Sep 16, 2014

Charm School Psychopaths

The fine line between "authenticity" and "manipulation" -- and who decides where to draw it? 

Dave Asprey interviewed a guy who does charm "boot camps." His program walks people through their interpersonal blind spots and hang-ups, and coaches them on how to improve. Asprey brought up the sub-culture of "pick-up artists," but the guest assured him that's not what he does. Those people are "creepy" and "psychopaths," he told Asprey, and in fact he "screens out" anyone who is just taking the course for such shallow, immature reasons. If they're just there to learn how to manipulate people, rather than to become more authentic, and grow as a person, he doesn't want them. He described how the inner self really does have to change for the outer persona to be more charming:  one begins acting differently, which creates a different response from people, which sets up a positive feedback loop that encourages more confident, outgoing behavior. (Although there is a hitch in that logic --- initially at least, he's telling you people will be faked out -- "fake it till you make it" I guess. Then eventually you grow into your "fake self" and that becomes your real self. Or something.)

Another slight --- or perhaps major --- contradiction:  he hates "creepy psychopaths" as I said (interesting how that term "psychopath" has taken off), but then he went on to describe how, among his other graceless candidates for charm school, were Navy SEALS. That's right. Sometimes you don't just want to drive around in other countries looking tough, breaking things, and killing innocent bystanders who get in the way. You might want to cozy up to the enemy --- just long enough for him to get comfortable, at least. Then you sneak up behind him and slit his throat!! Or take him to a black site for a little (no doubt charm-filled) enhanced interrogation. That's no problem, apparently, but picking up chicks for casual sex is just too much for his tender sensibilities...

I mean sure, manipulating women for sex may not be ethical, but isn't there some hypocrisy there? He can't stand those creepy losers who just want sex without commitment, but meanwhile since everybody just loves the military, he has no problem with their psychopathic behavior. It's for a good cause after all-- serving the Empire and exploiting the world's resources for our own ends! Yeah, baby...

One rather wonders, what if he is just being a player by claiming to disdain any and all manipulation of women? Given his lack of concern at teaching people to use manipulation to actually kill people, I mean. Maybe he's just manipulating us. Like a psychopath would.

Actually I'm sure he's probably "genuine" about teaching people how to be "genuine," it just seems like an inherently contradictory proposition. Here is how to manipulate people, to get them to like you, by being more authentic... But somehow, first, you have to change your "authentic" self to be the person everyone loves, based on subconscious genetically ingrained social cues. Or something.

It's funny to me that he screens out these shallow, worthless psychopaths that occasionally come to his classes and ruin it for everyone else. I mean, what is he saying here? Perhaps he refers them to a therapist, otherwise it seems like he's decided there's an explicit red line between psychopaths and other people, and those people should maybe (in his world?) be wearing armbands or something. I mean help us out here, we want to know who they are too. Don't just keep it to yourself. They're so yucky and creepy, those psychopaths. Ugh.

Of course, there is that one problem again if he turns out to be a psychopath -- how would we know after all, he's the one that can spot them? Maybe he's just figured out all these tricks, and is using his "charm school" for his own creepy ends. After all what would a true creep do other than to manipulate his way into just such a position, as a self-proclaimed master of interpersonal communication... I'm joking of course, just saying is all. It's just odd to me how he has no use for some straight-up manipulators, but then can walk a fine line where he and his clients "get what they want" but while being "genuine." They still have manipulative ends, ultimately --- get laid, kill the enemy --- but somehow, on the way to getting there, I guess they're being authentic? When they do it, it's got class and integrity. Or something. They've worked on their inner selves, become genuinely confident alphas, and now they deserve to get laid and kill the enemy. That's not manipulation, it's justice.

Kicking ass, taking names

Elsewhere in their talk, he described a formative experience with a law firm mentor, who explained that working billable hours was a great, necessary technical skill, but not the same as being a kick-ass guy who pals around with other kick-ass guys, and makes deals. Now that's a crucial role (kick-ass guy) and way more fun. Combines business and pleasure (heavy on the pleasure and luxury and fun side, too -- a deal takes 30 seconds, leaves all that down time for palling around and having fun.) Anyway, this appealed to our subject. Naturally! It sounds very appealing... who wants to be a law-gnome, or code-gnome, or any other kind of gnome... toiling away under the fluorescent lights day in and day out, while others have all the fun. And yes, under the current regime of shitocracy, both types are "necessary." Gotta have the gnomes and the funsters. Gnomes might resent it, but have difficulty gathering in groups, so can do nothing about it. They'd need a funster to defect, to lead them into the light, and that ain't gonna happen.

It just seems, if the charm master will pardon me, like a slightly superficial response (albeit understandable) to say, "hey, nothing wrong with the system --- if those guys (the gnomes) want to throw away their lives, welcome to it -- I know which side I'm choosing!"

I guess it would be asking a bit much that he, or anyone, should reject the system altogether --- the "creepy" "manipulative" "psychopathic" system --- and try to create some alternative. I mean come on, how likely is that?? Not bloody... Meanwhile, the current system is wide open to exploitation if you know the right "interpersonal skillz." (If you're a sincere ass-hole? If you're a beautiful manipulator? If you mean well as you rape and pillage?)

That sounds pretty harsh, in actuality I really think he is probably teaching useful skills and has  good insights.

And of course if I'm being honest, I'm just bitter because I have too much of the taint of the gnome clinging to me. I could use a course like his (assuming I didn't get weeded out...) Yep, I don't get to hang out with the big dogs while women get all wet and moist wishing they could bask in my easy command of any situation. (That sounds sarcastic, but it's clearly not... I'm sure I'd get sick of playing hand-ball with douche-bags in expensive sportswear, but the perks (aforementioned) would make up for a lot of dull days on the racquet-ball courts. And I might even enjoy the gongkwon yusul classes.)

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