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Disgusted with myself over a horrible moral/ethical question

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Disgusted with myself over a horrible moral/ethical question

Postby mc73 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:37 pm

Hi to anyone that reads this...

This may seem like an odd type of post when compared to others in this particular section, but anyway here goes.
I suffer with pure ocd and as such obsess endlessly over a certain particular subject, well after many years of panicking over whether or not I was a (insert irrational fear here) I can happily and honestly say that I am not what I was fearing, that's a certainty.
One day my ocd suddenly took a shift and I became obsessed with my morals and ethics, I have always been a highly moral type person and maybe this is why the ocd has targeted me this way..?
I had one of those 'what would you do if' type questions pop into my head... without going into any detail of the awful act that was asked of me in this theoretical question I was given the option of carrying out what in my mind is the worst possible heinous act a human could do to another or be shot in the head... without thinking I chose the later. Because I have ocd my mind then went over every type scenario possible with regards to my impending death and all of them I chose the later without thinking.
However when thinking of the same question but my demise would be me throwing myself off a cliff or tall building, I had a real and intense feeling of terror and dread almost as if I was there for real, this in my mind said I would consider carrying out the unspeakable act rather than throw myself from a great height. All of the other ways for me to meet my end I accepted easily but struggled with this one (and one other which had a similar effect on me).
Right now I feel lost, disgusted and dont know what to do or how to feel... I have been reading endlessly on whether humans can be capable of the most terrible crimes when faced with exceptional circumstances etc... I really feel as if I want to kill myself but in theory that would be hypocritical as I fear that I dont know if I could throw myself of a tall height in the imagined situation. I have already labelled myself a monster in my mind for this hesitation to what many people in my mind would have no thought about..? My heart and every fibre of my being knows the right and moral thing to do, and indeed the right and moral thing to do is exactly what I would want to do in this situation, as every fibre in my body would never ever want to carry out such depraved acts to another human life, but the fear I can feel even as I write this is absolutely killing me inside.
So there we are, not the typical type of post in the remorse section but that's the way I feel, remorseful, so thought this may be the best place.
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Re: Disgusted with myself over a horrible moral/ethical question

Postby Snaga » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:18 pm

I'm the OCD mod, who incidentally also approved this post- Sprock is the king of Remorse but remorse partly brought me to PF, so I hang here a lot. And there's a lot of overlap, because...

Man, do we know how to torture ourselves or what?

I have seen some mental gymnastics from OCD and Remorse posters, but this is a good one.

If you're talking about voluntarily throwing yourself off, instead of becoming a monster, we're talking pure fantasy, here. If you were that monster, you wouldn't want to throw yourself off, because you wouldn't care. The question distresses you, because you think you ought to- a monster would say, 'the hell you say', and choose the heinous thing. As I read it.

Now, if, like being shot in the head, you were threatened to be thrown over a precipice... again, you're basically not a monster, because someone is trying to force you to do something against your nature.

Would you?

Would I?

Hopefully, we'll never have to find that out. I'd like to think we could overcome something like that, but it didn't work out that way for Winston, in Room 101, did it? We're all capable of good, and evil.

OCD has a way of making us look at the tiniest things, and magnifying them. The thing that drove me here to PF- remorse, and self-harm that had been triggered by my remorse- was, for many people, a mean petty thing, and surprising coming from me, but something people do to each other regularly- but in my mind, it had grown to the level of revealing a Jew to the Gestapo for self-gain. Because we're good at connecting dots and seeing how well, how is this different from that except in magnitude? And in our minds, it makes us guilty of the most heinous acts- that we never committed. Suddenly, I saw how a German in the 40s might do terrible things like betray humans to death camps, and how it was a matter of scale, and I didn't like what I saw in myself, not one bit. I'm a horrible person- if you ask me my opinion of myself. Others might shake their heads and doubt that. But, as I say we do love to torture ourselves...

There is no clear answer to this- if faced with that, you'll either choose death by falling, or you won't. Until that happens, we're talking what-ifs. You're clearly not a monster, or this wouldn't be distressing you. You're just Human, but you're expecting yourself to be perfect... that's a tall order for mere mortals. You're going to have to let this go, and trust that if actually ever faced with such a terrible choice, you'll make the right one. Hell- it's your mental image- do like Capt Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru- cheat. Next time it plays out in your head, grab the son of a bitch wanting you to do it, and throw them off the building..... Take charge of this nightmare scenario in your brain... it'l just torture you, if you let it go on like it has been. Have faith in yourself that you're not a monster.
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Re: Disgusted with myself over a horrible moral/ethical question

