This really debunks the pseudo-spiritual view that suffering makes us better people, or develops character, or that there is some moral imperative that we “suffer gracefully” and believe that suffering to be good and empowering or else we’re inferior.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that ridiculous saying by Nietzsche: “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” The explanation is horribly lacking.
“The last thing I would wish on my child is to learn,’Well, yeah, you can gain some character by, you know, going through absolute hell and becoming – like I said, not more sensitive as you come out, but less sensitive coming out.’ Which scares the fuck out of me. So I guess that’s the psychology of a lot of syndromes. There’s a lot of kids who were molested and they go through a really bad time and think it gave them character and they end up doing the same thing to some other kid ’cause they think it’s part of how they became such a super-duper human being. […] You’re suffering from a delusion if you think this is some sort of truism that runs through reality, that people are better off harmed than unharmed.”
Related: a look at conventional masculine idolatry in light of the aforementioned quote in “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Really? :
“My objection to this saying is about its relationship with conventional masculine idolatry.
In short, I think it serves to back up the sort of “default” understanding of what it means to be a man, by which I mean the ideal man associated with figures like Nietzsche and Hemingway. The lonesome, resilient, self-sufficient, cowboy adventurer.
I’ll admit that it’s an attractive idea, this ideal man. I love Death in the Afternoon. But it’s a poisonous idea and aspiring to it is flat out dangerous on the grand scale.
I simply fail to see how the cardinal virtue, or any virtue at all, could be the ability to proudly stand up to the the onslaught of life, to weather the storm.
I know that this advice has been addressed to women too, and I’m not excluding them from its scope. In fact, this “ideal man” is such an infectious cultural value that women are, to a degree, expected to hold to it as well.
[…] While the attitude of resilience of nice, dealing with everything as though it makes you stronger if it doesn’t kill you is simply unrealistic. In other words, believing Nietzsche’s advice might involve some unintentionally ironic foreshadowing. It might actually get you killed. […] The fact is that sometimes what doesn’t kill us makes us weaker. By rejecting Nietzsche immature advice, we open ourselves up to the understanding that the greatest strength is knowing that it’s alright to be weak.”
I find that this ties into the theme of masochism and the romance of suffering and martyrdom, the legacy from Judeo-Christianity in the West.
Then, the same guy has what I’m calling a “solipsist smackdown”: