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NancyLebovitz comments on "Life Experience" as a Conversation-Halter - Less Wrong

11 Post author: Seth_Goldin 18 March 2010 07:39PM

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Comment author: NancyLebovitz 21 March 2010 02:32:46AM 1 point [-]

You're welcome.

I agree that it isn't necessary to have been abused to understand, but there are different kinds of understanding.

There's the "that makes sense to me" sort of understanding, and there's the appreciation of feeling, detail, and implication which comes from living through a thing.

I think "you just can't understand" has a least a few sources. One is giving up if the second sort of understanding can't be conveyed. One is not yet having a confusing and painful situation clear in one's mind. Another is dealing with people (and they aren't rare) who ask painful questions without listening to the answers.

Comment author: SilasBarta 21 March 2010 02:50:48AM 2 points [-]

I largely agree. Using your terminology, my dispute is with those who refuse to attempt to convey the first sort of understanding, simply because they can't convey the second sort of understanding. (Or, more generally, those who use the impossibility of passing on a high, unreachable standard of understanding, as a reason to make no attempt to communicate it to a weaker standard.)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 21 March 2010 03:20:49AM 2 points [-]

This living with people thing is complicated.

I make a hobby of explaining things and I'm fairly good at it. I just came up with my two kinds of understanding theory when I wrote that comment.

I don't think it's reasonable to expect most people to have a handle on what sorts of understanding there are. If anyone knows of a system which includes the idea, please let me know.

What I'm hoping is clear is that if someone tells you "you just can't understand", it may be more about their ability to explain or willingness to expend patience rather than an absolute barrier.

The practical and emotional reasons why people don't leave abusive relationships aren't a secret-- I can believe you thought you had to figure it out for yourself (and thank you for trying--- many would have just stopped at the idea that those who don't leave are weak or foolish) because the "you can't understand" contingent implied strongly that there were no sources of information to be had.

Actually, googling on "why doesn't she leave" turns up quite a bit, though some of the first few hits says it's the wrong question.