Necessities.

Standard

Since I’m upright (for the moment), I want to talk about some necessities in the world.

In order to survive, people have to eat and drink. There is no way of getting around it. There has to be some way of getting nutrients and fluids. Yet people don’t generally consider food a horrible and shameful signifier of our bodies’ dependence on the world around us for survival. In just about every culture in the world, everyone who can manage even a little bit to do so will try to make their food taste good. There are entire cultural rituals around food. Food is not just about eating, it is often a social thing. It is also a integral part of many religious and ceremonial occasions. Those of us who eat through our mouths generally like our food to taste good, and there are thousands of recipes out there attesting to this.

People also have to sleep. Another biological necessity. And most people who can afford to do so find ways of making their beds comfortable and sometimes also pretty and good-smelling. People whose dreams consist of something other than constant nightmares tend to look forward to going to bed and sleeping after a long, hard day, because it feels good and they wake up rested and ready for another day. Even people who don’t have a comfortable place to sleep tend to look forward to the act of sleep itself. People talk about how much they look forward to bed, and also wish each other things like “sweet dreams”. People like to have good dreams when they sleep.

While individual people do not absolutely have to have sex (and not all individual people like to have sex), some members of the species do if we want people to keep being born. I don’t think I have to go into graphic detail to explain why most people consider this pleasant and a lot of people devote a lot of time to thinking about it. And people do and enjoy a whole lot of things that, while not being sex itself, still have to do with courtship and meeting (or being assigned) a romantic partner or future spouse. And this bond is usually considered a bond of love of one sort or another.

People in most places need some sort of protection from the elements. And in most places, people don’t stop at building or finding places to live in. If there is any way possible to do so, people tend to try to decorate their dwelling places and make them comfortable for themselves and their families or other people who live with them. And we also decorate our clothing and wear it in a variety of styles that reflect everything from what we think is pretty to assorted social and cultural markers.

If you’ve read this far you probably think I’m stating the obvious. (At least, I think I’m stating the obvious.) Which is that even when it comes to things that are universal or near-universal absolute physical necessities for the survival of human beings, we do not tend to believe that these things must be, because of this, somber, shameful, and impossible to enjoy, decorate, or embellish. (Yes, because I read up on the history of Quakerism before formal conversion, I know that we are one of the religions that has headed toward the extreme end of ascetic at times, and even condemned outward religious symbols that just about all of the rest of Christianity uses. I heard people joke at my meeting about how incredibly indulgent we were for having padding on our chairs. But while I’m definitely not a hedonist, I’m not an ascetic either.)

Anyway, there is a point in here. I’ve noticed that a lot of people, including people I know, have taken many of the statements I’ve made as meaning that ‘stimming’ (whether the word is being used to refer to unusual physical movements or to concentrating on unusual aspects of my environment) is sort of an idle pastime that I don’t have to do, I just like to do it, and that this is very different from situations where someone has to do them (at which point one can expect, apparently, the person to be very somber and/or frustrated about that fact).

I just want to make something clear here. Unusual mannerisms, paying attention to unusual things (or to the usual things in unusual ways), and all manner of other unusual things I do, are things I’ve had to do in one form or another my entire life. And a lot of people have tried very hard for the entire remembered part of my life to make me ashamed of these things, whether by calling me playground sorts of names, professional sorts of names, beating me up, commenting loudly on me in public even when I’m not hurting anyone, you get the picture. (Despite the things I am talking about being things that harm nobody, whereas many of the people I am talking about here have caused enormous degrees of harm to other people yet never been subject to any degree of shaming for it.) I have worked very hard not to feel awful about doing these things, particularly at times in my life when I haven’t been able to hide these things. I have also worked very hard not to do these things at all and only had it come back in my face ten times more forcefully. People should not have to feel what I felt or do what I did just because they also have to do these things.

Why do I need to do things this way? There’s a whole lot of answers to that.

