Monday, November 19, 2007

People Read More when Writers Produce Attention-Grabbing Stuff

Reading is important, no doubt about it. People who read well earn more money than those who do not, are more active in civic affairs, and are able to take many factors into account before they act. Yet, many people in the U.S. are reading less, according to a new report put out by the National Endowment for the Arts, an agency of the federal government.

What to do? Make all forms of written material as interesting as YouTube or television advertisements. People are reading. They are reading e-mail, MySpace, websites, graphic novels, and all kinds of other interesting stuff.

By their behaviors, today’s readers are telling those who write that they have to do better. Be interesting. Be short. Be funny. Use graphics. Use sounds. Make reading fun. Match reading to the incredible imaginations that so many people have.

The decline in reading is a challenge to writers. Write better stuff. It really is that simple.

A case in point: Children nine and younger have great reading scores. Why? Because author who write for children write TO children. They write what children want to read. The stories are short and fun. They appeal to children’s imaginations. They have great graphics. Many appeal to multiple senses—sound, smell, taste. Many have DVDS that go along with children’s books.

If children’s writers can do it, we all can. It’s win-win.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Elected Officials Defy Law, but Don't Pee Outside

I’m worried. The Bush administration defies the law. The California governor defies the law. If elected officials do not obey the law, what’s next? Lawlessness? I have visions of armed men taking over governorships, tanks rolling down Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., and the next elected president with a gun against her temple being escorted out of the Oval Office because she did something someone else did not like.

I am afraid the United States will descend into chaos, where anyone, including those elected to powerful public office, will do whatever they please regardless of the law. Citizens who break the law are subject to arrest. What about elected officials?

How is it that the president of the United States can order the abduction and torture of citizens of other countries and get away with it? How can the governor of California enforce a law whose implementation the California Supreme Court has ordered to be stayed?

How is it that a man who was arrested for urinating under a bridge 22 years ago is a registered sex offender and is arrested under order of the governor of California? Yes, that is what happened. This man is a registered sex offender because he peed outside 22 years ago and was arrested this week for not letting police know where he lives.

There’s something rotten in the United States.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sexual Play and Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual play between age peers is not sexual abuse. Curiosity about sexual body parts is developmentally appropriate, especially in young and school-age children. Sexual acts are play when spontaneous and brief, not pre-planned, and the children are about the same size and similar in physical strength and have similar understandings of the meanings of their behaviors and the consequences if adults find them in states of undress and engaged in activities that involve sexual body parts.

Activities that involve sexual body parts may not be sexual at all for children. They may experience a simple curiosity that arouse no other feelings but surprise and the satisfaction of curiosity or mild tingles that are pleasurable but do not move beyond that. Some children are at first shocked and a bit disgusted when they see the body parts of other children or learn about sexual intercourse. They may think that there own genitals are not that attractive either.

Children’s sexual development begins in the uterus and continues as the mature into teenagers and adults. Boy fetuses have erections and girl fetuses have genital swelling. Infants enjoy touching their genitals. Children begin asking questions about body parts and where babies come from at early ages. Little boys may be fascinated when they get erections.

Children learn which behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate from the adults in their lives. When children masturbate in public, for example, parents teach children to masturbate in private and tell them that such behaviors are private. If children grab other children’s sexual body parts, parents teach them not to do this under any circumstances. If such behaviors persist after parents and/or other adults give children guidelines about these behaviors, consultation with knowledgeable professionals is called for.

Sexuality is a natural part of being alive. Children’s understanding of sexuality depends upon children’s developmental levels and on how other people communicate about sex. When guided by adults who provide age-appropriate information and direction and who behave in sexually appropriate ways themselves, children develop sexually healthy and responsible behaviors and attitudes.

Healthy sexual development includes age-appropriate information about the various aspects of human sexuality, such as the names of sexual body parts starting when children are infants, appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, the various feelings and emotions connected with sexuality, and the many reasons people eventually want to engage in sexual touching and sexual intimacy.

Children whose parents have fostered healthy sexual development may be better prepared to deal with attempts others may make to sexually abuse them. For certain, if someone does abuse them, they are much more likely to tell someone right away than children who do not understand the difference between health and unhealthy sexual behaviors.

This is an excerpt from Everything You Were Afraid to Ask About Child Sexual Abuse by Jane Gilgun & AlanKaar Sharma available soon as a e-book or a book-on-demand.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Karl Rove Scores Big in the Game of Being a Shit

Karl Rove has done it again—scored big in the game of being a shit. In three TV appearances on Sunday morning, Rove covered up his unkind deeds like the master he is. Cover-ups are of several different types. Rove used most of them.

Why are you picking on me?

Rove is the pick-on-other-people in-chief. Now he's complaining that the press is after him like Ahab after Moby Dick.

That’s not me while implying that it really is him

Rove declared in disgust that the press has made a myth out of him. This genius of the spoken word cloaks himself in one of the great myths and archetypes of all time when he says he is Moby Dick and the press is Ahab.

Someone else is responsible

Asked about his awful hip-hop performance at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner in March, Rove said, “They dragged me up there….I’ve got no choice…I can play along and show them that I’m a good sport.”

Yes, Karl. You have no will of your own. Who, by the way, is “they” and “them?”

Rove said he had nothing to do with the outing of Valerie Wilson, the CIA agent, when the world knows he was at the center of it.

Everyone shares the blame

When asked if he has any responsibility in the weakening of the Republican Party, he answered that every Republican ought to feel responsible.

Talk about pointing the finger of blame as a way to shift the rightful blame from him to others. He is a master blame-shifter.

The Constitution ties his hands

Rove hid behind the Constitution as an explanation as to why he did not comply with a Congressional subpoena in hearings on the firings of several non-partisan U.S. Attorneys.

Name calling

Rove called reporters “agents of Congress” when they asked him about his role in the firings. This makes Congress appear to be a gang of outlaws.

This is genius-level rhetoric, masterful use of innuendo to shift attention and blame from him to others. Does he have to think about these responses or do they arise spontaneously in his mind?

Obeying orders

When asked why he subjected himself to so many question and answer shows in one day, he said, “Somebody else made the decision for me. I’m just doing what I was instructed to do.”

Rove is a master, a genius. Sit at his feet and you too may attain the Mount Olympus of being a shit.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis

How in the name that all is that good can a bridge collapse in the enlightened city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA? I live there. I know the values that most Minnesotans live by. This is a tragedy and a disgrace of national proportions.

I place the blame directly on George Bush who refuses to give the states money for upkeep of bridges and roads. I blame Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota, who does not believe in allocating enough money to keep Minnesota bridges and roads safe. He and Bush are playing to an imaginary audience of greedy honchos who care about nobody but themselves.

Tunnel vision reigns. People like them do not see the bigger picture. Safe bridges, roads, families, and communities is what it is all about. It is not about making greedy people richer.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Most Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse Were Not Sexually Abused

Research has shown that most perpetrators of child sexual abuse were not sexually abused in childhood. Since most perpetrators were not sexually abused, being sexually abused is not by itself a risk to become a perpetrator.

One of the most consistent negative factors in the lives of adult perpetrators are histories of physical and psychological abuse that, combined with other risks, are associated with being sexual abusers of children.

These other risks are emotional inexpressiveness, social isolation, sexualized family and peer cultures, a sense of entitlement to take what one wants regardless of consequences, and lack of empathy for others.

No one risk leads to the perpetration of child sexual abuse. Rather, each perpetrator has a combination of risks and few protective factors that help them to avoid being sexual abusers of children. A combination of risks and relatively few resources are linked to the perpetration of child sexual abuse.

Perpetrators of child sexual abuse want to abuse children sexually, and they take active pleasure in this perpetration. A few may give the appearance of having protective factors in place, but because they desire and actively seek sexual contact with children, they are out of touch with the meanings of their behaviors for the children, themselves, and their families and friends. At their core, they are as alienated from their deepest values and emotions as perpetrators who have more obvious signs of risks.

Mike’s life story is an example of a man who was not sexually, physically, or psychologically abused and neglected in childhood and who described a happy childhood. Despite this, he sexually abused his stepdaughter for several years, beginning when she was three. He also raped his wife many times.

The youngest child of five children and the only son of a working class, two-parent family, Mike was smart, handsome, and personable. His older sisters and his parents doted on him.

He went to church every week with his parents, and he liked going. His friends were other children from the church and from his neighborhood. His parents did not drink alcohol, and they socialized with other families. They were married for thirty-seven years. Mike father’s died at age seventy-five.

Mike spent a lot of time with his father who taught him how to repair cars, how to build houses, and how to care for the house and yard which Mike said was “immaculate.” Mike appeared to respect his father. He said

I learned a lot of stuff from him. A lot of it I didn’t use later on. He gave me a good example, but I chose not to follow it.

Mike described his father as always busy, always doing something for work or around the house and yard. “The only time he wasn’t working, he was sleeping,” he said.
Mike did not like to talk about his father who died when Mike was in his early twenties. He regretted that he had not gotten to know his father better. He said, “I still have a lot of pain about talking about him.”