Postby mc73 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 4:46 pm

Hello Snaga and thankyou for your reply,
Maybe I should have put this in the ocd section on reflection as this is clearly related to my ocd condition.
You are perfectly correct of course and I should have faith in myself and try and let this go but Im obsessing over this now so its going to be a long hard struggle I think. Looking at it I know that my morals are in the right place and in my heart I would want to do the right thing, its just with the one particular way of sacrificing myself 'jumping' I somehow manged to see it really vividly and quite frankly it scared the **** out of me, even when thinking about it now I have chest pains and shortness of breath. Last night I had a little rest bite for an hour or two, I thought to myself 'I dont know if I could voluntarily throw myself over the edge' but there's no way I can or am prepared to carry out that horrific crime either, which thinking about it is the more important question. Therefore I came to a conclusion which was even if I simply couldn't hurl myself over the edge, there's no way I'm going to do what you are telling me so you are going to have to throw me off, simple as that. If that did happen I would try my damn best to grab hold of the freak that was orchestrating all of this. Of course as expected the rest bite was short lived and now I'm constantly thinking again. I think because I hesitated and actually thought 'could I do that to such a vulnerable human' to save 'me' from this..? even though as with most people, my answer to this was a resounding 'No' I feel as if I've failed... I feel as if there should have been no feeling of fear there and my reaction of 'no way' should have been unwavering rather that this constant strange reasoning going on in my head. Is it a natural human instinct...? or am I simply extremely cowardly.
You are perfectly correct again in your quote that ocd grabs onto every little thing and escalates it massively and out of context... they dont call it the doubters disease for nothing do they. Like you I think I am a horrible person, most people that know me (not that many as I'm very lonely) would probably disagree but they dont have to live in my mind, maybe you may sort of understand what I mean by that. 'Winston' room 101... yes I remember reading 1984 many years ago, but please forgive me as I cannot remember exactly the ending, I do remember that it is a great book, and quite scary when you think about it.
I hope your okay and the feelings of remorse you mentioned are not causing you too much distress, and indeed I hope that your ocd issues are not too severe right now and you are coping well at the moment.
Two things... 'mental gymnastics' and 'precipice'... did make me smile.. :)
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Re: Disgusted with myself over a horrible moral/ethical question

Postby Snaga » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:34 pm

In 1984, when Winston was finally taken to Room 101 in the Ministry of Love, he was presented with his greatest fear.

You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.


— O'Brien, Part III, Chapter V

For Winston Smith, it was rats. When they began to affix a cage with a mask, to his face, so the rats could chew his face, Winston betrayed his lover Julia, by yelling for them to do it to her. Which is all they wanted to hear from him.

Presumably we all have a breaking point? I don't know. If choiced between throwing myself off, or becoming a Jeffrey Dahmer... well, they say it tastes like chicken. :?

Seriously, I don't know about a question like that. I'm not such a monster, so I choose to not worry about that what-if.

But then, I have intrusive harm thoughts, and have had them for longer than probably most of the users here have been alive. If I was going to do something horrible, I would have done it by now.

As for whether I could be coerced into horrid behaviour, well, hopefully not. I'll worry about that, when it happens. Not before. It's pointless to. Maybe it's easier for me, because I've had to deal with intrusive thoughts of harming and killing, most of my life. I'll worry about it when I get there. Until then, screw it.
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Re: Disgusted with myself over a horrible moral/ethical question

Postby avatar123 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:18 am

This post reminded me a little of the so-called "lifeboat scenario", wherein too many survivors in a lifeboat must decide who is to be sacrificed for the greater good of the group. It's used as a moral quandary which cannot be resolved by ethics based on individualism or self-preservation. Also similar to the Kobiyashi Maru scenario as Snaga pointed out.

One answer offered to this is that people don't live in lifeboats, meaning that this example has little practical value for living, as it is quite extreme. I think that might also be true for your thought experiment, in that the best solution might be to reject the premise, as Snaga also suggested. So in that sense the premise has no more significance than you are willing to give it.

Another answer is that even an individualist might see the value of preserving other lives, and voluntarily give theirs up, which does resolve the quandary. The moral issue arises only if the group forces the demise of an unwilling member. So I think in your thought experiment, you might find that you would not willingly do either deed, and in that sense you would be unwilling, and one act or the other would have to be forced upon you. In that case your unwillingness itself is a highly moral and ethical response, as you uphold your values as well as the value of your own life.

Some thoughts, anyway. When faced with unfairness, I've always found it useful to think about the premise that's being offered, usually you'll find that it contains one or more flaws.
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