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A recent thread from the Dr. Robert Forum:

lizzie started this discussion 1 week ago#138

I have never felt empathy for anyone. I cheat, lie, steal, and am very cruel, but I don't feel regret for any of it. I remember weird incidents at school where I would start punching someone for no reason, just because I liked to see them in pain. Maybe I just like the idea of power, but I honestly enjoy destruction and scaring people. Relationships never last long because I scare them all away. Could this mean I'm a sociopath? And if I am, will I ever really feel emotions?



Sherri Ann (B) replied with this 1 week ago, 1 hour later[Top] #1,227

Yes you are a Sociopath if what you say here about yourself is true. Does reading this make you feel anything at all or does it just confirm what you already believe to be true? If you are truly a sociopath why care if you will ever feel emotions? Is it that your just "curious" as to how it would be to "feel emotions"? Do you want to feel emotions?



Bookshelf (C) replied with this 1 week ago, 3 hours later, 4 hours after the original post[Top] #1,234

It would take working with a therapist in person to determine if you are a sociopath. Another question would be, "is empathy acquired through learning, and what is the impact of modern life on development of social emotions?"So, are we all born to be empathetic, or is it learned the way language is learned? We all have the capacity for language, but if language skills are not learned early then there are significant difficulties developing the ability. A good example would be of 'feral children' who learned language during adolescence or puberty rather than early childhood. The result is a stunted ability to use language and communicate effectively. Though they did acquire language, there is a threshold where language becomes harder, or impossible to acquire.Is it so with empathy? Must it be learned, or never acquired? Is empathy something that develops as we are socialized as children, and does an adult with blunted empathy imply lack of proper socialization?Am i just making up shit and pulling it out of my ass? I don't know. I think empathy is learned, and, yeah, i think adults without it were probably spoiled children who were never taught how to feel for others. I think that because what is normal today is apathy and entitlement more and more children become narcissistic adults.And i'm sure you do feel emotions, just maybe for yourself and not for other people. These days there's nothing wrong with that, as i said it's what's trending. pretty soon we'll just be a nation of assholes and dick heads, which is fine by me as it'll confirm what i've been saying for years.



Anonymous (D) replied with this 1 week ago, 50 minutes later, 5 hours after the original post[Top] #1,235

Bookshelf. I disagree. Empathy is not a learnt behaviour, it's innate.



lizzie (E) replied with this 1 week ago, 1 hour later, 6 hours after the original post[Top] #1,238

I'm really curious about feeling emotions like other people, they seem content with loving someone and I want to know what its' like to. I sometimes wonder if I am missing out.



Bookshelf (C) replied with this 1 week ago, 2 hours later, 9 hours after the original post[Top] #1,240

@1,235> Bookshelf. I disagree. Empathy is not a learnt behaviour, it's innate.right, but so is the ability to learn and use language. But it has to be developed in order to actually understand and utilize it.we're all born language users unless there is some kind of problem, like, anatomically or socially.So, yes, some people may not be 'born with' empathy, but also maybe some people are born with the capacity for empathy but never develop into a functioning part of their personality.i'm a layperson, i don't know. i'm asking. but just disagreeing and stating the opposite position is less of a debate than i'd hoped for Anonymous.



Jennifer (F) replied with this 1 week ago, 3 hours later, 12 hours after the original post[Top] #1,245

What is empathy anyway? It is such an abstract word that the definition makes no sense. Describe the color red. Do you see what I'm asking?



Bookshelf (C) replied with this 1 week ago, 16 minutes later, 12 hours after the original post[Top] #1,248

empathy isn't that hard to understand as a concept Jennifer, unlike a color which is not definable. Empathy is when you feel sympathetic emotions, when someone is sad and relates to you their sad state of affairs an empathetic response is to actually feel sad yourself and understand what someone is going through without having gone through it yourself. It's the emotional equivalent to seeing someones else's side of the story. "I know what you're going through," is an empathetic statement that every sociopath should be well versed with using even if you aren't capable of empathy. It's a canned response for sociopaths that actually has meaning for people with empathy.And it works with other emotions too, like happiness and anger. Haven't you ever heard the expression that smiles are contagious? People empathize with happy outgoing and gregarious people by becoming outgoing and gregarious as well. Empathy can affect mood, and makes people way more sociable and less likely to hurt each other.Even if you don't feel empathy i don't see how it can be foreign to you as a concept. If you don't actually feel it, then you should probably be using the concept to your advantage, such as faking it so you don't look like a freak when everyone else is empathizing with someone.



Jennifer (F) replied with this 1 week ago, 17 minutes later, 13 hours after the original post[Top] #1,250

I'm not sure how to describe this. To fake it and to experience it are, obviously, two different things. Like the color red has to be seen to be known. Don't you ever get annoyed with others emotions or feel tied down because of them? Like love and hate.. isn't that the opposite of empathy but still a reaction to others emotions? Still on the sliding scale but not completely off of it like apathy? Or is it? I know the definition of empathy... but it doesn't fit into "my" world like it is described. I just want it to make sense.



