Sunday, December 8, 2019

The So-Called Mind of AOC


Among her proudest achievements former bartendress turned member of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez counts her success chasing Amazon out of Queens. 

You see, the company had chosen to locate an eastern hub in the district abutting AOC’s, but as soon as the former bartendress started attacking the governor for offering Amazon a monetary incentive, the company saw the lights and debarked for friendlier climes. No one bothered to note the amount of tax money, paid by the company and by it employees. 

We must also give some credit to New York Mayor, aka, Comrade de Blasio whose singular ineptitude in articulating the matter must have told the company that New York was not chock-a-block with bright talented young people yearning for high paying jobs.

Well, now the ignorant bartendress feels vindicated. You see, Amazon has just leased space in Manhattan. It will bring jobs to New York City, though far away from AOC’s constituents. And it has done so without having received any incentives.

As for the lease, The Wall Street Journal reports the news:

The giant online retailer said it has signed a new lease for 335,000 square feet on Manhattan’s west side in the new Hudson Yards neighborhood, where it will have more than 1,500 employees. 

AOC gloated:

“Won’t you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway - *without* requiring the public to finance shady deals, helipad handouts for Jeff Bezos, & corporate giveaways.”

The New York Post elaborated:

She followed that with a picture of herself sitting on a yellow couch with the caption, “Me waiting on the haters to apologize after we were proven right on Amazon and saved the public billions.”

Let’s try a little reality check. Amazon is going to hire 1,500 people for its Hudson Yards facility. The Queens hub would have hired 25,ooo. Do the math, people.

Needless to say, many people who are significantly more numerate than AOC quickly replied:

“You went from 25,000 Amazon jobs in your district to just 1,500 being offered OUTSIDE your district. You’re an idiot if you think this is a success for your constituents,” Caleb Hull, a director at the GOP-leaning political consulting firm Targeted Victory, tweeted.

Real estate entrepreneur Jason Haber tweeted, “I bet a lot of shopkeepers and store owners in LIC would have loved those customers in the neighborhood instead of in manhattan [sic]. Plus, what they are taking in Manhattan is much smaller in scope than HQ2.”

Imagine that. AOC is an idiot. It’s the least we can say. Just think, she has become the face of today’ s Democratic Party. One suspects that the impeachment farce is designed, among other things, to draw attention away from the bigoted radical imbeciless who have taken over a once-proud political party.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

A Portrait of Boris Johnson

From my own aerie, thousands of miles away from the center of the action, I am certainly not equipped to offer any analysis, cogent or not, about the upcoming British elections. For the record, they are scheduled for December 12.

What fascinates us all is the larger than life persona of one Boris Johnson. Touted incorrectly as the British Donald Trump, Johnson seems to be out of control, but at the same time in control. He is a member of the British upper classes, but comes across as a celebrity. As leader of the Tory party, he seems poised to produce a significant victory. And that means, an exit from the European Union. Since the British people voted for Brexit over two years ago, it’s about time that the parliament respected the will of the people.

When trying to grasp Boris, we cannot do much better than to examine the portrait painted by his fellow and contemporaneous Oxonian, Andrew Sullivan. Effectively, Boris was made for Sullivan. Almost a living contradiction in terms Boris does not fit in any clear categories. Thus, every one of Sullivan's disparagingly dismissive remarks is balanced against the evidence that Boris looks to be succeeding where others have failed.

So, I will largely defer to Sullivan’s superior knowledge, of Johnson and of British politics:

This comic figure has somehow managed to find himself at the center of the populist storms sweeping Britain and the West — first by becoming the most senior politician in Britain to back Brexit in 2016, and now by plotting a course that might actually bring the United Kingdom out of the epic, years-long, once-impossible-looking mess he helped make. Just over four months into office as PM, he appears poised to win an election he called and, if the polls are anywhere near correct, score a clear victory and take Britain out of the E.U. by the end of January.

