People Who Hate Laughter

People who don't like it when other people laugh freak me out.

There are exceptions to this of course; people who find it funny to cause pain or humiliation also freak me out, and their laughter is often of the nails-on-a-chalkboard variety. They aren't in mirth, they're in creepy monkey domination. But genuine, honest laughter at funny things is divine, a wonderfully healthy experience that literally heals body, mind and spirit, and bonds healthy people with each other. Not the same thing as following a crowd, laughter bonding is when healthy people with good boundaries connect because they each, individually, find the same thing funny, they aren't copying one another, which makes the bonding genuine and uplifting.

People who don't like it when others laugh:
  1. People who are literally paranoid, they automatically think it's about them.  Or they assume they are being excluded, and don't bother to find out if their assumption is correct.
  2. People who believe they are "above" others, and so their sense of humor is "above" as well, and you, inferior creature, couldn't possibly understand their high level of dry wit, so your laughter must be fake... you're just trying to act like you get it...
  3. People who believe they are entitled to say what is funny, and what is not, and if you laugh at something they find not funny, you are stupid, crazy, spastic, unstable, or annoying.
  4. People who feel entitled to control other people; they often dole out consequences to those they enjoy controlling if they laugh out loud in public. Laughter draws positive attention, and control freaks do not like positive attention going to anyone they have deemed "lesser". The date of a control freak may be sitting stone-faced in the audience of a comedy show, even if the control freak is laughing at every joke. Also, the control freak might be the one sitting stone-faced, and will only "allow" their date to laugh when they give their "approval".

Comedian Robert Lynch who is also a doctoral student found that self-deception influences a person's ease in laughter. Meghan Holohan writes about his observations here:


Here's a clue; stop implying to everyone that one of the members of your family or group of friends or coworkers is shiftless, lazy, crazy, or weird... or, risk people figuring out that you have major issues that you're trying to cover up by projecting shame and guilt about yourself onto someone else.
“If life gives you lemons, you make beef stew”
Andy Milonakis, The Andy Milonakis Quote Book

Classic! Essay By A Narcissist

Got a kick out of this one (pun intended)!

I share this essay with mixed emotions; both fascination for such a wonderful display of narcissistic entitlement, and feelings of regret and disappointment that I am posting this against my own values. ("Calling out" others in a public forum, when the person has made no personal attack, is a form of bullying that has no place in a civilized, healthy society.) That being said, I will opt to copy and paste the text, instead of sharing the link directly.

Read the addendum too, that's the best part :)

Some people, sadly, have a bit of trouble with the idea that in social dance men lead and women follow. There are still hang-overs from the 1980s with their absurdly assertive women, and the political correctness of the 1990s, which make some people uneasy with anything which suggests that a man might command and a woman obey. These attitudes lead some people to question the way partner dancing is conducted, even that it might not be an acceptable activity in a modern society. These attitudes are the enemy of fun.
If you ever find yourself having to deal with someone who says that it is wrong for women to follow the leads of men in dance, here are a few arguments you can use against them. They should make you feel better, even if they do nothing to convert the person you are talking to.

1. Someone has to lead
In a social partner dance, the object is to get two people dancing as one, without any need for choreography. This allows strangers to dance with each other, and is fun. Someone has to lead, therefore. If both try to follow, nothing happens, and if both try to lead, then contradicting leads will be given and the dance will come to a crunching halt.

2. Men are taller than women
The average man is six inches taller than the average woman. In the vast majority of mixed-sex pairings, therefore, the man will be significantly taller than the woman, and fairly often the difference will be very great. It is a simple fact that it is far more difficult to lead someone who is taller than to lead someone who is shorter. If the follower is taller, then the leader will have to stand very close to her in order to reach above her head, giving her little room to turn and little room for error.

