S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Boundaries "102"

In a recent post, (linked to this post's title) I talked about "boundaries." When a person has psychological boundaries that have been damaged, there can be bad consequences for those around them. This is particularly true of national leaders. Our current president has damaged boundaries, and so does, I believe, his current nominee for the Supreme Court. Both of them exhibit thick/thin boundaries.

This is what I mean: Judge Alito has offered a set of strange explanations for his previous behaviors. He said he doesn't remember joining an organization that wanted to keep his alma mater Princeton as it was - with a student body comprised of white males. He says he did not think about a conflict of interest when the Vanguard case first came up, after originally promising the Judiciary Committee to recuse himself if any such cases ever arose. But his brain somehow comes as he cites obscure reasons to side with big corporations or the government in his judicial rulings. His boundary problems here center on undue rigidity. He is unable to "get it" that real people are deeply affected by his legalistic parsing of the law in serving his ultra right wing conservative agenda. Notice his answers, make no mistakes, about what he admits and what he does not agree to. He will, in effect, serve at the pleasure of the president as he turns the court in a different direction. Our current president also has boundary rigidity problems. They are as alike as peas in a pod.

Boundaries that are too thick, people who are too rigid have one set of problems. Equally problematic are boundaries that are too thin. "Boundaries," by Joel Mobius, is an excellent little short piece about this psychological state, claifiying the bad outcomes for those around such people. This boundaries are exhibited when people are too intrusive towards others, not having respect for others' boundaries. Judge Alito exhibited thin boundaries when he ruled that it was correct for police to be able to strip-search a 10-year old girl. Another example is his thinking on requiring spouses to be notified about a decision to get an abortion. Our current president has thick/thin boundaries as does his SCOTUS nominee.

The International Women's Media Foundation posted a short training article about boundary problems with leaders. It is very instructive when it comes to the leaders about whom I have been talking. These leaders cause constant conflict by their leadership style. Would that they could undergo this kind of leadership training: IWMF: Leadership Development SeriesModule 3 - Conflict Resolution for Leaders: Defining Boundaries

An episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show discussed boundaries in a much less lofty way-focusing on practical solutions for women in particular:

Do you have a hard time standing up for yourself? Do you keep agreeing to do
things that you really don't want to do? Do you tolerate rude comments or pushy
people because you can't handle conflict? Do you take things personally?
Thousands of you told us in an online poll that the quality you most want to
develop in your lives setting boundaries. Lifestyle Makeover expert Cheryl
Richardson says that creating stronger boundaries is the number one way for most
women to improve their lives. Today she shows you how to stand up for yourself!
Set personal boundaries and free yourself from the "disease to please" with
these three steps!

References to the idea of boundaries in a couple my past posts include: "Taking stock" and "Two"


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