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While perusing some of the more recent threads, I stumbled across, http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...ic=1052&hl=hero.

What intrigued me was Betsy's description of Repressed Objectivists. Since I really respect Betsy's advice and knowledge of Objectivism, her comments in the thread really got me thinking.

I myself rarely smile or laugh in public. I am very quiet, unless something truthful needs to be heard or known at a specific moment. When I deal with most people on a social level (people I work with or people I've never met before) I suppose I don't appear to be the nicest person out there. I'm not downright mean or disrespectful, but I've been told I project a strange "negative" aura.

Now, I'm a person who values things very dearly. I'm also very passionate about what I value. I'm not afraid of people taking away what I value, because I'm well aware that any attempt to do so would be futile. The thing that gets me is that I'm I seem to be inherently emotionless for the most part. Things rarely get to me, as I'm a very patient person. The only feeling that I have is a deep happiness that, according to most, I don't seem to project.

I do, however, have very few, yet very close friends. When I'm in their company, I seem to "blossom," in the essence that I laugh and smile the most. It just seems that I express my happiness only in front of the people that I trust the most. It's not something that I consciously switch on and off; it just happens.

I know that I'm not Howard Roark, but I was reading "The Fountainhead" last night (for the umptieth time) when I came upon one of the earlier conversations with Peter Keating and Ellsworth Toohey; right after Roark was commisioned to build the Enright House. It was the questions that Toohey asked that caught my attention- along with the answers that Peter Keating provided. Specifically the first two:

"Does he laugh often?"

"Very Rarely."

"Does he seem unhappy?"

"Never."

I stopped reading and I thought I almost fit that to a tee.

My question is: Am I a repressed student of Objectivism, and if so, was Howard Roark an repressed Objectivist?"

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My question is:  Am I a repressed student of Objectivism, and if so, was Howard Roark an repressed Objectivist?"

One way to approach this is first to ask one of Aristotle's favorite questions: What is it?

What is repression?

I am not a psychologist. However, I was repressed for many years -- until about age 40. So, I have some experience with it -- and with its cure.

When I use that term now, I mean this: A psychological condition (genus) in which a person has suppressed (squashed, shoved aside) emotions for so long that the suppression becomes automatized (differentia) -- that is, suppression becomes repression. (This is the same mechanism as in learning a martial art: You consciously practice, practice, practice; and finally it becomes automatized and in a street fight you don't think about using one technique or another, you simply act.)

If that is an accurate identification of the nature of this phenomenon, then I can go on from there, in my thinking. For example: The first thing I would do (and did do) is watch myself. In situations that should evoke strong emotions, do I feel those emotions wash through me, or do I crush them back into the box, so to speak?

If I conclude that I am repressed (mildly or severely) a further thought might be: "Psychological? That means it is a problem -- if it really is a problem for me -- in my subconscious mind, and therefore not subject to immediate conscious control. And that means that digging it out will require a lot of long-term effort and possibly some competent help in psychotherapy."

The main issue of repression is not what you show, but what you feel, in proportion to the values involved.

Howard Roark was a passionate valuer. He didn't show much but he had powerful, almost overwhelming emotions. I remember a scene (but not the context) in which Dominique and Roark are together, perhaps in bed. Dominique tells him she has just now succeeded in giving a great commission to someone Roark despises as an architect. If I remember correctly, Roark has to ask her to stop for a minute. The reason is clear in the scene. He must let this wave of emotion -- sadness or a sense of great loss -- sweep through him, before he can talk again.

(If I have remembered that scene correctly, can someone locate it for me? If I haven't remembered it correctly -- then correct me.)

My experience, further, is that continuing hostility (a slow simmering, seething anger) is a sign of repression. My hostility diminished as my repression faded.

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Thank you, Burgess. I think I have a more broad understanding of the subject at hand. I'm not sure as to which scene you're referring to. I do know that he did have a commission for the Manhattan Bank Company. I remember that he met the board to sign the contract, but there was a small alteration that they wanted to make; I believe that it was the facade at the front of the building. He put his hand on the table and would not remove it. ( his knuckles were white with the strain).

