Will Ferrell and Chad Smith
Is there any wonder why both of these guys are quite funny, and merit the same likeabilty? Let’s find out.
Parataxic Distortion, it is not a word you hear everyday, that is for sure. But it’s concept you experience quite often. And when I explain it, it will make a lot of sense. But let me start by asking you some questions: Have you ever had a situation where you met a person that reminds you of another person, say an old friend? Then because of the feelings towards that old friend, you want or start treating the new person like the them? Happens all the time, doesn’t it? Yes. We meet someone new and then they remind us of one of our close friends, so we instantly click with them. Or maybe we meet someone who reminds of a person that bullied us, we then maybe consciously or subconsciously start to distant our selves from them. Either way, you are now experiencing parataxic distortion.
Let’s begin, Parataxic Distortion: “an attitude toward another person based on a distorted evaluation, usually because of too close an identification of that person with emotionally significant figures in phases of the patient’s earlier life” (parataxic distortion, n.d.).
The Tyler Jackson Paraphrase: Parataxic Distortion is treating a new person like someone you already know, because they remind you of that person already known.
Why is this something that we should learn about? A couple reasons: It literally influences our decisions in day to day life and when we interact with people. And we may be treating some people with more confidence then we should or distancing our selves from someone for no good reason, because both remind us of a previous person.
Looking at it from another angle: There is danger in this, we could trust someone a little too much, that does not merit our trust and then our information or secrets could be used in a way that does not benefit us.
Example: Let’s say you are working on a business deal and the person across the table really reminds you of your uncle, who you really like. So, you start trusting him and bring him into your confidence a little more then he has proven worthy of, because of his likeness to your uncle. Then let’s say this person you don’t really know takes your secrets in business to profit for his own good, cause you gave them up.
Now, you have not done anything wrong, but because of parataxic distortion, now you have lost. See, his likeness to your uncle distorted your view of him, because he conjured good feelings from another relationship you have.
Now on the flip side, I think parataxic distortion can bring good, too. Here is a real life example: There is a certain Starbucks I go to, and there is a certain barista that I really like to see and talk to when I’m there. He is a good guy and vey likable, and we hit it off. Now, this is where this gets cool. I go on a date to a certain Olive Garden with a special lady, and our waiter really reminds me of my Starbucks barista friend, because of his interaction, jokes, and mannerisms. Needless to say, we really hit it off. The cool thing is, we got more samples of wine, great service, a new friend and a ton of mints when we left. He also got a good tip. So in that instance parataxic distortion paid off.
Here is another danger to keep in mind with parataxic distortion, it may cause us to treat some people worse then they deserve. Example: Let’s say a woman has on old boyfriend that treated he poorly, and now she has a new coworker that reminds her of him, but he is actually a good guy. But because he looks like and has mannerisms similar to the old boyfriend she distances herself from him. Now the man does not deserve that but because the woman does not know what parataxic distortion is, she has now alienated someone who could be great.
On the flip side, I think it can warn you to watch out for someone. Maybe that coworker does have a lot of characteristics of the previous boyfriend and maybe those are signs of an uglier side you are more familiar with, say if the boyfriend was abusive in private. Something to keep in mind. Parataxic distortion may be a protective mechanisms, cause it is showing you what could be there because of the surface similarities.
Further more, I also think the reason why parataxic distortion can create instant friendship is because a person is so similar to someone you know and because of those similarities you can sync into some of those predisposed “ebbs and flows” the friendship has. Meaning if a joke was funny to your old friend, it might be funny to your new friend, because their make up and neurons and synapses are similar.
Now I have wondered if the way people look invite certain responses that programs similar looking people to act the same because they get the same treatment from everyone. Could that mean that we have less control over who we are then we actually think? Possibly, if you are unaware of all this. But the nice thing is that you don’t have to let others define you, unless you are a Believer and it is Jesus. You can choose how you act and are responsible for your life and behavior choices, good or bad. But that is another topic on another day, and in an older post if you care to read about not being boxed by society.
In wrapping this up parataxic distortion happens all the time. It is good to be aware of it, and to apply it, because someone might not be our friend we are getting close to, and someone we have been alienating might be our next best friend. This idea goes for all relationships, business, personal, dating and family.
parataxic distortion (n.d.). In The Free Dictionary . Retrieved December 2, 2014, from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/parataxic+distortion