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Secondhand Embarrassment

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Secondhand Embarrassment

Postby Cholls » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:35 am

How often do schizoids experience 'secondhand embarrassment'?

Growing up, I experienced it frequently, privately referring to it as 'toe-curling embarrassment'. For decades, I was so self-conscious as to be unable to discuss this phenomenon with anyone.

However, over the years, largely by becoming inured to constantly making a public fool of myself (you have no idea, really you don't ... or maybe you do :oops: ), I have somehow lost the ability to feel vicarious embarrassment.

The other day, my schizoid friend said, "(something something blahblahblah) when you give me secondhand embarrassment ...". And I said, "Yow! That's not anger, annoyance, sorrow, despair, or hatred (what he's told me he's able to feel), but you felt it!", to which he clammed-up like a quahog burrowing into the mudflats.

In the past, whenever 'taboo' subjects have come up, I've just dropped them, and did so this time too. Several times, months later, he's brought up old subjects out of the blue and revealed this or that, entirely out of context, and then moved on to another subject. It's really sweet how he does this, and one day he might discuss vicarious embarrassment in this way as well.

Am I wrong in considering secondhand embarrassment as an emotion and in getting kinda excited that he can feel it?
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Re: Secondhand Embarrassment

Postby Oblivion » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:11 pm

Wouldn't second hand embarrassment be considered a form of empathy?

I think I've felt it, but I can't think of any examples from real life. One of my oldest friends, whom I call Toe, is rather weird. Possibly undiagnosed schizotypal. I get mad at people who point and snicker at him when he gets unintentionally weird in public, but I'm not sure that would count as embarrassment because half of the time he's unaware of not only being laughed at, but of being weird as well.

He's also the only person I can think of who will likely elicit a measure of emotion in me if he should drop dead. Why? He's ice cold, selfish and unemotional. I think it may have to do with the longevity of our friendship and some of the many things (good and bad) we went through together in the past. But I doubt I'd be sad for him because he's miserable anyway. I'd be sad for me because it would be like a large chunk of my life and history is gone.

Just like when we feel a sudden pang of hatred for someone it usually boils down to what we see in them that reminds us of some aspect of ourselves we are either ashamed of or don't want to face.
Maybe this is the same mechanism as second hand embarrassment at play here?

I sometimes get embarrassed when people on TV make fools of themselves. Two examples would be someone being a complete idiot on a game show or a reporter screwing up royally or getting punched in the face on live TV. Neither of these examples makes sense because I can't stand television journalists or people who would purposely debase themselves by appearing on "The Price Is Right" .

But then again, they do make sense because as I've said numerous times in the past, a well made movie or even a TV show can elicit emotions in me that I've never felt for anyone in real life.

So I guess it has to do with being once-removed from the situation by it being artificial or otherwise safely remote.
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Re: Secondhand Embarrassment

Postby salles » Sun Aug 04, 2019 8:35 pm

I'm thinking it is more a form of empathy than an emotion.
Humiliation is a tough one, and I guess anyone who has had the experience will feel empathetic towards someone they witness or perceive as being humiliated. Then, it is subjective so perhaps empathy and second hand embarrassment can be misplaced.
I have experienced people being embarrassed on my behalf when I have not been, because my perception of the situation has been different.

I'm going around in circles thinking about this one. Think I'll stop now.
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Re: Secondhand Embarrassment

Postby Cholls » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:33 pm

Oblivion wrote:Wouldn't second hand embarrassment be considered a form of empathy?

I think I've felt it, but I can't think of any examples from real life. One of my oldest friends, whom I call Toe, is rather weird. Possibly undiagnosed schizotypal. I get mad at people who point and snicker at him when he gets unintentionally weird in public, but I'm not sure that would count as embarrassment because half of the time he's unaware of not only being laughed at, but of being weird as well.

He's also the only person I can think of who will likely elicit a measure of emotion in me if he should drop dead. Why? He's ice cold, selfish and unemotional. I think it may have to do with the longevity of our friendship and some of the many things (good and bad) we went through together in the past. But I doubt I'd be sad for him because he's miserable anyway. I'd be sad for me because it would be like a large chunk of my life and history is gone.