Mike’s mother was a homemaker who occasionally worked part-time. She was an excellent cook and an organized homemaker. She and her husband were married for thirty-seven years. She never remarried and bought her own home in a neighborhood close to Mike and his family and to two daughters and their families.

Mike described a happy childhood, with much involvement with family, extended family such as grandparents, and people at church and in the neighborhood.

Mike said that he felt like he was an only child because his sisters all were married and out of the home by the time he was in his early teens. A sister six years older than him was like his second mother. She would take care of him when his mother was working.

Things changed for Mike when he was an early teen. He got into drugs and alcohol, no longer wanted to go to church, and began to disobey his parents. He dropped out of school and worked at low-paying jobs. In one job, he became angry at the boss and vandalized the workplace as revenge.

He said he abused his stepdaughter because he liked doing it. He began when she was about four, and the abuse ended when she was about eleven. His description of the abuse illustrates many of the points made earlier about what perpetrators say about child sexual abuse. This is what Mike said in his own words.

"I don’t think about why I did it too much. There's lot of different reasons why I did it. Number one was because I liked it. I liked the control and what I felt was intimacy or whatever. Her and I didn't have anybody else.

"It was like a challenge, too, to get her alone. That part was almost more exciting than actually having sex with her, setting everything up just to get her alone. It took a lot of my time and a lot of my energy to do that, a lot of preoccupation, a lot of planning involved in it.

"I had to think what time her mother gets home for sure. She worked part-time. So she got off different times. Knowing if I had to pick her up or if she is getting a ride some. So she may come walking in.

"Keeping June scared, more or less. What's going to happen to her if she tells. A lot of awareness of where the kids are. I always knew where they were at. I used a lot of verbal threats. Mom would leave or something.

"At the beginning I guess I used to think that it was good to do this. She was younger. She believed me then. When she started to resist, it turned into threats and manipulation with money. Or “You're grounded,” or “You're not going to get anything.” “You can't go there. You can't go here, if you don't do this for me.” That nobody would want her, stuff like that. I used a lot of shaming.

"So it went from caring, what I felt was caring, down to more stronger forcing, towards the last three or four years, actually. June was convenient. She was always there.

"There’s no stopping once, I started. There was no turning back after that. I just figured that I enjoyed it and why stop. Why tell anybody because I’d get thrown in prison then.

"The actual sex — I liked that. Then the control, being in control of her life completely was a thrill for me. I thought about it more than I thought about my wife. She occupied a lot of my time.

"I don’t think of people’s feelings. I still have a hard time with that. I’m pretty insensitive about other people. I’m really self-centered. It’s just selfish, sexual gratification and that’s all. That’s about all there is to it.

"She was a pretty girl--no question. I mean, other people say that, too. I looked at her at her other than just an object--also as a pretty girl. Then it would run in my head that she's not just a girl. She's mine and always will be. It would run in my head that she always will be mine.

"I eventually think I would have run off with her. I thought about that. I would someday.

"That's where a lot of pornography and stuff comes in with people like child molesting and stuff, that they control it controls their life so much that they finally get involved with child pornography and stuff like that, where they can manipulate the kids into doing things to make money for them. I think that was the road I was traveling.

"We’d talk about sex abuse all the time at work, stories on TV and all that stuff. We talked about that. Here I was doing the same thing. Anyway, I took a real hard line on it with him, that they weren’t fit to be alive, stuff like that. I was doing the same thing."

Mike’s mother and sisters stayed in close touch with him while he was in prison. All but one sister visited him regularly, at least twice a month, with phone calls and letters in between. One sister thought his sexual abuse of his stepdaughter had crossed a line, and she did not want to see him because of it.
He had no contact at all with June, the child he sexually abused. June’s mother divorced Mike and the judge ordered no-contact with this family.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Green Hills of North Leitrim

Tom scraped the sheep manure off his boots on the wall of the high bridge that spanned the dry stream below. What would today’s lesson be? Euclid and geometry? Caesar and the Gallic Wars? The tale of Cuhullian? Anything to keep the bairns awake. With the long day, mas and pas couldn’t get the children to sleep at night.

He waited until his brother Brian had driven the sheep down to the lower field and then crossed the road and walked the few feet to the walled Castlemile National School in Ballyboy, County Leitrim, Ireland.

Between teaching, farming, and trading cattle, Tom had enough money for passage to America for himself, his wife Bridget, and five of their eight children. The grown boys had earned their own way and had a few pounds left over to help buy land and cattle in America.

He heard Brian had robbed the post office in Glenfarne a few months before but no one knew for sure. Coincidence or not, Brian had the money to buy the farmstead.

Bridget had about 10 pounds from the butter she sold at the market. Between them all, they had enough to buy a place for themselves in a new world.

Ach, he was old, too old at 54 to be leaving all this. The valley spread out before him, a palette of green, the mountains in the background and the sky gloriously bright with puffy clouds that moved slowly west. He could fold himself into them and fall asleep.

Bridget’s brother Cathal knew of a dairy farm for sale northwest of Boston, with rolling green fields and stone walls already laid. No ring forts but Cathal said there was a fairy tree. That will do.

Once Philip is out of goal, we’ll be off, walking down the trail to Sligo for the long crossing. Euclid. What would he say about the shortest distance between two points? With what Philip had done, no one in the family was safe. They’d be after us, they will. Tom wondered if he could go back to point A once he got to point B. Will he ever come back to these green hills?

While Tom made his way to the school, Bridget put in the last of the rhododendrons that she had dug from the back field. Almost thirty years before when she had come up the hill to Tom’s holding, she had brought one rhododendron from her ma’s garden. Now there were more than twenty in the yard and fields, spots of color to tell her spring was here.

They had the same red flowers, all related, like Cathal and me, Cathal, my brother with the big ears that stuck out and long arms, his mouth like an O, wanting us to come over, when we don’t want to. Too late. Too late. We have to leave.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me. I wrote ths short story while spending a month in North Letrim Ireland in July 2006.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Perpetrators are Self-Centered

Child sexual abuse is an abuse of power, where older, stronger, and more knowledgeable persons take advantage of children for their own gratification. Perpetrators are focused on themselves and are unconcerned about the welfare of children, or they talk themselves into believing that sexual abuse is good for children and that children want and enjoy it.

Some believe sexual abuse involves mutual love and the sharing of something special, even to the point where they are angry and disgusted when they hear that someone else is sexually abusing children. “String them up!” many say. What they are doing is love while what others do is abuse.

Children do not understand sexual behaviors as adults do, and they are developmentally unable to participate as full partners. For instance, one 13 year-old girl believed that her uncle was trying to love her, but she didn’t like what he did. She said, “I didn’t like him the way I like boys.”

Children also do not know that the only person responsible for the abuse is the person who perpetrated it. Unfortunately, a lot of adults do not realize this, and children are at risk to be blamed and stigmatized for being sexually abused.

Nothing about children causes sexual abuse. All children are vulnerable. Those who are sexually abused have the misfortune to be in the presence of perpetrators with no one there to protect them.

This blog is a way for me to connect with people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Help! I've got a problem just rejected one of my articles called A Case of Family Murder because it was too graphic! The story is a first-person account of a man who killed his children and two women in a single day. He is a terrific narrator and anyone who wants to know what goes on in the minds of perpetrators will learn a great deal from this story.

My dilemma all along has been the graphic nature of the life stories I have collected from perpetrators of violence. I began wanting to understand how they think. I now know. I have been stuck for years figuring out how to present my material so others will read it. I have been afraid of accusations of exploitation.

I look at Criminal Minds, a TV show, and even some CSIs and I think they sometimes have no idea what is going on. They play to old tired plots rather than taking a good look at what perpetrators really think.

Darn, darn, darn. Does anyone have any idea how I can present phenomenological research on violence so other people will read it and learn from it?

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes witty people. I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cindy Sheehan: War Profiteering Posing as Patriotism

The Iraq occupation is an enormous cover-up for war profiteering. This is the reality that Cindy Sheehan could not change. The blowback from her anti-war activities has undone her.

Believes her Son Casey Died for Nothing

She has concluded that her son Casey died in Iraq for nothing. She believes the American public is of no help. According to her, the public is more interested in American Idol than in the thousands of U.S. citizens and the uncounted Iraqis who have died or will not recover from their wounds. She made this clear in her letter of resignation from the war movement posted on

Yet, she does not realizethat many American people are looking for fun and community. Their interest in American Idol is that, too. When pressed, few people support the war, including those who enjoy American Idol.

Remake the World so More People Can Enjoy American Idol

I think she wants to make the world safe so that more people enjoy their lives, but she also wants more people to work to make this possible. Not an unreasonable demand.

She wants to be with her surviving children, her family, and friends, including some she made during her anti-war activities.

The Peace of Human Connection

She wants the peace that comes from human connection, not the strife of challenging a war she believes is based on lies.

Naive Patriotism

A group of Gold Star mothers was thrilled with her resignation. In a written statement they said, 'We are very pleased to hear that Cindy Sheehan is ending her disgraceful campaign to discredit the United States military and the heroic men and women in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan.''

