Jun 102012
 

In this week’s sermon at my local church, the priest reminded us that the Pharisees disapproved of Jesus for eating with prostitutes and tax collectors. “Those” people were considered unclean and therefore contagious. It was dangerous to be in their company because one might become like them.

Now that we understand Mimetic Theory, we know that this is actually true. People tend to mimic each other’s values, desires and behaviors.

That’s why, when we were preyed on by psychopaths, we began to lose our sense of self.  Our boundaries began to dissolve and we behaved in ways we wouldn’t normally behave. They tried to take our being and insert their being in its place. This is also why No Contact is a powerful tool for limiting their effects on us.

Yet, other people influence us every day, often even without our knowledge.  According to the New York Times, in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers determined that weight gain is contagious.

Their study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved a detailed analysis of a large social network of 12,067 people who had been closely followed for 32 years, from 1971 until 2003. The investigators knew who was friends with whom, as well as who was a spouse or sibling or neighbor, and they knew how much each person weighed at various times over three decades.

That let them watch what happened over the years as people became obese. Did their friends also become obese? Did family members? Or neighbors?

The answer, the researchers report, was that people were most likely to become obese when a friend became obese. That increased one’s chances of becoming obese by 57 percent.¹

So how could Jesus associate with sinners, without risking the threat of contagion?  Apparently, He had very good boundaries.  In His company, the sinners imitated Him, He did not imitate the sinners.  He loved the sinners, though He hated the sin.

Our own encounters with psychopaths, didn’t go so well.  We were compromised.  We’re lucky to be alive –so many victims of psychopaths don’t live to tell about it.

To understand the difference, it helps to compare how we reacted to “the sinners” vs. how Jesus reacted.  In my case, I felt sorry for the psychopath. He used the pity ploy –liberally.  I felt embarrassed for his shameless behavior. I owned his shame for him by pretending his behavior was acceptable and making excuses for it. This is what psychopaths count on as they scheme and plot to steal your soul, they know how to make their behavior contagious:  they use charm, pity and rage.

Jesus, on the other hand, never deviated from calling a sin, a sin.  He understood the sinners’ weaknesses too but when He forgave their sins, He commanded them to “repent and sin no more.”  He didn’t say, “We’ll just pretend it didn’t happen.”

It seems that no matter how hard we try to be individuals, we always end up imitating others to some extent.  We relate to each other because we share similar experiences, that’s how bonds of culture are formed.  So how do we prevent ourselves from imitating the wrong behaviors?  The answer is to choose a role model whom we imitate exclusively.  Jesus’ role model was God the Father. He didn’t deviate from that role model and Jesus asks us to imitate Him.

Whether we want to protect ourselves from psychopaths or we just want to lose weight, it’s worth remembering how much we are affected by the people around us, their values and their behaviors. We don’t just copy them, over time we become like them.

Also, it bears remembering that we serve as role models for each other.  We affect each other, so we should make a conscious choice to affect each other as positive role models.

There is no need to do as the Pharisees did.  We don’t need to judge and persecute those who falter. We don’t have to  be embarrassed for them, take responsibility for them or pretend it didn’t happen. It’s enough to offer a better role model.

References:

1.) Kolata, Gina. “Obesity Spreads to Friends, Study Concludes.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 July 2007. Web. 10 June 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/25/health/25iht-fat.4.6830240.html?pagewanted=all>.

Copyright © 2012-2013 Skylar

  70 Responses to “Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner Mimetic Theory

  1. Skylar

    We also need more dad’s to recognise emotions to help their kids be strong. It is not fair to place this burden just on women for the future emotional health of their children

    Then we are the scapegoats if it all goes wrong. I don’t know about you but I am sick of women and children taking the blame for men’s lack in the emotional department.

    Men need to recognise their responsibilty here too in childrearing.

    Patriarchy is still alive and kicking where I come from but I see a lot of the younger men shedding these old notions and taking a more active role in the childcare.

    It’s in blaming the woman that all domestic abuse arises from.

    I very rarely ever hear it was my dad’s fault. I hear sometimes, my dad did it BUT my mum blah blah blah….

    I am sorry

    I am reading a lot of material and the inequality and powerlessness of women is becoming so apparent. How much we are scapegoated by sick men.

    My ex has still did damage to my kids. My eldest daughter can’t understand why he discarded her and my youngest is in the process of being discarded. She is crying all the time about it. My son feels sad that he doesn’t have a relationship with his dad.

    This is not what I wanted for my kids.

    And I can’t do anything about it except be there.

    I am so so angry right now.

    Thanks for listening

    STJ
    XXX

  2. STJ,
    it’s true that men need to step up to the plate and be there for their kids too. And I don’t really think it’s about culture as much as it is about how boys are raised by their own parents.

    I was reading an article about a young afghan girl who is studying to be a midwife. She said her father encouraged her because his own mother had died when he was ten, while she was giving birth to a younger sibling. He said it broke his heart. So even in Afghanistan, there are men who are there for their daughters. My own parents never encouraged me to do anything for myself. I was like a piece of furniture.

    There isn’t anything you can do to get a man to change, except perhaps in his old age. My dad has become more compassionate now that he’s old.

    Meanwhile STJ, you ARE doing the work that will make a man more compassionate with his won kids: Your son. It’s the next generation that will shape the ones that follow.

    You can encourage them to read about personality disorders. I think it’s important so that they understand what has happened. They are likely to be attracted to people like your exspath because it’s familiar. Warn them about that. Help them open their eyes so they can break out of that cycle.

  3. STJ,

    I totally agree with Skylar (though I completely understand and sympathize with your anger and frustration)…

    I would give them as much direct information about personality disorders as they can manage. It may relieve some of their confusion and eventually help them to depersonalize his rejection.

    My mother and many of my family members were either character ‘disturbed’ or fully disordered, and FINALLY understanding this was liberating. I only wish I had learned about it when I was younger. Because, as Skylar indicated, being in family like mine either produces more disordered people, or enablers.

    I ended up being quite enabling, because the N/S’s I welcomed into my life were like ‘family’, they were familiar, and made me ‘comfortable’, in some weird way. They were like comfort food, only I didn’t know it was poisoned.

    xoxo,
    Slim

  4. I really love Alice Miller. I think she is one of the most sane voices on the subject of abuse, and child rearing, alive today. She was one of the first authors I read, that validated my own recognition of abuse. I also think this is likely the most cogent explanation for the creation of evil, and not ‘just’ a genetic trigger.

    Her book about the gifted child really spoke to me. Her work also feels very connected to the writings of Demause.

    Slim

  5. Hi

    Thanks for input.

    What is really wrong with me is that it is my youngest’s 15th birthday tomorrow and she can’t understand her dad’s apathy and she is angry and tearful at the same time.

    My children’s birthdays are sacred to me–the day they were born and I am so mad at him.

    Wasted energy I know. But this too shall pass.

    My family of origin were all alcaholics and the insanity that they bring. I became a rescuer–cured thank God–but it is full off enablers and let’s pretend it never happened. I broke away years ago when my kids were young as I didn’t want them to fear alcahol and its effects.

    Thanks for listening

    Right now you are both my rock that keeps me steady.

    Thanks
    STJ
    xxx

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