The Mimic

After a few episodes of Elementary, watched back-to-back, and the way that I express myself will become more and more Sherlockian. My speech and mannerisms will reflect that of the character, and I will shift into intellectual mode.

If someone were to ask me what I wanted for Christmas while I am under the influence of Sherlock…

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just deduce it

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I will treat it as a puzzle, analyse it logically, and form a deduction based on a process of elimination.

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“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

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Which in the case of a Christmas gift will result in my concluding that I do not need anything, and not being given a Christmas gift is a gift in and of itself (as that would show me how well the person understands me and that is very precious and much appreciated).

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Elementary - wall of crazy

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However if buying me a gift is something which they feel compelled to do then they should just get me what would give them the most pleasure to purchase and give (rather than rely on their pleasure coming from me giving to them what they want to receive when they give me the gift). Depending on who it is who is asking, I might add that if their goal is to elicit a certain reaction from their action of giving me a gift, and they want my reaction to be genuine rather than conforming to expectations, then they would probably do better making the gift instead of buying it, as then they would be giving me more than just a thing, they would be giving themselves (which is a gift that flows both ways). Yet making something may take time, which they probably do not have to give as most people’s time is overbooked all year round, so in lieu of that they could simply offer me a puzzle to solve.

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“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

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Or perhaps, better still, help me to solve a puzzle upon which I have been working (that may well be my ultimate concept of a truly wonderful gift), and I won’t resent at all if they place the final piece in the jigsaw.

That answer may be influenced by Sherlock, yet it is not that far from how I actually think. Being under the influence does not mean we lose who we are, it simply shifts how we express who we are. If I had been watching something else, such as The Big Lebowski, I might have answered in the Dude’s style.

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“This is a very complicated case, Maude. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-you’s. And, uh, lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old Duder’s head.”

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the Dude

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If I had been watching a Romcom…

[not likely to happen, but occasionally it does… I tend to feel like I’m watching one very long and tedious advert which is trying to force me to want chocolate, flowers, champagne, perfume, bubble bath, shoes, diamonds, all of which can be bought while at the airport waiting for (ages after security checks and other very romantic stuff for) your spontaneously romantic trip to Paris.]
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Le-Week-EndLe Week-End

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… I would have answered in a different manner, yet still retained who I am (which might have been rather cranky or dopey depending on the Romcom and how it affected my neural pathways).

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We’re all influenced by the world around us, by what we let in and, in many ways, what we endeavour to keep out. That’s why we often discuss the issue of whether someone is a bad or good influence on us and on others, and we sometimes lay the blame for our choices, decisions, and behaviour on someone else. Which is why we often blame society for why we are feeling bad. Do we ever blame anyone for making us feel good? Sometimes we do, when someone makes us laugh when we are angry or sad.

Being influenced, and mimicking is not unusual. Mimicry is a natural social skill, an essential part of our survival kit as humans living and interacting with other humans. We do it unconsciously and consciously, for many different reasons, sometimes it is the best of us, sometimes the worst of us, mostly it’s an in-between place, a meeting point between self and other.

Spend some time with someone and you’ll reflect them, and they will reflect you too. This is where we blend, where our individual colours blend, the resulting canvas can be spectacular, or dire, or anywhere else on the spectrum and can fluctuate each time we meet.

Have a conversation with someone whose mother tongue is not the same as yours, and they’re communicating with you in your language with a slight accent, and before you know what you’re doing (before you can stop yourself) you’ll be talking your mother tongue with their accent. That can be embarrassing as it could be perceived as a form of mockery. As can other types of social mimicry. Most of us do not liked being mocked, or believing that someone may be mocking us. We’re very sensitive about that sort of thing, and a bit less sensitive when we’re doing the mocking and mimicking, intentionally or otherwise.

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psych - mimickeryNot just because we are Borg.

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Spend enough time around anyone and you’ll mimic them whether you want to or not, and they will do the same with you. The balance of it very much depends on each individual, how absorbent they are (are they one-ply, two-ply, three-ply). Spend enough time around me and you’ll be using ‘Hmmm…’ more than you would like to, saying ‘perhaps’, ‘probably’, and other figures of speech which denote ambiguity of one sort or another. You’ll also be flipping thoughts, ideas, and emotions until you’ll wonder if you’re in some sort of abstract pancakery.

Read another’s blogger’s post shortly before you write your own and some of their influence on you will creep into your post. A word here or there will have been pilfered from them unintentionally. If someone follows someone else closely you can sometimes tell, but only if you follow both of them and read both of their posts regularly, and connect the dots rather than brush it off as coincidence or synchronicity (which can happen as we’re all influenced by what’s going on around us, and what’s buzzing around in the collective consciousness – we are all a bit Borg, but that’s not always a bad thing as it can be very good).

