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It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place, you get some of my sympathy, but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy because self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity
What all this misses is that Fry is absolutely right about the toxic nature of self-pity. It is a dehumanising emotion. It robs people of autonomy and undermines their ability to move on from the bad things that happen to them. It embeds the idea that certain events are so catastrophic that they simply cannot be overcome. It has no benefit or value whatsoever. It is, by definition, harmful self-indulgence.
So Fry was not attacked because he was wrong. Rather, the reaction to Fry’s comments illustrates the unhealthy relationship that society has developed with those claiming to be victims of sexual abuse. One commentator said that child-abuse victims should be ‘allowed’ self-pity because ‘victims of child abuse have in fact suffered genuine and serious trauma, trauma which is life-changing and in many instances can lead to serious and long-term mental-health issues’. It is common today to think of child abuse as somehow different to every other possible trauma a person can experience.
There is a real danger here of compounding the effect these events have on people’s lives by repeatedly talking up their destructive power. Of course, it is impossible to rank experiences according to their capacity to cause trauma; people respond to different events in different ways. It would be more healthy, and arguably more compassionate to genuine victims of childhood abuse, to argue that people are just as capable of getting over abuse as they are of getting over any other traumatic event. Instead, we encourage abuse victims to view their experiences as distinctly and insurmountably traumatising.
Our contemporary obsession with trauma is itself a symptom of a society that has a diminished view of humanity. The idea that we are inescapably shaped by the negative events of our past is becoming more and more popular. Parenting guides make reference to the risk of traumatising children, often through relatively minor incidents. The proliferation of films and books chronicling abusive childhoods enforces the idea that we can be doomed from an early age by the things that happen to us. The idea that human beings are capable of overcoming anything that life throws at us is increasingly seen as delusional.
it still rubs me the wrong way that Fry said that child abuse victims should grow up.
And if you dont mind explaining me one thing you mentioned. I can understand hatred, or reluctance to contact with other people...but I dont get embarassment.