This is patriotism in action, but a naïve patriotism. Of course the soldiers are heroes. They also are the sacrificial lambs for war profiteers. As Cindy Sheehan said, the profiteers have convinced many people that the war is about patriotism.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes witty people. I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

What Child Sexual Abuse Means to Children

Sexual abusers can talk children into activities that the children do not want, and they can take advantage of children’s socialization to obey older children and adults. When children resist, older people can overpower them. Children know far less than adults about sex and about the consequences of child sexual abuse.

The following are examples of how adults and older people take advantage of children.

One girl, 10 years old, was sexually abused by a teenage boy who was her babysitter. He told her, “Go to the bathroom.” She said, “I went to the bathroom.” He jumped out from behind a shower curtain, pulled her off the toilet, placed her on the floor, and sexually abused her.

Another girl, abused between the ages of five and eight and nine by a man who was a father figure to her mother and a grandfather figure to her said, “I thought there were laws about adults and children.”

A nine year-old girl, abused from the age of three to age nine said, of the abuser who was her grandfather, “He was big. I was little. I had to do what he said.”

Children do not understand sexual behaviors.

The little girl who went into the bathroom described the sexual act that the teenage boy performed in the following way: “He pulled me off the toilet seat, and he dripped something. I was on the ground of the bathroom, and he sort of did push ups on me.”

The girl whose grandfather abused her for six years until she was nine years old said, “Grandpa used to do it on the boat until stuff came out. He had sort of a grin on his face.”

Another girl, 11, said, “It's hard, what he did to me. I couldn't stand to do it to anybody. All the germs and stuff you get.”

Older children do not understand sexual behaviors, either. A 13 year-old said about a conversation she had with a girlfriend.

We were just talking one day. She was talking about her boyfriend. She thought she was big. She had sex with a 17 year-old. I said to her, ‘That's nothing. I go to bed with a 34 year-old.’ She said, ‘You do? Who is he?’ I said, ‘My father.’ ‘You don’t do that,’ she said. The 13 year-old was so ashamed that she ran away from home.

Another 13 year-old said she thought her great uncle was trying to love her. When asked when she thought of that, she said, “It felt kind of weird. I didn't like him the way I liked boys.”

Confusion Over Sexual Pleasure

Sometimes the children experience sexual pleasure, which is confusing to them. An 11 year-old girl said, “Sometimes it felt good, but that made me feel guilty. Sometimes it stung. Why is that?”

A woman survivor said

When I was real, real young, he would put his penis between my legs. And I would come. I mean I would feel pleasure. I don't know it would be come back then. Do you know what I'm saying?

Children May Value the Attention

Some children enjoy the attention but the sexual contact is confusing and unwanted.

Two little girsl had happy memories of their uncle making pancakes for breakfast and taking them to amusement parks. Their faces darkened and their little legs swung as they talked about the abuse that was also psychological, such as locking them in the basement all night.

A man survivor said of his uncle who was a teenager when he sexually abused him

I felt like he cared for me, and that was pleasurable to me. I don't think specifically the sexual act was that pleasurable for me because it was more uncomfortable. I was scared, but I know it was probably the first time I felt there was an adult who really cared for me, and that made me feel good. That was pleasurable. So it may be that I wanted to--maybe not sought out, but enjoyed the time with him, but not specifically the sexual acts, but just feeling cared for by an adult. I think I liked that.

He continued

I'd never thought my parents did [love me], and in some ways today, I still don't believe that my parents love me. He was the first person who like spent time with me and did things with me, made me feel like I was okay. That confuses things there and makes it worse, because I was scared and then I felt cared for and I was confused, and yet he made me feel better.

Adults take advantage of children’s lack of knowledge to silence them.

The adult male survivor said

I was very scared. I can remember he told me that if I’d ever told anyone that we’d both go to jail. So I mean I was very scared about that.

He realized that he didn’t know much about sexuality and consequences of having an adult perform sex acts on him.

He said

You didn't really know much about sexual relationships altogether. If you told me, I may go to jail and you may go to the mental home or crazy house or something, that I assumed is correct. I didn't doubt it.

The girl whose grandfather figure sexually abused her for years reported that he told her, “If you tell, I'll go to jail. That will make my wife unhappy. Yu don't want to make my wife unhappy, do you?” She certainly didn’t. She did not tell her mother about the abuse until the day her mother told her the man had died.

She knew if she told then, he could not go to jail and his wife would not be unhappy. The grandfather figured played on her desire not to hurt others. Another perpetrator told a child, “You'll get into trouble and so will I.”

Children are Blamed for their Own Abuse

Social customs and ideologies blame child victims for their own sexual abuse. Questions such as “Why didn’t you tell?” “What did you do to provoke the abuse?” “How could you let it go on for so long” are automatic for many people when a child discloses sexual abuse.

Children fear being stigmatized, shunned, or not believed because of these customs and ideologies.

Sometimes the children's fears are unfounded, as was the case for a 13 year-old girl who cried in joy as her family embraced her when she told them that her mother's boyfriend had sexually abused her. She said, "My family still loves me."

Sadly, the fears are founded. One mother said, "I will not deprive my son of a home," when she chose to let her son return home after he confessed to sexually abusing his younger sister for five years. His sister had to go to a foster home.

Her teenage brother got probation. The girl was deeply hurt. She could not understand why her mother would not visit her and would not give her the Christmas presents that were stored in the attic of the family home.

In some countries, children who are sexually abused are expelled from the family and have to fend for themselves. Sometimes, their families force survivors to marry the abusers.

Perpetrators Have Sole Responsibility

Such responses direct attention away from perpetrators who are the only persons responsible.

Perpetrators understand the blame the victim culture and they draw out common thoughts about child sexual abuse to defend their actions and blame others. They cover up, often successfully.

A typical excuse is “My wife won’t give me sex. I had to get it from somewhere.” “My wife knew all along. She didn’t do anything to stop me.” “The child came on to me. What was I supposed to do?”

Unfortunately, child survivors and non-offending spouses often take the blame and many other people blame them as well.

Good mental health involves taking responsibility for one’s own actions. In light of this principle, it is clear that perpetrators have sole responsibility for child sexual abuse.

Evidence that perpetrators alone are responsible for their own actions comes from their own words as they talk about the sexual abuse they perpetrated.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who has done research on violence for almost 30 years. This blog is a way for me to connect with people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rape is Not Personal

“Nothing ever gave me that intense kind of feeling like when I was driving around, and I would be thinking about raping someone, maybe following somebody,” he said. “I had a physical reaction. I would be shaking, physically shaking, like teeth would chatter. I couldn't stop. I never had that kind of physical reaction to anything else. I would also get butterflies. I can relate that to sports events, before a big game or something.”

These are the words of Hank Ames, a graduate of an elite liberal arts college where he was a lettered athlete in tennis and golf. Married and a small business owner, Hank was convicted of eight rapes of strangers and served seventeen years in prison. I interviewed him when he was in prison.

Hank explained that he didn’t get an erection before games but he did when he was driving around looking for a woman to rape.

His victims had to be women he didn’t know. “The less I knew about somebody the easier it would be to victimize them,” he said. “I couldn't hurt somebody I know or that I had any kind of relationship with. I don't mean relationship in terms of physical relationship, but just an acquaintance, anybody that I had any kind of contact with. I couldn't do that because it was personal then. It was like for me [He thought for about five seconds.], rape was impersonal.”

Not only is rape impersonal, but Hank decided who the women were and what the rape would mean to them. “If I take the right person, it's not going to make a difference anyway,” he said. “The women I was raping were [He didn’t finish the sentence.].

"They'd been in bars looking for guys anyway. My set up was that they'd been out in bars or loose sexually kinds of people. So they had it coming, or it didn't matter to them. This wouldn't be a big, big thing to happen to them.”

After Hank said this, I was speechless for 20 seconds. When I was able to speak, I asked him how he knew the women were loose. He said, “Well, I didn't actually know that. I knew that because that's the kind of people that were out at that time of night.” I asked him what time of night that would be.

“This is another thing that doesn't make sense,” he said, “because there were all kinds of times that I was out. Generally it would be late, like midnight, one o'clock, two o'clock in the morning, that kind of thing, but I was out in the winter time sometimes after it got dark, or not right after it got dark but maybe at seven-thirty or eight o'clock.”

As Hank spoke I noticed how small he looked, not my idea of a rapist at all, but hunched, wrinkled forehead, pushing himself to explain how he thought about his rapes. I tried not to imagine him following me home, grabbing me in my garage, and throwing me to the floor.

After dark, I don’t turn into my driveway but go around the block if there is a car in back of me. I check the rearview mirror for headlights.

Hank doesn’t hold women responsible for their own rapes. “Most women would think that they have some responsibility,” Hank said, “or there's something that they could have done differently to change events or that there was something about them that made them attractive as victims. From my experience, that's not true. The only attractive quality about victims is that they're vulnerable at that time because of the situation.

"It didn't have anything to do with how they looked or how they dressed or [Hank paused for several seconds.] or how much money they made or anything. It is nothing about them. I've read things or heard things, victims talking about it. T

"They can remember the way the guy smelled or the way he sounded or what he looked like or all those kind of things. I can't remember anything about any of the victims. If any one of those victims walked into the room I wouldn't know who they were.”

