Author Topic: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question  (Read 19522 times)

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QuestEon

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Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« on: January 25, 2012, 12:22:46 AM »
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A very troubling question. Is a philosophy valid if it is indistinguishable from a personality disorder?

Read the article here:  Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question

Read the archive of previous comments on Liberating Minds here:  Liberating Minds--Stefan Molyneux: the "Splitting" question

And please...continue the discussion below!
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 11:34:24 PM by QuestEon »
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P Jaques

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2014, 06:34:46 PM »
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A very troubling question. Is a philosophy valid if it is indistinguishable from a personality disorder?

Read the article here:  Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question

Read the archive of previous comments on Liberating Minds here:  Liberating Minds--Stefan Molyneux: the "Splitting" question

And please...continue the discussion below!


Great piece.

Oddly this is exactly the angle I approached Molyneux from, rather that disagreeing with parts of his ideology or becoming dissatisfied with the direction he was taking X,Y or Z in, I was first drawn to him exactly because of his splitting, in fact it was through an interest with the splitting inherent in conspiracism that lead me to Molyneux via his popularity amongst conspiracy theorists.

So, it's odd (and interesting) to hear someone else coming from another angle, almost as if someone suggested to me that his views were essentially anarchistic, with me having not noticed that apspect, ok, not a great anology, but I was certainly less aware of the ins and outs of political anarchy (and still am to some extent) than I was about splitting when I first came across Molyneux.

I think that particular trait (splitting), along with what I suspect is an inability to empathise, is the lens through which I view all his material, it's what I'm watching.

I suppose it's like a sociolinguist (accents) watching a film with a compositor, the sociolinguist might have missed the fact that the colour grading was comically inconsistent, while the compositor was oblivious to the fact that the Russian accents were at least 60 years out of step with when the film was set.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2014, 03:31:02 PM by P Jaques »
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P Jaques

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2014, 06:45:40 PM »
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A very troubling question. Is a philosophy valid if it is indistinguishable from a personality disorder?

I'm not a philosopher so can't offer anything other than opinion, but I can't see the process having any bearing on the product - maybe I'm oversimplifying the question, an insane man might arrive at the idea that the sine of 45deg is 0.7017 through a process of bloodletting and interpretive dance, and the answer would be as right (indistinguishable) as if he'd got there with maths.

?
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Marc Moïni

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2014, 05:10:10 AM »
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Here’s my attempt to get people here to stop thinking of Stef as a "narcissist" and hopefully in this way I can contribute to moving everyone (including Stef and those he influences) towards actions that I see as more productive for getting to the world I want to live in, where people are free to have more understanding for themselves and others:


Because of how I had been hearing most people speak that way, I grew up speaking and thinking the same way, which was in most moments of my life to see others as the main actors of what was going on, without paying attention to the choices available to me to make, nor to how I felt or to what would be required for my physiological and emotional well-being. My image of myself (although I would never have admitted that, and in fact I was loudly proclaiming the opposite) was that of a mostly powerless victim of circumstances, at the mercy of others's whims. I was convinced I wasn't worth my own time and effort (nor anyone else's), and so I was always looking for someone or some cause to serve, instead of applying my energy to improve my own life first.

Certainly my parents had contributed to my developing this perspective, because they didn't show me the respect and love that would have caused me to see myself as a person worth caring about, but I think that's because they grew up with the same way of looking at themselves that I did, and I think the responsibility for this degrading view of human beings which many of us share is with the culture as a whole and not with only some people. Although I think it's in our power, each of us, to improve our own life and also to contribute to improving others’s lives.

I see the source of this attitude in the way I was taught to express myself. For example instead of saying "I really like her looks", I would say "She's very pretty". Or instead of "I'm feeling pain right now because I need to be understood", I used to think "this guy is an idiot". Repeated over my whole childhood, I think the shaping of my thoughts in this way was the largest factor in making me end up with the very low opinion I had of myself, without even noticing it. Again, the way I was treated by my parents was damaging too, but I think it was a consequence of them thinking this way as well, and so indirectly it was the same cause.

