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The Love Shortage

May 14, 2010

Reading Ran’s comments (May13) about love and the seduction community has prompted the following to come rushing out of my brain:

People often say that if you’re willing to get something that you want, regardless of the cost or consequences to other people, that you are being childish or immature.  While it’s certainly true that lack of concern for others is something we see in children  I’m not so sure that ‘childish’ is the right label to put on it.  I think what we’re seeing is the behaviour of damaged people and that it is just more obvious in children because they lack the skills to disguise it.

I’ve watched my kids when they’re really little (before I’ve had too much influence on their lives and before they’ve learned that the world is not the abundant place that their genetic heritage says it is supposed to be)  and they can be incredibly generous and kind.  I’ve seen them simply give up food they’re eating to another child because they could see the other child was interested. In fact.  I’ve often seen the sorts of displays of empathy that child psychologists say can’t be learned until they have developed a lot further (the children that is, not the child psychologists. It’s possible that child pychologists will never develop that far).

I know a lot of people (who aren’t child pychologists) will agree with me that children do indeed have the ability to empathise from the moment they arrive but will still insist that they can also still get overwhelmed by the obsession with the need to get what they want and that they won’t be able to balance their wants with their empathy until they’re adults.

Whilst I agree that it is observably true that children struggle with this, I would suggest that this is not a child’s natural state.  Whilst we live in a wealthy society we also live in a world of shortages, (often contrived for financial purposes)  and I think this is so pervasive in our culture that children are confronted with it almost from the moment they are born. Whereas the children of the Yequanna (Continuum Concept link) are born into a world of abundance (and have been observed to be universally gentle and helpful little people) our children are born into a world of scarcity.

The most important scarcity is a scarcity of love whereby parents are just too tired and poorly-supported to properly meet the most emotional needs that all children have – and that’s even before they attempt to follow the advice of so-called experts and leave their baby alone to ‘cry it out’ every night.

For a while we can often meet a child’s need for love if we really try but then a second baby comes along and it truly becomes impossible.  I try very hard not to think about the changes in our oldest daughter that gradually occurred after our second child was born. These permanent and apparently irreversible changes result from the fact that my kids just don’t have enough parents (there are two of us in case your wondering).

Of course sibling rivalry can be avoided by only having one child but then parents will later be required to be a permanent playmate – and adults who truly have the energy for long periods of play are few and far between.

My children are so clearly affected by sibling rivalvry they are permanently defended against each other and so scared of the possibility that they will miss out on something that they will fight each other for ownership of an object that had, until that moment, been lying in a corner for months gathering dust.

So yes, I believe that children have to be taught to be ‘childish’ but I also believe that most of us adults are still afflicted with this behaviour which, by conventional definition, we were supposed to automatically grow out of.

I don’t think  that all, or even very many, people learn to balance their desires against the needs of others as they grow into adulthood. Instead I think we just learn to disguise our selfish urges and to cloak them in respectable behaviour and mannerisms and that we are still, in part, ruled by the fact that our needs in childhood were never properly met.

To be ‘fair and balanced’ here, it is equally true that many adults do in fact turn themselves into self-less individuals but we should note firstly, how much effort is required for these individuals to acheive this and secondly, that the ones that are most successful are probably the same ones that came out of childhood with the least scars.

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Just to be clear, I’m not actually trying to prove a direct link between artificial scarcity and the seduction community. Mostly I’m saying that the effects of childhood turn us into people who will get what we want regardless of the effect it has on others and that this is a result of,  a) our empathy being closed down by modern parenting techniques and, b) a scarcity of love leaving us with a permanent feeling that if we see something we want then we better grab it – real quick – and by any means possible – and not let go.

Because our very survival is at stake.

Or, to summarise the summary,  selfish behaviour is not something we grow out of, it’s something we grow into,  and then learn to refine as we mature.

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3 comments

  1. I recently read a book by Sandy Hotchkiss, “Why Is It Always About You?” which has a couple of chapters on where healthy narcissism comes from and what purpose it serves in childhood, and how it can mutate into unhealthy or harmful narcissism later in life.

    Basically, as you mentioned, when childhood needs aren’t met, things go wrong.

    One of these needs is to be allowed to be narcissistic at certain stages in childhood. If that’s not allowed – if it’s not safe to express an attitude of entitlement (such as if the child is punished by a narcissistic parent for being “selfish”), then quite logically it’s bottled up and saved for later on in life, coming out in harmful, compulsive ways.

    It’s worth a read, I think. It was for me, anyway – I’ve fairly recently realised that many of the adults in my life were/are very narcissistic in a very unhealthy way. This book has helped me to look at my relationships with these people in a more objective light, and also to realise that the problem wasn’t all with me… although I know that I have quite a fair bit of what’s called underdeveloped narcissism, that affects the way in which I interact with others.

