, but how do we know? Maybe he genuinely enjoyed it. Maybe it was one of the few times he was really happy. I try never to assume with others.

    2. Also, John Wayne Gayce was politically active at the local level which benefitted a lot of people in that community.

  2. Okay. So my first name begins with an A. Does that make me a sociopath?

    1. @ anon 4: 32 AM, Yes Yes A. is a very good possibility. especially, if you are an early riser. Contact me and I will diagnose you personally.
      My fees are reasonable, and I will not use "Chaldean numerological system"like anon at 3:21 AM.
      I do palm reading, waaaaay more accurate.
      Save your life, and contact me. But pay your FEES in advance!

  3. I'm a sociopath. I have never believed in god, but have benefited from religion, particularly Stoicism by Marcus Aurelius. If you are a disbelieving sociopath, try living by the "Emperor's Handbook" for a week.

    None of us choose to be who we are. Right now you and everyone else has a mind and body that they didn't create. You think in a language you didnt invent, along with the rest of your culture. It is a miraculous thing that moment by moment your mind turns the world into a cornucopia of images, thoughts, feelings and impulses for you - and you mostly ignore it, despite the fact that we all know it will be over, forever, in just a moment.

    Awareness of that is the only thing that cuts through my hatred, self-absorption, greed and sadism.

    1. Great point! The stoics are awesome because they emphasize self mastery as the way to contentment. There is no moralism or arbitrary rules to gain the approval of some judgmental deity.
      Epictetus also good. (my favorite but who can argue with M.A.'s four chief virtues? ) What the stoics offer to the sociopathic malcontent is a break from all the negativity which becomes exhausting. For that reason alone they seem worth exploring- never mind any "lessons"
      Some people say that Jesus is far more aligned with that school of thought than any other. Funny how modern day organized Christianity is so completely counter to these teachings.

    2. Hi . About stoicism, I grew up putting stoicism in me. I didnt know what it was. Then there were times I cried and could not tell a person why. I didnt know how to use words like "my feelings are hurt" or anything. I thought well that is life and I should not show anything.

      I did jot know that I was putting feelings away. I have a hard time recognizing what my feelings are and lots of times i cannot name them. Even with years and years of therapy, all i really did eas intellectualize there and mourn for getting disenfranchized. It was bad for me to be stoic as a child.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Stoicism is not about suppressing emotions, although that's the modern understanding of the word. It actually requires a good deal of emotional literacy so mysterious forces aka feelings don't overpower you and cause you to act in a self sabotaging manner. It requires an unflinching examination and understanding of one's triggers, and subsequent resolution of them so you don't overreact to certain stimuli/situations because of your internal unresolved emotional clusterfuck. In my experience, individuals who scapegoat those who are emotional while being self congratulatory for their own lack of emotion tend to be the most likely to let rage get the better of them at the most inconvenient times. Of course, the next step is to blame the target of rage for said outburst. If you don't have knowledge of your internal processes there's no way you have the capacity to take responsibility for them. That's why externalizing blame for the very bad behavior that takes place in a rage storm seems like the only "rational" option.

      ME says that her choice to enter therapy and begin the path of self discovery was triggered by her recognition that her life would "blow up" every few years and that the common denominator was her. It seems she worked backwards from observing the consequences of her actions and came to a great deal of understanding about her own personality and its contribution to her recurring frustrations. The key was: she took the risk of going off the morphine of externalizing blame and had the courage to ask, "If the common denominator is me, how much of this is a direct result of my own patterns of behavior?" Very brave of her. Most people (sociopaths and empaths included) have the capacity to learn from their mistakes.

      In short, it's about owning your shit so it doesn't control you or cause you to lash out inappropriately at others.

    5. Wow, thank you Machemp. When you refer to "empaths" are you referring to those are extremely empathic or the normal, ones who live expressing things like the way they mean to? I understand many , any people act in contradiction to the way they feel.
      When someone is aware of the way they feel and they cam derect it in others so they can essentially make them feel "ok " about who they are, and they are kind of sort of stoic, in that they have a very nice poker face, can control their microexpresions so as to not give their own selves away, because vulnerabilities are only useful in certain situations, what does that make them??

    6. Correction at 8th line down in my comment: NOT necessarily that they can make a person feel ok.

      It is as if on the inside and also outside looking in. It is they can read between lines and may or may not show their lines depending on the circumstances

    7. Correction at line 7. They can *detect*, not direct it (but also direct)

    8. It makes them emotionally literate.

      When I say empaths I am referring to the non-austic/sociopathic majority of the population.

    9. You can be emotonally literate and also have some difficulty identifying your own emotions at the same time and
      Then become awake after many years of sppression whilst retainng the other stuff.

    10. i didn't know ME was in therapy to learn more about her patterns.(I must of missed that article?) Do you think it's possible for socios to learn from past behavior. ( and change?) Maybe if they really see a benefit in it for them.

      She seems to be a pioneer in this kind of work for those with personality disorders, that would like better quality of life. it seems her mom's supporting her more now than in childhood? That's huge in recovery for anyone. Working through childhood/parenting issues weather the parent is living or not.

      Heard a story on public radio about a adopted boy from Romania with 'Attachment Disorder'. NEVER received ANY love as a child. Part of his therapy was for his VERY dedicated, loving adoptive parents to 'attachment therapy'. Literally hold him and cradle him like a baby for 20 minutes every night for 3 weeks.(and lots of other therapy) This boy has had some success in life. Very rare for someone with his back round history. he still has some antisocial behavior, but has 'attached' to his adoptive parents. Anyway, there is hope depending on how committed and dedicated people are in working on these issues.

    11. I asked ME specifally whether or not she had been to therapy in one of her rare " ask me any question you want " talks with the regulars. She said no, it never interested her. That was quite a while ago.

    12. That is a beautiful story about the roumanian boy. I wonder if he shook.

    13. I'd like to ask her a few questions about therapy, personality disorders , etc. How do you sign up for going to one of these talks?

  4. In an oftentime manipulative, self protective, somewhat paranod fashion, like "just bec i am paranoid doesnt mean people arent out to get me" fashion. I do not trust and I dep3rsonalize, then feel lonely ane need to dissociate from everything at once, then panic from the loneliness in my head
    The dettachment is kind of frightenning and also existential woe. Do not like it and nreed to work hard to stay with myself ot get depressed.

  5. Just loved reading the blog post today M.E. I enjoy yr thoughts about religion. enjoyed the snowflake analogy. And what Dr. Ginger describes as well. There is much positives to having BPD/ASPD. Excellents..both of u.

  6. "A gift of the spirit." Yes, beautiful, our spirits are all advancing at this very moment regardless of our diagnosis.

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