Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Violence risk assessment

This comes from a violence risk assessment tool being developed. At the time of publication (2006) there was accumulating evidence that this is a valid measure and more research is being conducted. So as far as the empiricists are concerned it is looking good but is still not 100% ok from empirical research point of view. From the average guy in the street this is quite a good risk assessment tool with some significant scientific backing. It certainly is used a good deal in the literature
Like suicide risk questionnaires it uses the mathematical approach. You add up how many things the person has, the more they have the more risk there is of them acting violently. However as you would have found if you have read my book on suicide it pays to look at the various sections in more detail in order to get a more accurate assessment of risk. However disregarding that I make other comments on this assessment tool.

Ballet girls shooting

Previous violence
Young age at first violent incident
Relationship instability
Employment problems
Substance use problems
Major mental illness
Early maladjustment
Personality disorder
Prior supervision failure
Lack of insight
Negative attitudes
Active symptoms of major mental illness
Unresponsive to treatment
Risk management
Plans lack feasibility
Exposure to destabilizers
Lack of personal thought
Noncompliance with medication attempts
Australian Psychological Society (2006)

social isolation

This originally came to my attention because I was writing about the difference between thoughts and behaviour. I have mentioned before that some clients can come to counselling expressing distress abut the thoughts they are having. I recall a woman who had a fear of sharp knives because when she saw them she had thoughts of stabbing her husband. My first statement is there is a very big difference between fantasy and behaviour. Or there may be some kind of sexual fantasy. Again I will say there is a big difference between fantasy and behaviour. What some find very erotic in fantasy would be completely non erotic in real life.
One should note in support of this the list composed above by hard core empiricists has no mention of violent thoughts or fantasies at all.

woman warrior

My thoughts on further aspects of the assessment tool to consider:
Substance use problems. People who are habitual users of marijuana and opiates like heroin are less likely to be violent compared to those who use stimulants like amphetamines, also alcohol with its strong disinhibiting effects and steroids.
On the section of previous violence I would also investigate any previous violence against self as well. It is plausible from a human psychology perspective that if a person is physically violent to self they have more ‘permission’ to be physically violent to others compared to the person who has no self directed physical violence.
Also I would add in previous exposure to physical violence as we know modeling can have an impact on human behaviour. The person as a child:
At the first level were they told about violence in the home or heard violence in the home.
At the second level did they see first hand violent acts in the home between others.
At the third level did they experience violent acts in the home to them self from another.
At the fourth level did they engage in violent acts towards others in the home.
The higher the level experienced the more permission they have to do physically violent acts on others as an adult.

girl & gun
The early decision to use violence as a solution to problems. By using such techniques as the bad day at black rock one can ascertain if the child made the early decision that violence is a viable way to solve problems. Some children make this decision and some do not. Those who do not are far less likely to use physical violence no matter how many of the criteria they meet in the above lists.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Maternal over protection

Another way the Adult ego state can remain underdeveloped is due to what has historically been called maternal over protection. In Transactional Analysis terms the mother (or father) does not allow the child develop out of the symbiosis it formed at a very young age with mother. A new born has no Parent or Adult ego states and thus it has to form a symbiosis with mother and ‘use’ hers until it develops its own.

In some cases the mother or father will not permit the youngster to develop their own Parent and Adult ego states. Psychologists have indentified four main ways maternal over protection can occur.

Life can be dangerous sometimes. How many risks does one take or let children take?

1. Restriction of the child’s social world. The child is encouraged not to develop friends and out of family contacts. The child may be kept from going to school because he often gets ‘sick’. Indeed when a child develops a school phobia (and refuses to go to school) often that is due to emotional maneuvering by the mother in the back ground who does not want the child to go.
2. Excessive contact. This can be continuous companionship of mother and child, prolonged nursing care, excessive fondling, prolonged breast feeding, sleeping with mother long past infancy. Highlighting of a special connection or relationship between child and parent. This can even be mildly romanticized and thus one has the development of the oedipus complex and the electra complex.
3. Infantilization. The parent treats the child in the same manner it would a much younger child. This can be in feeding, dressing, bathing, washing, punishing. The mother may dress a 13 year old son or punish him by putting him to bed in the afternoon.
4. Maternal control. This can manifest as either over domination or overindulgence of the child by mother.