Jennifer (F) replied with this 1 week ago, 8 minutes later, 13 hours after the original post[Top] #1,252

And what about the concept "Fake it to make it?" Can't that apply to emotions and empathy?



WhiteWolf (G) replied with this 1 week ago, 5 hours later, 18 hours after the original post[Top] #1,257

@1,245> What is empathy anyway? It is such an abstract word that the definition makes no sense. Describe the color red. Do you see what I'm asking?Empathy is when you project an emotional state on people and they gobble it up. Really all people experience is sympathy for one another. However it isn't hard to dupe these oysters into a sad state of being. Really they like to be sad. The easiest way to prove empathy BS: when you have no emotional saddness yet they are crying their eyes out for you. People who feed off the emotions of others are really just fueling their own ignorance. Like all those fools who wanted to go to war after 9/11. They were nothing more than fueled by negative emotion and look what they did. Nothing but oysters...



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 1 week ago, 1 hour later, 20 hours after the original post[Top] #1,267

I like bookshelf's idea: "[Empathy is] the emotional equivalent to seeing someones else's side of the story."But empathy is not just about feeling sad emotions, WW. One can experience joy empathically too—or any other human emotion for that matter, assuming that one is capable of identification with another human as being similar, or equal to oneself. Try to see that just because you don't feel something does not mean that someone who does feel it is confused or deluded. You call people who can see "someone else's side of the story"—to use bookshelf's conception—"oysters," but this is just silly, and I think you really know that. If you recall, Daniel, a self-described "cold fish," and I went around about this in depth on the old Forum, and he finally admitted that emotions such as love, and caring are certainly not necessarily delusions or signs of sentimental weakness. Certainly not everyone feels such emotions (and I guess you are one of those who does not), but it is an intellectual mistake unworthy of your obvious intelligence to insult and belittle what you do not comprehend. That is like Sarah Palin (that jerk) calling President Obama an "elite," because he has ideas and insights that go over her (rather pointed) head. BTW, as you know, WW, being the oldtimer you are, I would say the same to a so-called "normal" who belittled a psychopath for failure to empathize. We all just do what we can do. In that, we are all the same.
____________________
Two Buddhist monks meet, and one says to the other, "Where are you, brother?""I am in the place where nothing ever changes," replies the other monk."But I thought everything was always changing," says the first."Yes," replies the other one. "That never changes either.



WhiteWolf (G) replied with this 1 week ago, 7 hours later, 1 day after the original post[Top] #1,286

I belittle the control others hand over so freely. Good intentions often pave the road to fail. Empathy has strongly been used with good intentions in todays society. Emotions override logic when empathy is applied correctly. To what degree empathy impacts others is a variable dependant on ability to relate. So you can use it to have people move to a more desired state of mind. I've noticed that the more emotional the person is the less logical they are. So fueling their empathy can allow you to direct their thinking. But when empathy is removed a more rational analysis can be achieved. The Japanese culture is far more rational than empathetic... giving them better balance than the more "shoot first and ask questions later" nations. I show you pictures of 9/11 enough and I bet after feeling all that pain.. you would be willing to do anything to "make things right" again. It was empathetic people who burned witches not rational thinkers. Also empathy can draw instant reactions where logic seems to take several moments, if not days, to engage. People get in "the heat of the moment" and just become animals. I suppose my issue is that I believe empathy should be a secondary consideration to logic. It's not that a frown on people for enjoying eachothers happiness. But I do believe it is more sympathetic than empathetic. I see sad people trying to smile all the time but that doesn't mean I believe it. I really don't know how to express this. It's hard to get caught up in the moment when you don't really live in the moment. I know how to use empathy but it's just not a dominate part of my reasoning.. or something to that effect.



Element-X (I) replied with this 5 days ago, 3 days later, 4 days after the original post[Top] #1,348

If you are a sociopath, you wouldn't be posting here. Whats wrong with being a sociopath? We fight wars on the front lines, we run highly successful companies, we are teachers, the list goes on and on. An intelligent sociopath or as health practitioners now like to coin it, a person with APD, can be a highly motivated and successful person. If in fact you get diagnosed with APD, embrace it and relish your new found energy. Accepting yourself for who you are and not what society expects you to be, is key. The world needs sociopaths, but no one is brave enough to admit it.



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 4 days ago, 7 hours later, 4 days after the original post[Top] #1,360

> The world needs sociopaths, but no one is brave enough to admit it.I have said as much on my website.



Bookshelf (J) replied with this 4 days ago, 8 hours later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,388

Well, yes. But there's also the downsides of being a sociopath. Not all people with APD are well adjusted corporate lions and fearless soldiers.Many are just lazy a-moral fuck up who drain everything and everyone dry, mostly just occupy space and make everyone else as miserable as they'll allow themselves to feel.They lie, cheat, steal, monopolize and feel quite entitled to do whatever the shit they want as many times as they can get away with it.And, the best part is they absolutely love it.



