Real estate mobbing is clearly intended as a tricky way to run the renters out of town, and a strong theme in the mobbing is an attempt to shame. Having lived in Japan for a significant period of time a few decades back, the participation of several men of Asian cultures, as well as the context for the mobbing being a neighborhood bullying situation kicked up by a dysfunctional neighborhood watch, has me thinking about Asian shaming traditions.
There is a Japanese saying, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down,” and in this anti-renter neighborhood, I am undoubtedly a nail, one that likely protrudes more than she should. I also remember Ruth Benedict’s seminal text on Japanese culture, Kiku to Katana (The Chrysanthemum and Sword, 1946), and Benedict’s description of Japanese child-rearing practices in which, contrary to western discipline, the errant child is not kept inside the house as punishment but is expelled from the house and from the familial domain.
Take for example, this wire story on the Seattle Times website today, about a seven-year-old Japanese boy lost in the forests of Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan, after his parents punished him by putting him out of the car.
Japanese media say the parents initially told police that their son had disappeared while they were picking wild vegetables, but they later admitted they had made him get out of the car to punish him for throwing rocks while playing at a river earlier in the day.
In this case, expelled from the protection of the family and cast out of the group, the child is exposed to great harm. This is far and away different from being confined to your room. (Japanese boy disappears after parents leave him in forest, http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/japanese-boy-disappears-after-parents-leave-him-in-forest/).
Social Death and Shame
The ronin of Japan historically met a similar fate. A ronin is a samurai without a master; these days the term is idiomatic for a “drifter” or a “wandering man” who is without a home. To live in the condition of being a ronin was to live as a man dishonored; according to the Bushido Shoshinshu—the Code of the Samurai—a samurai who became ronin was expected to commit seppuku, ritual disembowelment also known as hara kiri (“cutting of the abdomen”). Failure to do so meant an existence of great shame. It was not unusual for ronin living in disgrace to fall into the life of a criminal.
A shaming marks a social death. In Japan, the person who is shamed brings shame to his family. Seppuku, the traditional resolution to an irrevocable shaming in Japanese culture, remains, if not cultural imperative, cultural impulse in a society where the cohesion of the group is valued over self-hood. In such a culture, the social death of a shamed individual is logically followed by the death of the physical self.
A comparison could perhaps be made to how victims of AIDS were regarded in the earlier years of the AIDS crisis. In the film Philadelphia. Andrew Beckett, played by Tom Hanks, reads a passage from a legal decision that likens AIDS to a disability: “AIDS exacts a social death… which precedes the physical one.” And in the 1980s as Americans struggled over the metaphors and meanings of AIDS, those suffering from AIDS existed as lepers. Shame, in whatever form, marks a death within one’s community.
Mobbing also provides an example of a social death that may be followed by a physical death. With the increased interest in adolescent and young adult bullying and, in particular, cyber-bullying, there are no lack of cases in which a young adult, unable to bear a public shaming on the Internet, commits suicide. Wikipedia lists some of those known to have been bullied and cyber-bullied to death (“List of suicides which have been attributed to bullying,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicides_which_have_been_attributed_to_bullying). In workplace mobbing, a phenomenon recognized in the United States, I suspect, by large measure because of the inclination of its academic victims to write about it and to study it, the impact of mobbing on long-term health is documented. In addition to suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) like prisoners of war and survivors abuse, there is a higher risk of death by cardiovascular disease, hypertension, heart attack, and stroke (Workplace Mobbing in Academe, http://www.psychologicalharassment.com/mobbing-academe.htm). Based on this kind of evidence, there’s no difference between those who would bring real estate mobbers to their communities—the highly dysfunctional neighborhood watch that afflicts my own street, for example—and those who would hire a thug to break the legs of a business competitor or a professional killer (and the mobbers have claimed that this is a “professional real estate hit”) to execute an ex.
Bullying, especially the continual bullying that is the cornerstone of an illegal attempt to harass a legal residence from his or her home, is nothing less than aggravated assault. The “loss of face,” this effacement that mobbing effects, is fully intended to be a social death, at least within the context inhabited by the victim, whether a workplace or a community. But it is a social death that comes slowly and of a thousand blows, all of which may negatively affect health and longevity. Because of the wanton disregard that those who mob have for their victim’s civil and human rights as well as for her emotional, mental and physical well-being, mobbing could easily rise to the level of attempted murder.