I am like that as well. I guess I do suppress my emotions quite a bit. The pain doesn't last long though. Much like Howard, "it only goes so deep."

I was more concerned with expressing happiness all the time. I rarely do, but when I do, you can tell that it is genuine. I never fake reality.

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Howard Roark isn't an Objectivist; he's a character aimed to embody certain Objectivist virtues, which is something different. He's never read Ayn Rand, for example, and he doesn't really have a conscious understanding of the rules he lives by until the very end of the book. There's no official philosophy for him to be dogmatic about.

If a person doesn't laugh very often because Howard Roark didn't, then his reasons for doing so are necessarily different. Roark's personality was his own, and he laughed whenever he wanted to; he wasn't a gloomy character, just a bit ascetic.

On the other hand, a person who reads about Howard Roark and laughs little because he wants to imitate Roark, is necessarily different from the character he intends to model himself after, because his reasons for not laughing are different. A person like that would be repressed.

So one of the important questions you have to ask yourself is, why do you laugh little?

I might add that in my own personal experience, lack of laughter does usually indicate voluntary exile from society, repression, etc. I know Roark was an exception because I've read a 'biography' of his life, and I know his values. I don't know yours, so if you were to ask about my opinion, I'd be more likely to classify you with the former than the latter - simply because Roark's case, integrated and healthy personality that doesn't laugh often, is impossibly rare.

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I stand corrected on labeling Howard Roark as an Objectivist, and I see your point.

I suppose I did suggest that in some way that I do emulate Howard Roark. That, of course, was not my intention. I desire to emulate no one. I was like this as long as I can remember.

When I laugh, it's at things that I have respect for. When I'm stuck on troubleshooting an electrical problem at work, I take a break, sit back, and smile or laugh in contemptible admiration. It's when I solve the problem that I've been working on that I truly let loose and smile and laugh- if only for a mere moment. I smile when I'm in the company of friends and people I usually spend time with. What I don't understand is why people smile at people for no reason that I can conceive. For example: a simple passing among strangers. People laugh at things that I don't think is funny. At the same time, I am told that I have no sense of humor for not laughing. These are the things that I'm referring to. When I smile and laugh, it's genuine. I don't believe that I need to smile or laugh all the time to express my happiness. That is just the way that I am. I do know that I am happy though.

Edited by LucentBrave
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When I laugh, it's at things that I have respect for.  When I'm stuck on troubleshooting an electrical problem at work, I take a break, sit back, and smile or laugh in contemptible admiration.  It's when I solve the problem that I've been working on that I truly let loose and smile and laugh- if only for a mere moment.  I smile when I'm in the company of friends and people I usually spend time with.  What I don't understand is why people smile at people for no reason that I can conceive.  For example:  a simple passing among strangers.   People laugh at things that I don't think is funny.  At the same time, I am told that I have no sense of humor for not laughing.  These are the things that I'm referring to.  When I smile and laugh, it's genuine.  I don't believe that I need to smile or laugh all the time to express my happiness.  That is just the way that I am.  I do know that I am happy though.

First, I would like to recommend, for anyone, looking up "Humor" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 207. Laughter, as an expression of humor, is destructive. It is a sign of contempt -- for something. When Howard Roark laughed, in the beginning of his story, he was showing his contempt for the things that had happened to him, seemingly blocking his path toward his love, architecture. But then he stopped laughing because he started thinking about what he could do with the materials around him.

In my experience, most people who spend a lot of time laughing are people who have no passionate values -- or have them but are fixated on the corrupt things in life not on creating positives. Another way of saying that is that their hierarchy of values is nearly flat.

To be serious is to be focused on fundamental values. However, one can be basically serious while being occasionally humorous too. By "occasionally" I mean "suitable to the occasion." There is no dichotomy, as long as the objects of humor are appropriate to a rational code of ethics. It is inconceivable to me that one can be a passionate valuer and spend most of one's time destroying things. The one situation where that might not be true is if one is a professional humorist.

It is inconceivable to me that Ayn Rand, when she was composing Atlas Shrugged, would spend most of her time laughing. To the contrary, much of that time was -- by her testimony in The Art of Nonfiction -- an agonizing experience.