WhiteWolf (G) replied with this 4 days ago, 5 minutes later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,389

OMG... all women are sociopaths. I... I never knew. :o



Bookshelf (J) replied with this 4 days ago, 27 minutes later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,392

Haha, now, imagine for a moment an actual sociopathic female. Now imagine she has a wicked drinking problem, is wildly promiscuous, has extremely poor impulse control, and believes a baby would 'fix' her into being a well adjusted person despite having had several abortions because, well, just because.



WhiteWolf (G) replied with this 4 days ago, 2 minutes later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,393

Sorry, I don't hangout with goddless heathens. But she sounds like a slut. I advise you against mating this creature. You may get crabs.



Daniel Birdick (K) replied with this 4 days ago, 28 minutes later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,394

Hi Dr. Robert."If you recall, Daniel, a self-described "cold fish," and I went around about this in depth on the old Forum, and he finally admitted that emotions such as love, and caring are certainly not necessarily delusions or signs of sentimental weakness."Emotions are not inherently weak, to be sure. The weakness is in how the neurotypical mind interacts with, interprets and generates emotions like love and compassion. The weakness is in the lazy, unreflective and uncritical mind.



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 4 days ago, 8 hours later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,398

> Emotions are not inherently weak, to be sure. The weakness is in how the neurotypical mind interacts with, interprets and generates emotions like love and compassion. The weakness is in the lazy, unreflective and uncritical mind.Hi, Daniel—Good to hear from you. Yes, we all feel what we feel, and don't feel what we don't feel, and that is a given which is different for everyone. If one is fortunate enough to have sufficient intellect for reflection upon ones own feelings without trying to prove them "superior" to the feelings of others, that is the beginning of a philosophical relationship with living. I call it a "philosophical" relationship in that ideas are used not to justify feelings (which is what I assume you mean by an "unreflective and uncritical mind") but rather to examine them in depth, and in perspective.Those who pursue such a relationship with their own feelings often find their feelings changing in two ways. First, some of the feelings are seen to be useless, destructive, etc., and so are not acted upon—perhaps the feelings still remain, but cease to be an impetus to action. Secondly, under the light of non-judgmental examination, some feelings simply disappear, some which were never present before begin to arise, and others change and mature. In other words, although feelings are a given and cannot be manufactured—feigned yes, manufactured no—one is not stuck with his or her feelings, and not stuck with the lack of them either; emotional "work" is possible.Collaborating in a focused, non-judgmental examination of feelings and ideas is an important part of what I do in providing psychotherapy.Happy for your visit. We need all the depth we can get here.Be well.



Daniel Birdick (L) replied with this 4 days ago, 1 hour later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,400

one is not stuck with his or her feelings, and not stuck with the lack of them either; emotional "work" is possible.Emotional work isn’t possible for all of us. I actually doubt that people can voluntarily change their core personality traits using techniques like mation, introspection or even psychotherapy. And even so, I’m not so sure it’s always desirable.Take guilt for instance. It’s a moral emotion that I still sometimes find uncredible. I just read the Guilty of theft and Feeling depressed about past infidelity posts and it’s hard for me to even believe people really feel this way. That they do seems to be the most rational way to look at it. Guilt, remorse and so on play too large a role in the larger discourse on morality to believe otherwise. But can you see why someone like me might be at least tempted towards the arrogant notion that not being tortured by such feelings is a superior way of being in the world? In both cases, the original posters are talking about actions they took years ago, and yet they are plagued with feelings of guilt to this day. What good does it do anyone? What possible purpose could it serve?Then again, I am assuming that the level of guilt these posters are experiencing is atypical and neurotic. Right?



WhiteWolf (G) replied with this 4 days ago, 16 minutes later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,402

Obserevation of feelings and ideas. You make it seem rather difficult. Perhaps you could explain the emotional toll it requires you to have such emotional disconnection. That's the interesting part. You believe you have trained your mind enough? I realize that while I make assessments of personalities... your emotions also make judgement? Do you think it requires empathy to read the emotional states of others, relate, analyze and then avoid personal envolvement? Is personal envolvement more emotional? Less easily controled? For you.

(ed 16 minutes later.)



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 3 days ago, 1 hour later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,407

@1,400
Yes. Paralyzing guilt is both atypical and by definition neurotic. What I would call "normal guilt" is more or less an indication that one has "done wrong." Of course, this opens a wide field for inquiry about where notions of right and wrong come from, and what they mean. For example, if a child is taught constantly that playing with his or her genitals is "wrong," or "sinful," that person might never be able to experience the relief of solitary sexuality, which, by my lights, can play an important role in establishing independence in a human life. So, if you don't feel that kind of guilt because you were never taught it, you might feel "superior" to such a person. But that kind of comparison—superior vs. inferior—opens a similar question: where did that value judgment originate? This is especially complicated by a natural desire to feel superior. Yes, I can see why you are tempted, but I think you really know better. Eventually all comparisons disappear in the comprehension that things are exactly as they are and, in this moment, cannot be different. No one choose to be the way he or she is. It all comes upon us like fate which we then must live out and experience individually and alone. In another thread, you wrote, "Emotional experiences, by their nature, have to be both transitory and unstable, thus making them only temporarily satisfying and probably not all that deep." But all experiences—not just emotional ones—are transitory, so by your logic, no experience is "all that deep." That is one way to approach life, but not, in my view, a particularly useful one. It smacks a bit too much of defense mechanism. Why not live as if living did mean something? After all, we are here without knowing how, why, or what for. We don't even really know if "myself" will end. Yes, we see bodies die, but we do not know if consciousness dies along with the body. These days, it is fashionable to imagine that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the brain, but no one knows* that. We don't know anything really. Whence superiority? And who is to judge?Emotional work, as I called it, is not a matter of changing ones "core personality," but of seeing that there is a level of experience which is not entirely bound by personality—perhaps not bound by it at all. Given some of our past conversations, Daniel, I believe you know about this. If so, please comment.