Shaming in child-rearing is explained away as a form of instruction. “[W]herever there is shame, there has been a shamer.” Indeed, the appeal of shaming is to those who shame. In the case of parents, according to Robin Grille and Beth Macgregor (“Good” Children—at What Price? The Secret Cost of Shame, http://www.naturalchild.org/robin_grille/good_children.html), [s]haming is an anger-release for the parent; it makes the shamer feel better—if only momentarily.” The key descriptor here may be “momentary” since any human being who takes satisfaction in shaming another is subject to a disturbance far too deep to be quelled.
While this comment addresses the parent-child relationship, it is likely that anyone who seeks to shame another encounters the other as someone to patronize, and not someone to respect as a self rightfully separate from one’s own self.
In Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin (1974), Ashley Montagu wrote about how touch is a human need, and about the connection between physical shame, “body shame” and the lack of touch in childhood. One wants to be seen, and one wants to be touched. The arms of one’s parents are the first embrace; to be held in community is the second. There is an intrinsic relationship between embodiment and the experience of shame. It is no surprise that shame is learned as the self-image develops.
In considering the adult punishment of shaming, a punishment whose context is not the family but one’s supposed peers at work, at university, or in a northeast Seattle neighborhood, the word shaming is best prefaced with the word public. This is because the shaming of adults usually takes as its context the public arena.
It is the separation between Martin Buber’s I and Thou with which the adult shamer struggles. In an examination of how some use shame to control others, Psychology Today assures us that “Shaming works. Unless the person we’re trying to shame really could care less what we think of her, almost everyone will respond to shaming in some way, although it will almost never be in a way that nourishes the relationship between the shamer and the shammee… when someone shames us, we lose respect for that person. Shaming, like sarcasm, is easy but damaging.” (Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/test-case/201106/shame-you-do-you-use-shame-control-others).
If shaming is a controversial practice in child rearing, the shaming punishments of backward-thinking judges become even more so. Instead of a child fidgeting under the “dunce cap” of the grade school years past, there’s a middle-aged man with a white beard and an AC/DC t-shirt leaning against an SUV with a sign around his neck: “I APOLOGIZE TO OFFICER SIMONE & ALL POLICE OFFICERS FOR BEING AN IDIOT CALLING AND THREATENING TO KILL YOU. I’M SORRY AND IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN” (“Can Public Shaming Be Good Criminal Punishment?” National Journal, https://www.nationaljournal.com/s/71318/can-public-shaming-be-good-criminal-punishment).
As an adult, your ego is formed and shaming punishments probably have nothing to do with instruction and should be considered destructive. The shaming of another adult, a sometime imagined revenge for some slight, is intended to harm.
Shaming, like bullying, is probably most often done by those who know shaming well, those who’ve been shamed or those for whom shaming has been a powerful experience. Most of us aspire to more egalitarian ways to manage our relationships and treat our children. But the narcissist and the borderline—these personalities may find shaming irresistible, even in adulthood.
There is some aspect of shaming and guilting that requires a relationship of paternalism to make it work. Shame is felt before someone’s eyes. Guilt is felt with the eyes of others on you. Both are about being watched with a lack of empathic feeling. The shammee necessitates the shamer in the way that Buber’s I implies the Thou. But the ultimate effect of shame on relationships is destructive. (“Shame is at the Root of Narcissistic, Borderline Disorder,” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201201/shame-is-the-root-narcissistic-borderline-disorder)
This makes sense for the “queen bee” of the mob, a role played at the outset of my own mobbing by the girlfriend of the owner of the south mobbing house as they projected sound from what appeared to be a kickoff event of the mobbing into my house and she talked about how I would soon be informed that my landlords had sold them my rental home and how she thought I would be “more comfortable” elsewhere.
