[970122] for thoughts directory?, maybe work into CCT later?

People with emotional umblical cords

I've observed that some people are severely and deeply emotionally dependent on others. They feel alright about themselves only when they are with others and those others can be seen as approving of them (or at least tolerating them, which with a bit of imagination they can make into approval).

Without ``support'' from others, they are (as far as they are concerned), at best non-entities and, at worst dreadful monsters deserving of the worst possible fates. In effect, they have built on their low self-esteem, by taking negative views and decisions (natural enough at that level of self-esteem), and created a full renunciation (from their subjective viewpoint, which others somehow pick up) of the complete personhood which they (objectively) still retain.

(In Myers-Briggs / Jungian personality typing terms, these are perhaps the extreme Extroverts... those who draw their energy from [being with] others. Some element of this way of being is present in each person, perhaps more at some times than others. Which way a person looks for strength in times of extreme stress may be more informative than the way they get their energy normally, especially when the two are compared. I used to have a lot of this in me; now I have moved out of it, which I consider to be an improvement... as, I expect, do my friends and acquaintances.)

Such people wander around looking for someone to make give them the full personhood that they have thus renounced. Without this, they will (as they see it) die as people. The rather blunt image that comes to my mind here is that of a prematurely born personality wandering around with its umbilical cord and placenta still attached, desparately seeking someone's womb surface to stick their placenta onto and draw nourishment.

Unfortunately, not all people have a surface to which such people may attach their placentas. For example, I don't; and yet I find these people pitiful, and wish I could do something for them. What is the difference underlying the presence or absence of such a surface? The surface may be there naturally, but to those who have discerned the things noted in this page, and who have the integrity to refuse to lie or to go along with a lie, it is inappropriate to allow someone to pretend that you're their friend when in fact you just want to get out of the situation.

At times they annoy me, and I wish I could do something about them, but that is a wrong way to regard people, even those who don't, by themselves, any longer regard themselves as people (in their own right).

What is it that's so annoying about someone who perhaps ought to provoke pure sympathy? (or should they?)

  1. They take from you -- in a way that I don't understand, giving support to someone like this does drain the one giving the support
  2. What they want is to be allowed (preferably welcomed, but allowed will usually have to do) to be close to someone -- preferably they want to be your intimate friend
    1. Therefore they invade the more intimate parts of your character (the analogy of seeking a womb is appropriate here!)
    2. and seem nosey
  3. The state they are in results in part from their choices (if you accept, as I do, that they have free will)

Going along with them in any of these ways would be

  1. something that many people are not prepared or able to do
  2. demeaning to them as it implies going along with their judgement of themselves as inferior
  3. probably not going to help them long-term anyway, since it involves the `helper' changing and thus the `helped' not needing to change

So what can one do to help these people?

It could be that the view that they still have the umbilical cord attached, and are trying to feed from someone else's bloodstream (metaphorically) via their placenta is insightful. Let's explore it... these people are of the same form as someone who has been born, but are not functioning as such. Is air is available to their lungs, but they're just not breathing... or are they still in the womb? Do they have teeth, but just won't feed, or are they yet to be weaned? Perhaps the process they have to be taken through is birth-like... but they are already outside any mother (except when they have managed to get latch onto one...)

Could the process require someone to be temporarily a mother to them, to enable them to be born from them? I don't think so... I haven't yet managed to analyze how this aspect of my character was greatly reduced, but I don't think it was entirely like that, although perhaps there was an element of support and encouragement from friends in the process... (but if you tell that to someone who might well benefit from treatment, they will just be glad to get their teeth into another prospective emotional free ride for life!).

Some people are naturally able to help people move on from this situation, without it seeming to cost them anything at all. But it's not so with everyone!. ...

What forms of `mother' do these people find? In many cases, it's a spouse (or similar partner)... or it may be some random victim; sometimes, it's their `mates' (is that a British-English term?); or just anyone they can get; for others it is a remote film-star whose fan-club they can join.

Perhaps the only true mother this way can be God... who, after all, created us, and is the only source of sustenance. Perhaps it is an acceptance that only God can be the mother of our souls that is an essential early step along this path.

Another early step is acknowledging that there is a problem... when being like this was a significant part of my personality, I assumed that everyone had the same kind of craving for `company' that I felt. Some way into the change (which is still ongoing) I realized that it isn't a healthy way to be; it may be common but it isn't a desirable norm; it is in fact the sign of an underlying problem.

And what is the underlying problem? It is that, although each one of us is (objectively) inalienably themselves, and a whole person, people may repudiate that personhood and be, to themselves, less than the whole person they could be, and so they try to find what's missing from themselves, from someone else... which cannot work, because whatever it is that's (perceived as) missing, is something that cannot be transferred from one person to another. Each must find their created wholeness in themselves, because that is where God put it immovably, and they won't find it anywhere else.

Standard asymmetries?

I think it's sometimes regarded as quite normal or acceptable for women to be used as ``mothers'' by men(!) and that it may be as a defence against excesses of this that men having no right to reply against women is `allowed''. (It could also be said that it's seen as normal or acceptable for men to be used as ``fathers'' by women...)

My own experience

I used to be like this to quite an extent myself, and now understand things people say, that I would once have agreed with, as coming from this way of thinking, and I am now rather revolted by it all, and still inclined to be a bit rough with them, although I expect that when my own memory of it becomes more distant, I'll be gentler about it.

I can see that to some extent that when I was on the receiving end of the problems I describe in

John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Sun Jun 10 18:17:20 GMT Daylight Time 2007