Child smoker

All of these pressure the child to stay childlike and not develop a competent Adult ego state. If a child cannot think for itself then it has to continue to rely on mother to think for it. Thus we have another reason why as an adult a person may find it difficult to stay in their Adult ego state and require Adult ego state strengthening exercises.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

The psychology of the beautiful woman - Part 3

In the first two posts of this theme I have mainly talked about the woman's’ relationship with men. Of course she also has to relate to the other 50% of the worlds population - all the other females. What are some of the psychological consequences of the very physically attractive woman doing this?
It seems that she is in the same position as any exceptional woman. Those who may have exceptional ability in sport or academically or perhaps special musical ability. How does this effect the relationship with her same sexed peers.
My answer to this by and large depends on how she handles it. There will be a group of peers who develop quite envious feelings about her specialness with men. However this would usually not be a large group. I have talked previously about envy here.

Hand stand

I think it is safe to say that most women will not feel envious to any significant degree and indeed they will feel happy for the attractive woman. I have done a bit of ad hoc research on this. On Facebook one can look at many peoples photographs, sometimes the owner of the Facebook will be a very attractive female. I came across one the other day of a woman in her early twenties who is very physically attractive and she had the usual collection of photographs. Some of the pictures were her all dressed up, socializing somewhere highlighted all her attractive physical features. I have cited the 27 comments that followed her picture and have indicated which were made by females (14) and which were made by males (13).
amazing - m
your body is insane - f
outfit = niice ahhaha - f
insane body and looks :) - m
stunning! - f
fukn hell - m
holy shit. that is all - m
electraaa :) - m
:) you look soo good - m
fuck me - f
you are so hot - f
your amazingg! - f
Such good tattoos and costumee - f
amazing - f
O amazing - m
best compliment when people say we look alike! your gorgeouss - f
wow.. you are amazing - f
100% pornstar - m
your body ! - f
OH MY GOD! - m
i hate it - f
amazing - f
yummmy - m
JESUS! - f
pornstar? - m
Small tan - m

Two women

Only one comment is adversarial. Of course there may be others who have felt envious and simply not commented but it is interesting to see that just as many females have commented as males and the female comments are kind and nice and complimentary. 
This was typical of other pictures she had and it shows that females are prepared to make public comment, enjoy her good looks and wish her well. This is what I would have expected to happen which is nice to know.
However it seems reasonable to assume that a lot of it depends on how she handles her beauty. Does she shove it in others faces, does she develop a sense of superiority because of it, does she let others know how much more beautiful she is than them.  If she does not do such things then most people are going to like her and not be put off by her and her appearance. If she treats others with respect then they will do the same back no matter what she looks like. There is nothing amazingly remarkable in such a proposal. Really it is a bit of a non issue for the same sexed peers of the beautiful woman if she handles it well.


From a parenting point of view it can be a difficult scenario when she reaches early adolescence and discovers what her physical appearance can get her. In particular the effect it can have on males. The parents need to be sensitive to the view of males that she is beginning to develop. There are a group of males she will be able to exploit and exploit a lot including direct financial exploitation. Of course a parent is not wanting this to happen.

I recall many years ago a small group of girls in my social circle who used to boast they could go out on a Saturday night with no money and come home fed and inebriated. Nobody likes a user and I made sure I kept them at a safe distance.

Finally we have the very difficult parenting situation where one daughter is very attractive (or has some other form of exceptional ability) and the other daughters are not. This can sometimes result in the cinderella life script. The parents downplay the attractiveness of the one daughter so the others don’t feel so bad or not as good as their beautiful sister. 
Alternatively the parents may repeatedly highlight the one daughters beauty and not mention the other daughters and this can have a detrimental effect on the sisters. A difficult parenting situation indeed that needs to be handled with caution.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The psychology of the beautiful woman - Part 2

Some time ago I wrote an article on life positions and concluded that there were 7 life positions instead of the customary 4. However in that article I asserted that human do not naturally see OKness in others. They have to be forced to see others as OK as it is not a natural thing for them to do. Whilst this may seem a somewhat machiavellian view of human nature it is one that I hold to and I may add could be argued to be consistent with Freud’s view of the natural state of human psychology.
This view follows the idea of primary narcissism as was presented by Freud. Every child is born a narcissist or as Freud would put it, with a form of self love that he called primary narcissism. On a side note this makes the narcissistic personality type unique amongst all the other personality types such as the paranoid, schizoid, OC, hysteric and so forth. People as they develop will grow into these personality types. They develop over time as a result of the person’s natural temperament and the early life script decisions they make. With the narcissistic personality it is not a matter of growing into it but growing out of it. The narcissist never resolves or develops out of his state of primary narcissism as all the other personality types do.

