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Alfred001

Showing affection seen as weak - why?

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I'm reading the book Underboss by Sammy Gravano. If you don't know who he is he was John Gotti's underboss and the guy who gave Gotti up. There's a passage in the book that happens when both of them are in jail awaiting trial:

 

“On one visitation day we have, I’m sitting next to my wife. We been
married some twenty-some years. Dope that she is, she still loves me, and
she’s devastated that I’m in this position. As we talk, she’s caressing my
hand, trying to console me. I don’t even realize it. Frankie leans over
and whispers, ‘Sammy, let your wife stop rubbing your hand.’ I look at
Frankie. I think he’s nuts. He shifts his eyes towards John and gives a
little nod. I looked at John. He’s smiling, but kind of shaking his head.
I turned to Debbie and told her to stop touching my hand. I said, ‘It’s
not supposed to be a contact visit. If the guards see it, they’ll stop the
visit early.’

“As we’re going back in, I said, ‘What was that all about with my wife
touching my hand?’

“John said, ‘Sammy, you’re the underboss. We got to carry ourselves a
certain way in front of people.’

 

 

This got me a bit puzzled. Is it that showing affection and mush like that is seen as weak?

 

And if so, why? I guess I'm curious as to what the answer to this question is from two perspectives, 1) a kind of intuitive/folksy wisdom answer and 2) an evo psyh answer. Why is mush or affection not good? Anyone got any ideas on either (or some third type of explanation)?

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Anyone you like is leverage that can be used against you. Showing it openly is like flashing your hand in poker. Fugettaboutit.

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Anyone you like is leverage that can be used against you. Showing it openly is like flashing your hand in poker. Fugettaboutit.

 

I sometimes flash my hand in poker.

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I sometimes flash my hand in poker.

 

So now I know what you got. And when you start holdin' hands with some dame, we know who to put the bag on.

 

I think the mafia voice in my head is from Chicago circa 1930.

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So now I know what you got. And when you start holdin' hands with some dame, we know who to put the bag on.

 

I think the mafia voice in my head is from Chicago circa 1930.

 

Ha, I hear ya :)

I don't know if you play poker but there is a lot of deception involved so flashing a hand may not always mean what it seems.

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In the Mafia context, big balls need to be shown to all around. This macho bullshit is seen in ghetto areas (where I grew up as a child) where the most ruthless guys show no love except to other badmen. Badmen don't smile at babies or others except in private. It is an attitude of mind. In my context, love, compassion and forgiveness are attributes of the strong - the weak never forgive and never offer compassion. Which one will people remember?

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In the Mafia context, big balls need to be shown to all around. This macho bullshit is seen in ghetto areas (where I grew up as a child) where the most ruthless guys show no love except to other badmen. Badmen don't smile at babies or others except in private. It is an attitude of mind. In my context, love, compassion and forgiveness are attributes of the strong - the weak never forgive and never offer compassion. Which one will people remember?

 

I understand that, but I'm asking why. Why is it that mush is somehow incompatible with being a tough guy. I understand that that's how its seen, but why should it necessarily be so? A guy could be the toughest guy out there and at the same time very mushy with his wife, why is it that these qualities are seen as incompatible and that if the guy shows any kind of mush he is suspected of being weak?

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I understand that, but I'm asking why. Why is it that mush is somehow incompatible with being a tough guy. I understand that that's how its seen, but why should it necessarily be so? A guy could be the toughest guy out there and at the same time very mushy with his wife, why is it that these qualities are seen as incompatible and that if the guy shows any kind of mush he is suspected of being weak?

 

It could just be as simple as demanding professionalism. Being a gangland boss is like being a Marine drill sergeant. Being sensitive and emotional is detrimental to the skill set, and is often seen as inimical to ruthless decision-making.

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I understand that, but I'm asking why. Why is it that mush is somehow incompatible with being a tough guy. I understand that that's how its seen, but why should it necessarily be so? A guy could be the toughest guy out there and at the same time very mushy with his wife, why is it that these qualities are seen as incompatible and that if the guy shows any kind of mush he is suspected of being weak?

It is a convention , A facade. It could as easily be the other way round. Mafiosi could affect mawkish emotion to lay out their territory.

 

Being genuine is more important.

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I understand that, but I'm asking why. Why is it that mush is somehow incompatible with being a tough guy. I understand that that's how its seen, but why should it necessarily be so? A guy could be the toughest guy out there and at the same time very mushy with his wife, why is it that these qualities are seen as incompatible and that if the guy shows any kind of mush he is suspected of being weak?

 

 

A real tough guy doesn't worry about being mushy, showing affection or even shedding the odd tear.

 

Showing weakness is scary if one feels weak and being surrounded by others that feel the same way just reinforces that perception; reminding oneself of this is comforting and inspires an inner confidence.

 

The art of fighting without fighting is to meet aggression with indifference, there is little that's more disconcerting to a bully.

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A real tough guy doesn't worry about being mushy, showing affection or even shedding the odd tear.

 

Showing weakness is scary if one feels weak and being surrounded by others that feel the same way just reinforces that perception; reminding oneself of this is comforting and inspires an inner confidence.