Surely, it matters that the Labour party is led by a brain dead bigot by name of Jeremy Corbin, a man who has not only managed to embrace Islamist radicalism, but who also notably supported the home grown terrorists of the Irish Republican Army. For whatever reason, Boris is turning traditional Labour voters conservative. No small achievement that:

This “lovable buffoon,” as he’s called now by journalists and politicos as well as former Labour voters turning Tory in focus groups in the Midlands, has skillfully maneuvered toward a full term as prime minister and perhaps toward an era in British politics when the Conservative Party is defined less by Thatcherism than Borisism. Through complete lack of principle, endless charm, and ruthless ambition, he has managed to bring about a possibility that, not too long ago, probably only he allowed himself to fantasize about: that he would become not just prime minister but a significant one.

For his efforts to have the British government respect the will of the people, Boris has naturally been accused of being a self-centered narcissist:

He is now attacked as a racist and reckless Little Englander, gleefully wrecking the British economy, polarizing the country, and threatening to break up the U.K.
solely to advance his own narcissistic ambitions. Shallow, lazy, incompetent, and bigoted, this clown has somehow leveraged the fears of the many to advance the only thing he has ever genuinely believed in: his own destiny.

Wisely, Sullivan considers the alternative. That it is all an act, one designed to occupy newspaper space, to entertain the people while leading them in the right direction. Clearly, Boris, like Trump, plays it for the comedy:

But there is another story to be told about him: that he has been serious all along, using his humor and ridiculousness to camouflage political instincts that have, in fact, been sharper than his peers’. He sensed the shifting populist tides of the 2010s before most other leading politicians did and grasped the Brexit issue as a path to power. But he also understood how important it was not to be fully captured by that raw xenophobic energy. He saw Brexit discontent as something the political Establishment needed to engage and co-opt rather than dismiss and demonize, and he approached the opportunity in a very different way from his sometime ally Nigel Farage, whose provincial extremism veered into outright racism and whose political career Johnson has now all but ended.

Boris has seduced the people and conjured a magic trick by promising increased social spending. Whether or not he will deliver, is another problem:

So he is quietly forging a new conservatism — appealing to the working poor and aspiring middle classes, tough on immigration and crime, but much more generous in spending on hospitals and schools and science. Or so he says for now. And if he succeeds — by no means a sure thing, though at this point it almost seems foolish to bet against him — he won’t just be charting a new future for the U.K. but pioneering a path for other Western parties of the center right confronted by the rise of populist extremism.

And yet, as opposed to Trump, Boris is a toff, an insider, highly educated in the classics, self-deprecating to a fault, adept at debate and brilliant in his use of language. 

Boris is almost the opposite of this, his career a near-classic example of British Establishment insiderism with his deep learning, reverence for tradition, and a capacity to laugh at himself that is rare in most egos as big as his.

As Sullivan gins it up, he notes the apparent contradictions in the Johnson persona:

That Johnson sometimes appears as an outsider is largely a function of his personality and how he has skillfully marketed it: extremely smart but constitutionally lazy; upper class with a real feel for and delight in ordinary life; sexually promiscuous to an almost comical degree; a defender of rules as long as he is entitled to break them from time to time; a humorist and pun merchant who has succeeded in making his own aristocratic idiosyncrasies part of the joke; a ruthless careerist with a capacity for deceit and forgiveness; and a narcissist no one should even begin to trust. But of course, as loath as aristocrats of previous generations would have been to admit it, all of this may be even more characteristic of the country’s ruling class than a stiff-upper-lip sense of propriety.

Despite himself, Sullivan found Boris endearing when they both were attending Oxford:

At Oxford, it was the same performance. I overlapped with him for a year (1983–84) and, like him, was president of the Oxford Union. Compared with most of the toffs, he seemed to me endearing. So many other Etonians downplayed their upper-class origins, became lefties, smoked pot, softened their accents, and wore clothes indistinguishable from anyone else.

But Boris wore his class as a clown costume — never hiding it but subtly mocking it with a performance that was as eccentric as it was self-aware. He made others feel as if they were in on a joke he had created, which somewhat defused the class resentment he might otherwise have been subject to and which, like many from the lower ranks of British society, I mostly shared.

And yet, Johnson won two elections as mayor of London and was adjudged for having done a good job of it:

By the end of his term, a YouGov poll found that almost twice as many Londoners thought he did a good job as mayor as those who didn’t.

Sullivan then manages to fall into psycho diagnosis, noting that Boris seems not to have any friends, but does seem to have had a multitude of lovers. Note well that Sullivan has access to good sources:

… in speaking with multiple school and college contemporaries of Boris’s and with colleagues and former colleagues, including Cabinet ministers, I soon discovered no deep friendships or political networks. Compared with the elaborate social political network of, say, David Cameron, he is a loner. 