Moving in certain ways often helps me understand what’s going on around me better than forcing myself to sit still does (and sitting still, even “unnaturally still”, when my body is not trying to move, can also be vital for this at times).

And moving in certain ways is just what my body does, and I imagine it has its reasons even if it’s not telling me.

Doing certain repetitive things helps me avoid doing much louder, more violent, and more conspicuous things in response to way the heck too much information at once. And actually staying somewhere when I want to stay there but doing these things, certainly beats running and hiding somewhere to do assorted repetitive things to calm myself down. Especially given that I often don’t have the capacity anymore to spend much time at all in certain settings without doing that stuff, whereas I used to get away with running and hiding more often.

Paying attention to unusual aspects of my environment is not only easier than forcing myself to pay attention to aspects of the environment that I’ve been trained by people with different neurologies than mine to believe are more important, and not only sometimes the only possible way to pay attention to anything, but it yields better and more accurate results for me, even if it doesn’t generally yield the results that people who’re into rapid identical plug-and-play responses are looking for.

And spending a good chunk of my time not straining myself into a foreign mindset is as necessary to me as sleep is to other people. And I need both that and sleep (which is one reason probably why I’ve often sacrificed sleep in order to have enough time where I could relax my brain). If it doesn’t happen, what will happen eventually is not only overload, but a very painful thing where a huge backlog of sensory information tries to flood my entire system at once. Unlike a lot of people, the standard mode of processing isn’t a relaxed and easy thing that automatically pre-filters all that stuff, it’s just something that shoves all that stuff aside and uses a clumsy imitation of standard ways of doing things, but all the stuff that’s shoved aside has to pop out somewhere and eventually it will.

At any rate, my take on all this is actually fairly simple: People do not generally question the necessity of food, water, sleep, sex, and protection from the elements. And people do generally enjoy those things quite a lot and even go out of their way to make them pleasant experiences. People even go to great lengths to make their eyeglasses pretty. In addition to the usual necessities, I also experience all the things I have described above as necessities, some of them even more urgent necessities now (with more input and responsibilities to sift through) than they used to be, and some of them completely unavoidable no matter what I do. I also see them as having the potential to be some combination of pleasant, enjoyable, useful, and beautiful, and have worked hard to see them this way despite many people telling me in one way or another that I am bad and shameful for having to do these things. I see no contradiction here, and I refuse to be all somber and distressed about doing these things just to make it clear that they’re more than pointless frivolities.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

24 responses »

  1. I do understand what you are saying. I hope that you continue to not let the rude comments of others bother you in regards to stimming. I have one thing to say that my daughter always says to me before she goes to bed, “Have a nice sleep mom.’ I like how she puts it. My daughter stims and it often is in ways that causes some problems. Like right now she constantly licks her lips and is all red and chapped around her mouth. We have provided her with Chewy tubes to use instead but she has no interest. Do you think it is okay to try and change the stim behavior to something that will not irritate skin as much?

  2. It is unfortunate that not more people realize these things. While fortunately I was not put in any particular behavior regimen, as my parents couldn’t afford such things and the school was quite content with my high scores, I remember feeling ashamed for stimming and trying to stop it. This did NOT help the already tough time I was having with my counselors and peers in junior high. Repressing a stim is like repressing sleep. Sooner or later, the body gives in to its needs, and usually with a backlash for trying to prevent it.

  3. I have no clue why certain people think that they have to concern themselves with things other people do that have no influence on them whatsoever, save that they have decided it’s “not right.”

    I suspect I may have done this, and will work on being less judgemental.

  4. I don’t count anyone who hates on stimming as a person. That makes that person and I even.
    Thanks for continuing to fight the good fight.

  5. I have exchanged one stim for another at times in the past, and probably will again in the future, because it was actually physically harmful (not life-threatening, but definitely what people call self-harm or automutilation). Stopping one entirely without putting something else in its place has never worked. Problem is, I need that kind of input, so the stims I change them with are usually just as harmful, but maybe not so much in the beginning when the new area of my body that I start on is still… well… fresh and firm. At any rate, by exchanging them, at least long-suffering parts of my body get some well-deserved periods of rest.

