Writing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an unusual condition in that almost everyone has it to a greater or lesser degree, but few realise the impact that it has had on their lives. As the name implies, the condition describes when a person’s stress levels or reactions don’t go back to normal after a major traumatic experience. This article looks at how to write believable characters and situations involving PTSD.

PTSD is caused by exposure to a traumatic event, usually one in which a person thinks they are going to die. The classic examples are exposure to warfare, traffic accidents, sexual assault or physical assault. Experiences like these cause the brain to flood with fear, which can form long-term associations with the other stimuli present. This means that future exposure to those stimuli can trigger that deep fear again.

The classic symptom of PTSD is becoming full of adrenaline and going into combat mode when exposed to a loud noise or a touch to the head. In the former case, the loud noise might remind a character of the explosions of grenades and shellfire in combat; in the latter case, the touch to the head might remind of early childhood abuse at the hands of a parent. In either case, powerful memories of immense fear can quickly come flooding back.

The effects of PTSD are what could be expected from a close brush with gruesome physical death: adrenaline and cortisol prime the character for either combat or running. A character with the condition might easily become stirred into fight-or-flight mode as a response to the trauma. Here it can be seen that PTSD has considerable overlap with other psychiatric disorders, in particular Panic Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Other effects are an increased propensity for self-harm. After all, one of the natural consequences of having a massively traumatic experience is that a person comes to realise that the world is much nastier or more dangerous than they thought it was. Some people with PTSD might decide that this world is actually pretty shit and not worth living in, given the horrors it contains.

In the case of violent crime or rape, a person might also come to lose all trust in a major societal demographic, which entails everyday difficulties. If a woman comes to distrust all men or a robbery victim comes to distrust all blacks, their life might become a lot harder and quickly, for no real fault of their own. Like children who have had bad experiences with dogs, a person with PTSD might come to dislike anything associated with their initial trauma.

Because PTSD is frequently portrayed in dramatic fiction, care must be taken not to write in cliches. The example of a nightmare leading to someone waking up in the middle of the night screaming, only to realise that the object of their terror is no longer present, is a striking one but also very heavily used. So too is the man staring into the distance, reliving a traumatic experience, not hearing someone calling to them.

A protagonist who suffers from PTSD might be aware of their condition or unaware.

If they are aware that they have PTSD, they might be a deep and sensitive character. They could be directly aware that a particular early life event has damaged them irreparably. This might be the reason for their unusual levels of compassion – the character knows what it feels like to be scared to death and commiserates with others who also do.

A story featuring such a character might be one about how they overcame their psychic damage and managed to find a way to engage joyfully with life. Often this involves healing oneself, the shamanic path. An extremely wise character may have attained their insight through having overcome an equally extreme trauma earlier in their life. Perhaps this experience caused them to understand what another character is going through.

It’s common to have PTSD and to be unaware of it. This is especially plausible on account of that people who incur severe psychological trauma might not show signs of it until many years later. A person might grow into early adulthood with a particularly surly or nasty character because of some heavy trauma incurred while a child. They might also show other signs of being strongly emotional, reckless or impulsive.

Just because a character with PTSD is not aware that they have PTSD, doesn’t mean that other characters will not be aware. In some cases it will be very obvious, because they will observe the first character go into kill mode for what seems like an insufficiently grave provocation. The character with PTSD might soon find that their condition is part of their reputation – they seem “damaged” in the eyes of others.

A combination of the two can also tell a story, such as the case of a protagonist who gradually becomes aware that they have PTSD or something like it. Perhaps they are perceptive enough to realise that a prior event has damaged their psyche – for example, they observe that they feel intense anxiety when presented with a stimulus that reminds them of a particular traumatic event.

If your protagonist encounters a character with PTSD, how that protagonist behaves might depend on their naivety and openness. A naive character might think that simply by being nice to someone with PTSD they can get them to behave normally. Although this is sometimes true up to a point, the reality is that PTSD often carries with it sinister undertones of bitterness and resentment.