Some who know him suggest his attachment to consecutive lovers is the only way he can securely feel intimacy. Others simply believe that Boris has had one endless love affair with himself and that everything else is politics. Some see him as a persona rather than a person: “He has no purpose,” says an embittered old ally. “For someone so prodigiously talented to have no moral core is heartbreaking.”

For it all, Johnson commands respect:

Emmanuel Macron congratulated the new prime minister: “He may be a colorful character sometimes, but we all are at times. He’s got a temper, but he’s a leader with a real strategic vision. Those who didn’t take him seriously were wrong.”

Sullivan also respects Boris for having succeeded in neutering the British far right. This implies that those countries that have seen a resurgence of the far right have done so because their governments have projected weakness in dealing with, for example, Muslim migrants:

He has done what no other conservative leader in the West has done: He has co-opted and thereby neutered the far right. The reactionary Brexit Party has all but collapsed since Boris took over. Anti-immigration fervor has calmed. The Tories have also moved back to the economic and social center under Johnson’s leadership. And there is a strategy to this. What Cummings and Johnson believe is that the E.U., far from being an engine for liberal progress, has, through its overreach and hubris, actually become a major cause of the rise of the far right across the Continent. By forcing many very different countries into one increasingly powerful Eurocratic rubric, the E.U. has spawned a nationalist reaction. From Germany and France to Hungary and Poland, the hardest right is gaining. Getting out of the E.U. is, Johnson and Cummings argue, a way to counter and disarm this nationalism and to transform it into a more benign patriotism. Only the Johnson Tories have grasped this, and the Johnson strategy is one every other major democracy should examine.

Sullivan is grudging in his praise, but still, the accomplishments are real. Perhaps we will wake up next Friday to read of yet another:

And all of this has been made possible by Boris Johnson’s shameless ability to shift and reinvent his politics, betray his allies, lie to the public, and advance his own career. One of those close to him told me that the next group he will betray is the ERG, the hard-right Tory Brexiteers. And if he wins this election by a solid margin and seizes the center, he may force the Labour Party to reexamine how far left it has traveled in the past few years.

Sanders and Warren Want to Emulate France


Normal people emulate success. Normal people want to better themselves, so they adopt habits that have been produced success for others.

As it happens, the socialist wing of the Democratic Party is not inhabited by normal people. They do not want to emulate success. They want to emulate failed economic policies. It takes a special kind of stupid to think that way.

Led by Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders leading Democrats want to tax the rich, tax wealth, confiscate wealth … and to distribute it to the less fortunate. Better yet, they promise that their program will spur economic growth. Obviously, they have failed to notice America’s current economic growth, but, what did you expect?

Bret Stephens addresses the problem this morning in the New York Times. He begins by describing today’s progressive policy proposals:

That’s my way of reading a useful report from The Times’s Jim Tankersley, who on Thursday described the ways in which Elizabeth Warren and other progressives are trying to upend decades of economic thinking by insisting that sharp tax hikes on businesses and the wealthy would accelerate growth, not depress it. Under a Warren presidency, those hikes would be accompanied by monumental increases in government spending and fundamental alterations to the structures of the private economy.

What do you call those policies? Why, you call them France. The Democratic contenders ae emulating the failed policies of France. These include a crippling bureaucracy and a welfare state that makes even ours seem feeble:

Tankersley’s piece coincided with a fresh round of nationwide strikes in France, where at least 800,000 people took to the streets to protest Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to modernize the country’s byzantine public pension systems. At least one of these plans — there are 42 in all — dates to the reign of Louis XIV, and some kick in when workers retire in their fifties, costing the state an ever-mounting fortune as average lifespans get longer.

Successive French administrations of both the left and right have been trying to reform this and other aspects of the country’s statist economy for decades, with limited results. Social benefits, once given, are hard to pare, much less withdraw. Hence the frequent strikes: Since 1789, French governments have been acutely sensitive to mass protests, and too often have capitulated to them.

