Episode 100 – Outrageous! What Drives Shocking Behaviors?

Feb 27, 2020


We can all cite examples of behaviors that defy reason and meaning. How can we understand X shouting those things at a party, or the bizarre thing Y filmed himself doing on YouTube? There is a great array of psychological labels for such behaviors, as if pronouncing them “histrionic,” “manic” or even “drunk” explains radical actions and cascades of feelings.

The roots of such exaggerated expressions may lie in early relational traumas and attempts to compensate for authentic lacks by appearing uncaring and daring, or dramatic and demanding.

Overall, an inability to hold the tension between feeling and action has occurred, hinting at an adaptive failure. Extreme behaviors are often the externally expressed compensation for their internal opposites, so outrageous behavior may be a plea for empathic attention and authentic connection.


I am observing two creatures walk up a steep flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs lies another creature, this one is beautiful and majestic. It is dying. I see its spine protruding, the bones have made it to the surface. I am disturbed. I watch as one of the creatures opens the dying creatures’ stomach – which has been sliced open. The creature slides inside. I have the felt sense that it is sucking up what little life force remains of the dying creature. I feel simultaneously disturbed, angry and paralyzed by terror. I wake up at this time.


Salman, Sherry. Dreams of Totality: Where We Are When There’s Nothing at the Center (Amazon, paperback)

McWilliams, Nancy. Psychoanalytic Diagnosis (Amazon)

Sunset Boulevard (film)

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