Thursday, March 6, 2014

Manipulation 105

How to turn a hater into a fan, Benjamin Franklin style, from David McRaney's "You Are Not So Smart: A Field Guide to the Brain's Guile". First he talks about how our flawed perception of the world provides ample opportunity for us to be fooled:

The last one hundred years of research suggest that you, and everyone else, still believe in a form of na├»ve realism. You still believe that although your inputs may not be perfect, once you get to thinking and feeling, those thoughts and feelings are reliable and predictable. We now know that there is no way you can ever know an “objective” reality, and we know that you can never know how much of subjective reality is a fabrication, because you never experience anything other than the output of your mind. Everything that’s ever happened to you has happened inside your skull.

Second, the Benjamin Franklin method of messing with another person's mind:

Franklin set out to turn his hater into a fan, but he wanted to do it without “paying any servile respect to him.” Franklin’s reputation as a book collector and library founder gave him a standing as a man of discerning literary tastes, so Franklin sent a letter to the hater asking if he could borrow a specific selection from his library, one that was a “very scarce and curious book.” The rival, flattered, sent it right away. Franklin sent it back a week later with a thank-you note. Mission accomplished. The next time the legislature met, the man approached Franklin and spoke to him in person for the first time. Franklin said the man “ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.”
***
When you feel anxiety over your actions, you will seek to lower the anxiety by creating a fantasy world in which your anxiety can’t exist, and then you come to believe the fantasy is reality, just as Benjamin Franklin’s rival did. He couldn’t possibly have lent a rare book to a guy he didn’t like, so he must actually like him. Problem solved.
***
The Benjamin Franklin effect is the result of your concept of self coming under attack. Every person develops a persona, and that persona persists because inconsistencies in your personal narrative get rewritten, redacted, and misinterpreted. If you are like most people, you have high self-esteem and tend to believe you are above average in just about every way. It keeps you going, keeps your head above water, so when the source of your own behavior is mysterious you will confabulate a story that paints you in a positive light. If you are on the other end of the self-esteem spectrum and tend to see yourself as undeserving and unworthy [and] will rewrite nebulous behavior as the result of attitudes consistent with the persona of an incompetent person, deviant, or whatever flavor of loser you believe yourself to be. Successes will make you uncomfortable, so you will dismiss them as flukes. If people are nice to you, you will assume they have ulterior motives or are mistaken. Whether you love or hate your persona, you protect the self with which you’ve become comfortable. When you observe your own behavior, or feel the gaze of an outsider, you manipulate the facts so they match your expectations.

This is why volunteering feels good and unpaid interns work so hard. Without an obvious outside reward you create an internal one. That’s the cycle of cognitive dissonance; a painful confusion about who you are gets resolved by seeing the world in a more satisfying way.

By the way, a while ago I posted something about Benjamin Franklin possibly being a sociopath, and people vehemently disagreed:

Like many people full of drive and intelligence born into a low station, Franklin developed strong people skills and social powers. All else denied, the analytical mind will pick apart behavior, and Franklin became adroit at human relations. From an early age, he was a talker and a schemer, a man capable of guile, cunning, and persuasive charm. He stockpiled a cache of secret weapons, one of which was the Benjamin Franklin effect, a tool as useful today as it was in the 1730s and still just as counterintuitive.

Maybe he was not a sociopath, but he certainly had many sociopathic traits. 

34 comments:

  1. From what I've gathered here, it seems that 'sociopathy' is simply another form of (barely) functional autism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (BARELY) FUNCTIONAL VEGITOPATHMarch 6, 2014 at 12:13 AM

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    2. (BARELY) FUNCTIONAL VEGITOPATHMarch 6, 2014 at 12:14 AM

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    3. No. M.E. is just playing a scheme again. When she got you believing that you should accept her kind, she will exploit you just like before while she plays the role of a victim. All this preferably while you know nothing.

      Delete
    4. They do not feel sympathy at all. That makes them considering themselves superiour. In order to "communicate" they hide their lack of sympathy and pretend a whole lot of things. Acts of manipulation are often obvious. Hostile behaviours often do not make sense. The total lack of sympathy (zero) is the reason, why most people, once they have recognized these facts, feel uncomfortable with socios.

