March 21st, 2006

Round Two

R. said this thing had two peaks, and now I understand why. It's two viruses in a row. *sigh* Teddy and I are sick again. He is cruising, according to R. and child care. Child care says he's made it the length of the couch and around the corner. R. says he's made it the length of the grey trunk. I have not seen it myself, but I do believe it.

While sick, Teddy is still good-natured, but he face plants more often while attempting to pull himself up. We hold him after he does it once now, because he can't seem to stop himself. I noticed today that he's shaking some of the rattly teething ring toys. I had not previously noticed him doing that. Apparently he figures as long as he's too exhausted for big movement, he might as well knock off a few more of the smaller movement milestones.

Made it to martial arts today, although my legs felt like lead. Instructor was very sympathetic. Trying to read _Boundary Intelligence_ by Jane Adams, and it is just awful. There are parts of it that are good. I think I like her overall structure (intrapsychic and interpersonal, with characteristics like permeability, flexibility, complexity and so forth), but a lot of what she says is very general -- difficult to know what she really means. And when she gets specific, I tend to disagree with her, unless you put a whole lot of qualifiers on that she does not. I surfed around Amazon to see if there were better books on the subject and honest to god, I think most of the rest are worse.

I have the beginnings of an idea about why this stuff is so hard to get a handle on. Thinking about boundaries and interventions/changes based on boundaries are fundamentally technical interventions/changes. They work (they can work really well!), but for the most part, technical interventions/changes just buy you the time to figure out what else is happening. This is true of Gottman, for example. Mind you, if you do not get the technical stuff right, nothing works. But once the technical stuff is right, you may still find that while your life is calmer/better, even more rewarding, true happiness is going to a completely different set of changes. And I'm starting to believe that if you get the other stuff right (like, how you make decisions with the other important people in your life), the technical stuff mostly happens right for free.

Adams uses autonomy, and sometimes she even means it. But a lot of the time, she means independence -- she's using them pseudo-interchangeably, which is unfortunate. She does not seem to grasp what interdependency means in a positive way, and she does not appear to believe it is possible to live with people and be intimate with them and treat them with respect. In her discussion of emotional trespass and families, she suggests that the reader try to get through twenty-four hours without commenting on "your children's appearance, criticizing their behavior, challenging their opinions, pointing out their shortcomings, telling them what to do, revealing their secrets, or feeling disappointed in them for not being perfect". Alternatively, with a partner or spouse in the absence of children. She seems to think this is difficult to impossible, rather than being a worthwhile goal for day-to-day life (here's where we start to realize just how insane I truly am). I'm not saying that anyone could ever be perfectly respectful -- or even that that's a desirable goal, necessarily; disrespecting someone serves a useful purpose at times. But surely we could aspire to being typically respectful, rather than typicallly disrespectful.

I'll finish it, and I expect, like the Harville Hendrix books, I'll learn a lot. But then I'm going to pass it along to someone else. Let me know if you're interested.

done with Boundary Issues

And after reading the notes, I think I have figured out what's going on. Adams has a particular theoretical framework (constructive developmental -- and yes, that is what it is called, even though it makes little sense), based on the work of a guy named Kegan (The Evolving Self is apparently where it was initially put forth). Kegan took Piaget's stuff, and reworked it to show that evolution is what's driving development. Now, developmental approaches in general are highly disrespectful ("You're just going through a phase"), so that's bad. Piaget in particular was a creepy guy, designing tricky little experiment after tricky little experiment to "prove" that children are not nearly as human as they obviously are. So that's worse.

But the evolution part is especially bad, as it reifies (oh, and I do mean that) something that is so obviously cultural it is breathtaking.

So very evil.

This puppy is going to a used book store.

FWIW, Adams quotes a bunch of stuff that has been discredited -- a lot of her sources are from the 70s and 80s. And some of her sources are fictional. I kid you not -- she quotes Rilke's poetry, and Stephen Dedalus (that would be the protagonist in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). Adams has a lot of great anecdotes; her analysis is generally completely orthagonal to the lesson I would have drawn from the anecdote. She is, to put it bluntly, batshit crazy. Pity, really.

Oh, yeah. And she is unbelievably heteronormative, and assumes her reader is female (which is kinda cool, in theory, but in practice is quite awful). Best of all, in an entire volume on boundary issues, she never addresses dealing with romantic overtures, wanted or unwanted, in any context, other than a really bizarre bit about women and friendships with gay men.