Just like when we feel a sudden pang of hatred for someone it usually boils down to what we see in them that reminds us of some aspect of ourselves we are either ashamed of or don't want to face.
Maybe this is the same mechanism as second hand embarrassment at play here?


I sometimes get embarrassed when people on TV make fools of themselves. Two examples would be someone being a complete idiot on a game show or a reporter screwing up royally or getting punched in the face on live TV. Neither of these examples makes sense because I can't stand television journalists or people who would purposely debase themselves by appearing on "The Price Is Right" .

But then again, they do make sense because as I've said numerous times in the past, a well made movie or even a TV show can elicit emotions in me that I've never felt for anyone in real life.

So I guess it has to do with being once-removed from the situation by it being artificial or otherwise safely remote.

Thank you for your reply, Oblivion. Yes, I think you are right. It would be more a form of empathy than an emotion.

Interestingly, my schizoid friend seems innately more considerate and more empathetic than I. Could it be that his ability to empathize has been strengthened because he cannot experience positive emotions (he can experience negative ones)? He also describes himself as a sociopath, yet corresponding with him is making me a better person, despite my own sociopathic tendencies.

Thank you for sharing about Toe. Although you say, 'He's ice cold, selfish and unemotional.', your words telling about him radiate warmth and love, at least to me. Are you aware of that?

They feel a lot like the words my schizoid friend uses when he has occasionally mentioned his mother. At such times, his words feel soft and warm, like they're smiling.

'reminds us of some aspect of ourselves we are either ashamed of or don't want to face'
Seriously, I could easily see myself doing that, because I don't hold back in our correspondence and say some incredibly foolish things which I would never risk saying to someone less in touch with themselves than he.

Here's a further question:

My friend has frequently mentioned 'inserting (him)self' into a character in a song or novel. I wonder whether he might insert himself into my 'character' in order to experience some of the things I talk about. Do you think that's at all likely, or would it be too 'close', because I'm alive and, at this point, less likely to be able to pass as a form of artificial intelligence?

salles wrote:I'm thinking it is more a form of empathy than an emotion.
Humiliation is a tough one, and I guess anyone who has had the experience will feel empathetic towards someone they witness or perceive as being humiliated. Then, it is subjective so perhaps empathy and second hand embarrassment can be misplaced.
I have experienced people being embarrassed on my behalf when I have not been, because my perception of the situation has been different.

I'm going around in circles thinking about this one. Think I'll stop now.

No, you're not going around in circles. Thank you for your reply, salles. I agree that, 'it is more a form of empathy than an emotion'. But you've clarified an important point.

Actually, frequently, my friend and I perceive the same objective situation in markedly different ways. When we have discussed our sometimes diametrically opposing views, one of the surprising outcomes has been that both 'sides' end up seeming equally valid.

Our correspondence has, at least temporarily :D , opened my mind. It feels a little bit like becoming equally comfortable reading upside-down.
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Re: Secondhand Embarrassment

Postby Oblivion » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:14 pm

Cholls wrote:Interestingly, my schizoid friend seems innately more considerate and more empathetic than I. Could it be that his ability to empathize has been strengthened because he cannot experience positive emotions (he can experience negative ones)?


Wouldn't empathy be an expression of positive emotions? It may be born of negative ones, but to express it, you need to holster the positive ones. I'm thinking a schizoid's desk would have an overflowing in box and a practically empty out box. Or maybe it's the other way around, only the out box has a padlock on it and there are only a few isolated moments in the day when he remembers the combination.

Thank you for sharing about Toe. Although you say, 'He's ice cold, selfish and unemotional.', your words telling about him radiate warmth and love, at least to me. Are you aware of that?

They feel a lot like the words my schizoid friend uses when he has occasionally mentioned his mother. At such times, his words feel soft and warm, like they're smiling.


Well, we were in a relationship for almost five years. From when we were seventeen 'till about 22. This was before my PD traits were in full bloom, and I think of those years fondly because I was normal then. I could enjoy going out and the company of others. So in a way my thoughts of him are a memory of that, and a symbol of the hope that maybe one day I can regain some of that normalcy. And while the passing of time makes that seem exponentially more and more unlikely, I still have hope.

