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Crisis Support for Young Paedophiles (Pedophiles)

I took a call from a young help seeker who thought she might be a paedophile (UK standard spelling of Pedophile). She was a 14 year old girl, in High School, and struggling to admit what her thoughts meant. It wasn’t a comfortable thing to hear nor something I knew how to respond with. But this wasn’t the first teenage paedophile I had heard of. Luke Malone, back in 2014 wrote an article on Matter called “You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now?”. It’s an account of a boy struggling to find support for his own paedophilic fantasies (watching child porn).

My help-seeker hesitantly described the thoughts she had been having. After a pause she asked, “do you think I’m a p-word?” This is not a question I’m prepared to answer. What I do know is there’s a difference between fantasy and behaviour in regards to paedophilia. This is supported by the Australian Institue of Criminology which states in one of its misconception articles, that “not all child sex offenders are paedophiles and conversely, not all paedophiles are child sex offenders.” So, what I could have told her was: just because you’re having these thoughts does not make you a bad person. But it’s difficult to be empathetic towards a person who has the potential to be abusive. However, as a crisis supporter we must uphold total positive regard, even if we don’t like the individual calling. There may be no one they believe can support them. In response to my helpseeker, I asked “how would you feel if you were a paedophile?”

I allowed my helpseeker to talk through how she felt. She’s rarely felt comfortable talking about it. In the story, the boy conflicted with paedophilic urges could not even approach his mother for support. He kept his torment private and developed a deep depression. Both the boy in the article and my help seeker used a lot of negative phrases to describe themselves. “I’m a monster”, they both declared. There may be no opportunity for someone to talk about an issue like paedophilia, or child abuse, because of how stigmatised paedophilia is in society. It’s also challenging for a help-seeker to approach help in a professional capacity due to the policies in place to prevent any suspicion of child abuse. I want to note, that stigma and policies are in place for a valuable reason and I’m not here to moralise paedophilia.

Providing support for someone dealing with paedophilia is confronting. One way to deal with this confrontation is to challenge your preconceptions earlier. Reading stories like this helps you broaden your awareness of how challenging it is to come to terms with a condition like paedophilia. Learning their stories breaksdown the stereotypes that might prevent you from listening to them in a moment of crisis.

If someone calls a crisis support line then we have to assume they are seeking help. You may be the only person who has heard their story. Especially if they’re a young paedophile.

For further information on misconceptions about child sex offenders, visit: https://aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi429

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’12 Rules For Life’ is a Modern Bible for the Ancient Male

A reflection on 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson.

Sad Face

I can liken my experience of reading 12 Rules For Life to once attending a youth group camp. At first, I believed my time would be spent with friends. I’d learn how to make a fire and set up a tent. But in between activities we would pause to listen to the leader read a bible passage from John or Michael. And before I knew it, I was reading along to the old testament, tracing the words in my lap.

In short, Jordan Peterson’s best-selling book of 2018 felt thin and idealistic. 12 Rules For Life presents 12 broad “rules” that may provide you with a purpose in life if your male and conservative leaning. Jordan’s exploration of his original Quora answer to “What are the most valuable things everyone should know?” felt stretched past its own value.

For a book about “life”, Jordan was much more concerned with unpacking cultural narratives. Jordan favoured the Bible, Disney, and fairytales to build a set of moral arguments over scientific research. Often these arguments were watered down to idealistic dualities or revolved around the male ego.

Jordan’s dualistic perspective limited the broad exploration of sex, gender, relationships, and life’s purpose.

What I discovered in this book was an idealistic ruleset. One that amounts to the acceptance of God, that upholds masculinity, and cherishes the unity of man and woman.  Perhaps I was reading too far into it. But after reading 12 Rules For Life, I honestly felt like I had shared the mind of a conservative who believes tradition and genetics supersede our own cultural desire to mature.

The only line of thinking I agreed with was to take responsibility for your own faults and not to blame it on the world. It’s a statement that mimics many eastern theologies and stoic principles I’m familiar with. Even though Jordan sometimes presents wisdom like this, it is wisdom I have read elsewhere with more elaboration, broadness and richness. With that said, don’t compare your life to Jordan Peterson’s idealised ruleset. Find your ruleset for life in other books, not here in 12 Rules for Life.

Prodding existential crises

When my internal dialogue slips into the negative realm (of despair), I believe its the best opportunity to prod myself with mental enquiries: why is life “life”? What do you want to do with your existence? Does it matter anyway? I suppose I am torturing myself, but it returns some of the best insights into my life. I am fortunate enough to be capable of doing so. I have close relationships to individuals who wouldn’t prod themselves in the same way. To them, their anxiety disorder or diagnosed depression could be worsened via further negative thoughts. I suppose this is true, I am inclined to test out the outcomes of their hypothesis on them, but I care for them too much to pressure them either way.

