Guest Post #5: Why Does Mental Illness Stigma Exist?

in_the_asylum
In The Asylum, Unknown artist.

Matthew Malin, owner and creator of the blog  Confessions, has written a wonderful guest post describing the history of mental illness stigma, going all the way back to Roman times.    Not only is the subject matter fascinating, but the unique historical perspective shows how the stigma is rooted in two things that seem almost diametrically opposed: mental illness as a medical problem centered in the body; and ancient superstitions, such as demonic possession.   Even today, there are those who regard mental illness as either a primarily medical problem (leading to doctors over-relying on drug therapy) or a spiritual problem. While there may be both medical and spiritual elements involved in mental illness,  both views have led to stigmatization.

If you have a chance, please visit the Confessions blog.   Matthew’s articles are all about living with depression and anxiety, all written from an intimate, Christian perspective:

In the Spring of 2015 an incredible passion for those suffering from Mental Illness was born within the heart of Matty Malin. Through his own struggles with Depression and anxiety, a fire was ignited within his heart. That desire was to create a place of honesty, transparency, and love. We, the broken, have grown far too weary of the masquerade playing out before our eyes in society. We’re tired of hiding behind “I’m fine”. Here you will find unabashed clarity into the soul of man. You will also discover the love of God despite the ugly, sometimes violent, heart of man.

We fully believe that man is sinful and in need of a Savior. Jesus, the perfect son of God, stepped into our world, lived a sinless life, and was murdered voluntarily on the cross for our sins. He took on the wrath of God for us so that we might have access to a relationship with God that will one day result in spending eternity with him. We obtain salvation through faith in His work and by the grace of His loving hand.

We firmly believe that no man can go too far for the love and hope of Christ. Mental Illness can provide some of the darkest days of life. It is here that we need hope and it is here that we can find it in Christ.

WHY DOES MENTAL ILLNESS STIGMA EXIST?
By Matthew Malin

As someone who has dealt with the debilitating effects of Depression and anxiety for a period of 4, almost 5 years, I believe that I’ve stumbled across something much more paralyzing: Mental Health Stigma. The more aware I become of my own struggles and the more honest I am with myself and others, the more I find a growing discomfort with the topic of Mental Health. Why is this? What is it about Mental Health that sends general fear and inquietude through someone who is tasked with aiding the mentally ill?

A timeline of mental illness stigma.

cutting_the_stone
Cutting the Stone by Heironymous Bosch, ca. 1494

I believe that history is ultimately to blame in this arena as well as a shallow thought process towards the issue. The Greek Era (500-100 BC) brought forth our first record of Mental Health treatment. Hippocrates was of the mind that a build up of bodily fluids was to blame. In his words, he said, “It is some kind of black bile that is making you depressed.” Their treatments revolved around the physical removal of whatever fluid was ailing the individual.

The Roman people (100BC-600 AD) did nothing to treat the issue at its core either. Instead, they were of the mind that depression/mental health issues were caused by organic malfunctions. Diet and exercise were prescribed to deal with the issue. Yet another example of a culture misunderstanding the true nature of Mental Health.

During the Middle Ages (600-1100 AD), a holy war was being waged on Satan and any form of mental issue was prescribed to be due to demonic activity. The medication for such issues became obvious: Exorcism or any other kind of holy activity. It is believed that the stigma of such illnesses became obviously prevalent and prejudiced during this time.

This recap ultimately brings us to our day and age. If you take a good hard look at the process of treating/dealing with Mental Illness today, you will see a common thread amongst diagnosis and treatment. The 1950’s brought about the thought that medical treatment was the only way to deal with the issue. This solution can be easily traced back to the Greek Era and their thought processes. Others will still claim that diet and exercise will best help those suffering from mental illnesses. There are those as well who righteously claim that mental illness is of the devil and must be rid of by God.

The meaning of mental illness.

All of these prescriptions are lazy, surface level suggestions that completely forsake the underlying notion of what it means to be mentally ill.