It’s common for people who have PTSD for similar reasons to bond strongly over the fact. This is especially true in the case of soldiers, emergency personnel and survivors of abusive relationships. For one thing, misery loves company, but for another, severe trauma is often the kind of experience that deeply shapes a person and their conception of life and reality, so people who share the trauma often share an entire worldview that’s based on it.

C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) isn’t actually in the DSM-V, but it’s worth covering here for the sake of completeness. Essentially it’s a similar condition, only brought about by repeated exposure to a traumatic person or stimulus, as opposed to one single, horrifying event as is usually the case with regular PTSD.

The major difference with C-PTSD is the loss of a sense of self. One’s boundaries are violated with such consistency that it becomes hard to say where one ends and the outside world begins. This can be related to Depersonalisation Disorder and frequently coincides with a deep sense of distrust about other people.

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This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM-V (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

Writing Narcolepsy

Best known as the condition that causes Grandpa Simpson to fall asleep at a moment’s notice, narcolepsy is an uncommon disorder linked to sleep patterns. This article looks at how to write believable characters with narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy is a decreased ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. The overwhelming problem with narcolepsy, and its most characteristic feature, is that people with it can feel extremely tired during the day. The most notable symptom is recurring bouts of extreme daytime sleepiness, which can result in falling asleep in unexpected and inappropriate places.

Because being properly awake during the day is virtually a necessity for normal life function, narcolepsy can be a crippling condition for those afflicted. If it’s bad enough, driving a car will be impossible because of the risk of crashing (similar to epileptics). Taking public transport might not be possible either, which means that the life of the a narcoleptic character in your story might have to be a restricted one.

The author should pay close heed to what’s known as the “tetrad of narcolepsy”: cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations and being extremely tired during the day.

Cataplexy is a strange condition that involves the sudden weakening of large muscle groups. A bout of cataplexy can involve a weakening at the knees, or in the neck and head (similar to nodding off to sleep). This is one symptom that can truly wreck the life of a narcoleptic. It isn’t just that the physical debilitation is a problem, it’s that the narcolepsy sufferer learns to fear the social occasions that pose a risk of provoking one.

Sleep paralysis is the experience, often terrifying, of not being able to move one’s body when awakening or falling asleep. The experience of a character undergoing sleep paralysis might be similar to one undergoing night terrors. They may feel as if they have died.

Hypnagogic hallucinations are felt by narcoleptics when falling asleep. These are intense, vivid and dreamlike experiences that usually manifest as sights and sounds. These experiences can feel much like salvia divinorum experiences in that they are surreal and cause one to feel like one is present in another world. These hypnagogic experiences are sometimes disturbing enough to cause a person to get out of bed again.

The excessive daytime sleepiness is probably the most striking and obvious symptom. This manifests as powerful “sleepiness attacks” that overcome the narcoleptic, no matter how much sleep they have had the previous night. These attacks may be irresistible, so much so that the narcoleptic can literally fall on the ground asleep.

Narcolepsy might be more useful as a plot device than as something to afflict a character with. It could be that someone’s narcolepsy in the past led to a car accident, which then had far-reaching consequences for the protagonist of your story. Or it could be that, as a small minority of narcoleptics are “supertasters” with heightened olfactory awareness, your protagonist has a special use in forensic science or perfumery.

It might even be that a character’s narcolepsy has led to them waking up and rearranging their environment during the night. This could be combined with more interesting sleep disorders, like somnambulism.

Another curious point about narcolepsy is that it’s easy to confuse with an addiction to heroin or some other drugs. After all, it need not be immediately obvious to a close observer if a given person nodding off is doing so because of narcolepsy or heroin, drunkenness or something else. A character with narcolepsy might then feel that they are hard done by on account of being treated like something they’re not.

Unlike most of the other psychiatric conditions in this book, narcolepsy is not caused by early childhood abuse or neglect. So a character with it is unlikely to demonstrate signs of being damaged. Possibly they are an entirely normal person by most apparent measures apart from the narcolepsy.

Many stories about mental illnesses are tragedies because of the exposure to violence, neglect or abuse that caused the trauma underlying the illness. In this sense, a story about narcolepsy is probably different. The trauma might be ongoing, on account of that the coming of narcolepsy can ruin the life of an otherwise entirely normal person who had previously given no indication that they might be mentally unusual.