      Delete
  2. HIGH-FUNCTIONING VEGITOPATH CAN SPELL IN TITLES BUT NOT IN HIS POSTSMarch 6, 2014 at 12:15 AM

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    ReplyDelete
  3. HIGH-FUNCTIONING VEGITOPATH IS A SADOMASOCHIST WHO WATCHES GAY NAZI PORNMarch 6, 2014 at 12:16 AM

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    ReplyDelete
  4. HIGH-FUNCTIONING VEGITOPATH JUST TOOK BUZZFEED AND WAS TOLD HIS INTESTINAL DISEASE WAS CROHN'SMarch 6, 2014 at 12:17 AM

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    ReplyDelete
  5. HIGH-FUNCTIONING VEGITOPATH SAYS "MAD PROPS" TO JIMMY KIMMEL FOR OWNING ROB FORD ON NATIONAL TELEVISIONMarch 6, 2014 at 12:18 AM

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    ReplyDelete
  6. (BARELY) FUNCTIONING VEGITOPATHMarch 6, 2014 at 12:20 AM

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    ReplyDelete
  7. Could someone knowledgeble about Sociopaths please
    explain the motivations of the gentleman who is trying to disrupt
    M.E.'s blog? It's seems to be a rather infantile and fruitless
    attempt. Also, his pattern NEVER varies. Nobody here seems
    especially upset with his behavior, so if his objective is to drive
    people away, he has not suceeded.
    If said man disagrees with M.E.'s viewpoints or ideas, could he
    not start a counter blog? Or, is his objective simpily to piss on
    this blog?
    Is he from Britan? If he really hates M.E. so much and is occupied
    with other things, he can't travel to Utah and wrap his fingers
    around M.E.'s neck, but there must be other ways to express his
    frustration. Just why would he continue to conduct himself in a
    vain and repeatious way.
    Bob, if you're listening, of all the people who post here, you are
    the most like M.E. Have you been corresponding with M.E.
    through personal E-mails? I only have the crudest computer
    skills. I know nothing about your personal life of marital status.
    And, all I really know about M.E. is what I read in her book, what
    she said, on Dr. Phil, and various media appearences. I know next
    to nothing about "social media."
    If I "read" M.E. correctly, she is a "ponderer," a "wonderer."
    She seems to have "concern" about her future AND discipline.
    She told Dr, Phil that she WOULD like to be a parent one day, and
    she hoped the child would be sociopath so she could "mold" it.
    "It takes one to know one," and we attract our own "level."
    Again, I have no idea about your personal life, whether you are
    "free."
    M.E. is NOT getting any younger! Women sociopaths make up 3%
    of society, and the high functioning one's must make up a half of
    1%. M.E. is unsure of her ability to "love" and even less sure of her
    ability to parent. If you are happily married, you can disregard
    the above, certainly if you are ascetically "malformed," ditto.
    But, this 'golden oppertunity has been placed in your hands to
    "save" both M.E. AND her blog. M.E. is past 30, get going!
    BTW, Ben Franklin WAS a sociopath! Not only was he a rabid
    anti-semite, he also belonged to the "Hellfire Club" which advocated sexual descecration of women and EVEN murder!
    Philp Chism and Ben Franklin would joyfully partake of the same
    activities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are pretty big claims.

      Do you have sources to back any of that up?

      Didn't think so.

      Delete
    2. I have anticipated many comments and responses from participating in the comments, however I must admit that this one was completely unexpected. I found that rather hilarious in a bizarre, left-field sort of way.

      I would not marry ME, as I am not interested in marriage in general. Besides, even if we were to get married, it would probably not last very long for numerous reasons. If anything, marriage with another sociopath would be worse for both of us compared with a non-sociopath. If it was, say, a business relationship, I am sure that could go well.

      By the way, 1-4% may seem like a very small number - it is technically rare - but that still leaves at least 70 million plus high-functioning sociopaths in the world. There is no population problem.

      Delete
    3. Bob,

      I hope I get an invite and you pick a warm location for your nuptials.

      MelissaR

      Delete
  8. One can usually tell someone is on the right track by the desperation of the rebuttal.
    Re BF-his behavior is difficult to gauge in a time of very different social and psychic pressures-his skill at social games was set a time when social behavior was structured very differently-would one assume Jane Austin was sociopathic because of her insight into social mores and games?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you hit a weakness that the other person also sees, it can be.

