Author Topic: Pyscho-analyzing in threads  (Read 14787 times)

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amanda_tlg

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Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« on: October 02, 2011, 11:09:32 AM »
Forgive me if this belongs in a different place.

I have noticed a LOT lately that we seem to have a lot of amateur psychologists and psychiatrists on the boards. Nothing is just a simple discussion of conflict/problem+ advice = resolution anymore.

Question A: My boyfriend always wants to watch Zombie movies and I really like Period movies. How can we resolve this?
Answer A: This is about more than movies, this is a control issue.

Question B: My favorite cousin drags her feet getting ready and we're always late and I don't know whether I should leave her behind or say something to her.
Answer B: This is a control issue

Question C: My dad calls me everyday for help with his computer and doesn't understand when I can't go right over
Answer C: This is not just about the computer. It's about control and manipulation

The 'slow eater' and 'fish tank' threads especially are bad about this, but I have read probably 20 threads this morning and this amateur analyzing showed up in at least 12 of them. In the slow eater of course it was said it's about control and it was even suggested that he has been using this tactic since he was a child. In the fish tank thread suddenly the fish tank became a metaphor for the guy's youth & freedom.

Sorry, but.....  ???

I think a lot of the problems I have about this are that posters end up assuming and infering a LOT about the OP and the threads other people and then it totally detours the discussion.

ladymaureen

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2011, 11:18:28 AM »
You know, I've noticed this too. And while it may be appropriate to say something like, "this is a control issue," once, the discussion turns into pages of "she's controlling," "you should cut off contact," and the like.

In a related note, whenever anyone is presented as being rude, someone will pipe up and say, "they must have Asperger's," and then we get pages of discussion about Asperger's syndrome. That doesn't seem appropriate to me, when the person has not been formally diagnosed and we have armchair psychologists everywhere.

I guess, to make this an etiquette question, is it rude to be am armchair psychologist about someone you've never met?

P-p-p-penguin

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2011, 11:24:47 AM »
I know the sort of thing you mean as I've noticed it too.  On one hand, I do think that occasionally posters have a point re stuff like this.  But I don't think it happens often because we usually don't have enough information about the person in question to make such assessments accurately.  In addition, I always thought that armchair psychology was against forum rules; I know that people have been warned about it in the past.   

Redsoil

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2011, 11:28:37 AM »
Always drives me nuts when people take a relatively straight-forward case of rudeness, and then defend it by postulating various "excuses" for that behaviour with phrases like "You don't know that she might have A,B,C going on..."  Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.
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MrsJWine

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2011, 11:29:39 AM »
I think it does help to get different ideas on rude/irritating people's motivations. I think this is okay:

OP: My sister is late every time we go somewhere. Argh!
Person A: Maybe it's a control issue? If you think it might be, this is what I do...

This bugs me:

OP: My sister is late every time we go somewhere. Argh!
Person A: It's a control issue!
OP: No, I don't think so. She's not controlling in any other way.
Person A: No, this is always a control issue. People are late because they like to control you.

And so on.

Maybe this one bugs me because I've always struggled with punctuality, and my tardiness has not one thing to do with control, and everything to do with laziness or difficulty waking up in the morning. So, while I do think insight is good--even if it veers into the psychological a bit--, there's a difference between armchair diagnosis and helpful ideas.


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Utah

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2011, 11:58:37 AM »
I think MrsJWine has a point.  I think I personally find myself objecting to posts that state any conclusion about the OP's situation as fact, rather than as a suggestion the OP has to apply for him/herself.

I do think that one of the things that is valuable about this forum is the ability to have a bunch of outsiders from all different walks of life look at situations through the lens of their own experiences.  There are a lot of things people post about that probably seem totally normal to them (because they are used to it), but to other posters, seem totally rude and inconsiderate (or controlling, or just plain weird, or whatever).

But because none of us knows the whole situation, no matter how much the OP explains, I think any observation that is at odds with how the OP has presented things needs to be phrased as, "I think this behavior might be X; I think so because of Y; if you agree with me, you might want to consider doing Z."

And, in my opinion, people also should try to avoid drawing extreme conclusions about any OP until more moderate ones have been shown (by the OP) to be not terribly applicable.  For example, if the post starts out like this:

Quote
OP: My boyfriend always wants to watch Zombie movies and I really like Period movies. How can we resolve this?
Poster 1: This is about more than movies, this is a control issue.