    But, I made that decision myself. My parents also never made me change or stop any stim. They did give me information and advice to show me why and how some things I did were harmful to myself, in hopes that I would stop, probably. But it was my decision.

    It’s a shame that I feel fortunate to have parents that never tried to stop either my harmful or my non-harmful stims, and friends that don’t care at all if I act different from them. It’s something that should be ordinary.

    With regards to the way my body moves and body posture, I did have several people tell me that I should “stop holding my hands and arms like that” because it apparently makes me look like ‘a spaz’.
    Fortunately for me, I really don’t give a **** what they think about the way I hold my body.

  6. I also have to catch myself when someone’s weird (even though NT-acceptable) habit annoys me and I want them to stop it. But everyone does that sometimes. It’s when it gets to be acceptable to enforce such things, particularly when you have authority over a child, that it becomes larger than an individual problem.

  7. Boy, is there EVER a backlash for putting off stimming or trying to stuff it in. Stimming, meltdowns, whatever…….if it has to come out, best to let it out as soon as possible, or biology will take over. That’s exactly what happens. Consider trying not to stim as equivalent to trying not to have a BM. Constipation results, and eventually if you don’t go, you either have a medical emergency or your body involuntarily forces it out. Graphic analogy I agree, but it works……

    I tried to make Athena not stim or cry when she had to……..only in the beginning of September did I realize how wrong I was to do so. It’s utterly pointless, futile, and very painful. We are much happier collectively now that I’ve quit trying to quell things.

    Ivan

  8. Thank you for this post, Amanda. I’ve had several tiring, upsetting arguments with various people about my need to stim, which is why the question, “Why do you do that?” is enough to provoke an anxious response in me even if the questioner is trying to be understanding. I carry pens or pencils everywhere, and have done ever since I was about two. I’ve called them ‘thinking sticks’ ever since I began to talk, as they help me to think. I wave the pencils in front of my eyes at speed. To me this is no more peculiar than what I see everybody else doing around me, but I have never heard other people get questioned on their habits with the same (often hostile) curiosity.

  9. And spending a good chunk of my time not straining myself into a foreign mindset is as necessary to me as sleep is to other people. And I need both that and sleep (which is one reason probably why I’ve often sacrificed sleep in order to have enough time where I could relax my brain).

    Huh, that’s very true for me as well. And when I was younger, not only did I forego sleep so I could relax my brain-space properly, I would also often want to do things like leave for school very early so I could just sort of hang around in the nearly-empty schoolyard or cafeteria. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my family or anything — I just really, really needed time to just wander around and be on my own agenda without having to explain to anyone what I was doing or why I was doing it — I often didn’t have the words myself to describe why I needed to do something in the first place.

    Also, when I was psychologically evaluated at age 4, one of the comments they made about me was, “She is not a child to fit comfortably into someone else’s agenda”.

  10. Amanda–yes, yes, yes, yes!! For years, I was looked at askance because of odd or outright disgusting stims, and I didn’t even know I did them until I got a comment (usually an “ew”) or a scolding from my mother. The thing is that while I would curb my behaviork, that took work, and I ended up stimming like crazy in private, which I didn’t even realize was necessary. It was something I did that seemed to work stuff out in my body. It wasn’t just soothing–it righted my emotional equilibrium somehow.

    It is hard to change. I am old enough and with enough practice able to control the kinds of stims I do in public, to have a repertoire if you will. Between rubbing my feet together, pinching my fingers, rocking slightly…but that took time to get to.

    Marla, I wonder if your daughter would use a moisturizer or some nice emollient on her lips that she could ingest safely. Make it part of her stim, maybe? That happens to be another of my stims, wearing moisturizing lipstick, and if your daughter is young, a clear based, food grade one might work. Especially if it’s in a scent or flavor she likes?

