Borderline Personality Disorder with Sociopathic Features

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There is, to my knowledge, only one psychological syndrome or personality disorder that includes the ability to successfully hide ones basic predatory nature by initially presenting itself as a sweet, sexy, compliant, possibly abused or previously neglected person. Only later does this insidious and beguiling individual inject her toxic hypnogogic “venom” into her clueless rescuer-victim. Once accomplished, this human chameleon with scorpion tail will wait until its prey is sapped of it’s emotional vitality, masculine self-image, and general will to resist. Even the dreaded mate-consuming black widow spider cant do all that, and when she does devour her sex partner/hubby (which is actually not that often) it’s done simply out of hunger and opportunity and not because she actually enjoys the combined Olympic sport of sex and cannibalism.

The psychiatric condition I am referring to is called Borderline Personality Disorder with Sociopathic features. Fortunately, most borderline patients, whether they be male or female (usually female) do not suffer from this particularly treacherous character pathology. Fearful of abandonment and crippled by insecurity and underlying self-loathing, the majority of those with BPD either “act-in” or act-out”. Acting-in borderlines are prone to suicidal ideation, depression, cutting and self-mutilation,etc. They more often see themselves as burdens on their friends, life-partners, and families. In contrast, acting out borderlines are more overtly emotionally labile and psychologically unstable with recurrent episodes of seemingly unprovoked anger, rage and occasional violence. Intimate relationships are often volatile and/or difficult for both. Such extraordinary reactions are often but not always associated with concomitant substance abuse issues and are usually triggered by deep-seated fears of failure, rejection and abandonment.

It is the extra addition of the sociopathic or antisocial dimension that makes for the possibility of a rather different or “hybrid” borderline personality who not only acts out their emotional issues in intensely emotional, aggressive or passive-aggressive ways, but also doesn’t feel a lot of guilt or remorse about it. While still emotionally unstable, they seem at times to also be able to turn certain feelings and behaviors on and off depending on what best serves their immediate needs and longterm purpose. The more psychopathic borderline type is more likely to conceal their basic insecurity and psychological deficits under a facade of self-confidence, physical attractiveness and superficial “charm”. They are also more likely to talk about or exaggerate their sexual conquests, their diverse resume of professional employment, their creative and intellectual accomplishments, and their wide array of “skill sets”. At the very same time these individuals downplay specific details about past relationships and reasons for their having left a job, whether they were fired for any specific reason or were sent packing for criminal, immoral, or inappropriate behavior, etc. Dont be surprised if the actual reason turns out to have been inappropriate or excessive sexual behavior that was used to feed their near inexhaustible need for physical attention, adoration, validation or to set up a trap (spider web) to obtain financial, physical, and/or social support from vulnerable “able-bodied” men. Obtaining a clear, consistent and credible psychosocial history from such a person is difficult and somewhat diagnostic.

This type of woman likes other women as temporary comrades-in-arms and opportunistic wing buddies, but prefers the way that men taste..if you know what I mean. They also wont care if a man is married, single, older, or in a serious relationship as they seem to enjoy the challenge of taking what is not theirs from someone else, even someone they may know quite well socially or professionally. In this respect they could be considered professional “home-wreckers” and wholesale privateers. Like the honey badger, when it comes to feeding their bellies psychologically, emotionally, sexually or professionally, they just don’t care. All syndromes and clinical diagnoses lie on a continuum of severity and care must be taken to consider the possibility of other co-existing disorders, particularly Bipolar, ADHD, substance abuse and impulse control disorders that have either an organic or genetic basis. Finally, if the clinical diagnosis becomes confusing, just keep in mind that repeated manipulation, deception, and deceit are more prominent in BPD with sociopathic features while emotional instability, vulnerability and recurrent bouts of self-hatred more characterize BPD proper. Either way men or women who choose to hook-up or even marry such an exciting and quite often attractive specimen are forewarned to proceed at their own risk and please do remember to bring the One ring, a sharp sword, and really good bug spray.

Shelob from Lord of the Rings: https://youtu.be/ZKeEZWbCRVE

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The Myth of Fixing People

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With Apologies to Humpty Dumpty: The Myth of Fixing People

It takes an extra long time for a psychologist/social worker/psychotherapist or “savior”  type person (code for codependent) to realize that you can’t really “fix” anybody. You can help them and you can be compassionate but whatever psychological or spiritual illness or drug/alcohol problem they suffer from….that change process has to start and finish with them. In fact, trying to fix them and using too much of ones energy, time, emotions, resources (or money) in an effort to “force” healthy thinking and behavior on somebody is a different kind of disease, and it’s one likely to end in rebellion, mutual misery, frustration, exhaustion, and resentment.

