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Self-Pity is Nothing to Celebrate

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posted on Apr, 19 2016 @ 05:12 PM
Some of you may know of Stephen Fry's remarks with regard to self-pity during a 10 minute interview with American talk show host Dave Rubin on The Rubin Report and the resulting Twitter Villification.

He talked about the infantilisation of modern-day culture and a growing tendency towards simplifying and avoiding complex moral questions. He criticised trigger warnings and the ‘self-pity’ of some people who have been the victims of child sexual abuse.

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

The quote is towards the end of the video.

Being a regular reader of Spiked, I was interested to read columnist Luke Gittos supporting Fry's view.

A few snippets:

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.

As someone who suffered emotional and psychological abuse as a child (I hate the word "survivor"), I can understand and relate to what Mr Fry was saying. I don't believe he was belittling child abuse victims, he was referring to the destructiveness of self-pity. I know first-hand how damaging it can be. It consumed for most of my early adult life.

On the other hand, I think Mr Gittos is attempting somehow to equate child abuse with the modern day culture of "victimhood". Is childhood trauma always surmountable? From my own experience no. You learn to live with it, and more importantly, you don't make it a problem for others.

Fry’s right – self-pity is nothing to celebrate

edit on 19-4-2016 by Morrad because: forgot to add link

posted on Apr, 19 2016 @ 07:15 PM
a reply to: Morrad

Sorry but I disagree with you and the person that wrote the article in many senses. I was also a victim of child sex abuse and bottled it up my entire life until recently starting to talk to someone about it and I wasn't annoyed or upset with him talking about self pity, even though I think telling someone that they shouldn't pity themselves for being abused is the most f'd up thing you could say, it's like saying to a rape victim "oh come on it happened, get over it" of course victims (I too hate the word survivour) they and we should be allowed to pity ourselves like we would anybody else who has been a victim of child abuse because it's a life changing thing that effects you for the entire run of your life whether you get help or not, but what did annoy me and has put me off the idiot is the comment of "Grow up" I mean seriously?

He is supposed to have suffered with mental issues his entire life and gone into what he called at one point "dark depression" so he should understand the issue of trauma and mental problems and not just shoot it down as something that we should get over (which is what I take and most people take from the words "grow up") this to me is in a round about way siding with the abuser rather than the victim, telling someone to grow up is a way of saying "it happened decades ago, move on already" and no matter which way you wanna throw shake the tree that is what he has said and now he's back tracking and trying to talk himself out of screwing up.

The problem is, that with these celebs and elites being found out as pedos people are starting to get bored with it because they think it's just another news story that will fade away and that's the problem, society is forgetting that these adults who apparently need to grow up, were raped as kids, they were lured and used as nothing more than sex objects for dirty "uncles" (as Fry likes to put it) that sometimes could've gone on for years (as in my case and most cases) but of course the fans that love Fry are coming to his aid.

I get that some people want to take it one way and the others want to take it another but for me as both a person and a victim I am taking it as he said it and I've watched the interview a couple times and he is telling abuse victims to get over it, to stop with the self pity, grow up and get over it, that is how he came across in the video to me and many people that I speak to and I think, like I said he has seen the trouble it's coursed and the fans that he had and who saw it for what it was are now kicking back and he is trying to talk his way around it.

As a person who suffers with mental issues he should be even more sensitive to the issue but of course he cares about himself, I'd never tell him to "grow up" over his dark depression or the mental issues he has suffered with. I dont celebrate my self pity, I hate it, I suffer with it.
edit on 19-4-2016 by Dwoodward85 because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 20 2016 @ 05:13 AM
a reply to: Dwoodward85

Thanks for your candid reply. I logged in briefly this morning and will respond this evening.


edit on 20-4-2016 by Morrad because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 20 2016 @ 05:21 AM
I agree with Fry...

I havent had any sexual traumas as a child...but there were other traumas. Everything that resides in the human mind...can be just needs the right perspective on things and life in general.

Like Fry...I have very little simpathy for persons carrying guilt all their lives...and finding excuses in it for all of their life woes.

posted on Apr, 20 2016 @ 04:36 PM
a reply to: MarioOnTheFly

I wanted to give a full length rant about your comment about the idea that they carry around guilt or that people should get over being abused and I promise you from my own experience I dont carry around guilt in the simple sense, I carry around hatred, embarrassment, envy, I dont trust people anymore, I cant stand the touch of another person, even the idea of kissing another person is a horror to me and when I see people say things like "grow up" as Fry did or when people think that victims can easily get over something is down right disgusting.

If I or a victim (and I'm starting to hate that word now because I'm using it more than ever) sat down with someone who says to grow up or get passed it and told them about the abuse and how it would happen and what we felt like afterwards and how it has carried with us the rest of our lives I'm sure it would both shock those people and help them understand what it's like. Am I saying that we should live with it like a bag of potatoes hanging from our neck? No of course not, we have to live with it and much like grieving for a loved one you have to deal with it and carry on with life having it always in the back of your mind.

As I've said I dont carry guilt for the fun. If I had the chance, and being 6ft 3 and about seventeen stone, would love to come face to face with my abuser for five minutes and work out all the anger I had for him but sadly I cant because he did a runner. You have to remember that 9 out of every 10 victims of child abuse spend their lives doing their hardest to hide the dark moments of our childhood not because we want to but because we have to.

posted on Apr, 20 2016 @ 05:21 PM
a reply to: Dwoodward85

I am not an expert on child abuse and can only relate to my own negative childhood experiences.