____________________________________
*The emperor of the central country hears reports and rumours regarding a Zen master who lives a great distance from the capital city. This man from a remote and rustic region of the realm, is revered widely for the depth of his wisdom and the breadth of his understanding. Aching for the answer to his most burning esoteric question, the quandary that torments him whenever he cannot manage to banish it from his mind, the emperor has the old man summoned, and when he arrives at court, commences to question him:"They tell us that you are a great teacher of Zen, a Zen master," begins the emperor.
The old man just bows.
"Well, if you are such a great Zen master, tell me this," commands the Emperor. "What happens when you die?"
"I am sorry, sire," replies the old man, "I cannot say what happens when you die. I may be a Zen master, but I am not a dead Zen master."



Daniel Birdick (L) replied with this 3 days ago, 1 hour later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,419

Ok, I’ll admit, the superiority thing probably comes from a lifetime of being bombarded with the not so subtle message from society at large that “all these feelings we feel are better than not feeling them and if you disagree then you’re a monster”. I think it would be akin to being an atheist minority. When you wake up and realize that there very likely is no god (or if there is one, it most certainly won’t be like anything mankind has ever conceived in our any of our religions), you look around and realize most of the world vehemently disagrees and is more than happy to let you know why their faith is far superior to your skepticism. In unguarded moments, you might be tempted to feel a tad superior to those who credulously hold on to their myths for dear life. (Don’t worry, I know that isn’t true of you. I’m speaking of “you” in general terms now.)In response to my statement from the other thread, you say That is one way to approach life, but not, in my view, a particularly useful one. It smacks a bit too much of defense mechanism. Why isn’t it useful and what would I be defending myself from? Indeed, compared to vastness of the universe and the time frame within which it operates, all of our experiences are nothing more durable than a blink of the eye. As Carl Sagan put it, all of human history has happened within the last second of the 14 billion year cosmic calendar. Would this fact not add to my point, rather than detract from it?As for death and consciousness… I know where you’re coming from. I also make the distinction between consciousness and that which arises within it – the me. I’ve considered the possibility that this consciousness could very well be independent of the brain. It may be eternal and yes, maybe that’s what we all are in the end. That perspective would not necessarily contradict the materialistic view which indicates that our personalities are rooted in our neuroanatomy and that when our brain dies, we as we know ourselves on an individual level, dies with it. But for someone in my situation, it’s also kind of a nonstarter in the sense that it doesn’t change anything.



Chef (M) replied with this 3 days ago, 1 hour later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,428

Daniel,To paraphrase my understanding of your last post, you seem to suggest life is for the most part meaningless on any deep level due to the relative size in terms of "time" of a humans lifespan, in contrast to the vastly unimaginable lifespan/history of the Universe. This is an interesting philosophy. It's a bit matrix-like in the sense that perhaps the "entire life" we've been living is merely seen as important due to the ego that we personally associate with, as 'our' life. It is in the nature of the ego to defend its existence and we do so by "sizing up" our experiences. Taoism for example, in the Tao Te Ching, says big and small are opposites, and exist only in relative nature to one another. In the Tao, all things exist, and no differentiation exists, all is One. If you are living in such a way, then it would make sense that you do not see any emotional experience as a deep one, since they are all undifferentiated experiences. The difficulty I perceive many have, is in "how" they associate themselves with their own emotions. Getting stuck in a rut for example as some posters have spoken of is an example of directly associating the "I, me" with the emotions of a particular experience, and holding onto those emotions. If a person refuses to let go of an emotional experience, whether the experience was positive or negative, the "holding on" will have an impact on the persons psyche and possibly their physical well-being also. A good example of this is the feeling of being "home sick" that some have, when they are away from their parents, house, family, whatever creature comforts they know. Now, not everyone experiences this, have you? Do you ever experience missing a place, or a time in your life, and wish you could return there but can't? It is the dwelling on these feelings that cause people to enter into emotional psychosis, in my experience. Back to the main top of guilt and empathy, the reason many people feel these things years after the experiences is because they have not been taught effective methods at letting go. Letting go of the past is a skill, that for some, like yourself may have come very naturally. Empathy is a word tossed around a lot on these forums, but I think it is mis-used a lot here too. I would be more akin to saying a sociopath is someone who completely lacks compassion for living human beings, rather than using the word empathy. The reason I say this is because empathy in the form we see being used here on the forums, is in regards to what a person has been "taught to be" right and wrong. For example, stabbing someone with a knife is wrong? But stabbing someone with an epi-pen to save their life is right? And cutting someone open is wrong, except when done in a surgery room at a hospital to help them? Right and wrongs, as we are taught, are circumstantial. They vary with the situation. When we do something we know to be wrong, if we feel "bad", that feeling people call "guilty" is in my opinion actually feeling ashamed. Daniel, since you do not experience guilt, do you also not experience shame? Since you can obviously distinguish between superior and inferior, do you have emotions associated with those? Do you feel differently when you feel inferior to someone than when you feel superior? One way of explaining my experience with shame and guilt is that it is like feeling inferior to a better version of yourself that you have idealized in your mind, that you are not living up to. For example there is a thread about a young person who allowed an animal to lick their genitals, and they felt bad about it, guilty. Now after they were told by Dr-Robert that this kind of weird experimentation is not uncommon for people, especially in youth, that feeling might go away if they can accept that and let go. Perhaps you have naturally figured out how to accept and let go of things, or perhaps nothing you have ever done has left you feeling anxious, unhappy or uneasy?