It is within the opinion of the author that, when it is appropriate, medicinal, organic, and religious means be used to treat mental illnesses. It is not, however, appropriate to cast off those with mental illnesses by simply telling one to deal with their issues by such means.

What is meant is this: Non-suffering individuals should not settle for surface level treatments when the real issue must be dealt with by more personal means. There is more to those who are mentally ill than meets the eye.

Medicine, religion, and organic based treatments are incredibly valuable but there is one treatment that is oft ignored: the support of a caring soul.

Our culture is neck deep in instant gratification. Social media, advancements in technology, and a general lack of education have only worsened the stigma that already existed towards those with mental illness. It is within the opinion of the author that our society has lost all care and respect for the people around them. Why? We’re far too caught up in ourselves.

What needs to be done.

It is a sad, unfortunate truth that this stigma will truly never go away. Some people will never care but all hope has not been lost. While arrogance can hardly be cured, ignorance can be educated. This kind of teaching cannot take place within a classroom. This is the kind of schooling that happens through our parenting, our social lives, and our social media ones. What I’m advocating for is change, but not from the outside world.

Change has to come from within if we ever want to make a difference. This requires those with any kind of mental illness to step up and speak out. It requires a willingness to open up about the issues, the difficulties, and the failures that come along with mental health. This change begins with us.

I recognize what I’m asking. I’ve not been very shy about my struggles but I recognize that it may come a little harder for others. Whether social stigma has silenced your voice or your own perceived stigma has, it can be an incredibly difficult thing to open up about. Let me reassure you of this: Your mental illness does not define who you are. Yes, it limits you. Yes, it makes life a little more difficult. I guarantee you though that it does not take away your worth as a human being.

You have been fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of the Universe and He loves you. You were made in His image! No person can ever take that away from you. No amount of vicious vocabulary or audacious action can strip you of your worth as a human being. Don’t allow yourself to tell you that you have no worth and therefore cannot speak out. Don’t allow other people to tell you that either. You have inherent worth, you are loved, and you are capable of standing against this.

Decide today that you will no longer stay quiet in this battle. You have a voice, let it be heard.

Be the change you wish to see in this world.

God bless you,

Matthew Malin
Author and Founder of Confessions:

https://confessions92.wordpress.com/

A list of useful blogs and books about NPD, narcissistic abuse, and BPD.

These are all listed under my “Resources and Support” tab in the header, but I wanted to call attention to them. I have added some new ones. My apologies if you don’t see your blog listed here. Unfortunately, I can’t list them all but if you want me to add yours, please comment and I’ll be happy to add it.

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Here are some websites, books and blogs focusing primarily on Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), narcissistic abuse, and Borderline personality disorder (BPD), though some touch on other personality disorders as well. This is only a small sampling of what’s available. The Internet is loaded with websites about NPD and narcissistic abuse; a quick Google search will bring up many that I have neglected to list here. BPD is not so widely covered, but is becoming more so.

Blogs, Websites and Forums

Dealing with Manipulative People — Dr. George K. Simon’s excellent blog about Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic, Borderline, Antisocial, and Histrionic Personality Disorders) with a focus on NPD. Dr. Simon is also the author of several books, which are listed below.

Out of the Fog — excellent support forum for people dealing with those with personality disorders and other mental health problems (or who have a disorder themselves). Every personality disorder recognized by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is covered. I never posted here myself, but I’ve lurked there a lot and found the site very interesting and helpful.

Narcissists Suck — Anna Valerious is a survivor of psychopathic parents, and her blog is excellent. It can also be irreverent and hilarious. Her take no prisoners style may take some getting used to, but she has a lot of heart and a LOT to say about narcissists. Valerious is a Christian, and she sometimes quotes from the Bible, but for the most part, you don’t have to be a Christian or any sort of believer to appreciate her blog. She hasn’t posted in it for awhile, but the articles are still relevant, entertaining, and useful.