This kind of mimicry is also known as inspiration, and can be seen amongst all creative endeavours and in all creative communities (which encompasses all of us). You can see it in art, in literature, in film, TV, in social media, in trends, in fashion, and everywhere else. It is the hundredth monkey, monkeying around, passing on the whisperings of the muse, the idea evolving as more and more voices chime in. This is evolution live and kicking, progress in motion.

However to every light side there is a dark side.

The mimicry can turn villainous, or so it seems. It’s not just an influence which affects someone but that someone is still themselves expressing how that influence affected them, bringing their own vibe to the vibration and passing it on. Sometimes an individual steals the individuality of another and makes it their own in a manner which smacks of identity theft, they may not be able to steal your body but they can take your voice, your self expression and pretend that it is theirs… and believe their own pretense to make others believe it too, but mostly to make themselves believe that they are who they are pretending to be – because they don’t like being who they are.

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single_white_female_1992

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These are the covert narcissists among us. The co-opted-version is as covert to them as it is to us (for practical reasons – the best liars are the ones who lie to themselves first before they lie to others). Most of them are oblivious to what they are doing, because they need to be that way to keep it going. However somewhere they know, and that somewhere where they know it leaks out into what they are doing. They’ll do things such as rarely if ever, probably never (unless they think they’ve been found out) credit their source, they’ll credit lots of other sources, but their main source of supply will be kept hidden – they don’t want anyone else to steal from that source as they are doing, and they will suspect others of doing what they are doing, but they’re not stupid as their source is and they’re not going to give it away for free, if ever or at all. This source belongs to them whether the source knows it or not, agrees to it or not. That’s that.

Now the source does not always know that it is a source of supply for a narcissist, especially a cover narcissist (the covert part is covert ops, a wolf in sheep’s clothing who believes that they are a sheep (in part), and look how cute and fluffy they are, so harmless). And what the source doesn’t know can’t possibly harm the source… or can it?

Awareness is often viewed as the antidote to many ailments. It is. However it can also be the opposite. As long as you are not aware, you may be protected (but you will also be vulnerable). Once you are aware you may expose yourself to things which may be more harmful to you than they were when you were unaware (but you will be less vulnerable…?).

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Elementary....?

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Much of whether the awareness or non-awareness harms or hurts you depends on what you do with it. Figuring out what to do with awareness requires a bit of Sherlockian influence.

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“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

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However the Sherlock viewpoint requires time and attention to detail, the details of self and the details of others, the details within details… and most of us are overbooked where our time and attention is concerned. Perhaps the better way to approach is this to ask yourself, how do you like to be treated?

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treatment/acceptance

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What gift is precious to you, what do you consider a treat which is truly a treat, a pleasurable present?

For instance, in blogging terms (which is relevant on all social media whether you participate actively or passively, lurk or not, whether you’re on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, etc), if you follow a blog, you’re a ‘follower’ (if you do it via your own blog or email), you’re a ‘view’ (if you visit a blog which records views and visits, you’re a ‘view’), you’re a ‘stat’ (recorded by the fairly detailed if sometimes vague ‘stat’ recorder)… however you know that you’re a person, a flesh and blood human, an emotional, psychological and physical being, a soul with a body, mind and heart… does the blogger (or other social media entity) know this, recognise this, confirm and validate your ticket as a human just like them?

If a blogger (or Facebooker, or Twitterer, etc) refers to you as building bricks in the construction of their ego… ie. I have xxx# of followers, friends, therefore I’m feeling important (superior) or feeling ignored (inferior)… then you’re just a thing (but maybe that’s okay with you). You’re the number of blocks in Minecraft with which they can build their ego’s home – more=palace, less=shack (if they’re playing in ‘survival’ mode). Microsoft just bought Minecraft… once Minecraft players were part of an independent community, now we’re dollar signs building an empire for an ego which already has an empire that it wants to make bigger because too much is never enough.

On the flip side – How do you view those whom you follow (on social media)? Do you reply in kind? Do you realise they’re human just like you?

Who are you mimicking and who is mimicking you? Such a social trait flows both ways. Others influence us and we influence others. What kind of an influence are you? What kind of an influence are you when you take away the kind of influence which you pretend to be?

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“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

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Jeremy BrettJeremy Brett, my favourite portrayer of Sherlock Holmes, because he added a subtle undercurrent to the surface appearance which was a still water running very deep, perhaps too deep.

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4 thoughts on “The Mimic

  1. Love the “Le Weekend” photo. She looks like she’s thinking about strangling him with that scarf. 🙂

    When I was much younger, I used to mimic people I admired until I realised that this was interfering in the development of my self-identity. I’m glad I did realize it, because I grew up in a family that was controlling and opposed to independence. Life could have been quite different.

