Whatever you do, don't challenge anyone's sense of victimization March 7, 2011 10:31 PM   Subscribe

Is the only appropriate response to coddle people's sense of victimhood?

http://ask.metafilter.com/180265/How-do-I-survive-this-mild-verbal-sexual-assault - twice now, I've posted that as a therapist, my advice to this woman would be to internalize that she is not a 'victim', has not been 'assaulted' and does not need to 'survive,' and twice now, my comments have been removed.

Does it really benefit us as a society to indulge every cry of victimhood? Is it inappropriate to suggest that the way to 'survive' this is to put it in perspective (I believe my first post said something like 'my client who was molested by her step father from age 8-13? Victim, survivor. My friend who was held down, beaten, and raped by three men? Victim, survivor. You? Inconvenienced, grossed-out. I'm not trying to upset you, but to suggest that perspective might help you 'get past this,' as you suggest you have in the past')?

Not only do I think that we're doing no one favors by encouraging people to catastrophize unpleasant experiences, but I think it's a grave disservice to those who have legitimately been assaulted to regard an unfortunate prank call as such.
posted by namesarehard to MetaFilter-Related at 10:31 PM (151 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

I saw your first answer before it was deleted, and it came across as pretty aggressive. While I agree with your basic premise that a random anonymous phone call is not comparable to other kinds of victimization (and I say that as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse), I chose to approach the asker based on her current state of mind, and I was able to answer her without coddling while at the same time making suggestions on how to put her experience in perspective. I think your approach sounded too confrontational.
posted by amyms at 10:48 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The OP was asking for help getting over something that disturbed her. If that annoys you, then ignore the question. But all you're doing is arguing over semantics, which doesn't help.
posted by Ortho at 10:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Mild verbal sexual assault" seems like an objectively fair descriptor. One person's verbal assault it another person's Tuesday afternoon. To put it another way: you can never cry because other people will always have it worse than you.

twice now, I've posted that as a therapist, my advice to this woman would be to internalize that she is not a 'victim', has not been 'assaulted' and does not need to 'survive,' and twice now, my comments have been removed.

yeah well I'm sure the third time's the charm
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:52 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let's do some arguing over semantics, then.
those who have legitimately been assaulted
Whatever the actual experience was of the poster of the question, I think this, where you're dividing people into legitimate victims and illegitimate non-victims, is the problem. That's a small, but important difference, to saying that perspective's important.

The asker is finding it difficult to pick up the phone at work. If "survival" is shorthand for "being able to keep doing my job", then it seems like a fair use of the word to me.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:54 PM on March 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm not arguing over semantics, I'm suggesting the most helpful approach to 'surviving' this is to accept it, put it into perspective, and dissolve feelings of victimhood.
posted by namesarehard at 10:54 PM on March 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


You don't even know what the guy said to her, who are you to judge the situation? If she says she was verbally assaulted then you need to assume that that's what really happened. Saying you don't believe her isn't answering the question, nor is it helpful. That has nothing to do with coddling someone's victimhood, it's just basic ask.me guidelines. Not to mention basic politeness to take what people say at face value when there's no evidence to the contrary. I really hope that as a therapist you don't pull that crap on your clients.

There are other answers in there doing a great job of putting it into perspective while still acknowledging this person's right to be upset by whatever happened.
posted by shelleycat at 10:54 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Your intent with the first comment seems okay but the way you presented it was into not-great "your experience doesn't count because I've known real victims" territory and nitpicking on the asker's choice of words. I know you said you weren't trying to cause offense but the comment seemed, like amyms says, aggressive. The asker's thread is not the place to stake out a battle about your feelings on the thresholds of victimhood and the use of the word "survive", basically.

I removed your second comment because it was metacommentary on the subject of the original deletion. That doesn't go in the thread, ever, and should have come over here first thing if you wanted to discuss it in public. That's about all, it's not a great big deal but the green is not the place to argue about moderation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:55 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


twice now, I've posted that as a therapist, my advice to this woman would be to internalize that she is not a 'victim', has not been 'assaulted' and does not need to 'survive,' and twice now, my comments have been removed.


i'd advise you to internalize that you are not a "victim", that you haven't been "assualted", and your comments do not need to "survive"
posted by pyramid termite at 10:56 PM on March 7, 2011 [45 favorites]


Hi. I flagged your second post as a derail.

I think it doesn't matter one bit what benefits us as a society when it comes to one person's individual trauma. If someone feels violated enough by a phone call to call it sexual assault, I don't believe it cheapens or lessens the violation that victims of physical sexual assault. It bothers me that as a therapist you are so quick to invalidate someone's traumatic experience because it is not traumatic enough.

I don't feel the other answers in that question are really coddling at all. Rather, most of them seem to be treating Night_owl with respect and the good faith that if she was bothered enough by this event to post this on AskMe, she probably deserves an answer that amounts to "that's nothing; get over it."
posted by girih knot at 10:56 PM on March 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


that amounts to more than*
posted by girih knot at 10:57 PM on March 7, 2011


To clarify. What I mean by not believing her is all the you're not a victim stuff. This women feels genuinely victimised at least to some degree, it's not your place to tell her she's not allowed to do that given you don't even know what actually happened.
posted by shelleycat at 10:57 PM on March 7, 2011


If your deleted comments were as condescending as this post, then they weren't very helpful and they were properly deleted.

Look, on the face of it, I would think that this was a relatively mild verbal attack (and hey, even the poster called it "mild" and "verbal"). In her place, I probably wouldn't call it any kind of sexual assault, verbal or otherwise. But I don't know her, you don't know her, and we don't know exactly what was said. For all we know, she may have a history that has made her more sensitive than other people.

She's getting some useful advice in the thread that I think will help her deal with this and move on. You don't get to confront her and make her use language the way you think she should use it in AskMe. You don't get to shame someone into right patterns of thinking and talking if they describe real distress in terms you find overblown. If you can't be both instructive and helpful, then don't answer at all.
posted by maudlin at 10:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I find it shocking that people talk about a culture of fear and how we got there without realizing that it's precisely this - that we don't encourage people to say, yeah, that was unfortunate, but it wasn't the end of the world and I'm not a victim. And no, I don't know what the guy said over the phone, but no phone call, regardless of what the creep says, compares to multiple years of childhood molestation or violent rape. This sounds highly unpleasant, but the word 'survival' has no place here.
posted by namesarehard at 11:06 PM on March 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


Isn't saying anything on the green "as a therapist" sort of a bad plan? I mean, you aren't her therapist.
posted by NoraReed at 11:07 PM on March 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I probably shouldn't be here for this conversation. But if I had said "handle" instead of "survive", would my post have offended or upset you, namesarehard? If I refrained from using the word "survive", would that make it all better?
posted by Night_owl at 11:09 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's correct that there are a lot of cases where thinking in terms of victimhood doesn't help. That's a fair point.

It sounds like the phrasing of your previous answer might have come across as "if this bothers you this much, you are being a wimp and shouldn't be bothered - so suck it up and stop being bothered, wimp". (A bit insulting and not all that helpful in practical terms.) Maybe you could make your point in a more kind way that allows the asker to put her experience in a useful perspective while still not feeling stupid about how much it bothered her?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:10 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I didn't see the exact phrasing of the original comment but I agree that it sounds like it could have been more respectful and less aggressive toward someone who was obviously offended and hurt.

That said, there are knees jerking aplenty in this MeTa. Advising the OP to think of the incident in a different way is perfectly constructive.
posted by eugenen at 11:14 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


as a therapist, my advice to this woman would be

As a therapist, you shouldn't be giving advice to people you've never met.

As a [information gleaned from user profile], you shouldn't be referring to yourself as a therapist.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [71 favorites]


I find it shocking that people talk about a culture of fear and how we got there without realizing that it's precisely this - that we don't encourage people to say, yeah, that was unfortunate, but it wasn't the end of the world and I'm not a victim.

Her question seems to be asking exactly how to get to this point. No one is advising her to hold on to this feeling and she is not asking anyone to hold her hand or coddle her. Your answer is like a damn koan. Zen master, how do I climb this tree? Why, you just get to the top.
posted by girih knot at 11:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I glimpsed the phrase "grave disservice," I leaned forward and smiled expectantly, but my subsequent scanning of that sentence revealed no puns whatsoever about either ghosts or the vampires.
posted by ignignokt at 11:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think many people have the ability to intellectually understand that "Yeah, this wasn't that bad actually in the grand scheme of possible bad things," understand that their reaction is perhaps somewhat overblown, but still be having that reaction. Fear doesn't often respond to logic.

Night_owl may well realize that her emotional reaction might seem overblown in the general scheme of not-really-that-bad-thing that happened to her, but she still is having troubles answering her phone and is afraid that this abusive phone call is going to come to mind at inappropriate times and make things complicated.

In the end I don't think anyone feels better about things by relating their troubles to the suffering of others, although we are very cable of making ourselves feel crappy by relating our troubles to the successes of others.
posted by that girl at 11:35 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And no, I don't know what the guy said over the phone, but no phone call, regardless of what the creep says, compares to multiple years of childhood molestation or violent rape. This sounds highly unpleasant, but the word 'survival' has no place here.

