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Author: slowlythere Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 3078  
Subject: Re: Can altruism, benevolence be taught? Date: 12/7/2006 1:41 PM
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Hello amiablejak,

I don't know how I ended up so different from my family, too.

I don't know why or how, but I'm glad I'm so different from my family. :) It's a good sign in my case.

Your dilemma raises a question for me. Do you have to care about yourself before you can care about other people? Can this man (he is 18) care about the homeless / poor / disabled / veteran / environment /stray dogs when he doesn't care about getting a job or taking any responsibility for his own life?

Very good points which I've kept in mind.

He, like myself, does have very strong codependency issues. Defining it can be difficult for the uninitiated, but an oversimplistic way of defining it, in terms of it's relevance to my desire to get him involved with volunteering, is that he tends to work harder and be more passionate when he's trying to help others he cares about, than when he has to help himself. In other words, he is often most motivated when he's helping others (that he believes *deserves* to be helped or cared about). By this same token, I'm using him as a deliberate and conscious justification of keeping myself cognizant of my own health and well-being so that I can, in turn, help him.

At this time I'm using his codependent inclinations as a way of trying to get him to be passionate (or vaguely caring or empathetic) in order to stimulate, motivate him in what I hope is a less harm-prone (violence, rage, etc.) direction. If I can even push him off into what I consider to be healthy ways of feeling, thinking and interacting with people, all the better.

For further background, other than hedonism (for him, this means getting drunk, having sex, hanging out with his friends, or playing his guitar), it's hard to get any real sense of what he truly cares about. He typically is not well-groomed or related (thank goodness for deodorant!), but that's somewhat in vogue for his social group. When I'm not taking care of my personal hygiene or getting too sloppy with the state of my clothing, I know it's because I'm depressed. Depression is no stranger to either myself, nor my family.
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