It is more important that people think...
I have a different perspective: agreeableness is all about self-interest. It looks like other-interest, but that's what defenses do - they portray positive qualities to distract from the qualities we've rejected. It looks like compassion or kindness, but its really a way of managing low self-esteem.
If I agree with you,
- you'll accept me. If I told you what I really wanted, you'd hate me. Everybody would.
- I'm protected from your opinions. If I agree, you won't argue, criticize my choices, or "make me feel bad."
- I'm protected from my own vulnerability. Agreement keeps me safe from divulging how I feel and who I really am.
Since you're happy that I agree with you, I fool myself into thinking you like me. So I forget my original misconception & start seeing myself as someone who is likable because I'm giving and agreeable. That's who I am. And I continue the behavior without thinking.
NT's self-interest is the lessening of psychological conflict. Being agreeable appears to accomplish that for some people.
But defenses aren't really effective; the original issue - low self-esteem - is still there. So agreeableness isn't really in our self-interest. But the psyche thinks that it's better than dealing with esteem. So the psyche, who runs the show, thinks it's in our self-interest.
Not everyone is ready to explore it. So the psyche might be correct in its evaluation. Sometimes, defenses are the best one can do.
Funny thing about this. I regularly get calls to come fill in teaching martial arts classes. I don’t get paid for it but I will almost always do it because I have fun. When I don’t such as a recent request I flat said no I have something else going on and that was accepted with no questions.
I realize that if you do what you want without being wheedled you won’t likely be pestered when you say no.
Forgive me if this is only tangentially related to your post, but it's been on my mind. Sometimes, people assert that a person cannot consent to x because they are poor, even if consenting is in their overall self interest. i.e. You can't do clinical trials on people in India for money. Their poverty makes them unable to consent! But without the clinical trials they'll be even poorer. Now, putting aside actual consent violations with such trials, how should this kind of 'morality' be interpreted? Removing the clinical trials entirely would make poor people even poorer and the people complaining about consent aren't exactly doing anything themselves to address that poverty. The supposed watchdogs are pushing for social outcomes with even lower utility than the one which exists now. But this kind of moral 'do-gooderism' is common. Why? Is it Virtue Ethics? Deontological Ethics? Some other kind of heuristic? Some undeclared self interests? How can I engage what I see as a harmful morality if I need to? Or is it hopeless , and I should just be resigned to weird altruistic punishment from some people?
I just realized something very curious, Athena. Your articles in general but some of your latest ones in particular, after reading them, left me with a feeling of "this reminds me of something, but I don't know exactly what it is". Today I finally figured it out: you remind me of my cat Maya! Seriously! In fact, now that I think about it, I've always believed that there's a lot of cat-ness in psychopaths and a lot of psychopathy in cats.
"Trust me, they will get over you not wanting to go to their dinner party with a focus on the insects of the world."
saying no can be difficult when it's largely implemented in culture, too. my family had a huge fallout the first time i didn't show for the family reunion but seven years later and i still don't show. you make good points about the weight of what discomfort you're choosing to feel when you say no vs. when you begrudgingly say yes.
it is also very true, the point about many others being bitter when you begin to take care of yourself. when i finally started taking care of myself, i knew immediately who to cut off. good one, except mary had a little lamb is now stuck in my head.
"I used to suffer from F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out)"
I am wondering whether you can imagine intellectually what a neurotypical person might get back for putting someone else’s needs over their own—or are those emotions too unfamiliar for your brain to imagine?
We all have some inability to empathize. In fact, there are many people who are not psychopathic who are also incapable of putting others’ needs ahead of their own—but it’s not because they are incapable of feeling empathy. It’s because they direct ALL their empathy towards themselves.
The problem is, if every single human being was as incapable of empathy as a psychopath (or a sociopath or a pathological narcissist)—I suspect that we would not survive long-term in the “civilized” world our species created. That’s why humans fabricated the idea of free will; it’s so people will feel personal responsibility and sometimes consider someone else’s needs over their own.