Sit woman

One resolves their primary narcissism by having the value of others forced upon them. Parents show to the child that the value and rights of their siblings are just as important as their own. Parents force the child to see the value of their siblings. They can’t eat all the cake alone but are forced to share it with their brothers and sisters because they are just as important. When this happens the child develops out of its state of primary narcissism and begins to conclude that others are OK. 
The machiavellian part is that if left alone a child will not naturally share the cake. Instead it will eat it all and leave none for the siblings if it can get away with it. So what has this got to do with the psychology of the beautiful woman you may ask. In my original article I state that people who are exceptionally good looking, very rich, famous or very powerful are not required to see others as OK like the average person is. Because of their special attribute they will always have a queue of people who are willing to be friends or at least associates of theirs. They do not have to treat others with as much respect that the average looking woman does, at least with males. Now I am sure many very good looking women have the view that others are OK, but the point here is that it is harder for them to maintain that position than it is with the average looking woman. That average female does not have a queue and hence she is constantly reminded of the necessity to treat others as OK such that they will still want to be her friend. The very beautiful woman has to spend extra effort to avoid the ever present slide back into her state of primary narcissism.

Siblings are crucial for our development out of primary narcissism.

I have mentioned before how the beautiful looking woman is in danger of being seduced by her own seductiveness. From early adolescence onwards she discovers that her beauty will get some (many) men to give her extra special treatment when she wants it. The problem with this is that she will start to rely on it. The more she relies on it the less she has to develop other skills to get what is wanted. She does not have to develop other skills that the average looking woman does and indeed the male does, to get on in life and get where one is wanting to go.
A woman, particularly a good looking woman can use her physical attractiveness to climb up the ladder of what ever profession she is in. I am not talking about sleeping with various people to get to the top but as I mentioned in part one, the unconscious level of communication that is ever present in human communication. In this case between the woman and the man that will have some level of sexualness involved in it, especially for the very good looking female. Indeed I suggest that this will happen in many males minds whether she likes it or not.
This provides an interesting view on what is known as the glass ceiling effect for women. The idea, at least in westernized democracies, that there is a trend for women to make it only so far up the corporate ladder and then they seem to stop. There are very few women who actually get right to the top of what ever profession they may be in such as in politics or the commercial world. There are probably multiple reasons for this but for the beautiful woman she is especially disadvantaged in this way. 

Kissing girl

I would suggest that right at the very top of any profession her physical attractiveness counts for very little. She needs the other skills required, such that the men at the top have, whether they be political skills, commercial skills or some other kind of skill. At the very high levels the beauty stops working, or is much less influential in the males mind at least. She becomes more of a direct competitor to the male. If she has relied on her beauty then she has not had to develop (so much) the other skills over the years and hence she is disadvantaged. She has been seduced by her own seductiveness. Physical attractiveness for the male has never helped him climb the corporate ladder and thus he has had to develop the other skills required over many years.
One other thing not uncommonly seen in counselling with the female who is entering mid to late adulthood involves at times a significant level of psychological adjustment to be made. It can be quite a difficult time for her indeed. The looks start to disappear. What a western society has determined as physical attractiveness tends to go for the female when she reaches this stage of life. She discovers she is noticed less by males and indeed they start to notice the younger looking female instead. The more physical attractiveness she had the more she is going to notice this. For some women this period can be a time of quite difficult psychological adjustment.

