The support people seek

by Captain Walker

Categories: Humanities, Psychology & Philosophy

Lately I’ve been thinking about ‘support’. As always I ask, “What does it mean?” What do people think it means? What people don’t consider in providing or receiving support is that it can be dysfunctional or destructive. The reasons why the latter are almost never considered or weighed in the balance, are:

  1. A macro-cultural view that support is always good or mostly good.
  2. In generation snow-flake – which has infected even adults – if one is not supportive to others, one is to be labelled as callous (you don’t attract or keep friends).

Some will object to me dealing with dysfunctional support at the top of this blog. Tough – I’ve seen too much of it in the last 30-odd years. The results of it have been broadly appalling e.g.

  1. Institutionalisation.
  2. Perpetuation of dysfunctional patterns – especially addictions and self-defeating patterns.
  3. Exploitations and reciprocations – for personal advantage.

Did I say all support is dysfunctional or bad? I did not! Whilst some of the above have been seen in ‘the institutions’, I see the same in other spheres of life. Did I say anything about hospitals or health services? I did not. But I’m betting that loads of people who know of me will be leaping to conclusions.


Obviously – a single word in the English language has several meanings. Support could be like financial support or psychological support – and I’m not going into an essay on the various types of support. This is not a PhD thesis. For the avoidance of confusion, my thoughts here are nothing to do with my usual domain of professional practice, where I may have contractual obligations to provide ‘support’ i.e.  paid and told to support – else.

The big of meaning from my long experience is, that it gathers around psychological and financial support.  The next big meaning is ‘confirmation or validation of ideas or beliefs.’ The latter could be about religious, spiritual or political issues. Support necessarily involves the tangible actions from another in the above contexts. I’m not going into self-help or self-support.

Emotional support is defined by the APA as follows

the verbal and nonverbal processes by which one communicates care and concern for another, offering reassurance, empathy, comfort, and acceptance. It may be a major factor contributing to the effectiveness of self-help groups, within which members both provide and receive emotional support, and to attachment, in which the caregiver provides emotional support to the child.

The APA definition obviously has a particular context which is from a ‘therapeutic’ point of view. I have no problem with any of that. See an incomplete mindmap below, and I’ll have fantasies to strangle anybody who says something is missing when it can be part of one of the categories. It is a bledy mindmap – not an essay – FFS!

Where I am not obliged by professional duties, emotional support is a different matter.

There is a kind of support where people say, ‘Just be there for me.‘ What – so I have to stand there and watch them rot and say little. Tough – it ain’t happening. I’m not doing that.


I’ve been observing a few people (I have no friends). Oh yes – I compare people and situations all the time, like nobody’s business. What – is there a law against that? [My disclaimer below is still good even if individuals can identify themselves.]

Person A

  1. Had and still has loads of dysfunctional patterns. I only nudged in various directions.
  2. I provided loads of brutal feedback over the years.
  3. Took action.
  4. Has got their act together for the most part.
  5. Has disassociated from idiots and is now a co-warrior against stupidity. ?
  6. Is now self-driven – frighteningly so.

Person B

  1. Aware of numerous dysfunctional patterns but is stuck. No amount of nudging works.
  2. Is going nowhere fast – but is happy to count minor changes. Yuh know – ‘the every little helps‘ sort of bull.
  3. Brutal feedback serves to create distance. I’m a pain. Sources of pain are to be avoided even if they say ‘bring it on’.
  4. Unable or unwilling to take action.
  5. Is driven mainly by biological and social forces, which ensnare.
  6. About to crash and burn but has a group of supporters who would say differently. They provide hope. I do not!

Person C

  1. Categorised by me as an intellectual hobo. Pretty intelligent person – not obviously clinically depressed or on antidepressants.
  2. Travels the world on spiritual quests – while renting properties to keep the bills under control.
  3. Looks and smells like a vagrant most of the time – evidence of after-effects seen by a ring scum or rather gunge after they left a bathtub in a right mess. Their bed room was a dump site and smelled like it. Was provided with loads of support by a benefactor (at sub-market rates) for several months.
  4. Has seen ‘n’ counsellors and none were helpful.
  5. Sought my professional advice and support as a friend, which I never provide – and got a bit shirty when I wouldn’t go there.
  6. Is now not in my range of observations. Should I say ‘Thank God’ – except that I’m an atheist.

Rounding up

  1. Support is not all that it is cranked up to be.
  2. Support has good and bad sides.
  3. Most people only think of positive aspects of support.
  4. Recipients of support love it, because it makes them feel psychologically better – like they have ‘a true friend’ or that ‘they’re not alone in their mess’.
  5. Avoidance of loneliness is often seen as support.

What’s next? You seek support! You ain’t getting it from me! ?

Disclaimer & Guidance

The reading of posts on this blog is subject to the Terms & Conditions. Unpalatable truths and personal experiences may be told. Nothing posted on this blog is directed at any identified person. On occasions individuals are quoted anonymously. That does not mean that they have been identified to the world. Should any person or organisation reading this blog find something that makes them feel or know that they  are being referred to – any such perceived identification does not mean ‘identified to the world’. ‘Stupid‘ is an impish figment of my imagination who occasionally is allowed to pop up – and does not represent any known individual, individuals or groups. The treatment of  ‘Stupid‘ is not representative of the way people are treated in real life. Adverse inferences made are dismissed in advance.  

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