So, even though you are correct that people aren’t actually responsible for anyone but themselves, we are in the midst of evolving a conscience for our own survival. Sadly, when neurotypicals feel scared about their own survival, they lose their conscience and no longer care who they hurt. That’s why there is a wave of authoritarianism sweeping across the globe right now.
Psychoanalyst Joyce McDougall uses the term normopathy to connote an excessive and pathological attachment and adaptation to conventional social norms. English psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas uses a word with a similar meaning, normotic, which seems to be a play on the word neurotic. Not having developed a sense of self, people who are normopathic or normotic have a neurotic obsession to appear normal, to fit in. They are abnormally normal. At the bottom of this malady is an insecurity of being judged and rejected. Normotics are overly concerned with how others view them, which makes them afraid to creatively express their unique individuality, which results in them being reticent to participate in the call of their own individuation. As Jung counsels, we should be afraid of being too healthy-minded, as ironically this can easily become unhealthy. Overly healthy-minded people are what Jung refers to as being “pathologically normal.” Families, groups, and societies can all be afflicted with normopathy (according to whatever the group’s rules are regarding what is considered “normal”), such that it is considered normal to be normotic. The strange thing is that if almost everyone in the group is normotic, this pathology is seen as normal and healthy—which makes the person in the group who isn’t subscribing to being normotic appear to be abnormal, the one with the pathology. Insanely, in a case of projecting their own craziness, the ones with the pathology then pathologize the one who doesn’t have it. Something of this nature is going on in our world at present.
-Paul Levy, "Undreaming Wetiko: Breaking the Spell of the Nightmare Mind-Virus".
Do you know the science fiction movie "Equals"? It's not bad at all. It's about a kind of "psychopathic" society, perfectly functional and devoted to science and knowledge, and in which empathy and love are a rare but serious degenerative disorder that is treated and kept at bay with medication and surgery.
Let's say you are philautic.
Based on Ancient Greek φιλαυτία (philautia, “self-love, self-regard”), from φιλέω (phileo, “I love”), and αὐτός (autos, “self”).
This post is meant to people who genuinely are nearly being taken adventage of by other people and they cannot see it.
I believe that a Dark Triad is likely to pretend to be agreeable to things that are inconsecuential to them. With the purpose of gaining over the other person and build a public persona that's generous and helpful and keep the other one hidden.
My mom used to do this. She'd say yes to many things. In the eyes of everyone, she's a very non self interested person with extreme values, kind, altruistic. They were things that held little effort from her... Behind the scenes though, she remains the most messed up woman I have met in my entire life. And when it came to reputation and keeping her romantic partner she would do anything,
I do both. I really like to help people, specially those who are honest and are in need. I believe that if you find yourself feeling bad about helping someone it might be that you are taken adventage of or they are asking you for silly noisy stuff that they actually don't need you for at all. At the same time, it is a benefit to build a certain reputation socially. For some, this is a form of manipulation: I will do what you're asking for but you owe me your loyalty forever. It's like a contract. After someone does a few favours for you, now you have less qualifications to question them. Hey, I helped you and you come up with THIS? You fucking ungrateful b4st4rd... then they play with the values of the other person who ends up givin in. But it was all a trick from the get go.
Average people don't need to do this, only someone who holds far too many secrets a security network. Athena, if I were to go by this post, it seems to me that you don't have that much of a double life to hide, as you don't mind not being as likeable by saying no.
Off topic but: excerpt from Andy McNab in one of his Collab books with Kevin Dutton:
" 'You know, Kev, I've been angry for at least half of my life,' Andy tells me as we grind to a halt in a sea of cows and cars.
For years, I hated everyone and everything, mostly because I didn't have what they had"
Incredibly confusing to me? Not at all what I'd imagine a psychopath feeling/saying???