Social Question

Trillian's avatar

What can this person possibly be thinking?

Asked by Trillian (21062 points ) March 3rd, 2010

As often as I see people either on TV or in real life making scenes and public nuisances of themselves, I never cease to be amazed. I can understand the traveler who has come to his limit of delays and problems at the airport and has finally snapped. I am not referring to people who have reached the breaking point.
I refer to the people who are looking for a reason to start problems with either the people near them or the hired help in whatever establishment they happen to be.
From the ridiculous bad behaviour we see on the news and reality TV especially to the loud name calling and attention drawing spectacles in my daily life, I always wonder; What is going through this person’s mind? What do they hope to accomplish?
Many of them are looking around the whole time, either for support or just to see who is watching. Even the non confrontational ones who just feel the need to be more “in” the room than anybody else and engage others loudly and boisterously.
Are they just keeping track so they can brag to their friends later? What is going on in their minds? Have you ever confronted anyone like this or had to deal with them?

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34 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

It’s called a preteen. They should grow out of this behavior but don’t count on it.

dpworkin's avatar

Some people were never socialized properly, have a hard time with empathy, and just never learned how to behave like everyone else. Sometimes it’s an artifact of a disorder (like Aspberger’s Syndrome) sometimes it’s a psychiatric problem, and some people are what the clinical community terms “assholes”.

PacificRimjob's avatar

You’ve got a little map in your soup.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Maybe they’re drunk or high.

Jude's avatar

Someone’s awfully close to 20K. :)

dpworkin's avatar

There’s someone I hope never makes it to 463.

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s an attempt to fulfill a constant need for attention.

Arisztid's avatar

I think that a lot of people are raised to think this is OK, usually by example.

How they were raised is a huge part of this. They are not taught to think about how their behaviour impacts others and do not care enough to teach themselves to later in life. Parents teaching their children that they are oh so special and are entitled to do whatever they want does not help. Some are raised with no discipline, running wild like little animals, including at restaurants when they annoy the bejeesus out of other diners. I bet that children raised that way grow up to be undisciplined and loud adults.

In some cases, it is a result of anger and resentment. Such and so happened to them so they are going to take it out on others, even if the others had nothing to do with what happened to them.

tinyfaery's avatar

You assume these people are actually thinking.

Trillian's avatar

@tinyfaery I admit, I didn’t carry that one all the way through, did I?

escapedone7's avatar

I am thinking of two people right now that this reminds me of. One was diagnosed as borderline personality disorder at her last psychiatric stay. The other one has narcissistic personality disorder. He is literally acting like he is a movie star of his own home made movie, with some imaginary audience watching him. He reminds me so much of the little man from the wizard of oz because he behaves larger than life but behind the curtain he’s just a little man. He thinks like he’s elvis or something. He struts in the room like he’s waiting for an applause.

SeventhSense's avatar

Some of us reached the breaking point years ago. We’re just trying not to kill anyone. I will some times just CLEARLY AND LUCIDLY state my point.

For example, I was leaving the gym and decided I’d treat myself to one of those tasty protein beverages that they sell. I approached the counter and glanced at the menu. Three columns of about 75 different concoctions. The Fat Burner Mango appealed to me because I don’t think I need a lot of calories at night but I was concerned about the sugar being artificial which I’m not down with. I asked the dude behind the counter and he said , “Ya that’s good for fat burning, that’s for protein, blah blah blah.” “I repeated my request for sugar content etc.”
He said, “ya we have a sheet around here”. “Great can I have it?” ” He walked away within ten feet and started wiping the counter or something. I shook my head puzzled at this strange indifference. At this point a random guy at the counter walked over to me and started elucidating on the sodium content sure that this was my main concern for some unknown reason. My breathing started quickening.