Daniel Birdick (L) replied with this 3 days ago, 1 hour later, 5 days after the original post[Top] #1,438

Chef, a few points then answers to your questions:Yes, I do believe that inconceivable amounts of time are part of what makes life inherently meaningless. The biggest thing for me though is that I don’t see any meaning anywhere other than in our own minds. Meaning is like god in that way. It’s funny that you compare the ego to the Matrix. I’ve made a similar observation. It’s like the egoic mind IS the Matrix. What’s the payoff I wonder, in holding onto emotions about past events? I’m not necessarily referring to PTSD or other obviously traumatic events. I’m referring to the more prosaic moments that people nevertheless ceaselessly regurgitate. The Lovefraud website is an excellent example of what I’m referring to.Daniel, since you do not experience guilt, do you also not experience shame? I had to consider the difference between shame and embarrassment to answer this question. The difference is subtle. I have felt embarrassed. But shame, not so much.Since you can obviously distinguish between superior and inferior, do you have emotions associated with those? I don’t think so. The thought of my superiority crosses my mind occasionally, but I don’t walk around feeling smugly superior to everyone else, all the time.Do you feel differently when you feel inferior to someone than when you feel superior? I never feel inferior to anyone else. I do however recognize that others are smarter and more insightful than I am. You have to be clearly better than I am at something I value in order for me to respect you. And even then, it may only be your talent/intellect/ability/whatever I respect and not you as a whole. I don’t run into people I respect very often. When I do, it’s actually kind of nice.Perhaps you have naturally figured out how to accept and let go of things, or perhaps nothing you have ever done has left you feeling anxious, unhappy or uneasy? This one is a bit trickier. Usually when I get myself into situations I later come to dislike, I get out of them, like marriage and being in the military. There was this one time, in bandcamp, I set fire to my father’s church as an act of revenge. The meter man came by probably no later than 15 minutes or so, saw the smoke and called the firemen out. They got to it before any major damage was done to the building. What I felt after that was anger: at my father for pissing me off that much and at the meter man’s timing. Only years later did it occur to me that the fire might have cost someone their life and that I’d be wanted for manslaughter or something. When I realized that, did I feel regret or remorse? Nope. In my ignorance, I thought I might, but no such feeling emerged. Since feelings like that don’t come up for me, I don’t have to work to let them go. There is nothing to let go of.



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 3 days ago, 18 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,442

@1,419Daniel—The defense mechanism would function something like this:Problem: Many people, including some brilliant ones, say that loving and being loved in return is the greatest experience that life has to offer—what makes life worth living. Love, as an emotional state, has been the inspiration for some of the best poetry and other profound artistic expressions throughout the ages. But I don't feel love. I used to try to convince myself that all of those people were simply deluded, but that won't fly. Am I somehow unable to feel anything deeply, and therefore missing out on the greatest experience life has to offer?Solution: Not really because any emotional experience is only transitory, and therefore cannot really be very deep.This is a defense I call "devaluation."I say this is not useful because it lumps all emotions together and dismisses them wholesale. A mind as subtle as yours would do better, in my opinion, to distinguish and discern, not conflate. To see a quite similar kind of defense mechanism in action, take a look at how Jennifer dismissed my post about stopping seeking and being what you are in the very moment as "sitting around in a daze"



Chef (M) replied with this 3 days ago, 3 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,443

Daniel,It is hard to "imagine" remorse, when the situation did not actually occur. You brought up an excellent example though, that being, a situation where the outcome was fatal to someone due to an accident in planning on your part. Have you ever unintentionally harmed someone they you liked or cared about? If you were to, would you feel embarrassed because of your inability to control the outcome and the consequences that occurred? I would have to say that shame and embarrassment feel very similar, except that the victim in a case of pure embarrassment is 'you' and in shame it is someone else. Say for example a young child is lost and comes up to you asking for help in finding their parents. Do you help them? If so, why? If not, why not? Do you do these things because of behaviors you were taught or because of something innate?