Alternatively, the narcoleptic could be a good choice of character to place at the centre of a comedy. A problem with suddenly falling asleep all the time could make it very hard to get things done. If a band of characters had to achieve some set goal, and one of their number was a narcoleptic, that character might constantly be letting the others down by falling asleep at inopportune times.

Likewise, a narcoleptic guard, surgeon or helicopter pilot might be considered inherently funny, on account of that their condition makes them exceptionally unsuited for that particular job, in a fish out of water sense. The author will have to take care to find the right balance between comic and ridiculous here.

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This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

We’ve Had the Great Financial Depression, Now We Have the Great Spiritual Depression

We’ve got all the money and stuff we ever wanted – but it’s not making us happier

Tyler Durden in Fight Club told Generation X that “Our Great War is a spiritual war.” This is the truth, and we have been too slow to see it. The narrative has changed since our parents’ and grandparents’ time: the major struggle of human life is no longer physical survival, but making sense of our lives.

Durden was speaking directly to Generation X because ours is a different story. The Great Depression that our elders endured, while terrible, was ultimately a financial one, and we were guaranteed to get out of it once the markets reset. What we have to endure is also worthy of the epithet Great Depression, only what we have to endure is spiritual.

This Great Spiritual Depression has been caused by a perfect storm of factors.

The first major factor is the rottenness of what passes for spiritual tradition in our culture. It’s obvious to any outside observer that the Christian rituals are empty and meaningless – this can be determined simply by speaking to the average Christian and hearing his hatred of other religions, of homosexuals, and of drug users. It’s apparent from that that Christians do not have any privileged access to understanding the mind of God.

A person who enters a Christian church to hear a sermon from a learned man is far more likely to hear something political about the need to obstruct progress on gay rights or drug law reform. If that person stays to talk to those who think they understand the nature of God, those people will say that a women’s place is subordination, and that anyone who doesn’t worship the Magic Jew will be condemned to an eternity of hellfire.

If there was ever anything spiritual in the Abrahamic tradition it has rotted away centuries ago.

The second major factor is that all of our cultural and political narratives are entirely materialistic. It’s materialist capitalists versus materialist socialists. Whichever side wins, we get materialism. Neither side has a solution to the problems of human existence that goes beyond accumulating more physical resources or power.

This materialism has arisen as a reaction to the fact that religion, in the guise of Christianity, retarded progress in the West for over 1,000 years. Because of this, the people and societies that developed an interest in discovering the truth naturally came to distrust anyone who spoke about non-materialist concepts. Moreover, most of the advances in alleviating human suffering made in recent centuries have come through materialist sciences such as medicine, engineering, biology, chemistry and physics.

The problem with this materialism is that people have been thinking in these terms so so long that most of us have forgotten that any other terms are possible, or even sometimes necessary. Emotional, intellectual and spiritual paradigms have all been forgotten in favour of who controls the most stuff. Even psychiatrists – supposedly doctors tasked with healing the soul – can only think in terms of chemical imbalances and pharmaceuticals.

As Terence McKenna was fond of saying, “the way out is back”. Westerners have historically shown themselves capable of exceptionally sophisticated metaphysical thought – one only need read Plato for ample proof of this. The solution is the revival of the perennial philosophy and the perennial, universal, cosmic religion, in a form that suits the world of today.

This will have two major benefits.

The first will be the return to each human being of their birthright to be initiated into the spiritual truths. Instead of being brainwashed from birth with some horseshit story about being specially chosen by God, virgin births or last prophets, and how God’s love is conditional upon obeying the moral dictates laid down by the political authorities of the time, people shall be instructed truthfully from the beginning.

This means that something like the Eleusinian Mysteries will have to be reinstated, and the ceremonial mass public consumption of psychedelics encouraged, but in a highly ritualistic and orderly manner. This will mean that the public at large will once again be connected with God, and all will know the truth. This will lead to our spiritual elders transmitting useful information to the youth instead of old Middle-Eastern stories that justify genital mutilation and slavery.