3. Men are stronger than women
There are many moves in social dance, which involve the leader's supporting the weight of the follower. In wild dances like the Jitterbug, the leader might even have to throw and catch the follower. Whereas it is easy to throw someone lighter than oneself, it is blinking difficult to throw someone much heavier. Also, such moves require a great level of trust. The follower has to trust the leader to catch her. If a woman were to lead a dance with a man, then in order to do any of these moves, the man would have to trust her absolutely to catch him, and he probably wouldn't, especially if she were a stranger.

4. It avoids arguments
At a social dance, one does not want a dispute, a clash of wills, or an awkward moment. If I go up to a woman at a dance and ask her for next dance, then since it is an accepted convention that men lead and women follow, there is no argument or discussion over who leads. Instead we can just get onto the floor and start happily. I don't have to ask her if she wants to lead. She doesn't have to feel obliged to let me lead. She doesn't have to admit that she can't lead. We can just dance and enjoy ourselves.

5. Each sex can specialise
If the convention were changed so that men and women were equally likely to lead a dance, then all men and all women would have to learn both the leader's part and the follower's part. Learning to dance takes long enough as it is, but this requirement would mean that everyone would have twice as much to learn, and each part would interfere with the ease with which they danced the other, as all lefts and rights get reversed, and some habits which are good in a follower are annoying in a leader and vice versa. Not only would everyone take twice as long (or longer, and that's if many can be bothered with all this - plenty of people drop out of dance lessons as it is) to learn, but at every dance they attended, they would get half as much practice at each part. The net result would be that everyone would be a lot worse at dancing. If each sex specialises in one part, then the learning period is bearably short, and each sex becomes much better at its one role.

6. Sex is part of the fun
In truth, of course, one often does see women dancing with women, and occasionally men dancing with men (deliberately badly, and with big cheesy grins). Almost always, though, the best dances one witnesses in an evening of social dance will be between one man and one woman. Partly this is because of reason five, above, that each has specialised, partly also because the man will probably be taller and stronger, but mostly because there is something in the chemistry between men and women which means that each dancer raises his level. If a woman dances a "shine move" (one where she struts her stuff independently of him, showing him how good she is) with another woman, she will never dance it quite so well as she would with a man. She will always rein-in slightly, because there is something sexy about dancing as a couple.

7. Men prefer it
Men are show-offs. Men get pleasure from dancing well, not simply from dancing. A partner dance is an opportunity for a man to be masculine, and give a woman a good time. This is surely a good thing for both men and women. If a man is stupid, he might try to show the women how strong he is by shoving her around brutally. She won't like this and will never dance with him again. If he is considerate and sensible, he will look after his partner and she will enjoy dancing with him. If she looks happy at the end of the dance, that is his reward. Men get a big kick out of that sort of thing, and we are, after all, doing this for kicks.

8. Women prefer it
Despite what the politically correct may try to get us to believe, women don't actually find men who are followers in life as attractive as leaders. Weak yes-men do not win the hearts of women, while strong and decisive men generally do. Dancing with a man is an opportunity for a woman to assess him. If she is leading, she will learn less about him, and the sensation of having a man follow her is not as pleasurable as the sensation of being well led by a man who is a decisive and skilled dancer. Deny the biology of the situation if you like, but you won't refute it. It remains true that men and women both enjoy partner dancing most when he leads and she follows (for much more on this sort of thing, see my essay in the evolution section on why men won't dance - you'll need to use your browser's BACK button to return here).

9. It isn't command and obey
In fact, the leader's part is not that of a ruthless dictator, nor is the follower's part that of an abject slave. In reality in partner dancing, a woman can contribute a great deal to the dance, and a good leader will let his follower shine. People do not like to be coerced, but they do appreciate competent leadership. A good leader will keep the partnership in synch, but this requires good following. The partnership is just that: a partnership of two people who are equal but different. The woman plays an active role in keeping the partnership together. A man who is coercing his partner into each move, while dancing with a woman who is simply allowing him to do so, will look like a man shaking a rag doll. Watch a good dance couple dancing together and this is not what you will see. Instead you will see two people each bringing their skill to the dance, each working to maintain the partnership, and each having fun.