Jennifer (F) replied with this 3 days ago, 18 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,444

So because I genuinely find no value in spirituality it is a defense mechanism? Wow...



Jennifer (F) replied with this 3 days ago, 15 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,445

Perhaps you're right. I do feel the need to defend myself against that kind of spirituality. So nevermind. :)



Daniel Birdick (L) replied with this 3 days ago, 7 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,446

Dr. Robert,You call it devaluation. I call it facing facts. You say tomato, I say tomahto! What exactly is a “deep emotional experience” anyway? What distinguishes a deep emotional experience from a shallow one and why? More importantly, is this distinction based on anything objective? In other words, is there good evidence that rationally compels me to believe that I am missing out on something profound?I really don’t think I am devaluing love or any other emotion, unless you think that having a detached perspective about them is inherently devaluing.



Daniel Birdick (L) replied with this 3 days ago, 2 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,447

Chef,Have you ever unintentionally harmed someone they you liked or cared about? Sure. Who hasn’t, right? Nothing serious though. Sometimes I’ve found after the fact that certain people have found my actions more harmful than I thought they would, for instance.If you were to, would you feel embarrassed because of your inability to control the outcome and the consequences that occurred? Well it depends, doesn’t it? If I’ve made an error that turns out to be a stupid one in retrospect, I might very well feel embarrassed.the victim in a case of pure embarrassment is 'you' and in shame it is someone else. When you say victim, are you saying that if one is embarrassed it is because of something he’s done to himself and if someone feels shame it is because of something they’ve done to someone else?Say for example a young child is lost and comes up to you asking for help in finding their parents. Do you help them? If so, why? If not, why not? Do you do these things because of behaviors you were taught or because of something innate? Sure I’d help. I like kids! They’re great when they’re really young, before they learn to assimilate. Now if you ask me if I would help a woman screaming in the hallway outside of my apartment because she’s being attacked, the answer is no. There was quite literally no point in me getting involved in any way, shape or form.



Daniel Birdick (L) replied with this 3 days ago, 2 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,448

Jennifer, there is nothing really "spiritual" about using time honored mative techniques to gain greater control of your subjective experience. There is a growing body of scientific literature that attests to the real world value of using such techniques. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s what Dr. Robert is talking about. I do agree that Eastern religious/philosophical ideas tend to “devalue” the intellect, which I find problematic.

(ed 29 seconds later.)



Jennifer (F) replied with this 3 days ago, 3 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,450

I don't give a fuck about the growing body that sees value. I don't and I don't like it. Tried it, didn't like it.



Jennifer (F) replied with this 3 days ago, 14 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,451

Also in my defense I don't get a lot of what the Dr says anyway. Maybe I'm that simple minded.



Daniel Birdick (L) replied with this 3 days ago, 7 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,452

LOL, ok then Jennifer. Try something else. Something besides whining about what you don't have or can't be. Seriously.



Chef (M) replied with this 3 days ago, 13 seconds later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,453

Daniel,I would feel embarrassed that I hurt someone accidentally, even though it is an accident, I find I feel pity for someone who I see suffering due to an accident I caused. I sometimes call that pity feeling "shame or guilt". While an apology does not "mend" their physical discomfort, it does seem to help some people with their emotional discomforts so I would make an apology and ask if there was anything else I could do. To your question regarding retrospective analysis of your error, that was not what I meant. I meant that in the moment of the situation occuring, could you feel embarrassed? To your second question, I did not mean to infer embarrassment is only 'pure' when the act causing it was one done to oneself, since people feel embarrassed for a multitude of reasons. What I meant was to say, when someone else other than you is the victim of unintended yet consequentially harmful act you committed, the embarrassment felt is akin to shame or guilt if it involves any level of concern for the well being of the victim. If it's merely a reflection on your own stupidity, than that's something else entirely. What I'm saying is if you have genuine concern for a persons well being, and that person comes to experience harm from an act you did, would you feel anything?That's nice that you like kids, I also like them and find they can be quite amusing and spontaneous. As for a woman screaming outside in the hallway, I'd consider calling the property manager or the police. One of my neighbors left a pot in his stove and it set fire to his place and smoke was coming out his windows. I phone the police, because one I was concerned for his well being and two because I didn't want the building to burn down with all my belongings in it, although renters insurance would have backed up the items in terms of value.