It seems to me that Stef is a victim of the same process. I used to be making all sorts of moralistic judgments too ("What do you expect, these people are such assholes!", etc.) though I see Stef apparently taking this further and making a living out of it. I believe he probably suffers from all the same negative effects of low self-esteem that I used to suffer from, including the terror of getting caught making any sort of mistake, because of how damaging that would be, to have the mask of perfection I was hiding behind be revealed to be only that, a mask. I was hiding behind this mask in order to protect myself from getting criticized, and thus risking receiving more hits to my opinion of myself which was already critically low. I saw no way to improve this opinion, I wasn't even allowing myself to think about it so that I might perhaps think of a way to improve it, the whole subject was taboo because it was so terrifying. I see this as an explanation of Stef's actions that makes more sense to me than thinking he "is a narcissist" or that he suffers from "splitting" (if he does then I think I did too, and most people do too). And I think seeing it this way offers hope for him to rescue himself and to get back on the path that I see taking him to happiness for himself and his family and friends and the many people he could share the knowledge of this path with. Knowledge that I was lucky to chance upon when I encountered the ideas of Marshall Rosenberg, as well as those of others such as Nathaniel Branden and Carl Rogers (I'm grateful to Wes Bertrand for introducing these to me via his Complete Liberty podcast).

I welcome any comments you might have. And thank you for this site, I like seeing a place where open discussion of this and other topics is allowed and encouraged.
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P Jaques

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2014, 03:52:10 PM »
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I see this as an explanation of Stef's actions that makes more sense to me than thinking he "is a narcissist" or that he suffers from "splitting" . . .

You've said nothing that is out of step with the definition of narcissism, a perception of insignificance (low self-esteem) is often a central factor in narcissism, the need to reestablish self-esteem is what often drives the narcissist's desire to be worshipped or to be seen a heroic figure on an historic mission with lofty aims.
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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2014, 05:50:57 AM »
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You've said nothing that is out of step with the definition of narcissism, a perception of insignificance (low self-esteem) is often a central factor in narcissism, the need to reestablish self-esteem is what often drives the narcissist's desire to be worshipped or to be seen a heroic figure on an historic mission with lofty aims.

Oh I agree, if you prefer to interpret his actions in this framework of mental illness then it does seem to match the description of narcissism. I just don't see any benefits to this approach, compared to the one I'm suggesting, and plenty of downside. What are the benefits you are seeing, if you don't mind saying?
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P Jaques

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2014, 07:24:34 AM »
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What are the benefits you are seeing, if you don't mind saying?

Benefits ? I'm not quite sure I understand the question ? I don't really approach knowledge claims by weighing up the 'benefits', I think I'm like the overwhelming majority of people in that I tend to go with the most reasonable (the most evidenced, the most logical . . etc) explanation, rather than considering the benefits of competing positions.

For example, if stood in front of the Eiffel Tower, facing it, my only option is to conclude I'm looking at the Eiffel Tower, I am compelled by the evidence, by my senses . . . . If I was told that by believing I am stood in front of the Sydney Opera House I was able to win a large cash prize (a benefit) it would make no difference, regardless of the benefits I would still be compelled to think I am stood infront of the Eiffel Tower.

Molyneux seems to me to meet a lot of the criteria for someone suffering from NPD, I'm no psychologist so I could of course be wrong, a qualified clinician following the right procedures would be required to make any kind of reliable diagnosis, but as it stands I suspect he may well be on that particular spectrum, but of course I'm happy to listen to competing ideas, but whichever explanation best describes Molyneux's ideas and behaviour wouldn't really be weighed up by assessing the benefits of each.

I hope I've not misunderstood your point.
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Stink Insurance

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2014, 11:12:14 AM »
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For example, if stood in front of the Eiffel Tower, facing it, my only option is to conclude I'm looking at the Eiffel Tower, I am compelled by the evidence, by my senses . . . . If I was told that by believing I am stood in front of the Sydney Opera House I was able to win a large cash prize (a benefit) it would make no difference, regardless of the benefits I would still be compelled to think I am stood infront of the Eiffel Tower.



I dunno, it seems to work for some people.


