July 10th, 2006

Cranky Me Is Learning Me

Don't get me wrong -- I love learning. At least, I can't stop myself. But a lot of times when I am learning, I get cranky. I'm sure you've all noticed this. Some of you have even heard me comment about how refreshing it is to see Teddy get all irritated at some toy that's just slightly beyond him, because I suddenly realize this isn't something that I was taught to do -- this is inherent. And it's okay to be frustrated and cranky while learning. Frustrated and cranky feelings DO NOT need to be stomped out of existence.

In my inbox today I saw a response to a post back in mid-June, 2005 about the Gottman class and my unhappiness with the instructor. I cranked for a while in response to that response (feel free to check it out if you want to see me in full rant, but honestly, you can do that here, right?), and posted it, and then suddenly realized, hey! This ties in perfectly to last night's Major Insight.

Class in America is something We Don't Talk About (except of course We Do, but you know what I mean) -- it's an important, perhaps the important -- organizing principle that is taboo to discuss, because if we talked about it, we'd mostly agree that it wasn't fair and needed to change, and the powerful people in our current system would suffer and That Is NOT OK, so we aren't allowed to think or talk about it. (I'm sure someone reading this is going to disagree. Whatever.)

Turns out that Attachment (in the larger sense, not just the Dr. Sears Parenting Style sense) is the Thing We Don't Talk About when discussing parenting tactics/strategies, family dynamics, troubled individuals and families and so on. There are several reasons why. First off, we can't talk about any of this without medicalizing it, and we only recognize diseases of the individual, not of relationships. And Attachment is not a problem in an individual (except in really extreme cases, and those are actually quite rare) -- it is a problem in a relationship. We cannot talk about Attachment, because it is not an attribute of our atom.

Second, if we talked about Attachment, it would immediately become obvious that most of the ways we believe are appropriate ways to stop someone (adult or child) from doing something or motivate someone to do something are damaging to Attachment. Given that the most obvious attribute of Attachment is that when there is Attachment, individuals readily act collectively (so it's very easy for the group -- whether two or more -- to get everyone to do or not to do something), if we talked about Attachment, we'd have to acknowledge that we're using truly shitty motivational tools.

Third, if we talked about Attachment, we'd start drawing maps of who is attached to who or what, and which bonds are transitive, dependent upon each other, so forth. And then we'd _immediately_ start looking at certain groups of people with absolute venom (you draw a picture of how Attachment works in the Catholic Church. I dare you. Then explain to me how in on this earth a priest is supposed to get his peer-attachment needs met. Can't be done, outside of Vatican City, as near as I can tell. Not at work. Certainly not at home.).

Other things that become really obvious: the appeal of groups like Mormons and JWs to new converts is this readymade massively interconnected attachment set up. BUT all those attachments are contingent on attachment to the principles/organization/dogma/etc. Very insecure. Social networking sites are Kidz trying to create massively interconnected groups through new technology. On and on.

Oh, and one more: the whole notion of boundaries suddenly looks very dodgy. If you've got a really great attachment (unconditional, not dependent, etc.), you don't really need/have boundaries. And if you don't have great attachment, virtually nothing is okay (breathing funny, chewing loud, cutting one's toenails, flossing in front of the other person, being naked with one's spouse). Boundaries are so hard to define because they are fake, a bad model for what's really going on.

What made me realize a lot of this was a long discussion about why Jean Illsley Clarke and company are so freaking creepy, and why that's somehow so connected to Recovery (initially obvious through the Hazelden connection). Turns out what AA and other recovery stuff helps people do is sever attachment that is damaging to the individual (this is a good thing) but the way they do it in part is by teaching that individual how to not be attached in general. Not so good.

Ooooooh, I can't _wait_ to figure out all the flaws in this theory.