The other guy behind the counter walked over to me and said as if I had just magically appeared, “Can I help you?” Now granted these guys are all right next to each other it’s not a big bar or anything. I told him my concern about the sugar and he started telling me about the protein. This was the point…. Without losing it but with enough bass and treble and enunciation in my voice to frighten small mammals in the vicinity, I said “CAN I PLEASE JUST HAVE A LIST OF THE INGREDIENTS IN THESE DRINKS?” Within 2.3 seconds a clean laminated sheet with the entire protein, sugar, vitamin and calorie content of each drink was produced. I said “Thank You.” I got my shake, walked away and they no doubt muttered, “What was his problem?”

CaptainHarley's avatar

@escapedone7

Kinda sad, actually. : (

escapedone7's avatar

@SeventhSense that instance does not sound overblown or like you lost your cool. That was just being assertive. I was thinking she meant people acting completely psycho.

Like Soulja Girl , who had bipolar disorder and lost her marbles on a train when she was having an attack of bipolar mania.

Sometimes it is a mental problem. Sometimes it is a drug problem. The last person I saw totally lose it was a drug addict who came to the emergency room to try to convince the docs she was in pain and needed vicoden. She was caught up and fighting with her boyfriend after she had pretended to be crippled with pain so bad she made him wheel her into the ER in a wheelchair. I was in the exam room adjacent to hers and heard the doctor refuse her vicoden and she got up and started running around the ER going NUTS!!!!! They ended up calling mental health and she found herself in a psych unit for observation. LOL

SeventhSense's avatar

It’s a fine line.

PacificRimjob's avatar

MM, delicious Vicodin..

kyanblue's avatar

@Arisztid—I agree that it’s definitely a product of what behaviors they learned as children. Parents can model discreet behavior and their children will likely feel a sense of shame if they’re too loud and rowdy in a public place. If parents tend to act boisterous at restaurants, in malls, et cetera, children will probably become acclimatized to the same deal.

My sister and I often threw tantrums as children, but never in public. I had a deep-seated fear of making a scene—probably because my parents were the type of people that tried to fly under the radar.

davidbetterman's avatar

Very good question. I notice nobody really hit on the food/sugar dilemma we have. Much of our foods are laced with sugar in one form or another. Sugar raises your blood sugar levels (obviously) but then drops them quite sharply. This sharp drop in blood sugar levels causes behavior abnormalities exactly like the behavior you are describing in this question.
Add to this problem withdrawal difficulties due to not being able to smoke a cigarette whenever they want. Behavioral abnormalities due to nicotine deprivation is also quite extreme and causes assholeness nastiness similar to what you have described.
And don’t let’s leave out the caffeine. There is more asshole negative behavior related to missing out on your fix than you would believe. And it isn’t just coffee. All those Red Bull shit type drinks are behavior modifiers, and they only pump you up for so long and then, WHAM!
And last but not least, there are prescribed medications for depression. Happy pills. These help promote negative behavior, especially when alcohol is ingested with them.
And then there’s alcohol, but hey…nuff said!

Haleth's avatar

There were some customers like that when I waited tables. I always thought that people who didn’t have much control over their lives liked to feel mighty by bossing around waiters. The less power someone has, the more they will abuse it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Ha! This is so relevant to my journey on the train home today – So a guy comes in with a newspaper and sits down next to this other guy and the latter just goes crazy after looking at the newspaper and he starts to (really loudly) go on about Cuomo taking over NY and how governor Patterson was ‘deep in war, playing the race card…hell don’t look at me, I’m Puerto Rican’ (no, this doesn’t have to make sense, don’t worry) and something about how he dropped out and the guy with the newspaper probably didn’t but what does it matter when they breath the same air and it was all so ridiculous and obnoxious…my iPod didn’t help…and I am sitting there mouthing ‘shut the fuck up’...anyway eventually he got off screaming about how nothing ever changes except the weather and getting older and black people being losers for 1000 years…anyway, yeah…if he wouldn’t get off I’d go over there and nicely tell him to shut his trap…

Ria777's avatar

@Trillian: when you asked what can they “possibly be thinking” you skipped over the crucial matter that they don’t think anything at all. the R-complex or reptile brain overrides the part that thinks. back when I did it a lot more I wished that you could respond to people at your leisure, after you had thought over it the way that you can online.