10. You need to get out more
This, I suppose, isn't really a proper reason, nor perhaps the best sort of thing to say in a discussion with someone who is already of the opinion that there is something inherently dodgy about men's leading and women's following in dance. I put it in for two reasons. First, it brings the number of arguments up to ten, and second, it expresses to some degree my frustration with people who put correctness above enjoyment. Perhaps there is something bad about men's leading in dance, but I know from experience that partner dancing has a lot good about it, and I'm pretty sure that whatever harm might be done by men's leading is easily out-weighed by the good that comes from the fun people have dancing with each other. If we forbid ourselves to participate in any activity which isn't perfect in every way, then we will miss out on life.

Addendum:The above is the article as I first wrote it in about 1999. In 2010, it became the ignition for some surprisingly heated debate amongst Lindy hoppers on-line. I should not need to defend this essay, because it really is clear enough what it is saying, but for those interested in controversy, I have written a page dealing with criticisms, and adding clarifications. Find there also a link to a Yehoodi radio talk show I took part in about this page.

Number One Narcissist Trait

Everyone has traits of narcissism, because everyone is a human. The difference between a "Narcissist" and a typical human who has not matured past their traits of narcissism is very simple:

The Narcissist believes he or she is entitled to his or her narcissistic behaviors.

A human who is not a "Narcissist" has a measure of humility, and feels remorse. The non-narcissist wants the other humans around him or her to feel confident, to succeed for real, to be happy and at peace. The non-narcissist feels bad, genuinely, when they have acted in a hostile, arrogant, or inconsiderate manner toward another person. The non-narcissist does not think it's okay to treat another person with control, condescension, or disrespect, because they have deemed that person to be "less valuable" or "less intelligent" or "less capable" than themselves or others. The non-narcissist does not think it's okay to treat another with disrespect, hostility or inconsideration as "retaliation".

The non-narcissist does not believe their own problems are more important than another's, or that their accomplishments or abilities are more important than another's. The human ego does swing in that direction with the ups and downs of life, but it doesn't stay there. The non-narcissist realizes their ego has gone over the top, and makes a correction. That's where remorse comes in.

The non-narcissist desires to improve their own behavior, and they seek to learn what others know. Non-narcissists can be shy, outgoing, or neutral; they can have all kinds of "bad habits" or behaviors that affect their own lives and the lives of others; they can be very intelligent, gifted, impassioned; they can be very kind and generous and giving; they can be angry, happy, sad, excited; they can act selfishly or unselfishly; they can do and feel all of the things within the realm of being human. The difference is, when a non-narcissist messes up, they feel bad, and do not simply try to wriggle out of accountability. When they hurt another person, they don't blame the other person, or justify what they did; and when they do slip up and deflect blame, they will eventually recant, apologize, make amends. When another person has loss, pain, or problems, they don't feel annoyance toward that person, they feel empathy or at least sympathy. Their reaction toward that person is not avoidance, judgment, or bullying, they don't try to shut that person down or make them go away, because they feel compassion for them. They want to help, they want that person to feel supported.
They do not feel like the person is trying to out-do their problems or needs.
They do not compare their problems against others, or attach value and recognition to their problems, or to anyone else's. They do not try to use their problems as tools to manipulate others, and they are mindful of the problems that others are dealing with.

Non-narcissists do not feel "outshined" by those who are going through dark times, or having any kind of problems, on a regular basis. Non-narcissists do not always fear that their needs will not be met when someone else is being paid attention to; their focus is not mainly on themselves when someone else is dealing with pain, sadness, fear, or tragedy, whether it is a "big event" or a "small event".
(However, a non-narcissist can be treated with enough disrespect during someone else's dark time to make them refocus their attention on themselves in defense, which is a healthy response.)

A Non-narcissist does not feel that disrespect, manipulation and conflict are just "normal" things that people do to each other, and therefore try to force these behaviors on others, and demand acceptance of them. The Narcissist, however, will criticize the person they are trying to bully for rejecting the behavior. 