An Upturned Soul — longer articles than average, but well written, intelligent, and always fascinating to read. There was no way I could leave this one off this list, since I have reblogged several of her articles already.

PsychopathyAwareness Blog — good blog about psychopathy right here at WordPress. The blogger really knows their stuff.

What Makes Narcissists Tick?— This blog was created by Kathy Krajco, an author about narcissistic abuse who was well respected in the community of narcissistic abuse victims, until her untimely death several years ago. Due to that, the blog hasn’t been updated in a long time, and many of the links don’t work, but it still contains both practical and fascinating information about narcissists and why they are the way they are and why they do what they do.

NarcissisticMother.com is a website focusing on self help for the adult children of narcissistic parents (ACONs), particularly mothers, since in our culture, mothers still have the strongest influence on their children.

SociopathWorld is an intriguing website from the point of view of sociopaths (not exactly the same as psychopaths but very similar). It’s interesting to “get inside their heads” to help understand why they act the way they do. It’s creepy and fascinating how dissociated from emotions, themselves and others they often feel and some explain it surprisingly well.
Similar to SociopathWorld is Psychopathic Writings, a blog written by a psychopath whose articles are interesting and well informed. If you like sites like these, please also check out Kiasherosjourney.

Country of Liars: a website by and for the victims of sociopaths and psychopaths. The blog’s owner, like so many other similar blog owners was the scapegoat of a family of such people. Well written blog.

Lady With A Truck’s Blog: Like so many survivors of narcissistic abuse, LWAT struggles with poverty. Our abusers ruin us on every level, even our ability to earn a living. This is a wonderful blog by a lady with an attitude and a heart. Her writing draws you in like a novel, she’s inspirational, and she’s often quite funny too.

Constant Supply: The Narcissist’s Wife. A blog by a woman married to a malignant narcissist.

Faces of Narcissism: a fairly new blog written by Joanna Moore, a narcissistic abuse survivor. She was married to an abusive, sociopathic man who she is No Contact with today. A good mix of practical, no nonsense advice and personal stories.

Grace for My Heart: Although this blog written by a Christian pastor isn’t specifically about narcissism, it’s a popular topic on his blog (he writes about narcissism every Friday in his “Narcissist Friday” posts) because of all mental disorders, NPD (along with Antisocial Personality Disorder) is the most likely to have a spiritual component. Interesting and uplifting blog for Christians and those interested in God’s grace and spirituality. One of my favorite blogs.

Worldly Annoyances — ACON blog with a biblical Christian perspective. Sue can also be extremely funny at times.  I don’t always agree with her literal Biblical views, but I agree with much of what she has to say just the same.   Her posts are short and sometimes make me smile.

Galesmind:  Blogger who writes about narcissism and a lot of other topics too.  Often funny and entertaining.  Gale also writes a lot about Internet abuse (bullies, trolls and other sociopaths roaming the web).

Narcwriters: a listing of personal blogs about narcissism and blogs by psychologists with a focus on NPD. A good resource that lists many blogs that I have overlooked here.

The Narcissistic Continuum: This blog is great. It differs a bit in format from most other narcissism blogs because of the way its articles are ordered according to severity across the narcissistic spectrum, from “healthy narcissism” (narcissism is good in very small doses–just like heavy metals in the blood are necessary but become poison if excessive) all the way to psychopathy/sociopathy. CZBZ’s blog is also very easy on the eyes, in my opinion.

TNC’s owner also has a forum, Web of Narcissism (WoN), which is inactive but there’s still a lot of great information there.

Lenora Thompson — Psychcentral/narcissism: Lenora Thompson is a survivor of narcissistic abuse who writes a blog about narcissism on Psychcentral.  Check her out!

No! It is Not Your Fault!   A blog about narcissism and narcissistic abuse from an unlikely writer who himself has an NPD diagnosis but is unusual because of his self-awareness and desire to heal from his disorder (he is in treatment).   Ruud’s blog is definitely worth a follow.  Reading his story brought me to tears and I don’t cry easily.  He also gives good, practical advice to narcissistic abuse survivors.

