Why do we make things so complicated?

I’d make a terrible judge.

I’m thinking of those TV judges like Judge Judy and the like. They’re presented with two people who have some sort of disagreement, and who make their cases. I watch those programs with fascination, often being quite unable to see through the layers of bullshit to find who is right and who is wrong. Instead, I see both sides. I see degrees of right and wrong on both sides, and layers of complexity hiding the truth. Sometimes those layers may be deliberate obfuscation by one party, but more often than not, they’re really just signs of the way we all make everything so complicated. All of us, to some degree, are selfish, self centered, self serving creatures who make everything about us, and seldom see anything from each others’ points of view.

There’s been an interesting development with Josh (who is ten) and Aishah (who is five) lately. Suddenly all their arguments and fights are being resolved, by the five year old. She has figured out that all she needs to do is say “Sorry”, and ask him to “Say sorry” too. He does so, albeit reluctantly, and then they move on. They play together and all is well. While her view may seem naïve and simplistic, it works. The amazing thing about it for me is that she does it even when she knows she is not wrong. That makes her, at five years old, in some ways more mature than the ten year old. It also makes her smarter than him. Heck, that makes her smarter than me.

I never did that by myself when I was a child. My father had to teach me, and then I still didn’t catch on to why straight away. It’s a lesson I’d since forgotten. Children are amazing.

As for Megan and Aishah returning to Cape Town, that’s probably still going to happen. But I think there is more to it than I know. There’s something she isn’t telling me, and anyway, I did originally say they can stay as long as they like. I was hoping for it to be longer than this though…

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21 thoughts on “Why do we make things so complicated?

  1. How far away – measured both in kilometers and hours – is Cape Town from Johannesburg?

    Any new news about Megan’s plans for the future?

    The more time you and Aishah spend together, the stronger the bonds between her and you seem to be. It would be kind of cruel to separate you now. A lose-lose situation instead of a win-win one as it is at the moment.

    Hopefully Megan will realize that too.

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    1. About 1400km, I think. A 2 hour flight or a 15 hour bus trip.

      It’s not clear what’s happening now. I’m taking off on Friday to spend some time with Aishah, but they might leave on Saturday, or if Megan changes her mind, we might go to the education dept to see if we can get Aishah into a school here, because all the schools are full. But not knowing what she is going to do is really frustrating.

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      1. Not only frustrating, Jerome.

        You must feel horrible at the moment. And surely are entitled to feel that way.

        Not long ago you described yourself, in a blog post, as being a happy man.

        Happiness never lasts forever. Most of the time we are “doomed” to feel sad and to worry. You know, the Lard in Heaven created us that way.

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          1. Horrible works fine in this context.

            I’m also worried about financial issues at the moment. I have my flat’s levy and electricity bill in arrears (because the idiots didn’t send me a bill for several months), as well as two other sets of arrears that I can’t possibly afford to pay. Not at all sure what to do.

            Having them possibly leaving just makes it far worse.

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              1. Aishah told my mother that she’s going back to her old school.

                I confronted Megan about it, and she denied telling the child that. According to her, she is still thinking about it. But she’s lying.

                She has a way of twisting things around when I confront her. After months of her pleading with me to let them come back here, she only really spoke to me for the first week. Then she was on her phone the rest of the time. If I confront her, she makes as if I am being unfair; meanwhile in reality she isn’t talking to me and is being sneaky. In one breath she says I am the only family she has ever had (because her family n longer care about her, only Aishah) and in the next she says she is leaving. She tells me about her thirteen year old cousin, who is now in trouble, staying away weekends and so on, and doesn’t want to hear that Aishah will end up just like that if they go back. Reasoning with her is like talking to a wall.

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                1. Megan’s and your relationship is clearly extremely dysfunctional. You both – maybe especially Megan – need professional help and guidance if you really want to restore your relationship and make it functional.

                  The way you describe Megan’s behavior (and indirectly yours) indicates that she doesn’t know what to do, because she is full of ambiguous feelings towards you. And I think the same goes for you too, Jerome.

                  At least one thing is obvious here: You have an armistice since many years (cf. the Korean war in the 1950’s). Why not try to end the war between you once and for all?

                  Anyway, you need a neutral and objective negotiator and/or a family therapist. Megan and you can’t solve this on your own.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Yes, I even contacted one for her a few weeks ago, found a great therapist who would deal with all of our issues, though at a price, contacted her by email and gave her an overview of our history, found out the rates, and so on. But had to abort that idea because it became clear that Megan was going to ignore everything I say and leave anyway… even though she was the one who came up with the idea. (Yes, ambiguous indeed.)