Because the spiritual elders will no longer be lying, there will no longer be cause for the men and women of silver to respond by going in the other direction. Thus, being a freethinker will no longer correlate highly with being a materialist (as it has for the past three or four centuries). People will be free to discuss metaphysical subjects without the assumption that they are dangerous fanatics.

The second major benefit will be to cause the coming of new political ideologies that are not based on materialism. These will transcend the ancient capitalist-communist paradigm. In other words, they will not be grounded in settling arguments about who gets what stuff, and who can extort what labour, taxes and rent out of who. These ideologies will be much better suited to meet the challenges we face because they will reflect reality more accurately and faithfully.

What exact form they do take is not clear, but it is likely that they will be grounded in reducing the amount of suffering in the world rather than the redistribution of resources. This specifically means reducing the suffering of sentient beings, through all of their thwarted desires.

It’s certain that cognitive liberty will play a central role here, as it has been the lack of cognitive liberty that caused this Dark Age in the first place. We can guess from this that the social sharing of consciousness-altering sacraments will flourish – not merely alcohol and cannabis, but psychoactives that are capable of a wide range of desirable effects.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Te Reo With Mnemonics: Rugby Positions

Lock – kaiwhītiki

Two very tall men, wearing numbers 4 and 5, sit in a cafe wearing tikis and drinking coffee. They are wearing the cafe tikis.

Loosehead Prop – pou waho

The camera shows a heavy-set man wearing a number 1 jersey. Behind him, in the crowd, is a man with a foam “We’re No. 1” hand, and he shouts “Wahooo!”

Tighthead Prop – pou roto

A heavy-set man wearing a number 3 jersey floats down to the ground by means of a helicopter rotor sticking out of his jersey.

Blindside Flanker – pou kāpō

A car pulls up at a rugby ground and four men wearing number 6 leap out. The blindside flankers had been carpooling.

Openside Flanker – pou tuwhera

A tooth fairy wearing a number 7 jersey floats down to take place on the side of a scrum.

Halfback – kairau

A short man wearing a number 9 jersey runs through the streets of Cairo, stopping to pick up a ball from the ground and pass it.

The Māori word for halfback – kairau – sounds like the name for the Egyptian capital, Cairo

Forward – pou mua

A scrum is set down, but instead of a forward pack there are eight cows linked together, mooing. Forwards are mooers.

Back – pou muri

A spectator observes the brown skin of the backline and says “Hey, the backs are all Māori!”

Wing – taitapa

A player wearing a number 14 jersey and a necktie waits out on the wing, nervously tapping his tie. He is the tie-tapper.

Centre – topa pū

The player wearing the number 13 jersey finds a dogturd a starts to tape it up to hide it. Someone asks if he’s ready, and he replies “I’ve got to tape a poo.”

First Five-Eighth – topatahi

Wearing a number 10 jersey and waiting for the pass from the halfback is a very tall potato.

Second Five-Eighth – toparua

The player wearing the number 12 jersey has his shorts pulled up as high as they can go. He is wearing a tall pair o’ shorts.

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The above is an excerpt from the upcoming Learn Maori Vocabulary With Mnemonics, by Jeff Ngatai, due to be published by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

Writing Conduct Disorder

Unlike most of the conditions in this book, Conduct Disorder (CD) is only diagnosed in children and adolescents. As the name implies, people who get diagnosed with it conduct themselves in ways that the clinician considers disorderly, in particular when it comes to respecting the rights of other people. This article looks at how to write believable and interesting characters with the condition.

The most important thing is to distinguish CD from Antisocial Personality Disorder. CD is the developmental precursor to Antisocial Personality Disorder – it can only be diagnosed in those too young to have a diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder (i.e. 18 years of age). It is therefore a developmental condition.

One of the key symptoms of CD is a lower level of fear. This will express itself in a wide variety of ways.

The most notable way that a lower level of fear expresses itself in young people is when it comes to transgressions. A young person has not yet had time to internalise knowledge about the effects that their actions have on other people. They therefore have to learn to be afraid of punishment. This corresponds to Level 1 of Kohlberg’s Scale of Moral Reasoning.

