In part 9 we demonstrated the temper rages that many SSA men went through at a very young age. I received an email from Joshua who recognized himself in the description. In this article, we intend to lift the veil off this shameful and embarrassing behavior. We will put temper rages center stage and explain the working of the mind as though it is run by computer scripts.
Little boys can get ever so angry and frustrated in their attachment need to a Dad who just didn’t seem to be there or was not emotionally available enough. As a kid you start rejecting him back and his stupid maleness to go with it. As an adult, you end up appearing on the outside to be gentle, bashful and ever so considerate; regular softies. But we often hear that many can still have tantrums as adults, although they are ashamed to show anyone. They experience inwardly turned explosions of rage: implosions.
“Your article hit me like a ton of bricks. Especially the co-dependency part. The angry boy. I used to throw the worst of temper tantrums as a child. It didn’t improve a lot as I got older. I get so angry and scream and shout at inanimate objects when things didn’t go my way. To be honest, I still do it as an adult now and then. If I’m building something or working on something work related and it doesn’t work, I will scream at it endlessly like it’s an actual person. Very childlike, I know. You are pointing out an old habit. Never thought of that. It has never occurred to me.
I remember as a child my mother crying in my presence, talking about my dad, how she’s going to leave. When I was already an adult and after some time in therapy, she told me that during my first few years she felt that my dad made her work instead of staying home with me, and that she would complain to me about it. She did not demonstrate healthy boundaries or keep a healthy distance. I felt responsible for her feelings. I’ve done work on this, but perhaps not enough.”
Notice how he says “I felt responsible for her feelings”.
Some people say they cannot really remember or feel what is was like to be such a young child.
But if you can relate your current rages to any temper fits you had as a kid, then you are time-traveling through the worm-hole to your child’s universe, so to speak. Still have those tempers more than you would like to? The child is there, each and every time you have a temper fit. That is you, full blown you. Sad you, unhappy you, frustrated you. No one out there to help you deal with that rage way back then and still love you just the same. No one there now either, a secret and shame filled side of you.
1. Computer programs
With temper tantrums, more often than not, you are actually re-experiencing old temper tantrums that were never satisfactorily dealt with to your liking. Your thoughts during a tantrum are going through a never-ending mental computer program loop, which has become ingrained in your neurological network. Between age 0 and 4, the brain grows to 80% of its adult size. So all things happening in that time span are immediately engraved in the neuron brain network which is being formed and which is becoming hard-wired. This includes all sorts of experiences like temper tantrums. They become part of your operating system, so to speak, your DOS, Windows, iOS or Linux.
This is necessary, because the first 4 or 5 years are a time span of trial and error, and when the results become hard-wired due to the way that the braincells, the neurons, connect with each other, then the coping strategy becomes hard-wired. The behavior becomes learned, a habit, and it can be performed next time without a thought or hesitation when a similar challenge comes along. Bang! Just like that.
Programming the neurons is the infant’s main occupation and with big gazing eyes, with his touching, feeling, and sticking everything in his mouth to taste, it is his sole activity as his brain is making sense of the bewildering world out there. He is programming himself, like a self-learning robot also programs itself through trial and error. At age 5, he has programmed himself sufficiently to go out into the world, without the immediate need of a parent within shouting distance. He has internalized his previous experiences and is becoming increasingly self-reliant.
Problem is that dysfunctional interactions also are engraved as a coping strategy. You primarily interact with your parents. Your temper tantrums, feelings of rejection and lack of recognition too have become hard-wired.
In your brain, they are comparable to little computer programs. They have become loops in the programming, and they pop up incessantly in similar situations, causing you much joy or pain according to the way you resolved them at that time. If the problem is not resolved quickly, it becomes a loop in the program, leading you back to square one all the time.