Unless you are Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama, which I am not, such a savior scenario (quite often on a unconscious or subconscious level) typically results in not just failure but a counterproductive rugby match of resentment in which both sides push and pull against one another while thinking they are merely representing their own “truth” or “higher” power. The obvious implication is that there also exists such a thing as a “lower self” (shadow) and while the nice or virtuous parts of ones personality attempt to communicate, broker peace, understanding and progress, the shadow parts (like the smiling Japanese diplomats in Washington DC  during the surprise Pearl Harbor attack) are often plotting rebellion and pandemonium. Just why this is so is open to debate but is at least partially explained by general physics (Newton’s Third Law about action and reaction), human nature, ingrained defense mechanisms, and individual reflexes like “don’t tell me what to do…even if it’s good for me”.  Also in my experience people get quite used to what they are most familiar with, even if it might seem self-destructive or counter-productive to everyone else. Changing or “doing better” certainly has its rewards but can also feel very uncomfortable. The anxiety (of uncertainty) and the pressure to succeed and improve (among a lifetime of previous disappointments, failures and poor decision making) can lead some people to return to jail, return to drugs, and even return to abusive or toxic relationships. Finally, some psychiatric problems like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, complex PTSD, depression, and character pathology like Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorder are tumultuous and destabilizing by nature and can be extra challenging to live with both for the sufferer and for their loved ones.

Bottomline: There is an important difference between attempting to fix broken people and broken pottery. People who are either psychologically broken or struggle with mental disorders or addictions (just like the people who have a strong need to help “fix” them) have complex egos and personal expectations that can end up getting in the way. Broken pottery normally does not resist ones efforts to fix, be fixed or made whole. Perhaps even more important, broken pottery does not carry within it a strong and wholly legitimate human desire to be loved and accepted just as one is, cracks and all. Therein lies the rub….for some of us.

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How Trump Beat Clinton in Game of Thrones

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With apologies to Game of Thrones aficionados (I personally don’t imbibe), success in   politics has historically relied upon barbarian despotic leader attributes like bribery intimidation, assassination, corruption, and big time power-wielding as reflected in ones ability to use special access, influence, connections, and leverage among others who hold substantial power and authority.  LBJ is a good example of an “old school” politician…and that may even include the assassination part.  My  son tells me one of his favorite TV shows, Game of Thrones (GOT) similarly gets “down and dirty” as far as backstabbing, collusion, and the proverbial “heads will roll” approach to becoming a tribal “top dog”.

For many reasons this formula has changed to one that depends more on the use of ones personal charisma, likability, and connection (ie.,reciprocal projection) with the largest base of voters possible. This would now probably include voters with “grassroots” as well as “power broker” ties. While personal ambition and extraordinary drive have always been positive factors, winning a presidential election today requires someone with endless ambition, energy and a mental manufacturing plant of unabashed ego operating  24/7 and 365 days a year. Based on the above, Donald Trump had all the “right stuff”. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, while well suited to the actual on-the-job requirements for POTUS, stumbled badly by choosing to not see or acknowledge bad omens early on and refusing to listen to specific warnings given by her consort hubby Bill ( a pretty sharp and charismatic political player himself). As a result, she was outplayed on the last major presidential campaign battlefield. I suggest that Donald Trump has Julius Caesar like attributes that Hillary lacks.  In Game of Thrones vernacular, you don’t need a Valyrian steel sword if you’ve got Julius Caesar’s  “tiger blood” DNA. Sad but true.

Read below two separate psychobiographical summaries of the unlikely Emperor Julius Caesar and note the specific ways (like it or not) that Donald Trump holds a much closer resemblance than wonky Hillary Clinton. Even the Republican establishment didn’t see THAT coming.

Analysis #1:     Traits/Qualities Julius Caesar Possessed that Led to His Remarkable Success

Intelligent and Self-Confident
First and foremost, Julius Caesar, the Roman general and statesman who upended the Republic and it’s laws, was a smarty pants unto himself, especially in military strategy. His supreme self-confidence, bordering on delusional narcissism was an important reasons why he was so successful. Caesar was a compelling speaker when he needed to be. When he was addressing the Senate or the public, Romans hung on his every word. His critical mind was especially beneficial during his military career. He specifically planned and strategized to outmaneuver his opponents. Essentially, like Trump he didn’t care about the “poll numbers”.

