Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“Is Your Cat Always Fractious?”

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“Fractious” isn’t a word you often hear. Clearly the veterinary tech had just read the word off the record, perhaps there is some warning in there about the Qatari Cat.

The Qatari Cat was born on the streets of Qatar, and had a bumpy start with another owner. While the man and his daughter liked him just fine, the wife and her mother did not. When the Qatari cat came to live with us, he was very wary of me. It took a couple years for him to fully trust me. He watched my feet all the time. He quailed in fear, ears back, if I used a loud voice. He was terrified of the sound of plastic bags.

Slowly, slowly, we built a relationship. Today, ten years later, he is a sweet cat.

He is a sweet cat every single day of the year, but he still has his street instincts. AdventureMan has learned that you can’t play rough with the Qatari Cat; you play rough, you lose. I never speak loudly to him; it just won’t work, it just gets his back up. Because he knows I am the boss, I speak sternly, but softly to him and he will do just what I ask him to do.

Our first visit to the vet went badly. You can read about it here. He was fine until the buzzing razor hit his bottom and then all his survival instincts kicked in. He’s been back twice, and he has been as good as gold, but somehow . . . that notation has stuck.

“No!” I replied, maybe a little bit too loudly.”No! He is a sweet kitty! He is snuggly and loving and quiet and good! But if he is scared, he wants to defend himself.” I told the tech about the Italian vet the Qatari Cat fell in love with in Kuwait, she snuggled him and told him how beautiful he was and how much she loved him and he was putty in her hands. I was almost jealous. I thought maybe she distilled some catnip and mixed it with her perfume or something, Qatari Cat’s eyes glazed a little in sheer adoration when he was around her, and he even drooled a little. She could take his temperature, give him a shot and check his innards and he never complained, just looked at her adoringly.

The tech shot a skeptical look at me and exited the room. I could hear her repeat this to the vet, and muffled laughter before she entered the room again.

So the vet came in and snuggled Qatari Cat, and told him he was pretty, and while she did not say it with an Italian accent, Qatari Cat was clearly intrigued – and on his best behavior. It doesn’t take much . . . he’s a male. Snuggle him a little, rub his fur the right way, chat him up . . . it doesn’t have to be rational, it’s all in the tone of voice and the flirtation. He totally digs it, he eats it up. A little grope here, a quick look at the teeth, a quick injection and he’s finished, not a fractious moment in the entire visit.

On the way home, we laughed thinking of our sensitivity at having our cat called “fractious.” We remember the indignant response of friends whose cat was annotated as “vicious” by a German vet. The cat was diabetic and objected to the roughness with which the vet wanted to take his blood. I think if you are a veterinarian, you might have an understanding that a sick animal, or a scared animal, might act unpredictably or defensively, there are big thick gloves you can wear if an animal seems wired up.

Does this look like a fractious cat to you?

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September 23, 2013 Posted by | Civility, Communication, Community, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Pets, Qatteri Cat, Relationships | 4 Comments

Every Day Sadists Walk Among Us

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“Trust your feelings,” my friend told me when I was telling her about a person who seemed so nice, but made me uncomfortable. This article says the same thing; if you feel like a person takes pleasure from humiliating or hurting others, stay far far away. It’s only a matter of time before they turn on you.

Everyday Sadists Walk Among Us, Study Says

(From AOL News/Every Day Health)

Although we may think of sadism in a sexual or criminal context, sadistic tendencies are common in everyday life.

By Laurie Sue Brockway, Everyday Health Staff Writer

Whether it’s the Marquis de Sade, the evil stepmother from Snow White, or Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, all sadists take great pleasure in inflicting pain on others. Fortunately, you are unlikely to meet those particular three anytime soon, but according to an unusual duo of studies conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia, and published in Psychological Science this week, it is very possible you will bump into a boss, a colleague, or even a family member who may be considered an “everyday sadist.”

