Thinking Bad Thoughts, Doing Good Deeds

“When one of my daughters was a preschooler, a nursery-school teacher promulgated the idea that virtue involved “thinking good thoughts and doing good deeds.”  This troubled her.  She was much relieved when I commented that I disagreed with her teacher and felt that thinking bad thoughts was a lot of fun, especially when one could do good deeds in spite of those thoughts.”

From Nancy McWilliams

Psychoanalytic Diagnosis:  Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process

 p.222

The Child as an Extension of the Parent

by Nathan Chua

I have been reading a book by a renowned psychotherapist, Nancy McWilliams.  In her chapter on narcissism, it’s interesting to note how parents would use their kids as an extension of their own narcissistic wishes.  The view is these parents use their kids to feed their own grandiose self-images.  She illustrates this through a couple of examples. 

One of them is something we often hear from movies of old where the parent or parents only envision for their children to become either doctors or lawyers.  The narcissistic needs for stature and acclaim by the parents are projected onto the children; the result of which are children who live with false selves, not knowing who they truly are and living with the emptiness of being dishonest with themselves and callous to their own desires.

The second example is what I found to be quite intriguing.  She used the example of parents who came out of the Holocaust alive.  These parents would often tell their children that they have had it easy and that there should be no reason for them to fail or be unhappy about their lives at present.  This is an unrealistic view of the world; for each time holds its own challenges.  I found this intriguing because I never thought that such careless comments like these would have their narcissistic roots.  One can just imagine the tragic end of a child made to believe that he should never fail because of the so-called innocuous environment he’s in. 

These thoughts hold far reaching consequences to the children of today and the future citizenry that these children will compose.  These dynamics produce the narcissistic children of narcissistic parents who become narcissistic parent themselves.  And so life as it had always been goes on, without change.

The Hateful World of Jayson Ivler

by Nathan Chua

With all the angry rhetoric about Mr. Ivler, it is easy to get swept away with the judgments that most people would like to make on this man and his family.  As one of the guest resource persons on DZMM Teleradyo, I was able to read some of the piercing and infuriated text remarks of the viewers and listeners.  I can fully understand the anger that this incident has caused most especially to the families and friends of the victims.

In one of the questions that was posed to me by Mr. Badion, my statement which went, “Who are we to say that we ourselves are incapable of doing this, ” caught both anchors of the show by surprise (judging by their facial expressions).  I went on to say that I still put some credence to Freud’s drive theory which tells us that we all have an aggressive drive inside each one of us.  The only difference between us and Ivler is that we are able to sublimate it through other activities like sports and competition.

But what was it perhaps that drove Mr. Ivler to this fit of wild rage?  What drove him to write such hateful lyrics in his music?  I conjectured that maybe this child was not able to develop a basic trust for the world and viewed it as a very dangerous place.  I suspect a borderline personality that went into a psychotic tailspin.

It all perhaps started when Mr. Ivler was less than a year old.  Mothers and primary caretakers at this point need to be available to the child.  An abandoned child at this point of life means it can develop into an adult that does not view the world as a safe place where their needs can be met.

I went on to note that there is a school of thought that says infants who cry need to be left alone so as not to spoil them.  I shared the exact opposite opinion against this practice.  Studies have shown that infants need their mothers or caregivers to be available at this time.  This is a crucial point in the child’s life wherein it develops a trust in its capacity to make things happen when he cries, that his needs will be met.  In infancy, it is the infants job to cry in order to be fed.  Without an available mother, the child becomes frustrated and angry towards a world that feels unsafe and cruel.

Although I am totally for meting out justice for a crime done, quick and easy judgments only fuels the fires of hatred in us and people like Mr. Ivler.  I hope that my short visit to DZMM helped balance some of that anger with a better understanding of how these types of character disorders can come about.