On the one hand, you are right in the sense that people's reactions to her retelling of the experience can reinforce her feelings of fear or helplessness, but I think the ship's already sailed in this case. I'm not sure telling someone that they are being irrational and need to suck it up is going to help them suck it up (I'm sure you didn't phrase it this way). Especially given that this woman managed to process the first experience fine. Maybe she read an intent in the second caller's voice that wasn't present in the first. Maybe it's the straw that broke the camel's back in her work environment which is stressful or traumatic for other reasons. Why do you seem obsessed here with placing everyone's experience in a hierarchy as if that is somehow a judgment of their level of emotional (over)reaction?

I think if you are going to participate in an online only forum after your face-to-face therapy experience you should consider avoiding making comparisons between the 'patients'. You aren't getting any of the non-verbal communication, and very little of the verbal kind either. Bringing your friend into it muddies the water considerably and makes it seem like you are berating the OP for trivializing what your friend went through.

So, tl;dr you came across as judgmental as much as helpful. Rephrase and try again?
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Advising the OP to think of the incident in a different way is perfectly constructive.

Plenty of people were able to do that without the overtones of 'you weren't raped so you're not a victim'.
posted by shelleycat at 11:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's what I thought in in the moments after reading the original question:
-Doesn't sound that bad, get over it.
-But I guess I don't actually know what was said.
-In fact it doesn't really matter what was said, it affected the asker.
-And I guess that's what she is trying to do: get over it.
-And to be fair, she's made an effort to counter any claims of "you're being sensitive" by mentioning that she has received calls like this in the past and had no problem, but now she does have an issue, which actually seems pretty reasonable if it's happened more than once.
-And actually, why the fuck should she even have to preemptively counter those comments Ask is for asking questions.
-It must fucking suck to be a woman sometimes.
-Although it'd be fun having...

[Some sexual fantasising removed.]

-And actually who the fuck calls up random people to verbally abuse them, sexually or otherwise?
-Is this common?
-Am I really that naive?
-And oh, I wish I could actually help the asker here but I don't even know where to start.

And then I felt guilty and closed the window.

Despite being an asshole by default and also not being a therapist, I managed to move on from "Seriously? Grow some testicles!" in a millionth of a second. I wonder why the OP (of this MeTa) didn't?
posted by doublehappy at 11:48 PM on March 7, 2011 [41 favorites]


(When a man confronts difficult questions about gender issues, why is naive helplessness his default mode of interaction? That strikes me as intellectually lazy... c'mon, we can do better!)

If you read the question, the OP is only asking about how she should deal with her emotions. She's asking for "closure," and how she can "relax and forget this happened." As long as she's focused on her own recovery, she should be able to frame it any way she chooses.

namesarehard: "we don't encourage people to say, yeah, that was unfortunate, but it wasn't the end of the world and I'm not a victim."

This is a good point, but the OP sounds like she's still shocked about the whole thing. As a crisis worker, we are told that the first response to an assault is very important. By charging in with "Your perspective of the events is incorrect," namesarehard is making a point at the expense of the OP's mental health. There are more polite ways to make this point— for example:

"Hi Night_owl, I understand you're still processing the events but please be careful with your words, because terms such as 'survivor' have a very specific meaning that don't seem to apply in your situation. THAT SAID, I'm so sorry this happened and here are some resources that might help you..."
posted by grammar corrections at 12:40 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


What you could have said:

"It might help you to reframe your experience so that it feels less immediately painful and traumatic if you try to think about the ways in which you are strong and capable. You haven't been felled by this. Even as it was happening, you remained calm. You reported it to the authorities--something that many people don't have the strength to do. And you're posting this message asking for help, which is a great step towards making yourself feel better about all of this. Even though it may feel scary right now, you will get through this, and you will be just fine. Because you're strong and capable."

What your actual statement sounded like instead:

"You're just whining about nothing. If you feel upset and victimized by what happened to you, it's just because you're overreacting like a crybaby. Shut up, and if you get the urge to throw yourself a pity party, think about all of the real victims out there instead of being so selfish."

See the difference?
posted by decathecting at 12:48 AM on March 8, 2011 [36 favorites]


Isn't saying anything on the green "as a therapist" sort of a bad plan? I mean, you aren't her therapist.

I don't think that listening to people talk is a legally protected occupation.

I'm not arguing over semantics, I'm suggesting the most helpful approach to 'surviving' this is to accept it, put it into perspective, and dissolve feelings of victimhood.

With all due respect, the way you phrased this in the question was terrible. I actually agree with you that it is enormously helpful to recontextualise unpleasant events as mere nuisances and to recast a person's view of themselves from victim to protagonist in their own story.
However.
The correct way to do is certainly not to dismiss their perspective while they're still upset! You could have phrased your advice the way decathecting did above. First you don't dismiss their feelings, then you present as an option open to them an alternative conceptual framework. Finally you use your rhetorical skills to tell them the story of what happened in a frame where the focus is on their own actions.

Certainly you should not at any point compare their experiences to much worse ones. Now they feel bad about the phone call, and they feel like assholes because you made their feelings seem unworthy and trivial.
posted by atrazine at 1:34 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Does it really benefit us as a society to indulge every cry of victimhood?

Objectively, I'd have to agree that no, it really doesn't. I have a lot of sympathy with your viewpoint, but you've picked a rather innappropriate forum to make your point. You don't smack people down on the green for not living up to your personal standards of mental health. That's what the blue's for.
posted by londonmark at 1:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Crikey, if you _are_ a therapist, then I feel for your clients. Here's a little reframing you could do to remember from mefi's own Plato: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
posted by smoke at 2:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Look, nobody else has said this yet, but it needs to be said. Please don't take this the wrong way, namesarehard - I'm not trying to be sarcastic or otherwise rhetorical, and I'm not saying you're a bad person - but are you absolutely, 100% certain that what you want to be is a therapist?

As a therapist, you are going to encounter a lot of people who don't have 'real problems'. The difficulties they have will be subjective and personal, not the kind that are easy to quantify in terms of little anecdotes about 'this is the tough life my client had' (and you might want to cut that out, by the way - it's much easier to never, ever reveal personal details about your clients than to have to be thinking all the time about whether you've kept them below the threshold where someone might be identified). If situations like this, where someone's asking on the internet for tips on getting on with her life after a somewhat, but not devastatingly, traumatic event, is enough to raise your hackles, I'm not sure how you will cope with people seeking therapy for endogenous depression or anxiety. It will be exhausting for both you and your clients if you go into everything with the attitude that the client's feelings should be exactly proportional to what you, the therapist, think of their life overall and the sufferings therein.

I don't speak here 'as a therapist' but as someone who has had therapy and who has friends who are training to be therapists. Please consider whether other careers might be a better fit - life coaching (I'm serious about this, it helps a lot of people and doesn't work the way that therapy works) or advocacy or something else where you're still helping people, but in a different way. If you decide to stick with therapy, and you're not in therapy yourself (sometimes this is a requirement, and sometimes it isn't) then you might want to consider that - not because you have 'real problems' that need solving, but because therapists have strains on them that people with other jobs don't, and need a way to work through the things this brings up for them, in a safe space that is far away from where their clients are.

As I say, I'm not trying to get at you here. Being a therapist is hard and people get burned-out and disheartened all the time. It really helps if, going in, you are absolutely sure that you want to help these people in this way.
posted by Acheman at 2:42 AM on March 8, 2011 [43 favorites]


I didn't see your deleted comments so all appropriate disclaimers before I say that on your broader point (rather than this specific issue), I fully agree with you. There's too much angsting about every little misfortune that befalls us and not enough taking it on the chin and moving on. I find it pretty tiresome, but I'm having therapy for that so I hope to avoid too much post-tiresomeness stress disorder.
posted by Decani at 3:34 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You'll find the whole spectrum of this sort of thing on the internet. On one hand you have things like mommyblogs or focused hobbiest forums which attract specific audiences that seem to be super supportive and ready to indulge every whim of posters (the ones that fit in) and on the other hand you'd have something like 4chan where the poster of this question would have been derided in an unspeakable fashion.

AskMe lies somewhere in between. The heavy moderation has created a "safe space" where people obviously feel comfortable asking these types of questions, and others feel comfortable answering in kind. Many of these askers/answerers are sensitive types who would be driven off easily by "tough love" approaches. I strongly doubt that the askers of these types of questions are looking to have their assumptions challenged.

Whether or not this is a good thing, I don't know. Those of us who find this grating are the type that would never ask this sort of question in a public forum anyway - we'd just deal with it, and save AskMe for questions that have concrete answers.
posted by davey_darling at 4:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


As I say, I'm not trying to get at you here. Being a therapist is hard and people get burned-out and disheartened all the time. It really helps if, going in, you are absolutely sure that you want to help these people in this way.

It seems to me that what namesarehard is saying is that sometimes the best therapy is no therapy - which seems so obvious that it hardly needs a MeTa call-out.

As a therapist, you are going to encounter a lot of people who don't have 'real problems'.

These people are called a reliable, steady income. They are the bread and butter of the therapy industry. Do not turn these troubled souls away.
posted by three blind mice at 4:39 AM on March 8, 2011


I thought the word "assault" seemed perhaps a little hyperbolic in that context. But, you know, I didn't experience it, and I can't judge for sure, and sometimes we can't find the right word and just choose the best words we can. And, regardless, the time to argue semantics is not the day after when the person is still shaken and seeking advice.

