Sometimes I find myself wondering what possesses people to fixate on others. Then I remember I know, that I’ve not only been there but stalked in my youth. It takes a particular kind of intelligence to understand and grasp the capacity to be stupidly obsessive to the point that you’ll actually cause yourself physical harm and justify it as acceptable if it means you get the person you want. So, when someone tries to play the psychology card on me, it’s pretty much a lost cause. Except it happens, every damn day, and I’m still surprised that people can be this stupid. To want to manipulate others to the point you can’t even see how dumb you’re being? To genuinely think you’ve got the ability to bend someone else to your will at a distance? That takes a special variety of delusional.
It does make me think however that maybe a late life degree in psychology would be a really interesting diversion.
The trick, of course, is to blend your desire with a clever use of observation. It’s roughly akin to all those ‘how to be a hit with the opposite sex’ guides that ultimately appear in both women’s and men’s magazines, for those without the basic understanding of interaction with their sexual preference of choice. I sent my target of desire various gifts, all carefully chosen to appeal to their own particular interests, but nothing will ever actually make an impression if you are not in the least attractive to the person concerned. You may think they are the centre of YOUR Universe, but the truth is very often that they’ll not even realise affection or desire exists. That should be the wakeup call, of course, but often it takes something desperate to alert your psyche to the damage being wrought. When I look back I think the physical damage for me was that moment, but it took until a long time afterwards (and with help) to grasp that ultimately I was the problem. Then there’s the understanding that if you did this before, it could happen again. That gives you the ability to keep yourself in check, but more importantly pushes for a long term understanding of circumstance to teach you never to start that cycle again.
When you understand that your own naivety is the issue, an awful lot of other stuff makes sense.
The attention card is what all the cool kids play on the Internet: look at me, I’m big and clever, see how much noise I can make. The more subtle abusers turn this around, and ask their targets whether they are actually worthwhile or useful. It still remains however entry level psychology, and won’t stop anyone with understanding of the technique in their tracks from doing anything. Once you are aware of the basic stupidity in someone’s actions, it becomes remarkably easy to wrench all power from them. Ironically, it also give people like me brilliant material for building villains in fiction. Frankly this stuff is so ridiculous you couldn’t make it up, and when you read it there’s your classic Bond bad guy: desperate to be the centre of everybody’s Universe, bitter yet respectful of his nemesis, looking for the ultimate line to throw back as 007 thwarts his evil schemes. I have read and been told that absolutely the best research you can ever do is by perming your own life story as reference. Looking at it now, I’ve got an awful lot of potential for fiction in the future.
That’s how you pull the positive from your negatives.
There’s an old adage that states that if people are attacking you, you must be doing something right. Mostly, what this should tell you is that your own actions have caused a consequence, and that it is probably a good idea to look at yourself first before automatically assuming that the person with the rock had no reason to throw it. Once you’ve done that and can be comfortable that your actions are acceptable? Then, off you go. The best piece of advice I was ever given in this regard, and I think it remains sound, is that you either shut all the bad out or have the strength of character to let it all in. For some people, the former is essential. It’s the equivalent of never reading a bad review as an artist: you just carry on regardless, and dismiss all criticism the same way. As a writer, I actually get a lot from criticism now I’ve learnt how to deal with it objectively. That’s certainly not the way for many people to go. Iron constitution and buns of steel are a prerequisite.
However, once you can do it, it becomes almost sadistically enjoyable.