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sticking up a Drug Store in the Robber's Own Words


Sticking up a Drug Store in the Robber’s Own Words

The pharmacist didn't believe the robbery was true, like it wasn’t for real for some reason. Then I hit him with the gun, and I put it in his side. Then I think he knew it was a real gun.

It wasn't a real gun. It was a pellet gun, a look-alike nine millimeter. It looked exactly like a real gun. You really couldn't tell. I hit him in the ribs. Then he knew it was for real. He goes, “Okay, okay, okay.” I go, “Get on the floor. Get on the floor.” So he got on the floor.

I usually just squat down, like to get behind the counters, but at that time I just didn't care. Things weren't going right. I wanted to hurry up and get out of there. That was my first thought--let's hurry this up. Just give me the drugs so I can get the hell out of here.

I saw this lady over by the cash register. There were people who started walking away. They were cashing their checks. They started walking away. I didn't even care about those people walking away. The lady in the front, she walked out the door.

I had one thing on my mind--getting those drugs. That was it. I just wanted those drugs. The lady was at the cash register [He snapped his fingers]--it was just an instant thing to say, “Give me all the money in the register” because I usually don't do that. I never touched the register at a drug store.

She grabbed the money. She came over and handed it to me. It was a big wad. I think it was like three thousand or something. I stuck it in my pocket. Then I told her to get on the ground. Then I concentrated on him. I forgot about her. She could've taken a gun and shot me or anything.

I was focusing on him. He came over with a little sack of drugs. It was really weird because nothing went like I was hoping it would go. I was pointing the gun at her while she was giving me money. He went and got the drugs. Now he could've went over there and got a gun and shot me.

I don't know if it was because I had so much alcohol in me or. I mean I just got done drinking about fifteen bucks worth of alcohol. So I don't know if that was it or it was like I didn't care at the time because I was in the mood then. The way I felt is I just didn't care. There was no sense of feeling bad, feeling any guilt, anything like that. I wasn't even really thinking about getting caught. I was just focused on getting the drugs. That was my total focus at that robbery. Then I caught the lady trying to crawl around the counter. I told her to get back.

There was no sense of that feeling of power and that feeling of control. There wasn’t even that feeling. It was just, "Get this over with." I wanted those drugs, and I wanted to get out of there real quick.

Yet I think after I got them and I started leaving, that's when the fear of getting caught really came in because the fear of getting caught, even, when I was doing that, was not even there. It was like I couldn't get this going fast enough. You know what I'm saying? That was my main thinking. I couldn't get it going fast enough. I couldn't get this over with. It just seemed like it was taking forever. It didn’t last long at all. A couple minutes, tops. Three minutes, four minutes, tops.

When I was leaving, then, that’s when the fear of getting caught came in. Boy, I didn't want to get caught. I just didn't want to get caught. As I was running away, getting away, then I felt this desperate need to get away. In other words, the fear of getting caught was there.

Then I committed another crime while I was doing that. I took, what do you call it? Hijacking. Car jacking. It was a van. It was a van that was parked. It was a Handy Electrician’s van. It was really weird because I remember walking through Macy’s department store next door to the drug store. I knew there was something going on. I was right. They knew. Macy’s knew what was going on.

They knew that I'd just committed a robbery. I didn't know that at the time. I found out afterwards that lady who left the drug store, the lady at the front desk, she
left right away. She went across the street, and she hit the button, the alarm button at the bank.
When she saw me heading for Macy’s, she called from the bank to Macy’s and said that there was a guy who had just robbed the drug store that was coming in their store. Well they must've notified security because I remember people looking at me. I knew something was up. I knew something was up.

I just had this feeling that these people knew in Macy’s. How, I don't know but I just knew. I was thinking in my mind that they might have thought I stole something in Macy’s. You know what I'm saying? That I was boosting or shoplifting.

Then when I went out the other side door, that's when I saw all the cop cars, vroom, vroom, shooting by. You know just tons of them all over. I remember seeing that van. I'm just thinking in my mind, I need a vehicle. I need a vehicle. None of this was planned. This was just a spur of the moment kind of thing.

I think a lot of time when I do crimes it is that way. It's the spur of the moment. It's just what's happening while the crime is being committed. You come up with different things or you get different emotions and feelings as it's going on. That's what I tell people a lot of times.

No robbery is alike. Every robbery is so different, so unpredictable. You don't know what's going to happen in them because you point a gun at someone—this one lady one time, she turns around and starts running down the aisle. It's like, Jesus, you can't shoot her in the back. You know, I mean,, but there goes your whole robbery. You try to hurry up, get the drugs. It's just, fucking crazy. Sometimes it's just crazy.

When I went up to that van, like I say, I guess there was a sense of power in that. I felt that surge of power. When I went there and opened that door and I said, “Get the fuck out of the van. Get out of there.” I pointed the gun. Then that feeling of the power came on, whereas I didn't feel that at the drug store so much. The guy just got out of the van. He dropped the sandwich and got out. He just wanted out. Matter of fact, I told him to move over. I didn't tell him to get out of the van. I just told him to move over because I was going to hop in and take off with him in it.

He just dropped the sandwich, moved to the other side, opened the door and kept going out. [He laughed.] He kept going. Then the poor guy was using his cell phone. I think what was happening was they were on a call or something, and they got lost because he had a map and he had a sandwich.

He was looking at this map. The other guy was on the phone, “Where'd you say this place was?” This is what I'm assuming. Anyway, the other guy with the phone saw the guy jump out of the van. All of a sudden the van screeches away. So he starts chasing the van.

Then I heard his partner, “He's got a gun. He's got a gun.” He’s hollering at his partner to stay away from the van because I got a gun.

Well, by this time, I didn't even get out of the parking lot. The cops were right behind me. I mean I just seen those cherries. Then this sense of fear. My stomach just fell. God, I hate that feeling. It’s like, It’s over with. I got to go to jail. All this shit's going through your mind, but still that feeling of trying to get away is still there. I still attempted to get away.

That's what's so dangerous about that. I could've killed people in that high speed chase that ensued after that. There was one thing on my mind, and that was to get away, to go. They were right on me, about three, four cop cars with the sirens going. I had the truck going as fast as it could go, like sixty, seventy miles an hour down side streets, going right through stop signs. Just whoosh.

It wasn’t even on my mind about getting in an accident or hurting somebody. It was just getting away. That was the only thing on my mind, was just to keep going, keep going, try to get away, try to get away. It was like this instinctive thing that I was doing. You know what I'm saying?

They chased me maybe a mile. I tried to make a turn. I couldn't. It was kind of rainy out. I tried to turn. I knew I couldn't make the turn so I tried to turn back, but the brakes were locked. So then I let up on the brakes, and what happened is just a corner of the van hit this car. I mean the whole van kind of went on its side. The van was on its side. I still did not stop. I still kept going. There was little bottles of these drugs laying all over. I could see they were lying all over so I started grabbing some of them up.

I kicked out the windshield of the van. I tried to crawl out the windshield. As I crawled out the windshield, I hit this car. I went up on the car, and I fell down on the hood. I seen my face was this far from this woman's face. She started screaming. A shoe came off. So I had one shoe on and one off. I got out on the street again. I tried to run. I fell down right in the middle of the street. That's when the officers they were surrounding me. They were circling me.

“I'm going to fucking blow your brains out. We're going to blow your brains out.” All this. That's when I think I finally came to the [He laughed.] idea that I was caught. Even after rolling over, after the cops were all over me, I still felt this, this need to try to get away.

It's really weird when you're getting chased like that, what goes on, too, in your mind. There's a lot of things that was going on. The sense of getting away. There was even a sense of thrill there, too, with that. There was a thrill with all of that and excitement with all of that. Not at first but after the chase started getting to go, then it started getting exciting and thrilling and everything like that. I mean there was some excitement there. Tremendous feeling of a fear of getting caught. I think that added into the excitement.

Boy, it took a long time to really come to the realization that I was caught. In a lot of those police reports the police said that they came really close to shooting me. I remember a couple times they did because when I was pulling out of that parking lot with the van, there was an off-duty cop that heard all this stuff on his radio, and he tried to pull in front of me. When he pulled in front of me like that, I couldn't go anywhere. That's when the cops in the back of me jumped out of their vehicle and came around to the side.

I looked out the window just for an instant. I saw him point his gun. He was pointing right at me. I ducked down like this. He didn't want to shoot because that other cop was in front. Now if he hadn’t been there I think he would've. He even stated in the report that he came real close to unloading on me, shooting me, because they saw me take the gun out and set it on the seat while I was driving. I had it stuck in my pants. It was uncomfortable. So I took it out, and I set it down so I could drive better.

Everything happened fast. It seemed like it happened real, real fast. At one point time was really slow—in the drug store, and then it was just “poof.” All of a sudden it speeded up.
Poof. It just goes. It just happened so quick, but the beginning, it seemed like it took forever.
I think as it progressed, though, and I think that happens a lot--with some—of my crimes.
Things accelerate. Things start going. Then I start getting built up, more excited and stuff like that. When I do a crime I have the excitement and fear and whatever, but as they start to progress, by the time I'm done with it, man, I'm high. It's like “Whew. I even want to get high.
Then I get the drugs and shoot them in my arm. You know what I'm saying? I get the loot, or the jewelry, or whatever it is. It's an adrenalin kind of thing. You just feel really hyped and really going. Real excited.

