The Next Osama
It is an archetypal scenario: innocent knave falls victim to the chicanery of a malevolent, urbane and –most importantly — seemingly innocuous predator.
The archetype of the black widow seizing on the hapless victim has been in literature for thousands of years, but perhaps one of the most famous manipulators is Lady Macbeth, who tricks the irresolute Macbeth into killing Duncan. Convincing Macbeth that she is a victim and that he would in fact be doing something important, righteous and courageous, her implied promise is that he would also be bonding himself to her forever and protecting their monarchy.
Macbeth started out as a supposedly “good” man. If Lady Macbeth had not been so irresistibly manipulative, he would have lived his life and died as a good, if not terribly impassioned, man.
What happened? Can we really be so changed by the arguments or cajoling of another? Can we be persuaded to things we don’t want to do, that are truly against our natures?
It seems that to some extent, the answer is “yes.” We have all seen variations on this theme in which good people can indeed get convinced to do very bad, destructive or foolish things….
For the whole article, please click Huffington Post.
It was a long time ago. I was young. I was writing for Madison Avenue, hobnobbing with celebrities, going to parties. It was as far from a meaningful life as I’ve ever been, but it was the 1980′s, Reagan was president, we were selling and everyone was buying. Life was “good.”
Then one day I got an ad order for one of the firm’s big clients. They were pushing a new diet pill that would expand in the stomach and fool the person into feeling full so they wouldn’t eat. I read the marketing stats carefully. Their targeted audience was young, female and anorexic.
I don’t know what made me suddenly so sensitive or intolerant of such an obviously necessary strategy — who else would you sell a diet product to? — but I got angry. And in a pique of rebellion I hurled my typewriter against what I felt to be a nasty injustice and sealed my fate when I submitted an ad with a picture of the little expanding pill and a headline that read: Fat Chance.
Needless to say, they never ran the ad…
To see the whole article, go to Huffington Post.
Human nature may be the same, but there are new rules of engagement.
With every major invention, every technical ratcheting forward, human history has been irrevocably altered. Some of the most pivotal alterations have been the result of the least dramatic and perhaps least glamorous discoveries, such as the toilet and interior plumbing.
Massive changes followed the introduction of those little white bowls in the average home, most notably the decrease of acute epidemic disease and the increase in the human lifespan, which in turn has had a ripple effect on everything we think and undertake…
To see the whole topic:
For the first time in Huffington Post, you can read more about the idea behind The Next Osama! This is one of the most important things I’ve ever done and I hope I can share it with all of you. It dovetails perfectly with all the things Verbal First Aid stands for, but takes a look at it from the cultural angle rather than the personal and psychological one.
The reason I’ve done this is because of what I’ve seen in my psychotherapy practice–people who are afraid, truly afraid, and look to all sorts of products to make them feel better: breast implants (so they feel younger and aren’t so afraid of losing their luster or facing their mortality), viagra (so they feel more virile and aren’t so afraid of the normal aging process), more and more insurance (so they’re supposedly protected against everything the insurance companies can make them afraid of).
I will be releasing a host of new articles on this topic–how the culture and particularly the media perpetuate needless, pervasive and viral fear and, not only what this does to us, but what we can do about it!
As they say, stay tuned.