Friday, March 11, 2016

On being creeped out.

I ran across a blog post over on Lee Hall's Vegan Place about Michael Pollan. It triggered a series of thinkings about something I noticed in me when I was a fairly young child. Sometimes I would encounter a human in person or be exposed to them via some electronic medium that let me see them moving and talking...motion pictures or video or live television and I would instantly be creeped out.

What I mean by 'creeped out' is that often I could feel the hair on the back of my neck start to rise and I would experience a strong sense of revulsion, sometimes tinged with fear. It would happen quickly and it would occur before I could assign much meaning to the content of what they might be saying.

Later in this post I'll share some photos of some of these folks who produce that reaction in me. All of these people are some sort of "celebrity" or politician or some sort of "newsmaker" so you might be familiar with one or more of them.

I won't share names or photos of anyone I've met personally  or who aren't "famous" but there have been a few of those too. I never knew quite how to make sense of my reaction until I was well into my late 20s and working at a mental health center where part of our professional tasks was to provide emergency mental health evaluations for the court system.

One day a young white man was brought in for an evaluation and my creep out detector activated as soon as I heard him utter a few sentences. I didn't conduct the evaluation but the clinic director did and later I spent some time talking with him about my reactions because this director was a well experienced psychotherapist who taught me a lot while I worked with him. I trusted him and wanted to know what he thought about my 'creep out' reaction. He said his evaluation of the fellow in question was that he was someone who exhibited psychopathic/sociopathic tendencies or features.  The director said he, himself, had a set of responses that were sometimes activated in him around such folks and he had learned to trust them as a guide and that I was fortunate to be aware of such an alarm system and I shouldn't discount it.

Of course if it was needed and/or important such a reaction must be followed up by the gathering of behavioral history and/or other "evidence" but just in everyday life...I learned trust the reaction and go from there.

The first time I remember having such a strange and strong feeling was when I was a youngster and saw an old timey character actor named Lyle Bettger in some movie. The fellow scared me and I couldn't figure out what in heck was going on. He wasn't doing anything or saying anything in the movie to prompt such a revulsion..but there it was.
Lyle Bettger
You may not recognize him but he played small roles in a number of movies in the 1950s and...whenever I saw him in a movie...ding ding ding went my creep out detector. I had no idea why though. Weird, eh? For whatever reason...Lyle spooked me. Another actor from movies I saw when I was a kid who repulsed me was Ronald Reagan. I was 'creeped out' by him from the first time I saw him in a movie. It was sort of like a nightmare coming to life when he got into politics and ended up being the president.

Here are some images of folks, who, over the years have elicited the same sort of immediate spooked repulsion in me that I mean by the phrase "creeped out". This reaction always happens immediately in me...I've never had the experience of it coming up after lengthy exposure to anyone even though I have had a few experiences of being around someone who eventually did or said things that made me be very leery of them.

Tom Cruise

Oliver North

Michael Pollan

Ronald Reagan

Margaret Thatcher
Notice that one of the images is of the subject of the blog post I linked to at the beginning...Michael Pollan. I clearly remember seeing him being interviewed on TV some years ago and having my creep detector activate...I didn't know who he was or what he was touting...I just knew that he sort of spooked me. If you are unfamiliar with him, read the post about him. He's a creepy yucko who says that if you treat them sort of's not a bad thing to kill a living long as you've been nice to them. Retch.

What to make of my 'creep out' reaction...heck if I know. It's my own personal thingee...maybe you have something like that too. Let me know if you do.

Looking at these images I notice that most of them are white men...I rarely have that sort of thing happen regarding women or men who aren't raced as white. What does that mean? I of my speculations is that white men maybe have a greater frequency of sicko/creepos in them than do other groups. That's only a guess though.Well...a guess but one I have a fair amount of confidence in.

And...this is the part that is seriously significant to me...I've never had that sort of reaction to a living being that wasn't a human. No animal (excepting the human ones) has ever weirded me out like that. I've been afraid or fearful of some animals but not creeped out and repulsed by them. I'm prone to suspect that most (maybe all) of the sicko/creepos on mother Earth are of the human type...mostly white men type. Again, just a guess (but, a good one I betcha).

The actor Tom Cruise was responsible for some mild arguing back and forth for a time between my wife and myself. He used to be a big favorite of hers and when she would go on about how much she liked him I would say that I thought he was a creep...which would bother her and she would endeavor to change my mind. All those efforts on her part stopped when he acted like a fool on the Oprah Winfrey show way back in 2005. I never did have to listen to any stories about what a hot shot he was after that. It's nice to have your intuitions confirmed.

The biggest confirmation for my creep detector came from Ronald Reagan...and...that's also the most bothersome incidence of it. A lot of people virtually worshiped him as a "leader" and president. Anyone who gives a speech in support of his desire to be president in the county in Mississippi where 3 civil rights activists were murdered the speech indicates his support for "state's rights" is using code words to tell you he is a white supremacist. He was a trashy white man who caused a lot of harm...all the while smiling like a buffoon.

Obviously my drummer and the drummer a lot of other people pay attention to are quite different. 

I suspect all beings have some sort of detector like this in them...I don't "know" that, I just suspect it. It might be akin to something Fritz Perls once wrote. He said that everyone had a built in crap detector and that the biggest difference among humans regarding this detector was whether they paid attention to it or not. Who knows...but I always have liked that he said that. If you don't know who Fritz Perls is...he was a psychotherapist who was both seriously gifted and also pretty zany and unusual.

He was one of my "heroes" when I was learning the art/craft of psychotherapy. He...truth be known...was probably something of an a**hole in person...but...he could dang sure do some effective psychotherapy from time to time. He wasn't much prone to suffer fools gladly and had several rather infamous incidents where he punctured what he perceived as pomposity in some well known psychology type of folks. He probably harmed his own 'career' because of this...but that was one of the things I liked about him.

Anyway...I've always wanted to write something about Lyle Bettger (what a name, eh?) and when I read the post about Michael Pollan it all sort of came together. It connects nicely too with veganism in that, as far as I can tell, most or maybe all of the creeps on this planet happen to be human. More reason to not hurt our sister/brother Earthlings who aren't human...they don't do creep. 

(please note that I don't know anything at all about Mr. Bettger as an individual...he may have been a really nice guy...and please note that I firmly believe everyone else whose image is in this post is or was...a genuine creep)



joan.kyler said...

Very interesting post. I've had this experience several times. I like to think that when it happens, it's my animal super radar activating. I once lived with a dog who was the sweetest dog on Earth. But one day, the only time, she growled at a man. He seemed nice enough, but I always wondered what she could sense about him that I couldn't. I think other animals are much more perceptive than human animals.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Joan. I suspect your observation re our sister/brother Earthlings being more perceptive is is that we work hard to ignore our perceptiveness. Something is going on, for certain.