The Non-narcissist does not feel entitled to disrespecting another person, for any reason.  
The Narcissist does, for whatever reason they can come up with.


Wish I Had Said That ~ Responses To Control Freaks

When a manipulator/controller is trying to deflect or project, we can become confused; the confusion is due to their tactic of getting off the actual subject and trying to make US the subject instead. It's like playing catch with someone, and they try to take control even in such a simple, fun game; they throw the ball to the side so you have to jump to get it, or they throw it very hard so it hurts to catch it, or they throw it at your face so you have to protect yourself. This is no longer a fun game between two people, but an exercise in defensive maneuvers, which is not appropriate in a game of catch. The manipulator/controller would defend their actions by saying something like "It's all part of the game! You have to learn to catch those balls when they come at you!" But~ if that were true, if that was their goal, they would have A) told you that they wanted to practice that, and only done it if you agreed, and B) would not be doing it with a competitive or authoritative slant, they would want you to do it back. 
 Anyway, when they verbally deflect and project, because of our confusion that they purposely cause, we often have a hard time framing and coming up with effective responses and comebacks. Here is a list of responses posted by Lori Hoeck that I find very helpful. Using them literally or modifying them when needed can alleviate anxiety, and redirect the conversation back where it is supposed to be. The original article is here:
“Yes, I may have screwed up back then, but I’ve forgiven myself and moved on. Bringing this up again and again won’t help us improve the current situation.”
“I may have had some fears in the past, but I’m willing to face them now. Here’s what I plan to do, preferably with your support, but I can do it alone as well.”
“How I show respect and honor is my own business.  I’m not bound by your definitions and parameters.”
“My walk with God and my spiritual path is between God and me. I let His Word correct my actions, not the judgments of others.”
“We are not talking about dinner last week, we are talking about how you belittled me just now. Keep on topic and stop trying to deflect the subject away from yourself.”
“Interesting you would think I’m emotional. Saying that is usually a put down. I’m impassioned. I’m assertive. I’m strong minded. Besides, my emotional state is an internal and private matter, and you don’t have my permission to comment or judge me about it.”

Narcissism and Co-Narcissism

Narcissism and Co-Narcissism ~ Gudrun Zomerland, MFT

More than anything else in my almost 20-year practice of psychotherapy, I have found that parental narcissism and the resulting lack of empathy and attunement with the child is what brings people into psychotherapy later as adults. In order to survive a narcissistic parent, children learn to tune out their own vulnerability, their own needs, and their own emotional world that would direct them toward their needs. Children learn to be close to the parent by either imitating the narcissistic parent and becoming like him or her (a narcissist), or by tuning into the parent's bottomless need for positive self-reflection (co-narcissist). Children who have adopted the latter survival mechanism will later on in life choose other narcissists or other people with strong narcissistic tendencies to bond with in order to fulfill the role and type of relationship they are familiar with.

Throughout this article I am using the terms narcissism and co-narcissism to describe complex intrapersonal states. These are generally not fixed. All conditions manifest in degrees. Most of us have some narcissistic and co-narcissistic tendencies. It's a byproduct of growing up in this imperfect world. What I am describing below is the most acute form of these disorders but please be advised that other conditions, such as parental depression, alcoholism or tragedy can bring about similar effects.

Narcissism in its most extreme manifestation is a personality disorder. This means that the usual defenses, which we all have developed to cope with various degrees of harm done to us in childhood, have become so entrenched that they are considered in most cases immune to influence from outside, i.e. psychotherapy. Narcissists, because of their inflated sense of self, are often very charismatic, charming, vivacious and fun to be around --- until you live with them for a while and the endless overt or covert demands based on their self-absorption become tedious and eventually hurtful.