And the "other people have it worse" argument never makes an upset person feel better about what happened to them. It comes across as "you should be ashamed you're hurt and scared by this." People's feelings aren't proportional to some objective scale of possible traumatic events. (As a therapist, you should know this.) And where do you draw the line? If a young woman passes out at a party and is assaulted while unconscious, would you tell her it wasn't so bad because it didn't result in bruises or go on for years? On the flip side, would you tell a violent rape victim "well, shit, you have it worse than pretty much everyone and you should feel really bad"?

Not to mention the last thing I'd want a therapist of mine to do is talk about me, even anonymously, online - especially as part of an argument why someone else shouldn't feel upset.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:41 AM on March 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Before I clicked through, I thought, "Oh, wow, a Meta callout on the Meta callout below it! When will the recursion end?" and was all excited.
posted by adipocere at 4:53 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hey, I knew someone who was therapist once. They would usually talk about how they knew this or knew that and could see problems where others couldn't because they had been a therapist. I asked them why there were no longer in the industry. She had gotten burnt out on the abuse stories and being doing horrible things. She was also frustrated by abuse victims who could climb past their abuse, so she left.

In time, it became clear she was particularly harsh with people, expecting them to respond as she would respond and if they took to long to get over something, she found them weak and "losers". So I asked her how long she had actually been therapist. Well, she hadn't actually been a real live therapist, but was in the midst of completing her required work hours to become a certified therapist. Oh, I said. And how long were you a student? 3 months she replied.

I've been leery of people who are so vocal about being a therapist ever since.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:55 AM on March 8, 2011 [28 favorites]


I don't see a difference between enabling someone to live their life in the shadow of some unfortunate thing that happened, as opposed to helping them come out from under that, as being any different in substance from enabling a person to live their life in the shadow of some chemical addiction, as opposed to helping them come out from under that.

Yes it's easier said than done because saying it isn't doing jack, but that doesn't make it impossible or anything.

I know how MetaFilter feels about stuff like this, and I know what kind of response I'll get to this and, frankly, that has been driving me away from the site for quite a while now.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:02 AM on March 8, 2011


The job of a therapist is not to tell your client how to feel, but to help them manage what they are feeling. In your profession, you are going to run the gamut of sensitivities. Effectively telling someone to "man up" because it wasn't that bad compared to other things will ensure you have a very short career.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:04 AM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm a guy, and I grew up in Australia where, frankly, seeing a therapist was some sort of 'poofter' thing Americans did. So my first thought in quite a few Ask questions is "harden up sunshine".
But I'm trying to get over it, and I certainly don't go wading in to Ask questions belittling how the poster feels.
Apologies to all my 'poofter' mates for that comment, especially so soon after Mardi Gras
posted by bystander at 5:06 AM on March 8, 2011


And the "other people have it worse" argument never makes an upset person feel better about what happened to them

I've been wondering about that. Because the reverse is certainly true - seeing other people's success can certainly make you feel worse about yours - affluenza.

And it's also true that in times of great trauma, that being surrounded by people who've patently come off worse does make one feel less worse. There are countless examples of people saying this sort of thing after wars or natural catastrophes.

I'm not advocating this as a catch all response to therapy or people seeking therapy. And there is certainly a way of introducing the idea of perspective into counselling, but it seems to me that perspective or "stiff upper lip" does have a place both in AskMe responses and the practice of counselling more generally. In particular, there was an interesting review of research on debriefing done a few years back which concluded that refusing to dwell on traumatic experiences might be better.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:16 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm a guy, and I grew up in Australia where, frankly, seeing a therapist was some sort of 'poofter' thing Americans did.

Sue:
People go to a psychiatrist to talk about their problems. She just needed to unload them. You know, bring them out in the open.

Crocodile Dundee:
Hasn't she got any mates?

Sue:
You're right. I guess we could all use more mates. I suppose you don't have any shrinks at Walkabout Creek.

Crocodile Dundee:
No, back there if you got a problem, you tell Wally. And he tells everyone in town, brings it out in the open, no more problem.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:28 AM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I remember one day I got up much earlier than my usual wake up and went to work. At some point I complained about getting up at 7am and being tired. The woman to whom I was talking told me that she got up at 5am every day to get her kids up and to school before a long commute. I felt like an idiot, but it didn't change the fact that I was still tired. It did make me laugh at myself the next time I had to get up early.

I agree that using the word "assault" is somewhat heavy handed when compared to other instances of sexual assault. I think that this qualifies as lewd and harassing phone calls, not verbal assault, mild or otherwise. That said, changing the words doesn't change how the person asking the question feels. Sometimes things that ordinarily don't get under your skin, get under your skin.

That said, after recently saying something like "you already know what answer you want to hear" on two different askme questions, I've been having to restrain myself from saying it on a whole slew of other questions. I've been editing myself.

Not on this question though. I just didn't have any advice at all. Although to you: perhaps reading some Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, about the Total Perspective Device might be entertaining.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:32 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Acheman, you should consder whether reading a few paragraphs of a person's writing on one particular day in their life actually entitles you to make sweeping declarations about their choice of profession.

Most people in this conversation have managed to productively discuss how to respond to a question phrased in a way that might be problematic, and none of them have gotten so inappropriately personal.
posted by prefpara at 5:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the only appropriate response to coddle people's sense of victimhood?

No, but as others have said, it's not appropriate to be unkind about it. "Coddle" is unkind and dismissive.

It's probably possible to convey the general idea without coming across like you're slapping a person in the head and if it's not possible, it's preferable not to answer, because despite some people's beliefs to the contrary, AskMe isn't there for people to step up to get slapped around.

Furthermore, once you start metaphorically slapping people around, they tune you out and stop listening to you because you've established yourself as someone not to be trusted.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:41 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


As someone who has been sexually assaulted, I dislike being used as an example or as an excuse to be snarky. In this case, it just reminds me of the ways in which my sexual assault wouldn't be taken seriously by a lot of people who don't take anything but stranger rapes seriously. Good job.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:50 AM on March 8, 2011 [24 favorites]


MuffinMan, on the second page you linked to, the first author, the one who is making the case that debriefing is not beneficial, argues that a good alternative is robust, well-informed peer support. Isn't this what the original OP was looking for on AskMe? She didn't ask anyone to step in 'as a therapist'. She explicitly said she wanted 'closure' and to 'forget this ever happened'. The advice she has been given, the stuff that wasn't deleted, has mostly been to talk to the police, talk to her friends, and do some cognitive reframing, together with some kindly and sympathetic assurances that she will be able to get over this. I do not think that in any way constitutes some kind of therapy industry turning her into a perpetual victim, nor do I think it represents a worrying societal trend. It's just people being decent to each other. Actual therapists have to deal with far more problematic situations than this, which is why I was concerned about namesarehard's reaction to this fairly unremarkable one.
posted by Acheman at 5:58 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Best therapist I ever had often asked me hard, blunt questions, but she never made me feel belittled or dismissed. She helped me put things in perspective without making me feel like I was an asshole for not being properly grateful that my problems were not as bad as they could be.
posted by rtha at 6:10 AM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


As someone who has been sexually assaulted, I dislike being used as ... an excuse to be snarky. ... Good job.

Didn't you just use your assualt as an excuse to be snarky?
posted by Dano St at 6:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I didn't see the exact phrasing of the original comment but I agree that it sounds like it could have been more respectful and less aggressive toward someone who was obviously offended and hurt.

namesarehard pretty much paraphrased it well enough. Recounting two other people's sexual assaults in a thread being asked by someone who is pretty shook up about getting a creepy phone call [enough so that she's calling it an assault, whether you think that it was or not] comes across as fairly tone deaf. More to the point it's definitely unhelpful. I think people in that thread did a decent job if questioning the poster's assumptions without being like "well you weren't raped like THIS, were you?" That is the way AskMe is supposed to work.

Is the only appropriate response to coddle people's sense of victimhood?

No. We're supposed to use our good judgment and manners to appropriately to respond to people in the context that they are coming from. If you think they're misreporting, misremembering or otherwise somehow reacting in a disproportionate fashion according to you, you can bring that up in a way that is helpful to the poster and also answers the question.

There's a vast chasm between coddling and your comment. That's probably where you should aim next time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


We are all aware that there is not a limited quantity of "assault" that we are allowed to parcel out, yes? Calling what happened to the original OP verbal sexual assault does in no way diminish physical sexual assault, rape, or even verbal sexual assault suffered by any one else, independently of the degree of "severity" (which I put in scare-quotes because, really, it's up to no one but the individual to define the severity of their own assault, different things trigger different responses in different people, shockingly enough) of the assault.

You don't get to judge. You don't get to define. You don't get to minimize or dismiss or challenge. And you know what? Not doing any of the above does not diminish or dilute anybody else's experience. In fact, if we called all unwanted and unwelcome sexual tirades (be they obscene phone calls, cat calls, aggressive come-ons, what have you) verbal sexual assault, then maybe we, as a society, could curb it and fight it and recognize that - no matter how inconsequential it appears to a bystander - it is fundamentally a denial of personal autonomy and consent.
posted by lydhre at 6:26 AM on March 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is the only appropriate response to coddle people's sense of victimhood?

Not insulting the OP or other commenters in AskMe is not the same as "coddling." And, yes, you can disagree with people, including the OP, with being insulting about it.