Some people fight against same-sex attractions (SSA’s) due to religious reasons. I have a secular approach. In doing so, I say: embrace your SSA’s. Do not fight them, do not inhibit yourself. They are you, they are not inherently wrong, but neither are they inherently right either, or an end in itself. They are just part of who you are at this time. You need to see what message they convey: they are street signs. Try to read what they say. They are you, albeit not the whole story. And that is what overcoming SSA’s is all about: discovering the whole story. Relax.
Here is an example of a metaphor. We turn human interactions into a simple flow of computer commands as they work in computer programming language. The central processor executes each line of commands and then proceeds onto the next line of the computer script, a 31-line program.
1. I have a train engine. Dad stepped on it. He broke it
2. I start crying
3. Mom comes in to see what went on
4. Dad looks innocent and does not admit what he just did
5. Dad tells me to shut up
6. Mom touches me
7. I don’t stop crying
8. Mom tells me to shut up too
9. I start crying louder
10. Dad tells me to shape up.
11. Mom touches me and tells me that she loves me
12. I keep on crying because Dad is lying
13. Mom is angry because her love is not affecting me
14. Mom becomes hostile because she feels rejected
15. Dad tells Mom I am a spoiled brat
16. Mom threatens me that if I carry on, I will be sent to my room
17. I cry even louder
18. Dad is fed up, and starts to leave the room
19. Dad tells Mom off, that I am a mommy’s boy, “This is what you get!”
20. I become more distressed
21. Mom gets angry at Dad
22. Dad tells Mom off.
23. Mom spanks me for crying so loud
24. I cry even louder
25. Mom cries out to Dad that he is not taking his responsibility
26. Dad looks at me with disgust
27. Mom tells me I am a bad boy, and that I should learn to behave
28. Dad agrees with Mom, “At last we are getting somewhere”
29. I am sent to bed
30. I cry myself to sleep
31. Exit program
This is the script of a typical temper tantrum as far as the actions and reactions are concerned. And if this is repeated often enough, then it becomes ingrained and hard-wired in the neurons in the child’s psyche.
Next day, the family will proceed as if nothing has happened. After all, Mom and Dad are reunited in their confidence and attachment to each other. No brat will drive them apart. Forgetting the incident becomes mainstream.
How is this possible? Why do parents treat the kid this way? Mom, Dad, how can you do this?
We are dealing with parents who unknowingly are deeply narcissistic, absorbed by their own pride, emotions and need to be acknowledged and affirmed by everyone, including of course their child (instead of the other way around: mature parents affirming their children). Let us look deeply into this predicament.
A narcissistic person has six priorities in this order:
5. Someone who gives me love and admiration
6. All the other people around.
A narcissistic mother for example feels she is looking at you and reacting to your needs. But in reality, she is reacting to the emotions and feelings that your presence provokes in her mind. (The same applies of course to a narcissistic father). So, it is the feelings that are in HER head which are the driving force of her actions or lack thereof. She thinks (and you think) that she is reacting to you, but that is not true. You think she is caring about you, but in reality, she is taking care of her own feelings, not yours.
The narcissistic person is fundamentally self-absorbed and therefore takes everything personally, which can be appropriate sometimes but usually isn’t. She (or he) is center stage at all times, the star. A tricky person to deal with, because at the end of the day it is not about you, even though it looks that way. She is fooling herself, and so are you.
A narcissistic person is a needy person. How come? Let us have a look at her psychological development as a child. That girl went through computer program #1 (above) many times with a variety of themes at a very early age. Therefore her needs were not met. Each time the computer program gave a run, the outcome was the same. This negative outcome becomes ingrained in the neuron development of her brain, and it has become hard-wired. She knows for sure that her needs will not be met. A fear emerges: perhaps they will never be met.
The need is great, we call it a narcissistic deficit, that is to say a shortage. A big one, deeply ingrained in the mind. If this person does not get help or get “good” parents (probably substitute parents), then each encounter with another person will generate this fear: I will not get my needs met, no matter what I do.