Psychforums: Online support for anyone with a mental disorder and those trying to understand and help loved ones who have them. Active section on NPD and other personality disorders, and includes posts from people suffering from NPD as well as their victims.  I posted here for awhile, and the narcs and “nons” (as they are called) seem to co-exist here quite nicely.

Discussing Dissociation: Thoughts from a Trauma Therapist — Although this site focuses on those suffering from DID (dissociative identity disorder), there is much information and help here for anyone suffering from other mental disorders caused by abuse and trauma, such as C-PTSD. The symptoms of C-PTSD can closely mimic those of Borderline Personality Disorder and include dissociative features.

BPD Transformation — Blog written by a former sufferer of BPD who was cured. Ed’s posts are sometimes a bit scholarly but incredibly educational for those who like a bit of meat in their blog posts and dislike things being dumbed down the way they so often are on the web. This blogger probably knows more about the Cluster B disorders and their treatment methods than most mental health experts. But it’s not all graduate-level reading. Some of his articles are quite hilarious too.

Make BPD Stigma Free! — a blog devoted to getting BPD recognized as a form of complex PTSD and taking away the harmful “crazy” and “evil” stigmas a BPD diagnosis carries.

Healing From BPD is a good website for people suffering from BPD with information about DBT and other treatments.

Borderline Bella is a university student from England who has struggled with both having BPD and the stigma it often carries.   She is a new blogger here on WordPress and her writing is always honest and heartfelt.  Her blog is definitely worth a follow!

Ramen Noodle Nation: Humans Need Not Apply: This blog is not specifically for ACONs and survivors of narcissistic abuse, but because so many of us struggle with poverty (either after being taken for everything we own or just because we were trained to be “failures” by our parents and never given the tools to do well in life), I think this website can be helpful and validating to those of us struggling with poverty or even just living on a very tight budget. Definitely on the fiscally liberal side of the political fence, this blog calls out the malignant narcissism inherent in our culture of greed and low empathy for the poor.

There are also many other personal blogs of survivors of psychopathic abuse on WordPress. There’s way too many to list  here!   If you have a blog that focuses on narcissism or BPD that you don’t see listed here, let me know and I will add it to the list. Also, if you know of any other websites you would like to see listed, let me know and I will add them.

Books
Malignant Self-Love — You can purchase or download the free eBook by Sam Vaknin. Vaknin is a narcissist who wrote this extremely detailed book about NPD. You can read part of it free online (PDF format). It is also available for purchase. There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Vaknin’s credentials but it can’t be denied he definitely knows a lot about this subject and gives advice on how to deal with people like himself. Vaknin is unusual–a narcissist who has enough insight to know his own motives and warn people accordingly. However, given that insight is a characteristic narcissists generally don’t have, is Vaknin really a narcissist at all?  Well…yes, he is.

Vaknin is also the subject of the documentary, I, Psychopath. He may or may not actually be a psychopath, but he does act pretty narcissistic in the film most of the time and bullies the filmmaker. Definitely worth watching even if you don’t bother with his book.

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, by M. Scott Peck, MD: First published in 1983, this is probably the first book that accurately described the malignant narcissist. I wrote a review of this book in this post. While not perfect, this book holds a special place in my heart because it was the book that allowed me to first identify my mother as an “evil” narcissist. Ironically, my narc-enabler father sent it to me (even though he always defended my mother’s behavior).

Dr. George K. Simon (mentioned above) is the author of several self help books about “character disorders,” especially NPD. I have read his In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, and Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of our Age (longer and goes into much more detail about psychopathy and malignant forms of narcissism than In Sheep’s Clothing but both books are excellent.