                    My feelings are quite clear. I just can’t get through to her. When I do finally react, weeks after finding out what she has already decided, I express my justifiable anger and frustration verbally, and she twists that around as if I am wrong. Apparently her whole family are wrong too… according to her. She’s right and everyone else is wrong – and there is no way I can reason with her. It will get to the point where she agrees with me, and then does the opposite of whatever I advise anyway.

                    Also there’s something she’s not telling me. She had a girlfriend in Cape Town, and claimed that this person was abusive etc… And didn’t even want this person to know where she went. But she insists her family have given up on her. So there aren’t a whole lot of possibilities about where she is going. The truth really has nothing to do with AIshah or doing what’s best for the child. I’m sick of this shit.

                    This isn’t the first time she has done this… She was running between me and Aishah’s father, and that is how the child was conceived. Mostly with the abuser, she would return to me for a short while, then ignore everything I say and return to the partner who abuses her. That was why I wanted her to get therapy. I’ve been trying to help her for years, but it never gets anywhere.

                    She’s only going to go back to an abuser, and then ask me for money to help her. She’s in a for a surprise there though…

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  2. If you are In debt in my country, you are recommended to turn to the companies or authorities to agree upon a payment plan. They usually listen and often show (some) understanding.

    Anyway, to do so is always (at least here in Sweden) better than not trying to establish contact with creditors. Is it the same procedure in South Africa too?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Similar. I have been in contact with one of them. I have around R35 000 in penalties for forgetting to do my income tax forms for a few years.

      The others are weird… I am struggling to make a payment plan on a credit card – been paying R3000 a month but can no longer afford that.

      The one with the levy is not my fault. They didn’t send me a bill for a whole year. That I’m also paying R3000 a month, but not making a dent into the arrears.

      Sucks to be me.

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      1. Yes, it sucks. But never ever forget that you are loved by Josh and Aishah. Even if Aishah is moving soon. (And never ever forget you are five year clean now. So Hell is not eternal.)

        Your life is more like a drama written by William Shakespeare. Full of sorrows and distress. (Why not send a synopsis of it to a Hollywood director?)

        Somehow your life also reminds me of this bittersweet movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bridges_of_Madison_County_(film) .

        Have you seen it, Jerome? If so, can you understand why I find that film’s plot quite similar to your miserable life You are a mixture of Robert Kincaid and Francesca Johnson. At least kind of.

        It’s never easy to leave someone you love. But life isn’t easy either. (I think that’s why so many people believe in an afterlife, where everything will be much better and the loser will eventually become a winner.)

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  3. If you’re right in your “analysis” of Megan, Jerome, it seems as if she’s displaying a (what we call here in Sweden) self-injury or self-harm behavior. Maybe not cutting her own skin but a predilecton for mostly choosing – often subconsciously – the least recommendable and least rational decision available.

    That kind of behavior is common among solipsists.

    A true solipsist lives detached from the real world. In his or her “realm” (reality/world) all truths are of the subjective kind, based on feelings/emotions (and therefore closely related to a child’s magical, i.e. illogical or prelogical, thinking). Like “it’s true because I feel that way”.

    Solipsistic behavior is very common among woo people (religitards included). You know reasoning like “The Bible is true because it says so”.

    Solipsistic reasoning means that what other people tell them or try to explain to them CAN be true, if what’s said is compatible with the solipsist’s own reasoning. Otherwise it CANNOT be true.

    The solipsist’s own subjective truth is like a trump card in some card games.So it doesn’t matter what you prove to a solipsist to be the most likely objective truth, no matter how logical and rational or based on evidence your own explanation and reasoning is. It’s like pouring water on a fat goose, the water doesn’t accumulate inside/under the goose skin.

    So you’re totally right, Jerome, talking to a solipsist in order to teach him/her how to reason and make good decisions is like giving instructions to a wall or door about how to behave or what to do. The wall won’t move, a door won’t open itself even if you are begging them to do so lying down on your knees.

    Of course it’s very frustrating and irritating. Especially when an innocent child (in this case Aishah) is involved in the “game”.

    A true solipsist is also very egotistical. Only his/her own wellbeing is what matters.

    What’s more, Jerome, and not at all unexpected, is that solipsism is closely related to the Dunning-Kruger syndrome, i.e. having an inability to see/understand/realize how stupid solipsistic reasoning usually is.

    This, in turn, reminds me of this quote, taken from a textbook in biology meant for Christian students: Whatever the Bible says is so; whatever man says may or may not be so,’ is the only position a Christian can take… If scientific conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them. Christians must disregard scientific hypotheses or theories that contradict the Bible.

    The quote can be read in the preface of William S. Pinkston’s textbook “Biology For Christian Schools”, Bob Jones University Press 1991.

    I finish my comment by adding “Hallelujah, praise the Lard! And amen to that.” And remember, Jerome, I’m always ready to blow my nose for you. (This last sentence is a private joke between Jerome and me.)