At the core of narcissism is such a deep level of shame that the person develops an insurmountable defense against it. With shame hidden away deep within the psyche, the narcissist has access only to the opposite condition: a sense of unworthiness becomes an overdeveloped sense of entitlement; a sense of extremely low self-esteem becomes an overdeveloped sense of confidence, bravado and infallibility. Narcissists think they are the best there is to the human race. They do not understand how they might be overlooked for a promotion; they will not admit mistakes; they cannot stand criticism; and above all they are unable to perceive a situation from a different point of view.

A child growing up with this level of self-absorption on the part of the parent does not get what is necessary for healthy brain function and emotional development. Recent research has shown that our brains have such a thing as "mirror neurons". A baby's mirror neurons will tune into the parent's mirror neurons and will absorb what it finds there. If the parent is able to be present to their own emotional discomfort (e.g. shame), this will be transmitted to the child; if the parent has shut away deep emotional discomfort and lives a life of make-believe, this will be transmitted to the child.

Narcissists will unconsciously use their children to boost their own self-image. Anything the child does becomes food for self-reflection. If the child misbehaves, the parent has to reject it. Instead of appropriate boundaries and guidance, the child has to cope with emotional rejection and overt or covert shaming. In this way, the narcissistic parent passes unresolved shame on to the child. At the same time, the parent also distances himself or herself from the child in order to continue to present a positive image to the world. In effect, the parent is saying: "This child is not really mine; I don't know what's wrong with it." If the child is striving to be good and succeeds, however, it becomes an appendage to the narcissistic parent's self-image. The child does not exist in his or her own right with interests and accomplishments different from the parent's; it exists primarily to fulfill the dreams and expectations of the parent. In either case, a child is left with an undeveloped sense of self.

As mentioned above, narcissists will rarely find their way into therapy because it would require taking the risk of self-reflection and thereby finding the profound level of shame underneath the inflated self-image. If, for whatever reason, they do decide to seek therapy, treatment is a very long-term affair. Because narcissists have to guard against the inner demons of shame, any exploration of vulnerable emotional states or any reflection of non-productive behaviors are rejected. The therapist becomes a mirror for positive reflection and more like a teacher suggesting slight changes in behavior here and there or additional philosophical concepts to explore in order to improve personal relationships.

The therapeutic work with co-narcissists is very different in flavor. The body, mind and soul of the co-narcissist eventually wear out from the strains of living with a narcissist. The frequent dramas and the constant need to be there for another affect not only the emotional balance of the co-narcissist but also their physical immune system. Often co-narcissists will self-medicate with the help of various addictive compulsions. If they do not succumb to these, they may eventually realize that something needs to change in their lives and seek out therapy, 12 Step groups, workshops, or other tools that help them put the focus on themselves.

Classical client-centered psychotherapy is a balm for co-narcissists because they are hungry for someone to pay attention to their inner states. With this inner focus healing can begin. Besides grieving a lost childhood and finding ways to set boundaries with those around them, what contributes to the healing effect are the mirror neurons that continue to operate in our brains. The client's mirror neurons align with the therapist's mirror neurons, and thus the therapist's level of emotional maturation transmits to the client. Of course, this being so, it is very important that the client truly likes the therapist and finds him or her trustworthy.

If you seek more information about narcissism and co-narcissism, following are a few books that I found helpful:

  • When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself by W. Keith Campbell
  • Children of the Self-absorbed: A Grown-up's Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents by Nina W. Brown
  • Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner by Nina W. Brown
  • Why Is It Always About You : The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss and James F. Masterson
  • The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family by Eleanor Payson
  • When Your "Perfect Partner" Goes Perfectly Wrong: Loving Or Leaving The Narcissist In Your Life by Mary Jo Fay
  • Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me: How to Recognize and Manage the Narcissists in Your Life by Les Carter
  • Co-narcissism is very similar to co-dependency in that both conditions describe a survival style in which one person lives for the apparent survival of another. It can therefore be helpful for co-narcissists to read about co-dependency and to join programs like CoDA or Alanon to help change destructive patterns in relationships.