Julius Caesar: Energetic
In addition to being clever, Caesar was incredibly energetic. As the governor of Gaul, Caesar was able to fight wars for seven years while also writing a series of books recounting his many escapades. During his life, Caesar traveled non-stop. Whether he was fighting a war or simply visiting a Roman province, he was constantly on the move and seemed to need little sleep.

Caesar’s energy was also evidenced in his romantic exploits. Over the course of his life, he had three wives and multiple mistresses. Imagine taking over a country, fighting multiple wars, AND juggling several girlfriends at the same time. The man never tired!

Julius Caesar: Cunning Yet Generous
Immense military intelligence and energy were not the only qualities that made Caesar a formidable leader. He was also exceptionally driven, power-hungry, and cunning. Caesar came from a noble but relatively poor family. What Caesar lacked in funds he made up for with an insatiable thirst for power. Every action was calculated for personal gain; nothing he did was without purpose personally.

For example, when one of his greatest political opponents died, Caesar went out of his way to memorialize the man. Later Caesar acknowledged this was done not because he liked him or thought he was a great guy but because Caesar knew that speaking well about his fallen adversary would help neutralize his opponents posthumous influence.

Aside from being cunning, Caesar was also exceedingly generous, bestowing lavish gifts on the people closest to him. He gave his mistress, Cleopatra, her own palace in Rome. Additionally, he showed unusual mercy to the people he conquered and spared many of the political opponents he defeated. Sound familiar?

Analysis#2:       Julius Caesar: Personality Type Analysis
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Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman aristocrat, politician, military leader, Dictator, and author, active in the last decades of the Roman Republic, in the first century BC. His impact on western history is enormous: he was chiefly responsible for incorporating Gaul (i.e. modern France) into the Mediterranean world i.e. the Roman Empire, as well as indirectly for the same with regards to Britain. The modern calendar, based on a year of 365 days with a leap year every 4 years, and 12 months, is essentially the same one as introduced under his instructions. The month ‘July’ was named so in his honour, after his clan name ‘Julius’, immediately after his death. His family name, ‘Caesar’, eventually became a synonym for ’emperor’, surviving into the 20th century as ‘Kaiser’ and ‘Tsar’. He is also generally regarded as one of history’s greatest military leaders, his battles serving as case studies to this day.

Although by ancestry belonging to the high nobility – Caesar’s family was (relatively) impoverished by the time he was born in 100 BC. In the ultra-competitive, expensive, high-stakes world of Roman politics of his time, that meant that Caesar, not withstanding his titled family background had to adopt unconventional means of advancing his political career from an early age.

Especially considering his circumstances and powerful opponents, Caesar’s political career was extraordinarily successful, with him advancing faster, and to much greater heights than any of his contemporaries, even those far wealthier and better connected.

Simplistically put, Caesar’s whole career progressed on the basis of all-or-nothing extreme risk-taking. In electoral politics, that meant spending money far beyond his means, getting into debt to the point of criminal liability – but always rescued later by electoral or military success. Failure at any point could have meant bankruptcy, disgrace, and exile: famously, at the age of 37, he bet it all in winning the election to Pontifex Maximus, telling his mother that day that either he’d win or have to go into exile. Sound a little familiar?

Likewise, as a military leader, his style was to get himself and his men into very difficult situations (numerical inferiority, poor logistics, unknown and hostile territory, etc.) and then use tactical brilliance and in-the-moment improvisation to find a way out – always with supreme self-confidence in his own abilities and, as he himself put it, “Caesar’s luck”. In so doing, he re-invented ancient warfare as he went along, even in situations where he had no previous experience, as in siege warfare (Alesia) or urban warfare (Alexandria) or in more conventional battles (Pharsalus). This meant that more conventional or cautious commanders such as Pompey were outmaneuvered by Caesar even when they held in numerical and tactical advantage.

Caesar obviously trusted his in-the-moment tactical improvisation and often neglected the accumulation of available military intelligence, as in his first expedition to Britain. That almost led to disaster as he simply did not realize that the Channel tides were far more intense than those of the Mediterranean. Trump much?

