Monday, 28 May 2018

In the know

Why do so many people fancy themselves as amateur psycho-analysts, convinced they know others better than they know themselves, and never hesitating to voice their half-baked opinions as if they're gospel truth?

I only half understand my own self after 71 years, and what goes on in my mind is a source of constant bewilderment. Yet people who barely know me are sure they've discovered exactly what makes me tick and can explain it to me.

I've been confidently identified as smug, self-righteous, obtuse, taking things too literally, lacking empathy, self-obsessed, spineless, cruel and many other things quite unrelated to reality. Such accusations are painful while I'm still taking them seriously and haven't yet dismissed them as nonsense.

I'm not the only target of course. Everyone's at it these days, psychoanalysing all and sundry from casual acquaintances to friends, relatives and celebrities. Just give them the opportunity and they're off, ruthlessly pulling someone's personality to pieces. Scurrilous motives and selfish intentions are routinely detected in the most saintly and generous individuals.

I can only suggest that before they point out the mote in their neighbour's eye, they look at the enormous beam in their own.

But aren't I as bad? Don't I tear people to bits just as easily? Actually no I don't. I try to focus on what's good about them and not what's bad. I don't randomly paint them as nasty and venal (Aha, how smug and self-righteous! How brazenly self-deceiving! What obvious virtue-signalling!)

No, seriously, what dazzling insight other people possess. Fancy knowing exactly what makes me tick and why I do what I do. If only I was so splendidly self-informed. If only I could pin down this slippery, mercurial personality so deftly.

38 comments:

Secret Agent Woman said...

EVERYONE is an amateur psychologist. As you can imagine, this is a huge irritant for me. And by the way, most of us psychologists are loathe to jump in with an opinion on someone's psychological make-up unless we've actually worked with that person. We know better.

Bijoux said...

Are you talking about on the Internet; people you've never actually met? I think you know how ridiculous that sounds.

kylie said...

I don't think it is at all ridiculous to make SOME assessments of someone who I've never personally met.
There is a huge amount of information about a person contained in their words, especially if you read those words frequently over a long period.
I also think it quite reasonable to attribute a person with characteristics
one has noticed. John Gray, for example, is constantly named as kind, community spirited, a gifted writer etc etc. Are you going to say that all his hundreds of followers have got it wrong?

Rummuser said...

I would actually like someone to try and psychoanalyse me! I bet that s/he will give up as being a lost cause.

And, for the record, I don't try and psychoanalyse others.

nick said...

Agent: Yes, I assumed you wouldn't try and psych out someone you barely know, as you're aware of how totally wrong that could be.

Bijoux: Other bloggers, funnily enough. They can be quite outspoken! My Facebook friends are very rarely so scathing.

nick said...

Kylie: You misunderstand me. I'm thinking more of the negative comments people make than the positive ones. I'm sure most of us welcome the positive feedback. Who wouldn't want to be seen as kind, community spirited or a gifted writer?

Agreed, if you read someone's words frequently over a long period, you probably form a fairly accurate impression of their personality. But not necessarily. You could still be getting them wrong, especially if they're projecting an image that doesn't reveal the whole person.

nick said...

Ramana: Ooh, that sounds like a challenge! Perhaps I shall try to uncover the real you, the innermost essence of Rummy....

Polly said...

I wouldn’t know where to start but I think that people who randomly analyse others in a negative way have a problem with their own lives.

tammy j said...

it seems to be humankind's love of labeling!
if they label you a certain way you fit into a particular slot for them.
they recognize you then and can like you or not depending on their own slot.
but they always want to label you.
wonder if any other animal does that? I doubt it.
no wonder I love dogs! they pretty much like everyone.
and if they don't like you they don't talk endlessly about all your bad points to anyone who will listen. they just either bite you or chase you away or have nothing to do with you! seems simpler and preferable!

nick said...

Polly: I would agree with that. Why do they need to be so vicious? Why not just live and let live?

Tammy: Indeed, people love to fit others into some convenient pigeon hole so they're "dealt with". Whether it's true or not hardly matters.

Yes, dogs (and cats) have a much simpler response to people they don't like. Cats that don't like the look of me just run for it!

CheerfulMonk said...

I figure whatever turns them on, but they're not the kind of people I want to hang out with. Fortunately, we have a lot of choices. :)

kylie said...