The psychology of the beautiful woman - Part 1

What are some of the psychological phenomena that surround the exceptionally good looking female. This post is based on my own observations in everyday life and from listening to clients talk in the safety and security of the counselling room for the past 30 years. As with anything human there are always differences and exceptions so I am generalizing here.
There is probably a gender difference on this topic and the very good looking female is impacted differently than the very good looking male. One of the reasons for this is that males tend to be more visual in their initial attraction to a female. Women tend to look more at the whole package rather than just the physical appearance of the man, whereas men will be more singularly focussed on the physical attributes of the woman. This of course varies from man to man and over time it changes. 
Whilst the physical attributes of the female are a high priority initially, over time that changes and moves down the list of priorities for most men and other various personality characteristics move up the list of importance. No matter how good looking the woman may be it is probably safe to say that if the man does not feel a love or personality connection with the woman sooner or later, then he will eventually feel a need to end the relationship.

Hijab women
Beauty and culture

One at times hears the question:
“Can a male and a female ever be just friends?”
My answer is of course they can and it happens all the time. For instance there are many men and women who may have a sexual - romantic attraction to each other and just remain friends. They never act on the psychological attraction because one or both of them may be married or for some other reason. 
The real question should be:
“Can male and female friends never have a sexual romantic attraction in their relationship?”
If the two are of about the same age and they like each other then the answer for the male is probably not. The more good looking the female the more the answer is no.
Perhaps I should clarify what I am talking about here. This is done best with the transactional diagram.

Diagram 6

The vast majority of human communication is unconscious. The beautiful female and the male at a conscious level can quite easily have a slightly flirtatious, sensual component when they are communicating. However I would also suggest that even when that is not happening at the unconscious level it is usually there anyway. 
So the very good looking female rarely experiences adult men with out this in the relationship. They don’t often get to experience a non sexualized relationship with an adult male. In this way their relationships have a superficiality about them whether they like it or not. To clarify this I will provide an unusual example, that of John Merrick. He was the elephant man which was made into a well known movie. He was grotesquely deformed and spent time in freak shows before finally becoming accepted to some degree by main stream society.
In the movie at one point, in great exasperation, he cries out the profound line
"I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I ... am ... a ... man!"


Because of his very unusual physical appearance he comes to realize that many people can never see him beyond his physical appearance. They never see him as a man or person because they can not get past his looks. The same can apply for the beautiful woman. Some men will simply never be able to get past the looks and never see the person she is. It is probably safe to say that many or most men will always be distracted to some degree by the looks away from the person behind the looks. Thus she rarely gets to experience a non sexualized relationship with an adult male.
This occurs as a result of the males reaction to her. Some would argue that men are hard wired to respond to attractive women in that way. However maybe it is not all just one sided.
When such females reach adolescence they quickly learn that their physical beauty can get some (many) men to give them special treatment that they would not give so much to other women or males. They quickly learn their beauty is a powerful tool that works to get them special treatment. As she grows she may find this occurs often and consistently such that it becomes a habitual and ingrained way for her to relate with men. She will use her looks to get special treatment even when she is not aware she is doing so. Thus, should she even want a non sexualized relationship with a male she may struggle to do so because that way of relating for her has now become an ingrained habit. So she is left stuck with a quite repetitious and unvarying way of relating to a significant section of the worlds population.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Strokes and racket development

Already mentioned has been the role of temperament in racket development and how the use of emotions in parenting can also effect the development of certain rackets.
However one of the more powerful ways of fostering a racket is with strokes. When a child displays a certain feeling how do the parents respond with their stroking patterns. Do the strokes they give foster the feeling being displayed or tend to hinder its development.
This is reasonably easy to ascertain. One simply recalls when they were young and how they observed the parents responding. See the chart below:

Strokes and rackets

The patterns of stroking others does not stop in childhood but we are constantly being stroked in certain ways for the emotions we display. In many instances both parties are unaware of what is happening as it is unconscious communication. Indeed the vast majority of human communication is unconscious as this diagram shows.

