Saturday, April 30, 2005

Short Subject

The following story illustrates another aspect of the deliberate confusion of ideas.

"When I was little, my older brother would tease me, and when I told him my feelings were hurt, he would come back with, 'You're too sensitive!'"

The rejoinder, besides being a categorical denial of wrongdoing, is constructed in such a way as to raise self-doubt and confusion in the listener. The injured party in the story is left wondering what just happened, and doubting their own version of reality in favor of some external norm that they do not measure up to. If this statement did not generate a confusion of ideas, the natural response to, "You're too sensitive" would be, "How do you know?"

Life is full of these mental traps. They are, in a way, the thought equivalent to optical illusions, taking our minds down paths that are actually logical dead ends.


At 9:06 PM, Blogger Kalanchoe542 said...

Of course the rejoinder "how do you know" could always be met with "Oh, I know..." just to keep the injured party off balance, but I am getting ahead of myself again....

At 12:04 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

True. Most of us are susceptible to this kind of manipulation to one degree or another, I think it is a survival trait to cause the brain to pause and re-evaluate the situation. Unfortunately, most of us are not trained in logical evaluation, and learn this skill much later in life than would be good for us. There has to be a healthy equilibrium between self-confidence and the willingness to defer to the group consensus of opinion. This is a difficult balance to obtain, and is not helped by self appointed groups of one, as in this story, using tricks of the herd mentality to undermine their opponent’s self confidence.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Hellbound Alleee said...

He "knows" because if he didn't, then his actions would have been meant to hurt his little brothers' feelings. And of course, he said those things in order to ...well, in order to punish his brother and/or to make himself feel better.

The answer could be, then, "so you didn't mean what you said? That makes you a liar. Do you ever mean what you say?"

You learn these things when you are a younger sister.

PS: I added your blog as a link, if that's ok.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Hellbound Alleee said...

I was just thinking--it sounds a little like presuppositionalism.
1. If my worldview is not true, then I can't know anything.
2. I do know things.
3. Therefore, my worldview is true.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Kalanchoe542 said...

Speaking as another little sister, it may also be true that the older brother has no idea of how much power he wields over the younger sibling, just that the younger has usurped his place and wants to get even. Child nature tends to be simple like that.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Kalanchoe542 said...

Make that sentence "...and HE wants to get even". oops.


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