Self-Pity

Self-pity
“Being a victim is more palatable than having to recognize the intrinsic contradictions of one’s own governing philosophy.”
— Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
— John Gardner

“He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that–it didn’t work.”
— Gary Paulsen, Hatchet

As I was beginning work on this post about self-pity, I searched Google and found a list of quotes from GoodReads. The selection above captures some of what I’d like to say on the subject, although not one of the many quotes from GoodReads expressed my most important insight, based on personal and clinical experience: that self-pity contains a lot of unconscious anger and stems from an underlying sense of entitlement. Let me give a personal example.

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The Difference Between Anger and Hatred

In preparation for my appearance later today on Sandy Weiner’s BlogTalkRadio program Courageous Conversations, I’ve been thinking about anger and hatred. Sandy and I will be discussing how to cope with the eruption of hatred in our intimate relationships and I needed to clarify how hatred differs from anger.

We can distinguish between anger and hatred in two ways: intensity and duration. It helps to think of them as occurring along a spectrum. Anger might be triggered when a loved one does something that frustrates us. It tends to come and go and doesn’t crowd out all our other feelings for that person. We can often voice it in ways that aren’t hurtful. Hatred lasts longer and is more pervasive. It tends to overwhelm us and obscure everything else we might feel. It makes us want to take action, to hurt or destroy whatever inspires the hatred.

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What Hurts the Most

I don’t usually relate to the trending topics on Twitter — often about celebrities I don’t know and TV shows I’ve never watched — but earlier this week I noticed that #WhatHurtstheMost was a popular hashtag for the day. Out of curiousity, I searched the term on Twitter and read through a hundred or so tweets to see what it was that people found especially hurtful. There was a variety of answers, but the most popular one involved romantic rejection or unrequited love. Here’s a sample of the variations on that subject:

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Rage and Entitlement in Borderline Personality Disorder

A site visitor who signed with the name “Jay” recently left an interesting comment to my earlier post on borderline personality disorder. As this bears on the issue of rage and the sense of entitlement, I’ll quote his remarks at length. He’s a young mental health professional, working at an in-patient facility:

“I have one BPD patient. Just one and the stress is starting to get to me. It is becoming a nightmare. She cuts, threatens suicide, hits her peers, urinates on the floor and yells at the top of her lungs when she does not get her way. She pulled the fire alarm during her tour of the building because she wanted to be let in the music room. That room was under construction. I explained to her why she could not go in there, her answer was “how do you know?” I pointed to the “under construction keep out” sign. She replied “well you still don’t know that.” She then proceeded to yell at me for not taking her side.

Another example, she ordered cereal for breakfast the night before. She woke up and asked for oatmeal and bananas. We did not have any oatmeal. We offered cereal and bananas. She flipped a few chairs, threw her tray at the kitchen staff, threatened to kill herself and burn the place down. That lasted 3 hours. There was no talking with her, no pacifying her. Finally she was placed in restraints and medicated. She sleeps 10 hours.

Empathy does not work, group therapy, one on one, drawing, meditating, bribery, nothing . Yes, I bribed her with snacks, tried a few reward systems. She’s in her early 20s, as I am. I can not reach that girl. She hates me one day and can not live without me the next. My colleagues are all sick of her. Being the youngest of the staff, she’s is mine until she leaves. I am seriously considering switching to hospice care. She has no boundaries and does not respect mine. For example, I stated that I am uncomfortable with kissing on the cheeks, hugging, holding hands and such. However I do shake hands. She will try to hug me every time I see her, or touch my clothes, hair, to touch my papers. I’d say “please