Are These the Deep, Dark Secrets of Those Who Can't Quit a Cruel President?

“Poisonous pedagogy” is what the late, world-renowned Swiss psychotherapist Alice Miller called dominant Western methods of child-rearing. That label has always been hard to swallow.

We’d rather deny it. We’re assuming it’s getting better. But Miller was deadly serious.

But are the extremes of this pedagogy what lie beneath the cult of a cruel president?

Miller’s writings were extensive and important, including For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence (1990), Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child (1998), and The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self (2001).

In each she challenged what was considered “normal” parenting in past generations.

Miller called for a total revision of the methods we use and how we view children. She described how parents, who haven’t dealt with the effects of the poisonous pedagogy of their own parents, project their ideas, feelings, and dreams on their childre…

These Are Uniquely Perilous Times for Equality. So What Now?

When it comes to human rights, we’re in a very different time than ever before. LGBTQ people had made much headway, improved their positives in public polling, and convinced an increasing number that they deserve to be considered as full American citizens.

But this time is dangerous: because anti-LGBTQ remains a major factor in the playbook of Republican politics as conservative politicians continue to court the extreme religious right-wing; because the Party as a result has put “the convinced” in the legislature and judiciary who actually do believe that LGBTQ people deserve a second-class status at most; and because it’s tempting to let things slide by with some false hope of future security.
Likewise, many leaders who became heroes in the right-wing religious movements by gaining their notoriety with anti-LGBTQ rhetoric know that an anti-LGBTQ position is the only thing that will continue to keep them in the spotlight. To give it up is to lose attention and likely the sheep who ado…

The Religious Right-Wing’s Sexual Sickness Destroys Their Lives But Remains Central to Their Addictions

A new book by University of Oklahoma sociology of religion professor Samuel L. Perry entitled Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Protestants goes beyond the usual unsurprising studies that show that anti-porn red states use more porn than blue ones. It explores how pornography messes up the lives of those caught up in right-wing Christian ideology.

Without making any moral claims about pornography in general, Perry concludes that pornographic use “seems to be uniquely harmful to conservative Protestants’ mental health, their sense of self, their own identities—certainly their intimate relationships—in ways that don’t tend to be as harmful for people who don’t have that kind of moral problem with it.”
Can we say cognitive/emotional/religious dissonance?

And the problem isn’t in the pornography itself. It becomes manifest in conservative Christians’ hypocrisy which is rooted in the poor self images its ideology thrives upon.
Perry says: “What I’m able to show is th…

How to Win the Next Election By Not Feeding the Mainstream Media What It Wants

When confronted by members of the national corporate media, people seem to be flattered by the fact that someone is asking them for their opinions. There’s an element of ego-stroking, even for the most upper-level politicians, when a well-known reporter or commentator considers them important enough to ask them a question.

What this means is that some people feel they must answer questions in a media world that’s looking for fifteen-second sound bites, a 24/7 corporate cable-news driven media that is looking for controversy, especially anything that will fit their current meme: “the Democrats are in disarray.”
(I’m not talking about the thoughtful, dedicated, low-paid, usually local reporters that work hard to get their stories right and with some nuance.)
What surprises me is how some of the top national Democratic personalities fall for this and cooperatively stir the pot. I’m not sure why leaders do this so regularly, but am convinced that in doing so they’re isolating many who w…

Dialogue with Right-Wingers? Wouldn't It Be Nice?

“Bipartisanship,” conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist once said, “is another name for date rape.” His analogy fits comfortably with radical right-wing views, now called conservative. If they were to try to work with liberals, these conservatives continue to preach, it would be corrupting.

That must be disheartening to “moderates” who really want to believe that sitting down in discussion with those who disagree is one of the few hopes for civilization. And liberals have bent over backwards to work along side right-wing extremists and struggled to bring conservatives into discussions.
Some take any conservative consideration of more moderate positions as a sign of legitimacy. And they work really hard to see that right-wing views are included.
This desire to believe in the power of dialogue, conversation, and working together is a desperate one. Should moderates have to face the idea that times changed back in the Newt Gingrich era so that putting all ones eggs into the dialog…

We Must Be Able to Understand a Human Being Unlike Us

“You can’t understand me because you haven’t had my experience.”

“I’m _________, you’re not, so how can you know what being my group experiences?”
These words surely remind us that we should hesitate to speak for another and that no two
human beings have the exact same life stories. They should evoke humility when conversing with and responding to another human being.
They can be spoken from the depths of the systemic oppressions that are a part of the warp and woof of our culture. One of the characteristics of any of the privileged statuses that remain endemic to society is the feeling that the privileged group is the one that’s entitled to define those without that privilege and to interpret their experiences – what is and is not really privilege, oppression, offensive, normal, and significant enough is taken more seriously when described by the privileged group.
LGBT people know the feeling. People of color know it. Women know it. The physically challenged know it. The poor know …

Reminder About Our Reactions to the Religion Addicts Who Got Us Into This Mess

Take right-wing religion’s teaching that people are basically so evil and lost that they deserve eternal, abusive punishment. Add its effectiveness at convincing people of their innate evil because they’re prepared for it through child-rearing methods that punish inherently bad children.
Enforce such messages with political leaders whose solution to problems is more punishment. The result: adults’ desperate need for a fix to provide relief from self-denigrating, self-abusive feelings.
That’s what makes the high of being righteous so addictive. And with the past (and present) political success of the right-wing and the enabling of FOX news, people who use religion as an addiction can’t give up their fix: the high of winning politically that to them proves they're righteousness.
The religion addicted can’t give it up even in the face of the blatant hypocrisy and con-like pandering of a president* who in his personal life embodies everything right-wingers have spent decades criticizi…

The Ubiquity of That Impostor Syndrome - And "It Doesn't Go Away"

When Michelle Obama was asked on her recent tour for her new book, Becoming, how it felt to be seen as a "symbol of hope," she told a room of students: "I still have a little impostor syndrome….It doesn't go away, that feeling that you shouldn't take me that seriously. What do I know?”

By openly raising the issue in her book and on tour, she’s again unmasking the common, nagging, dogged sense of doubt felt by anyone who was raised as member of a non-dominant, victimized group in a stratified society that raises its ugly head when that member rises “above” the limits that a culture teaches are inherent in their group. Though they thereby should be an example of the fact that those limits are artificially constructed and down-right discriminatory, the culturally-taught role lingers within.
Two psychologists labeled this phenomenon “imposter syndrome” in a 1978 paper that identified it in women who are expected to take on a victim role in a male-dominant culture bu…