    Just wondering. Is she old enough to read Amanda’s blog?

    Metta, R.

  11. There is the question of the supposed opposition of needs and wants.

    Needs are allowed because they are regarded as being essential and unavoidable; wants are considered to be frivolous and unnecessary. A perverted puritanism imposed upon poor people resents them living above subsistence level. If they have any ‘luxuries’, such as a television set, they are regarded as being not really poor.

    But a society in which there are only necessities, in the strictest definition of the tterm, would be unbearably cramped, limited and restricted. As societies develop above subsistence level they become less needs driven and wants become more important. Consumer capitalism depends on using advertising to persuade an ever increasing number of people that their wants are really needs.

    Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation arranges human needs and drives in a hierarchy. At the bottom are survival needs such as food and drink. Next are safety needs such as freedom from attack and avoidance of pain. Above them is the need for love and belonging. On top of them are the needs for self-esteem: feeling good, pride, confidence. At the top of the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization, for self-fulfillment. Somewhere in there must be the need for joy, fun, laughter, delight and pleasure; the need for creativity, for education which is more than job training, for music and dance, for art in all its expressions, for reading, for enjoyment of nature. Theh there are political needs – for free speech, free debate, and open access to information.

    Above survival needs of individuals and of the human race, the question of what are needs and who is entitled to them is a political one.

  12. I don’t agree with Maslow. At all. On many levels.

    It’s perfectly possible to be wrestling with so-called “higher-level” issues while in desperate situations where your survival is at stake.

    In fact, sometimes those situations are what bring out some of the biggest questions about how the world works (and the drive to find answers) that Maslow would imagine only comfortable people can deal with.

    I would say that in fact being overly comfortable in a material sense allows many people to avoid dealing with these things while all the while pretending to be dealing with them by reciting words without meaning and so forth.

    Which might be part of the source of the idea, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

    And… I guess I’m just not into psychobabble in general, and something about Maslow, although partially correct, strikes me as both contrived and somewhat dangerous.

    Dangerous in that it indirectly tells people who are facing death and starvation that there is no hope for happiness, dealing with broader concepts, friendship, ethics, etc. until problems relating to survival are completely solved. And in doing so makes it sound like only comfortable people can afford such “luxuries”. Which is not true.

    The only aspect of it that I like, is the fact that often people in desperate situations are punished for seeming desperate.

    I know someone who is still dealing with survival-related problems, and people treat her like crap and even refuse her help because she doesn’t act all sweet and polite and demure, and does act like someone with real problems going on. It’s wrong to assume that a person has to have their life together before they are worthy of assistance.

    That’s the only time I see the application of this Maslow stuff as all that useful. But that’s only a partial application and more common sense than Maslovian. So I’m starting to just think that Maslow’s ideas are a lot more dangerous than they are useful.

    According to Wikipedia, Maslow also says these traits are of “self-actualized” people:

    They embrace the facts and realities of the world (including themselves) rather than denying or avoiding them.
    They are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.
    They are creative.
    They are interested in solving problems; this often includes the problems of others. Solving these problems is often a key focus in their lives.
    They feel a closeness to other people, and generally appreciate life.
    They have a system of morality that is fully internalized and independent of external authority.
    They have discernment and are able to view all things in an objective manner.

    Some of those things, such as viewing things in an objective manner, are impossible for a person to do, they’re just not built into human nature. But it disturbs me that Maslow could pick people he views as self-actualized (due to some internal definition of his own), and then write a definition of self-actualized people’s traits based on observing them. That seems very circular to me, and the word self-actualized sounds like psychobabble.

    And… yeah. The theory doesn’t have the ring of truth to it, even though enough elements seem like reality that it would be easy for people to be fooled by it into thinking this just is reality.