It sounds like the way you phrased your comment in the original thread may have come across as more aggressive than you intended. I think the paraphrase you offered here, "I'm suggesting the most helpful approach to 'surviving' this is to accept it, put it into perspective, and dissolve feelings of victimhood," would have been fine,
posted by nangar at 6:33 AM on March 8, 2011


Can I say something else? I know you aren't done with school yet, and you maybe haven't had a professional ethics class, and maybe this isnt' the kind of stuff they cover anyway. But it is a bad, bad idea to talk about your patients on the internet. It's a bad idea even if you're just pretending to talk about a specific patient and instead have made up an example. (IE, I hope you really don't have a patient who was molested by her step-father in exactly the scenario you painted above, but it's a bad idea even if you don't.) You cannot assume you're anonymous here. You've revealed a lot of details about yourself in various posts and comments, and it is entirely possible that someone here has recognized you. There's a poster here who posted something one day that made me realize that I knew who he was. He's a friend of a friend who I know casually. I've since confirmed that it's really him. It is possible that one of your colleagues or even one of your patients will put two and two together. And it's going to make it difficult for your patients to trust you if they think you're blithely, glibly talking about them on the internet.
posted by craichead at 6:34 AM on March 8, 2011 [25 favorites]


Building on what craichead says above, you should also check with an adviser at your school about the implications of calling yourself a therapist. It comes with certain responsibilities and implications that you should be aware of. Note that we have actually had certain well respected and long standing members of this community leave because they were uncomfortable about people giving therapist type advice over the internet. Using the phrase "as a therapist" is at least HIGHLY inadvisable.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:56 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Building on what craichead says above...

I'm sorry, but that's not building, it's piling.

If you don't want to talk about the issue brought up by this thread, don't do so. Or talk about pies or something. But don't tell people how to act professionally in order to express your discomfort with what they have to say.
posted by Dano St at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


We are all aware that there is not a limited quantity of "assault" that we are allowed to parcel out, yes?

Yes.
posted by Balonious Assault at 7:14 AM on March 8, 2011


And no, I don't know what the guy said over the phone, but no phone call, regardless of what the creep says, compares to multiple years of childhood molestation or violent rape.

Is that your therapeutic approach? "Suck it up, whiner. Come back when you have real problems, like some of my other clients."

Because I must say, in that case I'm glad you're not my therapist.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:15 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


But don't tell people how to act professionally in order to express your discomfort with what they have to say.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that you're not in a profession with codified professional ethics. It's not about acting "professionally." It's something that you can really truly screw yourself with. In fact, in some professions, it's possible that the board won't license you for something you did in your past. My advice to seek out an adviser at school is sincerely meant, and I hope the poster does it. I have no opinion *whatsoever* about the content of the poster's advice to the asker. However, the phrase "as a therapist" brings a whole lot with it. It's not a phrase to be used lightly, and if the poster is serious about being licensed as a therapist, s/he needs the guidance from an adviser in his/her school about when it's appropriate to use it.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:23 AM on March 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yes, we get it. I just don't get why you need to "build" thread by repeating the point.
posted by Dano St at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2011


Acheman - I don't think we're contradicting one another. I was really just making the point that there are live examples where "someone having it worse" does make someone feel better and also that debriefing trauma victims is not as clinically proven as you might think.

I wasn't suggesting that this would work for the OP, nor that the OP had to do x or should have done x.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:22 AM on March 8, 2011


You know, the way you framed this post pretty much screams out that you're biased. I, too, initially thought the OP's language was a little hyperbolic. (And I speak as someone who has felt really pretty traumatized by a couple of obscene/prank phone calls in the past.) So I was inclined to give an ear to someone making roughly the kind of point you were apparently trying to. But you're not doing yourself any favors with the way you're expressing yourself here. Characterizing everyone else's responses as "coddling" is disrespectful and ignores the nuances of the variety of responses that post got.

I'm not even saying you need to be diplomatic, not all the time. Sometimes a helpful response is blunt; sometimes it's good to cut through the bullcrap. But that's not what you're going. Weirdly, in a way, you're portraying yourself as a victim: a victim of some sort of prohibition against "challeng[ing] anyone's sense of victimization." Before you make that claim, why don't you try making your arguments in neutral language, not language that assumes everyone is either stupid or out to silence you or both?
posted by BibiRose at 8:28 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't you just use your assualt as an excuse to be snarky?

The worst thing about any act of violence against women is when that woman then mentions it.

Happy International Women's Day, everyone!
posted by DNye at 8:30 AM on March 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


I didn't like the two replies that were deleted, but I will chime in to agree that "Mild verbal sexual assault" is the sort of loaded phrase that we should try to avoid.

To be honest, I'm a bit surprised that the discussion exploded the way that it did. "Of course you should call the cops" and "Don't take it personally, you just got crank-called by a drunk asshole" are really the only two responses that were necessary.
posted by schmod at 8:35 AM on March 8, 2011


I didn't like the two replies that were deleted, but I will chime in to agree that "Mild verbal sexual assault" is the sort of loaded phrase that we should try to avoid.

Well, "verbal assault' has a common-law meaning, IIRC - it means spoken threats of physical harm where there is a reasonable apprehension of the possibility of physical harm from the person making the threats. "Verbal sexual assault" would, in that context, be a threat of sexual violence which the recipient could not discard as unrelated to any personal risk. It's not a legal term, nor is it necessarily a precise one, but in the context - of someone having received an obscene phone call (contents undisclosed) and being freaked out by it beyond their own expectation - it doesn't seem like an actively misleading or perverse phrasing. I mean, it's not like describing being beaten in Halo in the language of sexual assault, right?
posted by DNye at 8:48 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If something that can be paraphrased as "Suck it up, you baby" isn't really appropriate, I think comments that can be paraphrased as "You are obviously going to be a shitty therapist" aren't really appropriate either.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think that listening to people talk is a legally protected occupation.

Well, leaving aside your wonderfully dismissive description of therapy (I hope you do something that helps people feel better for a living), I think you're wrong about this. Of course laws vary by state, but I think all states require appropriate licensure to call yourself a therapist. There are usually a couple of exceptions to those laws, but the exceptions are usually fairly strict in themselves.
posted by OmieWise at 9:16 AM on March 8, 2011


I think comments that can be paraphrased as "You are obviously going to be a shitty therapist" aren't really appropriate either.

Amusing especially considering how many answers in AskMe are "just go see a therapist".
posted by smackfu at 9:18 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The laws vary by state, but "therapist" and "counselor" are two of the most general descriptions used and can usually be used without a license or with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. The titles that can be used with differing qualifications (PhD, PsyD, BA/BS, MSW, LCSW, etc.) are different from state to state. Since the poster in question lists his or her profession as a clinical psych grad student, he or she is most likely engaged in practicum, in which he or she is indeed treating patients as a therapist. Now, if he or she were to self-label as "psychologist" or "psychiatrist," then we would probably be in ethically questionable territory.

I also feel that many of us are being much too hard on namesarehard. Yes, the original comments seemed a bit tonedeaf, but as stated above, some of the best clinicians I have known have asked hard questions of their clients. Therapists have differing styles that match better or worse with differing clients. Saying someone should reconsider their career choices because of your personal views on this is out of order and hypocritical in light of many of the criticisms being levied here.
posted by proj at 9:21 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So condescendingly questioning the level of victimhood of a random internet poster based on limited information is out of bounds (and rightfully so), but condescendingly questioning the professional career path of a random internet poster based on a few comments is totally ok?
posted by The Gooch at 9:23 AM on March 8, 2011


Yes, reread what I wrote and you will clearly see that is exactly what I said. I am also arguing that two wrongs make a right and that might makes right.
posted by proj at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ok, wow, 60 new comments. I may go back and read later. For now, I should say that after a night's sleep and some self-reflection (and reflection of the responses from last night) it seems that my words were inappropriately strong. Full disclosure - I've never been sexually assaulted, but people whom I love deeply have had their lives ripped apart by it in the worst possible way, and something about the words abuse, assault, and victim applied to a phone call pushed all of my buttons. It felt like someone was going up to a Kurd or Tibetan and saying they felt oppressed by advertising billboards, or going to a cancer patient and talking about the struggle of battling one's sniffles. But from the responses here, I can see my words were judgmental and insensitive, and for that, I am sorry.
posted by namesarehard at 9:26 AM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


If something that can be paraphrased as "Suck it up, you baby" isn't really appropriate, I think comments that can be paraphrased as "You are obviously going to be a shitty therapist" aren't really appropriate either.

Practical differences in askme vs. metatalk culture and moderation practices notwithstanding, I agree, and it'd be great if people would cut that out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on March 8, 2011


It felt like someone was going up to a Kurd or Tibetan and saying they felt oppressed by advertising billboards, or going to a cancer patient and talking about the struggle of battling one's sniffles. But from the responses here, I can see my words were judgmental and insensitive, and for that, I am sorry.

Well, let's just thank Heaven that you realised that before you compared a woman who had been on the receiving end of an obscene phone call (possibly containing threats of sexual violence) to a grossly insensitive cultural tourist or hypochondriac!

Wait, what?