Caesar’s never-ending, sometimes even reckless pursuit of political power, as well as his natural ability to lead (along with his confidence in his own assessment of the likely outcome on the battlefield) demonstrate a “fearlessness” that few possess. This is also confirmed by his apparent lack of physical fear even in very disadvantageous situations, such as when he was kept prisoner by pirates (he mocked them and said he’d crucify them as soon as he was set free…which he did).

As a leader of men, Caesar was notorious for not caring about imposing discipline on his men in the way of protocol and accepted rules: what he cared about was their loyalty, obedience, competence. and trust (i.e. willingness to follow him into seemingly hopeless situations). His leadership was based not mainly on the fact that he was their hierarchical and social superior, but that he was “trusted” to be better than they were at being the principal leader and therefore deserved to be followed. Alexander the Great may be his only historical peer in this respect.

Caesar’s extreme confidence can be seen in his own memoirs of his conquest of Gaul, when he repeatedly boasts of his personal relationship to the Gallic chieftains (and complains of those who couldn’t be trusted). It can also be seen in his approach to political enemies: Caesar was so confident in his ability to gain the trust of those he had defeated that he preferred to pardon them and receive them as friends once they were vanquished.   Now it’s getting almost scary as far as Trump comparisons are concerned!

Caesar’s pursuit of personal political power and wealth, besides based on extreme risk-taking, was also based on ignoring accepted societal conventions and rules, even laws. His approach was to achieve his goals, regardless of their difficulty and worry less about such “details”. The problem with that is that his continuous illegalities led to him being liable to prosecution by his many political enemies. Like his near-disastrous self-imposed military traps, that was a longer-term personal trap that he allowed himself into (arguably without realizing it) leaving him no way out except through his ultimate extreme gambles i.e. illegally invading Italy proper with his legions, characteristically saying “let the dice fly” as he did so.

Having achieved (illegal) control of Rome and Italy through sheer military power, Caesar was concerned about legalizing it but he did so in a seemingly ad hoc manner, becoming at first Dictator for just a few days, then consul, then later Dictator again in different ways – as with military campaigns, all done in a ‘making it up as you go along manner’ and apparently having less concern with legal precedent or consistency.

Although chiefly concerned with completing his victory over his political enemies, during his period as Dictator, Caesar engaged into a series of isolated reforms: a settlement of the debts of over-indebted individuals, urban reform in Rome, reform of the then-chaotic calendar (introducing the modern calendar), reform of the supply of subsidized grain, etc. All of those were implemented with enormous energy in a very brief period of time, but rather as a series of isolated measures aimed at fixing specific economic problems pragmatically, not as part of any ‘restructuring’ of Roman society or constitution. Indeed, despite his own position having become essentially extra-constitutional, Caesar showed no apparent interest (or idea) of how to adjust the Roman constitution accordingly, and at the time of his death his plan was to start another huge military campaign, against Parthia (Persia). This shows where his true priorities lay.

Conclusion: Julius Caesar was a man most focused and able, and an ultra confident individual, particularly in matters of career climbing, military exploits and eventual conquest (winning). Almost always he succeeded in an unorthodox way where extreme (and sometimes almost disastrous) risk-taking was the pattern, and with little sign of longterm strategy or overarching vision. In fact, in most matters he appeared to lack any visible ‘ideology’ (except that of his own rising to the top).

Finally, besides being supremely confident in his ability to get the respect and trust of  key individuals, by all accounts he was the “perfect politician” in terms of knowing the value of self propaganda and in exercising enormous personal charm, especially when he wanted to and/or needed to.   

I would say regardless of what Russia was trying to do…….the die was probably already cast on this one….and that’s a big time sore loser and lifelong liberal having to admit it.

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The Dump

Notwithstanding my love of the run on sentence, My Facebook friend Wendy has challenged me to write a 300 word max essay utilizing the following words she randomly pulled out of her ass: distended, lugubrious, flaccid, notwithstanding.