  13. On the issue of stims that are self-harming… In high school, we pulled our hair out almost continually. We spent a lot of time running our fingers through our hair and pulling it out strand by strand. We were even yelled at by other people in a therapy group for it, one of whom told us that it was the most incredibly annoying thing they had ever seen (more, apparently, than the two people in the group who liked to spend the sessions insulting everyone else).

    But everyone got it wrong about why we were doing it. The psychiatrists thought it was caused by some kind of “imbalance” in our brain and was related to our OCD, though the drugs they gave us never put a dent in it; the therapists believed that we were harming ourselves on purpose because we felt we were bad and ugly and deserved to be hurt (we did feel this way at the time, but it was not why we did it). Our main therapist speculated at one point that the reason we did it was because we were “so dissociated from our body that we couldn’t feel pain” (not true at all). She also used to ask us, for some reason, if we could “feel our feet” and seemed to think we couldn’t (I would think we would have trouble walking on them if we couldn’t?).

    Ironically, the more we were told that we were only doing it because we hated ourselves, the more angry we became with ourselves for being unable to stop (and the more it was treated as a thing we were deliberately choosing to do). Presumably, after we had come to feel better about ourselves, the “behavior” should stop– shouldn’t it? We tried sitting on our hands, having other people hold our hands away from our head, biting and scratching our hands or slamming them against things as “punishment” when we caught ourselves doing it, and none of that worked. Most of the time, it seems now in retrospect, we needed it as a sort of “focus.” Admittedly, it wasn’t the most innocuous focus, but it was the one that became entrenched. We don’t do it nearly as much any more, but I think that this is largely because we’ve learnt to identify the signs of overload in ourselves. It was probably a lot of other things too, but the vast majority of the time, it was actually never the “self-hate issue” it was always treated as. Neither was banging our head, or anything similar. We did spend long periods of time hating ourselves, but it didn’t necessarily follow from there that every time we did something apparently “self-harming,” we could only ever be doing it because we hated ourselves.

    At the time, we needed to do it. We couldn’t not do it. We didn’t have the time or the mental energy to get ourselves set in some new habit that didn’t look bizarre to others or leave bald spots on our head. We didn’t realize it until years later, however, and just spent our entire teenage years castigating ourselves for “being weak.” However, if we hadn’t been forcibly immersed in the environments we were in, we might not have had that need, or to such an extent.

  14. Imo, Maslow’s work (in spite of the fact that I’ve used it as an example before) is basically just an over-analysis of the simple truth that people have priorities. And as with over-analysis in general, it largely focuses on “solidifying” notions that are by their nature fluid or “objectifying” notions that are by their nature relative. Yep. Objectivity is just not part of what humans are made for — there’s been no evolutionary advantage for us to be objective and therefore, it’s not been selected into us.

    That’s why we have an 80% failure rate in Research and Development teams full of degreed professionals who’re being paid (and paid well) ostensibly for their ability to be objective. It’s the reason we have the Outsider Effect, because the herd instinct has always been more closely associated with survival than has been the ability to rationalize.

    But I actually talked about Maslow some in the 2nd chapter of this book I’ve still not published yet and part of that included pointing out specifically that it breaks down with amazing frequency. Just off the top of my head, teenagers often commit suicide over “acceptance” issues. Acceptance is supposed to be much higher up than breathing — doesn’t keep them from intentionally stopping with the breathing thing. Which tells me that at least for some people and/or at some times, those “higher” needs are much more fundamental, no matter how trivial some folks think they are.

  15. In general principle, and up to a point, I do believe that Maslow’s hierachy does serve a certain purpose. But I agree people in real life do not adhere to it quite as rigidly as more rigid interpretations of the theory would imply. (It’s been a while since I studied Maslow, and I never studied it with great depth or nuance, so I’m not sure to what extent the rigidity with which people APPLY the theory is necessarily a reflection of the rigidity of the theory itself as Maslow first proposed and defined it or to what extent it is a reflection of whatever limitations there might be in how people commonly UNDERSTAND it. If someone knows how to locate Maslow’s ORIGINAL TEXT in which he puts forth this theory I’d be curious to read it, if it’s not too long. Since ike has apparently analyzed him more closely than most of the rest of us here, perhaps you’re able to advise?)