While most people try to avoid hurting others — and will feel guilty, remorseful, and distressed if they do hurt someone intentionally or unintentionally — an everyday sadist enjoys being cruel and may find it exciting.

“We have probably all encountered people in our daily lives who — at least seem to — enjoy hurting others,” said lead researcher Erin Buckels, MA, who conducted this work as part of her master’s thesis in Social-Personality Psychology at the University of British Columbia. She is now a doctoral student at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

“Everyday sadists lack empathy, and they possess an internal motivation to hurt others. However, they are unlikely to act in a way that would be criminal or dangerous — at least in most contexts, where such behavior is met with social disapproval or punishment,” Buckels said.

Everyday sadists may be cousins to classic sociopaths in their lack of empathy, but they are not considered a danger to society in the same way. “It is only in situations where cruelty is encouraged or socially acceptable that dangerous behavior might enter the equation,” said Buckels. “Both sadistic personality and situational pressures are necessary for sadism to manifest with everyday people. War is one example of this confluence — we have all seen the images of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse. All forms of cruel behavior have the potential to be motivated by sadistic pleasure, including bullying and abuse by others. If it were done purely for pleasure, then it would be sadism.”

If You Like to Hurt Bugs, You May Be a Sadist
It’s one thing to take an empty mayonnaise jar to catch fireflies when you are a kid and accidentally forget to poke holes in it, causing the fireflies to die. It’s another thing to enjoy harming bugs (or animals). Buckels used a bug-crushing exercise to draw the everyday sadists out in a controlled laboratory environment. For the experiment, she defined sadists in two ways: Their cruel behavior and felt pleasure in the lab, and personality characteristics consistent with sadism. A group of 71 participants were asked to fill out a sadism personality questionnaire and also given a list of four tasks they could choose from:

Killing bugs

Helping the experimenter kill bugs

Cleaning dirty toilets

Enduring pain from ice water

A bug-crunching machine fashioned out of a coffee grinder made distinct crunching sounds. Placed close to this machine were cups containing live pill bugs that were labeled with names like Muffin, Ike, and Tootsie. Those who selected bug-crushing were told to put the bugs into the machine and grind them up. Unbeknownst to them, there was a barrier that prevented the bugs from being dropped into the grinder. No bugs were killed for this experiment, but it brought the sadists out of the closet. Of 71 participants, nearly 28 percent chose to kill bugs.

What Exactly Is a Sadist?
Sadistic personality disorder was once defined as a mental illness, but over time sadism has been considered more of a lifestyle choice or a personality quirk or trait. The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), does include sexual sadism disorder. “This is marked by recurrent and intense sexual arousal from the suffering of others as manifested by fantasies, urges, and behaviors,” said Wilfried Busse, PhD, a psychotherapist based in Bethesda, Md. “To meet full criteria for the disorder, an individual also has to act on such urges by inflicting harm on a non-consenting individual, or must experience such uncontrollable urges to cause significant social and occupational impairment.”

“The central feature of sadism is deriving pleasure from watching or inflicting physical or psychological harm on others,” added Dr. Busse. “In the extreme form a sadist will seek to inflict suffering on another for the psychological gratification derived from such an action.”

Buckel’s study did not use classic criteria to define sadism – most widely known as sexual or criminal behavior – and instead explored sadism as it exists in the “subclinical” range of personality, an aspect of sadism not considered a mental illness.

“There is clearly a difference between a person who gets pleasure from killing bugs and a person who kills other humans for pleasure,” said Buckels. “That being said, the core experience of sadism is probably pretty similar for both of them. Our research has also revealed both similarities and differences between people who enjoy acting cruelly, or direct sadists, and those who simply enjoy watching cruelty, or vicarious sadists.Regardless of whom the victim is, direct aggression requires a certain amount of callousness and a lack of distress towards the suffering of another living creature.”

