"alicorn24 has stronger and stranger preferences about everything than you do"
btw, I am kind of the opposite; my parents despaired because I was unpunishable. Not all that badly behaved, but if I wanted to do something, good luck getting me to stop, by pretty much any conceivable non-abusive means.
Neurology buddies! *offers high five*
"This is amplified by another problem I have. I'm not depressed (sometimes I think I'm the only person around here who isn't) and I don't think everybody hates me. But I do have a weird mental block preventing me from alieving people ever actively like me, and an inability to imagine that my presence ever benefits other people. Trying to tell me otherwise louder and more insistently doesn't work and just makes me paranoid and upset, and if you do it in the comments to this blog entry, you will annoy me very much."
What has helped me with this in the past is thinking of concrete instances of people actively wanting me to be around that are hard to misinterpret. I hope this doesn't count as something that will make you annoyed.
I suspect your strong reaction is rare, but less unusual than you think.
My aversion to punishment isn't as strong as yours, but I tend to assume that saying that a punishment is excessive or unfair incurs a risk of more punishment. Assuming I'm doing accurate extrapolation, there are a fair number of people who are strongly error avoidant, but don't consider it safe to talk about it in public.
For what it's worth, I've gotten better at alieving that there are people who like me, and I think a lot of it is focusing on how it feels for me to like people.
"Do you have a rich inner life?"
The list of symptoms being extremely vague, and the 1-in-5 incidence rate, makes me think that it's a buzzword made by someone who wants to sell books.
I really gotta get me one of those 23andme thingies. Apparently they just cut the price from $299 to $99!
I sometimes feel lately like I'm inadvertently trolling your journal. You don't know me, and I keep nitpicking and arguing. I don't know how much of it is autism and how much is mathematical training, but the more interested I get in something the less tactful and more abrupt I get, and your LJ is very interesting. And I know what high error avoidance feels like. So, sorry if I have been annoying.
No! You haven't been! You're a perfect example of what I was worried about where perfectly okay people constructively criticize me and I don't want them to stop! If you met me in person and started yelling and me and calling me an idiot, then we'd have a problem.
(I am sort of curious who the heck you are. You seem to correspond with a lot of the cool LWers on Twitter, but I don't really know much about you)
"But I do have a weird mental block preventing me from alieving people ever actively like me, and an inability to imagine that my presence ever benefits other people."
Hmm, what sort of techniques work to bring aleif into closer line with belief?
I left the city I lived in without telling any of my friends there I was going. It wasn't that I actively disbelieved their protestations of friendship, it just didn't cross my mind that that might mean that it mattered to them that I was going. I was around 21. I think I got better around 25.
2012-12-12 09:27 am (UTC)
Oh, so that's what coping mechanisms are! Ways to lower error avoidance, so that when everything you can do hurts, you don't learn to avoid everything and die. And when things get back to normal, the coping mechanism is harmful, because your error avoidance is too low so you don't react to regular-sized punishment anymore. Or am I completely wrong?
Is the "stop telling me you like me already" general, or is there a Five Love Languages thing going on?
That is a nifty way of phrasing it, and definitely matches how I use my coping methods (I've gotten to the point of being able to turn a lot of them on and off based on how much I need them, although it's still a bit tricky)
This is very good information to have. But do I need to be somehow applying it in my comments here (or responses to your comments on my blog)?
This worries me, because it's a lot easier to inadvertently come off as yelling on the internet.
2012-12-12 12:55 pm (UTC)
This would be very good information to have in general: Do the comments on your LJ tend bother you more or less than comments in real life? Are you fine with the general tone around here? Are there good examples of what's working and what isn't?
I have a very strong aversion to being told that I should be loudly and frankly and publicly angry when people do Bad Things (tm) to me or in my vicinity.
I think the main thing for me is that a lot of people don't like being told that they are wrong/did a Bad Thing AT ALL - it doesn't matter how "nicely" it is put, they are cross. But they will say "oh if only you were NICER about it" until you are oh-so-very-nice and THEN they say "oh, how was I supposed to understand your far-too-subtle hints?!" Leaving no space for "telling them off nicely but constructively". But the training of course goes multiple ways - if you react constructively to polite suggestions that you did something wrong then there is no need for yelling.
Also I don't really think that it is "overreacting" to scream it pain when pain has been inflicted - it's not ever All About making the Pain Inflicter stop it, just about expressing the pain. Online we get time to pause, reflect, reword... in person if you drop a heavy object on my foot I'm going to yell - not to "correct" you, but just because it hurts and yelling in pain helps.
People's reaction to various punishments seems to vary hugely both with the type and severity of the punishment - everything from "oh I'm so horribly sorry I'll never do that again" through "I'm not going to interact with you any more" all the way to "your desire to stop me doing this makes me want to do it even more".
Does bursting into tears and fleeing to the ladies' bathroom and sobbing my heart out for fifteen minutes' straight after criticism by a superior at work constitute me being highly-error avoidant?
This was back in my early twenties and, in my defence, the guy in question was a creep and comported himself in a creepy way and I've grown somewhat of a thicker shell since then, but I still do 'over-react' to anything approaching criticism, never mind being yelled at.
I wonder if some of the reasons for continuing to yell at highly-error avoidant people (aside from being a loud-mouth jerk about it) are because we may not react as expected to punishment? In my case, I tend to 'shut down' so that externally, I don't seem to be affected and to the person yelling at me, it may seem as if I'm not paying attention at all or taking it in, so they in turn raise their level of reprimand where it gets to yelling (which is counter-productive).
Then again, some people simply are loud-mouth jerks and think the only way to interact with those under their authority is to yell and carp and carry on like a little tin god.