Diagram 6

To ascertain these conscious and unconscious stroking patterns with those in your current life one simply changes a few questions. See the diagram below:

Strokes & rackets - 2

Of course this is a two way process. Whist you are being influenced by the stroking patterns of others you are also influencing them in exactly the same way. To gain some insight into this one can answer another series of questions:

Strokes & rackets - 3


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Factors in racket development

This post draws on the content of the previous two postings
In one of the previous postings I presented the following list of innate emotions.
Sad - depressed, down, flat, melancholic, bored, gloomy, low, dull 
Scared - worried, nervous, frightened, anxious, terrified, trepidation 
Shame - disgust, embarrassment, disgraced, humiliation, degraded, humble
Happy - joyous, delighted, peaceful, playful, glee, contented, glad 
Love - affection, adoration, liking, fondness, friendly, intimate 
Grief - Loss, lamenting, mourning 
Despair - Vacuum, nothingness, hopeless, blank, desolation, numb 
Sexual - romantic, seductive, passionate, sexy, sensual, lustful, amorous 
Anger - fury, rage, resentful, rebellious, annoyance, hate, spite, sarcasm
The development of feelings that become rackets will be due to a variety of factors one of those being the natural temperament of the child. The differing temperaments will result in a proclivity to have certain feelings and indeed develop particular racket feelings. These are listed below:
Fight - anger, sexual
Flight - scare,  shame
Freeze - scare, sad, despair

Trooper 2

I also mentioned that a few emotions can be used as a way to parent children so as to get them to comply to the wishes of the parents. Those three being scare, guilt and shame. Thus one can initially look at racket development in a mathematical way.
If the child’s innate temperament is for flight and the parents use shame as a way to socialize the child then we have an additive effect:
Natural temperament of child is flight - 1 point of shame
Parents use shame as a socializing tool - 1 point of shame
In this case the child will have a doubling effect and hence could develop quite a strong shame racket that develops. 

Digit & beggar

The three other options are
Option 1
Natural temperament of child is fight or freeze - 0 point of shame
Parents use shame as a socializing tool - 1 point of shame
Total 1 point
Option 2
Natural temperament of child is flight - 1 point of shame
Parents do not use shame as a socializing tool - 0 point of shame
Total 1 point
Option 3
Natural temperament of child is fight or freeze - 0 point of shame
Parents do not use shame as a socializing tool - 0 point of shame
Total 0 points
In options 1 & 2 there could be some shame racket development whereas in option 3 there would be very little resultant shame racket development.

There are other ways which will make emotions prominent in the personality (i.e. rackets). One of those is by attributions. The parents (or others) attribute a certain emotion to the child or adolescent.
When talking about their children to others in ear shot of the child parents may say things like
“She is the timid one.”
“He is the angry one.”
“She always happy and smiley.”
The child is told it is a certain way and in many instances the child will take that attribution on as the parents are imbued with psychological power by the child.

pulling cats tail
"He is the naughty one." Parents need to be careful with their attributions.

Furthermore in Transactional Analysis this is what is called a carom transaction. The parents do not speak directly to the child but talk about the child to others whilst the child listens on. This is a particularly potent transaction, more powerful than if the parent is speaking directly to the child. Very as well useful for a therapist in group or family therapy.
The other one of note are the feelings of:
Sexual - romantic, seductive, passionate, sexy, sensual, lustful, amorous
This is particularly important for the physically attractive female and the parents need to be very careful with it or it can become quite a substantial racket. The physically attractive girl hears comments about how pretty she looks and then when she reaches adolescence it truly starts. The parents often continue with attributions and carom transactions about the teenage girl and her physical appearance. In addition to this the psychically attractive female suddenly discovers how it effects males attitudes to her. She quickly learns that she can get ‘stuff’ from males because of her physical attractiveness. I don’t mean by having sex with them but at a subtle and often unconscious level she and the male communicate with the sexualness in the background at the very least.
This leaves the physically attractive woman in a precarious position because she can so easily get seduced by her own seductiveness. She learns at a conscious and unconscious level that her physical and emotional sexualness works. She starts to use it more and more often without her even being aware of it. In essence it becomes a racket. The sexualness is used to get males in particular to behave in a particular way. Any emotion can be used to manipulate others including sexuality with the physically attractive female. Over time she starts to rely on it, often without her even being aware of it and that leads to all sorts of negatives for her later on. 

Woman & monkey
The physically beautiful female needs to be careful not to be seduced by her own seductiveness such that it becomes a racket.