How is France doing, economically speaking? Glad you asked. Stephens offers a portrait of economic stagnation, spurred by a Nanny state:

The country’s unemployment rate has not fallen below 7 percent since 1983 and is now at 8.6 percent. Long-term unemployment exceeds 40 percent, compared with 13.3 percent in the U.S. The country’s annual growth rate has barely exceeded an average of 1 percent per year since the 21st century began. It’s expected to come in at 1.3 percent for this year.

As of last year, the median monthly take-home pay was just $1,930, meaning half of all French workers make even less. It’s why the country erupted in protest when Macron proposed raising fuel taxes a few cents per liter.

But, our Democratic socialists will exclaim, France has a great national health care system that is free for all. And it offers free university education. Not so fast, Stephens writes:

Then again, the health service that used to be the toast of Francophiles is overwhelmed, understaffed, and “on the brink of collapse,” according to a report in The Guardian. French universities, while cheap, are overcrowded, underfunded, and notoriously mediocre: “Too easy to get in and too easy to get out,” as one local observer put it. French workers exercise their right to strike roughly seven times more frequently than German workers do, and 125 times more than Swiss ones.

But, what about income inequality? Surely France has more equality than does say, the United States. There again reality tells a different story:

As for income inequality, France is certainly much less unequal than the U.S. But France’s top 1 percent still held 22 percent of the country’s wealth at the beginning of 2018. That was despite a draconian effort by the previous Socialist government to impose a super-tax on high earners. It raised scant revenue while accelerating the exodus of the rich. Like many European attempts at imposing a wealth tax, it was quickly repealed.

All of this should stand as a stark warning to Democrats. France has the highest overall tax take among O.E.C.D. countries (46.9 percent of G.D.P.), the highest rate of government spending, (56.38 percent of G.D.P.), the highest rate of safety-net spending, and the third highest rate of pension spending.

Finally, when it comes to happiness, France does not even break into the top twenty on the happiness index.

Vive la France...or better, France for the French… but not for us.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Fundraising Campaign Winding Down

My annual fundraising campaign is winding down, but there is still time. 

I have been putting up daily posts on this blog for more than eleven years now. I trust that some people will consider that to be praiseworthy. Obviously, it takes time and work to do the job, and I could not have done it without the financial support of you, the readers.

So, allow me to thank you for your past and future generosity. It is much appreciated.

In principle, this blog attempts to keep you informed of the latest from the psycho world. It has tracked the influence of therapy culture, its effects on individuals and its political and social fallout. We would be wrong to limit the influence of therapy to individual cases. So, I have expanded the coverage to include questions involving political psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology and so on.

Precious few writers are doing this job, but surely it needs to be done. It is important that we recognize the way therapy has come to define our culture, direct our actions and  influence our thoughts.

Anyway, this project does require financial support. You can contribute by clicking on the orange Donate button, on the left side of this page. Then, the folks at Paypal will help you to contribute as much as you would like.

This year, as a special service, you can also fund the blog by doing your Christmas shopping at Amazon. If you enter the Amazon site by clicking the Amazon ad at the left of this page, a percentage of each purchase price will be credited to your humble blogger. In that way, you can support the blog-- at no extra cost.

If you do not wish to use Paypal, I gratefully accept checks or cash sent to my address:

            310 East 46th St. 24H
            New York, NY   10017

If you have a friend or a relative who is a psychoanalyst or who still clings to Freudian theory, you can do him a great favor by sending a copy of my book, The Last Psychoanalyst. 

When I wrote it, I suggested that it shows how a pseudoscience became a pseudo religion. But, I also showed how Freud created something that resembles what we now call a rape culture. The term was not in use five years ago, but if you read the book carefully you will see that I was somewhat prescient. The book is a perfect holiday gift. You can buy a copy by using the link at left.

Since this is a week long fundraising campaign, I will be repeating this post several other times throughout the week. Be prepared.

My thanks to those who have already contributed. For others, thank you in advance.

The Peloton Follies


Until approximately yesterday I had thought that conditioning exercise was a good thing. I had been led to believe, by a multitude of studies, that the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health is to exercise regularly.

Aerobic conditioning is a powerful antidepressant. Weight training also improves your mental and physical well being. Exercise slows down the aging process. High intensity interval training, the kind you experience in spin classes, has protects you against dementia. What's not to like?