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us, by William Hare, MD. Extremely readable and informative book about psychopathic behavior, from everyday psychopaths who try to make our lives miserable through the worst serial killers and other criminals who show no remorse for their deeds. Hare describes the different types of psychopaths, and the possible origins of their psychopathy, whether it’s genetic or acquired later through their environment and learning. Many quotes from psychopaths are included, and some of these are chilling. Hare sums up by discussing what may be done to help the psychopath (not much!) and for those who must deal with them, advice for handling them better. I definitely recommend this book.

Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha M. Linehan. This is a workbook of practical exercises to help people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder better cope with their unstable emotions and learn how to regulate them better. It was a great help to me while I was hospitalized in 1996 for Major Depression and was at that time also diagnosed with BPD. I still have my copy and recently dusted it off and started using it again.

Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door,”  is more about antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) than narcissism, but as ASPD is also marked by an inability to feel empathy or have a conscience (and may be on the same spectrum as NPD), so it fits here.

I also recommend Dr. James F. Masterson’s “The Emerging Self,” a scholarly manual on treating narcissistic disorders of the self, complete with case histories from therapy sessions.  He has successfully treated people with both the Borderline and Narcissistic personality disorders. If you like something a little less scholarly, his excellent book Search for the Real Self: Unmasking the Personality Disorders of Our Age, about BPD and NPD, also contains case histories from his practice and tools for understanding these disorders and what causes them.

Lifestyle Links Part 10

Introducing my guest bloggers!

Cupcake-Guests

Following are the blogs of those who have kindly volunteered to write guest posts for this blog.   They are listed in the order in which they volunteered.   Please visit their blogs!

1. discoveringratchet.wordpress.com
Topic: Depression and ADD

2. theinvisiblef.com
Topic: C-PTSD

3. justplainolvic.com
Topic: Unspecified

4. confessions92.wordpress.com
Topic: Mental illness stigma

5. lettersnevermeanttobedelivered.wordpress.com
Topic: Bipolar, ADHD, anxiety and C-PTSD

6. survivorroad.wordpress.com
Topic: Depression and C-PTSD; childhood sexual abuse

7. bipolarcompass.com
Topic: Bipolar II (manic phase: hypersexuality)

8. wtmlpart2.wordpress.com
Topic: Bipolar I (rapid cycling)

9. https://ablogabouthealingfromptsd.wordpress.com/
Topic: C-PTSD; mental illness stigma
(Note to Linda Lee: don’t you dare end your blog! Still not getting your comments in my notifications though.:( )

10. tessacandoit.com
Topic: BPD, Bipolar, PTSD

11. swmseeks.wordpress.com
Topic: C-PTSD due to abuse and wartime trauma; mental illness stigma

12. theothersideofme.net
Topic: Depression, anxiety and alcoholism

13. donshelby.wordpress.com
Topic: C-PTSD caused by narcissistic abuse

14. abodyofhope.wordpress.com
Topic: Mental illness (unspecified); mental illness stigma

15. enabilityblog.wordpress.com
Topic: Narcissistic abuse (provisional–this blogger hasn’t decided whether or not to write a post yet but I still want to feature their blog.)

16. cherished79.wordpress.com
Topic: Unspecified–possibly narcissistic abuse

The 16 kinds of bloggers: which one are you?

I just dug this one out of the dark recesses of the otter’s den and it appears it could use a little sun so I’m throwing it out there on the interwebz again.

Lucky Otters Haven

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There are as many types of bloggers as there are blogs. Here I’m going to describe the 15 different types of bloggers I’ve encountered in the blogosphere. Which one are you?

1. The Self-Therapist.
I began my blogging experience as a member of this category. Having just left a long, abusive relationship, I felt the need to document my journey to recovery after abuse by writing about it. My intuition told me that making my therapeutic journal public for all eyes would ultimately be more beneficial for me than just putting it on WordPad or something. My intuition proved correct and I’ve been able to help others too, just by going public. Now I seem to have moved more in the direction of The General Purpose Blogger (#13). This type of blog has become increasingly common in recent years, probably because of the sagging economy that makes it difficult for…

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Opinionated Man, I don’t know if I should thank you or kick you!

unfriended-blaire-terror

Yesterday, Opinionated Man wrote a post called “My Greatest Blogging Fear.”  In that post he talked about the unthinkable for any blogger:  that one day you sit down and open up your blog…and find it gone.   All the work you put into it, the hours, sweat and tears…gone, just like that.  Poof.

