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What’s wrong with people? Part 3

Part 3 of A Seven Part Series on Why People Do What They Do

PART 3


People tend to care more about themselves than the greater good of others


As we continue to investigate this “social-psychological” problem of “What’s wrong with people?”, it has become evident to many in both mental health and pastoral care that people appear more self-centered than at any time in history.

It seems that in western civilization especially, we have become a “me first” society; this is not to disparage President Trump’s America First agenda which has been sorely needed. On the world stage, the United States has been and continues to be the most caring and giving nation in the world. On an individual basis, however, people, in general, seem increasingly less concerned for their fellow man and more concerned about themselves.

This “Me, me, me” attitude has developed an increase by smaller side culture groups (too numerous to mention) promoting their cause(s) in such great emphasis that their particular cause and need seems far greater than what it is in actuality.

The result is very “in your face” and sometimes profane and vulgar bumper or rear window stickers used to intimidate; the intention is usually to emphasize, “I’m more important than you” or “My cause is greater than yours”.

We used to be a “Good neighbor” society. New neighbors were welcomed to our neighborhoods, villages or towns. If someone moved in next door to us, we introduced ourselves; made a cake or casserole and let them know we were there “for them” should we be needed. This usually resulted in men exchanging tools needed for repairs and children playing together.

In the current trend of “Me, me, me” and self-gratification, there is little if any concern or even acknowledgment for our neighbors or anyone else. This attitude results in people shoving or stealing someone’s place in line, needlessly cutting in and out of traffic, not obeying traffic signs and failing in general to acknowledge our own bad behavior.

In essence, we have become a Narcissistic personality disorder society.

I had a Psychiatrist friend who used to say; almost every patient he saw had Narcissistic personality tendencies. My experience as a psychologist was very similar and we would often have long discussions about this very serious subject and bear in mind, this is a serious subject.

Since most murderers, rapist, and thieves are usually diagnosed as a narcissist, just imagine the problem of an entire society with this disorder; it certainly helps to answer the question of “What is wrong with people?”

The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) , which is often utilized by most of us as mental health professionals to diagnose psychological disorders, suggests that narcissistic personality disorder causes significant impairments in personality in terms of functioning and is accompanied by a number of pathological personality traits or symptoms (which will be mentioned later).

Although it is estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health that only one percent of those diagnosed with personality disorders actually have Narcissistic personality disorder, it is important to point out that less than ten percent of the population actually receive any actual mental health treatment (even though nearly fifty percent have enquired at some point about professional counseling). This brings to question such a low estimate of those with an actual Narcissistic personality disorder.

Most of us in professional mental health agree the problem is far greater than one percent.

Regardless of the percentage, the problem is real and increasingly affects our society; so what do we do?

First of all, never hesitate to obtain professional psychological help.

Here are some of the symptoms of a Narcissistic personality disorder:

  • An exaggerated sense of their abilities and accomplishments
  • Constantly seeking attention, affirmation, and praise
  • A belief that he or she is unique or “special” and should only associate with “like-kind”
  • Persistent fantasies about attaining success and power
  • Exploiting other people for personal gain
  • A sense of entitlement and expectation of special treatment
  • A preoccupation with power or success
  • Feeling envious of others, or believing that others are envious of him or her
  • A lack of empathy for others

If you or someone you know demonstrates any of these traits, Narcissistic personality disorder might be the problem and it is not to be taken lightly.  Seeking professional help is essential and can make a difference.

There is good news,  many counseling and psychotherapeutic techniques have been proven effective in the treatment of Narcissistic personality disorder.

These treatments include:

  1. Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  3. Psychotropic medications

There are also the words of Jesus from the New Testament, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” Matthew 7:12.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

What’s wrong with people? Part 2

Part 2 of A Seven Part Series on Why People Do What They Do

Part 2

People tend to take the easy way out

 

People do tend to take the easy way out; often making both their life and the lives of others more difficult.

In the continuing look at the ““social-psychological” problem of “What’s wrong with people?” it’s not only evident that people don’t think things through but that they also tend to take the easy way out. If there is an easy way to accomplish something most people will take the easy road to their intended accomplishment.