That's rather inappropriate, because it's jumping to the most extreme conclusion right away with very little information.  However this:

Quote
OP: My boyfriend always wants to watch Zombie movies and I really like Period movies.  How can we resolve this?
Poster 1: Have you suggested taking turns to pick out movies?
OP: Yes, and he said that wasn't fair because Period movies are boring.
Poster 2: Maybe you should tell him that it hurts your feelings when he dismisses your favored movies as "boring."
OP: I did, but he said I was just being too sensitive.  I don't even mind watching Zombie movies most of the time, I just want to be able to watch a Period movie every once in awhile.  How can I make him see that Period movies are good, too?
Poster 3: I don't think it matters whether he likes Period movies -- he was being pretty dismissive of you when he called your movies boring and said you were too sensitive.  I know that if it were my boyfriend, he'd watch the occasional Period movie just because I liked them, and he wants me to be happy.
OP: I wish I was so lucky!  My boyfriend doesn't even like it when I watch Period movies by myself, because he says they distract him.  I use headphones and watch them on my computer, but I guess I should just watch them when he's not around.
Poster 4: OP, your boyfriend has some pretty unreasonable expectations regarding movies.  He sounds pretty controlling -- it shouldn't matter to him what you watch on your computer with headphones.  I don't know that this has anything to do with whether or not he likes Period movies.  It kind of sounds like he just doesn't want you to watch something you enjoy no matter how you do it, and to me, that's a red flag.

...is a different kettle of fish altogether.  I don't think that type of evolution of advice is out of line at all, because the OP has given enough information to make it pretty clear that it's not just figuring out an equitable way to choose movies.


mariannedashwood

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2011, 12:00:25 PM »
Does this apply only with the remark "it's a control issue"? *Some* very prudent psychologizing is helpful in that it tries to understand where the other person is coming from, hence empathize at least minimally, which goes a long way in being able to be polite.

PeterM

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2011, 12:03:07 PM »
I agree that this sort of thing gets out of hand pretty frequently, but I don't think it's always bad. Trying to figure out people's motives and feelings can be very useful, especially when it's a friend or loved one who's causing the problem. If someone cuts me off on the freeway and almost kills me, it's not particularly helpful for eighteen people to say "Maybe he was having a bad day" or "Maybe there was a bee in the car" or "Maybe he was in a real life 'Speed' situation and saved your life because his car would've blown up if he hadn't cut you off."

But if I'm having a recurring problem with a coworker, it really can help to speculate on the causes of the conflict, because I have to deal with that person every day and the problem isn't going away. So if someone who has encountered similar behavior thinks the cause might be my coworker resenting newly-enforced regulations, or my sudden promotion (Ha!) or whatever, that might actually help me. Or it might have absolutely nothing to do with my specific situation, but I think it's a valid reason to post.

I do think it goes too far quite often, though. A lot of the time it seems to me like looking for an excuse for the behavior rather than exploring possible reasons for the behavior, and there's a big but subtle difference between the two. Honestly, sometimes it feels like people are trying to find ways for it to be the poster's fault, but I suppose that's a different issue entirely.

This being an internet forum doesn't help, either. A lot of similar posts are just "Me too!" in action rather than deliberate dogpiling, but it can certainly seem like piling on and intentionally diverting the thread.

MrsJWine

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2011, 12:04:33 PM »
Does this apply only with the remark "it's a control issue"? *Some* very prudent psychologizing is helpful in that it tries to understand where the other person is coming from, hence empathize at least minimally, which goes a long way in being able to be polite.

Nah, it's just an example. I think there is a lot of reasonable analysis of people's actions and underlying motives. But I also think there's a lot of unreasonable excuse-making (sometimes perfectly healthy people are just rude, and there doesn't need to be some far-flung reason for it) OR demonizing (sometimes mild rudeness is just a result of laziness, not some nefarious control/chauvinism/whatever issue).


