Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Model, Mentor, Mirror

There are three concepts I keep in mind: model, mentor, mirror.

A model is a role model. Some that have been used in the past: Babe Ruth, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant. In the recent past: Clint Eastwood (and he's still around even today).

Those were the movie stars. On TV? Andy Griffith, Ward Cleaver. There were even the silly ones, like Gilligan (who was in many ways a role model of what not to be).

Today? I can't really think of any.

There are books. Stephen King. Harry Potter. The Hunger Games. Comics books. Cartoons (my nephew, when he was little, was such a big fan of Bravestarr he had his mother make Bravestarr's uniform, which he wore around the house).

Then there are mentors. The biggest one is supposed to be your father, but with rise of female-dominated households (and women cannot raise boys) many fathers aren't very good role models anymore.

Incidentally, I'll point out the word "bastard" means both "a fatherless boy" and "a cruel, heartless man."

Mentors can be grandfathers, Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders (does anybody join those organizations anymore?) pastors, teachers, and anyone else who's supposed to be an "authority."

A mirror is someone in whom you can "see" what they think of you. If they show contempt toward you, you be certainly be able to perceive that. If they think you're funny and smart, you'll be able to see that.

These three concepts together create the cultural ocean in which we swim. And they are all very important.

We take these models and mentors, try out their ideas in society, and incorporate the workable ones into our core selves. Ideally, that is.

Mirrors are a little different. I am reminded of that saying, "We become what we behold." It applies to models and mentors, but mirrors, I think, are stronger. If you have a bad mirror from the time you are born, it is pretty damned difficult to not let it affect you.

There are entire schools of psychology that deal with mirrors. One of them that impresses me is known as Object Relations Theory, which deals with how parents mirror their infants. If what they say is true, then a lot of what we become runs back to how we are treated as infants.

Then we have to deal with the fact it is easier to shame someone that make them feel guilty. There is really only one word to describe guilt but look at all which describes shame - humiliation, ridicule, being dissed, insulted, mocked, made fun of...

For an infant, shame becomes before guilt.

Either way, whether shame or guilt, they're not something that should see all the time in the people who mirror them. Their models and mentors shouldn't do it, either.

A little bit is good but being overwhelmed with them has nothing but negative effects. In fact, some models, mentors and mirrors have become relentless propaganda designed to damage children.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that narcissists don't distinguish between guilt and shame; psychopaths understand guilt but choose to ignore it. And both these states of being begin in childhood.

Relentless shaming propaganda? T.V., schools, colleges, sensitivity training... never stops, does it?