Nick, my point is that if we can accept the bouquets and believe in our reader's ability to see our good points, then we also have to accept the idea that they can also see our bad points. I'm not talking about what we want to be told, we all want to hear the good stuff but you can't dismiss the bad on the basis that you haven't met.
Of course bloggers have more to say, it's a completely different medium where you put more information out there (500 words maybe vs 50 or so on facebook) and your readers consequently have a bigger picture to look at

helen devries said...

I left a comment...but it disappeared...
To reap, does an 'analysis' allow people to believe that they have a respectable reason to dislike someone...otherwise banned by PCism..

nick said...

Jean: No, I don't hang out with people like that either. I don't mind a bit of constructive criticism, but systematic slagging-off is a different matter.

nick said...

Kylie: Well, I don't necessarily accept the bouquets either. People can butter you up with false praise for all sorts of reasons. As I said to Jean, I'm okay with constructive criticism but deliberate abuse for the sake of it is just bullying. And I'm not dismissing it on the basis that we haven't met, only on the basis of having a civilised conversation.

nick said...

Helen: I don't think people care about having a respectable reason. They just take a dislike to someone and fire off a stream of invective for the sheer hell of it.

Wisewebwoman said...

It depends on what one is looking for on line.

I've never been criticised psychologically on line, that I can recall - I imagine that's the secret, if I can't remember a slagging it hasn't mattered. I do get private advice via email, which I don't mind one bit.

Then again I write a pretty open blog emotionally mainly because I am anonymous to many, but my blog has recently been breached by a fellow IRL board member so that may change.

Interestingly, I do find you critical of those who read about and their human foibles and failings and I do wonder what that's about. :)

XO
WWW

Ursula said...

Yes, Helen, or you could do what Nick does when he takes a dislike to someone; say, yours truly. He goes round bad mouthing me on other blogs (not to my face), "ain't she ... (insert insult of choice)". Neither has he ever stood up for me in the face of rather unfair treatment when he knew full well it was unjust. Instead he takes the opportunity to ingratiate himself with the mud slingers by pouring even more oil onto the fire. Your downfall here, Nick, that you will not admit to having put a foot wrong. Like many you are unable to apologize. See what's happening here? I am building a picture of someone.

I hear your complaint in above post, Nick. And yes, I plead guilty to calling you spineless. But that's not a psychological assessment. That's how, recently, you come across to me.

You say you don't "psychologize" other people. That's what you do with virtual every post of yours. Which is fine. At best you can call it a running social commentary; at worst you standing in continual judgment over what "most" and "others" do. And how different you are. And you never ... And ... And ... Maybe you don't know you are doing it.

Chiming in partly with both Kylie and WWW, you do divulge quite a lot about yourself - as we all do. It's only natural. Doesn't matter how we form an image of someone, be it in person, be it on the page. And let's not forget chemistry. Some people gel, others don't. That's neither bad nor good - it just is.

One other point you may wish to consider, Nick: Spare a thought for the personal abuse I get in certain parts of blog land; I emphasize "personal", not challenging my opinions which is what I expect. My opinions - if and when they differ from the blogger - getting barely a look in. If you are as sensitive as you make out with your above post then you wouldn't last five minutes in my shoes. Look at the "Clive" comment in your previous post alone. That's what I call "psychologizing" whether tongue in cheek or not. I made a joke out of a full frontal which I still believe to be a spoof. Naturally, in certain circles, it fell flat on its face because, guess what, it came from me. Poor Clive.

U

nick said...

www: I don't understand what your last paragraph is referring to. It seems to me that I don't criticise other people's foibles (jeez, I have so many of my own), I merely remark on them as something that baffles me.

nick said...

Ursula: I count at least nine separate accusations there. I have neither the energy nor the inclination to respond to them all. If you have such a low opinion of me, I wonder why you are so obsessed with me to the point of writing entire blog posts about me.

Have you ever wondered why you get so much personal abuse in certain parts of blogland?

Danielle L Zecher said...

I think most people do it because it's less painful to focus on someone else's faults than our own. It's still not nice, though!

nick said...

Danielle: Personally I'm happy to look at my faults, I know I'm far from perfect and I'm very willing to acknowledge the imperfections. The real ones that is. The totally absurd ones baffle me.

Ms Scarlet said...

What triggered this post, Nick?
Whatever beef you have it's probably best to thrash it out in email.
Sx

Jenny Woolf said...

