[ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ]Welcome to the land of Freud's "repression" (the neurotic patient...) & Bateson's "double bind" (the schizophrenogenic mother...)!
The peremptory discourse of petty power:
"Only if you want to!"
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works.... (Matt 5:16)
Attention reader: If the shoe herein described doesn't fit you, please don't think I'm trying to make you wear it!
When parents complain that a child "isn't listening", they are only infrequently hypothesizing that the child failed to acoustically register or semantically decode what they said. ("Excuse me. I didn't hear what you said." "You lie!")
 2. "Don't tell me what I said!" ~ "Why do I have to keep telling you what to do? I don't understand." [Implied text: "...how you can not be saying and doing what you know you are supposed to say and do."]
 3. "Why can't you be like a normal person? There's something wrong with you. Be normal!" [Unstated subtext: "...but don't do things 'normal' people do that I do not want you to do.": "Why are you doing [whatever that I don't approve of but which is currently popular to do]? If everybody else was jumping off a bridge would you jump too?"]
 4. "Why didn't you tell me [whatever]?" "I would have told you if I thought it was important." "It's not for you to decide what is important." ~ "Just answer the question. Don't tell me all the details!" ~ "Answer the question I asked, not the question you want to answer!"
 5. "You did it!" "I did not do it." "All you care about is whether you did it [Implication: You should should accept responsibility for me being in a mess no matter how it happened -- including if I brought it on myself --, and you should clean it up before I have to notice anything I don't like, including I don't like to see myself as a nag...]."
 6a. There is a chance of freezing rain in the morning, but, evening before, so far, nothing.... Selflessly concerned authority figure (SCAF): "They say the roads are going to be very icy in the morning, so please be careful going to work! -- Maybe you should go in late! I'm worried about your safety." Selfish dependent person (SDP) likes to go to work early, in part because there's nobody there to nag him or her at work at that hour (it should be obvious that dependent person is naggable longer by authority figure if dependent person leaves late to go to work, and also naggable longer by people at work if he or she stays late to make up for coming in late).
 6b. Selflessly concerned authority figure (SCAF) is eager to see the mail even though it's raining heavily, and there's not likely to be anything in the mail that can't wait until the rain ends. Authority figure is also, conveniently-for-themself, seemingly oblivious they could go out in the rain and get the mail themself. Authority figure continues talking to selfish dependent person (SDP): "You still haven't brought the mail in. [implication: Go out and get it! ~ Other times authority figure can be more explicit: Are you on strike?]." Because, at that moment, it is raining heavily, selfish dependent person -- who has asthma and is susceptible to bronchitis --, does not want to go out and get the mail, because they fear that if they get wet they may catch cold or even get pneumonia. Selflessly concerned authority figure detects dependent person's reluctance to go out in the rain, and becomes increasingly concerned: "You're the only person I know who never thinks about anybody except yourself! And what do you think you'll melt in the rain? There's something wrong with you. Why don't you go to the doctor? You just want to be sick to avoid having to deal with the real issues...."
 6c. [ Where do you throw your used paper towels in the restroom? ]"There is a piece of trash on the lawn." [This declarative sentence, seemingly stating a simple, indisputable observation, shows how "objective facts" have an ideological aspect: Unstated but clearly conveyed here are (1) a command: "Pick it up!" and (2) a judgment: "You should have picked it up already, without me having to tell you." As in #6b (immediately above), selflessly concerned authority figure (SCAF) conveniently fails to notice that they could pick it up themself; fn.110[ Go to footnote! ]]
 7. "You never let us talk about your problems, which just keep getting worse. I can only imagine how you must alienate people at [school/work/...]! No wonder you don't have any friends. [Added if needed: And any you think you have either are too polite to tell you how you offend them, or they have something wrong with them, too, like [person's name]." "I do my best." "It doesn't help. You need to do something different." "I'll try to do better." "You refuse to discuss anything real. You only talk about irrelevant things on television. You always get defensive. Something is wrong with you." "I've changed how I interact with people a lot over the years. But I'll try even harder. I try to take into account everything you say." "You never change anything about yourself. You think you are perfect and everybody else is wrong." "I don't claim I'm perfect." "You never accept any responsibility. You only try to do the minimum you think you have to do to not get [specify here something dependent person fears greatly, and which authority figure can in fact cause to happen to dependent person, e.g. homelessness]." "I really do try." "Next you'll probably say then you'll stop trying. I'm trying to help you. Why won't you talk about this with me?" ~ "You never listen to anything I say. You just keep talking to yourself and not listening. I'm only trying to tell you things I think will help you. I don't need this.".... [Whether dependent person tries to argue against any of what authority figure has said, or else keeps quiet, authority figure keeps getting more angry....]
 8a. "You never do anything." [Alternatively: "You never do anything without having to be asked to."] "I do a lot of things." "You only do what you want to do, not what needs to be done."~ "You never finish the job. You always try to do as little as possible."[fn.103[ Go to footnote! ]] ~ "Can you do [whatever] for me?" "What is it you want?" "When somebody asks you for something, you should just say 'Yes'".... [Authority figure's use of "someone" here, instead of "I", obfuscates a specific personal wish as a universal obligation to all humanity, which is appropriate, since each authority figure identifies themself with all authority figures, who constitute, in their view, the whole of humanity in an honorific as opposed to merely phylogenetic/biological sense: the universal community of order-givers, so that, here, "someone" == "an authority figure".[fn.114[ Go to footnote! ]]]
 8b. "Why do you have to do it now? Wait till I'm gone. You should be helping me get out the door, now." [In the computer world, this would be called "parallel processing", i.e., person issuing the order wants to be able to be doing something entirely different while subordinate person carries out the order.]
 8c. "You don't get brownie points for doing what you're supposed to do." ~ "What do you want: A medal or a chest to pin it on?"
 8d. "You think I [i.e., petty authority figure] don't do anything except eat bon-bons all day, but I've been working hard all day [doing things that, often, dependent person wouldn't see any good reason for anybody to do, if dependent person dared think such dangerous thoughts[fn.105[ Go to footnote! ]]], while you don't do anything."
 9. "You have a very negative attitude." ~ "Just because you're unhappy, you don't have to try to make everybody around you unhappy, too."
 10a. "Don't yell at me!" [To anticipate any doubt here, these words are spoken by authority figure, and directed at dependent person.] ~ "Don't look at me that way!"[ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ] ~ "Why did you answer me that way?" [cf: Paragraph #4, above[ Compare with discourse in Paragraph #4! ]]
 10b. Response of person with power, to dependent person, when dependent person tries to stand up to being bossed, quizzed, nagged, whatever: "Just who do you think you are?" [Dear reader: I apologize for taking your time to read this all too well-known truism, but I feel it is important to be comprehensive. Thank you for bearing with me on this detail.]
 11. Dependent person: "I'm going to do [x], now." -- where [x] is something dependent person thinks (or at least hopes...) will please (or at least appease...) person with power over him or her. Person with power replies: "Why are you telling me about this?", "Why do I need to know about that?".... [Compare: Paragraph #4, above[ Compare with discourse in Paragraph #4! ]] ~ Dependent person (trying to make sure what he or she is about to do: [y], is really what authority figure wants, since otherwise he or she sees no reason to do it): "So you want [y]?" Authority figure: "Stop asking me!" [Compare: Paragraph #2, above[ Compare with discourse in Paragraph #2! ]]
A paradoxical meta-elaboration of this discourse space:
 12. "Everything's not about you." [Authority figure is enlightening dependent person, here.]
The Pedagogy of the Empowered:
 13. "I [authority figure] said you [dependent person] could take this out [do whatever authority figure wants dependent person to do]; but you didn't."
Or cloyingly disengenuous:
 14. "If you happen to go past [wherever], could you [do whatever]?" ~ "If you've got a minute, would you mind [doing whatever]?" --Selfless authority figure knows (or could learn...) that dependent person wasn't planning on going past [wherever], that [whatever] will likely take a lot longer than "a minute", that dependent person has few if any free minutes, and that whenever dependent person does have a free minute, dependent person vainly hopes to use it for respite from catering to authority figure(s).
And, in closing, from the work world:
 15. Memo to all employees: "This meeting is mandatory. Looking forward to seeing you all, [Boss]." During the meeting, [Boss] emphasizes that the company treats employees as adults and expects everyone to take initiative and responsibility. [See: Example of the discourse of leadership in the employer-employee social relationship[ Example of employer-employee discourse! ]  See also: Example from the world of parents and toddlers[ Example of parent-toddler discourse! ]]
[ Email me your questions and/or thoughts! ]Email me interesting experiences you have had....