The Dump

I wade into the fray with clearly more disciplined and professional writers. My stock and trade is the perverse, what others consider the dark side of the naked city. I write about dicks, pricks and assholes. Sure Donald Trump is all three but besides his swollen bobblehead I prefer to author twisted but anatomically correct diatribes about penises, sexual behavior and bowel movements. I do this for my own exhibitionistic pleasure, for lack of regularity within my own sluggish and distended intestines and because even tho it’s Stargate 2016, the average Millennial in skinny jeans is an idiot savant who can’t locate Afghanistan or his own anus without a GPS, a specialized phone app or a text to his helicopter mommy. God forbid they might actually get their hands wet by reaching into the toilet bowl of life and learning how the world really works. I’m sure the White House is metaphorically no different. The real shit goes on in the musty smelling, dark cobwebby basement where CIA operatives, Morlocks, and Cheney clones with wrenches scuttle around fixing furnaces, turning dials and planning the takeover of foreign governments.

 

Sometimes I fear we’re raising a new race of flaccid spawn with beehive minds. They are the Eloi in the original Time Machine movie. Sure they have books but they’ve never read any. Intelligent ideas or independent thought that includes debate and challenging discourse is as rare today as a single succinct sentence in my legendary pirate blog. Call me cantankerous. Call me lugubrious. I call it as I see it which apparently is a lot better than most umpires in professional baseball or football. Did you see that missed pass interference call in the Atlanta Falcons game recently?  Now imagine Trump and his minions at the wheel of our nation. I’d call that demolition derby-type game “Narcissism Nascar” and that’s one sport I’d rather sit out and patiently wait for a cathartic dump of biblical proportions.

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Human Error: What 12 Monkeys, Donald Trump and the Seven Hens Schnitzel House Have In Common

 

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”
― Isaac Asimov

“If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”
― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

I’ve written a few previous blogs about “human error” and how when things go wrong, i.e., ships collide, planes crash, monkey viruses go rogue, or people freeze to death on Mt Everest,  it’s usually due to many different reasons with human factors often occupying the primary explanation. It’s difficult to overcome ones cognitive biases, unbridled ego and limited perspective. Most of the time we proceed in life believing that we are “right”. However, personal blinders when combined with a refusal to solicit adequate objective feedback/input from others leave us vulnerable to making false assumptions, inaccurate conclusions and expensive mistakes. Luckily, not every error we make is of the size, cost or consequence of a Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. For that matter, the majority of our human “boo-boos” pale in comparison to monster mistakes like the sinking of the Titanic or George Bush’s decision to get us embroiled in a trillion dollar war on the basis of non-existent WMDs. In light of this topic and introduction I’d like to illustrate the concept of “human folly” by sharing a very small but pertinent example I just read about in the Atlanta Jewish Times.

I heard that both restaurant locations (Sandy Springs and Decatur) of Seven Hens the Chicken schnitzel eatery are closing. Honestly, I was surprised they lasted more than a year given that I counted only three paying customers there in over 2 years and their festive theme was  “Come Enjoy Chicken Schnitzel around the World”, not exactly a culinary concept I’d pay an ad agency a lot of dough to think up. However, given Seven Hens longevity  I began to wonder if the place was really a front for the Ukrainian Mafia who were selling kilos of cocaine and young girls out the back door. I developed this theory partially because the one guy I did see there more than once (besides the cook) was a tall gentleman who looked a lot like Liam Neeson in the “Taken” movie series. However, I was wrong. Apparently so was the Israeli owner/founder Michael Gurevich who according to the AJT article “lacked restaurant experience” but fervently hoped that the South would “embrace schnitzel and enable me to franchise it”. Riiiight…. He would have been better off franchising sweet tea and Nascar decals. Let this be a lesson to all of us. Even Israelis, the supreme innovators and entrepreneurs on planet Earth are capable of being misled by their own cultural blinders and flawed logic. The good news is that the Decatur location will be replaced by a Korean street food emporium and the Sandy Springs space has already become the Poke Bar, a Los Angeles “casual seafood/raw fish concept”. I look forward to trying them both out before they close as well. As for Donald Trump, I feel semi-confident his “goose is cooked” and like his licensed brand of “commercial quality” steaks which no longer exist, he should probably pack up his presidential snake oil products and declare bankruptcy , which is the same as saying he “lost” but is far easier on his forked tongue.

Post Election Addendum:  It seems I was wrong about that one too. My bad….