P. S. -- The scene I was trying to recall may have been the one where Dominique told Roark that she intended to marry ... Keating? (I can't remember.) The point remains the same: Roark was a man of passionate values and therefore emotions. His personality may not have included broad expressions of his emotions, but that fact alone does not indicate repression -- which is a mental malfunction built up through repeated conscious suppression (because the emotions are painful, typically).

Howard Roark was an ideal man, in the only terms that matter -- the essentials. He is worthy, therefore, of emulation -- in essentials, not in personality or hairstyle or other inessentials.

Edited by BurgessLau
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First, I would like to recommend, for anyone, looking up "Humor" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 207. Laughter, as an expression of humor, is destructive. It is a sign of contempt -- for something. When Howard Roark laughed, in the beginning of his story, he was showing his contempt for the things that had happened to him, seemingly blocking his path toward his love, architecture. But then he stopped laughing because he started thinking about what he could do with the materials around him.

In my experience, most people who spend a lot of time laughing are people who have no passionate values -- or have them but are fixated on the corrupt things in life not on creating positives. Another way of saying that is that their hierarchy of values is nearly flat.

I read the passage from the Lexicon that you refer to a long time ago, so I am going on my recollection of it (I do not have access to the book at the moment). While I entirely agree with the "destructive" nature of humor and laughter in that context--we laugh at the absurd or the contemptible--I believe it leaves out other contexts for laughter.

One reason I laugh, from time to time, is as an expression of happiness, one that goes beyond a large grin. Seeing a dear friend for the first time in too long, for example, might bring about this reaction. I suppose, though, that this is not laughter “as an expression of humor.”

Another cause for laughter might be the cute something that my 8-year-old brother did or said. For example, he plays soccer, and once described his team playing against another as "versing": "We're versing the Blue team this weekend," as in Red versus Blue. My laughter (and my dad's) was not because we had contempt for an 8 year-old trying to use the rules of grammar where they don't apply, but because it was such a sweet, creative, intelligent attempt. Perhaps this fits into the realm of the absurd, but I would certainly not describe our reaction as "destructive" laughter—still, I would classify it as “humor.”

To be serious is to be focused on fundamental values. However, one can be basically serious while being occasionally humorous too. By "occasionally" I mean "suitable to the occasion." There is no dichotomy, as long as the objects of humor are appropriate to a rational code of ethics. It is inconceivable to me that one can be a passionate valuer and spend most of one's time destroying things. The one situation where that might not be true is if one is a professional humorist.

As to the frequency of laughter—I love to laugh. Most often, I enjoy it in my “down” time, when I’m relaxing. I enjoy watching certain sit-coms or comedic movies, or just laughing over funny stories with my family or friends. Is this, Burgess, what you’re referring to as “suitable to the occasion”?

I also enjoy laughing with colleagues at work from time to time. The experience of laughter with colleagues or friends serves to strengthen the relationship bond. One way to describe this is, “we get the same jokes,” or, more broadly, “we get each other.” While the objects of the humor might be absurd—in other words, the laughter might be destructive—the purposed of sharing in the laughter is not to spend time destroying things, but instead to share commonalities. I would say that I am a passionate valuer, and that sharing humor and laughter contributes to many of the things I value—strengthening my friendships, or my relationships with co-workers. (As a side explanation, I value strengthening my relationships with co-workers because it creates a pleasant working environment and creates a common background that smoothes the path during difficult situations.)

Burgess, this may not contradict what you’re saying—I just wanted to add my thoughts on the value of laughter.

This is not to say that one who does not laugh often—or, one who does not often laugh in the presence of strangers—is necessarily missing out on something. My greatest experiences of laughter occur in the presence of those people whom I value the most.

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I really like Betsy's theory that laughter is, in a benevolent situation, an appreciation of one's own efficacy rather than anything else.

A minor correction to my post above - I said:

[Roark]has never read Ayn Rand, for example, and he doesn't really have a conscious understanding of the rules he lives by until the very end of the book. There's no official philosophy for him to be dogmatic about.
By that last part I don't imply that an official philosophy such as Objectivism necessarily results in dogmatism, merely that one cannot be dogmatic in absense of having an explicit philosophy.

