I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

92. Dynamics in Self-Help Groups

Dynamics in Self-Help Groups
As a part of learning more about what is hard-wired into the brain, and also as a way of coping with personal experiences, I have been a passive reader and also a participating member of self-help forums, blogs and mailing lists concerning couple's problems, narcissism, psychopathy, ADD/ADHD, autism and others.  

I start to see a pattern of the dynamics and structures of such groups.    There are hierarchies, there is no altruism and there are unwritten rules requiring to pass a kind of initiation ritual.

The reason for joining such a group is usually a crisis.   The suffering newbie feels low, with damaged self-esteem, miserable and helpless, a sponge for attention and sympathy.   That person is in need of respectful and considerate support, which means advice in accordance with the specific individualistic needs, and also encouragement and positive feedback for whatever they do in wise coping.    Instead of support the person in need gets patronized.  
Those senior members, who have somehow overcome their own crisis, project their personal strategy upon the newbie, with assumptions, ignorant conclusions and the hubris of automatically assuming to know something better than the other.  

The suffering newbie is grateful for anything and does very often not perceive the difference between support and patronizing.   Acceptance of being patronized is part of the initiation ritual.   Lack of submission and compliance, resistance leads to either being excluded or being driven out with aggression.

The newly initiated newbies form the lowest stratum of the hierarchy.   Once they have the crisis under control, especially those who get aware of being patronized, they fade away.   Those, who stay in the group, move upwards in the hierarchy of gaining benefits.  
In the middle stratum, they are still acquiring the knowledge needed for their own future patronizing role.   But they can already give sympathy and compassion to the next generation of newbies.  
Being beyond the crisis, but still stuck in an unpleasant situation, they have found, with whom they can favorably compare themselves.   Instead of feeling envious of their more happy neighbours, they feel good in comparison with the newbies suffering more as still in the crisis.  

In the top stratum, there is the elite of the group, who derive so much personal benefit from patronizing the newbies, that they invest a lot of time and effort in doing this.   Some of them appear quite narcissistic.   As long as their patronizing is welcome by the newbies, they can keep up their mask of the unselfish supporters quite well.   But as soon as someone resents their patronizing, the mask falls, and they get aggressive and show their full hubris. 
Since there are usually several of them, who have moved up the same hierarchy, they share the same patronizing ideas and are reinforcing each other in their delusion of being right.
Anybody, who has the confidence to doubt their competence in patronizing, even without doubting their competence in supplying valuable information, is a serious jeopardy to their source of narcissistic supply.   Confidence is a heavy provocation, that triggers aggression.   Anybody, who dares to resist patronizing, can in their opinion only be flawed and sick.  
When I dared to enter such a group recently and ask some question to gain information, without submitting to the initiation ritual, I provoked hostility too.
They believe, that everybody needs therapy.   Those, who admit their troubles, need it, but those, who just ask questions, are considered as too sick to even know their need of therapy. 
In reality, it is just the typically narcissistic urge to put other people down to feel better about themselves.  
In my latest contact with such a group, I did not get the answers to my questions, but I got aware of the dynamics.