A young person with CD will have a hard time internalising rules about those transgressions, in part because they don’t feel much fear, and so don’t have as much inhibition when primitive impulses towards violence and destruction start playing up on them. Because of this, they regularly violate boundaries relating to other people’s personal space and property.

Another way low levels of fear find expression is in transgressions against one’s own health. Young people already play fast and loose with their health when it comes to having a good time; young people with Conduct Disorder are nihilistically reckless. If the protagonist of your story has Conduct Disorder, chances are that they will be into the booze, weed and pills from their early teenage years.

A character with CD will likely be something of a daredevil. If they are male, they might find themselves drawn to racing motor vehicles or street fighting; if female, to shoplifting and starting trouble between men.

A story with a protagonist who has Conduct Disorder might read like J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Care must be taken here, therefore, not to sound cliched. Anti-hero stories mostly appeal to the same young audience, because they will most readily identify with the spirit of rebellion expressed by such a character. People with Conduct Disorder push the boundaries, for good or ill.

Punk stories, in particular cyberpunk, often feature protagonists who would appear (at least from the authorities’ perspective) to have Conduct Disorder. Young men like John Case of Neuromancer or Jonty Gillespie of The Verity Key are unrepentant criminals, usually because they have to be in order to make a living in the cracks of the edifice of respectable society.

After all, one man’s Conduct Disorder is another man’s righteous rebellion against a tyrannical oppressor. So a character with the condition might be the perfect choice of protagonist if your story involves going up against a large, faceless, totalitarian entity. After all, most of us have a point which, if pushed beyond, we will no longer behave in a co-operative manner.

If a character with CD is pitted against a malicious, evil entity (corporation or government), much of the difficulty in writing your story will come from making that entity unsympathetic enough that the reader readily comes to identify with that character. The more credibly this can be done, the less that character will look like a CD sufferer and more like a righteous hardarse.

Unsurprisingly, Conduct Disorder is highly correlated with all forms of early childhood abuse. A character with the condition might have learned by way of mimicry of their parents that violence and cruelty are perfectly acceptable ways to advance one’s interests, and that fear is for the weak and an invitation to be destroyed.

So if you are writing a character with CD they might not necessarily be a cool, daring and adventurous antihero. Realistically they are more likely to be somewhat brutal. If your protagonist encounters such a character, they might find them intimidating – the class bully, or local street thug.

If your protagonist encounters a character with CD, they could respond in a wide variety of ways, depending on how they themselves are (and their decision will be very revealing to the reader). They might consider that character a cool rebel to be befriended, they might consider them a danger to be avoided, or they might consider them a little brat to be corrected.

Conduct Disorder often occurs at the same time as Attention Deficit Disorder. It’s likely, therefore, that any character with it will have extreme difficulty at school, at work, or with either friends of family. Their life will probably be very chaotic, and will considerable Police or social worker involvement.

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This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

New Zealand is a Military Outpost Masquerading as a Country

New Zealand: plenty of money for guns, no money to feed kids

Many of the decisions made by New Zealand politicians are baffling to the average Kiwi. How can it be possible that we can find $400 million a year to enforce cannabis prohibition, which the people don’t want, but we can’t find $100 million to feed our own children, which the people definitely do want? This essay explains why so many of these decisions are made: New Zealand is not a real country, but a military outpost masquerading as one.

Key to understanding this is understanding the guns and butter model of government spending. Essentially, we can measure the degree to which a government acts as a steward of its people – compared to using them as tools to achieve the economic ambitions of the ruling classes – by measuring how much of the nation’s production is diverted to consumer goods as opposed to military goods.

Understanding this helps explain why our Government would approve a $20 billion military spending bill while rejecting a $100 million proposal to feed hungry New Zealand children.

Why is buying weapons two hundred times more important than feeding our own children?

The answer is grim, and dark. New Zealand isn’t really a country, in the sense that other countries are countries. We’re not an association of families that formed a tribe and then met other tribes to form a clan and then made peace with other clans to form a nation. Most of us just washed up here, many of us without the consent of the people who already lived here.

It’s obvious that New Zealand itself has no need to spend $20 billion on armaments, any more than Iceland does. But to think like this is to commit the error of seeing New Zealand as an actual nation, whose will is that of individual New Zealanders and made manifest through its leaders, like European nations. That isn’t how it is.