 

The art of fighting without fighting is to meet aggression with indifference, there is little that's more disconcerting to a bully.

 

I didn't ask what a real tough guy is, I'm asking what is the intuitive judgment about guys who show mush. There's obviously a reaosn we have that intuition, so what is it? What do we think showing mush tells us.

 

If we see a grown person suck their thumb we have an INTUITIVE (not rational) sense that the person is immature or unable to cope with life and is sensitive. So what is the intuitive read that these guys have about mushy guys? What does mush convey?

 

I'm asking a very specific question here.

Edited by Alfred001

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I didn't ask what a real tough guy is, I'm asking what is the intuitive judgment about guys who show mush. There's obviously a reaosn we have that intuition, so what is it? What do we think showing mush tells us.

 

If we see a grown person suck their thumb we have an INTUITIVE (not rational) sense that the person is immature or unable to cope with life and is sensitive. So what is the intuitive read that these guys have about mushy guys? What does mush convey?

 

I'm asking a very specific question here.

 

 

And I've answered it.

 

Please explain how thumb sucking is relevant to the OP?

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A lot of intuition is based on past experience which means that it is heavily influenced by cultural convention. It's not all native instinct. Most of it probably isn't.

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And I've answered it.

 

Please explain how thumb sucking is relevant to the OP?

 

You didn't answer it.

 

The question is this:

 

1. What do we infer intuitively about a guy from seeing him behave in a mushy way?

 

2. Whatever that thing is that we infer, why is it bad for a mobster to show it.

 

The thumb sucking is an example of a behavior from which we immediately intuitively infer something. I'm asking what do we intuitively read about a person from mush (and that is relevant in this mobsters situation)

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It is a sign of softness.

Wouldn't weakness be more apposite?

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You didn't answer it.

 

 

You need to read my post again.

 

 

The question is this:

1. What do we infer intuitively about a guy from seeing him behave in a mushy way?

 

 

 

No, the question is "Showing affection seen as weak why?" and I've answered

 

My answer, in essence, is fear; that may seem counter intuitive because those who choose to not show such affection are fearful; my point is those that, despite a fearful situation, display affection lack the fear that drives others to hide it.

 

 

2. Whatever that thing is that we infer, why is it bad for a mobster to show it.

 

 

That's a different question, the context implies leadership.

 

 

The thumb sucking is an example of a behavior from which we immediately intuitively infer something. I'm asking what do we intuitively read about a person from mush (and that is relevant in this mobsters situation)

 

 

 

Thumb sucking is a childish trait, which in an adult would suggest learning and or behavioral difficulties, an entirely different question.

Edited by dimreepr

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It is a sign of softness.

 

Yeah, that's what people would say from a kind of intuitive/folk wisdom standpoint. And what I'm wondering is, and I think it would be more appropriate to think about this now from an evo psych standpoint, why is it that someone who is affectionate and mushy would necessarily be soft.

 

Most people will probably say, well, a mushy person need not necessarily be soft, but the fact is that we will usually perceive such a person to be soft, as you say. And my question is why. What is it about having THOSE qualities that make the person be unfit for or unreliable in "hard" situations that a mobster might find himself in.

Wouldn't weakness be more apposite?

 

Well, I think that's kind of one and the same, no? Although we're kind of dealing with vague qualities here so.... what distinction would you make between those two, softness and weakness.

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Well, I think that's kind of one and the same, no? Although we're kind of dealing with vague qualities here so.... what distinction would you make between those two, softness and weakness.

I can certainly agree that they share characteristics, but I feel their central nature is quite distinct.

 

A weakness is, surely, a negative. It is a lack of quality: of strength, of skill, of knowledge, above all - in the context of this thread - a lack of self confidence.

 

In contrast, softness is a style that is constrained, but this constraint arises from the presence, not the lack, of self confidence. The individual displaying softness does so because they feel no need to pontificate, brag or threaten. Their inner strength gives them the confidence to behave gently, softly as a mild mannered person. The cliched expression, an iron fist in a velvet glove comes to mind.

 

Caveat: the distinction may be one of perspective. You may see the overlap of character as larger than I do and the central core located in a different place.

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Yeah, that's what people would say from a kind of intuitive/folk wisdom standpoint. And what I'm wondering is, and I think it would be more appropriate to think about this now from an evo psych standpoint, why is it that someone who is affectionate and mushy would necessarily be soft.

 

Most people will probably say, well, a mushy person need not necessarily be soft, but the fact is that we will usually perceive such a person to be soft, as you say. And my question is why. What is it about having THOSE qualities that make the person be unfit for or unreliable in "hard" situations that a mobster might find himself in.

 

 

Being soft may not necessarily make you unreliable or unfit, but if your job (mobster) requires hardness (I realize these terms are not well defined), then softness is the opposite of a primary attribute for your job. If a mobster shows empathy and concern for the feelings of others, then will he be unwilling to exercise the maximum ruthlessness necessary to get the job done? And it doesn't even matter if he will or not. If he is perceived as being unwilling, he puts both his job, and the safety of himself and his organization, at risk.

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