...sensitivity to praise and to criticism is directly tied to our survival instinct. Any insights you might have that go against the prevailing understanding are going to be attacked because they will appear to be dangerous to the survival of the greater tribe of which you are part.
Heaping praise upon these insights is a subtle form of attacking them. By praising someone you are able to control that person since that person will naturally want to keep being praised. Praise means acceptance and acceptance means survival. All praise comes with an unspoken threat of someday withholding that praise and thereby threatening your survival.
It’s very nearly impossible to rise above this. Even knowing how this stuff works is no assurance you won’t fall prey to it. The instinctual processes work on a level that is inaccessible to the thinking mind. These instinctual processes are unaffected by what you know intellectually and continue to operate in spite of whatever knowledge you have about how they function.
Keeping You In Line With Shame
I won several formal debates in college using my patented technique of simply repeating my opponent's argument in a high-pitched, mocking tone while wiggling my fingers in the air. There really is no defense.
They call this the appeal to rididcule fallacy. To which I would simply rebut, "Oooooh, appeal to ridicule fallacy! Well I've got a 'phallus' you can 'see' right here, college boy."
Professionals have more sophisticated methods, but it boils down to the same technique. "They" know that if they can paint an idea as ridiculous, the listener usually won't bother examining it any closer to find out if the ridicule is justified.
After all, why even consider something that's ridiculous? That's only something a ridiculous person would do! And you're not ridiculous ... are you?
LeMond, then in his late 40s, was finally able to tell his wife what he had told no one else: As a child he had been sexually abused by a family friend.
That revelation — and the recovery that followed it — probably would have been known only by the family. But LeMond shared his secret with cyclists who were rumored to be doping, in an effort to convince them how liberating it was to tell the truth.
“He always felt afraid,” Kathy said. “Imagine what that’s like.”
Greg (Lemond's) first win in Paris was something to behold. Brought great joy and laughter to me at the time, and utter surprise, as I just happened upon it in a tiny motel room in Europe turning on the TV.
One possible lesson from all of this is just how long lies can be maintained by powerful people through oppression. There's no guarantee the righteous prevail over brutishness. Look around and this probably is taking place over and over somewhere in your world, if not the greater political world we're responsible for. I completely understand Greg's professional posture viz Armstrong (not casting the first stone) but at some point we are forced to do just that so that more and more people aren't hurt or to protect the profession. Unfortunately, that's not often rewarded.
Movements like the Landmark Forum go a step further, requiring the participants to “drink the Kool-Aid,” a term that was introduced to the American lexicon after nearly a thousand members of the Peoples’ Temple drank poisoned Kool-Aid and died at the behest of their cult leader, Jim Jones.
Although suicides are thankfully rare among self-help cults, the use of specific language and behavior is not. Followers of such movements often speak in coded language, soon believing that they are superior to others who cannot follow their jargon. Some use personality tests, like Enneagram, which allegedly help you to know yourself; others encourage you to get rid of your sexual hang-ups by entering polyamorous relationships and engaging in group sex. All develop their own slogans, like “Ask for what you want,” “Achieve a breakthrough,” or “Beingness in a personal form.” The trouble is, many of the dictates can be interpreted in several ways, with the result that they can be used to further one’s self-absorption.
One easy way to tell if you are in a cult or not is by finding out if they expect you to recruit other people or not. A few years ago, when a neighbor of mine persuaded me to go to an introductory program at Landmark, I met several people who had been lured there under false pretexts, such as invitations to dinners.
What I find most annoying about the self-help movement is the “holier than thou” attitude of its followers. They assume that if you don’t belong to a self-help cult, you must be unenlightened. But, in my experience, if you inspect their behavior instead of their words, you will find a lack of even the commonest courtesy or compassion.
Followers of cults are often unwilling to engage in a philosophical or intellectual debate. What they want is quite the opposite, namely, to be with others who think exactly like themselves. No wonder, then, that we are seeing political and social polarization in our country today.
The other troubling aspect of many self-help movements is that you will find them filled with women. Are women in our society led to believe that they are in serious need of improvement? Plagued by a deep sense of unworthiness, are they seeking self-satisfaction and self-aggrandizement in seminar after seminar?