P Jaques

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2014, 03:12:18 PM »
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I dunno, it seems to work for some people.


Lol.




Disturbed holiday maker speaking to a police officer: ". . . he just kinda appeared, sort of out of nowhere, right there in front of us, my girlfriend is pretty shaken up, she can't sleep, everywhere we go he's there, the hotel, the beach . . .  in our dreams . . . he just appears, staring at us, muttering something about women . . . and then suddenly . . . he's gone . . . he just seems to melt away into the night"

Police officer: "And what was it you said he keeps saying to you . . ?"

Disturbed holiday maker: "He keeps repeating the same three haunting words . . . "it is Jewish, it is Jewish" . . . over and over again.

« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 06:25:12 PM by P Jaques »
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DePoo

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2014, 04:41:03 PM »
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I dunno, it seems to work for some people.


Lol.




Disturbed holiday maker speaking to the police officer: ". . . he just kinda appeared, sort of out of nowhere, right there in front of us, my girlfriend is pretty shaken up, she can't sleep, everywhere we go he's there, the hotel, the beach . . .  in our dreams . . . he appears out of nowhere, staring at us . . . and then suddenly . . . he's gone . . . he just seems to melt away into the night"

Police officer: "And what was it you said he keeps saying to you . . ?"

Disturbed holiday maker: "He keeps repeating the same three haunting words . . . "just one dollar, just one dollar" . . . over and over again.


Amazing!

mikef

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2014, 10:10:48 PM »
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Oh I agree, if you prefer to interpret his actions in this framework of mental illness then it does seem to match the description of narcissism. I just don't see any benefits to this approach, compared to the one I'm suggesting, and plenty of downside. What are the benefits you are seeing, if you don't mind saying?


Are personality disorders classed as mental illness?   To me, he seems to fit NPD perfectly.  Not only that, but my mother fits NPD perfectly too.  Knowing my mother for many decades, I can contrast her behaviour with Molyneux's and gain some understanding of it that I think will elude people who have never had a long association with this type of personality.  The fact that I am able to (admittedly totally unprofessionally) diagnose these 2 people with the same thing helps me understand both of them better.  My mother just operates on a much smaller scale.

In saying that, your long post above really struck a chord with me in that I recognised many of those behaviours in myself.  And have actually done a lot of self-work to try and get away from them as I recognise they are not the reality of the world.  I think I was heading towards the same kind of behaviour myself but pulled back from it in my early 20's when I realised it wasn't bringing me the kinds of relationships I wanted.

Another thing to think about, that may not be comfortable for the libertarian community.  Was Molyneux just filling a market need?  That is, many people like to have someone to look up to and venerate whether it be priests or politicians.  With both these falling out of favour many people would need something to replace them.  Molyneux even talks about this in a sideways fashion in some of his work.  It's something I began to think about after reading Rothbard's article on Ayn Rand

http://archive.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard23.html

Coincidentally, or not, the main libertarian that Molyneux seems to talk about is Rand.  Rothbard, and others, barely rate a mention in his work, or so it seems to me.

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2014, 04:24:11 AM »
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Are personality disorders classed as mental illness?

Why should they be? Indeed, why even use the word "disorders"? People who exhibit these traits tend to live quite comfortably regardless of the destruction they cause. It is a way of relating to the world and, seemingly, a very profitable one.

I think these people are dangerous and must be identified and ostracised as long as they persist with their methods (rather than electing them to office or clutching at their robes), but to do that we perhaps need to identify some moral principle. Justify our actions through appeal to a higher cause.

For me there is no better moral cause than the ancient instruction, found in all faiths and even in  humanitarian movements, to "love thy neighbour". The instruction to "do no harm" or, as it is now known, the NAP, a principle that Molyneux pretends to endorse merely by not physically hitting anyone.

People such as Molyneux (and there are very many more of them - I suspect everyone knows at least one person who uses empathy to control others rather than to express love) thrive by fostering distrust and discord in the community and are therefore acting against that sacred and valuable principle. Of course they too are our neighbours so we are obliged to love them as much as we are able, but that does not mean we cannot oppose their underhand methods and expose their misdeeds.

