27 January 2012
THE LIMITS OF REASON
In Psychology Today, Susan Biali, M.D., sets forth definitions and strategies 'for dealing with mean or crazy people .... A difficult person in your life might not have a full-blown personality disorder. They may just have related traits that express themselves from time to time. It still takes a toll on your self-esteem and well-being to be around them."
She goes on to list some of the types of people she suggests are unreasonable ~
~ Those with whom you can't have a reasonable conversation
~ People who make demeaning comments disguised as a 'joke'
~ Those who don't respect boundaries
~ People who aren't willing to consider your point of view or listen to your side of things
~ Verbal or emotional abusers
~ People who provoke you into acting crazy or unbalanced, when your behavior across the rest of your life is proof that you're not
~ The excessively charming who are too good to be true and have an ulterior motive
Following are strategies which minimize the danger to yourself, your days, your sanity, and your life ~
~ Minimize time with them
~ Keep it logical
~ Don't drink with them
~ Focus on them in conversation
~ Give up the dream that one day they'll be the person you wish they'd be
~ Stay away from topics that get you in trouble
~ Don't try to get them to see your point of view
~ Create a distraction
Not all relationships are worth keeping in your life. "But in some cases if the person is a family member, boss, or some other key fixture you can't cut out of your life, these tactics may prove to be lifesavers." Please see the article for a fuller explanation of each strategy.
Extending this idea, perhaps the most difficult unreasonable personality one can encounter is the full-blown racist. A number of studies have linked right-wing ideals with racism ~ they share a rigid black-and-white view of the world, an intolerance of ambiguity, and a tendency toward insecurity and degrees of paranoia. Dan Evon reports that low intelligence "is the one constant factor behind racism .... people with low intelligence tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies."
The researcher does not conclude that all conservatives are ignorant racists, merely that there is a significant tendency. He points out that "There are multiple examples of very bright conservatives and not-so-bright liberals, and many examples of very principled conservatives and very intolerant liberals .... [Nevertheless] people with low IQs may be drawn toward conservative beliefs because they offer structure. People who have a hard time understanding the complexities of the world find comfort in a simple belief system .... Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order. Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."
Racism is one mindset to which the gentler avoidance strategies set forth in the first study (above) are not useful. Any behavior which harms others must be confronted. You may not be able to reason them past their prejudice, but you can certainly make it clear what the consequences will be for acting it out.
NOTE ~ Happy 124th anniversary to the National Geographic Society, whose historic mission remains "to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world's cultural, historical, and natural resources." Long may you sail !