Learn  about good authority figures, and how bad ones can become better: My EdD dissertation is on this subject, in the context of psychoanalytic training supervision; I provide verbatim rescripts (also: here...) of snippets of supervisor-supervisee interaction, to make getting started as easy as possible for authority figures who cannot otherwise figure this out.
Practice not overlooking the obvious.
Study where the consumer is king defendant.
Read about wilful rudeness at the door to the men's restroom: See it!
[ ]  [ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ]
 [ Where do you throw your used paper towels in the restroom? ]

Read story of the dutiful son and the ingrate.
Learn how persons try to be helpful.
Think about famous O'Henry story of sentimental waste.
Start making sense!
Why do we all need to return to traditional moral values?
Read about my (BMcC) childrearing.
Learn how I am trying to stop "putting my foot in my mouth".
Think  about one form of peremptory "discourse" deployed by big-time [nation-state level] power: Monumentality.
[ ] [ What do monumental monuments tell persons? ]

Read  my doctoral dissertation; it's all about communication in social relations where one party is dependent on another (asymmetrical power relations).
Return to aphorisms for a human[e] world.
Return to thoughts and images not otherwise classified.
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Copyright © 2004 Brad McCormick, Ed.D.
bradmcc@cloud9.net [ Email me! ]
28 March 2008CE (2008-03-28 ISO 8601)
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My (BMcC) mother was controlling and intrusive (item: as a teenager, she forbade me to pick my pimples, but she made me stand still for her to pick them with her fingernails...). At around age 8 years, I accomplished a very fast example of phonemic evolution, transforming [slurring...]: "mother", gradually, probably via: "muth", into: "mud". One day, my father had me in front of him in the dining room, with my mother a few feet away to one side, and my father instructed me that calling my mother "mud" was not acceptable, and, after reminding me of all she did for me, he instructed me to tell my mother I loved her [I forget this detail, but he may have also said: "And mean it."].
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