Marc Moïni

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2014, 08:25:54 AM »
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Benefits ? I'm not quite sure I understand the question ? I don't really approach knowledge claims by weighing up the 'benefits', I think I'm like the overwhelming majority of people in that I tend to go with the most reasonable (the most evidenced, the most logical . . etc) explanation, rather than considering the benefits of competing positions.

For example, if stood in front of the Eiffel Tower, facing it, my only option is to conclude I'm looking at the Eiffel Tower, I am compelled by the evidence, by my senses . . . . If I was told that by believing I am stood in front of the Sydney Opera House I was able to win a large cash prize (a benefit) it would make no difference, regardless of the benefits I would still be compelled to think I am stood infront of the Eiffel Tower.

Molyneux seems to me to meet a lot of the criteria for someone suffering from NPD, I'm no psychologist so I could of course be wrong, a qualified clinician following the right procedures would be required to make any kind of reliable diagnosis, but as it stands I suspect he may well be on that particular spectrum, but of course I'm happy to listen to competing ideas, but whichever explanation best describes Molyneux's ideas and behaviour wouldn't really be weighed up by assessing the benefits of each.

Ok, you're saying that you're going with the evidence you're seeing, whatever makes the most sense. I agree with this approach, and I think I'm doing the same. I recognize that the Eiffel Tower is the Eiffel Tower, I'm not trying to persuade myself that it's something else by lying to myself (by the way, great find, Stink Insurance  ;D ), it's just that I see both explanations:

1) Narcissism Disorder
and
2) simply trying to get the same safety and self-esteem everyone needs, the best way he knows how right now

as equally correctly describing what I observe his actions to be. And thus, deciding between the two becomes a matter to me of weighing the pros and cons of each. Does that make more sense?

Actually that's not completely correct, because I do think that the way of approaching this that I'm learning from Marshall Rosenberg's work more accurately accounts for Molyneux's behavior (and the similar behavior I observed in myself and that others such as mikef say they recognize in themselves).
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P Jaques

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Re: Stefan Molyneux--the "Splitting" question
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2014, 09:14:57 PM »
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. . . it's just that I see both explanations:

1) Narcissism Disorder
and
2) simply trying to get the same safety and self-esteem everyone needs, the best way he knows how right now

as equally correctly describing what I observe his actions to be.


Agreed, both work as a general description. But I think we can be more specific.

I don't think he does try to get the same safety and self-esteem that everyone else needs . . . I think he goes a lot further (suggesting a greater need).

The need for social cachet is, in most people, met by fairly moderate expectations, for a lot of people just being a pretty decent sort of person who is liked is enough, perhaps a good father / team player at work / or an artist who produces works other people appreciate or admire (or whatever your thing is), of course some people aim higher (my attempt at being the first person to walk on the sun is still a bone of contention with my last 7 wives) but it's a vanishingly rare thing for someone to need to establish in the minds of others the idea that they are - for example - the first virtuous parent of a child, not just the best parent in the whole of Canada, or the entire continent of North America, or even the globe, but in the history of the world, the entirely of human existence . . . or the idea that you are something so rare, so important, that humanity is unlikely to witness your greatness for another two thousand years . . and so on. These are grandiose themes.

Assuming these claims are driven by a need for social cachet rather than simply being statement of fact (which I think is reasonable) then I would say Molyneux's need to establish self-esteem is uncommon (i.e. not the same need for safety and self-esteem that everyone else needs).

If these things exist on a spectrum (which I think is true for all characteristics), then I would say someone who places themselves on such a grandiose and monumental stage is at the far end of that spectrum, I also think that having a name for that end of the spectrum can be useful.

And thus, deciding between the two becomes a matter to me of weighing the pros and cons of each. Does that make more sense?

I'm still a little confused, maybe I misunderstand your language, I don't get the feeling that I am able to decide between two readings of a situation (at least not one where the evidence is, universally, pointing in one direction) , I feel as if I naturally and inexorably gravitate towards one, not as a matter of choice (the Eiffel tower example is the kind of thing I mean) but simply because I am forced there by the evidence.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 12:26:50 AM by P Jaques »
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