It’s hard not to wonder about how those involved in mobbing, for example, the “queen bee” girlfriend and her owner boyfriend, got to be so disturbed that they would construct or participate in a business of forced eviction for profit. Family and friends of the owners of the mobbing houses are clearly involved or at least aware of what is going on when they visit the houses, and they appear to be participants in the mobbing. Over time, however, as my resolve to stay in my home stiffened, the number of voices in the mobbing has diminished. There have even been times when I’ve been told during mobbing that so-and-so is no longer “in the mobbing.” My assumption is that the mobbers feared exposure, had become cautious about the names of those they pulled into the mobbing in their attempt to manipulate me out of my home, or that in some cases they discontinued the use of some of those names to protect those who truly were involved. The other day, the increasingly tight-lipped near-septuagenarian parents of the south mobbing house owner dropped off their prematurely balding son, his snarky attorney friend, and their skateboards after an apparent weekend trip in the family Audi SUV. One wonders how they used shame and guilt in their own child-rearing practices. This was the mobbing owner mother who blithely told me on first meeting “most renters aren’t very good people.” A few months later the then not-quite-as-prematurely-bald skateboarder whined to his father, “She parks there, and sometimes she parks there!” Daddy to the rescue, speaking loud enough for me to hear from where I gardened in my own back yard. “Don’t worry son, we’ll get her out.”
Daddy can’t make everything right, especially not when he seems to be involved in the same racket. And based on the constellation of events and players, I would venture that the acquisition of the property on which I reside was always the goal of these last two years’ mobbing drama.
Mobbing is considered a crime of narcissists and borderlines. Those narcissists and borderlines who take up positions in community watch organizations and use the “authority” they garner through these volunteer and often unelected positions to dole out rights and privileges to legal residents controvert the United States Constitution as well as the rule of law. In addition to their ill-fated attempts to police those in their communities in a manner more akin to bullying than to governing, attempts to control others that are ultimately abusive and illegal, such neighborhood watch co-captains make themselves and all who get into bed with them, into criminals.
Ruth Benedict contrasted America with Japan by saying that American culture was guilt-based, whereas Japanese culture was shame-based. This meant that in Japan, shame was a primary means of social control with the inculcation of shame used to assert control over children and to maintain the social order under threat of ostracism. Benedict asserted that American culture used guilt as the primary device of social control.
In western culture, the individual tends to be valued over the group, and while parents regrettably continue to inflict shaming punishments upon their children, inflicting punishments on adults that are explicitly meant to shame is unusual and controversial. They can remind of some Arab cultures, where the punishment for thievery might be the public severing of the hand, and where the maiming is a public message shames the self as well as standing as a warning to others who might stray from the law. Off the top of my head, and aside from the 19th century when the puritans might have written a scarlet letter on the forehead of a woman who was not chaste, I cannot think of a lot of cases of shaming by maiming. Even those sex offenders who might be willing to be chemically castrated to reduce a lengthy sentence wear no publicly visible marks of the emasculation, at least not ones that most of us might recognize. (“Chemical Castration,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_castration)
The shaming of mobbing, both in workplace mobbing or in real estate mobbing, is equally insidious, enlisting the very social and civil institutions that should investigate and prosecute the bullying crime into its unwitting accomplices. In the case of real estate mobbing the shamed is intended to ultimately veil herself by leaving the community. Shaming is the ritual that casts out the victim. Why is it expected to be effective? Because shame is counted upon both to silence the victim and to make them believe they deserved to be cast out.
Shame is also a powerful deterrent of reporting crimes that are experienced as shaming. Victims of crimes of sexual abuse and rape often struggle with intense shame. A less common example of a crime that shames is the rape of adult men outside of prison. The experience of men who are raped is highly colored by gender stereotypes that regard victimization as somehow feminine. Many men believe that they are not vulnerable to rape. There are incidents of men who have reported their rapes being ridiculed by the police as well as disbelieved and hung up on by rape crisis centers. A 2010 report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimated that nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped. Wikipedia cites the assessment of Dr. Sarah Crome, a psychologist who found that fewer than 10% of male-on-male rapes are reported (“Rape of males,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_of_males).