    Here’s a short review of it if you’re interested: http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?id=1778&type=book&cn=8

    Another writer who I gained some helpful insight from is Nina Brown. A summary of on of her books, “Children of the Self-absorbed: A Grownup’s Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents,” is here:

    http://www.wmeades.com/id211.htm


  2. Hi Lionel, I haven’t seen those books but they look interesting.

    I suppose it could be argued that what you say contradicts what I have written but I think from a wider perspective if a parent deals with their child in a loving way then even if they think the behaviour is innapropriate they will still handle it gently and understand that childhood is a time of experimentation – which is the great thing about coming at problems from a loving persepctive.

    In fact if the child is young enough parents are inclined to view the whole thing as very cute and be exceedingly indulgent – which is as it should be.

    Mostly it goes wrong when (as you say) the parents have unresolved issues and treat the situation as if they were still a child, feeling threatened or jealous of their own children.

    I love the title “Children of the Self-absorbed”, truly a book for out times! It’s theoreatically possible that if you’re an adult and simply love your children you mightn’t need help from a book like that but I can see if you’re the child in that situation you’re going to need all the help you can get.

    I’m interested in that phrase ‘underdeveloped narcisissism’. It sounds like someone who never thinks about their own needs but I suspect you mean something else.

    You know, I’ve just realised while writing this that all the times I’ve been overwhelmed by an emotional need as an adult that it’s a result of not being allowed to go through with my emotions as a child (and therefore have the opportunity to learn to deal with them). Is this taking a wider view of what you’re saying, or is this exactly what you’re saying?

    Instead I had to wait until I left home and then spend my twenties with out of control emotions and learning to deal with them. By comparison with others in our society I would say that I have learned, by my late thirties, to handle them well (or at least repress them well :-). Perhaps though it is more sensible to compare myself to what I might have been like if I’d been parented more lightly – and then I might see that I fall short.

    Apologies if I’m stating the obvious here, I just had one of those blinding moments where I was suddenly able to see how the theory applied itself to my own life.

    Thanks


  3. Hi Aaron.

    I guess it does contradict your summary, as I guess I’m saying that I agree with the idea of children being naturally fairly selfish by nature at *certain stages* of their life.

    But overall, I think the articles I linked to support your observation that many adults haven’t learned to balance their desires against the needs of others (or even their on true needs.)

    And I agree with your “wider perspective” comment.

    I love the title “Children of the Self-absorbed”, truly a book for out times! It’s theoreatically possible that if you’re an adult and simply love your children you mightn’t need help from a book like that but I can see if you’re the child in that situation you’re going to need all the help you can get.

    Yeah, “Children of the Self-Absorbed” is definitely intended for the (now adult) child. An parent who isn’t damagingly narcissistic and loves (and by implication, respects and is tolerant of and understanding of) their child probably wouldn’t have a need for it, as you say – but I really wonder how many parents there really are who are like that? Maybe I just haven’t personally met any adults who take this view of raising children. Nearly everyone I know and have grown up with believes that they have to pre-emptively strike out any possible selfish or “bad” behaviour before it even becomes apparent, otherwise the child will run rampant. Of course, this just makes the child crazy and assures that he/she will indeed do just that – probably not in the presence of the parent(s), though, out of fear.

    I’m sure that a very narcissistic parent or other adult wouldn’t get any use from this book at all, as in their view there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing.

    Nina Brown explains what she means by “underdeveloped narcissism”:

    “Age-appropriate narcissism is a concept based on the notion that we grow and develop in our ability to become separate and differentiated people and that this is a process that begins at birth and continues throughout life. One way of illustrating age-appropriate narcissism is to think of the infant as self-absorbed, grandiose, omnipotent and all the other characteristics described as destructive narcissism for an adult. It’s ok for the infant and early child states, but not age-appropriate for adolescents and adults. When adults have failed to develop age-appropriate narcissism, this is termed as underdeveloped narcissism. These adults are still in an infant, child or even adolescent state as far as their developed narcissism is concerned.”

    You wrote, “You know, I’ve just realised while writing this that all the times I’ve been overwhelmed by an emotional need as an adult that it’s a result of not being allowed to go through with my emotions as a child (and therefore have the opportunity to learn to deal with them). Is this taking a wider view of what you’re saying, or is this exactly what you’re saying?”

    This is exactly what I’m trying to say! I notice this with myself so often now, and in those situations I can often remember specific events or themes from years before. I think your comment sums it all up: “our needs in childhood were never properly met.”

    The way I see it at this point in my life, is that anything that’s not allowed to be spontaneously felt or allowed to run its course is bound to re-emerge at later times, in less-than ideal ways. Everything – from oppressed or suppressed feelings in childhood, not speaking out when boundaries are broken, not going to the toilet when you feel the need, not eating when your body tells you to.

    I’m only just now learning to deal with my emotions – I realise now that I wasn’t allowed to express my feelings in the presence of the adults in my life – it just wasn’t safe to do so – and came to believe that it was also too dangerous to feel my emotions even when I was by myself, that they were so bad that I had to pretend they didn’t exist. Oh, boy – did that backfire!

    I know exactly how you feel when you say you had a blinding moment where you saw how the theory applied to your own life… I’ve had a few of those in the last year or so – it’s just a shame that I don’t remember those moments and insights more often! Maybe I should write them down or something.

    Anyway, I’m glad that you started writing again!



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