Similarly, barring some personal tragedy too painful to remember, Roark would have no reason for repression, no dogmatically chosen philosophy to contort himself to. He was an integrated man, and that's the important lesson; how much he laughed is not, nor is similar lack of laughter in a person necessarily an indication of Roarkian virtue. In fact, as I said, lack of this laughter is most often proof of lack of Roarkian virtue.

I desire to emulate no one
If this is true, it is a very sad state of affairs indeed. Dogmatically repressing oneself to 'equal' heroes, or rejecting them altogether, are two sides of the same coin. One does not automatically find safety from an idea simply by choosing its opposite. Both extremes are wrong, and simply choosing the opposite of what you don't like, without much thinking, will not make things better. Instead, as Aristotle said, one needs to find a place somwhere in the middle, using one's reason.
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When I said that 'I desire to emulate no one.' I meant that in the sense that I don't want to be exactly like someone in the psychological sense. To admire someone for having values and achieving them to the fullest; I see no problem in emulating that.

Take Howard Roark for example. I have no desire to pursue architecture. I know nothing of architecture, historically nor presently. What I like about Howard Roark is how he achieves his goals.

If someone has a certain take on a certain concept or subject, I'll accept that answer only if it is logically sound and is proven. I don't just shake my head and agree with them solely out of admiration for the person. Nor do I blindly follow them or their every pattern of action. What they are saying or doing must make sense to me.

To emulate someone else's desire of favorites or choice of values regardless of what the emulator feels and solely because the "emulatee" values those things is wrong.

I've achieved my goals and continue to pursue grander ones by paying attention to the people I admire, and how they acheive those goals. Not by sharing favorites that I quietly disagree with or laughing because they laugh, or being quiet because they are quiet. I realize that their success comes not fromt how hard they laugh at any given thing, but how they simply achieve their goals.

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I read the passage from the Lexicon that you refer to a long time ago, so I am going on my recollection of it (I do not have access to the book at the moment). While I entirely agree with the "destructive" nature of humor and laughter in that context--we laugh at the absurd or the contemptible--I believe it leaves out other contexts for laughter.

The excerpts in ARL on "Humor" characterize humor as "the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at." That would be the essential characteristic underlying laughing at absurdity or something contemptible. Ayn Rand gives as one example of a target something contemptible, which you mentioned.

I have several points I want to offer for criticism or elaboration, but I do not have a general theory to integrate them. So, take the following comments as tentative and partial.

First, humor and laughter are not the same, of course, as I think you know, judging from your comments. Laughter is a physical mechanism of body. Humor is an assessment, an evaluation, which may be expressed in a variety of ways from outright laughter to a quiet smile.

This brings up another point -- I warned you that this isn't integrted -- and that is that the body seems to have a much smaller number of mechanisms of expression (for example, laughter and tears) than the mind has emotions. For instance, tears form when I am joyous sometimes. This happened, for example, when I was biking in October (when the weather was beautiful), on a sunny day, down a paved path that offered no navigational problems. My life had been going well in all areas. Suddently on that bike ride in a certain place, all those good things came together in tears of joy.

Yet I can also experience tears when I think of a friend who died many years ago in a mountain-climbing accident. Thus one mechanism -- tears -- can express different emotions, but I never have any doubt about what I am feeling. The reason is that the mechanism of expression, I suspect, is for social purposes: telling other people (as well as ourselves) that a strong emotion is passing through us. But we, introspectively usually know what the emotion is directly. We feel joy or sadness. Others observing must know the context before they can be sure what the emotion is. (This is why sometimes people ask, "Why are you crying?" The causal emotion -- the one that triggers the bodily mechanism of expression -- isn't evident to others in that particular context.)

One reason I laugh, from time to time, is as an expression of happiness, one that goes beyond a large grin. Seeing a dear friend for the first time in too long, for example, might bring about this reaction. I suppose, though, that this is not laughter “as an expression of humor.”

Right, that is my understanding. Laughter is one mechanism, and it must do double or triple duty, that is, it can be an expression for a variety of emotions (evaluations).