Not to sound like a greeting card, but hope is a good thing. It's pretty much vital for me, or anyone who has a history of suicidal tendencies/idealization.

But like I said, my find feelings for him are more about me than him. He's a badge for the fact that I was once less disordered. The fact that I've been able to keep a friend for almost forty years is a trophy more than anything else.

My friend has frequently mentioned 'inserting (him)self' into a character in a song or novel. I wonder whether he might insert himself into my 'character' in order to experience some of the things I talk about. Do you think that's at all likely, or would it be too 'close', because I'm alive and, at this point, less likely to be able to pass as a form of artificial intelligence?


You lost me with the second part of that question.

If you're talking about appropriation, emotional or otherwise, I'm not sure that applies to schizoids. Most people cull their identities from their environment. Schizoids internalize everything, so even outside influences become uniquely their own, filtered through their sensibilities and then locked away from the world.
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Re: Secondhand Embarrassment

Postby Cholls » Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:59 am

Oblivion wrote:I'm thinking a schizoid's desk would have an overflowing in box and a practically empty out box. Or maybe it's the other way around, only the out box has a padlock on it and there are only a few isolated moments in the day when he remembers the combination.

That certainly 'feels' right. Thank you very much for this insight into my friend's behavior.

My schizoid friend (and the people here) are teaching me how to be a friend--I've told him as much. Yeah, it's kinda late to be learning that but, you know, I think I'm only lately beginning to actually learn how to learn. We don't, I think, actually even LEARN TO LIVE until quite late in the game. Or maybe it's just me because my ability to relate to others was thwarted by my control-freak mother.

I'm socially stunted, hence much of what I do is, at best, unique and, at worst, a grotesque caricature of human behavior :D


Oblivion wrote:Well, we were in a relationship for almost five years. From when we were seventeen 'till about 22. This was before my PD traits were in full bloom, and I think of those years fondly because I was normal then. I could enjoy going out and the company of others.

Those who live past thirty seem to have accrued some sort of Golden Age Pollen Baskets from which they draw during the subsequent barren decades. I know a lot of people who live from the contents of their 'baskets' for a long time, when there are no flowers as far as the eye can see.

Sometimes we can even begin to question whether the flowers we remember having seen really were there. But, I assure you they were. It is, in fact, ONLY the flowers that were real. The bleak expanse of urine-smelling gum-encrusted concrete which we think is all around us now is simply a trick of the mind--that perpetually negative drag on who we really are.

We don't go through life with rose-tinted glasses. We go through life with s**t-covered glasses that blind us to and make us feel hopeless in a world of infinite possibility.



Recently, I remembered having re-learned how to walk. After my suicide attempt at age 13, I was in traction in the hospital for 3 months, supine. Couldn't sit up in bed for more than a couple seconds without feeling nauseous. Thought I'd never be able to sit up again.

And having to re-learn how to walk. Anyone who has ever done that should be able to tell you how infinitely hard it is. Walking is an extraordinarily complex activity--something harder than anything on almost everyone's resume. Yet a lot of people do it.

Human beings are capable of much, much, MUCH more than most of us ever achieve. Yet, for some reason, instead of no-holds-barred trying, we waste our minutes, our days, our years, our decades wondering whether X or Y is possible.

And then we die, never having tried.

How do I want to feel as I lie there, with life slipping away? Will I be able to say to myself, "Well, at least I did everything in my power to get through Donald Knuth's Concrete Mathematics."? Or, will I say, "If only I had tried, instead of spending so d*** much time on eBay. Every day a little. Every day a teeny amount. Every day..."?


Oblivion wrote:So in a way my thoughts of him are a memory of that, and a symbol of the hope that maybe one day I can regain some of that normalcy.

That is what I mean by 'pollen basket'. Anyone out there with any fire still in 'em has a 'pollen basket'. To me, from your posts here, you have a lot of fire, a lot of passion and creativity.

Does it happen that, when left to your own devices, you habitually deflate into a depressed state? Would it help if you got more encouragement from people here?

