Luxury Illness

Hypothesis:

Borderline Personality Disorder is the mental illness of the neglected children of self-absorbed parents, who devoted themselves to the upkeep of their own personal dramas, and to their attention- and status-seeking optional-affliction luxury illnesses: the anti-stoics. The preventive for the children’s benefit is parental self-help psychotherapy.

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Diagnosis: Luxury Illnesses of Anti-Stoics

Outline:

(1.) Constructing and maintaining a voluntarily extravagant personal drama —>

(2.) requires high income (or the sacrifice of high expenses) —>

(3.) to produce, from egotistical and emotional self-absorption, a personal “story” that is superior at drawing attention from “less interesting” people —>

(4.) and which includes emotive luxury accessories, like therapists and lawyers, for status-enhancing display, —>

(5.) all allowing the storyteller to imagine that recounting her socially magnetic drama shows off her advanced sophistication (social superiority) and advanced knowledge (intellectual superiority).

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I, along with billions of others, do not have the excess income or wealth to afford the upkeep of an extravagant personal drama, nor do I choose to make deep financial sacrifices for that purpose. I have to maintain a balanced psychological functioning in order to manage the dynamics of my personal life, and of my chosen commitments. However, others do have the luxury to indulge in dramatic self-absorption, or they choose to sacrifice other parts of their lives to do so.

Since the acquisition of language by homo sapiens in prehistory, people have been fascinated to huddle in front of flickering lights listening to a storyteller’s yarn, or to linger over a meal while absorbed by the personal narrative of a storyteller’s trials and tribulations. We are apes evolved to have our attention snared by stories; and apes evolved to gain attention, and thus followers and status, by the telling of our stories. The most compelling story for the storyteller is always that of her own personal drama.

The continuing construction and upkeep of an extravagantly dramatic personal story requires leisure time for self-indulgence and the exercise of egotism and recreational emotionalism. This requires financial means to free some of a person’s time from attending to obligations and practical necessities, as well as for the acquisition of flashy psycho-dramatic accessories – like psychiatric analysts, emotion-coddling therapists, and lawyers – that set the self-indulgent storyteller apart from ordinary folk who lead well-ordered boring lives.

Like a peacock’s display, the melodramatic richness of a drama queen’s ongoing tale, ornamented with references to acquired envy-inducing emotive bling, will draw in more people eager to surrender their attention and sympathy to massage the dramatist’s ego and elevate her social status: popularity!

Devotion by adults to this project of ego gratification by enhancing personal popularity through melodramatic woe-is-me storytelling generated out of narcissistic self-indulgence and voluntary victimhood, can rob children of their rightful claims on parents for functional attention and helpful and necessary service.

Children neglected by parental absence into self-absorption, and developing their own behaviors by copying and reacting to the models of living their parents exhibit, may be given their own therapists as compensation; and the purchase of that therapy adds to the accumulated proofs of psycho-dramatic conspicuous consumption by a self-focused parent. Dysfunctional mental processing, like Borderline Personality Disorder, can develop in the confused little minds of many such children.

We exclude from the criticisms here any mental illness that is an involuntary affliction, which is one caused by infections, diseases and genetic disorders that produce chemical imbalances in the brain, and by physical traumas from any source, which damage or destroy brain tissue. Such brain damage can lead to dysfunctional thinking and debilitating behavior by its blameless victims. We also exclude from the criticisms here individuals who acquired their mental illnesses as children because of the behavioral abuse and neglect by their parents; and we exclude the mental illness suffered by adult survivors of traumatizing experiences inflicted on them, such as violent crime, natural disasters and war.

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Cure: Self-Help Psychotherapy

My recommended remedy is self-help psychotherapy by adults; its recipe is:

(1.) Know the Buddhist insights into the human condition, and also have some Buddhist compassion for the involuntarily afflicted of this world;

(2.) Make intelligent and logical use of Stoicism in the management of your life and the strengthening of your character;

(3.) Assist your critical introspection with the poetic Taoist methodology (for selecting commitments) and Confucian morality (for acting on those commitments) whose combination comprises the I Ching.

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Conclusion:

Your wealth may enable you to engage in egotistical and emotional self-indulgence, and to live in a dramatic state of stimulating neurosis without personally catastrophic consequences. However, your desire to gain attention and popularity by making poor behavioral choices whose consequences are presented as your sympathy-baiting story of victimization by voluntarily acquired luxury illnesses and afflictions, does not require our attention, nor demand our sympathy, nor obligate our empathy. But it does raise our grave concerns about your children.

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