The Lessons You Can Learn From Horror Movies

Documentaries are movies that are intended to teach us lessons about something real. In contrast, horror movies are about things that are clearly not real. Nevertheless, horror movies can teach us important lessons, if we are willing to learn. On the simplest level, horror movies allow us to experience fear in a safe setting so that we can observe our own fear and learn how to recognize and manage it. On a deeper level, horror movies teach us that reason is the way to deliver ourselves from needless fear. As the Spanish Enlightenment painter Francisco de Goya put it, “The sleep of reason produces monsters.” If we are to battle monstrosity, our reason must be fully awake and engaged.

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Always a Woman to Whom?

Many people think that Billy Joel’s song Always a Woman is about a dysfunctional relationship: about a woman who is cruel to her lover. They think that it is about loving a woman despite her flaws. It’s not! The song is really Billy Joel’s mockery of people who underestimated the business acumen of his first wife, Elizabeth Weber, who was also his business manager. Pay careful attention to the pronouns in the lyrics. He talks about how deceptive and cruel “she” can be to “you.” He then contrasts that with the statement “she’s always a woman to me.” Notice that the song never says that she was cruel to “me,” only to “you.”

Always a Woman was released in 1977, which was in the heyday of the Women’s Liberation Movement. Back then, many men still assumed that the woman’s role was simply to type up contracts, not to negotiate them. Evidently, some music industry executives expected that Joel’s wife would be a pushover. Perhaps some of them thought that Weber’s toughness was unwomanly. Joel thought otherwise.

Photo by Mark Morgan Trinidad B

To Understand Gifted Children, Read Harry Potter

Harry Potter is the boy wizard in a series of books written by British author J. K. Rowling. These books then inspired a series of major motion pictures. On a surface level, the books are about the struggles of a boy wizard who must deal with the pointless cruelty of muggles (ordinary people), as well as contending with the threat that an evil magician poses to the entire world. Yet Harry’s struggles can also serve as a metaphor for the kinds of problems that gifted children face in the real world.

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The Secret Subtext of Bewitched!

When I was a child, I loved the television show Bewitched! A beautiful and powerful yet thoroughly nice witch named Samantha fell in love with a young advertising executive named Darrin Stephens. On their honeymoon, Samantha reveals her secret: that she is a “real, house‐haunting, broom‐riding, cauldron‐stirring witch!” Darrin is at first skeptical and then appalled and more than a little frightened. Yet he agrees to stay married to her, on the condition that she gives up practicing witchcraft. Yet was this story about witchcraft, or about something powerful yet real?

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Can You Sway Donald Trump with Flattery?

Narcissists worship themselves, and they want you to worship them, too. But that does not mean that you can sway them with flattery. Narcissists want to be the person in charge. They want to be the person who does the manipulating. They do not want to let you manipulate them. Many people, including the leaders of foreign countries, are finding this out the hard way in their dealings with Donald Trump.

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Is Jordan Peterson Angry at Me?

Jordan Peterson seems to be an angry man. I think he might be angry at me, but I can’t tell for sure. His rants are so imprecise that I am not sure who the targets of his wrath really are. I cannot tell what, precisely, he thinks that these people have done wrong, why he thinks that what they did was wrong, or what he thinks that they should have done instead. However, he is stirring up a lot of hatred against whole groups of people, including feminists and what he describes as “the postmodernist left.” I’m afraid that I might get put into some of those groups, whether I belong there or not. For this reason, Jordan Peterson makes me feel uneasy.

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Games Narcissists Play

Narcissists are people who want to be socially dominant. They want the power, property, and prestige that go along with having a high social rank. However, they don’t know good ways to get those things. So instead, they try to bamboozle or bully other people. For this reason, narcissists often play “mind games.”

Narcissists play to win, and they play dirty. If you are a sane and decent person, the only way that you can “win” these games is by refusing to play. Yet if you avoid conflict altogether, you will be chased away from the things that matter to you. For this reason, you have to learn to set and enforce boundaries.

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Does Anger Management Training Work?

By learning how to manage your anger, you can learn how to make better choices in life. Unfortunately, sending domestic abusers to anger management classes will not get them to stop beating their romantic partners and other family members.

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Why Narcissists Love to “Debunk” the Argument From Authority

Narcissists are people who worship themselves and want you to worship them, too. However, they do not know how to earn your respect honestly. So instead, they may try to bamboozle you. If that fails, they may try to bully you into submission. For this reason, narcissists love to debate. Their goal is to convince you that they know more than you do—even when they clearly don’t! If you get drawn into that kind of ugly and pointless conversation, you might be tempted to point out that real experts disagree with the narcissist, and for good reasons. But if you do that, the narcissist may sneer that you are using the “argument from authority.” The narcissist will then declare victory. Continue reading “Why Narcissists Love to “Debunk” the Argument From Authority”

Are Narcissists Delusional?

A delusion is an irrational false belief that someone holds so firmly that nobody can talk him or her out of it. Delusions are a feature of some major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Narcissists also often try to make you believe things that are clearly false. This tactic is called gaslighting. Sometimes, narcissists even seem to believe the nonsense that they spout. Yet there is a difference between the delusions of someone with schizophrenia and the foolish nonsense that appears on a narcissist’s Twitter feed. Schizophrenics care about the truth, and narcissists do not.

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