If that happened to me I think I would want to die.  I have around 1600 posts on this blog now.  Sixteen months of work.   After reading his post, I realized how easily all that could just disappear.   A glitch, a hacker, WordPress suddenly shutting its doors, you name it.   All my hard work, gone just like that.   I know it’s not likely to happen, but it could.

I’m a worrier by nature.   I never worried about this before because it never really crossed my mind.  It never occurred to me to have a backup plan in case the unthinkable ever happened.   Now I have something new to worry about thanks to his post.

So I realized what I need to do is start a 3rd blog just for storage.  I’ll set it to private.  Most of the articles I care about will go in there.    I’m also going to save some of my best posts in my computer, probably Wordpad.   Then I won’t have to worry that one day I’ll log on here to find…everything gone.

34 rules for kick-ass writing.

karate

I didn’t make these rules; they come from this post. But they got a laugh from me and I hope you enjoy them too.

34 Rules For Kick ass Writing

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)
unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used unless you don’t want to seem too formal.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not always apropos.
13. Do not use more words, phrases, sentences, or other linguistic elements than you, yourself, actually really and definitely need to use or employ when expressing yourself or otherwise giving voice to what you may or may not be thinking when you are trying to say how many words you should use or not use when using words.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don’t use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, i.e. etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill excessive exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others elude to them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate distracting quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have once remarked, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
28. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
And finally…
34. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

20 ways to lose followers.

Tired woman are sleeping and holding cup. Laptop is situated on the table.

As a blogger, I admit I’m guilty of doing some of these things myself.  So I’m writing this  post as a reminder to myself to stop doing these things, and hope other bloggers can take away something from this list too.

1. Don’t allow comments.

Some blogs, especially those dealing with mental illness or abuse, don’t allow comments because negative comments can be very triggering to people struggling with these things, and you are going to get negative comments.   It can’t be avoided.  But as a general rule, it’s good to allow comments because it makes your blog more interactive.  Real conversations get started that way and build a feeling of community, which can make your followers stick around and your blog more engaging.

2. Be a comment nazi. 

Some bloggers don’t want anyone to disagree with them and will not approve or delete comments that question the blogger’s point of view.   While it’s certainly fine to block or delete abusive comments, only allowing comments that agree with your point of view doesn’t allow for healthy debate, which always make a conversation more interesting. It also makes you look like an intolerant, narcissistic jerk.

3.  Be too lenient with comments.

If you allow abusive comments on your blog,  you run the risk that people might be run off by the trollish remarks or fear speaking up themselves because they might be attacked.

4.  Don’t tolerate any disagreement. 

Related to #2, some bloggers like to attack anyone who disagrees with them.  Debate is fine, but engaging in personal attacks and the Internet version of a fistfight on a regular basis will just run off your regular followers.   It’s always best to not feed the trolls.

Close-Up Of Stray Dog Snarling

5. Fail to acknowledge comments.

I see this a lot.   Sometimes you won’t know what to say to a comment or have nothing new to add to their point, and that’s fine.   If you reply to only 50% of your comments, that’s good.  Obviously, the higher the percentage the better.     Use the “Like” button on comments you don’t reply to, so the commenter knows you at least saw it.  Not replying or using the Like button makes your readers feel like you didn’t read their comment or don’t care.

6. Write boring content.

Some blogs document the blogger’s day, and while the activities described may be mundane, if presented in an interesting or humorous way, or if they use pictures or graphics, such otherwise dull posts can actually be engaging.   But if all you do is write a long wall of text about your dog throwing up on the rug and what cereal you ate for breakfast and your writing style or presentation isn’t creative or engaging, you will just put your readers to sleep and they’ll go elsewhere.