The stigma of male rape affects not only those who are raped in the real world, but actors who play male characters who are raped. Ned Beatty’s character Bobby Trippe, the pudgy and effeminate victim of rape by toothless backwoods hicks in Deliverance (1972) faced decades of the catcall “squeal like a pig” whenever he was recognized on the street. Beatty commented on the feelings of men about rape in “Suppose Men Feared Rape,” a New York Times editorial : “Our last choice would be to identify with the victim.” (As quoted in “The Impact of Deliverance,” in Metrospirit, http://metrospirit.com/the-impact-of-deliverance/#.V1Mp_mZfvMI). This comment makes clear the damning nature of shaming crimes. The victim does not report because it is abhorrent to be victim of the crime. Investigators ignore the crime, sometimes even ridiculing or blaming the victim, because “the last thing” they want is to face their own, very human, vulnerability.
I must note that shaming crimes include the many hoaxes that real estate mobbers use in an attempt to force you quickly out of your home while humiliating you. Being “taken” by a hoax can be a humiliating experience that a victim hides while criminal real estate mobbers gleefully cry, “We’re hoaxers!”
F is for Fascist: Victim Blaming and Adorno’s F-Scale
“Victim blaming” is a common description of a dynamic seen in mobbing as well as in other crimes. According to Wikipedia, William Ryan identified victim blaming in Blaming the Victim (1971) as an ideology used to justify racism and social injustice. Blaming the Victim responded to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 apologea The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, in which Moynihan argued that the condition of the blacks in America must be attributed to black culture—specifically, to the structure of the black family in poverty.
Characteristic of the fascist underpinnings of mobbing and other bullying crimes, in 1947 Theodor Adorno defined this dynamic of victim blaming as “one of the most sinister features of the Fascist character.” Adorno went on to publish The Authoritarian Personality (1950) with Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford, all of the University of California at Berkeley. Given the year of publication, The Authoritarian Personality stands as one of many reflections on the horrors of World War II and especially on the Holocaust. Before fleeing Hitler’s Germany, Adorno had been a member of the predominantly Jewish Frankfurt School of philosophers and Marxist theorists. The “core” theory of The Authoritarian Personality was an analysis of the “pre-fascist personality” identified in the “F scale.”
The following table lists the attributes of the” F-scale” personality per Wikipedia as well as descriptions of most attributes from “A Look At The Authoritarian Personality,” an article at Psychologist World at https://www.psychologistworld.com/influence_personality/authoritarian_personality.php. Further description on how the attribute relates to mobbing is my own.
|Personality Attribute||Relationship to Mobbing|
|Conventionalism||Blind allegiance to conventional beliefs about right and wrong.
A mobbing is the epitomy of lowest-common denominator conventionalism. A real estate mobbing attempts to harness societal norms and values to in scapegoating a victim for profit. Mobbers hide a real estate racket by convincing the victim and the community that the victim has committed some breach of social tenet or law for which she or he must be expelled from the community. In so doing, mobbing victimizes the entire community.
|Authoritarian submission|| Respect for submission to acknowledged authority.
Mobbing is built on an ideology of submission to convention. Mobbers or those who hire them believe that this brutal bullying will bring about the victim’s submission because this is how they see the world. Victims who are generally acquiescent to authority can be quickly expelled from the workplace or evicted from their homes. This puts social cohesion to work for the sake of profiteering.
|Authoritarian aggression|| Belief in aggression toward those who do not subscribe to conventional thinking, or who are different.
Active aggression against those who who do not adhere to convention. This means those who are not easily controlled or who are not understood, the nail that sticks up. Aggression is an abuse of any authority held, especially when it comes to hierarchical structures of the workplace or neighborhood watch organizations that claim to represent the community as a whole.
|Anti-intraception||Per Wikipedia: “[R]ejection of all inwardness, of the subjective, the imaginative, the tender-minded, and of self-criticism.”