I know how this feels so I hope I haven't inadvertently come across as antagonistic!
Don't feel bad - low error avoidance is a trait of psychopaths, and you don't want to be a *psychopath* do you? That'd be pretty much the worst thing in the world.
Huh. I have a VERY high error-avoidance in social domains (my girlfriend yelling at me can produce that same sort of 24 hour meltdown; my last one was actually 48 hours)
But when it comes to minor physical damage, like breaking a cheap object or getting myself scraped/bruised, I seem especially LOW (At this point I think one would have to actually break bones to punish me, although I'd identify someone as ridiculously dangerous well before that point)
In most other domains, I seem to be fairly average, although I've noticed I tend to be more vocal about it.
Am I allowed to vary like this? :)
No. Stop varying.
(I don't even know to what degree this is a real cognitive construct, I just stole it from that one genetics paper as a segue into telling people to stop yelling at me.)
2012-12-12 08:17 pm (UTC)
I can really sympathize. I have this problem where my parents giving me minor advice triggers a minutes-long apology, then I apologize for apologizing. And my parents generalize from one example and assume I do it to everybody which I don't.
The worst part is that this has lead them to DRAW OUT THE ADVICE MORE which means I have to wait and dread it.
2012-12-12 08:31 pm (UTC)
Is error avoidance the same as neuroticism?
Hah. I am also high error avoidance, and one of my lessons to remember is that not everyone else is like this--so, for example, I should not be surprised when my very mild criticism is not taken as seriously by others as I actually meant it.
Aack, hadn't even thought of this problem.
2012-12-12 11:55 pm (UTC)
I think a big problem with high error avoidance is that it's not that very easy to figure out how error avoidant someone is, because low error avoidant people might just fake it to get yelled at less. And even if not: Finding out how error avoidant someone is is at the very least a trivial inconvenience.
Likewise I'm not sure you can just *tell* people that you are highly error avoidant, because of the faking problem again. Also, it'd just feel weird.
"Other things we need to know about you, Mr. Brown?"
"I'm very sensitive to criticism. A little is enough and a lot is too much!"
That just doesn't sound like it'd improve your chance to get hired. Claiming high error avoidance seems like asking for special treatment to me, even when it's necessary. (Oh how very much it must suck to have real special needs. I don't even have that high of an error avoidance, I just don't like to ask for extras.)
2012-12-13 09:52 am (UTC)
Don't let this get out or it will be the next massively-overdiagnosed fad attribute.
Yay, a post I can point people to describe me! (seriously, my mum likes to tell stories about how when I was little I would burst into tears the moment anyone raised their voice to me at all. These days I save the crying part for later)
On the alieving thing: my psychologist in Sydney made me go to my friends and ask them explicitly what they liked about me. Despite the obvious pitfalls in the exercise (availability bias, awkwardness from being put on the spot, etc) I still found it surprisingly useful; some of the answers were insightful enough for me to feel that I must matter a lot to that person for them to have been able to notice such and such about me. But I doubt I could have done it if I hadn't been under orders..
2012-12-13 04:16 am (UTC)
I see a connection to some of the difficulties you (and I, but let's leave me out of it!) may have with social justice movements, such as feminism. Their seeming shrillness and propensity to overreaction may have to do with the fact that they are targeted at a population with low error avoidance. (Which you can kind of understand when you consider the historical...error rate, shall we say.) But they completely misfire when confronting people with high error avoidance:
-- "MEN, STOP RAPING WOMEN ALL THE TIME YOU MISOGYNIST BASTARDS!!!"
-- "What?! I've never raped anyone in my life!! How dare you talk to me that way!! Just for that, I hate women now and I'm never talking to you again!! Boo feminism!"
I wonder if it's that my parents are the kind of people that that technique is intended to make a dent in the memes of, or we ended up at that attractor because they didn't intend to listen to me at all but couldn't not once I turned the volume up that high.
Regardless, coming from a perspective of having had to deploy that technique on a regular basis often enough for it to have gotten habitual, it is rather bizarre how tractable most people actually are in practice, and also nontrivial (but worth doing, I say) to keep in mind that a lighter touch does work.
Good lord, that sounds like a portrait of the inside of my head. And it can be very hard work.
(I always assumed that it was the price one pays for being a fairly - excessively? - conscientious sort of person. It's interesting to know that there is a known genetic polymorphism for that.)
I have high error avoidance and low conscientiousness.
(I also recently discovered that I can still log in to the LJ account I created in 2005.)
Huh, that seems like a very important thing to model about others. How would you go about discovering how strong someone's error avoidance is, if they aren't introspective enough to just ask them?
2012-12-13 07:35 pm (UTC)
I have this problem with my parents.
When i tell them that their hurtful critic is traumatizing me, they just insist that the critic is justified, or they tell me it is my fault if i feel hurt- and i should do something about it.
Especially annoying: "But i do not MEAN to hurt you!"
It got so bad that i had to reduce contact to an absolute minimum in order to save the last remnants of my sanity.
Related thought: perhaps schools should sort students by measures of error avoidance, in addition to sorting by intelligence, so that teachers can adjust their style appropriately.
While that sounds interesting and I bet it would work, I am sort of flabbergasted by the amount of trust it would take in public schools to even consider an intervention that far down the list. It kind of sounds like "I bet the Soviets could decrease the death rate in the gulags by giving prisoners Vitamin D supplements."
Edited at 2012-12-14 10:43 pm (UTC)
Wow, that kind of error avoidance has just got to be damaging. It seems likely that you could go further in most areas of life with a more average level. I've worked on lowering my own level (well sort of - I conceived it under the labels "ego fragility" or "ego defense"), haphazardly but with some success. You probably know some proven techniques for addressing such issues.