7. Don’t check your spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. 

No one wants to try to pick through a badly written, misspelled post full of run on sentences, horrible grammar, and wonky punctuation. Spellcheck is your friend, and if you can’t put a proper English sentence together, then maybe you shouldn’t be blogging.   Publishing a post full of errors and typos is also is disrespectful to your readers.

8. Be dishonest.

Those of us who write creatively can and do embellish a few details to make our posts come alive but outright lying can never be disguised.  A post that’s dishonest comes off as insincere and your readers will be able to tell.  If you want to write fiction, then write fiction, but call it fiction  and  don’t disguise it as the truth when it’s not.

lying

9. Don’t break up your text.

I’ve ranted about walls of words many times before so I won’t belabor this again.  It’s a pet peeve of mine.   People don’t like reading walls of text.  It hurts their eyes and gives them a migraine.   Use paragraph breaks, subheaders, pictures or graphics to break up a long post into bite size pieces.   Or compile your content into a list.   Your readers are civilized human beings who like to eat their steak in small pieces, not chomp it down whole like a wolf or a caveman.

10. Use garish colors and graphics.

Fortunately, the themes WordPress makes available are tasteful and very hard to make look bad.  In the early days of the web, there seemed to be a lot more websites that were the cyber equivalent of a bad acid trip and used garish, flashing graphics, blingies, and ugly fonts in neon colors that clashed with their neon backgrounds.  MySpace was infamous for this and that was part of its downfall.  Your blog shouldn’t look like The Strip in Vegas or an explosion at The Fun Factory.   It should look more like a pastoral landscape, Park Avenue in New York, or Main Street in a pretty small town.  Don’t be tacky.  It’s also not nice to cause your readers to have epileptic seizures.

ugly_website

11. Pass yourself off as an expert when you are not.

If you write about a highly specialized topic such as mental health, science, or medical issues, and you are not an expert yourself, please use a disclaimer stating that you are not a degreed professional or at least use phrases such as “in my opinion…” or “I think…”.   Otherwise you not only come across as a know it all, but you could also get in legal trouble.

12. Don’t comment on other blogs.

We know, taking care of your own blog is time consuming and it’s just hard to find time to comment on other blogs.   You don’t have to do this every day, but if you never comment on your followers’ blogs, they may unfollow yours.  No one likes to feel like they’re doing all the work in a friendship.  By commenting on other blogs, you not only show goodwill and build community, but you also increase the likelihood they may link to yours or add you to their blogroll, which increases your hits.  If you don’t have time to comment, at least “Like” their posts.  Let them know you at least acknowledge their existence.

13. Write troll posts.

Writing a controversial post just to be controversial may get you attention for the short term, but it’s likely to be negative attention.  Do you really want that?  Also, the attention you get won’t last.  People will come to gawk, and then move on to more worthwhile things.   While it’s fine (and courageous!) to write something controversial if you feel passionate about it,  deliberately writing incendiary posts is like walking around in public slapping random people in the face.   You’ll get attention alright, but it won’t be the kind you want.  Most people will run like hell.

14. SCREAM AT PEOPLE.

NEVER USE ALL CAPS.  NO ONE WANTS TO BE SCREAMED AT.

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15. Use too much profanity.

While a well placed expletive can give your post more impact, peppering every sentence with four letter words has the opposite effect and distracts attention away from the point you’re trying to make.    It just makes you sound immature, stupid, and obnoxious.

16.  Publicly whine about other blogs having more hits, likes or followers than yours.

Envy is rife in the blogging world.    I’ve seen more posts than I care to from bloggers ranting about how few followers, likes or hits they have, or even worse, kvetching about how much better other blogs are doing than theirs.   While one or two such posts are fine, especially for a newbie whose activity is likely to be low (during my second week blogging, I wrote a post called “I’m Frustrated,” which Opinionated Man reblogged and helped me get new followers), if you continue to do this or make a habit of it, you just come off like a crybaby or a spoilsport, and you’ll wind up losing followers who don’t want to deal with your hysterics.