I provoke my existentialism like fire. On occasion it burns me, or perhaps scares me, but often I’m in awe of its appearance. I have a strong mental state – it rarely wavers.  My outlook on my existence is daring and hopeful, as I am training to make the biggest impact I can. Bare with me as I bolster an image of strength, of optimism, and happiness in my life – before I detail a rather crude perspective on life in general. Life is good.

Except

Life is overall negative, at least it seems that way. I’m not suffering, at least not comparative to others (I’m a privileged white male). But I retain the outlook that life is suffering, it’s sad, pessimistic, and hard to deal with. Life by default is negative, a quality I’ve learnt that philosophical thinkers of antinatalism share. When I mean life, I don’t mean simply your interactions with life, I mean the slither of life that’s cut from an infinite slab of atoms. The unknown before and after makes me fell dull about the opportunity life offers. Like the hand of a (father) god came down and handed me a single penny “Don’t waste it all, kid.” Between these unknowns is a greater opportunity for misery, the balance of joy and fear is unbalanced. As unhappy a conclusion this may seem, I am rather happy with life. I do not deny that life contains beauty, that life itself is fascinating. But to have lived or not to have lived – I lean towards not. I don’t have suicidal thoughts – I explore the idea of how I might die: the implications, the process, the feeling, the hypothetical nothing. But I do not desire it. On the contrary, I repulse the idea of death – as much as its mystery fascinates me it also makes me screw up my hands and shout fuck you.

I do not want death, not for myself nor for anyone. But life, life is haunting and brutal. I can focus on the positives, I can do good, I intend to help, and change the world for the better (at least better in terms of living). But only my actions and others are positive. Everything else is bleak and suffering. Death is the ultimate conclusion of “Why bother”. Why do I continue to bother, I haven’t truly discovered. For now bothering to change the world makes me happy.

***

With this bleak backdrop to life, understanding my purpose in life, my relationships, my feelings, and existence itself, throws me into weariness. Not as much as some might, but it does affect me. I’m not a depressive person, but lingering in the grounds of existence leads to micro-crises. Daily bouts of anxiety and doom, depressed thoughts that ring internally loud and clear. My fortune is they rarely affect my external interaction with life. However once I hear the ringing of a micro-crisis I ring it louder and louder. So far, my mental state has been stable enough to withstand the provocation of my crises. It may be dangerous, I’m not sure – but it feels like handling a dangerous animal; its danger is beautiful. My curiosity is to see how one thought might affect it over another. I learn more from prodding my inner quarrels, letting some fall away into the known and others to snap out. Is this how most philosophers feel? After introspective queries they must emerge tired and bleak.

After my recent bout of a micro-crisis, it’s fitting that I came across an article by Venkatesh Rao advocating mid-life crises: freak out early and freak out often (FEFO). Some of Rao thoughts lead to big picture perspectives, and acknowledging the insignificance of your story. But I felt that Rao intended these conclusions to be positive, that ultimately the more FEFOs you endure the stronger your outlook is. Read it, it’s a good. The same perspective I came away from his article I intend to express (poorly) in this article.

***

So I am fine. I am fine with torturing myself. I am fine with life. I am fine with existence, until the next freak out.

‘The Psychopath Test’, a Book That Leaves You Dumbfounded

A reflection on ‘The Psychopath Test: a journey through the madness industry’, by Jon Ronson.


Jon is fantastic at weaving unrelated interviews into a maddening riddle. The Pyschopath Test is a bizzare collection of stories from 9/11 deniers, to wrongly accused pyschopaths, to new and upcoming messiah’s. Each new piece shocks me or leaves me dumbfounded. And then there’s Jon, always processing each fact with a good amount of skepticism. Both of us fall helplessly further into a world we don’t understand. It introduces new information and then smudges that understanding until you and the author are at a loss as to what to make of it. After while, I started to question whether I was going to learn anything from Jon’s mystery van road trip.

Jon pauses often to reflect on his thoughts. He becomes fixated on the parralels between diagnosing humans with pyschopathy, and the challenges of trying to capture human nature in words as a journalist. Jon even questions if he was the best person to have unpacked the madness industry. Jon’s like an amateur sleuth that stumbles upon another clue, finding person after person as if by mistake. You get the impression that he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing. Or what the book was ever about.

Then I realised, perhaps that’s Jon persona. Just like the pyschopaths he interviews, Jon’s only performing a mock-sherlock character. You can see there’s a lot of expertise in his work and he reveals this in his self reflections. It takes an expert journalist to string together this book. I believe it’s Jon’s maddening curiosity that makes this a beautiful book. You never quite understand why Jon is pursuing a certain line of research. But his curiosity is so beautiful and funny that’s it’s captivating to read.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Thoughts on The Handmaiden’s Tale
*This post hase very little editing, is constructed to reinforce my new knowledge, and therefore not that valuable to the public. I publish it to start a habit of reflection that I hope becomes valuable to more than just me.