This is not to say that the easy way is never the best way; sometimes it is. Even the problem-solving solution by the thirteenth-century English Franciscan friar, William of Ockham stated that “when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the answer that makes the fewest assumptions”. In other words, what has become commonly known among scholars as “Occam’s razor “suggest that the best solution or answer to a problem is often the simplest or most obvious conclusion that sometimes the simplest and easiest way to a solution is the best.
Occam’s razor does not seek to offer complete and absolute proof, but to find the simplest probable answer to a question of why an event happened.

Although the good Friar was a man of God and quite learned for his day in the fields of science, math, philosophy, and theology, the overall theme of the church was that every choice man made should be attributed to God or the church. As a result, everything people did that was bad for them was due to their disobedience to God.

Over time, people began to blame God or the Devil for everything that was good or bad in their lives. God and/or the devil were the obvious “easy answer” to all of life’s situations, difficulties, and problems. In essence, the most obvious answer to “What’s wrong with people?” was simply they weren’t obedient to God.

That trend continued over the centuries which followed and continues today; only now God becomes less and less the “easy way out” and other people, places, and things become the easy road or solution to humanity’s problems or accomplishments. After all, man has moved beyond God (or so most think).

Generally speaking, the easy way out for many people is the “blame game”; the idea that “it wasn’t me”. It was somebody else, it was a professor, a parent, a college, a pastor, a love relationship, the car they were driving or the road on which they were driving. For others, it was the job or the lack thereof, the foods they eat, the stress in their lives, sibling rivalry, bad genes, not enough money or too much money, alcohol, drugs or sex.

Unfortunately, Psychology, the very profession I’ve been a part of for over forty years has made the blame game the top “easy way out” for most people.

After all, it was the father of Psychiatry, Sigmund Freud who concluded that all of our problems can be traced back to our parents and our childhood; we could now blame our parents for our flaws, our frailties, and our failures.

Even though Carl Yung attempted to emphasize that personality traits and behavior were learned through social interaction and environment, the tendency within the Mental Health Community has continued to allow the blame game a significant area of emphasis.

Although blame is a simple and easy road on which to escape responsibility, it isn’t the only “easy way out”.

One of the easiest ways out of any situation in life for many people is the age-old art of lying. I use the term “art” here as opposed to sin because even though everyone does it in one form or another, some people have indeed made lying an art form due to their pathological infatuation with its use.

For far too many people today, the failure to keep the ninth commandment is not even considered a sin since everybody does it. Even many theologians argue that technically there is no “Thou shalt not lie” found anywhere in the Ten Commandments or anywhere else in the Law of Moses. These Theologians would argue that the ninth commandment is about “Not bearing false witness against one’s neighbor”; in other words claiming or saying your neighbor said or did something they had not done; most would even argue that the commandment was primary about land and property disputes. Of course, lying is still implied even though not stated specifically.

So choosing the simplest way of doing something, blaming someone or something else for our mistakes or failure and lying are all ways of taking the easy way out. The most common way of taking the easy way out, however, is simply never committing to a task or quitting after the task has begun.

As we continue our look at “What’s wrong with people?” it’s obvious that people all too often tend to take the easy way out leading to mistakes and difficulties which affect themselves and everyone around them.

If more people would slow down their lives and stop to think things through, they’d be less apt to take the easy way out making life better for everyone.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

What is wrong with people? Introduction

A Seven Part Series on Why People Do What They Do

 

Recently my three sons and I were discussing in general the actions and attitude of people within our circle of friends, acquaintances and extended family. As we discussed some of the issues and situations in more specifics, we came up with more questions than answers but the overwhelming question was simply, “What is wrong with people?”

In general the question seems to be cross generational and cross cultural but overall the intricacy of the question can be broken down as follows:

What is wrong with people seems to be a result of :

1.       They don’t think things through thoroughly

2.       They seem to take the easy way out

3.       They tend to care more about themselves than the greater good of others

4.       They tend to care more about themselves than the law

5.       They tend to care more about themselves than God and their faith

6.       They care more about feelings than consequences

7.       They tend to believe the unbelievable but can’t believe in an all knowing and all powerful God.

In the area of psychology, we refer to this study of people and what sometimes appears to be a less than normal and lack of common sense approach to life as “Social Psychology”

Of course within secular psychology, the study of such is an attempt to scientifically understand and explain how thoughts, feelings, and behavior of people are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others within society.  Simply stated, social psychology is all about understanding how each person’s behavior is influenced by their social surroundings.