Also, strictly speaking, I think what you are describing here is not happiness but joy at seeing your friend. Happiness is a state of mind, not an emotion. States of mind change only very slowly. Emotions come and go relatively quickly. I think of this relationship as waves (emotions) rising and falling on a slowly incoming or outgoing tide (happiness/unhappiness).

Edited by BurgessLau
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My question is:  Am I a repressed student of Objectivism, and if so, was Howard Roark an repressed Objectivist?"

Repression is emotional supression (the setting aside of emotional content and the cognitive content that gave rise to it) that becomes automatized. The problem with repression is that a represser loses contact with his values and it is hard to access them because the practice is automatized.

Repression also leads to a poorly developed or impoverished personal hierarchy of values. The way I usually spot a represser is that he doesn't have a clear idea of what he wants on a simple personal level. He can't decide what he wants to eat or wear or how he wants to spend his time. After he sees a movie, he doesn't know if he liked it or not. He can date a girl for a year and he can't tell if he is in love with her. (Such people often dogmatically state "opinions" about what a person should like or love, but it comes across as as dry, intellectualized, and of little personal importance to them.)

An unrepressed person, on the other hand, has a favorite everything down to the teeniest, tinyest detail. He might have several favorite restaurants including his favorite Italian restaurant where he tries to get his favorite table and his favorite dish. He has his favorite clothes, friends, TV shows, and leisure activities. Ask him what everyday concrete things he personally likes and doesn't like and he can always tell you because he is in good conscious cognitive contact with his own values.

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First, I would like to recommend, for anyone, looking up "Humor" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 207. Laughter, as an expression of humor, is destructive. It is a sign of contempt -- for something.

I've been arguing with Harry Binswanger over that entry for years.

On her "Ayn Rand on Campus" radio show Ayn Rand stated that the view that humor was destructive was something she heard from someone else and it seemed plausible. She gave several examples of destructive humor. Elsewhere, she spoke of a different, benevolent kind of humor, notably in her fiction-writing course and now in The Art of Fiction, giving the example of the children in Jean Kerr's Please Don't Eat the Daisies.

I think humor can be destructive OR benevolent, depending on the type[/type] of humor. One type of humor is ridicule where the subject of the joke is someone or something's lack of value. Ridicule is the "laughing AT" kind of humor. Then there is the benevolent "laughing ABOUT" kind of humor like the funny things Jean Kerr's charming children did.

Observe that humor invokes a response of PLEASURE and that people read and view humor to be ENTERTAINED. There must be something worthwhile there -- and there is.

My own theory is that humor, at its best, involves active mental participation on the part of the listener, viewer, or reader. It requires and rewards a focused mind. For more about my theory of humor see my work-in-process at http://www.speicher.com/humor.htm

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P. S. -- The scene I was trying to recall may have been the one where Dominique told Roark that she intended to marry ... Keating? (I can't remember.) The point remains the same: Roark was a man of passionate values and therefore emotions. His personality may not have included broad expressions of his emotions, but that fact alone does not indicate repression -- which is a mental malfunction built up through repeated conscious suppression (because the emotions are painful, typically).

You're right about it being when she told him of marrying Keating.

I love you, Roark."

She had said it for the first time.

She saw the reflection of her next words on his face before she had pronounced them.

"I was married yesterday. To Peter Keating."

It would have been easy, if she had seen a man distorting his mouth to bite off sound, closing his fists and twisting them in defense against himself. But it was not easy, because she did not see him doing this, yet knew that this was being done, without the relief of a physical gesture.

"Roark..." she whispered, gently, frightened.

He said: "I'm all right." Then he said: "Please wait a moment... All right. Go on."

(I highly recommend the "Objectivism Research CD-ROM" for finding quotes you remember parts of)

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I've been arguing with Harry Binswanger over that entry for years.

What was the disagreement -- that he should have included excerpts showing Ayn Rand's view of the other type of humor, the laughing-about type?

On her "Ayn Rand on Campus" radio show Ayn Rand stated that the view that humor was destructive was something she heard from someone else and it seemed plausible.  She gave several examples of destructive humor.  Elsewhere, she spoke of a different, benevolent kind of humor, notably in her fiction-writing course and now in The Art of Fiction, giving the example of the children in Jean Kerr's Please Don't Eat the Daisies.

