Found in 9 comments on Hacker News
wpietri · 2018-12-14 · Original thread
Speaking of abusive bosses, let me recommend a favorite book:

It's Lundy Bancroft's, "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men". It's the single most astute thing I've ever read. The guy spent more than a decade as a counselor for abusive men, most of them ordered to him by the courts. It's clear he heard an ocean of bullshit and became very good at seeing through it.

It's targeted at domestic abuse, but his insights are so clear and well-explained that it's easy to apply the lessons elsewhere. E.g., a couple of years back my boss got pushed out, so suddenly I was being managed by his boss. I walked out of my first meeting with him wondering what the fuck had just happened; everything I said he jumped on aggressively. But the pattern rang a bell, so I thumbed through the book. He lists a variety of abuser styles, and the one called "Mr. Right" fit him perfectly. In one meeting he hit something like 2/3rds of the items in the checklist.

Had I not read that, I would have probably walked away thinking that the problem was me, even though my original boss had been happy with me and my work. Instead, I was prepared for what came next: a couple more abusive meetings and then a surprise, no-notice "layoff" where I and the other manager my boss hired were pushed out. (And where we were asked to sign a no-disparagement clause if we wanted any severance. Seeing it a further abuser-style manipulation, I passed.)

Over the years I've given away maybe 15 copies of the book, often to people who were in abusive relationships without recognizing it. If you ever even begin to wonder, I strongly recommend reading the book.

wpietri · 2018-07-26 · Original thread
It is gender specific:

Less so than it used to be, in that women now more often have the financial means to leave, but still gendered.

That isn't surprising to me, in that a lot of the psychology of abusers is clearly patriarchal. E.g.:

That is not to discount abuse against men, of course. Indeed, most of the people facing Jobs's abuse were surely men. But the trope I'm referring to is pretty clearly gendered.

wpietri · 2018-05-05 · Original thread
For those for whom this excellent description has resonance, I strongly recommend the book, "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men". [1] It's nominally written about domestic abuse, but its descriptions of abuser psychology and its taxonomy of abuser behaviors have been really helpful to me in a work context.


wpietri · 2018-03-31 · Original thread
Not shocking at all. One of the stunning things to me about my grad school friends' experiences is how many had stories of dealing with deranged, abusive faculty. Shit that would have me changing jobs in a heartbeat, but they couldn't really change PhD programs, and their departments would never do a thing beyond a pained look and a shrug of shoulders.

As an aside, if you want to be able to spot abusive behavior better, I strongly recommend this book:

It's the single most astute book I've ever read. The author spent years as a counselor for abusers, mostly there because a court ordered them there. It's clear that after listing to years of abuser bullshit he said, "I'm going to write it down." It's nominally target at women in abusive relationships with men, as that's what he dealt with most. But a lot of the lessons transcend the context. It helped me spot an abusive boss, for example. And the details on abuser motivations and how abuse cycles benefit the abuser have been very helpful to me in a work context as well.

wpietri · 2016-09-09 · Original thread
Exactly my thought.

For anybody interested in the topic of abuse, I strongly recommend, "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men":

It is the single most astute book I have read. The author, a domestic violence counselor for men, mostly had clients who were court-ordered to attend his sessions. He spent a decade listening to vast amounts of self-justifying bullshit and then wrote a thoughtful, precise, and clear breakdown of why and how abusers work and how the abused can get out of it.

At this point I've given away 15 or so copies. Some to people who needed it urgently, and many to people who just wanted to learn more. Ignorance gives abusers cover, and I honestly think this book should be required reading for every high schooler so that they can spot and call out patterns of abuse.

wpietri · 2016-02-15 · Original thread
If you really want to know, this is the book I'd suggest you start with:

It's by a guy who was a counselor for abusive men, often ones attending therapy as part of a court order. It is the single most astute book I have read. He spent more than a decade listening to people's bullshit, and in this book he breaks it down brilliantly. Particularly relevant to you are the sections on how abusive relationships benefit abusers and why the abused stay so long.

wpietri · 2015-04-20 · Original thread

I think that both people and governments should work from both stories and statistics. Statistics help us understand one way. As narrative creatures, stories help us differently. In particular, I think empathy is much easier to find with stories than raw data, and empathy is vital for functioning societies.

As to noticing privilege, I think we have good ways to measure some sorts of privilege. E.g.:

But I think it's incumbent on all of us to understand what power we have and use it wisely. For me, both stats and stories have been useful. The stats are widely available, but here are some collections of stories:

And I also really benefited from Project Implicit, which helped me understand how my own subconscious biases were contributing to various societal problems:

For me, privilege checklists have been helpful in seeing how I got lucky, what advantages I happen to have:

I also really benefited from seeing these issues as the tail end of long historical imbalance. E.g.:

I definitely agree with your point that spokespeople and media gatekeepers are often part of the problem. That's what makes me hopeful about things like Twitter. There I can make a decision to seek out individual voices and add them to the mix of what I see every day.

Is that helpful?

wpietri · 2014-11-16 · Original thread
Seek out the stories of prominent women on the Internet. This stuff happens over and over and over. The first time it seems odd. But the 20th? Nope.

Another way for it not to seem odd: Go read the book "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft. [1] (If anybody would like a copy, just contact me via email and I will send you your choice of paper or Kindle versions. I've given 12 away so far.) It's a book by a fellow who spent 15 years as a counselor in a program for abusive men. If you read that, then it's pretty clear that there are a lot of men out there who want to abuse women.

My take on a lot of this behavior is that the Internet, in connecting everybody to everybody, has connected a lot of would-be abusers to lots of women. Previously, they would have been sad and alone in their basements; they wouldn't have anybody to harass. But now they can mob up and attack women jointly.


wpietri · 2014-06-05 · Original thread
Absolutely this.

Right now I'm reading a brilliant book on domestic abuse [1], and it talks about how abusers create double binds. E.g., family is supposed to go to a birthday party, but at the last minute the abusive dad blows up at something the mom says and refuses to let anybody go until she apologizes. The kids pressure mom to give a false apology so they can go. If she doesn't, she's the one who ruined the outing, not dad. If she does, she confirms that she's the problem, and later the kids are upset when she doesn't stick up for them. Meanwhile, the dad's tantrum is entirely out of scope of discussion, as is the repeated pattern of behavior.

The governmental theory that they could try to hoover up every detail of every digital interaction and never get found out was always insane. It wasn't a question of if that would come out, it was when. I find it hard to believe nobody internally asked that, but either way they are the ones to blame for the consequences, not Snowden.

[1] Lundy Bancroft's "Why Does He Do That?", It's the single most astute thing I've read. It's one of those books where it's nominally about a relatively narrow topic, but I keep saying, "Well, this explains X! And that explains Y!" If anybody would like a copy, email me; it's good enough I want everybody to have read it.

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