      It is also important to note that, as per ME's last sentence, if Franklin was not a sociopath, he did exhibit many sociopathic traits. Whether there were enough traits to classify as a sociopath is difficult to say.

      As for Franklin "backloading" the person, I found that recollection quite quaint. I did not know it could be used so explicitly and directly. I have always figured the disarming process needed to be more gradual in leveling your appearance as more ordinary and routine. It seems a bit heavy-handed to me, but maybe I am underestimating its usage. I will have to remember that.

      Delete
  9. This blog is getting more functional every day! I think either someone forgotten to take his medication or this is just some sort of manipulation (!!!) done by a desperato, with a big blank ego.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Which traits belong to the classification of a sociopath, exactly? 'Manipulating' someone into liking you for its own sake doesn't seem very sociopathic to me. Benjamin Franklin made himself appear humble by requesting another man's book, praising its rarity. It's a clever way to turn an antagonist into a friend. I heap goodwill upon people who dislike me as well, and so I have no enemies. All you need to do is treat people with respect, treat them well, and they will like you. It's easy, and while it does require one to suppress negative emotions, it hardly requires one to be a sociopath.

    ReplyDelete
  11. First, it was an experiment. He used him to satisfy a curiousity, to see if he could turn him using a given method. Second, successful sociopaths "heap goodwill" *because* of this knowledge. However they do this for reputation sake, as a social/emotional investment for future use and the avoidance of harm. It is not done out of any compunction or moral obligation.

    It is not what he did, but why he did it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. was thinking the same thing. its always good to preserve kindness for the future investment of avoidance & harm - and the goodwill of others.
      reputation status does comes in handy.
      better to join a friend than an adversary.

      Delete
    2. Being practical in one's relationships is sociopathic? I genuinely enjoy the company of others, and I do not want any enemies. Does everyone not suppress their more base desires in order to fulfill their need to socialize? Amorality does not belong to the sociopath, and besides there is no objective moral code. The benefits of prosocial behavior that you've outlined remain beneficial to the empath.

      The golden rule applies to everyone. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat people well. Maybe most people don't realize how beneficial that is? When a rule appears morally upright as well as practical, the ability to pinpoint motivation disappears. You can claim one or the other or both benefits to behaving that way, but trying to peel it into a sociopathic and an empathic half is pointless. Differential brain wiring is irrelevant in that case!

      Delete
    3. Both sociopaths and neurotypicals can come to the same decisions and actions. It is the thought process from which the decisions are derived which are different. It is a different mindset. For one, this cost-benefit is built out of virtually all decisions, while with a neurotypical it is only on certain occasions. Any empath can act coldly, but for sociopaths it is an existence. Sociopaths are also less inhibited in what they decide to do, and can be even "more cold", without feeling an attributed regret for it.

      Delete
    4. Cost-benefit analyses play a role in every decision for every neurotypical and sociopath. For neurotypicals, perhaps this analysis is innate and automatic, ruled by a set of moral values developed over a lifetime. For the sociopath, perhaps every aspect is analyzed carefully. For one it is natural, the other unnatural, but both reach the same conclusion.

      Who regrets behaving coldly? Sometimes it is necessary, and regret is a useless feeling. The past is the past, and regret only exists in the past. Hard decisions have been made by everyone, and while someone may wish that life had been easier at that point, regret doesn't separate the empath from the sociopath.

      Delete
    5. You may wish to re-evaluate that. Lack of regret, guilt, and remorse is a sociopathic trait, not a neurotypical.

      As for cost-benefit analysis, the "formulas" are different. Neurotypicals place heavy weight on emotions as well as things such as regret in their formula. Sociopaths do not. Neurotypicals "feel" for the answer, while sociopaths calculate it literally. Neither can be called unnatural. One is implicit, the other is explicit.

      Delete
    6. I took this test, trying to be as objective as possible in answering.

      http://personality-testing.info/tests/LSRP.php
      Your score from primary psychopathy has been calculated as 4.5. Primary psychopathy is the affective aspects of psychopathy; a lack of empathy for other people and tolerance for antisocial orientations.
      Your score from secondary psychopathy has been calculated as 1.8. Secondary psychopathy is the antisocial aspects of psychopathy; rule breaking and a lack of effort towards socially rewarded behavior.
      You score for primary psychopathy was higher than 95.24% of people who have taken this test.
      You score for secondary psychopathy was higher than 16.44% of people who have taken this test.