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    1. ‘Le Week-end’ is a brilliant film, a very real view of a relationship. At some point during the film, the viewer wants to strangle both the man and the woman as they are both intensely frustrating because they are frustrated, however they are both loathsome and loveable in a very relatable human way. There’s something in it for everyone, so many wonderful details of life and being human, as we all know it and sometimes wish it wasn’t, and so much more. And the ending is fun 🙂

      Mimicking is natural, and one of the main ways we learn, especially when we’re young. The film touches upon the concept of – who would I have been if I had taken that path instead of this – and our tendency to wonder about that, sometimes with relief and sometimes with wistfulness.

      There was a book which I read many years ago – One by Richard Bach – in which the main character meets himself – the him’s who took a different path whenever he came to a crossroads in life. It’s a silly (in a good way) book of deep ponderings about who we might have been versus who we are… and may become.

      Sometimes it is fun to try on the skin of those we admire, as that way we discover the ‘why’ behind the admiration, which often is a latent something within us that is awakened through someone else – the positive side of projection. The same thing can be both inspiring and depressing, really depends on what we do with it, with who we are and how we view the world around us.

      Do you ever consider those who admire you and perhaps mimic you? It’s a strange thought sometimes, but one worth pondering just to see what we can see, perhaps through what others see.

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  2. Wow, way to come back from your hiatus with a bang. I must say, after reading this, I truly both agree and disagree with you. There are many people who will steal another’s ideas because they like them, or because they want to identify with them, which is your “villainous” aspect. On the flip side of that, it is possible that someone learns something they had not known before and upon acquiring this new knowledge, changes their mind completely. It is not then “stealing” someone else’s identity, or any kind of narcissistic, hidden meaning behind it, but simply a growing of oneself and their mind. For instance, I grew up with narcissists who had no concept of personal space, went through my things, and told the world my business, claiming to want to “help” me with issues I did not have, because I was not conforming to their idea of what I should be. Unfortunately, I eventually let this turn me into a headcase, but I then also noticed that I was occasionally doing the same things without realizing it. I started studying things on my own time to learn more about the psychology of things, but really, you can only teach yourself so much. After years of “self-teaching” I eventually sought other sources, and the more I learned, the more I started swaying from some of things I thought I wanted to do before. I tried to be around those who seemed to share my interests the most, not because I wanted to use them for any malicious purpose, but because I thought I could learn something from them, or perhaps even find a “friend/acquaintance”, etc. who shared some of my same interests. I’m sure its my own psychosis but I am constantly drawn to certain people and I like to try and keep those people around.
    I also like to look at everyone as a “teacher” in some way, you learn things constantly. Branching off someone else’s idea to form your own, is not necessarily “stealing” per se, so much as it is putting your own spin on things to make them yours. Is that not the way life goes? Growing and evolving, in all aspects, comes from one thing starting somewhere and continuously branching out. All influences are both good and bad, unless you’re entering sainthood, some just lean more one way than the other and hopefully one figures out the good from the bad before it becomes an issue. The problem with most of these things is a lack of communication and knowledge. People are influenced by what they are surrounded by, sometimes this is a positive, sometimes not, but if it is a person who is involved, it is best to listen and ask questions. This may either increase or decrease the influence, based on personal preference, but isn’t the point of thriving as humans to constantly learn from one another. Perhaps, what you want may not be what another has in mind, but that does not necessarily denote narcissistic tendencies, unless they’re doing things behind your back that affect you negatively or, if your influence is a blatant liar, then you’re screwed. I hide many things, I’m very backward. Most people hide the bad things they’ve done to avoid repercussions and announce all the good in their life. I am the complete opposite of that. I have had so many people find out every aspect of my life that I openly announce “bad” things I’ve done, regardless of how much it screws me, but the things I find important to me, I keep close because I do not want them stolen again, or with people, infiltrated by outside influences before they get to know me themselves. Almost every time this makes me appear as though I am hiding something, perhaps even mimicking your idea of someone who does not want to share their narcissistic supply, but appearances can be deceiving.

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    1. Yes, mimicry is a great teacher, it’s one of the first ways we learn when we’re children – which can be annoying to adults as children mimic the behaviours which adults do which they don’t want highlighted like that, hence – Do as I say and not as I do. 🙂

      In school much of our learning involves copying. And so does our social learning.

      Mimicry in and of itself is natural, we all do it, and a large portion of it is positive, it serves a purpose in human development and interaction.

      If you admire someone, mimicking them for a while helps you to discover what you admire in them within yourself. We all try on other skins to see if they fit, how they feel, to help us understand our own skin better. It’s also a component in empathy, mimicking someone can help you to understand them and learn more about them, know how they feel in their own skin, their perspective.

      If you love an idea, copying it is a way to explore it and learn more about it.