    I suggest perhaps part of the problem is that Maslow (or at least, common interpretations of his theory) fuses the prioritization we all do on the basis of IMPORTANCE with the prioritization we all do on the basis of IMMEDIACY. The very most basic “needs” that are supposed to be at the base of the Maslow hierachy pyramid deals primarily with TIME-BOUND needs: if we cannot breathe and continue to breathe then this becomes a threat to our survival within minutes. If we value life, and something abruptly threatens our ability to breathe (and thus to live beyond five minutes from now), then this necessarily becomes an immediate priority over more long-term needs like making friends. If we suddenly have no access to water, this is not quite as immediate an emergency but can still threaten our survival if this situation seems set to last beyond a few hours (if it is hot and we are exercising) or a few days (if it is not too hot and we are relatively sedentary). Finding a new source of water would necessarily also need to take precedence over things that can wait a few days without threatening survival. Threatening our more immediate needs does also threaten our ability to meet our longer-term needs: if we die tonight then we will not be here tomorrow to meet our need for creative outlet by spending the next day composing a symphony or writing a poem.

    In other words, it may be that the things Maslow defines as “higher level” priorities might be better defined as “less time-immediate needs” rather than necessarily less important per se. If we, for most of our lives, have the most basic levels of Maslow’s hierachy of needs (i.e., our most time-sensitive needs) without needing to devote extraordinary and on-going amounts of time and attention to meeting these needs, this means we have the chance to meet our so-called “higher-level” (less time-sensitive) needs as well. So if we have already had the chance to invest in these less immediate needs (for example, we have several strong relationships with friends/family that we value; we are able to invest time in creative or other endeavors to meet our self-actualization needs etc.), and then a temporary crisis emerges (the emphasis here being on TEMPORARY), this means we can meet our short-term survival needs (food, shelter, yada yada) and put long-term (so called “higher-level” needs) on hold without sacrificing them altogether. If we spend a few days following an earthquake focused on immediate survival, this would not necessarily threaten longer term goals such as achieving “self actualization” through training for a career that is dear to our hearts. Nor would it need to threaten our ability to nourish our loving relationship with family or friends over the long term: if our relationships already have a reasonably good foundation then it can withstand the stress of being out of touch for a few weeks or months (in the case of friends/distant relatives in remote locations) or even the more immediate stress of maybe being more cranky and short tempered with each other for a few days (in the case of immediate family with whom one weathers the crisis).

    I think where Maslow may break down in a more visible way is over the longer term, maybe particularly for people who experience what people in more comfortable circumstances would term a “crisis” as an ongoing state of existence. Longer-term needs can be put on hold for a brief time if that becomes necessary in order to focus on meeting more immediate (usually survival) needs. But as Amanda points out, that does not mean we can simply sacrifice them altogether. And it certainly does not mean that we lose the DESIRE to meet longer-term needs. What it does mean is that the constant scrabble to meet more immediate needs makes it much HARDER to meet longer-term needs, which do usually require an on-going investment of time, energy, and effort to achieve. Certain longer-term goals (such as achieving an academic degree) also require that on-going investments of time etc. be available in predictable increments over a certain sustained period of time. (e.g., we may need to be able to devote 5 or 10 hours a week to studying for a particular course on a consistent basis for X weeks, which would not be possible if a more immediate crisis disrupts this schedule.) That’s very different from saying that these longer-term needs are necessarily less IMPORTANT as common interpretations of Maslow’s theory (or the theory itself) would seem to imply.

  16. Simone Weil, one of the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century, set out what she termed the needs of the soul, in the first part of ‘The Need for Roots’, which she wrote in 1942 to 1943.

    These needs, or food, are as essential for the life of the human soul as food, warmth and shelter are for the life of the body. The following ouline of these needs is taken from an anthology of Simone Weil’s writings.