So, getting her own needs met, becomes of paramount importance, every day of her future life. And she panics, is frantic, is needy; there is a big, big void inside. This person has very low self-esteem. After all, her emotional needs, such as being affirmed, were not met often enough, and in every contact with another human being she fears the worst. It scares her if you talk for more than two minutes or rave on about yourself. With every cue that you give, like “I was at the airport the other day…”, she will change the subject onto herself “Oh yeah, I know. The same happened to me four years ago, would you believe it…” and then she is off onto her fantasies, her emotions, her pastimes, the things she said or did the other day; in other words, she is desperate to get her needs met AT LAST. She will place them center stage.
And don’t you dare stand in the way. Your place is backstage, or behind the curtains, somewhere near the rear wall even. So, you feel like you are part of the backdrop scenery or wallpaper. This then gives you a narcissistic deficit as well, and if you don’t become aware of this, you may end up just as narcissistic as she is. You will end up needy, and full of shame to go with it.
You need to start sensing this mechanism if you have had narcissistic parents and were caught in the middle.
The mechanism of a healthy relationship between two people looks like this:
Computer program #2:
1. I meet the other person
2. I have needs and express them
3. The other person has needs and expresses them
4. I look into my needs and start getting them fulfilled
5. When I am halfway there, I must start giving attention to the other person
6. I look into the needs of the other person
7. I help the other person fulfill his/her needs
8. When he/she is halfway there, I check my needs again: go to line 4 if necessary
9. When their needs are fully filled, I stop indulging in them
10. I feel connected to my needs, I feel connected to the other person
11. Exit program.
Now the kid we saw in program 1, the Train Engine Boy, realizes that the program is not working for him. He finds out by chance that his parents have needs. And so, during one of the computer runs of program 2, he decides by trial and error to delete lines 4 and 5 and see what happens then.
And what do you know? If he deletes the lines of looking into his own needs first (crying) and getting them fulfilled (a new train engine), then he can invest in his parents’ needs.
And they give him some love back. We saw after all, how angry Mom was when she felt rejected by the kid. So he gives her a big smile and a feel-good hug. Mom now gives him a pat on the head and Train Engine Boy is excited and happily expects more to come. He has found a way after all, how not to end up crying lonely in his bed. Clever kid.
But there is a catch with a narcissistic parent. The parent has a big void inside and incessantly fears getting nothing. The kid might very well drain her (= her unconscious fear) because she does not have a superfluous amount of love to hand out. She will surely shrivel, like she did as a lonely, needy child way back then. He gets a little chunk but must not be greedy. Dad agrees, “he is a spoiled brat” (thanks Dad!). Dad has a narcissistic deficit too, and is always on his guard.
We call this conditional love.
The Train Engine Boy gets love, but only and for so long as he is investing energy to start off with. The kid will no doubt discover later that the profit rate, the yields, are low. He gets about 20% back of the energy he invested: a lousy deal. But he accepts it. He has no choice!
And so this new computer program does have some yield. The pay-off, however small, entices him to repeat his behavior over and over again. Lo and behold, the emergence of codependency (incessantly giving, but not really getting). A lousy deal, no way out; and it will be repeated for ever more until someone points it out to him and he sees that he is perpetuating a treadmill. Trapped. Always marching, always doing good and feeling lousier in the process. Let’s march harder!
The yield is so low because of the parental narcissistic deficit: they cannot afford to give him more, fearing that they will be drained. We don’t want Train Engine Boy to become a vampire now, do we? And the narcissistic parents’ first four priorities were I, Me, Mine and Myself.
So, easy does it, kid, so you feel. Don’t be selfish in any way. Look after the other guy’s needs first and foremost. Drop yourself out of the equation and just keep on trying to make the deal work. Keep your hopes high. This is the drama of the gifted child, according to psycho-analyst Alice Miller. The horror of it all.