      Most mimicry is just a stepping stone to something individual. So if we copy a fashion, eventually we’ll adapt it to our own individual style. It is also a way to be a part of the collective human tribe, so the individual is a part of a whole, a group, a tribe.

      We may all copy a trend, but we’ll do it together and individually, sharing our take on it with others and they share theirs with us. And so it flows.

      You said – “There are many people who will steal another’s ideas because they like them, or because they want to identify with them, which is your “villainous” aspect.” – that’s not the villainous aspect… yet. It could go either way depending on how it is done, on the intention and motive for doing it. Is it homage or plagiarism? Is it inspiration or deception? Admiration or envy? I suppose the best way to gauge it is through the effects of it, is it harmful or beneficial – and is it only beneficial to one person while others get harmed?

      Let’s say you copy someone, ‘steal’ their idea – which is one of the most ‘stolen’ ideas about creativity and a widely propagated piece of advice that people should ‘steal’ ideas (you’ll find many quotes from successful people suggesting this tactic), however this advice usually means taking an idea and making it yours by being inspired by it, giving it your own spin, adding your perspective to it (Like the Sherlockian ‘Nike’ tribute image on this post) – how would the person whom you’re copying feel about what you’re doing?

      Do they feel positive about it or negative? Some of that depends, of course, on why they were doing what they were doing. Perhaps they were copying someone else, and so they see a natural flow in motion, they’re flattered that they passed on an idea which was passed onto them, and which will be passed on through you too. They feel positive about it because they were inspired, they created something which inspired you, and you being inspired by them inspires them to keep being inspired. So it is give and take, taking and giving, and everyone gets something out of it.

      A narcissist on the other hand will react differently. They are free to steal but no one else is allowed to do so and they’ll get very pissed off if you do to them what they do to others. Anyone who has had a narcissist steal from them usually feels as though they’ve been invaded and robbed, a piece of themselves has been stolen and it’s not flattering, no matter how hard you try to put a positive spin on it, it leaves you with a nasty negative taste in your mouth and inside of you. Someone broke into you and stole your precious.

      When I was talking about the villainous aspect I was thinking about characters like Hedy Carlson from the film Single White Female who use mimicry in a twisted manner. Who appear to be one thing and then turn out to be another. Have you seen the film?

      Before I wrote this I had just finished watching season 1 of the TV series – Ray Donovan – which has a strong narcissism theme running through it. The title character’s father, Mickey Donovan, is a narcissistic sociopath/psychopath (superbly played by Jon Voight), and the manner in which he infiltrates himself into the lives of the people with whom he interacts is well-written and observed, and rather harrowing to watch. He has this whole nice guy routine which is very sinister, he only gives when he is about to take, and he always takes more than he gives, and his giving is a form of taking too. And even though he has screwed people over again and again they keep falling for it because they want to believe that he’s genuine rather than mimicking what they want to get what he wants. Whenever someone confronts him, he flips things around so that the crimes he committed were the other person’s fault, or heroic – he did it all for them. It’s the kind of show which prompts the viewer to do a lot of shouting at the TV, and is full of triggers for those of us who’ve known people like him, and know family environments like that.

      When you say – “I hide many things, I’m very backward.” – I can relate to that, that’s a natural reaction to growing up with NPD parents who did this – “who had no concept of personal space, went through my things, and told the world my business, claiming to want to “help” me with issues I did not have, because I was not conforming to their idea of what I should be.” – and it’s the way that you learn to protect yourself, your self. So you do this – “but the things I find important to me, I keep close because I do not want them stolen again” – which is a wise thing to do, even around non-narcissists. Those who care and are respectful of you and your boundaries will figure out what is important to you, because they take the time to get to know you. Even when we keep things close, they can be seen by those who want to see.

      This – “Almost every time this makes me appear as though I am hiding something” – I wouldn’t see that as being – “perhaps even mimicking your idea of someone who does not want to share their narcissistic supply” – as it is very different. Knowing that you grew up with narcissists, as I did, I would assume you’re doing what I do – which is not wanting to be a narcissist’s narcissistic supply. You’re guarding what is precious to you, which is logical, you’re valuing your own value. Most people do this in varying degrees, and that’s why it takes time to get to know someone. And most people when they want to get to know someone take the time to do so, respecting boundaries and waiting for each thing to be revealed when a person is ready to do so. They will wait for you to share when and if you want to, and they will wait to share their own hidden sides when they are ready, if they want to. The relationship flows both ways.

      With a narcissist things don’t work that way. If you do a search for – narcissist mimic – there are loads of results describing the ‘villainous’ side of mimicry. It is a very different type of a natural human trait, as all traits are when expressed through someone with NPD. Traits get twisted.

      Thank you for sharing 🙂

      ps. I tend to regularly agree and disagree with myself, it’s how I work towards figuring things out, and my posts are a way for me to get at what I’m hiding 😉

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