The accurate way to conceptualise New Zealand is as an Anglo-American military outpost in the South Pacific, something like a forward operating base for moneyed interests that mostly operate out of the City of London, who have enslaved the New Zealand population by way of a debt-based central banking system.

Most Kiwis don’t understand the geostrategic importance of the archipelago they live on. It’s very easy to look at a static map and think that New Zealand is a long way from anywhere, and therefore that it can’t have much strategic value. This way of thinking reflects a myopia that’s typical of New Zealanders. The truth is much more involved.

Firstly, whoever controls New Zealand controls Australia, in effect, because controlling New Zealand enables one to project force into the East and South of Australia, which is where all the people live. The Japanese Empire realised that landing an expeditionary force in Northern Australia and then marching to Sydney was not practical, and so their Imperial Navy’s invasion plans assumed a prior invasion of New Zealand. It just makes sense.

Secondly, whoever controls Australia controls Asia. This is because Northern Australia serves as a staging ground for the projection of power into South Asia, in particular naval power into the South Asian Sea, which is necessary in order to keep the main sealanes open (and therefore the global economy humming). Given that the Anglo-American Empire already has effective bases in Japan and the Philippines, being able to project power into the Southern South China Sea is the last piece of the puzzle.

Seen like that, it’s obvious why the New Zealand Government would vote for guns sooner than food for its own children. Because New Zealand isn’t a real country, there’s no incentive for the Government to act in the interest of increasing the well-being of its people – the Government doesn’t represent those people. New Zealand is first and foremost a military outpost run by imperial interests, and as such the mental health of its citizens is far from the top priority, as evinced by our OECD-leading homelessness and youth suicide rates.

If growing up poor, scared or traumatised means that a person will be more useful in a military capacity, then that is what the Government will encourage. Inequality correlates positively with psychopathy, with America being the obvious example. The rulers of New Zealand have also calculated that an underclass of poor and desperate people will make it much easier to recruit the necessary numbers for a professional volunteer armed force, and have structured society accordingly.

Hermann Goering once said “Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.” Understanding this sentiment is the key to understanding the spending decisions of the New Zealand Government.

The New Zealand ruling class is simply not interested in keeping the population in good physical or mental health, which is why nothing is ever done about our suicide rate or housing crisis. All that matters is keeping the population in a state of war readiness in case it should later be necessary to use them to achieve some geopolitical objective.

The cannabis laws follow the same principle. Every idiot knows that it’s worse for the people to have alcohol legal than to have cannabis legal, given the plague of violence, sex crimes and drunk driving deaths that follow in the wake of alcohol use. So why have that legal, while criminalising a recreational alternative that doesn’t make people aggressive, impulsive and violent? The answer is, sadly, because our ruling class wants broken, damaged, fearful and violent people.

Unfortunately for us, the reason why New Zealand is not run along the lines of Switzerland or Japan or even South Korea is because our supposed leaders are beholden to foreign interests. We are not an independent nation, and we will never be, for our independence would pose too great of a threat to the military position of the Anglo-American Empire. Kiwis are, as Dwight Eisenhower put it when he warned us of the Military-Industrial Complex over 55 years ago, hanging from a cross of iron.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Anarcho-Nihilism

There are two popular strains of anarchism that are often conflated. The first accords with the more traditional definition of anarchy as “without rulers”; the second is when a person supports anarchy just because they want to see the world burn. This essay gives a name to this latter tendency, with the intent of making a clear distinction: anarcho-nihilism.

It isn’t easy for most people out there to tell the difference between an anarchistic sentiment against being ruled and anarcho-nihilism.

For one thing, a sentiment against being ruled inevitably brings a person into conflict with the ruling class, who tend to think that they have achieved their position by divine right. The ruling class can usually only hold its position by creating the perception that they are uniquely qualified to rule. Someone who is against being ruled, and someone who just wants to trash everything, are therefore similar in that they both oppose the ruling class.

This means that both usually find themselves socially outcast for not following orders in a sufficiently timely and enthusiastic manner.