I do notice this on Twitter, when I'm accused of all kinds of things, (or was, since I rarely post now). I have noticed if I ever say anything that suggests I know how someone's mind is working they always take care to do the exact opposite, which of course is as it should be. As you say, When we don't even know ourselves how can any of us presume to comment on others?

nick said...

Ms Scarlet: There's nothing to thrash out. Just a certain person who's besotted with me and won't stop pestering me. Plus a few other uncalled-for rude comments elsewhere.

Jenny: Luckily I've never been on Twitter so I'm spared the Twitter mobs. Indeed, I'm so often a mystery to myself I'm just amazed at other people's confident pronouncements.

Ursula said...

Nick, I'll ignore your strange spiel on "obsession". Or would you like me to quote you on what you have put out about me, in the public arena, on third party blogs (AFTER YEARS of us communicating)? And the reasons why you did so? Give me the word. My Alternative Comment Box is still open for jamming.

Let me address your question "Have you ever wondered why you get so much personal abuse in certain parts of blogland?" I haven't so much wondered as acknowledged my part in all that went wrong. Do you, ever, acknowledge the part you play when communication goes wobbly? Do you?

U

nick said...

Ursula: My mother is close to death in a Cambridge hospital. Please fuck off.

chloe said...

We will all die one day to have your mother still at the age of 71 is just a big chance.

John Gray said...

Ursula , it's time to grow up. You've been told to leave. You were not invited
Grow up and stop this persecution complex

nick said...

Chloe: Yes, it's fairly remarkable, even in this era of increasing longevity. My father died at 70, so I could easily have gone first!

John: Thanks for your support. Some people are obtuse to the point of idiocy.

Rachel Phillips said...

You have a very selective memory Nick. I suggest you move on from this post sooner rather than later. Remember the time when you said you did not think I was a methodical person and that I could not possibly do the job I so loved and was doing at the time because I was not methodical? You always look for the good in people? I don't think this is actually true. You may have convinced yourself it is true, but looking back at the things you have said about me and others on my blog, this is not so.

nick said...

Rachel: I stand corrected. I do remember my uncalled-for remark about whether you would be a good lawyer or not, and I apologise for that. Not sure what you mean about other remarks on your blog. I've made very few comments on your blog and I don't remember disparaging anyone. I do remember one of your blogmates claiming I was anti-semitic, which totally baffled me.

You may be right that I have a selective memory. My memory is dreadful and always has been.

Rachel Phillips said...

I found your interpretation that someone had called you anti-semitic wrong and did so at the time. You were very grieved that I suggested that the Labour Party had an anti-semite problem and I thought you over-reacted and went into denial without looking at any facts and felt personally insulted. As you will now be aware, three years later, the story hit the headlines again and has now been acknowledged. At the time you hosted a witch hunt here for me and from that point on I never wanted you to comment on my blog again. I was referred to as "she" and your followers had fun guessing who I was. Quite why you have come back to me recently I have no idea, maybe because the anti-semitism has now been acknowledged you were putting cap in hand and coming back. However, I remember the witch hunt only too well and have never felt comfortable with you. I also found the suggestion that I am not methodical extremely hurtful as I told you at the time.

Rachel Phillips said...

Also, I would add finally that if you are aware that your memory is poor, it would be wiser not to make sweeping statement that you would never do such and such a thing yourself when you cannot now be sure.

nick said...

Rachel: It wasn't my interpretation. They very clearly called me anti-semitic. I accept now that the Labour Party is very deeply anti-semitic, and I was wrong to conclude otherwise. I'm not a member of the Labour Party so I can only go by what I read. I don't remember anything resembling a witch hunt (either against you or anyone else) but again my memory may be failing me.

I came back to your blog because I've always found you interesting, even though obviously we have diametrically opposed views on some things. I understand that you don't feel comfortable with me and I was quite willing to stop leaving comments.

I can only apologise for having said things that hurt or upset you. I certainly don't mean to do so.

Rachel Phillips said...

Thank you for your acknowledgement of what I have said.

CheerfulMonk said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mother. You recently said she was happy in a nursing home, I hope she isn't suffering now.

nick said...

Jean: She seemed happy and healthy enough when I visited her a couple of weeks ago. But an unfortunate chain of events put her in hospital and she went rapidly downhill. As I write this, she's still hanging on but not expected to last much longer. She's in some distress and getting large doses of painkilling drugs.