Put another, way, I think this wraps this up, right? You weren't responding as a therapist, but rather as a person who is angered by the use of certain words. As such, the advice you gave was not actually advice, but rather a lecture on appropriate word use, and was rightly deleted for being offtopic.
posted by DNye at 9:40 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Dude, when someone says "I was being judgmental and insensitive, and I'm sorry" don't make fun of them for how they say it.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


Here's the thing about being a victim: you only know what you know. One person's First World problems might seem so much more trivial than all of the other horrible abuses suffered at the hands of tyrants and despots, etc... but what if I've never experienced those kinds of things? There's no possible way for me to internalize someone else's experience to truly understand what goes on in his or her head.

So, for example: helping my partner through a week-long treatment for skin cancer, and dealing with the permanent but small scar, wasn't the same as watching someone die day by day from stomach cancer, or dealing with an Ebert-level disfigurement that significantly changes the way you look and how you interact with the world. But in the grand scheme of things, that's what I knew. It was worse than anything I'd experienced before.

Moreover, no matter how small it may have been in the long run, there was no way to stop myself from thinking about huge concerns like death, mortality, being intimate during a period of discomfort and possible ickiness, all that -- just like it probably wasn't possible for the OP of the AskMe post to stop thinking about something that had jarred her sense of safety and control.

Just a thought.
posted by Madamina at 9:45 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


23skidoo: I agree entirely. However, saying:

1) As someone who has experience of people I love surviving sexual assault, I am like a Kurd, a Tibetan or a cancer patient - not someone who knows Kurds or Tibetans or cancer patients, but a Kurd or a Tibetan or a cancer patient.
2) By asking for advice from a community website about having been upset by an obscene phone call and using language which references sexual assault, you are like someone going up to a Kurd, Tibetan or cancer patient in conversation and claiming that your inconsequential level of oppression or suffering is equivalent to their real oppression and suffering.
3) But I was being judgmental and insensitive, and I'm sorry

Is not the same as saying "I was being judgmental and insensitive, and I'm sorry". It's exactly what it is. It's OK to say "I behaved inappropriately, but the person towards whom I was behaving inappropriately is still a bad person", but if that's what you're saying it's also OK to own that.
posted by DNye at 10:04 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


As your therapist, DNye, my advice is to stop popping crazy pills. Or start if you haven't been.
posted by Dano St at 10:15 AM on March 8, 2011


Madamina said what I was thinking, with much more compassion for namesarehard. Being extremely judgmental is not a vice a good therapist can indulge in professionally.

When I said I'm glad namesarehard is not my therapist, I was partly snarking and partly being completely straightforward. It's not something I talk about much here, or anywhere, but I have persistent dysthymia. I've been living with it for going on 30 years.

On the depression spectrum dysthymia falls pretty near the end of complaining about sniffles. I get out of bed, I act nice, I do my work. But often makes things that are normally stressful for others into huge deals for me. That probably seems wussy, but it's my reality, the only one I know, and I'm happy to have found and worked with some incredibly compassionate therapists who helped me immensely, and never, ever did so by telling me I was doing a "grave disservice" to people who were "legitimately" suffering.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:15 AM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


So condescendingly questioning the level of victimhood of a random internet poster based on limited information is out of bounds (and rightfully so), but condescendingly questioning the professional career path of a random internet poster based on a few comments is totally ok?

cortex has mentioned this but no, what is okay in MeFi is not the same as what is okay in MeTa. That said, it would be great if people would stop going down that path which it looks like they mostly have.

The koan that I use which is basically what Madamina was saying was "everyone's hardest struggle is their hardest struggle" The competitive suffering thing is rarely a useful way to talk about or to people who are in pain.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I disagree with Squeak Attack completely - dysthymia is a chronic condition, unlike sniffles. Or a phone call one will likely forget within 2 weeks.
posted by namesarehard at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2011


I'm too sane to accept your pig-wrestling invitation, Dano St. But good luck!
posted by DNye at 10:23 AM on March 8, 2011


namesarehard, I think the standard advice at this point is to recognize the countertransferrence and request the intervention of a supervisor.
posted by mlis at 10:24 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, this thread's a bit of a mess, but at least I learned the word "koan". That's pretty cool
posted by Think_Long at 10:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or a phone call one will likely forget within 2 weeks.

This is also a phone call you described as "an unfortunate prank call" - something akin to being asked whether one has Prince Albert in a can, perhaps?

Quite seriously, namesarehard, I can't work out if you think you are doing something good for victims of sexual assault by using them as a stick with which to beat people who have experienced any type of sexual harassment that doesn't meet your exacting standards. If so, it's the oddest approach to white knighting I've ever seen. Have you considered how your friend or your client would react if you told them that you had used their traumatic experience to drop the hammer on night_owl? Do you think they would be glad that you used their horrible experiences to castigate a woman upset by an obscene phone call?

Ah, well. Happy International Women's Day, everyone!
posted by DNye at 10:54 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thank you for bringing the thread to my attention.

I used to get sexually explicit harassing calls at work. It was a retail bookstore, so most likely it was a customer. Pretty creepy to think that the person knew what I looked like and most likely knew what time I got off work. Guys who do this crap to women are huge jerks, and should be held accountable.
posted by theora55 at 10:55 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah, well. Happy International Women's Day, everyone!

This is the second thread where you have done this. I would like it to be the last, if possible. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:56 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Actually, it's the second time I've done this in a single thread, Jessamyn, not the second thread I have done it in - it was a call-back to the victim-haranguing here. I'm certainly happy not to do it again, but to be clear it was a call-back within a single thread; I'm not spitgunning it across MetaFilter.
posted by DNye at 11:02 AM on March 8, 2011


How things are framed and languaged is tremendously important. To a large extent psychological hurts live in the meanings that the person suffering them gives to whatever happened.

You could crudely paraphrase a lot of Eastern philosophy as "suck it up baby", but that doesn't mean the two framings are remotely equal in helpfulness - or destructiveness.

I didn't see the original question, but the fact that the asker seems to have used the expression "mild assault" to describe their experience would be an interesting place to look.

It either occurred for you as an assault or it occurred for you as mild. There is no such thing as mild assault. If it occurred for you as an assault you are perhaps disempowering yourself by playing down how it felt, making light of it, maybe pretending to the person involved and others around you that it is not such a big deal.

If the actual events are not what most people would interpret as an assault then likely it would be worth probing what had you see it that way. For example, the answer may lie in prior experiences that have led you to viewing the world as a dangerous place, and viewing people as aggressive.

In any case, AskMe is probably not a great place to work through such stuff.

The same things apply to the Meta-issue as the issue. Something happened (a person described an experience in a certain way) and you reacted to their doing that in whatever way you did. Perhaps in a way that would be considered disproportionate by most. Why did you react that way? Maybe because certain of your hot buttons were pushed rather than because that was a particularly constructive or effective way to respond.

Now not all constructive interventions with people are "nice". But AskMe is again probably not a great place for those kind of conversations. Partly because for that to work, there has to be a strong background relationship between the people that allows for those things to be heard as intended.

And it's probably asking too much of cortex and jessamyn, much as I admire their skills with people, to distinguish between someone being a jerk with an asker, and someone skillfully helping an asker by getting them to confront something about themselves that they have been avoiding facing.

Overall it seems a good policy to err on the side of not allowing anything that seems belittling and disparaging of people and their problems.

And there is mostly always a way to say something "harsh" to people in a different, lighter way that they're actually much more likely to take on board. So if your intention is to help rather than vent or judge, that's often a good place to look.
posted by philipy at 11:10 AM on March 8, 2011


My post was removed as well.

I explained that it was a prank phone call and gave her my opinion on the matter which is what she asked for.

I also explained that working 3rd shift in a call center, I received 1-15 of these "verbal sexual assult" calls on a nightly basis and that she shouldnt take it personally.

But it got taken down because I didn't agree with everyone else about the severity of this single prank call and calling the police about it.

I did the OP to seek therapy if something like this is affecting her entire life.

I don't like how my post was removed. When people ask questions, maybe they want answers from all points of view.

I hope if I ever post serious questions that mods don't play censorship.
One of the reasons I enjoy reading/posting questions is because of the varying opinions and advice given here.
posted by KogeLiz at 11:15 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is no such thing as mild assault.

Oh bullshit. I was mildly assaulted by two jerks in Philly while riding my bike home one day. I got the first jerk in a front head/arm lock and used him to fend off the second, much bigger, jerk. They stopped fighting when it became clear that at least one of them would get hurt if they continued. This was a mild assault.
posted by Mister_A at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't like how my post was removed. When people ask questions, maybe they want answers from all points of view.

You called the OP "ridiculous." You said "you need to seriously look at reality here" You told the OP they needed therapy. You used a lot of ALL CAPS words to indicate that you thought the OP was overeacting. You said "I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but this is just my opinion."

At the point at which you or anyone is concerned that they maybe sound like a jerk, it's a good idea to see if, before you click "post" you can do something about not sounding like a jerk. People are allowed to challenge the assumptions or preconceptions of the poster as long as they do it in a respectful way. Many people have addressed the OPs framing of the incident in ways that are both "hey you might want to reconsider this" and at the same time understanding that she's in a crappy place.

I hope if I ever post serious questions that mods don't play censorship.