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My Mini-High School Reunion

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I just got back from a mini-high school reunion in Highland Park, Illinois. It’s been 45 years since I left that cushy suburban enclave to seek fame and fortune elsewhere. I returned at age 62 (soon to be 63) not as the prodigal son, but as a wiser and more arthritic version of my former self. My long hair is long gone. The hippie-esque bell bottom jeans and puka shell necklace have been replaced by clothing meant to produce a “slimming” effect” rather than make a political statement of any kind. My wise-ass self-centered attitude and condescending voice tone have given way to a sincere interest in listening to my contemporaries and learning about their varied lives. It seems we’ve all been on some epic journey and like brave Odysseus have returned to our childhood home somewhat bruised, battle weary but with quite a Homeric tale to tell. The fearlessness and YOLO (You Only Live Once) type thinking endemic to youth is tempered now by a host of nagging health concerns common to aging Baby Boomers, neurotic anxiety, i.e.,”Gee, I wonder if somebody remembered to feed the dogs?”, and worse, by the unmistakeable realization that some of our classmates have passed away or are suffering from serious illnesses which they may or may not recover from.

How can this be? I thought we were immortal. I thought life was going to be a relatively predictable process, a linear trajectory like climbing a ladder or taking a long hike on a well designated trail in one of the many lush forest preserves in or near Highland Park. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I figured I was prepared for it not just by my excellent education at Highland Park High School (including drivers ed) but also by my self-professed mastery of “life-like” board games like Risk, Monopoly, and Life. How much tougher could negotiating ones way in the adult world be then all the road hazards, obstacles, and simulator tests we’d already faced in Coach Wisniewski’s Drivers Ed class? Maybe I should have noticed or remembered subtle signs like how in the colorful board game “Life” with it’s many twists and turns and little plastic cars full of acquired family members how certain “peg people” would refuse to stay in their assigned seat and repeatedly fell out onto the increasingly cluttered game board. Were those Parker Brother premonitions of a future divorce or of having to send a kid to residential care or rehab someday?

Regardless of the game, at age 18 I still thought it (life) was going to be a semi-predictable algorithm: Deal the cards, buy up lots and lots of “stuff “(or assemble an army) and well, proceed to “take over the world”. Now that I say that aloud I think  that certain individuals like Donald Trump are still stuck in their teenaged head eating Twinkies and playing a megalomaniac board game in some buddy’s wood paneled basement. Unfortunately, at age 62 (two days from becoming 63), I’ve learned it’s not that easy in the real world and some of us don’t have the time, the energy, the bank account or the reservoir of narcissistic supply left to lose a billion dollars in one year…or even eighteen. To consider that in retrospect as somehow “brilliant” is one delusional bipolar bridge too far for most of us. The ups and downs of a meaningful life still early in the fourth and final quarter of the “game” is acceptable to me. Frankly, at this point I’d rather hang out with my high school friends eating good deli food, drinking root beer and swapping stories than be President of this United States. That said, maybe I did learn a few good tricks playing Risk at Billy Terman’s house with Mark Scher, Joel Pathman,Todd Logan, Mike Lembeck, Harlan Bass and a few other HPHS game playing gunslingers…..but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

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How to Be a Real Manly Man

Submitted for publication to:  The Good Men Project  9/29/16

I am a certified sex therapist who purposely de-emphasizes sex-related behavior and sexual performance in my clinical practice. Instead I prefer to explore issues of sexual identity and self-esteem with my male clients as well as how ones intentional behavior interfaces with fundamental evolutionary principles (see Evolutionary Principle below). In a previous Manly Man blog (captaincliff.wordpress.com) I discuss the downsides of living in a phallocentric society. Phallocentric is just a big word referring to those cultures that oversubscribe to stereotypical masculine principles and who worship the male genitalia otherwise known colloquially as the “dick”. I mentioned that Ancient Rome was a prime example of a phallocentric society and one which has been described as technologically advanced yet strangely obsessed with it’s own sexual vigor and political fortune. The Roman Empire wanted both qualities to last forever and even coined the latin term “Imperium sine fine” which roughly translates to “Power without end”. Paradoxically, their fear of losing power and control may have also helped to create a shadow aspect within their patriarchal culture characterized by considerable insecurity and rampant superstition. i.e., penis sculptures and phallic amulets strewn around practically everywhere, mostly for “good luck” and to ward off the “evil eye”.