Wasn't too fucking exciting when they threw me in the back of the cop car, I'll tell you that. [He laughed.] It was over with. Coming down from that is just terrible. The realization of being there in jail. I was in the hospital. I even didn't give up then. I didn't give up then.

I mean I give up when I knew I was caught, but, you know what? I still was trying to figure another way out. That's when I started going. I was in the back, and I cut my head open. The cops were being pretty mean. They slammed the door on my leg and stuff like that.

I was in the back of the cop car. I knew that I was going to go to prison for a long time. So I started taking my spit and going [He moved his saliva around in his mouth.]. I was laying in the back of the cop car. I'm thinking, Well, how the fuck can I get out of this? I was thinking, Well, just pretend that you're really hurt, and they might bring you to the hospital. This was maybe five, ten minutes after they had me in a cop car. I was thinking about going to jail and prison. I'm kind of crying a little bit and feeling sorry and stuff like that. Then I start thinking, Well, try to prolong your going to jail.

The blood was running down my face. I was thinking, Well, fake like you're really hurt and maybe they'll bring you to the hospital.” Maybe there's someway you can get out of there. So what I did is when the police started taking me down to the courthouse I faked a seizure in the back of the seat.

I start flopping a little bit, you know, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I fell off the seat. I'm on the floor, starting to flop. The cop looks back, “He's having a seizure. He's having a seizure. What should we do?” I can hear their conversation now. “What should we do? Bring him to the hospital?” This and that, this and that, this and that. What I did was I started doing with my spit. I was foaming it up, kind of getting it white. When I got to the hospital I stopped flopping and everything.

They put me in a wheelchair. The cops wheeled me in there. I was cuffed and stuff like that. They put me in an emergency room in the county hospital. They had me lying on this thing. The cops were right there. I couldn't get away. I'm thinking, Well, fuck. I'm in a hospital. Now how am I going to get away?

I'm thinking lying on this bed. There's blood all over my face. I'm lying on this cot and I'm thinking, Fuck. The nurse was looking at me. She was shining the lights. I'm thinking, "I better fake another seizure, and then maybe they'll keep me here longer. I was faking so I thought by them looking at me maybe they could tell that nothing really happened.

All of a sudden I started going spew spew spew. Then the spit that I was saving up like that started coming out of my mouth. It was white and foamy. “He's having another seizure, having a seizure.” They're trying to hold my legs down. . Then I quick stopped the flopping around.

I remember from the workhouse, this guy having a seizure. He told me that after he came out of the seizure, he says, “Boy, I'm tired. I'm just so tired.” So that's what I told them. When you have a seizure I guess it drains all the energy from you. I think that kind of made them believe that maybe I really had a seizure because I told them, “I just want to go to sleep now. I'm tired. I'm tired.” [He laughed.] I forgot all about that.

Then a doctor came in. They still didn't know my name. They kept asking my name. They put me in this holding cell in at the hospital. They got a holding cell down there. Put me in a holding cell. They kept coming in. They had me strapped down I remember. I just felt so bad. I knew I was going to prison. I was just crying. I mean just true hurt and sadness. I knew I was going. I was afraid heavy duty. I couldn't even see the tears were so welled up in my eyes.

I was thinking about my three sons and losing my wife Millie and my sons. I can't even describe it. I just felt everything was all over. I was going to prison for a long, long, long, long time. I felt this tremendous sadness. One of the saddest times I've ever been in my life, I think, was right then, man.

This nurse looked at me. She tried to reassure me that everything was going to be all right. I start talking about my kids. I felt a real genuine caring come from that lady. I remember that. I really remember feeling that. She really cared about me. She felt bad for me.

Anyway, they shave my head. They just shaved a part of my head. I kept going, “Don't shave my fucking head. Fuck you. Don't shave it.” He says, “I'm going to. Hold still.” I said, “Man, I’m not going to let you. I'm going to sue you,” all this because I didn't want to shave. They were just going to shave a big bald patch.

Well, anyway, they started asking these questions. They ended up keeping me overnight then. They ended up keeping me in the hospital. They took me upstairs. They had the lieutenant come in, a couple detectives. They asked for my name. I still wouldn't tell them my name. They get me upstairs.
They got a cop on my door. They didn't handcuff me. Now I'm thinking, again, "Now how am I going to escape? How am I going to get out of here?" This and that. But I just didn't. They were just on me. There were two cops out there. They were young. They were on me. There's no way I could've gotten away, but I tried, you know. I tried everything I could.

I remember them wheeling me down to this room to take a CAT scan because I had convulsions. I had a head injury. They put your whole body in. Then the guy says, “You have to unhandcuff him." So he unhandcuffed me. This was a different guy. They were switching shifts. They had to pull two cops off the street to watch me. There were a lot of things going on. I kept looking at him. The door was here. I was over there. He was over here.

So there was a clear shot at the door, but he could've got there quicker than I could've. So I'm thinking of all these things, like, What am I going to do? I didn’t have the balls. I didn't get the courage up enough to get up and run over there. Well, maybe there'll be another chance tonight, or whatever.

Then I went back to the holding cell. I got into my feeling sorry for myself, feeling real sad and stuff again. I was crying. Then another nurse came in—not the one I talked to before. She started asking about my kids. I started crying again. I felt this real tremendous sense of sadness. She says, “Have you ever been in trouble before?” I go, “Yeah.” She goes, “So you know what you were doing. You made that choice.” I just remember her saying that to me. I go, “Yeah, yeah, you’re right.”

That brought me out of that sadness. Then I started getting tough again. “Fuck you. Fuck everybody." I don't know why I did that. She was right. That's what it was. Screw everybody.
I knew I was going to prison for a long time this time. I figured maybe twenty years. It ended up being nine. But twenty years, I figured. It was just real overwhelming. I felt more sad because of the kids, I think. That's where a lot of my sadness was coming. This feeling inside me.
Maybe I was feeling sorry for myself but I think there was a true feeling, feeling sad for kids, me losing the kids and the kids not having a dad. What Milly was going to think, and the trouble and stuff she was going to go through. That was there. It just was really sad.

Then they came the next morning and the county sheriffs shackled my feet. It was over with. I finally felt, yeah, they got me.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun. This blog is a way for me to connect with people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mistakes were Made

Another way to cover-up wrong-doing is and give the appearance of honesty is contained in the phrase “mistakes were made,” as when U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez attempted to convince the press, the nation, and maybe even other parts of the world that he took responsibility for the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in the fall of 2006.

Had he said, “I made mistakes,” then he might have convinced others that he was being accountable. Instead, he said “mistakes were made” and then explained that he has more than 100,000 people under his command and that he delegates many tasks, including the task of firing the attorneys. Someone among them 110,000 apparently made a mistake, but not Mr. Gonzalez.

“Mistakes were made” is like a mantra among persons who want to fake their way out of having their cover-ups exposed. Paul Wolfowitz insisted that the phrase "Mistakes were made all around" be inserted into the documents that described why he left as president of the World Bank.

No one made mistakes but Wolfowitz, and the bank directors and everyone else knew this. Wolfowitz wanted to weasel his way out, but it didn't work. He failed at being a shit because recipients knew he was trying to spread the fault around. Only he was at fault.

As John Broder noted in a New York Times article, the phrase "Mistakes were made" is a “familiar fallback” among politicians.

Broder listed several politicians who used that phrase to weasel out of taking personal responsibility for their behaviors. They included Richard Nixon through his press secretary, Ronald Reagan, John Sununu, and Bill Clinton. See John M. Broder. Familiar Fallback for Officials: “Mistakes Were Made,” New York Times,

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bush Defenders Once Again Succeed at Being Shits

There they go again. Bush defenders once again have succeeded at being shits. This time the recipient is former U.S. president Jimmy Carter who said the Bush presidency was the worst in history.

A featured letter in my local newspaper, called the comment “contemptible” and immediately attacked President Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

This is classic. Being a shit is composed of four parts.

1. An unkind deed. In Bush’s case, he has so many unkind deeds it would take years to catalogue them.

2. Desire to cover up unkind deeds. Bush and his spokepeople want to do impression management and make Bush out to be cowboy hero.

3. Cover-up. When Carter exposed the president, the first strategy was to attack Carter. The attack leaves out Carter’s genuine accomplishments and calls upon a tradition of former presidents not commenting on sitting presidents. Carter decided not to honor this because he believes too much is at stake.

4. Recipient buy-in. I hope Carter knows this attack on him is a cover-up. I am less sure that naïve and trusting readers will realize that what this letter writer and other Bush defenders are doing is enacting a perfection rendition of being a shit.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Getting in Good with the In-Laws

"I'm so looking forward to growing old with you," Sally said to Sid at their wedding reception after the best man gave his toast.

"Why is that, my dear?" asked Sid.

"Because your father is so good-looking."

