X-Message-Number: 7510
Date: 16 Jan 97 06:05:52 EST
From: Michael Darwin <>
Subject: Selfish cryonicists

There has been a good deal of response to my remark about selfish cryonicists
and how "it just ain't so."  

I know many cryonicists who are generous, lovely people.  But they do not
predominate, and the in particular they are a rarity among the leadership and
activists in cryonics.  For sometime I made the observations I have about this
type of self-absorbed cryonicist until about a year ago Steve Harris put it
succinctly (having accumulated a significant mass of first hand experience as
well).  He pointed me towards the DSM (the psych guys' diagnostic reference)
and a catergory in it called "Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)."  

Now, whether this is indeed a disease or disorder, I've no idea and could care
less.  A scant few years ago homosexuality was classed as a disease in the DSM.
However, say what you will about the DSM, it often can't be beat for a succinct

description of a syndrome or pattern of human behavior (homosexuality included).
And, whether or not it is a disease or disorder, I find it damned unpleasant to
deal with people who are NPD.  As a "victim" myself, I'm sure others feel
likewise ;-)

In my personal experience, somewhere around 50% of the cryonicists I've met meet
the DSM classification for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  It has little to
do with "selfishness" in the sense it is being discussed here.  It has a great
deal to do with:

*being unable to understand how other people feel
*being unable to reasonably anticipate how other people will react to social
*being relatively insensitive to the subtle, nonverbal cues of others' behavior
which are critical to quality communication

*having a sense of comic book grandiosity such as renaming yourself Tom Terrific
or Super Mann.
*being unable to laugh at yourself and to see yourself in the context of your
own humanity, and, to quote Robert Burns "see ourselves as others see us."
*seeing others as either enemies or friends, as all good or all bad but not
being able to deal with shades of gray and to accept people as the complex,
flawed and often contradictory creatures they are
*believing John Galt, Dagny, Taggart or any other Ubermensch are even possible
as real people, let alone desirable as ideals

*being unable to focus on the mundane tasks required to achieve dreams and goals
because they are always fixated on the ideal, the perfect, THE FUTURE.

*not being able to live fully and well now because they are held back by a crude
world, full of crude people who are keeping them from success and who will be
gone "comes the revolution" or "comes nanotechnology.
*seeing solutions to complex problems in terms of narrow, simplistic answers.

Such people are tiresome, unforgiving and often vicious.  And yes, the world has
plenty of them who are most decidedly not cryonicists.  Not all the
characteristics listed above are in every person with NPD.  But enough are.

I have met a lot of "nice people" in my life.  No, they are not Mother Theresa.
They are just people who you feel you can turn your back on without finding an
arrow in it.  They have an easygoing sense about them that makes the NPD-type
look like a wound up clock spring.  They can laugh at themselves and they are
genuinely interested in others -- and not just because their survival is at
stake.  I recently received a multipage diatribe about how horrible the

situation was for the person who wrote it because the person they wrote it about
did not share their values and as a result, might genuinely threaten their
survival.  Typical NPD.  The kind of person I like to be around doesn't try to
remake you into them or something like them, nor do they assume you think and
feel as they do -- and if you don't then something is desperately wrong -- with

I sincerely hope Steve Harris, who has a copy of the DSM, will add his comments
to mine since he is a far keener observer of cryonicist's behavior and far
better at articulating those observations.

So, you don't score points as a nice person by saving the whales.  Every NPD
movie star in Hollywod (and most of them DEFINE NPD) has a "cause" to make them
look like caring human beings.  Some people are nice just because it feel good.
Real mystery, huh?

Mike Darwin

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