17.  Brag about how many hits, likes, and followers you have. 

I admit I’ve been guilty of this, but you should avoid it.   It will make people hate you, especially other bloggers.   If you must crow about how well your blog is doing, disguise it by hiding it within a helpful context (for example, you can write a post about how to gain followers,  in which you can use your blog as an example but be careful not to overdo it–people can smell that shit like a drug dog smells cocaine).

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Credit: John Worsley: “Toad”

18.  Be a pointless blog.

I’m not talking here about blogs that don’t have a certain topic as their focus.  There are many great general purpose blogs with posts about anything and everything. I’m talking here about blogs that have no original content.   There are blogs that seem to exist solely to post links to other people’s blogs or regurgitate other’s material.  I always wonder why these blogs exist at all.  Why not just go to the original blogger’s site instead? “Bloggers” who never post original content seem more like secretaries than bloggers, and less useful than a secretary because they won’t even make you coffee.  For some reason, blogs like that also seem to contain viruses.  It’s like having a secretary with typhoid.

19.  Plagiarize and don’t credit others.

Not only will not crediting or plagiarizing others make people angry at you, it will get you in trouble too.  Don’t do it.  If you can’t find the source for something, don’t use it.

20.  Try too hard to be cool.

Some blogs seem to exist just to be cool or edgy.   If you don’t believe in what you’re posting about, and are just doing it to impress others or appear cool, people will be able to tell and will press the backspace key faster than you can put on your groovy sunglasses. People who try too hard to be cool are annoying and pathetic, and that’s not cool.

The 8 Worst Types of Blog on the Internet.

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One of my favorite websites is Cracked.com. Since I blog a lot about blogging, and “enjoy” bad blogs as much as the folks over at Cracked, I want to share this countdown with my interested readers. I’m well aware that by doing this, however, I’m guilty of being a “Parrot” (see #5), at least sometimes.

Let the laughs begin.

The 8 Worst Types of Blog on the Internet
By Chris Bucholz, posted July 26, 2011 for Cracked.com

Back in 2007, when the Internet was young, a plucky and ambitious group of hellions going by the name “Cracked.com” launched a feature on their site called the Cracked Blog. There, an elite team of barely legal humorists posted their thoughts about themselves, the state of society and semi-popular television programming. It was, in every sense, marvelous — every word a bolt of golden silk, hanging in an eternal summer breeze. But time passed, and the bloggers started getting worn out, tired with the hectic pace of updating multiple times a day. They began writing longer posts that appeared less frequently, eventually shape-shifting into a MILF-ish group whom we now call the Cracked Columnists. By late 2008, the Cracked Blog was dead, a loss which would soon rattle the world’s economy to its core. But it turns out that despite Cracked’s wholesale abandonment of the medium, blogging didn’t die out at the same time. Since then, many different blogs have continued to thrive and evolve. There are blogs about video games and blogs about food, and even a blog where there are pictures of a cat saying things. This is all well and good, but unfortunately, not all blogs have achieved such lofty feats. Many, in truth, suck all sorts of balls. Below is a list of some of the worst examples of how the blog format has been misused.

#8: The “Let’s Start a Blog” Blog

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You know what these are like. The first post (which still hasn’t scrolled off the front page) says something like “Test” or “I Have A Blog!” The next three posts are a little less focused. And then nothing. It’s a problem of access, or too much of a good thing. A blog is a place to say something, and even though they’re freely available to anyone who can fog a mirror, this does not imply that all mirror-foggers have something to say.*

Read the rest of this post here.

Blogging party #2

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My first ever blogger meet & greet was almost a month ago, and it was a huge success (thanks everyone!), so I decided to have another one. There are so many great blogs I don’t know about that I’m sure I should (and others should know about too), so please share your blogs, articles, projects, etc. Everyone’s invited!

What’s in it for you: you should notice at least a small boost in your views after sharing your links here.