      I have explicitly told people that I've lived with, including my family and my girlfriend, that I think I am a sociopath. Not one of them believes it for a second, because I behave more prosocially than most empaths. The inputs (primary psychopathy) and the outputs (secondary psychopathy) don't match. It's like trying to convince someone that 2 + 2 = 5. People like M.E. and James Fallon had their sociopathy pointed out to them, because however prosocial they are compared to serial killers, the word 'sociopath' clicks in their loved ones' heads when they consider it.

      The question of whether or not I am a sociopath depends on the relevance of motivation. If you have every motivation to commit murder, but you do not kill anyone, does that make you a murderer? If you have every motivation to donate to a charity, but you choose not to, are you generous? Action is everything, motivation is nothing. Everyone is judged, good or bad, by their actions. I am not a sociopath because I do not sociopath.

      Delete
  12. Motivation is key...and it's the key that makes more than one empath crazy. (this one, f'rinstance.)

    Am looking for feedback on the following theory: empaths have a harder time making sudden behavioral changes in a relationship because of the emotional investment in said relationship. those on the ASPD spectrum manage sudden radical behavior changes because, by nature, they lack the empathetic emotional investment.

    IIRC, M.E. has touched on this concept, but I don't recall a specific post that discusses it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure about your theory. It's a bit of a generalisation, I think.

      While I'd agree with your rationale regarding empaths, I'd say that (from experience), the same is true for sociopaths, but for different reasons. E.g. poor impulse control, difficulty in empathising, "literal" thought processes (leading to misunderstandings) etc.

      The one thing I'm not sure about is whether I *want* to make behavioural changes, or am just unable to. Sometimes, I feel I want to, but then I just lose interest / focus and do something else. I guess the same applies to many empaths, however.

      Zerothian<

      Delete
    2. Trauma would be a reason for empaths to make sudden behavioral changes in relationships. One would think sociopaths are immune to trauma and likely the ones causing it.

      MelissaR

      Delete
    3. Not so much immune, as resistant. They process trauma differently. Sometimes it registers, sometimes it doesn't. For example, I cried briefly at a relative's funeral, but not at one from an immediate family member.

      As for sudden behavioral changes, it depends. Emotional attachment (ie. love) is difficult for sociopaths, as is regret and guilt. Compounded enough, these properties make it less likely to feel inhibited about changing a behavior. This isn't an all or nothing affair though - it depends on the potency of the attributed traits and circumstances.

      Delete
    4. Bob,

      It's interesting that at the mention of trauma you used an example of crying at a funeral. I don't consider that trauma. It would be a completely appropriate response in an appropriate setting; it would be a foreseeable and expected response. I would also describe it as grief and sadness.

      For me a traumatic event would be experiencing a physical assault, having my purse snatched, being robbed, having my home/car burglarized, witnessing a horrific accident, being in a bad car accident, being in a hurricane, etc. These are sudden unexpected events.

      It almost seems like for you crying is traumatic because it is something that you are not use to doing or experiencing, and it happens unexpectedly. It make startle you when it happens; maybe you even feel embarrassed when it happens in an appropriate context, like a funeral.

      MelissaR

      Delete
    5. I gave those as actual examples, since other instances have not yielded both results. At every "accident" I can recall experiencing, there was action instead of panic or outrage. Because of this, I had nothing else to compare with.

      As for the actual crying, there is a duality to it. You feel yourself crying, but are still detached and observant. I know I am supposed to be crying at these events, and since it is very difficult for me to fake tears, it was both a surprise and convenient. The moment only lasted a minute or two, but it was enough. That may seem inappropriately brief, but when the norm is a lack of it, it is significant. ME was not joking when she said these instances were confusing and a little overwhelming. Living with empathy is alien to sociopaths, so when the rare occasion come it feels like you are holding a squid.

      Delete
  13. After some ponderance, your replies are very helpful. I did cause trauma for my low-empathy sig o; he is now reacting by taking on all the "shows of affection & caring" I requested of him before the "traumatic event." That *seems* to be in line with ASPD behavior patterns.

    The change was pretty impressive--all the things I thought he'd never heard he began doing. Unfortunately, I now see these things as "surface acts" for selfish reasons as opposed to "heartfelt acts" to convey a depth of caring. The old platform of behavior is still there if a girl knows where to look....

    ReplyDelete
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