The problem within mainstream secular psychology however, is that there is no real defined moral base or ethical value from which to standardize such a study of an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behavior apart from fluctuating statistics in comparison analysis of the same given criteria among ones peers or an established psychological norm at any given moment.

As such, I will attempt to examine in a seven part series  utilizing both Christian and Secular Psychology, “What is wrong with people?” from a Social Psychological perspective and unlike many Psychological papers, I will attempt to answer the question.

Regardless of one’s philosophical, political, religious or psychological view, we have all been dissatisfied, disappointed or even frustrated by people either within or outside our social and family circle and we have asked the question or variation thereof, “What is wrong with people?”

Hopefully, over this seven part series on Drtruthman Counseling, you will find your answer to that age old question, “What is wrong with people?”

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

 

 

 

The Suspicious Mind Pt. III, The Doubt & Secrecy Determiner

The Suspicious Mind Pt. III,

The Doubt and Secrecy Determiner

by

Dr. Lee Outlaw

images

 

If paranoia is the poisonous pretense to the Suspicious Mind, certainly doubt and secrecy play a significant role in both its development and function.

Doubt and secrecy are unique partners in this process, due to their ability to suggest and maintain the proverbial “status quo”. In other words, you might not believe or trust someone but if you simply act in secret, go along or simply keep your lack of belief or trust to yourself, no one will be the wiser.

Unfortunately it is this harboring of doubt and secrecy (holding it in or keeping it inside) which ultimately leads to paranoia and the subsequent suspicious mind. The longer doubt and secrecy linger in the far recesses of the mind, the deeper the paranoia often becomes and the greater the resulting suspicious mind.productmockup

Almost everyone becomes skeptical or doubtful that a person is telling the truth or if a certain thing is real at some point in their life. A few examples might be a fantastic story   which sounds utterly ridiculous and our mind tells us, it couldn’t be true such as, “I caught a fish as big as a whale” or the person we all know that was extremely over weight and then suddenly we see them in a chance meeting and they look perfectly fit; it’s simply difficult to believe so our mind says, “There is just no way”.

Added to this is usually the “secrecy factor”; not that the person, event or thing deliberately hid from you but due to our lack of knowledge about it, our mind says, “Why would they keep this secret”?

The doubt and secrecy determiner will definitely affect the degree of a person’s paranoia. The greater the doubt and the longer that secrecy is involved, the more determined the mind will become convinced that either someone or something is out there, to harm or destroy them.

One of the growing paranoia’s of our day leading to almost near hysteria is that of health care and medical treatment. So much has been reported in the media concerning health and fitness that the minds of people are overwhelmed with skepticism as to what is truth and what is exaggeration; especially with regard to allergies. It seems that almost everyone today has some form of allergy from dust mites to peanuts and even the very air we breathe.

The paranoia over allergies is so wide spread, it is almost impossible to find someone without an allergy and many of these are food related. It would be fine if all the reported allergies people claim to have were diagnosed by competent physicians, but that is not the case.

Such an example is found in a conversation I had some time back with a fellow church member discussing various allergies of his five children. Thinking this a bit strange that all five children would be allergic to all the same things, I enquired as to what the allergies were and how long it had been since their doctor had diagnosed the allergies. He emphasized almost immediately that their doctor had not diagnosed any of the children with allergies; in fact, it was his wife (which he praised for doing so) that had actually made the determining factor that all of the children were allergic to peanuts, citrus acid, dairy of all kinds and most meat. As this father began to describe some of the problems his children were having, it was quite evident that it was the mother and not the children who had the problem, which was obviously a mental health issue for the mom and not a physical issue at all for the children. As this man went on to describe two of his children as slow learners and another as dyslexic, it became apparent that at least three of his children were probably not getting enough protein in their diet subsequently suppressing their learning abilities.