I hope if you post a serious question people treat it seriously and don't act like the feelings you are describing aren't legitimate. Or if they can't do that, that they flag it and move on.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


And for what it's worth, your subsequent post was fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:29 AM on March 8, 2011


There is no such thing as mild assault.

or maybe, you know, she felt assaulted and violated but knew that people would minimize her experience because it was "only a phone call" so she pre-minimized it to try to avoid being ridiculed for daring to be upset about someone abusing her on the phone.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:30 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I explained that it was a prank phone call and gave her my opinion on the matter which is what she asked for.

With respect, KogeLiz, I disagree. Here, in her own words, is what Night_owl asked:

The overarching question: How do I handle this, in two parts?

Regarding her friend's advice to file a police report and then contact the phone company so that it could start a "process against the number":
What does that mean? Is this worth my time? Will there eventually be legal closure, or is the police report intended to be the closure?

Regarding her concern that she was disturbed by this call in a way that she was not disturbed previously, and that talk during sex might trigger association with the call: How do I remove the stigma from the words that were said to me so I can enjoy them again? How can I relax and forget this happened?

I don't read any of those questions as asking for our opinion on whether or not she was "really" assaulted, or whether or not her feelings were justified. Of course, one could argue that by using "mild" as a qualifier in the header question, she was impliedly asking for the opinion of others. (Myself, I think that's a stretch -- I lean toward L'Estrange Fruit's suggestion that maybe she qualified her question to preemptively address any suggestions that she was making a big deal about nothing -- but I know that my point of view is far from universal.)

I also share frustrations that others have voiced in AskMe, wherein the OP asks a question that can't be answered in a straightforward manner, and a great foofaraw ensues over whether just answering the OP's question is appropriate, or whether other concerns need to be addressed. Likewise, I have little patience with OPs who ask, point-blank, for people's opinions, and then get angry or defensive when people offer them. But I just don't see either of these things in Night_owl's question.
posted by bakerina at 11:47 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate how I read threads like this and can't read the deleted comments so I can't form any opinion of what I find here.
posted by sweetkid at 11:59 AM on March 8, 2011


As a therapist, you are going to encounter a lot of people who don't have 'real problems'.

This. In fact, I held off going to therapy for years and years because I knew my problems weren't terrible. I have been told my whole life my problems were trivial and I know LOTS of people who have much more terrible pasts than I do.

But my problems, as embarassingly trivial as they seemed, were screwing up my life in big ways. Thankfully, I found an awesome therapist on the first try, who made it clear that yes, my problems weren't equivalent to a Kurdish refugee's, but that they deserved fixing anyway.

More specifically, and at the risk of overshare: Things that shouldn't have bothered me often did, because of how I'd grown up. I really didn't have perspective. For instance, if someone was so out of line as to make a phone call like that, what's to stop them from physical assault? When I was a kid, that's the way things turned out. Part of what my therapist did was give me an idea of what I could do about it and had me list the resources available to me. Sounds dumb, but I had never thought of it before- I was still thinking like a 6 year old or god knows what.

Anyway, when I saw that post, my first thought was that she'd had something in her past that made it seem extra traumatic- a sort of PTSD. Who knows what the OP's background is? None of us, and maybe the OP doesn't even know what things are making this so traumatic for her, but if they are, they are. If she's like a lot of people, she's already got a "Suck it up, you wuss!" tape running through her head, and she's finding it unhelpful, which could be why she posted in the first place.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:04 PM on March 8, 2011 [38 favorites]


I favorite small_ruminant's comment so hard I will cheerfully break my fingers to favorite it even harder.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:07 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't tell you how many times i started writing something in response to this thread and then deleted it.

My two emotions are: 1) Pain is pain, and 2) don't expect people to respond the same way as you do.

A therapist has to keep in mind that they are not the sole template with how their patients should deal with the world. How they deal with the world is just as fucked up as any other given person, and just because you are on the other side of the desk it gives you little right to enforce or impose your wold-view, let along showing contempt to the human sitting across from you.

OP came at the answer as if they where a therapist, and then let personal biases interfere with their advice. I mean this respectfully namesarehard, but if this interaction is indicative of your method, you should consider some serious soul searching in how you plan to approach people from a professional standpoint. You don't get a do-over when you are in your office spouting something out because someone pushed your buttons. You will be in a position where you can do great harm by exhibiting these self same biases. YOU do not get to decide the validity of the emotion.
posted by edgeways at 12:16 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


This thread is a good example about how hard our mods' jobs can be in making judgment calls. I am, as usual, impressed with the civility, candor, and good sense shown both in the original call and in dealing with the aftermath.
posted by norm at 12:28 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is one of those threads I wish I could unsee. Just gross and uncomfortable and really unpleasant all the way around. I wish I could FIAMO. Instead I'm going to go look at pictures of bunnies with pancakes on their heads as a palate cleanser.
posted by ladybird at 1:01 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The self-righteousness is strong in this thread.
posted by y2karl at 1:14 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


>>Ah, well. Happy International Women's Day, everyone!

This is the second thread where you have done this. I would like it to be the last, if possible. Thank you.


Agreed. The usage of IWD as some kind of 'trump card' you can play as though you have the singular ability to determine which rights of women are at play in this thread and what the correct stance is to take on them is a cheap and offensive intellectual move for you to make.
posted by modernnomad at 1:43 PM on March 8, 2011


It's not an intellectual move at all, ModernNomad, whether cheap and offensive or otherwise. I did it twice, in this one thread - you and Jessamyn are both a tiny bit off, there, but no matter. In neither case was it an intellectual move, in neither case was it intended as a trump card - whatever that means - and in neither case was it about determining which rights of women are at play, again whatever that means. Did you think I wanted to exclude the right to vote? The right of free assembly? I can assure you, I had no such plan.

Anyway...

In both cases, it was a direct response to somebody trying to use the sexual assault of women to shut a woman up or belittle her experiences. In one case, that was namesarehard's use of a friend and a client's experience of sexual assault to dismiss Night_owl's experience as equivalent to sniffles. In another, impressively, it was Dano St using someone's own experience of sexual assault to criticise her for saying she didn't enjoy seeing survivors of sexual assault used as an example or an excuse to be snarky. Which, you know, is pretty classy. That's here for Dano St and here for namesarehard - also passim, of course - if you're following the thread, this is essentially what it's about. These gambits struck me as ironic, given the date. I made a funny.

Considering that we are OK, in terms of moderator intercession, with child abuse, the oppression of the Kurds and cancer being used in this thread to scold Night_owl for her choice of words, I'm not sure why this quite simple piece of call and response is specifically problematic, but I'm totally happy to desist. I had no wish to cause trouble. I am only responding now to you because it has clearly caused you unhappiness, and I hope I have helped to allay that by helping you with your misapprehensions.
posted by DNye at 2:21 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Considering that we are OK, in terms of moderator intercession, with child abuse, the oppression of the Kurds and cancer being used in this thread to scold Night_owl for her choice of words, I'm not sure why this quite simple piece of call and response is specifically problematic, but I'm totally happy to desist.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here, but MetaTalk is where we basically don't delete stuff that isn't totally against the rules. Not stepping in and saying "quit doing that" is a far cry from stuff being something we're fine and dandy with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:26 PM on March 8, 2011


it was Dano St using someone's own experience of sexual assault to criticise her for saying she didn't enjoy seeing survivors of sexual assault used as an example or an excuse to be snarky.

My criticism was not for her saying that. It was for her hypocritically snarky pat-on-the-head addendum: "Good job". Asshole.
posted by Dano St at 2:32 PM on March 8, 2011


Jessamyn:I'm not sure what you're getting at here, but MetaTalk is where we basically don't delete stuff that isn't totally against the rules. Not stepping in and saying "quit doing that" is a far cry from stuff being something we're fine and dandy with.

It wasn't my intention to get at anything, I assure you, nor was I thinking of deletion. I was simply not sure why one thing gets a specific request from a Moderator to desist and another doesn't. And I'm still not, to be honest, but that's fine - this thread isn't about my confusion. I don't need to understand this, only to respect your wishes. Totally fine with that.

I wasn't planning to come back to the thread, but Modernnomad seemed quite agitated, and I wanted to set his mind at rest.
posted by DNye at 2:47 PM on March 8, 2011


It was cheap and offensive because saying "Happy Women's Day!" was a pretty transparent way of saying "hey everyone, I think this person I'm arguing with doesn't like women!" If you're going to accuse someone of misogyny, personally I'd rather you were a little more open with it, rather than couching it in winking asides. Agitated I am not, disappointed I am.
posted by modernnomad at 3:01 PM on March 8, 2011


Dude, how can I simultaneously be being transparent and not be open enough? I mean, a window is transparent but not open, at least when it's closed, but I think you it's still open in the sense of accurately conveying what is on the other side of it. I mean, you'd have to have some sort of... recent head injury not to get what's going on there, right?