But with both types, isn't the fundamental characteristic -- which Ayn Rand identified in the first excerpt in ARL -- the same: denial of metaphysical importance to the object of humor?

Further, when a child inadvertently says something amusing -- humorous -- I might feel two things simultaneously: humor (denying the metaphysical importance of the error) and affection for a child struggling to understand and articulate. So, I don't see a conflict between Ayn Rand's basic characterization of humor and having different types of humor.

I have also wondered about another factor. I have noticed with myself that I sometimes feel more than one emotion because more than one value (or disvalue) is involved or more than one response is involved. (Perhaps because of differing short-term and long-term assessments?) For instance, isn't the feeling of poignancy a feeling that arises from reacting to a particular situation because of two values or evaluations involved? I am not sure, but introspection leads me to suspect that there is a compound of positive and negative, of some kind of liking and some kind of sense of loss.

This is not the central problem of my life, but I do think understanding it is important because -- as your examples imply -- humor is very common in society. Knowing what it means -- in a variety of manifestations -- could be very helpful.

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What was the disagreement -- that he should have included excerpts showing Ayn Rand's view of the other type of humor, the laughing-about type?

Since the person I mentioned isn't on this forum to explain or defend his position, I should not have mentioned it.

But with both types, isn't the fundamental characteristic -- which Ayn Rand identified in the first excerpt in ARL -- the same: denial of metaphysical importance to the object of humor?

No, because in many kinds of humor metaphysical importance or values have almost no importance such as in (my favorite) verbal humor.

I define humor as communication for the purpose of giving someone else the pleasure of forming a mental connection as an end in itself. Read my discussion of humor starting here.

[Edited to remove personal references.]

Edited by Betsy
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I had a peculiar experience after reading this thread and I'm not sure what to make of it. My first response was that LucentBrave worries too much :), that, and I could identify with the definition of repression that was being used.

I went off to do something else for a while, thinking that it was nice to find a lot of people that speak in terms I understand.

Then I started to cry. I wouldn't mention it but I can't understand why. Self-pity? There's no reason to cry. Shouldn't I have started when I first read the posts?

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I went off to do something else for a while, thinking that it was nice to find a lot of people that speak in terms I understand.

Then I started to cry.  I wouldn't mention it but I can't understand why.  Self-pity?  There's no reason to cry. 

Could it be you were thinking of all the times you wanted friends and couldn't find them?

Shouldn't I have started when I first read the posts?

No, sadness would first occur when you are first aware of a loss.

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What intrigued me was Betsy's description of Repressed Objectivists.  Since I really respect Betsy's advice and knowledge of Objectivism, her comments in the thread really got me thinking.

I myself rarely smile or laugh in public.  I am very quiet, unless something truthful needs to be heard or known at a specific moment.  When I deal with most people on a social level (people I work with or people I've never met before)  I suppose I don't appear to be the nicest person out there.  I'm not downright mean or disrespectful, but I've been told I project a strange "negative" aura. 

Now, I'm a person who values things very dearly.  I'm also very passionate about what I value.  I'm not afraid of people taking away what I value, because I'm well aware that any attempt to do so would be futile. The thing that gets me is that I'm I seem to be inherently emotionless for the most part.  Things rarely get to me, as I'm a very patient person.  The only feeling that I have is a deep happiness that, according to most, I don't seem to project.

I do, however, have very few, yet very close friends.  When I'm in their company, I seem to "blossom," in the essence that I laugh and smile the most.  It just seems that I express my happiness only in front of the people that I trust the most.  It's not something that I consciously switch on and off; it just happens.

I may be way out here, but allow me to speculate. I think I'd best start this off by making a list of things you've said about yourself (not exactly quoted)...

When in public, you:

1. rarely smile or laugh

2. are very quiet

3. don't appear to be the nicest of people

4. Have been told you project a negative aura

5. Seem to be inherantly emotionless

6. Don't project your happiness

Might it be that 3, 4 and 5 are because of 1 and 2? And the reason for 1 and 2 is because of 6. So the question is why 6, is the case.