It turns out the mother had rarely seen a genuine doctor and was actually skeptical of all doctors, doubting their abilities, and kept secret that she was treating her children for allergies based on the internet and what she’d heard from other mothers, without adequate knowledge or being qualified; yet openly she told everyone about her children’s (non-existent) allergies. Because of her doubt and secrecy, she developed a near hysterical and probable delusional paranoia giving birth to a full blown suspicious mind. Unfortunately her Suspicious Mind resulted more in her children’s harm than good, keeping them from proper nutrition and the potential of actually deterring their growth and learning abilities.

As that old saying goes, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste” but when the mind becomes packed with skepticism (doubt), secrecy, poisonous paranoia and ultimately giving way to suspicion, it can also become extremely dangerous.

As a good friend of mine so often says (facetiously), “Don’t let reality mess with your thinking”; in other words, people don’t immediately want to believe or accept what they intuitively know is real, because they’ve developed thoughts so strong, their mind just can’t accept what is beyond their ability to believe or reason. When it comes to preventing suspicion from totally occupying your mind and controlling who and what you are, it becomes essential to, “Let reality mess with your thinking” because your suspicion can simply be wrong and a wrong suspicion can harm or even kill you.

In Part four of The Suspicious Mind, we look at ways to both cope with and ultimately eliminate the most dangerous aspect of the Suspicious Mind, “The Conspiratorial Mindset”

© 2016 Dr. Lee Outlaw

 

 

 

 

 

The suspicious mind Part II

The suspicious mind Part II

Paranoia – The poisonous partner

by
Dr. Lee Outlaw

paranoia

The pretense to suspicion in most people is certainly filled with a variety of feelings; everything from fear to delusions of grandeur and even a sense of false security.

Nothing however, is more conditioning and even poisonous to the mind in producing temporary or permanent suspicion than paranoia; the sense or feeling that someone or something is out to get you, cause you harm or even destroy you. Rather real or imagined, this person or thing can ultimately achieve the same result; impregnate your mind with suspicion.

Once the mind is filled with suspicion, it is often difficult to remove.

Paranoia comes in all shapes and sizes and has a tendency to rare its ugly head in almost everyone at some point in their life. It’s because of this near epidemic reach of paranoia and its destructive power that so many therapist and counselors try to eliminate any chance of paranoia being the root cause of their patient’s problem from the very start, giving support to the old adage that, “It’s not what you know but what you don’t know that can harm you”.

In other words it’s the fear of the unknown; the feeling that something or someone is out to get you but you just don’t know who or what it is and in most cases “how” the harm will come.

The obvious effect is the onset of emotional or mental instability which can ultimately lead to Paranoid Personality Disorder, delusional paranoia or even more serious mental illnesses.

Unfortunately, paranoia most often makes its appearance when our minds are most vulnerable such as times of stress, emotional instability, non-clinical depression (a.k.a. “the blues”) and relationship difficulties or changes, such as a break up, separation, divorce or the loss of a family member or close friend.

Most of us have heard someone say (or maybe thought our self), “Everything is falling on me, and everyone just picks on me or dumps on me.”  “Why doesn’t it stop?”

Does this sound familiar?

Paranoid MovieA perfect example as to the destruction  paranoia can have in  developing a suspicious  mind is the novel Paranoia by Joseph Finder from which the movie of the same name was made; starring  Liam HemsworthGary OldmanAmber Heard and Harrison Ford the emotion of “paranoia” is seen from nearly every level.

Although it bombed at the box office, “Paranoia” the movie is actually very good. It brings to light all the aspects of the entanglement of paranoia, secrecy, doubt and the conspiratorial mind as they weave their way deep into the unconscious of not just one but most of the characters, almost to the point of no return. It is only after one of the characters actually utilizes his suspicious mind for good that he’s able to turn his life around.

Just like in the movie, sometimes as the burden of no answers coupled with the slightest thought that someone besides you is causing your problems and suddenly paranoia takes root. If such thoughts are not eliminated, they dig deeper into the unconscious implanting a wave of successive suspicions until a once stable mind is totally and completely suspicious.

Everything becomes doubtful and no one can be trusted. Eventually things become extremely serious and even dangerous as reality and fantasy begin to merge and the ability to reason and rationalize become void, leaving the mind to wander aimlessly without purpose or direction.