Notwithstanding, I have to disagree with your reading of my transparent opacity. Sure, likening an obscene call to a case of the sniffles id pretty misogynistic, as is trying to gotcha a survivor of sexual assault in re: how their sexual assault makes them feel, but that doesn't mean the people doing it are misogynistic. Deeply disrespectful, sure, and low on empathy, but simply using misogyny to try to win an argument no more means that you are a misogynist than Yalta made Roosevelt a Stalinist. That's about structural misogyny, however, and how ready people are to go to that well to win arguments.
posted by DNye at 3:14 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you it's still open - I think you'd agree it's still open
id pretty - is pretty. Forgive me. I have a cold.
posted by DNye at 3:16 PM on March 8, 2011


(Also, since I'm here - what _is_ that stuff about me trying to dictate what rights of women are at play? Is this something I would need to own a copy of Wollstonecraft to understand?)
posted by DNye at 3:27 PM on March 8, 2011


Since we're at the level of brain injury insults now, I think it's safe to say I'm not willing to debate this point with you in good faith any longer. Have a good evening.
posted by modernnomad at 3:31 PM on March 8, 2011


Concussion humour, actually - but I guess if you want to grab that old saw and use it to cut a circle around you in the floorboards of the corner you've painted yourself into, Hanna-Barbera style, that's fine.
posted by DNye at 3:36 PM on March 8, 2011


Holy moly, that's a lot of passive aggressiveness.
posted by proj at 3:47 PM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


(It's nice to know there was a point, at least, and that up until now it was being debated in good faith - it just seemed like some rather confused stuff first about the rights of women and who got to say which ones were at play, and then about my having transparently stated something with insufficient transparency. Something I hadn't actually stated, although you weren't too far off, I guess - it did involve misogyny as a concept, certainly. Ah, well. I can't imagine this codicil will live long in anyone's memory.)
posted by DNye at 3:49 PM on March 8, 2011


The onscreen name DNye, on the other hand, will live long in the memory of anyone who has read this thread -- not to your credit, however.
posted by y2karl at 4:55 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Y'know, they call Jennifer Lopez "J.Lo." and Lindsey Lohan "LiLo." I say we start calling Charlie Sheen "ChaShee."
posted by jonmc at 4:57 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The onscreen name DNye, on the other hand, will live long in the memory of anyone who has read this thread -- not to your credit, however.


Sure, that's possible. I tried actually to respond to ModernNomad's concerns, and I think I've learned that looking at what people actually write and trying to have a dialogue based on that is probably a mistake. You want to go in with the italics and the 'inverted commas' and a couple of awesome adjectives like "cheap" or "offensive", maybe an impressive phrase like "the rights of women".

It's kind of weird that it's more discreditable to you for someone to reply to a bombastic and incoherent telling-off (seriously, I still have no idea what that rights of women stuff was about, but it seems it was really a sound effect more than a position) than to troll survivors of sexual violence, but if that's the culture, that's the culture.
posted by DNye at 5:18 PM on March 8, 2011


(When a man confronts difficult questions about gender issues, why is naive helplessness his default mode of interaction? That strikes me as intellectually lazy... c'mon, we can do better!)

That's a fair question. I should note that my first instinct when confronted with difficult questions about any subject is naive helplessnes, but I know that's not what you're asking. Society is pretty firm about gender roles and stereotypes and growing up there was a clear message that men have no place in gender issues. I took a feminism paper at university four or five years ago and I went in there in good faith and without preconceptions and it wasn't easy to participate and a few people let me know (often explicitly) that I wasn't welcome. Of the ten or so guys that started that course, three of us finished it, and I don't think it was because they didn't think the subject was important.

Also, we're too busy worrying about not being seen as gay or effeminate to be able to participate in a discussion about gender issues. I love fashion design and would have loved to study fashion when I was younger but I didn't have the guts. I still might, but when I do I expect to face some pretty tough questioning from friends and family and the population at large. The colour pink is for girls; women in power are masculine; if you cry you're a girl; if you like musicals, you're gay; and if you're offended by something like a sexual phone call you're a little bitch and you should get over it.

So what do I think about night_owl's question? I don't think it's really about sexual assault or gender issues at all. I think it's about how to tune out or mute something that's on repeat in her head. There's no reason to treat this any differently from, for example, witnessing a car crash and having the event play over and over and taint everything for a few weeks or months. It's a perfectly reasonable question and a perfectly reasonable reaction to something pretty fucking atrocious that, incidentally, as a guy, I have never experienced or even been aware of.

And to anyone that says "oh, you need to get over it because my friend was raped five times" is not only missing the point but being an asshole about it. It's like standing at a funeral and saying "Stop crying and get over it, your dad was 70 my dad was only 50 when he died".
posted by doublehappy at 5:18 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


" Didn't you just use your assualt as an excuse to be snarky?"

Using it for snark is one of the many super awesome benefits that come from being sexually assaulted! I'm not going to list them all here because I don't want people getting jealous that I get all these great perks and you don't.

Your ableist comment about crazy pills later in the thread wasn't particularly clever, either.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:27 PM on March 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


Not that I should give more attention to a certain poster in this thread, but dude... if you feel like you have to anonymize your profile mid-thread, for whatever reason, maybe that's a signal that you should quit it.

For the record, if someone connected my public persona to writing like you've displayed in this thread, I'd be ashamed. So it was probably a good start -- but not far enough.
posted by Madamina at 5:56 PM on March 8, 2011


Sure, that's possible. I tried actually to respond to ModernNomad's concerns, and I think I've learned that looking at what people actually write and trying to have a dialogue based on that is probably a mistake.

Everything you have written so far in this thread, including the remark quoted above, reads to me as very sarcastic. You strike me as an intelligent person, and so I presumed that was your intent. Therefore, to claim that you were responding in good faith seems to me a trifle disingenuous. I am of the opinion, personally, that you would do more to advance your argument in this thread if you played it straight. Perhaps I have misunderstood the tone you intended to strike, however. If I have, I apologize.
posted by Diablevert at 6:26 PM on March 8, 2011


Sincerely, Madamina, I don't understand what's happening. I didn't think it was cool to describe receiving an obscene phone call as receiving a "prank call". I didn't think it was cool to liken it to a sniffle, or to liken someone upset by an obscene call to someone with a sniffle complaining to a cancer patient about how much she is suffering. These don't seem to be totally crazy outlier positions. I guess the International Women's Day references were unnecessarily snarky; I was fine with that correction from Jessamyn, and stopped posting to the thread after that.

Then, some hours later and after the conversation had moved on, ModernNomad picked this cold potato up and and accused me of something involving the rights of women which I did not and do not understand, and of a "cheap and offensive intellectual move" - when I thought I'd just made a pretty obvious, if snarky, joke and call-back. I could have been more polite in my response, but ModernNomad's tone was not polite. While responding to what I understood of this, I was told that I was not arguing in good faith because I had responded to being accused of being simultaneously transparent and not open enough with bewilderment. The idea that the result of this is that my name will live in infamy is really confusing me, which is combining with tiredness and cold medication to make me feel pretty stressed out.

So, diablevert, I really was not being sarcastic - although I was being defensive. I think I've totally misunderstood how this culture works - what ModernNomad said was OK, that I replied was not. In failing to understand that, I have clearly overstepped boundaries, although I don't wholly understand what those boundaries are, and I regret that. I've misjudged the culture here, and again I regret that. I don't really know what else I can do at this point except apologise and leave.
posted by DNye at 7:20 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I was a professional therapist I would be very concerned about the practice ramifications and ethical dilemmas of community-weblog-based interventions and referrals at ask.metafilter.com. One probably should not present themselves as a therapist in response to quasi-anonymous internet users in association with a service that doesn't always provide clinically sound advice and occasionally presents advise that is contrary to the ethics of some therapeutic disciplines.

Also, if I was a professional therapist I wouldn't work for free on metafilter.

I miss the Straightener. He could have straightened this whole thing out.
posted by fuq at 7:25 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I too miss the Straightener, and still wonder what we did to not have nice things like the Straightener. I think it's odd that feelings got so strained in this particular thread, but I will say that someone who is more concerned with "society" at large than the emotions of one particular person who also calls themselves a therapist should maybe reconsider something. As DFW, Mefi favorite, said, we are all at the center of all of our experiences, and therefore everything we know comes from that perspective.
posted by sweetkid at 8:12 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Read the definition of trauma. It doesn't come with a sliding scale. It's about the experience of the person who's been traumatized. Then look at secondary wounding and retraumatization. Dismissing a person who says they've been hurt or traumatized creates another trauma. I hope you sort that out before you go into unsupervised practice.
posted by acoutu at 9:24 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cortex, did you really delete comments from that thread ? It doesnt look like it.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:03 AM on March 9, 2011


We deleted five comments from that thread, two by the OP of this thread, two more by another person we addressed in this thread and one short snarky "how can you be assaulted by words" comment that didn't answer the question.

I too miss the Straightener, and still wonder what we did to not have nice things like the Straightener.

It's a bit of a long story but the short simple way to put it is that he found it diifcult to be a professional giving professional-level advice and having strong disagreements with amateurs in situations where he felt they were giving bad and possibly harmful advice.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:58 AM on March 9, 2011


This post needs a big blinking trigger warning and then to be deleted.
posted by clarknova at 7:54 AM on March 9, 2011


It's true that trauma is in the eye of the beholder. But someone who sees a random and anonymous obscene phone call from a stranger as a major event, is someone who can benefit from a little perspective.

It's also true that there is a whole spectrum of ways to give someone perspective. However, at some point, a decision must be made about which is more important: telling the truth, or being sensitive.

