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Reader Letters #1, Part 4.1

When I was doing Part 4 to this series, I did a lot of research on the internet and in the book The Game to try to make a psychological profile. One thing I found interesting though was how little of Neil Strauss’s background, particularly his childhood and upbringing, was discussed, as opposed to Mystery’s, which was described in excruciating detail.

I tried a bunch of Google searches and looked at his Wikipedia and it was incredibly vague about his childhood, so I had to end up doing the piece without that info and worked around it.

However I found some updated information that confirms a lot of my theories about Neil Strauss and his issues, so I am going to revise Part 4 with an update. However since it’s unfair to make people who already read that piece to make their way through it all over again just to track down the updated information, I decided to also make this addendum post isolating the information for people who already read the piece and are just looking to read the updated info.

I recently was made aware of an interview he did in March 2011 called “Regrets of a Pickup Artist” where he actually discusses his childhood, and it confirms a lot of the psychological elements I’ve discussed in this series.

The whole thing is short and interesting, so I recommend following the link and reading the whole thing, but here’s the part that jumped out at me:

Growing up, I was watched by my parents and strongly critiqued. Instead of saying they loved me or showing physical attention, they would joke that I had a Roman nose – that it was roamin’ all over my face. Teasing was their way of showing love, but then you are young, sometimes you can’t tell the difference.

As a teenager I was a guy who was trying to belong, yet never belonged. I was scrawny and wanted a nose job. Each night, at 15, I would go to bed and wish that I would live long enough to have sex.

My first crush was on a girl called Jessica when I was in sixth grade, but I was made fun of for following her wherever she went in school. Years later, at a school reunion, the first thing she did was make fun of my hairline.

High school was equally barren. My friends and I called ourselves the “V Club” because we were all virgins – it was like a bad teen movie. We would sacrifice any amount of dignity to lose our virginity and yet it never happened. The girl I took to the prom ended up leaving with another guy.

The main reason I went to Vassar College was because it had recently gone from a women’s school to co-ed, and I figured I had a good chance of having sex. That didn’t materialise, but in between transferring from Vassar to Columbia University I met a girl and, at 21, finally had sex. Because I didn’t know when it would happen again, I dated her for a couple of years.

He briefly discusses Lisa Leveridge:

While living this lifestyle I met Lisa Leveridge, the guitarist for Courtney Love’s all-girl band, the Chelsea. Lisa was like no other woman I’d met. When she walked into the room, it was like the seas parted. There was something about her that was just more complete than other women. After The Game was published in 2005, we lived together for a while. It was perfect, but after two years the relationship had run its course.

I found this pretty interesting, given the dynamic I described in part 3 about what creates chemistry in a codependent:

Here is what I think chemistry is. Some people think we get attracted to partners who represent our opposite-sex parent. Women supposedly marry their fathers and men supposedly marry their mothers. This is not necessarily true. In relationships, we feel intense chemistry with partners who remind us of aspects of our parents we have the most unresolved, open issues with. And in relationships, we become those aspects of our parents we most identified with.

Someone with codependent caretaker values, they have unresolved issues with hard to please parents and never getting their emotional needs met from them. Therefore when they have a lot of chemistry with someone, it tends to be with someone who has the same issues as their parents as far as being hard to please and being inconsiderate of the codependent’s emotional needs. That intense chemistry they feel, that familiarity, it comes from unconsciously recognizing the most influential dynamic of their lives: the dynamic they had with their parents.

When reading The Game, it seemed to me that Leveridge was giving off lots of mixed signals, thereby hooking Strauss with intermittent rewards, and was also withholding validation from him like a carrot on a stick much in the way his parents used to. Then after driving him craz with those techniques, she then hit him with a narcissistic technique known as “idealization” where she hit him with a ton of flattery and ego boosting. (All people with narcissistic tendencies idealize and then devalue later on.) Then he possibly rationalized it into being something much more noble than it actually was. I want to stress, I’m not saying Leveridge is a full-blown clinical narcissist or any other type of pathological emotional vampire, because I don’t know enough about her to say that for sure. I am saying, however, that she does seem to have some narcissistic traits based on how the book describes her. Strauss even admits that modesty was never her strong suit.

Because his parents didn’t seem to be all-out emotional vampires, but rather seemed more like relatively decent people who had a few unfortunate vampire tendencies, the girl that produced intense chemistry for him was a lot more normal than the extremely damaged girl who produced intense chemistry for Mystery, whose dad was an all-out vampire. But when skimming the book for this series of posts, I did notice that a lot of her “push-pull” techniques and withholding of praise seemed to be what hooked him the hardest. It seems like the negative aspects of his parents that Leveridge had in her are exactly what drew him to her.

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