On Narcissistic Self-Promotion

A while back, I wrote a post worrying over the difference between pride and narcissistic self-display. I’ve since made peace with this issue and feel comfortable expressing my feelings of pride in accomplishment, sharing my joy with friends and family members eager to rejoice along with me. I’ve also been helped by a recent example of another author who better demonstrates the true nature of narcissistic self-promotion.

I received a review copy of Alexandra Jamieson’s new book Women, Food, and Desire, and read it with great interest. Advance word suggested it would touch upon food cravings as partly defensive in nature – that is, the ways we eat to avoid dealing with some unacknowledged psychic pain. I address the defensive use of eating in my own book, Why Do I Do That?, so Jamieson’s book naturally appealed to me.

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Triggered by Shame

Due to chronic lower back pain, caused mostly by spending too much time seated at my desk and staring at a computer screen, I decided to enroll in a four-week yoga workshop designed for people with similar issues. Like many of you, I’ve spent lots of time attending group physical fitness classes of different kinds over the course of my life. Though I don’t overtly show it, I become highly competitive when I find myself in such groups. Even before I attended the first class, I was wondering if I would feel the same way in yoga, to which I am a newcomer.

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Autogynephilia: Aroused by the Image of Yourself as the Opposite Sex

Although I’ve been focused on finishing my book, the subject of transgender psychology has lately absorbed a lot of my interest. My fear that I might offend readers and provoke further attacks has stopped me from writing more about it, but I’ve decided to try opening a conversation on the subject by asking questions rather than putting forth definitive theories. In retrospect, I was quite naive in thinking that I could weigh in on this subject based on my limited experience. I knew that transgender politics was a controversial area but I had no idea just how charged and vitriolic it has become. Every time I begin to write, I do a little more research and find myself drawn into the online debates; I’m often shocked by the name-calling, profanity, and abuse that come up when people disagree.The comments I received were mild in comparison!

One of my clients sent me a copy of J. Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would be Queen, a fascinating but in some ways insensitive book about transsexualism. From there, I went on to learn about Ray Blanchard and Anne Lawrence, with whom I’ve corresponded several times. All three are researchers within the area of transsexualism and have worked directly with men and women who identify as trans. Lawrence herself is a male-to-female transsexual who has lived as a woman for many years and counsels those who are contemplating transition. If you’re familiar with these names, you know that these three are hated within the transgender community. I don’t propose to defend or criticize any of them. I only want to discuss a phenomenon I learned about while researching this area. In order to describe a condition he found in many of his subjects, Blanchard coined the term autogynephilia: a male’s sexual arousal at the idea of himself as the opposite sex. Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence have all written extensively about this condition.
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