I used to act this way. (and when I did I always felt bad and guilty afterwards. not everyone does, though, I know.) once in while I still do. it happened that I felt so angry and tense generally that it would erupt a lot. the focus and concentration that I had would break and I would erupt.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
Be careful. I know you’re tough but don’t get hurt. It’s not worth it

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense He wouldn’t do shit – the louder they yell the more harmless they are. but..thank you

Ria777's avatar

@dpworkin: and some people are what the clinical community terms “assholes”.

you don’t mean that as a joke, do you? that gets to why I so loathe the pseudoscience of psychiatry. in essence, you do more than take your personal feelings about a person and elevate them to the status of science. I do that all the time. as do we all. at least I don’t decide a person’s fate based on something so subjective. I barely know. unlike a psychiatrist I don’t pretend to know.

filmfann's avatar

In the bay area, we have a local nut who has become an internet sensation for 2 of his outbursts. Epic Beard Man seemed to make the American version of the Japanese Bus Uncle, but not long ago he was being tazed at an A’s game for shouting obscenities.

JeffVader's avatar

As always, I think @Arisztid has gotten straight to the crux of the issue, it’s down to parenting & upbringing. Badly behaved parents breed badly behaved children.
My only close experience of something like this was in Tesco’s in Wellingborough. At the tills 2 down there was a family, mum, dad, & teenage daughter having some sort of row, didn’t seem like much. Then the dad just exploded at the teen & grabbed her by the hair, not really sure what he thought he was doing. So I intervened & incapacitated him.

dpworkin's avatar

@Ria777 You are fighting a ghost. No one defends psychiatry much any more; not psychodynamic psychiatry. The only psychiatrists left, except in New York and Chicago, are now psychopharmacologists, and they don’t treat patients, they just manage medications. Freud is a distant memory. Most therapists have a cognitive-behavioral background, and they treat by protocol, not by their “feelings.”

And of course “asshole” was a joke. There is no such clinical term, and some people are just jerks.

Also, I’m not a psychiatrist or a clinician, so fighting the ghost through me is even less than meaningless.

mattbrowne's avatar

Many reasons. Lack of secure attachment when they were babies. Bad parenting in general. Failure to learn delayed gratification. Peer pressure at school. The list is very long.

Ria777's avatar

@dpworkin: when I say “psychiatry” I do not mean Freud. I mean the DSM. I mean locked wards and institutions (which had existed hundreds of years before Freud). I mean psychiatrists deciding a person’s fate for them. I mean taking SSRI’s and giving Ritalin to children.

And of course “asshole” was a joke. There is no such clinical term, and some people are just jerks.

I didn’t need explaining to me that ”[t]here is no such clinical term”. (though I argue that a number of entries in the DSM, thinking specifically of the sociopathic and psychopathic classifications amount to more or less, this. arguably borderline personality. understand that I don’t believe in this pseudoscience. only repeating what the DSM says, the way I might talk some astrologer’s chart.) in the same sentence, though, you say that “some are just jerks”. actually, I don’t believe so. everyone has reasons for behaving the way that they do, and I mean that in two way. one, everyone has rationales and motivations, poor or good or otherwise. two, our genes and our personal histories.

tinyfaery's avatar

Thanks, Tom.

dpworkin's avatar

I agree that the DSM is a very flawed institution that exists primarily for political and economic reasons, nor does it often fairly or completely help to diagnose anyone in a helpful way, so as to suggest a treatment protocol.

I also agree with you about the over-prescription of psychoactive drugs, and abuses on hospital psychiatric wards.

Arisztid's avatar

@Cloverfield Thankyou. :)

I have experienced this problem more times than I can count.

SeventhSense's avatar

@kyanblue
Well there is a difference between being respectful and being traumatized too.
It’s always the quiet ones that completely lose it at one point..
Neighbor: “I never would have guessed that he had body parts in the freezer”. :)

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