Sid's father told everyone he talked to at the wedding what a wonderful daughter-in-law he has.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Man Who Wants Two Women

Cara said to Nick when she found out he has been seeing another woman, “What do you want? A harem?” Nick responded, “Two women? That’s not much of a harem.” Cara laughed, tickled by the charm that endeared Nick to her. With the laugh, Cara’s tension lifted, and they talked about other things.

Nick had finessed Cara in an elegant, tailor-made way. His involvement with another woman had hurt Cara, and he covered up through humor. He had been with Cara long enough to know that a humorous response would distract her and lift her mood. By her laugh, Cara cooperated with Nick. She also enabled him to be a shit.

The potential for being a shit exists wherever two or more people congregate. Persons who succeed at being shits are so good at what they do that recipients do not realize they have been had. Cara, for example, did not know that Nick had hoodwinked and distracted her.

On Being a Shit sheds light on a pervasive human condition. In this book, I develop and test a theory of being a shit. This is the theory.

Being a shit is composed of four parts:

1. an unkind deed,

2. a desire to evade responsibility for the unkind deed,

3. cover-up, and

4. recipient buy-in; that is, the enabling responses of recipients that let enactors off the hook.

Enactors succeed at being shits only if the recipients of their unkind deeds buy into their cover-ups. Without recipient buy-in, enactors fail at being a shit.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Cheney Shoots Texas Lawyer While Others Cover Up

Hi. Here is another excerpt from my book On Being a Shit. It is about the vice president of the United States. Feedback welcome.

Sometimes enactors of unkind deeds remain silent while others cover up for them. Eventually, the enactors make gestures toward accountability, but only under great pressure. Such was the situation after Vice President Dick Cheney shot Texas attorney Harry Whittington while on a quail hunt on a 50,000 acre South Texas ranch late on a Saturday afternoon in February 2006.

Briefly, the story goes as follows. While on the hunt, Harry had a spectacular shot: he killed two birds with two shots and started to retrieve them. The birds had hit the ground in back of the hunting party. As he did so, Dick heard the beating of wings as a covey of quail burst up from the grass behind him. He wheeled around and fired. Harry was between him and the quail. The buckshot from Dick’s gun hit Harry in the face, neck, arm, and chest. A few days later, a pellet migrated to Harry’s heart, and he had a heart attack.

The incident produced an international uproar. That a U.S. vice president would shoot somebody is big news in itself, but the responses of the president and vice president were even bigger news. They made no public announcement until the following day and then gave the go-ahead for a private citizen to do so, rather than to follow usual procedure which would have been to issue a statement through the president’s or vice president’s press office or to make the announcement to the White House press corps.

Katherine Armstrong, the daughter of the ranch’s owner and a witness to the shooting, informed the press. Following a phone conversation with the presidential chief of staff, Dick gave his blessing for Katherine to phone a friend who worked for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the locally-published paper. A few hours later, the editors around the globe.

Cover-ups by Proxy

In a phone interview later that day, Katherine provided details about the shooting, “This all happened pretty quickly.” She said that Harry “did not announce — which would be protocol — ‘Hey, it's me, I'm coming up.’” She continued, “He didn't do what he was supposed to do. So when a bird flushed and the vice president swung in to shoot it, Whittington was where the bird was.”

Katherine further explained that Harry was “peppered” with “little bitty pellets” with no bullets involved. Indeed, she noted that on another occasion she herself had been peppered with pellets while hunting. Furthermore, the blast had merely broken Harry’s skin and “knocked him silly, but he was fine,” talking with his eyes open immediately after being shot. By the next day, Harry was “sitting up in bed, yakking and cracking jokes."

She praised Dick at length for the concern he had demonstrated for Harry’s welfare, rushing to his aid, directing his own medical team to care for Harry, and checking in periodically at the hospital to monitor Harry’s condition.

Dick left Texas the day after the shooting, but not before he visited Harry in the hospital. One of his spokespersons said that Dick “was pleased” that Harry was “doing fine and in good spirits.” She also explained that Katherine made the announcement to the press because “we deferred to the Katherines regarding what had taken place at their ranch.”

The spokesperson explained that no one had thought to break the news to the press earlier because all attention, including that of Dick, was focused on Harry’s well-being. Another spokesperson said that Dick “felt badly, obviously.” She pointed out that Dick had not been reckless and had not violated any rules. In fact, Dick had not done “anything he wasn’t supposed to do.”

The Vice President Speaks

Four days after the shooting, Dick gave an exclusive interview to Brit Hume of Fox News, where he expressed great concern for Harry. He said it was he and no one else that had pulled the trigger. He stated that it was not Harry’s fault, and no one else is to blame. I He showed signs of trauma when he stated that he will never be able to get the image of Harry falling out of his mind. “It was, I’d have to say, one of the worst days of my life, at that moment.” He noted that he did not know if he shot the bird he had aimed for. His concern was for Harry.

He responded to the rumor that the reason for the delay in reporting was because he was drunk. With the extra time, the alcohol would have cleared from his body. He said he had had one beer at lunch. “Nobody was drinking. Nobody was under the influence.”

The delay in the public announcement he attributed to his desire to have accurate information about Harry’s condition. He did not want to put out inaccurate information and had wanted notification of Harry’s children to be apriority. He did not want them to learn of the shooting through news reports. Harry’s wife knew, because she had been at the ranch at the time of the shooting, although the ambulance rushed to the hospital without her and she had to follow in a car.

Dick defended Katherine Armstrong as the logical person to make the announcement because she was an eyewitness. In answer to Brit’s observation that having Katherine and not a member of the president’s or vice president’s office make the announcement in a local newspaper gave the impression that this strategy was an attempt to minimize the story and have it appear “as a little hunting accident.” Dick said this was not so, and he repeated that his concern at that point was accuracy.

Harry Offers Sympathy to the Vice President

A few days after Dick’s interview with Bret Hume, after six days in the hospital, Harry held a press conference on the steps of the hospital from which he had just been released. He said, in part, “My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Dick and his family have had to go through this past week. We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we have had this week…. We hope that he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves.”

Accountability and the Rules of Hunting

What is striking about this story is what no one said. For instance, Harry and those who spoke for Dick did not hold Dick accountable for breaking at least two rules of hunting, nor did Dick hold himself accountable in that regard. Furthermore, neither Dick in his interview with Fox News nor any of his spokespersons rescinded the impression given during the first few days after the shooting that Harry alone had been at fault and that Dick had done nothing wrong.

In actuality, for hunting of any kind, the rule is to make sure you know where each member of your party is before you fire and to never sweep around without knowing what is in your line of fire. In bird hunting, the rule is not to fire until you can see the sky between the earth and the bird and not until the silhouette of the target is against the sky. Further details about the rules of hunting are posted on many websites including that of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) that published the Ten Commandments of Shooting Safety.

By comparing Dick’s actions with the Ten Commandments, it can be concluded that Dick broke two of the commandments, namely, 1) “Be sure of your target and what is in front of and beyond your target (number 3)” and 2) “Know your safe zone-of-fire and stick to it (number 6),” which command includes the injunctions to “Be sure you know where your companions are at all times. Never swing your gun or bow out of your safe zone-of-fire.” These are standards of safety that hunters know well.

Applications of the Preliminary Theory

An application of the preliminary theory developed for the present investigation will aid in the discovery about whether or not we can conclude that Dick Cheney’s actions regarding the shooting of Harry Whittington is an enactment of being a shit, which, as shown, cannot be accomplished without the aid of recipients.

Did Dick do something unkind? Yes. He shot a hunting companion. Everyone knows the first rule of hunting is not to shoot the people you hunt with. Dick thus met the first condition of being a shit.

Did he meet the second condition, which is a desire to evade responsibility for this unkind deed? His silence gave the impression that evasion of responsibility was his motive. Withholding can be a form of lying, as Ekman concluded in his research. Some attributed Dick’s silence to his fear that if the shooting became news immediately, he would be subjected to public scrutiny about whether or not he had been drinking alcohol before the hunt. As discussed earlier, Dick said in the Fox News interview that he had had a beer at lunch and that no one on the hunt had been drinking. Another motive for the silence might have been to buy time in order to prepare for the inevitable international firestorm.

Dick’s spokespeople attributed the withholding of news about the shooting as driven by concern for Harry’s well-being. Dick said this as well and added that he wanted to ensure that Harry’s children were informed. Reasonable persons may not see a connection between withholding information and concern for those affected. A person as accomplished as the vice president of the United States could immediately inform Harry’s children and then inform the press. Though there are indicators that Dick had reasons for cover-up, there is no conclusive proof.

The third condition involves the cover-ups themselves. There were many. First was the withholding of the news. Second was the often-repeated statement that Harry was in the wrong. Third was the denial that Dick had done anything wrong. Fourth was the minimization of the size of the pellets and the significance of the shooting itself. Katherine Armstrong, for example, said they were not bullets but “little bitty” things, implying that Harry could not be seriously hurt by such tiny things. Why, she explained, I even have been shot while hunting, implying that such accidents are not big things.

The fifth involved Dick’s and his spokesperson’s silence regarding the injustice of blaming Harry, even after Dick said the shooting was his fault in the Fox News interview. Dick did not retract the statements that Harry had broken the rules of hunting and he, Dick, has not. Dick did not contradiction Katherine's depiction of the pellets as "itty bitty."

