Sunday, April 1, 2012

Psychic Venom

"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Psychic Venom by Brian Snoddy
I think a lot of fairly intelligent people argue with hateful idiots because they're bored and they feel like venting their frustrations on someone, so why not the village idiot who makes himself the scratching post for anything with claws? And truth be told, there is also the egotistical desire to feel superior. I have been guilty of this behavior myself in the past but these days I disengage from conflict with the hateful for the same reason I don't wrestle rattlesnakes for sport—it's guaranteed to kill boredom but it might kill a lot more than that.

If you want to get technical about it, most people don't die from snake bites; they die from the venom. Spending time in the presence of miserable, hateful, frothing assholes is not unlike lying in a pit of asps with only a pair of pajamas for protection. The first bite might not break the skin but you damned sure don't want to lie there one moment longer than you absolutely have to. And when you have been bitten deeply, make no mistake about it, there is now a very dangerous and potentially deadly venom making its way through your system.

I honestly believe psychic venom, for want of a better term, is in many ways more dangerous than its physical counterpart. Firstly, it's not even immediately apparent that you have been seriously harmed. In fact, you can be bitten dozens of times over the course of years and years before you even take stock of the psychic venom that has accumulated in your system. Secondly, most people don't have very good skills for getting it out of their system without a great deal of help, so they tend to just drug themselves, figuratively and literally, to cope with its effects. Lastly and most seriously, when a snake bites you, you don't turn into a snake and start biting other people. Psychic venom is akin to a virus from a zombie movie that once contracted, rots away at your brain until eventually you turn into one of the monsters...often without even realizing it until you're well into the habit of being monstrous. At this point you've got a lot of work ahead of you to make it back to the light. It's not impossible, it never is, but it's a long climb out of a very deep hole; a deep hole that wants to suck you back in at every opportunity.

Psychic venom almost seems to take on a life of its own and make no mistakes, it will consume you...if you let it. The best way to avoid this is to practice prevention and that means setting personal boundaries. You can't control other people's actions but you can control how you respond to them.

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