When among those you trust, you:

7 "blossom"

8 Laugh and smile

9 Express your happiness

Where 7 and 8 are presumably the result of 9.

So from that, it can be said that when among strangers, or people you don't know very well, or don't trust, you don't express your happiness, but when among those you know well, and trust (who are "very few") you express your happiness. Can you think why that might be? Why point 6 is the case under one condition, but point 9 is the case in the other?

I don't know why, but I know why I am exactly like this (to the letter). Your reasons might be different, but here are mine.

It starts with that I don't take people in "good faith". I am cautious when dealing with unfamiliar people, or those I don't trust (those who are unfamiliar I don't trust by default). I fear how they might react to my expressing myself, and assume (falsly) that I deal with them in a consistently formal manner then will make them consistent in turn, and I will have less unpredictable behaviour to worry about that will give me cause to become even less trustworthy. Thanks to points 3 and 4, it never turns out like that. Instead people have a reason to dislike me and turn unpleasant, thanks to my cold exterior, which reinforces my lack of trust in people. So while I don't trust those I don't know, I can often come to trust some people even less still. I become very watchful of how people behave, and immediately throw them out of consideration as being a potential friend or acquaintance as soon as they do anything conceivable as threatening towards me, or show anything I perceive to be a fault.

Like you, I have few close friends, and fewer "acquaintances". I can't seem to deal with people who meet me half way. They either have to prove to be very trustworthy very fast, or they're out of my sphere.

In short, I have a problem of confidence, a fear of being hurt by being too trusting. I feel that it is safer and logical to be untrustworthy, as it filters out the bad people so that the few bonds I do forge with others will be lasting and worthwhile ones.

The disadvantage in this behaviour is that forging such bonds becomes pot luck, since it also filters out a lot of good or decent people who might be worth knowing, as well as causing me to get a lot of stick from people because they don't know how to deal with a person who seems so unemotional (inhuman?). And that just makes my outer shell even harder. I've often thought if I met myself, I probably wouldn't be very fond of me, unless I managed to get to truly know that other me, which would never happen with my untrustworthiness and tendancy to seek out faults in other people.

In other words, the key problem for me is one of trusting people, and of the way I deal with those who prove to be untrustworthy. If I have an unpleasant experience with someone, I apply that in a "logical" manner to my considerations of how to deal with people in future. In other words, I become more withdrawn, which makes unpleasant experiences even more likely to occur, creating a viscious circle.

So, it is supression insofar as I am aware of it, but like you said happens with you, it isn't a conscious thing. Amongst the few I do trust, I become expressive, visibly happy, even "normal" very easily and without thinking about it.

Anyway, I haven't the slightest idea of how to deal with my problem. And I don't know how much, if any of this is relevent to you, but the symptoms at least, seem to be exactly the same (because you say you are inwardly very happy, whereas I am often unhappy, thanks to the aforementioned problems). I hope I haven't made a fool of myself.

Edit: Second to last sentence should say:

And I don't know how much, if any of this is relevent to you (because you say you are inwardly very happy, whereas I am often unhappy, thanks to the aforementioned problems), but the symptoms at least, seem to be exactly the same.

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Howard Roark isn't an Objectivist; he's a character aimed to embody certain Objectivist virtues, which is something different. He's never read Ayn Rand, for example, and he doesn't really have a conscious understanding of the rules he lives by until the very end of the book. There's no official philosophy for him to be dogmatic about.

little?

I disagree with this. Yes, Howard Roark was an Objectivist because Ayn Rand wrote his mind. And Ayn Rand was an Objectivist because, though she did discover the philosophy, she did live by that philosophy.

The court room speech is certainly Objectivism. And it is Roark's type of mind and the consequence of his volition that make him an Objectivist, not whether or not he has read the founder of Objectivism.

I could conceivably be an Objectivist, even if I never read Ayn Rand, as long as I come up with the same principles denoted by the concept Objectivism.

Americo.

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In short, I have a problem of confidence, a fear of being hurt by being too trusting. I feel that it is safer and logical to be untrustworthy, as it filters out the bad people so that the few bonds I do forge with others will be lasting and worthwhile ones.