Our modern world and the United States in particular also emphasizes the male genitals and it’s many symbolic and societal meanings, i.e.. power, authority, masculinity, strength, virility, etc. White men currently carry both the privilege and the burden of being the dominant stakeholders in our highly competitive patriarchy and capitalistic society. Well, what’s so burdensome about occupying an elite status and a governing socioeconomic strata you may ask? It’s more about the concomitant psychological weight in the form of “performance anxiety” and constant pressure placed upon men to succeed, to be the biggest and best, and to flaunt their success, superiority and sometimes even their shlongs like angry and/or insecure alpha male chimpanzees. If that description happens to sound like Anthony Weiner or Donald Trump, well then I guess the Bruno Maglia shoe fits….. and you must NOT acquit.

It’s not surprising that in times of stress and emotional turmoil human beings need to feel somewhat good about themselves and carry a supporting belief that they’ve been relatively “fortunate” in life, ie. lucky. When I use common terms like fortunate or lucky I mean to say that men want to feel that as a result of their intentional actions and agency they’re able to survive, adapt, and “surf” life’s challenges adequately as opposed to fighting a constant riptide of inevitable failure (think poor Prometheus). Similarly they want to maintain a positive self-concept and see themselves as successful actors and/or heroic figures rather than as insignificant specks floating aimlessly in a vast ocean or sailors drowned in a tsunami wave of bad situations, lousy relationships and repeated misfortune. To put it another way, like brave Ossysseus we all want to feel that the “Gods are smiling down upon us” or at least that they’re NOT in cahoots against us. What could be worse than believing that one’s God or a gaggle of God-like beings (as in the Roman pantheon) are either sitting around Mt. Olympus gossiping about you or actively conspiring to bring about your demise if not actual death?

Furthermore, even when the seas are calm and things are going smoothly in life, which is almost never, men want and possibly need to experience the hardwired warrior-hunter-gatherer adrenaline rush of accomplishment. Sure, sex in it’s multiple masculine forms feels good but it’s not quite the same thing as breaking in a wild mustang (either the horse or the sportscar) or reeling in a boat-sized marlin like in “Old Man and the Sea”. Human males not only are programmed to mate successfully but also have an irresistible need to occasionally belt a home run, bowl an impressive strike, or at least parallel park their station wagon like a champ. In the case of more “gatherer” type individuals (such as myself) the instinctual drive is to collect every known infomercial Chia Pet, professional baseball card, Star Trek episode and rare  coin in the stamp and coin universe. Hunting and gathering not only makes men feel better but I would speculate it reconfirms our primal sense of masculinity on some unconscious level.

Neuroscience suggests that the brain seeks continual stimulation in the form of key neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins. The opposite state of a fully functioning and fully engaged manly man is a static depressed male or one who is crippled by anxiety and caught in a web of unhealthy or unproductive compulsions. Ironically, snorting mounds of cocaine or crystal meth are (at least physiologically speaking) potentially misguided and pathological attempts to “ignite” or reinvigorate ones essential inner caveman, particularly when the brain’s pilot light/ignition switch (just like on the manly outdoor barbecue grill) has stopped working. I say pathological because all that illegal drugs or dopaminergic stimulants like methamphetamine end up doing is turning the user into a pimply faced drug addict who needs to steal your 60 inch flat screen TV so that he/she can buy more drugs. Richard Pryor the stand-up comedian spoke of this misguided notion of compulsive masculinity, depression, self-esteem, and hubris when he literally lit himself on fire while smoking crack cocaine. The point doesn’t get much more visually graphic than that.

The quintessential healthy “manly man feeling” I am referring to is more closely associated with what one experiences when successfully achieving a tangible goal (or less tangible intrinsic reward or positive reinforcement) resulting from a “job well done”. In the process of reconnecting to our ancient hunter-gatherer heritage we become increasingly more motivated, confident, focused, and energetically alert. It’s sort of like taking Adderall XR but sourced in the primal desire to hunt, capture, consume and then “savor” something extra delicious (like Andrew Zimmern does on his show Bizarre Foods) rather than just the momentary excitement experienced from getting an A on the  Geometry midterm exam….altho that’s still a good thing.

Due to our genetic make-up and evolutionary status as the biggest baddest apex predator, Homo Erectus (us) may very well have a built-in biological need to win, “score”, succeed, make a touchdown, or at least conquer something or someone every so often. I’m sure the testosterone thing also plays a major role in that part as well. Overall, women appear to have a much lesser need to purposely sink a sharp spear or musket ball into an opponents chest to prove their existence and re-confirm their gender identity.