I have often posted on this blog about the benefits of exercise. For a more comprehensive approach to the developments in exercise physiology I recommend Maggie’s Farm. I have also been known to counsel clients on the benefits of being physically active. 

Naively, I had imagined that encouraging people to exercise was not controversial. What is wrong with doing something to improve your health. True enough, it requires effort. It requires discipline. And yet, it is well worth it. Any physician will tell you as much. 

But, now, the woke legions of contemporary feminists want us to know that if a man gives his wife a high end exercise bicycle for Christmas he is subjecting her to an unendurable insult, to her dignity, to her womanhood and to her feminist creed. You see, the hidden meaning, discernible only through the lens of feminist ideology, is that the gift of a Peloton can only mean that he thinks she is fat. 

Nothing about the ad in question suggests as much, but if you are a thin skinned feminist, you know the truth, and you will do everything in your power to make Peloton suffer for ever having suggested that a woman should get in shape. 

For your edification, here is the ad:



Apparently, the key to understanding the ad is the look on the woman’s face. She does not show great enthusiasm about her new Peloton. Which apparently  means, to the thin skinned feminist masses, that she believes the bike is a critique of her incipient flabbiness. By all indications she does not possess any body fat, but that has not prevented women who took critical theory courses in college from projecting whatever they want on her.

As for her less than thrilling facial expression, have we all forgotten the old mantra--- No pain, no gain. Might it be that she, like many people of my acquaintance, does not view exercise with quite the same enthusiasm as she might anticipate, say, a slice of chocolate cake.

One understands that she might have preferred a Hermes foulard or a diamond tennis bracelet, but still, we can easily imagine that an enlightened feminist might find such gifts to be sexist signs of patriarchal oppression, designating said wife as an ornament whose purpose in life is to sit around the house all day doing nothing but luxuriating.

For your further edification, examine the thoughts of Amanda Mull  in The Atlantic:

Those people all live in a culture where exercise has long been regarded as punishment for the joy of indulgence, and where women are supposed to maintain an impossible level of physical perfection well into middle age, lest they face the denigration of both the culture at large and their own romantic partners.

Wherever did she get this idea? In a culture where the good news about the value of exercise has been reported incessantly, and where women inhabit exercise and fitness classes in large numbers, whatever forces her to have such a negative view of the female body.

As it happens, for the record, men do not notice the extra globule of female body fat. That task has fallen to women. Women obsessively compare their bodies with those of other women.

As for the physical perfection, or the slimness quotient, have these women ever, for instance, glanced at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Magazine. Even before SI got woke, the magazine was not putting their swimsuits on stick-thin mannequins. In truth, you will be far more likely to find slim teenage mannequins in the pages of Vogue or Elle than you will in any magazine or on any website that attracts the male gaze. 

As for whether or not men are looking for women’s physical perfection, I recommend that Ms. Mull and her sisters ask a man what he thinks. 

Clearly, the outrage flung at Peleton, outrage that has by now cost it a billion dollars in market capitalization, should be seen as a symptom of the insecurity of modern liberated women. Women have abandoned the feminine mystique, notable for its ability to attract male interest. They have rejected all traditional female roles, like wife and mother, roles that define them as women in society. They have overthrown patriarchal rules concerning the division of household labor. They have summarily discarded the rules of dating and courtship, and have replaced them with Tinder hookups.

The result of denying their womanhood and of desocializing the role of woman is that the only thing they have left is their female bodies. Being desocialized they often fall into something resembling a depression, characterized, as noted above, by being severely thin skinned. 

Perhaps they would feel better about themselves if they had heeded the advice a grandmotherly woman once offered to the world from her seat in the audience at an old Oprah show. Please tell young women, the older soul asked Oprah, to start acting as though they respect themselves.

Surely, that is far better advice than to rant and rave about an exercise bicycle, an instrument whose regular use will, at the least, do wonders for their depressive condition.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

It's Still Fundraising Week

My annual fundraising campaign continues. 

I have been putting up daily posts on this blog for more than eleven years now. I trust that some people will consider that to be praiseworthy. Obviously, it takes time and work to do the job, and I could not have done it without the financial support of you, the readers.

So, allow me to thank you for your past and future generosity. It is much appreciated.

