I challenge Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, specifically her view on emotions. Consistently, Objectivists tell me I am “rambling.” I lay out what could not be a more crystal clear argument and I get the treatment, “What is she talking about?” I say things that I know would have penetrated me deeply when I was younger–such as pointing out that Rand treats emotions as man-made not metaphysical–and I get utter cross eyes from Objectivists. Nothing penetrates them. And I get accused of being nonsensical, rambling, or “mysticism.”
Part of me wants to say it is gaslighting. And it is. They won’t recognize my existence or argument. This is what gaslighting is. It denies the victim’s reality. I am saying, “I see this! Don’t you see?” And they refuse to see it, explicitly telling me they will not even repeat back my argument because “that would sanction it.” Gaslighting was a term invented by an older movie in which a man kept putting out candles to confuse and make crazy his victim. “The candles! They’re blown out!” And Objectivists just coolly look at me, saying nothing, pretending I am crazy.
However, I have also come to the conclusion that some of them sincerely can’t understand emotions. There are people in this world, by biological design or through childhood trauma, who have no emotional landscape whatsoever. When I say something like, “Rand says you can control your emotions and I disagree,” they have absolutely no mental hook on which to relate to what I am saying. Imagine a dog who can hear high frequency sounds that humans cannot. I am like that dog. I’m saying, “Can’t you see? These emotions. They’re there. They do work for us. They can’t be controlled.” And they, the human in his metaphor, just look at me like I’m utterly crazy.
It is known that psychopaths have little to no emotions. Robert Hare did the original pioneering work on psychopaths. The most notable thing he found is that psychopaths did not respond with fear to the threat of electrical shock. He hooked them up to a machine, told them it was about to happen, and monitored their biofeedback. Non-psychopathic individuals showed great fear before the shock. Psychopaths showed little. They have greatly muted emotions. They don’t feel fear, empathy–or joy–like other people do.
And this was Ayn Rand. See Ayn Rand Glorified a Child Murderer. Rand glorified William Hickman, a young man who murdered a twelve year old girl. Her name–and I always go out of my way to name victims–was Marian Parker. Hickman lied to her teacher, convincing her that the child’s father was in the hospital and he needed to take her immediately. He demanded ransom, which was paid. When he handed the girl over, she was already dead. Her legs had been cut off and her eyes were wired open. He had also cut open her internal organs and strewed them about the Los Angeles area.
Rand, in 1928, was going to base one of her plays on him. Yes, fully knowing his crimes. She said he had the psychology of a “real man” and a “light, free consciousness.” I’ll say it. Ayn Rand, you are a sick bitch.
But don’t tell Objectivists that. In the light of this horrifying truth, they start the smear campaigns early. If you can’t see that she went on to change her mind, you are “intellectual scum” or you are just taking the whole silly the thing out of context or the like. Objectivists are mean. And conniving and manipulative.
Ok. Sure. She went on to eschew violence of all kinds. Well, sort of. She doesn’t let you be armed to ward off men like Hickman. Ayn Rand’s Views on Self-Defense Were Clear. Maybe because we would also ward off against predators like her? But this is the emotional make up of Ayn Rand. Psychopaths defend their way as allowing them to be “like a cat in the world of mice.” They aren’t inhibited by guilt or empathy, e.g., “a man without guilt or pain or fear.” They can get what they want done.
But look also at how she described Hickman. She gushes, “He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people.” Yeah. Like Marian Parker.
No even “organ” for understanding the importance of other people. A total lack of empathy; a total lack of regard for others; as if others are dish rags to use. Something, an entire organ, is missing entirely from his brain. This is, verbatim, psychopathy. It’s not narcissism. Narcissism is a product of childhood trauma and is marked by a need for constant adoration. This is psychopathy. Psychopathy is known to be a biological disorder. One is born with psychopathy. It’s at a genetic level. The parts of the brain that regulate fear and empathy are smaller in their brain and don’t connect to the rational mind as well.