Machiavelli’s advice to politicians comes to mind here. He counseled to follow up unkind acts with the pretence of contrition. Dick could have pointed out that he himself had violated two rules of hunting and Harry had not violated any. He did not do so. He let stand the initial impression that Harry had broken the rules of hunting.

Based on these facts and interpretations, it can be concluded that Dick did cover up and he therefore met the third standard of being a shit, aided and abetted by several spokespersons on his payroll and Katherine Armstrong, the ranch owner’s daughter, an experienced hunter herself.

The final standard to be met involves the actions of recipients. By his silence on who was responsible for shooting him and his effusive concern for Dick’s well-being, Harry gave the appearance of acquiescing to the construction of reality that he was at fault and Dick was not. He minimized the impact of the shooting on himself and his family. He evaded holding Dick responsible for breaking primary rules of hunting. Instead, he pointed out that Dick had suffered far more than he, Harry, had.

Harry’s silence, evasion, and acquiescence met the fourth standard of being a shit in that he appeared to buy into the construction of reality that Dick was not at fault and that Dick had suffered. By his actions, therefore, he completed the circle that elevated Dick’s actions, with the help of spokespersons, to the status of shit. Harry undoubtedly did so out of altruistic motives of not wanting to cause more problems, but he may also be a man of deep empathy, but possibly a little too deep as he appeared to fail to take into account the harm heaped upon him. Whatever Harry might have thought privately, of course, is unknown. That fact is, his statements contributed to letting Dick off the hook.

Had Harry declared that Dick had broken rules, then Dick would only have met the standard of being a bastard. He might also have met the standard of being a weasel because he prompted spokespersons to construct reality in such a way that he could wiggle out of responsibility.

In the spirit of open-minded scholarly inquiry, an alternative interpretation is that the actions of Dick were exemplary and that Harry was being a good sport by showing such concern for Dick’s welfare and downplaying the significance of his own.

Whether Dick is a Reactor, a True Believer, or a Clever Fox is also open to interpretation. Some may believe that he is a True Believer, of the self-deceptive variety, in that he is convinced that the entire set of his words and actions were based on the value of care and concern for Harry’s well-being. Sometimes we mortals have to content ourselves with multiple interpretations and the inherent ambiguity of human actions.

Contrition and Accountability

Dick, however, did express contrition for harming Harry and his family. In that sense, he evidenced accountability. His words may have soothed an ache in Harry’s heart. Subsequent events will show if this expression of regret would be sufficient to build bridges between Dick and Harry and Whittington’s family.

In some aspects of this episode, Dick revealed himself to be a fallible human being, but in other aspects he may indeed have attained the status of bastard and even of shit. Those who consider him a bastard probably think he is of the Clever Fox variety, knowing exactly what he was doing and possibly enjoying keeping the truth from a press he has repeatedly been shown to mistrust.

Those who consider the vice president a shit may view Harry as a kind of scapegoat in taking the blame for clear violations of the rules of hunting. Some commentators, such as Robert Paul Reyes in the American Chronicle, saw Harry’s statement on the steps of the hospital as an apology to Dick. If Harry in any way thought he was at fault, then Harry enabled Dick’s attainment of being a shit. A misplaced sense of responsibility is a type of action that constitutes a necessary and final condition of being a shit.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Son Borrows His Dad’s Car

A Case Example of Being a Shit

A 35 year-old man, who did not give his name, told a story of borrowing his father’s car for a drive in the country with a woman friend. Deep into a forest, they ran out of gas. The man walked to a nearby farmhouse where someone there told him he was welcome to their fuel but they could not guarantee how good it was.

The man dumped three of four gallons into the tank, along with a straw he for some reason also used to get the gas into the car. The car started and the couple got to their destination. Taking the advice of a mechanic, they filled the tank with high octane gas and two containers of dry gas to compensate for what might have been bad fuel. He also hoped the straw would somehow dissolve.

Back home a few days later, the man’s father asked, “How did the car run?” The son said just fine. The father said, “That’s funny. It stalls out on me.” The son had nothing to say.

Guilt-ridden, the son phoned Click and Clack, the car experts whose radio show Car Talk is syndicated on National Public Radio, and asked their advice. Either Click or Clack told the son that he had messed up big time. What the son should have done the moment he returned the car was to tell his father that the car ran pretty good but it did stall out a couple of times.

This is a pre-emptive cover-up, a kind of CYA (cover your ass). From some points of view, but probably not the father’s, it is also humorous, a kind of Clever Fox enactment of being a shit. Click (or Clack) did not miss a beat when he made this suggestion, which supports the idea that he possesses automatic capacities for activating well-developed schemas related to humor and to deviousness. The son, however, lacked this capacity, but he may have learned a lesson from Click (or Clack).

Taking a more serious turn, Click and Clack gave the guilt-ridden son their wisdom about whether anything he had done had caused the stalling. Their final thought was the fuel injectors might need flushing out. Whether the son suggested this remedy to his father and came clean about the bad fuel was not part of the radio show.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What to do when you think no one loves you and you are a bad person

This week I spoke to a group of six teenage girls who meet every week to talk about their lives. I was the guest speaker. I decided to talk about what to do when you are feeling unloved, unwanted, and that everything that is wrong with your life is your fault. After some introductions, I asked them if they ever feel as if no one loves them. I don't know any human beings who don't feel that way sometime, but we sure don't talk about it.

I told a few stories myself, such as the times my mother would tell me I was just like my Aunt Frances. She didn't like my Aunt Frances and crticized her. The kids understood that story immediately They stories about not getting along with parents and the things that parents say to them and what they say to parents. Three of the girls talked about being sexually abused. Some experienced verbal abuse, such as parents telling them they hated them and wished they had never been born and they are just like their fathers whom the mothers hate. One girl described what I consider emotional neglect.

The girls responded to parents typically by yelling back that they didn't ask to be born and that they hated their parents. They also acknowledged that their parents are under stress--at least a few did. I thought that they had learned that from professionals and that such statements directed attention away from the hurt and from constructive ways that they might deal with their hurt.

We moved on to what they do when they feel unloved and unwanted. Several of the said they use journals. One girl said she doesn't anymore because her parents read her journal. We talked at length about who they can trust when they are feeling this way.

One girl said she opened up to her p.o. and the p.o. told her parents what she said. She said the p.o. had told her what she said was confidential. Other girls talked about talking to peers who then blabbed all over the school. Most if not all of them had someone betray a confidence. I told them of a time someone betrayed mine.

So, I hoped we ended on a good note, with the girls realizing that a lot of people feel worthless, unloved, unwanted. I hope they know that talking to someone they trust is a good way of dealing with these feelings.

I wish everyone had someone to talk to. I wish everyone would talk to someone else when they feel this way. The world would change.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Real men talk to real kids about real feelings

Kids, especially boys, will benefit enormously if real men could talk to real kids about real feelings.

Fireman, policemen, athletes, older boys could talk to kids about their emotions. If men like this could tell kids that they sometimes feel sad, lonely, and unloved, this would help kids to know that they are normal. It is ok to feel this way.

If such men would say sometimes I think I'm no good, that I'm a bad person, kids would realize this is normal.

If men like this could say, this is what I do when I feel this way, then the kids would know what to do.

I would want them to say, I find someone I can trust and I tell them how I am feeling. These people listen. I feel better. I feel part of things. I know it's only in my mind that I am no good. I am a good kid who somethings think that I am bad.

Simple message.

Big impact.

It is a mark of man to admit that he sometimes feels sad, lonely, and like a bad person. Real men admit that they sometimes are weak. Talking to someone makes them feel better.

A real man tells people he trusts that he sometimes feels weak.

Teaching children that violence hurts

We have to teach children about the violence that they see all around them—especially on the internet, but in the mass media everywhere. Kids are now exposed to more violence than we older people ever have been. We have to help kids see that no matter how satisfying it might be to see so called bad guys get beat up and killed, this is not real. This is imaginary.

In real life, violence hurts. Violence can kill the person. Violence can kill the soul. We adults have to let kids know that when people beat others up, kill them, or say mean things, it hurts, it kills, and people stay dead.

When kids make fun of other kids, call them names, gang up on them, this hurts other kids. It may seem like fun and be funny at the time, but you are really hurting others. Is that what you want? Kids can handle questions like this. Kids want adults to ask them questions like this, in a relationship of caring and safety.

Kids need to grapple with the question, Do you want to hurt other people, or do you want to have fun? If you want to have fun, then have fun, but don’t have fun by hurting other people.

There are many people who would not tease others, but as bystanders, they don’t know what to do. Some enjoy seeing others being mocked and teased. It’s built in to our blame the victim culture and into our own relief that we are not being mocked. Bystanders have to figure out how to respond to people who are doing unkind things to others, such as teasing and mocking.

If you want to have fun, there are many other ways to have fun besides making fun of people or laughing when other kids are being picked on.

We have an incredible culture of blame—if someone is victimized that person deserves it. It’s almost funny, almost a relief that it is not us, but them, who are the butt of jokes.