In principle, this blog attempts to keep you informed of the latest from the psycho world. It has tracked the influence of therapy culture, its effects on individuals and its political and social fallout. We would be wrong to limit the influence of therapy to individual cases. So, I have expanded the coverage to include questions involving political psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology and so on.

Precious few writers are doing this job, but surely it needs to be done. It is important that we recognize the way therapy has come to define our culture, direct our actions and  influence our thoughts.

Anyway, this project does require financial support. You can contribute by clicking on the orange Donate button, on the left side of this page. Then, the folks at Paypal will help you to contribute as much as you would like.

This year, as a special service, you can also fund the blog by doing your Christmas shopping at Amazon. If you enter the Amazon site by clicking the Amazon ad at the left of this page, a percentage of each purchase price will be credited to your humble blogger. In that way, you can support the blog-- at no extra cost.

If you do not wish to use Paypal, I gratefully accept checks or cash sent to my address:

            310 East 46th St. 24H
            New York, NY   10017

If you have a friend or a relative who is a psychoanalyst or who still clings to Freudian theory, you can do him a great favor by sending a copy of my book, The Last Psychoanalyst. 

When I wrote it, I suggested that it shows how a pseudoscience became a pseudo religion. But, I also showed how Freud created something that resembles what we now call a rape culture. The term was not in use five years ago, but if you read the book carefully you will see that I was somewhat prescient. The book is a perfect holiday gift. You can buy a copy by using the link at left.

Since this is a week long fundraising campaign, I will be repeating this post several other times throughout the week. Be prepared.

My thanks to those who have already contributed. For others, thank you in advance.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People


Among the few interesting parts of the letters sent to New York Magazine advice columnist, Ask Polly, is this: many of the letter writers are  Polly fans. They take her blather to be holy writ. They provide us a test case of what happens to people who accept Polly's advice. As it happens, nothing good. Don't say I didn’t warn them.

So, here is a letter from a woman who has mastered the art of losing friends and alienating people. She has no filter, she lets it all hang out, she speaks her mind and her heart and her gut. When she is not showing off her flaws she is stressed out because she feels like she is repressing who she really is.

Among the pieces of arrant nonsense that Polly purveys is this: be who you really are. Polly will add that other people will naturally be attracted to a woman who is who she really is. The evidence of the letter says otherwise.

Were I to offer the woman advice, I would recommend a deep dive into the works of Miss Manners. She does not know how to function in society. She does not know how to treat her friends. By following Polly’s advice she has become rude, crude and probably also lewd. Naturally, she does not offer the least detail about what she said or did. The reason is simple: dealing with facts and reality would draw her away from the Pollyesque task of discovering who she really is.

Here are some excerpts from the letter:

Even after all your advice on “embracing your flaws” and “letting your freak flag fly,” I still feel like I’m defective as a human being and because of that, I’m uptight about everything I do and say. This all started a year ago when I had a falling out with two of my friends. The whole thing can be summarized in two parts:

1. I had just gone through a breakup after a yearlong relationship, so it was a vulnerable period for me. At that time, I was a turbulent person who acted on my emotions, so you can imagine how irrational and difficult I was to the people around me. I lashed out, I made spiteful and hurtful remarks when my friends offered me advice I didn’t like hearing, and I often asked the same repeated questions for reassurance. I’m not sure why I wanted to hurt the people who were trying their best to help me; maybe it’s because I wanted them to be able to understand how overwhelming my emotions felt, and I got defensive when they didn’t understand. This is a problem of mine I still struggle with, and I fear I’ll never really be able to control my emotions before they get the better of me — hence leading me to lose more people I love.

I would note here that she is making excuses for bad behavior. I would also note that Polly’s columns have recommended that she do so.

2. I went on a holiday with aforementioned friends not too long after the breakup. During the holiday, I did quite a few things which annoyed them both and now we’re no longer friends. Back then, I considered them my closest friends — though looking back now I see that our friendship lacked deeper levels of honesty and maybe even genuine love (though I can only say this mostly on my part, as I can’t be sure if that’s how they felt).