And certainly I can see that this has evolutionary advantage. In fact, in a world that relies on shame and coercion to pressure people to behave, I think psychopaths are, frankly, what you get. It’s wrong to shame and coerce people into behaving well. And, after centuries of it, you are getting what you are getting: people totally impervious to shame. Cultures thick in shame are far more likely to produce psychopaths.
But, one way or another, this might explain why so many hear “bla, bla, bla” when I talk about emotions. I have come to the conclusion that they are not like me. Like. Not even a little bit. I can give stories and examples of how to handle emotions–and they think I am utterly stupid and weak. Why would I get down on one knee and talk sensitively to a young child? Why would you ever do that? Dumb bitch. (<—a verbatim insult thrown at me by Objectivists). You get to places by heroically getting things done. You mold reality. You do what your mind knows to be true. That’s how it works. I will never get through to them.
See my book for more destroying this atrocious philosophy. Ayn Rand was not who you think she was. Certainly you shouldn’t be taking psychological advice from her. And her adherents are just as bad. I’m convinced some will always stay with Objectivism, as it validates their own psychopathy. My loose experience with them is that if a woman is still an Objectivist by age 30 and a man by age 40, they are probably psychopathic or highly narcissistic. I’m not kidding. I’ve been stared down by them before, with the classic psychopathic stare.
Know what you are getting into before you go down the Objectivist path.
Run. Run away.
I found your blog in early January after being on Yaron Brook (a well known Objectivist) show and seeing what I think there were two Objectivists slam Libertarians in the show’s chat. One said libertarians need to be destroyed verbally in debate with Yaron and the other said libertarians deserve no respect (following Ayn Rand’s attitude towards them). I was taken aback and I am a year into Objectivism.
While I disagree with several of your positions, there are a few points we can agree on.
I agree that Rand did not give much to emotions. This is highlighted in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead’s protagonists. She had an oversimplified view that is causing much damage to Objectivism.
There are several issues with Objectivism and Objectivists. The explanation for these issues are with Rand herself as shown in the book The Passion of Ayn Rand (The author of this book doesn’t call Rand a narcissist but I came to this conclusion). Moralizing, judgmentalism, name calling, and oversimplification are the top issues. The philosophy and its several of its adherents need serious revision.
I am not sure how Objectivism can move forward in the way such organizations like the Ayn Rand Institute want when several Objectivists have hostile attitudes to different ideas as you have pointed out: “I’ve been challenging Objectivism for almost two years now. It’s been a lot of anger, insults, and malice thrown my way. I got totally chewed out by a rather famous one who writes various books from an Objectivist perspective. Immediately, nearly all Objectivist “friends” left me.”
It is unfortunate that this is the case and I wish Rand studied psychology (she could have learned quite a bit from Nathaniel Branden as they did have an affair) more and took it seriously. It would have helped her and movement greatly.
– Read Rage and Objectivism on Atlas Society.com
– See Objectivism and Self Esteem video on YouTube by Nathaniel Branden
Yes, they are very hostile and combative to libertarians, as Rand was as well. I was, too, for a while, while being under the “spell” of Rand. She calls them hippies and sees them as anarchists. What I’ve come to find is that libertarians have far superior philosophies underpinning their stance on freedom. It’s based on what I would loosely call the “organized chaos” that is all of life. We *can’t predict* what system will evolve to be best, but under freedom we are given the opportunity to try. Objectivists quite believe they can control life and a strong government with a strong military is necessary for “survival” and they are also this way in how they personally act, such as them saying libertarians need to be “destroyed” personally. We don’t necessarily “have to” produce to live and the system of capitalism at all times turns into a few who control most wealth and use the strong arm of the law and their mighty influence to further gain ownership of resources. I prefer the term “free markets” for my politics to “capitalism” and I do think it makes a big difference. I also think she was a narcissist and I would even go so far as to say she was a psychopath, given her praise of a child murderer and some other things. I’ve expanded my site greatly in the past several days/weeks so hopefully my criticisms are more on target and put into easier talking points. I was in Objectivist circles for years. I would not consider any of them to a true friends and I found them quite insidiously abusive. I would advise anyone to proceed with caution.