What could be more rejecting of tender-mindedness and the subjective than to act in opposition to the Constitution and Bill of Rights to relentlessly harass, and even torture, a legal citizen until they are broken and finally leave their home, taking no usable forensic evidence with them? What could be more rejecting of tender-mindedness, than portraying someone as a pedophile, as a public danger, or insane, purely to make a profit?
|Superstitution and stereotypy|| A belief in simple answers and polemics—i.e., The media controls us all or The source of all our problems is the loss of morals these days
The mobbing double-talk is ridden with false beliefs that include stereotypes and superstitions. Mobbings which begin with near-incantations and elaborate ritual listings of the reasons why the victim must leave her home or which seek to falsely imply that the entire community is involved in the mobbing are founded on stereotype and superstitious or other false beliefs, a key one being that they can convince their victim that they have committed a crime and should leave, or that while they commit felony after felony, assaulting the victim of mobbing even twenty-four hours a day, that a victim who has done no wrong will acquiesce and accede to the demands of the mobbing criminals.
|Power and toughness|| A need for strong leadership which displays uncompromising power
Mobbers are people who feel small on their own. To achieve significance, they must bully. This is the personality type who would have been impressed with Hitler or with fascism, the personality type that would have unquestioningly helped to effect Hitler’s Final Solution. This is the type of personality which would hold a woman down while another man raped her.
|Destructiveness and cynicism||Resistance to creative, dangerous ideas. A black and white worldview.
Such a limited mindset would be require to devote the energy required sneakily and systematically enlist a network of peers and the institutional apparatus into a bullying campaign that easily grows to criminal proportions. Most of us would rather devote the time and attention to our own lives.
|Projectivity|| A tendency to project one’s own feelings of inadequacy, rage and fear onto a scapegoated group.
Victim-blaming at its best. Mobbers project societal fears onto the victim to ostracize and oust him from the community.
|Exaggerated concerns over sex|| A preoccupation with violence and sex.
This is a preoccupation that comes to the fore in real estate mobbing, when the mobbing victim becomes the target of the mobbers’ own unhealthy attitudes and stereotypes that involve gender and sex, especially when the mobbers include harassers of the opposite sex. The panic-theory of the mobbers over pedophilia, incest and sexual concerns in general reveals their own mindset.
I find Adorno’s F-scale much more interesting in application to the real estate mobbers of northeast Seattle than the rather narrow and ultimately superficial DSM-driven characterization of mobbing bullies as narcissists and borderlines, even if in their one-dimensionality these labels seem fitting.
Mobbing is undeniably violent in its intent. Real estate mobbing is, in particular, a sneaky way to commit an act of great violence against another human being. The social death it is intended to cause, as well as any physical death that the complete lack of regard required to treat another human being in this manner might cause, bring the instigator of the mobbing as close as she can get to murder while remaining out of prison.
Particularly sad is the fact that criminal real estate speculators and tenant clearers would make the dysfunctional and disturbed members of neighborhood watch organizations into criminals as they join into an attempt to maliciously and criminally bully a legal resident out of her home to line their pockets. This is modern racketeering, and it is happening in Seattle because of a criminal relationship between my neighborhood watch and real estate speculators, some of whom hold professional licenses or believe they are protected by the standing of others who hold professional licenses. The result is that those narcissists and borderlines who need help so severely that they would perpetrate crimes against their neighbors, invite others to do the same and aid them as active accomplices, do not get the psychological help they so clearly need. Instead, shady developers and their criminal real estate speculator and tenant bullying friends, make these community watch narcissists and borderlines into criminals, just like them.
Lastly, it’s taken me too long to write this blog entry and even now I consider it incomplete, with numerous undeveloped themes, such as the use of the connection between shame and physical embodiment to attempt to shame based on private acts performed in the bathroom and the bedroom. But for now, a final thought. Criminals whose goal is to commit silent crimes by manipulating human emotion, both in their victims and in those members of the community who become unknowing witnesses to the crimes that mobbing includes, must not succeed. Above all, they must not succeed.
The seven-year-old Japanese child left to wander among the wild bears of Nanae was found after surviving one week in the forest without food. His father admits that perhaps the abandonment was “too much” and promises to shower him with love. The incident has sparked discussion in Japan over parenting styles. (Japan: Father “very sorry” as son found after week’s disappearance, CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/03/asia/japan-missing-boy-found/)