For another thing, both anarchists and anarcho-nihilists accept that there is going to have to be a lot of destruction before this shit can get sorted. The Establishment is well entrenched: they own all the media, all the politicians, and all the lackeys with guns. Their fingers are in every pie, and any efforts to prise them out will be violently resisted, sometimes pre-emptively. There is going to have to be a lot of destruction.

The major difference is that the anarcho-nihilist has no plans for what to do after the destruction phase. That phase – the building and creating phase – is not important to them, in much the same way that neither building nor creating appeal to nihilists. What motivation could one have to build anything when no meaning exists?

A normal anarchist will have thought things through a bit further than just the destruction phase. Indeed, if the ‘anarcho’ prefix denotes the complete destruction of the current system, then the suffix denotes what a person’s preferred next move is. An anarcho-capitalist wants to get rid of the current system so that they can make money, an anarcho-communist wants to get rid of the current system so that they can co-operate, a mutualist wants to get rid of the current system so that they can trade, and an anarcho-homicidalist believes that humans know intuitively how to govern themselves fairly and how to build a society if not impeded by enslavers.

Someone who hasn’t thought things through this far might be an anarcho-nihilist.

Often, an anarcho-nihilist will be driven by a peculiar bitter resentment, sometimes because of a personality disorder. The fact that an immediate shockwave of destruction would cause a tremendous amount of misery is not a drawback to such a person – indeed, it could be the whole reason for why they support it.

The real difficulty with anarcho-nihilists, from an anarchistic perspective, is that no bonds of any kind can be formed with nihilists. In order for people to have a common bond of any kind, they must have at least one belief in common. Someone who believes in nothing is hard to trust – after all, what’s stopping them from turning on you like a wild animal?

Another way of making the distinction is that an intelligent anarchist will strive to find the correct balance of inducing chaos to the establishment and building a new, voluntary and peaceful order. The anarcho-nihilist doesn’t worry about order: they just want chaos and more chaos for the sake of it. There is no order that they will agree to.

The problem with this attitude from a practical point of view is that some laws are in place to contain natural disorder, they just go too far. For instance, a law proscribing a side of the road that traffic has to drive on is hardly tyrannical. The problem arises when you are fined $2,000 for harmlessly crossing the centre line by six inches when there was no oncoming traffic.

Overcoming anarcho-nihilism is extremely difficult, because it is not usually a position taken because of political philosophising – it’s usually a position taken because of a spiritual failure. Therefore, the path out is not obvious.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Te Reo With Mnemonics: Government Words

Government – kāwanatanga

A Government official, in charge of the Government car fleet, instructs a subordinate in a fancy uniform to “Give Car One a tonguing”.

Ministry – manatū

A Government official comes out of a tall building and says “We’re the Ministry of Taxes… and money, too!”

Minister – minita

A man in a suit buys an icecream from a stand. The girl holds up two cones and says “Maxi or mini, Minister?” The man says “Mini, ta.”

Office, Department – tari

Inside a WINZ office, there is tar everywhere: all over the floors and computers. The office is very tarry.

Responsibility, responsible – haepapa

A boy looks at a field strewn with hay and asks his father “Hey, Papa, who’s responsible for this?”

General Election – pōtitanga whānui

A child sits on a potty with its tounge sticking out. It is the potty tonguer. A man says “This General Election I think the best choice is the potty tonguer, far and away.”

The Māori word for ‘to corrupt’ – pōriro – shares a ‘pō’ and ‘ri’ sound with the English word ‘porridge’

Election, vote – pōti

A sign outside a porta-potty says “Election Today! Vote Here!”

Rebellion, Revolt, Revolution – whananga

Hone Heke is giving a speech, he promises to rebel “far and near”.

to corrupt – pōriro

A waitress pours some water into a man’s porridge. He gets up and complains “Now it’s corrupted!”

Officer, Official – āpiha

A man in uniform salutes a man behind a desk and says “Officer Pea Heart, reporting for duty.” The man behind the desk rises and says “Ah, Pea Heart…”

to agree, to assent, Permission – whakaae

Both seated at a desk, a woman shows a man a contract and asks “Do you agree?” He replies: “Fucken A!”