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Utah

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2011, 12:06:30 PM »
TBH, I think eHell has always been this way.  Maybe not as "much" as lately but since I joined in '07, I've notice the "it's a control issue" to many, many threads.   :-\

What I do, when seeking advice, is to take everyone's pov and take only what applies to my situation.  Sometimes, posters do make me see things in a new way and sometimes, no matter how much I try to clarify, they are set in their own mindset in which case, I feel free to ignore the advice.  It's really up to the OP's of threads to decide what applies to them and what doesn't.

DuBois

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2011, 12:08:01 PM »


My favourite is when people think that they know a situation better than the OP. Drives me nuts, and is enough to put people off starting posts.

Allyson

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2011, 12:53:14 PM »
I don't mind some analysing, because it really can be helpful if someone says, "Well, I was in a similar situation with my sister, so maybe your cousin would respond well to X.." But like MsJWine and others have said, it can get out of hand when it's just *announced* what it's about.

The control thing comes up a lot, also implying posters' relationships are unhealthy/abusive. Things like, 'you should reevaluate your relationship' based on one side comment. For example, something like this I think would be jumping to conclusions:

Poster: My boyfriend really gets irritated when I hang out with a particular friend--he's never told me not to, but he rolls his eyes and is obviously aggravated. He never does this with any other friend, though.
Response: He's manipulating you to isolate you from your friends! This is a classic sign of an abusive relationship, and you should leave the jerk!

But, this would be more OK;

Response: Sounds pretty passive-aggressive; have you asked him straight out why he doesn't like that particular friend? Maybe he thinks you spend too much time with them at the expense of the relationship, or maybe something about them rubs him the wrong way. He could be trying to manipulate you to avoid that friend, or maybe he just can't keep his aggravation to himself even though he knows he doesn't have the right to tell you not to.

or;

Response: My ex-boyfriend started doing that with one particular friend; in his case it was definitely a manipulation technique--does he also cut down other activities you do without him? Or do you think it's more that he really dislikes that friend?

And if the OP responds that, no, her boyfriend is perfectly fine when she goes out for various things without him, the response isn't to keep hammering on the topic but to go, 'oh, looks like it's not the same situation'. I think it's natural to assume that a situation that looks the same might have the same causes, but insisting it must be is frustrating.

cicero

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2011, 01:18:44 PM »
i've seen this and i'm sometimes guilty of this but... there are two things:

first, sometimes it's *very* hard to get the entire story in a thread. there is always background info that is missing from the OP. and so sometimes i read an OP and i 'fill in the gaps' with my own life experiences. sometimes i'll be reading a post that is about, let's say, a child's birthday party and the in-laws, and i think "wow, that is JUST what happened to me!" so yes, i'll stick in my 2 cents from my own life.

second, sometimes  when we are talking about something in our life, it's hard for us to see the whole story. what looks like A can sometimes *be* A, but it can sometimes be B. and it is helpful sometimes to have somebody say to us "you know, i know you were upset about the birthday party, but could it be that this is really about your husband forgetting *your* birthday party?"

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Twik

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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2011, 02:14:50 PM »
Well, this *is* a message board, and people don't see much beyond what the OP says. And it's true that in many cases people's actions are sometimes based on hidden agendas that they may not be able to articulate. It's also true that if you can understand what's *really* going on, you may be better able to figure out a solution.

The most important thing is to take all replies with a grain of salt. Other posters aren't paid therapists - but they can say what it looks like *to them*. Sometimes it's on the money - other times, it's just a guess in the dark. What the OP has to do is to say, "This is a possible explanation for X's annoying/rude behaviour. Does it fit the whole story as I see it? If it doesn't, I can discard it - after all, it's just a comment by an anonymous poster on the Intertubez. If it does seem to fit, that may be a clue to what I have to do to resolve the situation".
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Re: Pyscho-analyzing in threads
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2011, 02:15:51 PM »
I think in moderate doses, it can be very helpful.  I have seen threads where someone suggests, for example, that this is a control issue.  Sometimes, the OP comes back and says, "Yeah, maybe there is something going on there, because other things also happen."  Or the OP comes back and points out several things that show it probably isn't a control issue.  But even then, the OP is thinking about it, comes to rational decision and the question served a real purpose.

The ones that really bother me are the ones who specifically diagnose.  Slightly understandable if the OP is asking, "Why is this person doing this?"  But totally unhelpful if the OP is asking, "How do I respond?"
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