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    1. I’d never heard of solipsism, but your analysis, especially about self-harm, is correct.

      She used to cut herself around 2006 to 2007 when we were actually together. It seems she has “grown out” of that and into more advanced ways of harming herself, as well as others. Great.

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  4. My working hypothesis is that it’s hard (especially) for woo people and religitards to reason and analyze logically. (That’s why they so often insist calling atheism a religion although you eagerly try to explain to them, Jerome, that atheism is NOT a religion. See for example: https://skepticalexaddict.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/yet-another-reminder-that-atheism-isnt-a-religion/ .)

    The other day I read about a patient diagnosed with Cotard’s syndrome. Such patients suffer frpm a very odd delusion. They believe they are dead (literally speaking) although they can talk, eat, walk and so on. At least they feel as if they were dead. And you can’t persuade a person with Cotard’s syndrome to believe he is, in fact, still alive, He is in a state of denial, kind of.

    Anyway, that patient diagnosed with Cotard’s syndrome/delusion I read about had an fMRI that showed an unusually low brain activity in his dlPFC. This finding might explain his lack of logical resoning capacity.

    And that kind of brain deficiency is, in turn, coupled to what I call the solipsistic personality disorder syndrome. For an overview, read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism_syndrome .

    Such a person feels that the world is not external to his or her mind, so all that matters is what you yourself feel and how you experience the world. That is, all truths become subjective; there are no objective truths.

    The solipsistic personality disorder shares many similarities with depersonalization disorders, See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depersonalization_disorder .

    One important, and frequent, cause of solipsistic personality disorder is a dysfunction in a brain area called dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). See for instance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorsolateral_prefrontal_cortex .

    Too low an activity in the dlPFC affects a person’s cognitive abilities. They more often prefer inequitable solutions and feel tempted to maximize personal gain when making a (moral or other) decision. In short, they act in a selfish way, i.e. they are usually very egotistical and won’t listen to what others prefer or recommewnd them to do.

    The dlFC is also involved in the act of deception and/or lying. So a low activity in this brain area normally means that a person with this deficiency may often try to deceive people and lie to them. It’s also easier for them to deceive and lie to themselves (so-called self-deception).

    It’s also interesting to notice that dlPFC dysfunction (underactivity in the dlPFC) is rather strongly correlated with drug abuse (so-called substance use disorder, often abbreviated SUD). See: https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/mental-health-disorders/drug-use-and-abuse/substance-use-disorders .

    A dysphoric mood is often seen in persons with a solipsistic personality disorder. In short, they often feel unhappy. Maybe that’s why they often turn to drugs that stimulate the brain’s reward pathways.

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    1. Interesting. I don’t know how much this may or may not apply to Megan, but an observation I made years ago was that she would be unhappy, and tend to blame that unhappiness on external causes, such as me. In that sense, it didn’t matter how much I did or tried to help her, because she would always blame her (internal) unhappiness on me (or other external things).

      I’ve observed the same thing with my brother, although he never used any drugs. Everything else is wrong. It’s never him. He isn’t being narcissistic, not in his head… His behaviour is then justified by blaming everything on our mother and the (imaginary) abuse he suffered at her hands.

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  5. I, too, have a solipsistic brother. But I think his diagnosis is some form of dementia. He is in constant denial mode and can’t admit having any symptoms of dementia at all. It’s very frustrating to listen to him. I don’t know how to help him. That’s why I’m so interested in the solipsistic personality disorder syndrome.

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    1. Interesting again…

      I should be careful what I say about my brother online but… My aunt had dementia and died… My brother claims that our mother murdered our father 18 years ago and holds this against her. Some of the things he has said to me have been strange, to put it mildly…

      Last year he once told me out of the blue he had a message for me from our father. Then the next day he took it back, claiming instead that the message was some arbitrary thing our father had said to him shortly before he died in 2000. Almost like he realized something he said was crazy and he needed to correct it. What I’m getting at, is he implied he talks to the dead.

      But somehow he is clever and manipulative enough to have his wife and even extended family members seem to take him seriously. yet if you are on his wrong side, he will harass you with extremely verbose TLDR emails… dozens of them.

      I’ve wondered what his issue is myself… possibly narcissistic personality disorder, possibly borderline personality disorder, possibly the start of some sort of dementia. But he is also smart… he knows how to manipulate lawyers, child welfare, forensic psychologists, and others, to do his bidding and carry out his harassment for him.

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  6. Solipsists ARE often intelligent. My brother was once a doctor (a general practionioner). He, too, knows how to deceive people to believe in his version of what’s true. He has given me a lot of (often psychiatric) diagnoses.

    Do I need to mention that he is a magical thinker, believing in all kinds of bullshit?

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