Thanks for your response. Also you mentioned on your hall of shame that Objectivism has no women. In the circles you were in, there were few women? Why do you think this is so?
I think part of it is many women aren’t interested in the first place. They don’t really want to read about the topics Rand writes about, which are more about mechanical things, trains, etc. One in college I knew protested reading Atlas Shrugged, “I don’t think like that!” She was fairly religious, however. I was pressured to be more “masculine” when I was young and I had 2 brothers and no sisters so I didn’t mind the “masculine” tone and topics of Rand’s books. However, after I became a mother and tapped into my strong feminine nature, I couldn’t get past the first pages of The Fountainhead. I slammed the book down when Roark said, “But I don’t think of you.” I saw it as heartless, unempathetic, and something I didn’t want to see influencing people. When I read Rand’s work a second time around in my late thirties instead of my young twenties, I could not get past Rand’s caustic, insulting way of speaking. It brought me down into depression for a short while when I read through it again. Unfortunately, I started to go numb to it as I read it–proving we humans unfortunately adapt even to toxic situations– but when I was in a more “sensitive to emotions” role, as I am as a mother, I couldn’t read through Rand except for the purpose I was doing it, which was to find and use her quotes. There is also very real chauvinism in Objectivism. I posted the quote where Rand says American women are cocktail-party chasing cohorts. Among Objectivists, you get told, “But she’s RIGHT.” What do you even say to that? Meanwhile, most women feel very overburdened as mothers, with most work falling on their shoulders, and they are given no natural respect or authority even when being mothers, which of all places they should have some natural deference. Actual time studies prove women, when they become mothers, are indeed over burdened and over worked compared to men. It’s like talking to utter nothingness when you try to explain it to Objectivists/ chauvinistic people. They fully expect they can judge and insult and you are to accept their “rational analysis” and internalize their misogyny. Like, there is a wild feminine that they can’t see or respect. I healed greatly when I realized that strong girl I was is the woman I was meant to become and society is deeply prejudiced against it. And I don’t think they can even *see* what that strong, wild feminine is. I’ve also read before that women were in Objectivist circles to start, but were driven out by the behavior of the men. I can’t remember where I saw that, as it’s been a long time since I read it. But my personal experience concurs. When I was in college, a lady I knew dated another Objectivist. She got stranded late at night when a bus didn’t come pick her up. She called him to ask for a ride. He told her, “I told you not to call me after 10 pm” and hung up on her. I mean, it’s a philosophy that says you have your needs and work until you achieve them. It’s also MISSING any empathy for others. I think what it’s missing is also of note. There’s little room for others making any mistakes at all or how to handle it when it happens, and this, for me anyway, especially after I had kids, is about 95% of life. And, on a personal level, while they preach non-violence, I know Objectivist men who have a history of domestic violence against their wives and children. Ultimately I think Rand was a psychopath and one really bitter about how she was born and what she looked like, as is described by Nathaniel Branden in his book. Her abuse is in the background but there. She claims “rationality” for herself, then declares all sorts of things better than others: men are “metaphysically dominant” compared to women; men of a “better sort” like a certain music, etc. And this leads to abuse, insult, belittling, etc., of others. She validates the crap out of people and their struggles, to hook them and bring them in, and then she was rather famous for the enjoyment she took in humiliating her “students.” So. Basically I think this is just a total wave of malignant anarchy. And women, who she thinks low of anyway and has so few characters about (one of which even kills herself), and who are primarily responsible for raising children, can’t afford this level of BS.
True, women don’t typically grativate toward engineering or hard science.
The girls who’s Oist boyfriend abandoned her should have been blocked and deleted after that nonsense.
I have read that mistakes are a reflection of evil. It was written that Rand took either or that severely.
It seems from your accounts that there are those whose fly the banner Objectivism but aren’t consistent with it.
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