The book is unsettling, seems unresolved and therefore more of a blip, a small casm into the memory of the protagonist, a moment in “history” that we had forgotten. The whole setup, it’s slow build, the shifts between present and past slowly make up a landscape that seems feasible. I think that’s what I hear predominantly from readers. This scenario could occur. With the amounting political shifts around the world, the direction into nationalism posted by the Trump Administration and Brexit, and the forking and firewalls occuring across the internet, their is a feeling of unpredictability. Maybe with the advent of unicorn billion dollar startups like Uber, the notion of black swan events is being revealed. The ability for corporate giants to built into movements that circumvent local jurisdiction. The advent of exstremestan seeps from fiction into reality. The tale of a handmaiden is at once mediocre and extreme. The circumstances are only shocking if you read it from a political landscape such as Australia, or Canada, or America the country the book is set. It’s the contrast (or subtle contrast) that makes it so shocking. I wonder if a state like China or Russia would be as moved by the text. I believe Atwood drew from history to construct this narrative. Her reasoning was to make it believable she must incorporate only events that have occurred in reality. I suppose it’s for these reasons alone I enjoyed the book, but struggle to celebrate it. It’s the efforts of constructing a believable reality that I commend. But the plot meanders, or I became bored or distracted. I remember vignettes of the text, like the protagonist sneaking into the room of the angel guard, or meeting her lost friend at a bar in the toilets. It’s the scenario that would be so ordinary if in any other context. The structure and thematic chapters are written as if they are recorded, opening to music, and the epilogue, a conference of history academics recounting their research into the time period, becomes a self aware stab at the desire to record and explore history with distance and little empathy. We are retrospective machines – and the story feels retrospective but acts futuristic. It’s the stumbling of a dystopian novel that collides with Victorian sensibilities. A parallel timeline that sidestepped ours by only a few paces. It’s not an urban fantasy.

Nassim Taleb, Black Swan

Thoughts on The Black Swan
*This post has very little editing, is constructed to reinforce my new knowledge, and therefore not that valuable to the public. I publish it to start a habit of reflection that I hope becomes valuable to more than just me.

Taleb describes the complexity of randomness as it is – unknowable. Randomness isn’t statistical randomness, as he puts it ‘Ludic Randomness’ or some platonic probability. Statistical randomness only occurs within manufactured contexts like casinos or politics. These contexts would fit within mediocristan – I think this refers to the mediocre impacts of randomness – they are in some ways predictable somewhat like a fractal pattern. The unknown unknowns is true randomness – it is not just the map or our interpretation of reality – it is the territory. It is the black swan. The analogy of the black swan is we knew for century of only white swans. I.e. the “Truth” was Swans = White. Until black swans were discovered in Australia, and the truth was dramatically changed. This demonstrates two things: the asymmetry of knowledge (or truth), and the fallacy of no evidence = evidence of absence. The first, asymmetry means 100 pieces of evidence for a fact, can be outweighed by a single piece of evidence. Taleb suggests we should be sceptical of evidence, truth, or the reliance of the past. An analogy is the Thanksgiving turkey (or the family chicken); for 100 days the turkey lives a happy life until the farmer kills the turkey for dinner. From the turkeys perspective, the probability of such an event occurring based on past events was 0. But from the farmers perspective it was certain. This is the crux of Taleb’s argument against the dependence on models using the statistical bell curve: because it works until it doesn’t. I’m a little bit hungover regarding the flaws or inadequacy of this. I see favour in using the model works for most contexts – but Talebs argument is it only works within the context of mediocrestan; not extremestan. There is no evidence that a black swan event will occur in mediocrestan until it occurs within the context of extremestan. We are narrative machines – we fail to predict black swan events (true random events) because our interpretation of the territory (reality) is within the bounds of mediocrestan philosophy and models. History, or society changes through large shifts, not in small iterations. And those large shifts only occur in retrospect. We give reasons to events after the fact, point out the signs, or what caused, when in fact it was probably random.

Part of this thinking has changed the way I view luck – luck is always misinterpreted with some form of conscientious, power to choose – randomness occurs all the time. For every Elon Musk there are at least 100 others who were never published, that were just as significant. People who prevent events are never remembered because the events never occurred. Only those who fixed event that had an impact. I guess this plays into humans being fantastic narrative machines, we make sense through order and linearity. We struggle with the unknown unknowables of prevented deaths from certain technology, vs the clear known preventions of death after an event of its nature.

It’s best to view these thoughts formed from The Black Swan and Antifragile – both have the same philosophy of randomness and uncertainty. Antifragile demonstrates more about the danger in depending on certainty that randomness can not occur. If you don’t account for the possibility of randomness you are fragile, like systems of power i.e. politics. Taleb argued that the introduction of randomness, or the allowance of randomness within systems created antifragile systems. Seeking out robust models made them more susceptible to crisis like the financial crash.