Chieftainship, Sovereignty, Authority – rangatiratanga

A chief is giving a speech to a war party. He holds up a gold ring and says “By the authority vested in me through my possession of this ring, tear a tongue!”

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The above is an excerpt from the upcoming Learn Maori Vocabulary With Mnemonics, by Jeff Ngatai, due to be published by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

Writing Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) is characterised by extreme action taken to avoid certain feared stimuli, usually social. Social anxiety, feelings of unworthiness, timidity and sensitivity lead to a pattern of avoiding situations that involve interacting or socialising with others. This article looks at how to write engaging and realistic characters with the condition.

AVPD is a Cluster C personality disorder, which means that it’s primarily an anxious condition. The essential characteristic of it is an inability to form social bonds brought about by an extreme desire to avoid particular feared stimuli. For example, people with AVPD tend to be very sensitive to social rejection or humiliation.

It is believed to be caused by abusive or neglectful parenting patterns. In particular, rejection by one or both parents is thought to correlate highly with the condition. It can be observed in other mammals that rejection by one or both parents sharply reduces the ensuing life expectancy for that creature. No doubt the trauma from such treatment makes an impact on the behaviour of human survivors.

If your protagonist has AVDP, it might be that they experience loss and social rejection so strongly that they are simply devastated by it. They might have an internal monologue that heavily plays on fears of social encounters going wrong. A story featuring them might read very strangely as it involved a number of events that ended up not happening or not being attended by the protagonist, who felt too anxious to participate.

This can easily lead to a darker, resentful pattern of behaviour, especially if a protagonist with AVDP comes to feel a malicious desire for revenge as a consequence of their rejection. Social rejection need not lead to learned helplessness and submission in every case – it can lead to violent reprisals, especially if the rejected person feels that they have been treated unjustly.

Someone with AVDP might make a convincing villain if the author can convincingly portray a character who has become nasty as a result of their pride. It might be that the villain received some mild slight or insult and their massive ego was punctured, leading to narcissistic rage. They could be the sort of person who never forgives an insult, leading to complicated revenge schemes.

To many outside observers, AVPD looks very similar to just having low self-esteem. People with the condition tend to believe that their social presence is unwanted, and that they are unworthy of the time and attention that they are given in their social relationships. In cases of parental rejection it’s obvious how such thinking might come about, but it can be caused by other things, such as a generalised perception of social rejection.

In the mind of a character with AVPD, the everyday experience might be one plagued by self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness, in much the same way that it can be for a depressed person. Indeed, one particular strain of AVPD has a number of depressive features, in particular the casting away of, and refusing to deal with, certain traumatic memories.

A protagonist with the condition is likely to consider themselves socially inept. There might be a lot of blame directed at the self in their internal monologue. It’s possible that there is a personal quality of their own that they fixate on as an explanation for their lack of social success. As mentioned above, this can easily become projected outwards onto society.

People with AVPD can be difficult socially because they can be very needy and very resentful. There is a particular strain of the condition that is hypersensitive in a way that is not dissimilar to those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This type can become easily wounded by jokes or banter, to the extent that others might call them “precious”.

Feedback loops are an unfortunate common effect of this condition. Anxiety about being socially rejected often leads to a range of behaviours that themselves increase the likelihood of social rejection. Anxious eye contact often appears shifty to other people, who then come to distrust the person with AVPD. Because these people trust the person with AVPD less, they speak to them in a less friendly manner, which validates the initial feelings of anxiety and strengthens the avoidant behaviours.

A protagonist with AVPD might find their everyday experience tormenting, because people with the condition have a normal need for social interaction and intimacy – they just fear it. Because of this fear, and sometimes because of resentments, a protagonist with the condition might find their everyday experience tormenting. It might be a relentless march of anxiety, blame, missed opportunities, guilt and rejection.

AVPD sounds, and is, similar to Schizoid Personality Disorder, but there are crucial differences. For one, a character with AVPD will like be more anxious than a schizoid. For another thing, schizoids don’t generally care about other people, whereas people with AVPD will still desire positive social contact.

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This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.