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 3 days ago, 1 hour later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,462

@1,446Daniel—Well, I am not trying to say anything about deep vs. shallow. That, I guess, is in the eye of the beholder, as you seem to be saying with tomato/tomahto. I suppose the area of disagreement has to do with your idea that because something is transitory, it lacks importance. I see everything as transitory, but I do not see everything as unimportant. Many things to me feel important and worth cultivating and caring about. For example, I like to train animals. Doing so brings joy and satisfaction to me. I don't judge whether that joy is deep or shallow. Now suppose someone said to me, "Why bother teaching that donkey to walk beside you? After all, the donkey will die anyway, and so will you. And furthermore, compared to the age of the earth your short little life doesn't mean anything anyway." I would see that question as sophomoric. Yes, it has an intellectual edge, but misses completely the experience of living (from my point of view, of course—I certainly do not intend to define the experience of living for everyone).I do not believe in the least that the relatively short span of a human life compared to geologic time, or the age of the universe means that human experience is unimportant. I feel that a moment when fully lived is timeless—literally it is out of time, not contained in time. I have experienced this often, and continue to experience it. You may imagine that I am deluded in this, and I cannot argue it logically.But no problem here, Daniel. I respected your acuity on the old forum, and continue to respect it. I appreciate the depth and seriousness of this entire thread, including your remarks.Jennifer—I don't like "spirituality" either. To me, "spirituality" involves installing a barbed wire fence right down the middle of a perfect meadow. What I like is being here now—living each moment for what it is without imagining something better or craving anything different. If that sounds "spiritual" to you, and that makes you hate it, forget it. The important thing, in my view, is to allow your own unique selfhood to emerge in its own unique form without comparing yourself to anyone else. Can you do that?



Jennifer (F) replied with this 3 days ago, 59 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,463

Good question.. about the comparing part.



Daniel Birdick (K) replied with this 3 days ago, 2 hours later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,469

Chef, yes, I will apologize if I accidentally trip someone and they fall flat on their face, if that's the kind of thing you mean. I’m not likely to feel pity for them, but apologies under those circumstances are just good social etiquette. In my offline life, I am almost unfailingly polite to most people, most of the time. Would I feel embarrassed though? Nah. Why bother? What would that accomplish?As to your other question, I don’t know to be honest with you. There have been times when people I tangentially like have felt pain as a result of my actions, even though that wasn’t my intention. Did I feel pity or whatever during those times? No, not that I recall. Why?As for the Good Samaritan thing, I too would call for help if I noticed smoke in a nearby apartment for the same reasons as you: I’m not too keen on losing all my stuff.



Daniel Birdick (K) replied with this 3 days ago, 5 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,470

Dr. Robert,I feel like you are looking for a particular response, but I am not sure what it’s supposed to be. Take what you just told me about the pleasure you take in training animals. I believe you. I have no reason not to. If you say it is both a deep and profound experience for you, then I don’t doubt your interpretation. Do I think you are delusional for feeling that way? No, of course not. But what is supposed to follow from my admission? That your love for animals (and by extension human animals) is so valuable that I should acknowledge my own inadequacy because I appear to lack the ability to feel similarly? Am I supposed to celebrate the supremacy of love while wallowing in my own misery because I may not be able to share in it the same way you and others can? Am I supposed to say that love really does make the world go round? I can acknowledge how important all of these emotions are to most people while also acknowledging their ultimate transience. It is not a mutually exclusive intellectual position as far as I’m concerned.Thank you for the kind words, by the way. No problems here either. Just having a conversation with an intelligent and insightful guy. No one in my real life gets to hear Daniel Birdick-speak, save one person. They get the two way mirror version, where they see what they want to see when they interact with me, while I see them clear as day.



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 3 days ago, 8 hours later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,481

Daniel—No, I am not looking for any particular response from you. Nor am I trying to change your views. I don't think you come to this Forum for psychotherapy, nor do I imagine you require it. You seem to have things well in hand. I carry on with you in this way because we can, and the depth of your understanding of basics provides me both the freedom to cut to the chase, and the enjoyment of having to struggle a bit to put into words what I experience in my human life.I was saying that for me the seeming transience of our lives does not indicate that they are unimportant or even meaningless. An alternate view is this: the universe or reality—call it what you will—is unitary and only seems divided into objects, people, etc., because our particular nervous systems, linguistic organization, and social conditioning work that way. From that perspective, "I" am just what the universe is doing along with everything else it does, so "I" am not separate from the universe, any more than a wave is separate from the ocean. "I," in this view, am an expression of the total reality—a holographic fragment of it which embodies and signifies the whole. Seen this way, comparisons as to unimportant/important or meaningful/meaningless make no sense. The early Buddhists called this "dependent origination," meaning that there is no separateness because each seemingly separate being depended upon everything else in order to arise and survive.Because I often say that no one chooses anything, I am frequently accused of fatalism, but I think you can see that if one feels a total connection to reality—a holographic relationship to it, as I say—the issue of fatalism never even arises. I do not experience life as something which is happening to me at all. Rather, I am life. Jennifer, if you are following along, I know say you don't get a lot of what I say, but I wonder if you get that. You don't have a life; you are life, so be it. If you find that your behavior is out of control and that worries you, get help. Otherwise, just be yourself and stop imagining that other people have something you lack. You have what you have when you have it, and you get what you get when you get it, and that's the whole story.Daniel, You mentioned Carl Sagan's saying that a human history is like an eyeblink compared to cosmic time. Yes, but Sagan was famously passionate on many levels—his marriage, his advocacy of skepticism, his promotion of space travel. No one is passionate who believes that life is meaningless.