Is 'normalcy' really what you'd like? Or could it be something more specific, more special, more brilliant, and far, far, FAR more personal than 'normalcy', while simultaneously being something that almost no one but you would value.

Are you familiar with manifestation? Envision with lifelike clarity and as many senses as possible the specific thing you'd like to happen. It works.


Oblivion wrote:And while the passing of time makes that seem exponentially more and more unlikely

Raphael (the Renaissance painter, not the mutant ninja turtle) died when he was 37. If, as I am, you're over 37, your time is already up. 'Exponentially...unlikely'? Hahaha!!!

It's too late. It's over. The judges have all gone home.

It's just you, an empty world, and limitless time. So... Since you're already dead, what do you REALLY wish you had done?

Make. It. Happen. Deep down, you know you can do it. Just say f*** it to all your billion habitual negative thoughts. If you're anything like me, you have a litany of them learned by heart from your mother and have been dragging them around all your life. Well, they've never served you well and it's time to give them the heave-ho.


Oblivion wrote:I still have hope.

Not to sound like a greeting card, but hope is a good thing. It's pretty much vital for me, or anyone who has a history of suicidal tendencies/idealization.

Hope isn't corny at all. It is what keeps most people alive.


Oblivion wrote:But like I said, my find feelings for him are more about me than him. He's a badge for the fact that I was once less disordered. The fact that I've been able to keep a friend for almost forty years is a trophy more than anything else.

Few can claim such a trophy, including most neurotypicals. You really are a freak! :wink:


Oblivion wrote:
Cholls wrote:My friend has frequently mentioned 'inserting (him)self' into a character in a song or novel. I wonder whether he might insert himself into my 'character' in order to experience some of the things I talk about. Do you think that's at all likely, or would it be too 'close', because I'm alive and, at this point, less likely to be able to pass as a form of artificial intelligence?

You lost me with the second part of that question.

He described his online forum interactions as tolerable because he can pretend he's not interacting with real humans but instead with a computer resembling Hal from the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

But, at this point, he can't deny that I'm a real person. So, I am wondering whether he might be able to experience emotions vicariously through our correspondence. It would be far too personal and direct for me to ask him this.


Oblivion wrote:If you're talking about appropriation, emotional or otherwise, I'm not sure that applies to schizoids. Most people cull their identities from their environment. Schizoids internalize everything, so even outside influences become uniquely their own, filtered through their sensibilities and then locked away from the world.

I'm having trouble imagining what you've described. Would you be able to give an example please?

My friend has said that, in high school, and nowadays on the rare occasions when he interacts with people in person, he automatically adopts a persona appropriate to the occasion. According to him, this happens unconsciously, and these masks he has will have been culled from mimicking people he's met.

-:- -:- -:-

For the past 14 1/2 days, I've taken user nyoten's advice, below. I do it expecting nothing, but have been more productive than usual in the past few days.

The original thread is here:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Schizoid/comments/bj3l6u/what_works_well_for_you/

The 'Meditation, specifically this one' is Isha Kriya guided meditation, here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxgD9En6Vso

Code: Select all
nyoten 4 points · 3 months ago

Said this multiple times here and will continue saying it: Meditation, specifically this one, 2 x 15min a day

Nothing has come close to its effectiveness, exercise, diet, drugs, sleep, etc all help but this was the single most effective thing I did and the closest thing to a 'cure' for me. I highly recommend it to everyone here. Seriously I don't even know why or how its so effective; it doesn't make any sense to my logical brain but my anhedonia, apathy, lack of energy etc. and all related problems just seemingly evaporated after doing this seriously for a couple months


Why not try it? Expect nothing. Just follow the instructions. Posture is very important.
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Re: Secondhand Embarrassment

Postby Cholls » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:58 am

FYI:
I linked to the Isha Kriya meditation because a schizoid, user nyoten, used and benefited from it. Also because the meditation is structured and guided by audio. If you decide to try it, it's an easy introduction to meditation, especially if, like me, you have tried repeatedly to get 'traction' with your meditation practice and failed.

Once you have developed a several month's habit of sitting cross-legged with your spine straight, thinking about nothing, you will probably be 'hooked', and able to move securely to more demanding and possibly more rewarding meditation practices.
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