It is indeed a  difficult thing for parents to deal with. They need to somehow communicate to the physically attractive girl and adolescent not to rely on what their attractiveness can get them when there are going to be significant and powerful pressures to do so. However at the same time for her to enjoy her physical appearance. A difficult line indeed for parents to walk to avoid such a racket developing in the psychology of the girl.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Parenting and the use of adverse emotions

One of the most primary tasks of any parent is to facilitate the development of the Adapted Child ego state in their son or daughter. 
When a child is born it is all Free Child ego state. The parents must do something to the child such that the Adapted Child ego state increases and is used by the son or daughter when necessary. The child learns how to conform when necessary such that it can exist in a society. It learns how to behave appropriately when necessary. So over time the FC must decrease and the AC must increase. How much the AC must develop is a matter of debate. However that is not the topic of discussion here. What is to be discussed is how parents can go about doing that with their son or daughter.

ego state development
In this diagram CC has been used instead of AC

There are many ways it can be done and most are well known. The parents can use techniques like time out, consequences of behaviour or simply talking with the child such that it understands why it needs to conform in a particular situation.
There is another way to get a child to conform that is particularly effective. It involves using emotions. These are quite powerful at getting a child to behave in a way the parents want and hence they are used because they do work. There are three emotions that can be used in this way and they are fear, guilt and shame.
These are obviously painful emotions that people do not like feeling. As a result people, including children will modify their behaviour in order not too feel them. 

Towel person
If things go wrong here she could end up feeling shame.

Parents can use the fear of abandonment to get a child to conform.
“Unless you go to bed now mummy will get a policeman to come and take you away.” 
A child at a playground is not following mother’s directive to leave now to go home. Mother just starts to walk away in the direction of home. Most children will begin to squeal loudly in protest (and fear) at mother walking away. Eventually however most will succumb, leave the playground and follow mother. It works.
“Mummy felt upset and really sad that you did not behave properly at nana's house.”
“You promised mummy you would clean up your room and you haven’t done it.”
The child feels guilt and it works so next time the child will behave in the way mother wants it to. 
“You should be ashamed of yourself for...”
The parent in some way derides or humiliates the child in front of its peers or siblings.
The child feels shame and it works so next time the child will behave in the way mother wants it to.

Kids & gituar
These two children are being compliant. How has that been achieved?

These are usually quite effective ways of getting a child to modify its behaviour to do what mother wants. They work. 
But there is a problem. They have unwanted long term side effects. The boy who has been threatened with abandonment by mother may grow up and have dysfunctional relationships with women because of it. 
He may constantly feel the threat of abandonment and become pathologically jealous. He may habitually pick women who do cheat on him and leave. 
He may forever remain single because he fears the abandonment that might one day happen.
If shaming is used as a way to get a son to conform then he will grow up and develop what is called a shame prone personality. In adulthood he will experience the feeling of shame more often than others do. Shame is a very unpleasant emotion and can have devastating consequences on the self esteem. Many a social phobia can have some kind of shame component as can happen with chronic shyness or a sense of just feeling worthless.

Temperament and racket

Below is a list of the nine innate feelings that occur in humans. Each basic feeling is followed by a list of derivative feelings that come from the basic feeling.
Sad - depressed, down, flat, melancholic, bored, gloomy, low, dull 
Scared - worried, nervous, frightened, anxious, terrified, trepidation 
Shame - disgust, embarrassment, disgraced, humiliation, degraded, humble
Happy - joyous, delighted, peaceful, playful, glee, contented, glad 
Love - affection, adoration, liking, fondness, friendly, intimate 
Grief - Loss, lamenting, mourning 
Despair - Vacuum, nothingness, hopeless, blank, desolation, numb 
Sexual - romantic, seductive, passionate, sexy, sensual, lustful, amorous 
Anger - fury, rage, resentful, rebellious, annoyance, hate, spite, sarcasm

Balance woman

Innate temperament can be conceptualized a number of ways. One is with the model of fight, flight or freeze. Children are born with these tendencies as a basic way to deal with problems and stress in life
The differing temperaments will result in a proclivity to have certain feelings and indeed develop particular racket feelings. These are listed below:
Fight - anger, sexual
Flight - scare,  shame
Freeze - scare, sad, despair

Cold swim
Freeze temperament?