The disadvantage in this behaviour is that forging such bonds becomes pot luck, since it also filters out a lot of good or decent people who might be worth knowing, as well as causing me to get a lot of stick from people because they don't know how to deal with a person who seems so unemotional (inhuman?). [...]

In other words, the key problem for me is one of trusting people, and of the way I deal with those who prove to be untrustworthy.[...]

I'd like to suggest a two-part solution --

1. Learn how to be a good judge of people.

2. Learn just how weak evil really is.

Judging people accurately is a personal goal I set for myself at age seven and I have spent a lifetime acquiring, expanding, and refining my knowledge. It has helped me make good choices in friends, a romantic partner, clients, employees, investments, and all my interactions with other people. I learned a lot of it the hard way, but now I have good simple working principles I can apply fairly easily and also show to others so they don't have to go through all that I did.

I have also learned that bad people can't really hurt me if I don't let them. They need me and I don't need them, so I have the upper hand. I can ignore them and walk away from them and I usually do. My life is way too full of good people I wish I could spend more time with, so I don't waste time with anything less than the best.

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...

I could conceivably be an Objectivist, even if I never read Ayn Rand, as long as I come up with the same principles denoted by the concept Objectivism.

Is "Objectivism" a concept?

I understand it to be a noun that refers to a set of principles and uniqely formulated concepts, but is not itself a concept.

The reason (that stands out most in my mind as I write this) is that there would be only one referent to this concept. This would contradict my understanding of the purpose of concepts: mental economy.

With that said, if I substitute this usage of Objectivism, as a set of principles rather than as a concept, then I would agree that someone could be an Objectivist if they held and agreed with all of the principles to which the noun "Objectivism" refers.

However, in the fictional world of "The Fountainhead" there is no such noun, and thus I would conclude that Howard Roark could not be an Objectivist, even though he would agree with each and every principle that Objectivism refers to in our non-fictional world.

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Americo, my post was based on three main premises:

1) "Objectivist" is simply a description, not a title of merit

2) One can be in full agreement with the philosophy, and still not be an Objectivist

3) The name of "Objectivist" should be applied as strictly as possible, so that only those who qualify will fall under it, rather than as vaguely as possible, so that everyone who might qualify for it - does.

If you concede these three premises, it makes perfect sense not to call Roark an Objectivist, though he agrees with the philosophy in every way imaginable. He's a fictional character in a fictional world. "Objectivist" is a living description, intended for living and breathing people existing in the real world; plus, as I said, not calling him an Objectivist is not an insult, because "Objectivism" is not an elite private club.

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I had a peculiar experience after reading this thread and I'm not sure what to make of it.  My first response was that LucentBrave worries too much :P, that, and I could identify with the definition of repression that was being used.

I went off to do something else for a while, thinking that it was nice to find a lot of people that speak in terms I understand.

Then I started to cry.  I wouldn't mention it but I can't understand why.  Self-pity?  There's no reason to cry.  Shouldn't I have started when I first read the posts?

Could it be you were thinking of all the times you wanted friends and couldn't find them?

If so MeganSnow I have felt the same periodically since I discovered Objectivism. I was overcome while reading The Voice of Reason just a couple of days ago. I remember at the end of that book there is an essay by Peikoff called My 30 years with Ayn Rand in which he describes his first meeting with her and leaving thinking, "She exists, and now so can I" or something to that effect (It is not an exact quote but from memory). Likewise the people here embody alot of those same principles, which you probably feel in tune with and that's why they affected you. At least that is my humble opinion :)

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I don't know that I really qualify as repressed; I think I may actually have a chemical disorder (a mild one, thank goodness) that results in peculiar mood swings. I've taken medication and it seemed to help but the side effects were really bizarre and I can't afford it now.

One of the results of my constant battle with my emotional fluctuations is that I take frequent "samplings" of my mental state and analyze them . . . "All right, why am I upset NOW when this wouldn't have upset me two hours ago?" It doesn't make the emotional state disappear. It does lessen it and I don't act on the irrational emotions.

Well, no, I can't quite claim that: I don't act on them very OFTEN. Not as much as I used to, anyway, when they were destroying my life. Some days it's a teeth and toenails thing, though.

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