The end result is the birth of a suspicious mind.

Although the movie “Paranoia” tends to demonstrate a positive effect from a suspicious mind, for most of the characters (as is the case in real life) the outcome was negative. Read the book or watch the DVD to learn more.

In Part III of “The Suspicious Mind”, we will discuss how doubt and secrecy play an intricate part in producing paranoia and ultimately developing a mindset totally controlled by suspicion.

© 2015 The Outlaw Observer and Opinion

 

 

 

The suspicious mind Part I

by

Dr. Lee Outlaw

The Suspicious Mind

Suspicion

Are you suspicious?

Chances are if you’re like most people, you have your own unique set of suspicions.

It might be about a politician, a friend, an actor or even a family member but in reality suspicions abound.

Strictly speaking, suspicion is defined as a feeling that someone is possibly guilty of a crime or of doing something wrong, a feeling that something bad is likely or true or a feeling of doubt without proof or on slight evidence.

In essence, suspicion is distrust; a distrust that breaks down relationships, families, beliefs and all too often emotional, mental and spiritual stability.

Suspicions are seldom founded, often dis-proven and in many cases become the cause of serious crimes and physical harm or even death.

Suspicion is a close cousin to greed and jealousy of which an argument can be made as to which emotion or action leads to the other. In other words Suspicion often leads to jealousy or greed and similarly greed and jealousy many times results in a suspicious mind.

One of the greatest examples of suspicion and all its fundamental intricacies is the Alfred Hitchcock 1941 romantic psychological thriller Suspicion  directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine.220px-Suspicion_film_poster

In the film, a shy spinster runs off with a playboy (Cary Grant), who turns out to be penniless, a gambler, and an overall dishonest man in the extreme. The character played by Joan Fontaine comes to suspect that he is also a murderer, and that he is attempting to kill her; as such, the perfect example of the “suspicious mind”.

In today’s social media and instant information age, a suspicious mind would seem to be far from the norm but unfortunately it is seemingly more apparent than ever.

Over the next four weeks I will discuss the relationship between suspicion, paranoia, doubt and secrecy and how to cope with every aspect of the conspiratorial mindset.

I will discuss the inter-relationships of each as well their unique differences.

It is important to remember that not all suspicion is bad. Suspicion can be used for good as well as bad.

Suspicion has often stopped crime, war and even prevented illnesses and catastrophes and is a mainstay in almost every sport. What a sports team suspects the other team will do offensively can often win the game.

As Elvis Presley told us in his 1962 hit “Suspicion”:

Every time you kiss me, I’m still not certain that you love me
Every time you hold me, I’m still not certain that you care
Though you keep on saying you really, really, really love me
Do you speak the same words to someone else when I’m not there

Suspicion torments my heart
Suspicion keeps us apart
Suspicion why torture me?

Suspicion is the ultimate temptress that if allowed, will send most people to a nervous breakdown, daily prescription medication and lifelong therapy.

In Part II I will discuss suspicion, paranoia, doubt and secrecy and the general conspiratorial mindset; their differences and their relationships.

© 2015 The Outlaw Observer and Opinion

3-Part Series on One Pastor’s Memories of Hurricane Andrew – by Dr. Lee Outlaw via the Examiner.com

This is in reference to my new Examiner.com article,

Flood victims need emotional and spiritual strength in the time of storm

One Pastor’s Memories of Hurricane Andrew
One pastor’s memories of Hurricane Andrew August 24, 2012

Twenty years later, living on the hurricane prone Gulf coast of Brownsville, Texas and this pastor/writer still remembers well my personal encounter with the devastation brought by Hurricane Andrew to my home, family and church in South Florida.Monday…
One pastor’s memories linger August 25, 2012

(Part II of “One Pastor’s memories of Hurricane Andrew”)After well over a decade of pastoring at that time, Sunday mornings were normally routine although like most pastors a bit ritualistic; last minute review of…
Enduring the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew August 27, 2012

(Part III and the conclusion to a three part series on Hurricane Andrew, twenty years later.)Almost like the proverbial bad horror film, Hurricane Andrew came, he destroyed and then he left.Unlike the bad horror film however, where you…