    The needs of the human soul are as follows: order, liberty, obedience, responsibility and initiative, equality, hierachism, honour, punishment, freedom of opinion and freedom of association, security, private property, collective property, and truth.

    Order, which is the first of the soul’s needs, is an arrangement of social relationships such that no one is compelled to violate imperative obligations in order to carry out other ones.

    Liberty is the ability, in the real sense of the word, to choose.

    Obedience consists of two kinds: obedience to established rules and obedience to leaders.

    Equality is the public and general recognition that the same amount of respect and consideration is due to every human being.

    Hierachism consists of a certain veneration or devotion towards superiors considered not as individuals, nor in relation to the power they exercise, but as symbols.

    Punishment is the only way of showing respect for somebody who has placed himself outside the law. He is reinstated inside the law by being subjected to the punishment ordained by the law.

    Security means that the soul is not under the weight of fear or terror.

    Truth is the most sacred need of the human soul.

  17. I suppose I should qualify what I said by saying that I haven’t studied Maslow in depth — probably not at least the depth that Amanda has. My comments about it breaking down were with regard to a cursory understanding of its general principals, to say basically that at least with such a general understanding of it, it should only be interpreted in the form of a hint about human motivation, rather than a set of rules about how humans behave. I also rather appreciate that Amanda has pointed out Maslow’s pontificating in particular about his “higher” needs (and the people therein) as a reminder that Maslow himself was human and “flawed” and that therefore his assumptions have automatically distorted any model he created (just as mine have distorted any model I’ve constructed). We have to remember that the map is not the territory — it is only a map and therefore never entirely accurate or complete.

    I don’t know anything about Simone Weil, but I have a knee-jerk response to the items in her list (at least as they’re described) referred to as a need for obedience and punishment. That knee-jerk says “pontificating prick”. But I haven’t read the material, so it’s a pretty superficial judgment.

  18. For what it is worth, I have always had what others have called nervous ticks along with social and communication issues and I am happily married with kids, and hold a masters degree. I am perhaps not as ‘functional’ as others might like me to be, but I think part of that is from the emotional and mental stress of being forced to try and be more ‘normal’ what ever that means, because it means different things to different people. It really means “you are different than me and that makes me puzzled because I’m unable to incorporate that someone might be different and be okay” To me, that shows thier socail and mental limits.

    Anyway, most of my physical movements I could force to be somewhat normal, such as constant foot tappings, finger tappings, ect, and I learned to do stim things others don’t notice as much, like pinching my own hands. However, a life time of beig forced.shamed into trying to be more still has had its consequences. I am morbidly obese now when I wasn’t before. All the movements do burn caleries. :) Also, I think it has dulled my thinking. I remember my mother telling me to put down my book and go outside and play with the other kids like a normal child. She also put me in a mental hospital. I later read the reasons and one of them was that I keep bringing large amounts of mud in the house. I liked making mud pies, and putting myslef in as much mud as possible was calming in the way some people wrap themselves in blankets. My mother held a masters in phycology so she was listened to over me.

    Understanding would go a long way to helping us all get along. Thank you for what you are doing.

    My son has been diagnosed with Autism, and while he is now verbal and able to somewhat tradtionally communicate, I am glad there is more awareness with his generation.

  19. I see many people stim on a daily basis: chew gum, bite their nails, suck their teeth, hum or whistle, crack their knuckles, gnaw on pens/pencils, twiddle their thumbs, pick at cuticles, roll rings around their fingers (or watches/bracelets), twirl their hair, bite their lips…need I go on? Last time someone told me that the way I was stimming was annoying, I told them that the sound they’re making while smacking their gum against their teeth in their mouth was akin to being bombarded by the grand finale at a fireworks display. Tah-dah!

  20. Do you think that quietly redirecting children from stimming when they are very young can help rewire the brain so that stimming isn’t necessary?

    If you could live without stimming, would you?

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