Thus, every time Cro-Magnon man actually did manage to kill “two birds with one stone” or spear a really big fish something probably went off in his noggin like the sound of a slot machine hitting payola in Vegas. Even in the Old Testament it appears that God (Yahweh) enjoyed having the proto-patriarchal Israelites exult after beating the crap out of their Holy Land competitors. All that smiting and smoting not only gave proof of their divinely inspired success, fealty and faith, but it also probably felt damn good to kick some Philistine ass and “win” a hard fought biblical battle. So why do guys need to succeed or “win” so badly? Who knows. It’s pretty clear it sucks to lose badly as any online gambler would admit and practically every elementary school kid learns from playing dodgeball in P.E. class. Getting the “I participated” ribbon or a cheap plastic medal on “Field Day” once a year doesn’t usually cut it for many competitive males and is fairly equivalent to receiving the “Biggest Loser” or “Slowest Runner” award. Let me repeat. In general, guys want to be warrior heroes and they want to provide safety, security, and sustenance for themselves and their loved ones. They live in fear of being “cucks”, “goats”, or “losers”. Ladies, ask your man what day your birthday or anniversary is and he will probably hesitate. Ask him for a specific example of when he struck out with the bases loaded or literally MISSED the slow rolling rubber ball for a called strike in kickball and he will remember it like it was yesterday. Along with Pearl Harbor these are the REAL days and dates that “live in infamy”.

Like a guy claiming final victory in the popular board game Risk (akin to taking over the world like Alexander the Great or Attila the Hun) or putting out the last sore loser in Monopoly, gaining a sense of mastery and control (which like it or not often involves succeeding over others) triggers some selective pleasure center in our lizard man brain. Whether it is purchasing a 1.3 billion dollar winning lottery ticket or getting a free bagel with every dozen bought at the local deli, we seek out and “hunt” for feel good manly moments, successes, and fortunate circumstances that we can claim for our own….and later post to our unrestricted Facebook page. In other words it’s not all that abnormal for a man to want to climb Mt. Everest or something else tall and treacherous and then plant a flag at the top….even if it almost kills them. This may again have something to do with the feel good endorphins, some “risky gene” in our DNA or a bio-behavioral adaptation passed down from our brutish caveman ancestors. All things equal and cultural norms notwithstanding, men care more about their personal achievements in life including the specific acts of courage undertaken (or endured) to better their lives and the lives of their loved ones than they do about having sex. Obsessing about one’s penis size and spending money on worthless infomercial/internet products in an attempt to grow a “bigger one” is a sad example of how core masculine values become skewed and diminished in a sex and genital focused culture.

So like it or not we are a competitive lot and a carnivorous species that enjoys winning. Without a big win or a few timely successes many men become despairing, depressed, bitter, lethargic and all around miserable. Look at the average Chicago Cubs fan (until this year) or Atlanta Braves season ticket holder. Something  important is missing in their pitiful lives that can only be cured with a pennant win. Over time their vitality, free testosterone and essential lifeforce has drained from their increasingly sedentary, diabetic and morbidly obese bodies. Screaming insults and eating tons of crappy food at the game is the very best they can do. This particular kind of ill-tempered Bleacher Bum, whether they realize it or not really wants to bring down a charging buffalo or crack the skull of a nosey Neanderthal attempting to get with his kin but all they can do is sit and watch the other team round the bases over and over and cuck dance in the dugout. No wonder they settle for getting plastered and starting fights with other angry drunk and depressed guys. They, much like Donald Trump and Anthony Weiner are still stuck in psychological adolescence comparing and contrasting their penis size. They haven’t learned to expand their definition of masculinity and have failed to embrace the deeper and far more mature meaning of the expression, “Buddy, It’s not the meat, it’s the motion”.

November 3, 2016 Addendum:  Last night the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. It’s as if the entire city of Chicago has taken Viagra. They finally got their manly man mo-jo back.

Tony Soprano’s Penis Dream: https://youtu.be/apkoUIBj91w

Maria Muldour: It Aint the Meat, It’s the Motion

The Evolutionary Principle is a largely psychological doctrine formulated by anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss which roughly states that when a species is removed from the habitat in which it evolved or that habitat changes significantly within a brief period (evolutionarily speaking), the species will develop maladaptive or outright pathological behavior.

Cliff Mazer, Ph.D.  is a sex therapist and Clinical Psychologist living in Atlanta, Georgia. He has three grown manly man sons and loves everything Pirate. Contact:  404-932-7193

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