Sifter (N) replied with this 3 days ago, 1 hour later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,482

Dr Robert, When you feel that sense of total connection to reality, what is your experience of what we ordinarily consider choices? How does it affect, for example, your experience of deciding on a course of treatment for a client, or what you have for breakfast, or what you do with an animal?



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 3 days ago, 26 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,484

Sifter—For want of a better word, those things are decided by "intuition," not by means of logic or by consciously weighing and then choosing between so-called alternatives. Whatever action might be required simply happens, and Robert, the ego/person, sees it happening along with anyone else who might be watching. This might sound like the psychological condition called depersonalization, but it isn't.BTW, I have been appreciating your contributions to the Forum.Be well.



Daniel Birdick (L) replied with this 2 days ago, 1 hour later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,486

Ok then Dr. Robert. I’ll take your word for it when you say you aren’t looking for a particular response from me. In response to your 2nd paragraph, I can see how you’d view things from the non-dual perspective. I’m guessing this view has practical benefit for you, in that it really shapes your actions. As I have shared with you before, as much as I can understand and have even glimpsed this view myself a time or two, it has made no appreciable difference to the way I routinely feel or live. As for the issue of life meaning, I would say that ultimately the universe is meaningless but that it does not follow that people cannot create meaning for themselves. Or as you might say, if meaning only exists in our own minds, the universe is still meaningful because we are the universe. Again, I get that perspective. I just don’t find it useful because among other reasons, it does not resonate with me.I’m not a Sagan expert by any means, but from the little I do know about him, I can’t see him disagreeing with the basic premise shared above. I know enough about him to say that he was a metaphysical naturalist and that this worldview in no way impeded him from creating meaning for himself. His life work is evidence of that.



Jennifer (F) replied with this 2 days ago, 1 hour later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,488

I am curious, is all this psychology, philosophy, metaphysics, or just a jumble of all three? Is there a conclusion anyone is trying to reach or just simply a logical debate?



dr-robert (you) (H) replied with this 2 days ago, 1 minute later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,489

OK, Daniel. Actually you can take my word for anything I say here. I despise bullshit and refrain from indulging in it if possible.Now your view is that life is meaningless, and I understand that, having felt it often myself. My present perception is that our lives not meaningless but neither are they meaningful per se unless someone experiences meaning. I suppose this is like the old koan about if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it was there any sound? This does not seem very far out of accord with what you seem to think about all this, which, if I have understood you correctly, is that people—like Sagan—can create meaning for themselves, but that any such meaning will exist only in their own minds. I got the image of a bowl of the old vegetable soup with letter-shaped pasta in it which a child can use to spell words (I always loved doing this, so it was the only canned soup I would eat). The pasta in the soup has no meaning until the child makes meaning out of it.As for non-duality having made a difference or not in how one lives, I like what D.T. Suzuki said when asked about his experience with it: "It's just like ordinary life except about two inches off the ground." Since you have been fortunate enough to have had some brief moments of seeing through the veils, I have every reason to believe that it will happen again, and that sooner or later you will find yourself in that "two inches off the ground" place where all the noise about love, death, psychopathy, and the rest really means very little—a virtual tempest in a teapot—and anxiety entirely disappears. So just because up to now your experiences have not changed the way you feel or live, I would not assume they never will. Speaking personally, I had some brief breakthroughs in my 20s and 30s which also did not appreciably change my feelings or modus vivendi, but which I now understand were like embryos or seeds which needed time and further experiences to emerge and develop in their fullness. Getting old can have its compensations.BTW, notwithstanding all the "mation" and other techniques, one cannot make this happen, but I think avoiding becoming too wedded to any particular opinion about what life is or isn't may reduce any barriers at least, assuming you would even think it desirable.In any case, I respect your p.o.v. for its honesty and clarity, and I am happy to have you contributing here. It has always been my intention for this Forum to be a place for intelligent exchange of views, and yours certainly qualify.Be well.



Jennifer (F) replied with this 2 days ago, 30 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,491

Dr. I must admit that it's been a while since I was in college and I have burned a few brain cells sense then so a lot of this is over my head. While I am ignorant of all these definitions of being and whatever the applications make since. So I am not completely hopeless. :) I really need to go back to school.



Hexi (O) replied with this 2 days ago, 1 hour later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,492

Here is a silly thought. Life is a wave, your ego is the surfer. The wave might be a small one or the kind that takes the beach houses with it but eventually it will reach the shore, just like the waves before it and the ones after. You either ride it or get swept by it, the wave doesn't care, it will reach the shore regardless. I'm high and feeling like i need cookies. :)



WhiteWolf (G) replied with this 2 days ago, 30 minutes later, 6 days after the original post[Top] #1,493

No matter how you shake it.. he's always riding the wave.Perhaps it is more of what you embrace. Maybe when they say "turn your cheek" you're suppose to plot a funny prank. People do get old though. The same boring thing all the time. I don't know how people endure it.







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