How to Spot a Sadist
There is a big difference between the kind of evil sadists we know from history and movies and people with sadistic impulses, who fall into a category of sadism that is considered a personality trait rather than a personality disorder.

“It is very important to differentiate between an antisocial, or sadistic, personality disorder and sadistic impulses,” said psychologist Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a family therapist and author in Beverly Hills, Calif.

“Antisocial personality disorder is very rare,” Walfish said, offering examples such as Hitler, murderers who enjoy torturing their victims and watching them suffer, and, possibly, Syrian President Bashar Assad. “But the rest of us have unconscious sadistic impulses. Even the kindest, most loving person, when terribly mistreated, can feel an impulse of hate very strong,” she added.

Walfish explained that there are several sub-types of sadists:

Explosive sadist. When disappointed and/or frustrated with their lives, humiliated or hopeless, they lose control and seek revenge for the mistreatment to which they feel subjected. They are known for being unpredictably violent. This manifests through tantrums, fearsome attacks on others, especially family members, and uncontrollable rage.

Tyrannical sadist. They are frightening and cruel because they appear to relish the act of menacing and brutalizing others; forcing their victims to cower and submit gives them satisfaction.

Enforcing sadist. They tend to be military sergeants, deans of universities, prison overseers, police officers or people with other authoritative functions who feel they should be the ones controlling and punishing people who have broken rules, regulations or laws.

Spineless sadist. They are typically deeply insecure and act like cowards. In anticipation of real danger, they project their hostile fantasies and strike first, hoping thereby to forestall their antagonist and ask questions later. They use aggressive hostility to send the message to others that they aren’t intimidated or fearful, so that they can control their inner feelings and display the exact opposite of how they actually feel. They seek out scapegoats to gang up on, which allows them to assault the exact things that exist within themselves that they want to deny.

Everyday sadist. There is a renewed interest in studying subclinical sadism as a personality trait, said Walfish. Subclinical psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism, and everyday sadism form the so-called “Dark Tetrad” of personality.

“These people aren’t necessarily serial killers or sexual deviants but they gain some emotional benefit in causing or simply observing others’ suffering,” said Walfish. “The type of person the study is referring to are, for instance, the co-worker who repeatedly humiliates you and smiles or appears to reap pleasure from hurting you. If you self-advocate and say something that inflames your co-worker, she retaliates with evil revenge, further humiliating you.”

Exercise Caution Around Everyday Sadists
The British Columbia researchers surmised that everyday sadists are not the most popular people.“A person who has a high score on a sadism personality questionnaire is unlikely to be regarded as a nice and loving person,” said Buckels. “That is not to say that they are always nasty or that they can’t love others; but in general, high scorers tend to be less nice than average.”

How does someone become an everyday sadist? “In general, the cause or reason someone wants to go the extra effort to hurt another is because someone terribly mistreated them,” said Walfish. “That someone is usually their mother, father, or an older sibling. The sadist was a receptacle, or container, for hostility and evil meanness. These toxic feelings become too much for one to bear. They have no choice but to find a weaker victim and spew their venom onto the other.”

“Within their own families and in the workplace these people cannot be trusted,” Walfish observed. “No one can ever feel safe with them. Therefore, they do not have real relationships. They engage by exploiting, manipulating, and using other people as a means to their own end. The best thing to do is keep reasonable distance from these people. Always be pleasant so you don’t become their target. This does not mean to kiss up. It just means you present yourself as a benign nice guy. Never do business or get close to one of these people. They will always take you down.”

Buckels said she was surprised to find such a low baseline of positive emotions reported by sadists. “They are not just acting out to compensate for deep-rooted insecurity or low self-esteem,” she said. “Interestingly, after an act of cruelty, their moods seemed to lighten, suggesting instead that the sadist’s appetite for cruelty derives from some diabolical need. Although speculative, our hypothesis is that sadists have an underlying deficit that is sated through cruelty’s rewards.”

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Relationships, Safety, Values | , , | Leave a comment