It's quite clear at this point that on Metafilter, especially on AskMe, being sensitive is about a thousand times more important than telling the truth. And the trend has been to increase the discrepancy between those two priorities over time. I, for one, find this disappointing. It seems to me that the pendulum has nearly reached that end of the rainbow where it will meet a nexus of puppies, teddy bears, and Disney princesses eternally receiving their first kiss. It would perhaps not be such a horrible thing to let it fall back a tiny bit in the other direction.
posted by bingo at 8:48 AM on March 9, 2011


bingo, I think it's worth distinguishing being sensitive from being constructive. I understand AskMe is a solution-oriented environment. That means that the best, truest answer in the world is worthless if it is delivered in a way that prevents it from being useful. So, for example, it wouldn't make sense for me to post my best, truest answer in the secret language invented by me and my twin. For similar reasons, there is a strong bias against phrasing answers in such a way that they are significantly more likely to alienate and upset the asker than to communicate the actual substance. It's the difference between "don't eat the moldy bread" and "don't fucking eat the moldy bread you sad pathetic asshole I will piss in your nose until the end of time choke choke choke on the bread."

Basically, being sensitive and telling the truth are not mutually exclusive. Telling the truth in an insensitive way strips your answer of its utility. The compromise required by the site is that you tell the truth in a useful (sensitive, constructive) way.

The restriction isn't about content, substance, or message. It's about tone, essentially.
posted by prefpara at 8:58 AM on March 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's a bit of a long story but the short simple way to put it is that he found it diifcult to be a professional giving professional-level advice and having strong disagreements with amateurs in situations where he felt they were giving bad and possibly harmful advice.
posted by jessamyn ★ at 5:58 AM on March 9 [+] [!]


I'm curious if this kind of scenario has happened more than once with experts. I've made a little rule (weakly followed) not to argue to fervently about areas in which I'm an expert. I've also found myself frustrated by what I perceive as amateurs trying to tell me what I do and don't know about a topic and that the "all viewpoints are equally valid" brigade often strongarms their way into discussions, even about areas in which there actually is an acknowledged right answer. This is a real sore point with me. Is this also what happened to ikkyu2?
posted by proj at 9:18 AM on March 9, 2011


Is this also what happened to ikkyu2?

Sort of but not exactly. If it's all the same to everyone, I'd really rather not go into the "Why did people leave?" thing too deeply. All I have is my own perspective that is strongly influenced by my mod opinions of people who were unhappy enough here to eventually leave.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:20 AM on March 9, 2011


Ah, sorry, wasn't trying to go down that road. I was just curious if this was common-ish as I have definitely had my hackles up about this topic.
posted by proj at 9:24 AM on March 9, 2011


prefpara: That means that the best, truest answer in the world is worthless if it is delivered in a way that prevents it from being useful.

This is true, but in the atmosphere that has developed here, the burden of accommodation is placed almost entirely on the answerer.

I think that this is a Bad Thing, mainly because the askers that are thought to need shielding from less sensitive answers are usually the ones who could benefit from them the most.

It's true that the OP here isn't asking for our opinions on whether she is being over-sensitive or naive. On the other hand, it's equally true that what she really needs is a greater awareness of where her micro-trauma falls on the spectrum of human suffering. Coddling her, and enabling her perception of herself as someone who merits coddling, is counter-productive in that regard.

I'm not saying that she should be insulted and shat upon. But around here, the meter for detecting insensitivity is a lot jumpier than the meter for detecting gratuitous, enabling bullshit. Perhaps the meters should be a tiny bit more in alignment.

If something not-particularly-bad happens to you, and you want verbose and emphatic validation from hundreds of people that what happened to you was, in fact, quite terrible, then Metafilter is a great place to get the reassurance that you're looking for. I think this is unfortunate, and that we should give some consideration as to whether fostering that atmosphere is really helping anyone who has to eventually deal with the world outside this URL.
posted by bingo at 9:36 AM on March 9, 2011


Christ, bingo, did you even bother to read the question?

bakerina has a good breakdown of it. The OP wasn't asking for coddling or being all "woe is me I was assaulted worse than anyone!" She asked specifically what kind of thing would happen if she reported this to the police, and how to not get hung up on the words the caller used when they get used in a loving context between her and her partner. She also said that previous similar incidents didn't bother her as much as this one had, and how could she get past this one. If that sounds like asking for coddling to you, I don't know what to say about that.
posted by rtha at 10:09 AM on March 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


rtha: If that sounds like asking for coddling to you, I don't know what to say about that.

It does indeed. I look forward to your confounded silence.
posted by bingo at 11:12 AM on March 9, 2011


Asking for help in how to get past something is asking for coddling? (Apologies for disappointing you with my lack of silence.)
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on March 9, 2011


bingo you're going to dull that ax if you keep grinding it on straw men.
posted by facetious at 11:49 AM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think I've mentioned this before, but I find the appeal to one's authority can be (not *is*) a misleading and ultimately counterproductive act on AxeMe (and I've seriously considered removing my own info on my profile so that I don't get any unwitting extra credibility on certain questions). Two quick reasons why, then an example. First, questions that involve specifics often can touch on specific areas of expertise that a practitioner in the GENERAL field may not know any better than a layperson with plenty of real-world experience, meaning that better answers can come from a non-professional. Second, people posting with seeming authority can easily discourage lay answers from being posted later.

Example: let's say a MeFite with an extremely premature child spends 151 days in a NICU, spending 2-18 hours per day there, going over specific test results, reading monitors, and having constant conversations with specialists, surgeons, and nurses. That person does not have a medical education, but they may know a specific sub-set of medical information that was relevant to their child far better than a podiatrist, or even a general practice pediatrician.

Please note that this is a scenario that is far more likely to happen in subjective or semi-subjective questions. I love spiders, but after I put up a guess on a spider identification question and a couple of arachnologists showed up to discuss it I sure as hell wasn't going to debate why I thought my answer was better than theirs. I like that there is a mix of professional and amateur answerers here, and think that if someone shares their professional knowledge or opinion and it isn't automatically just respected at face value that it is probably their their responsibility to explain why they are right versus just expecting to be treated that way because of their profession.

If that process is too difficult or time consuming, then those professionals are right in steering clear of getting involved in those questions.
posted by norm at 12:01 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


rtha: Asking for help in how to get past something is asking for coddling?

The request for coddling was implicit and probably unconscious. People sometimes mean things that they don't directly say. It's with a mixture of pride and dismay that I realize I may be the first person ever to tell you this.

facetious: bingo you're going to dull that ax if you keep grinding it on straw men.

If you keep incoherently mixing metaphors, you're going to end up on the wrong side of a short pier. And then we'll see whose chickens come home to roost before the sky falls.
posted by bingo at 12:55 PM on March 9, 2011


The request for coddling was implicit and probably unconscious.

Okay. Clearly, the only way to help the poster "relax and forget this happened" is to give her a "greater awareness of where her micro-trauma falls on the spectrum of human suffering." We should send her links to articles about blown-up kids in Iraq, or victims of mass rape in Congo. Right?

There's no possible room for advice like "Use this CBT trick I learned to derail when you begin to replay the incident" or "meditate" or [other ordinary advice that we give people]. Nope - that's enabling her bourgeois mentality. Gotta make sure she knows her place.

People sometimes mean things that they don't directly say.


No shit.
posted by rtha at 1:20 PM on March 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


No shit.

Try eating more fibre.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:27 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The request for coddling was implicit and probably unconscious.

Thank you, Dr. Freud. Please tell us about her childhood now.
posted by scody at 1:42 PM on March 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Clearly, the only way to help the poster "relax and forget this happened" is to give her a "greater awareness of where her micro-trauma falls on the spectrum of human suffering."

That's not what I said. There's room for all sorts of things. Including advice not to think of oneself as a victim. Which is, after all, what this thread is about.
posted by bingo at 2:47 PM on March 9, 2011


You were pretty clear about what you thought she "really needs." I didn't read the question as her thinking of herself as a victim, but rather asking for specific strategies for getting over something upsetting. You seem to conflate the two. You should read her response here if you haven't already.
posted by rtha at 3:49 PM on March 9, 2011


Wow. Maybe the mefite with the dead cat needs some perspective too. I mean, it's just a cat. And that's in Metatalk, where you don't even have to try to pretend to be helpful - you could do all kinds of good in the world!
posted by Salamandrous at 7:32 AM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe the mefite with the dead cat doesn't need you dragging his sorrow in here to score a cheap shot in a personal attack.
posted by y2karl at 12:41 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you suggesting I should coddle them in their grief?
posted by Salamandrous at 2:42 PM on March 10, 2011


No, I am suggesting you do not make personal attacks by taking cheap rhetorical shots.
posted by y2karl at 2:51 PM on March 10, 2011


I think bingo can take it.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:19 PM on March 10, 2011


It was a personal attack. It was you making yourself right by making him wrong in a very petty and vindictive way. And what is the point ? Demonizing other people persuades no one but the amen corner.
posted by y2karl at 3:33 PM on March 10, 2011


And if you think bingo can take it, it suggests you perhaps know him personally. Do you ?
It may be very satisfying to take a gotcha dig at a stranger, but, to do so to someone you have met, well, your comment reflects more on your character and judgment than you now realize. I find it impossible that you will be always proud of your using smirkyfodder's loss to take a cheap shot at a personal acquaintance. It was beneath contempt.

Your words here are carved in stone. They will last as long as this site. Never forget that.
posted by y2karl at 4:00 PM on March 10, 2011


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