This mean things hurt the spirit of other kids. If the kids have hurt spirits, they need to talk to other people about their hurt. If they don't the hurt just grows and grows. If hurt persons do not find a way to deal constructively with their hurt, they could do things to hurt other people or hurt themselves or both.

Hurt that is unspoken can turn to rage and then to hatred. Desire for revenge can build. Soon, thoughts other people or themselves become things that make hurt people feel better.

If we teach kids and adults how to cope with hurt, we would go a long way to becoming a compassionate society and we would prevent a lot of violent acts, too.

Adults need education on how to listen to children

Adults need education on how to listen to children who are feeling sad and alone. They need education on how to draw children out and to reassure them that what they are feeling is what many other people feel. They especially need to encourage boys to tell someone when they are feeling sad, mad, and that they are bad children who can’t do anything right.

Adults could be afraid of their own emotions of sadness, of feeling as if they are no good. So, adults have to learn to cope with their own difficult emotions and they they will be open hearted when children are sad, discouraged, lonely, and feel as if no on cares and no one loves them.

Teach children how to handle difficult emotions as common sense and violence prevention

We adults neglect teaching children how to handle difficult emotions. If we do this, we will create compassionate kids who grow into compassionate adults. We will also contribute to violence prevention.

Children need to be taught about their emotions, need to be told that there will be times when they will feel all alone, hurt, and sad. They may feel as if no one likes them and that they are bad kids who did something bad. They may think they can do nothing right.

Children need to be told when they feel this way, that is the time to find someone to talk to. Keep trying until your find someone who will listen. Someone who wants to hear what is hurting you, why you are so sad. They will tell you that every person feels this way sometimes and often when you feel this way you even think that you are a bad person, who did something wrong and who deserves to feel alone and sad and discouraged and disliked. Everyone feels as if others don’t like them sometimes.

Boys more than girls are discouraged not to talk about these feelings of being sad, bad, and incompetent. They learn at early ages that only sissies feel that way. What self-respecting boy wants to be a sissy? We have to let boys know that they are human beings and everyone feels sad, alone, and no good at times. When they do, they need to find an adult to talk to. Even girls need encouragement to talk to other people about these feelings of being no good. Because girls can talk about many feelings that boys are discouraged from expressing, girls are less likely to stay alienated over years, as Cho felt alienated, alone, and finally enraged for many years.

It's just common sense. Teach children how to handle harsh emotions. The dividends are life-long.

Connect to sad, lonely, angry kids

Violence prevention requires a community of caring persons. One person alone cannot do it. There are many ways to prevent another tragedy like the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007.

The following are suggestions for what we as responsible adults can do.

We have to create a culture of caring. Plain and simple. I’ve got a lot to say about this, but blogs are supposed to be short so I will write more in another blog.

Cho Seung-Hui, the young man who murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech, was teased and mocked in elementary and secondary school. He was a child who rarely spoke, and when he did, he had a heavy Korean accent and a deep voice. Many other children thought this hilarious and they made fun of him, picked on him.

Many people would never tease a vulnerable person like Cho, but many of us also have no idea what to do to get other people to stop teasing other people. We have to resist thinking it’s funny and that the kids who get mocked deserve it.

Imagine what might have happened if everyone in Cho’s life worked together to figure out how to connect with Cho. Even in the weeks before he committed his atrocities, he still wanted to connect. He stalked girls. He took pictures of them under desks and tables. He wanted to connect but didn’t know how.

What if, when Cho was a child, when he was even more eager to connect, that there had been several people who had taken the time to get to know Cho, to get to know what he liked to do, what interested in him. What if someone said, Hey, Cho, want to go to the movies, to a baseball game, birding, or whatever it was he like to do? What if Cho had connected with someone when he was a child, how different his life would have been.

Whenever a child appears to be lonely, alienated, and the butt of jokes, the whole community must respond with care and compassion. Children, teenagers, adults, parents, teachers, police, whoever might know of a sad and lonely child must be prepared to connect with this sad, alone child. The child needs to feel connected to others.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How Some People Decide to be Violent

Very few people understand what goes on in the minds of people who commit violent acts. The killings at Virginia Tech bring out how little we know. The following is way of thinking about how violence occurs. It's a theory but it has many applications.

The following outlines the application of social cognition theory and neuroscience to how persons respond to and cope with stressful events in real time as they make choices about how they will cope: prosocially, antisocially, self-destructively, or inappropriately. These possible ways of coping are encoded in neural pathways that can be thought of as inner representations that cognitive scientists call schemas. Schemas are organized through a network of associations. Typically, schemas are activated in clusters that are associated.

Schemas usually are activated automatically, sometimes even outside of human awareness (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999). The process of the activation of schemas in stressful conditions is hypothesized to be as follows.

Persons perceive an event they interpret as stressful. In response to these perceptions, schemas activate themselves. Different schemas represent possible ways to respond to the stressful event: pro-social, anti-social, self-destructive, inappropriate, or inconsistent.
The choices persons make depend upon salience and accessibility—in other words, how habitually or frequently particular schemas have been activated in the past. Salience is related to the rewards that persons have experienced in the past for acting on these schemas and priming, which means that the inner state prior to experiencing the stressor can influence which schemas are accessible, which schemas are activated, which schemas persons act on.

In salience, some neural pathways are more developed because they have been activated frequently and thus are more accessible than others. Thus, for example, if a person’s response to stress has habitually been to eat a quart of chocolate mint ice cream, the schema to do so is well developed and is much more likely to activate itself in stressful situations than schemas that are activated much more frequently, such as going for a long walk or talking to someone. Eating so much ice cream tends toward being self-destructive, though comforting for a time, while going for a walk or talking to someone can be considered pro-social.

In priming, persons who are stressed in a supportive, pro-social environments are more likely to be guided by the automatic activation of pro-social schemas in response to environmental stressors. These pro-social schemas are more accessible because a pro-social environment has primed their accessibility and salience. Thus, in such a supportive environment, persons who have tendencies to over-eat in response to stress may instead talk to a sympathetic person who would be readily available in pro-social situations. If this occurs on a regular basis, seeking someone to talk to may become more salient than over-eating.

The experience of stress typically is uncomfortable. In some cases, stress activates schemas that recall traumatic events. In these conditions, the individual experiences discomfort or extreme emotional pain, which can lead to dysregulation, which is the disruption of rational thought, emotions, and the autonomic nervous system that regulates heart rate, blood pressure, and other neuron-physiological responses (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2001; Shields & Cicchetti, 1998). Under conditions of stress, emotional pain, and dysregulation, persons seek to soothe themselves or to re-regulate. If they have well-developed executive skills, they will also have capacities for self-regulation and thus be able to handle the stress in ways that are planful and pro-social. If they have diminished executive skills for planful self-regulation, they are at risk to behave in anti-social, self-destructive, or inappropriate ways, or combinations (Gilgun, 2006a, 2005a).

An application of these ideas to the man who sexually assaulted a woman on the street would be as follows. The man experienced stress when his partner fell asleep on him. He experienced dysregulation of his thoughts, emotions, and autonomic nervous system. He experienced this state as painful. He sought to re-regulate and to soothe himself. His executive skills for re-regulation habitually focus upon anti-social plans for self-soothing. The schemas most salient and accessible to him were connected to rage and desires to leave the situation. The schema that activated itself in response to his dysregulation was a schema that he had habitually acted upon in the past. He began to fantasize about raping someone. He saw a woman alone. He sexually assaulted her. His stress was reduced. He felt soothed restored to some sort of emotional equilibrium.

Another condition related to Model 1 is when individuals do not feel stressed and still act out in antisocial ways. For these individuals, the model works as follows. Individuals want something. Schemas that will allow them to get what they want activate themselves. Which schemas activate depend upon priming, salience, accessibility, and executive function. Schemas related to executive function activate themselves because these schemas are associated with planful actions that anticipate consequences associated with various behavioral options. Persons with good executive skills and a fine-tuned moral sense will choose options that do not harm themselves or others while at the same time lead to their getting what they want.

Persons with fragmented or truncated executive skills and moral sense will seek to get what they want but they will suspend considerations of what the consequences of these behaviors might be for themselves and others, will distort what the consequences might be, will pay selective attention to consequences, will accept consequences, or will not even consider consequences. The schemas that are activated typically are those that are most salient.

An example of accepting consequences is the man who told me, “Rape is worth giving up a whole bundle for.” An example of selective attention is the man who murdered someone who double-crossed him in a drug deal in order to set an example for others who might also try to double-cross him. He paid no attention to the consequences of being caught and spending the rest of his life in jail. Lack of consideration of consequences as well as distortion of consequences characterized the executive skills of a man who sexually abused his children out of what he thought was love. His goal was to show love and to help the children understand what love was. The distorted consequence was his lack of forethought about what sex with their father might mean to two and three year-old children and the lack of forethought was how the sexual abuse would affect the children, their mother, and his own status in his family and community.

These perpetrators were not in stressful situations. They acted upon what they considered rational thought. The schemas they activated were schemas they had habitually activated in the past and were thus salient.

The blog is for witty people who want to build community. In this world that seems to be so full of witless efforts to self-aggrandize, I want to promote the simple idea of human connection.