Do you always become codependent? No, you can also become narcissistic yourself, as we have seen above. The kid decides that the codependency computer program has a very low yield, and he can decide to rewrite line 5 in the program:
Old Line 5: When I am halfway there, I must start giving attention to the other person
New Line 5: Go back to line 2.
In other words, the kid has given up on the parents. No more trust. The mistrust has become a certainty: I will not get enough love from these people, so I must choose for myself. He no longer invests in the other person, because that is a hopeless cause. He knows this by trial and error. He chooses for himself, and shrieks away from the (hopeless) interaction with the parent. He creates a distance, and this is not a healthy distance. It is a distance of despair, pain and unfulfilled needs.
The codependent child on the other hand keeps on hoping that the yield will go up some day, he knows for sure! And so, he becomes very attached to the narcissistic parent; he will defend these parents, this source of love, or rather this promise of love. He will defend them against all criticism, even from nasty psychiatrists like me who criticize. He will tell me off (instead of telling his parents off) and in doing so, he has also become a difficult person to deal with.
We call this a dysfunctional family, a family which is just not working as a system in the best possible way it could be.
By gaining insights, you can learn to pinpoint the step you are making which is keeping you locked up in the loop of your faulty computer programming. And from there, you can learn to accept your past by discovering your grief, by grieving, by releasing the past and by learning new patterns. After all, you are not a child any more. You can write a more effective computer program with which you can run the rest of your life.
Do all parents of SSA people have a narcissistic disorder?
The only research permitted by the gay-lib groups is sociological research into “social discrimination” at the inter-personal level. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists were thrown out of the subject of homosexuality in the ’80’s of the last century, when they were questioning the intra-personal level. So I can not be sure of the numbers, but I do know as a fact that codependency is almost always seen in men with SSA, men who always are overly attached to their mother, and who have learned to put their own needs aside and in the meantime identify with HER needs.
Almost everyone feels he has grown up in Squaw Camp. He is certainly not riding the horses with the male warriors and with the male peers, cheekily fooling around, showing cocky, confident and assertive behavior. He is not being the class hero and object of envy for all. He is sensitive and lonely, with obvious identification issues.
You struggle for a sense of self-worth by the skin of your teeth, if you struggle at all and are not lost in the loneliness of a life behind the curtains, blending in with the wallpaper. (And yet you insatiably yearn! You envy that great guy in the lime lights on center stage! He appears not to suffer from all this. You sexualize him: what a hottie! Please be my friend. Pretty please!)
The mother’s behavior is not healthy. She does not help the boy dis-attach from her and she doesn’t encourage him to identify with Dad and with maleness, due to (understandable) personal reasons. This is the essence of Nicolosi’s book for parents: “Preventing Homosexuality”.
I do not mean that the parent is necessarily a vain or extravagant person in the general sense of the word (to the contrary, they can appear to be quite modest). I mean narcissistic in the psychiatric sense of the word: an inability to create a good balance in seeing into your own needs and the child’s needs. This narcissistic quality can be quite subtle, making it hard to detect unless you know what to look for. This is the essence of Alice Miller’s book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child”.
If you discuss this predicament at an adult age with a narcissistic parent, chances are he or she will say they do not recognize it. After all, they gave so much love (conditional love!) and they will spell it out. But almost always you will receive a list of the materialistic things going your way: piano lessons, the new bag or clothing article, the expensive ticket to something somewhere. But no emotional gift will be highlighted, no hug, no loving you in spite of problems or shortcomings. They just cannot see the conditional aspect of their behavior. And this adds to your confusion, to your self-doubt, and to a deep sense of shame and guilt. You get even more building blocks into the hollowness of your endless tunnel that you are going through to perhaps become a confident and care-free man some day.
Living in Squaw Camp is the general picture. Looking into your own feelings is a way out. Rewriting old computer scripts with their predictable and painful outcome will change your present state of mind so that riding with the braves will become an option. You are master of your universe. As I said before: ride ’em, cowboy.
To be continued.
Job Berendsen, MD.