Anyway, back to the holiday which soured our relationship. I’ll use the names Allison and Becca for anonymity. Allison said I had been irrational and impractical and too emotional, and she just couldn’t deal with it because she’s the opposite of all that. I know I was selfish. I wanted some things to go my way, made some impractical decisions that indirectly inconvenienced them, and sometimes behaved like the world centered around me. Towards the end of the trip, in the midst of having a conversation about my breakup with Becca, I insulted her unintentionally when I compared her situation with mine (something along the lines of, “That’s easy for you to say, you have a boyfriend”). And that pretty much concluded the entire episode, and also our friendship.

OK, irrational and impractical and too emotional… isn’t that the formula that Polly recommends, get in touch with your feelings, feel your feelings, express your feelings. How is that one working out?

What is the letter writer doing? She is introspecting, criticizing herself, flagellating herself, doing penance for her bad behavior and her general all-around badness. She has managed to conclude that she should not even pretend to be a good person. But, how many people really want to associate with a bad person? Huh?

Since then, I’ve grown a great deal by trying to be more independent. I try my best not to make waves, and I keep my wants and desires to myself as much as I can so that I won’t inconvenience others or go against their own wants and desires. I try to be more selfless and thoughtful, and in general I’m happier with the person I am now. I no longer have to pretend or act like a good person. I genuinely feel more at peace with who I am: someone who tries to place others above herself.

But I still feel scarred by what happened with Allison and Becca. I overanalyze everything I do in fear of people leaving me because of how I function as a person. It feels like I’m constantly walking on thin ice: I worry when I catch myself saying something that can be misinterpreted badly, when I’m clumsy and mistreat someone’s belongings, when I’m short-tempered, when I’m honest about what I want but I’m afraid that it would go against what others want … It’s just constant worrying for me. I know I can’t expect myself to be perfect, and I shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes. I think I’m also extra hard on myself so I won’t repeat any mistakes I catch myself making, hence preparing myself so that I won’t turn my future friends against me.

I know you’d probably tell me that the trauma of losing two friends has led me to believe I’m somewhat inadequate as a human being, and it’s probably just paranoia that’s leading me to believe I have a huge problem within myself. I would agree with that, but I can’t shake the idea that my idiosyncrasies and flaws are not the type that the majority of people can accept.

Apparently, it never crosses her mind to correct her flaws. She is rationalizing bad behavior by saying that it’s just who she is. Which is meaningless and irresponsible. She has been stripped of her moral character and does not understand why people do not like her.

Throughout my life, I’ve angered and unknowingly hurt many friends because of the things I’ve done or said — most of which were unintentional. Some of them have told me that they found it hard to believe when I stated that I genuinely meant no harm, as “it was very obvious those actions would lead to such consequences.” Everything has lead me to feel like my thought processes are vastly different from everyone else’s, and I’m afraid I’ll continue making mistakes that will cost me all my friends and loved ones.

I will abridge the letter and skip to the conclusion:

I respect your opinion and would love your insight on all of this. Part of me is tired of being so hard on myself all the time. I’d love to scream at myself to just chill the fuck out, but part of me feels that letting my guard down opens up the possibility of making more mistakes and pushing people away.

Uptight But Trying

As for Polly’s appallingly bad advice, here’s a taste:

You have to exit this paranoid, ego-driven lockdown and resolve to be your own scrappy uneven, inconsistent invention. You have to learn to look in the mirror and say to yourself: I am okay when I’m ugly and confused. It’s okay to be lumpy and lost. I can stand right here, feeling broken, and I am still lovable. I deserve love. I deserve honest, loyal friends. I know I can be that kind of a friend, too. But I can also dress up and show off and look great and take up a lot of space, and guess what? That’s who I am, too. I am a complex human and I need some room to grow right now. I need friends who get it.

Get over your narcissism by looking in the mirror—how is that for incoherent thinking? Polly does not recommend change. She does not recommend learning some better manners and more adult social skills. She recommends that UBT keeps doing what she was doing and embrace it… because the problem is with other people.

Ironically, those are also the people who seem to seek understanding the most, instead of telling you how you should be. I don’t think your friends really wanted to understand you, even when you were doing the hard work of trying to understand them. Go find friends who care, who listen, who love you for who you are. That’s what you deserve. You’ve worked hard for it.

Polly thinks like an adolescent and is writing to someone who has not yet exited childhood. The notion that people will love the letter writer for who she is, is psychobabble. And, by the evidence of her experience it is very bad advice.