I stopped being a victim in my early thirties as I realised I was allowing that person to affect me even though they had not been in my life for 20 years. For me, without going into too much detail, the root of the problem was self-love, something I severely lacked.

I can identify with Stephen Fry's comments, when it relates to people that whine, proclaim woe is me and blame all their failings in life on that sole issue.

I look at children in other parts of the world that have been raped and watched their families been murdered and left homeless and without food and water. There are always people far worse off than yourself.

Looking back I am actually repulsed by the amount of self-pity I had and that I used it as a security blanket, often to bathe my own self-inflicted septic wound. I was self-indulgent and played the victim.

ETA. I was typing my response when you posted again. I can relate to what you are saying as this was me in my younger adult life. My OP was not intended to belittle what happened to you. With deep sincerity I will say that you will never find any resolution by being a victim and expressing hatred. I know because I have been there.

edit on 20-4-2016 by Morrad because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 20 2016 @ 06:06 PM
a reply to: Morrad

I completely understand that you're speaking from your own experience and I can only go by my own and while I'm just starting to deal with it and having to force myself to deal with it and try to change the way it has effected my life and hope to change it, it still rubs me the wrong way that Fry said that child abuse victims should grow up. I'm sorry but for me he has no right to say that to anyone. It wasn't the sentiment that they should try to get through it and get passed it, he never even approach it in that way he just basically told people to get over it and that was that.

Using phrases like he wouldn't be able to like someone who had self-pity is also something that annoyed me. I get that people can fight through it and have the will to move on and get through it (I'm 30 now and six weeks or so ago decided to do something about it) but that was through my own choice not because I feared that no one would like me or anything that Fry said, it's because it is and has been effecting other aspects of my life but hearing people talk like Fry is what scares me because it'll stop people who have suffered and haven't got the strength to come out about what happened to them for fear that people wont like them because of it and while that might not be the way he said it, it will be the way it's taken.

If he'd have just said that it annoys him that people who suffered child abuse do not try to get passed it or take the strength of stepping up and fighting through what happened to them and get passed it then I would have been fine and agreed with him and commented so but the fact that he chose those words and apparently he is a super smart bloke, the fact that he chose to say it the way he did is what set me off. I'm one for helping people but what he did by any other person who wasn't a well liked celeb would've been treated as an attack rather than people agreeing and standing beside him.

I'm happy that you're dealing with it and getting through it and I'm hoping to do the same (using NHS mental health isn't the easiest thing) but I think for me personally hearing someone say that child abuse victims need to "stop pitying themselves and grow up" is a dangerous thing especially with the revelations about the pedo ring going through the UK Government (I'm British) and across the rich of the world, it's a scary step towards treating victims of child abuse as the bad guy for waiting so long to report it.

Edit: Just saw your edit on your post and thought I'd add that I didn't take it as you belittling me in anyway. I was just commenting on what you put and how you felt about Fry, and yh I know about the hatred thing but no matter how much help I get unless someone has the number for the Tardis (inner nerd sorry) I will never stop hating the person that damaged my life, I wont go into details because this isn't exactly the place but he done things to me that no person should have to do and while I plan of fighting through to deal with it and move on and hopefully live a "normal" life and be happy, that wont change the hatred, it'll always be there.
edit on 20-4-2016 by Dwoodward85 because: (no reason given)

edit on 20-4-2016 by Dwoodward85 because: Missed something out.

posted on Apr, 21 2016 @ 09:17 AM
a reply to: Dwoodward85

it still rubs me the wrong way that Fry said that child abuse victims should grow up.

It rubs you the wrong way...because you're still in it. At the end of the day...what he says is true and ultimately beneficial to your life...growing up...

And dont take it the wrong way...I'm not saying you're a child and should grow up...but rather...grow out of it. Life is one...the only...and you've been hurt...I understand that. But dont waste your life on useless will consume you and make you as useless as the hatred itself. Let go of hate...there is no point in it.

And I get's not always easy...letting go of hate...but if you want to live a somewhat normal had better damn bust you ass trying to.

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.

I've seen this in many films about this topic...and I dont get it. I understand that a child can be embarrassed. But once you grow up...surely it's clear to an adult person...that a victim has no reason to be embarrassed...right ?

posted on Apr, 21 2016 @ 09:25 AM
I personally agree with everyone on this. Sexual trauma as a child. Invasive thoughts every single damn day. It's hard to not have self-pity, but that doesn't make self-pity a good thing.

I disagree with brilliant Mr. Fry on many topics, but not this one, entirely.

I don't see him implying that you can make it all go away. I see him implying that leveraging your pain to manipulate others or make excuses is wrong... and it is.

posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 01:42 PM
a reply to: MarioOnTheFly

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.

I am wondering if this relates to shame affecting intimacy with other people rather than embarrassment.

I agree with everything in your post. I can also see why Dwoodward85 was angered by your post. It is hard to be objective when emotional as everything is coloured. As he has not (as yet) dealt effectively with the issue, it is only natural that he will be defensive.

posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 01:49 PM
a reply to: TarzanBeta

Invasive thoughts every single damn day.

Are you referring to flashbacks or the negative voice in your head?

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