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Old 06-06-2010, 08:47 PM   #1
DJkillos

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I found this article and thought it might be relevant to this thread. It discusses conformity and how what you think society expects of you can shape who you are and the way you see yourself.

http://www.dyske.com/index.php?view_id=801

CONFORMITY

We typically imagine a conformist to be conservative, someone who abides by the rules of the society, but in a society or community where rule-breaking is part of the norm, breaking rules would be a process of conformity. In this sense, conformity does not necessarily equal conservatism. That is, appearance is deceptive in discussing what conformity is.

In graphic design, "thinking outside the box" and breaking the established rules are encouraged and respected. Designers who succeed in these endeavors often set the latest trend. At first, these trend-setting designers may appear farthest from being conformists, but in a different dimension, they too are conformists. In fact, attaining the perfect balance between "thinking outside the box" and being a conformist is what yields a successful result in graphic design. If you go too far "outside", the result would not be as effective.

In high school where being "cool" is literally a matter of life and death, mastering this balance of conformity and deviation is the key to popularity, and successful survival. You conform too much, you are toast; you deviate too much, you are toast too. Somewhere between the two lies the perfect balance everyone strives for. If deviation, or being different, was the key to becoming "cool", being handicapped, gay, deformed, or retarded should be regarded as "cool", but this is not the case.

The same goes for graphic design. Your work cannot deviate or conform too much. Beyond a certain point of "thinking outside the box", your work would be deemed out of context, inappropriate, esoteric, or simply bad. If your design conforms too much, it is deemed derivative, unoriginal, or mundane. Both in high school and in graphic design, to be truly different is not a popular position, and takes a certain amount of courage and strength.

The name of the game here is for one's existence to be recognized and valued by the society or the community. How you achieve this is by balancing between conformity and deviation. Ultimately this pursuit of the golden balance is conformity in the true sense of the term.

Japan is known for its culture of conformity, and is a highly homogeneous society, but beyond the facade, the degree to which people are concerned with the golden balance is the same as you would notice in any other countries; only it manifests differently. Most Japanese high schools require their students to wear uniforms. They tend to minimize the opportunities to express individuality, but wherever it is allowed, they take full advantage of it.

For instance, carrying a cell phone is allowed. This provides a window of opportunities to express individuality, not only in what kind of phones you can purchase, but also in what kind of straps you can attach to it (they often attach multiple straps to one phone), what type of carrying case you can sport (some are elaborately designed like a shape of animal), and how many stickers you can affix to it. The breadth of products available to express individuality using cell phones is astounding.

From the perspective of the outsiders, it seems absurd that they obsess over such minor details when individuality can be expressed in a much greater degree by other means like fashion, painting, music, dancing, etc.. Thus, we might hastily conclude that limited means of expression equals limited expressions of individuality, but this is not necessarily the case. Adding more syllables to haiku does not necessarily make it more expressive. It is just a different game. Similarly, an orchestral composition is not necessarily more expressive than a piano composition. The extent to which many Americans go to express their individuality can also appear absurd to those who understand this.

What does it mean to conform to this golden balance of conformity and deviation? What are we trying to achieve by it? In a word: popularity. To be popular is to be recognized and valued by as many people as possible. To conform is to measure oneself against a collective standard of value. It is not to a community of people per se but to the standard of it.

In order to clarify this further, let me contrast conformity with assimilation and accordance. Conformity is to adopt a standard other than your own. Assimilation is to shift the standard to a foreign one. Accordance is to live by your own standard, but at the same time to live harmoniously with your environment.

Certain groups of people, when they migrate to a foreign country, make no effort at assimilating to the local culture. Some even make no effort at living in accordance. They migrate, settle, and establish their own communities, rules, laws, and even currencies, completely ignoring the people who have lived there long before they did. If these self-serving immigrants are more powerful than the locals, the former colonizes the latter. If the other way around, the immigrants accuse the locals of being "racists".

We all conform to some standard in one way or another. Unless you are entirely free of ego, it is impossible to avoid it. Even if you have a solid standard of your own, a collective standard is constantly influencing your value system. Your ego is a result of your evaluation against the collective standard.

You turn 30. You stop and think what you have achieved so far. You realize not much. You feel guilty. You figure out how many more productive years you have left in your life. You realize you are half way in. You look at others around you, and notice that some of them are far more successful than you are. You feel like you are being left behind. You feel desperate. And so on...

Or: At 30, you are already a millionaire. You have made a wise choice in investing time and money, and made out well through the Dotcom boom. You own a huge loft in Tribecca, a Porsche, and a summer house in the Hamptons. You continue to make money from your investment, and call yourself a venture capitalist.

Or: At 30, you are a famous artist. You are not a millionaire, but are highly acclaimed in the art world. Even though you are not a household name, as long as the cultural elites can recognize your name, you are satisfied.

Or: At 30, you are a priest of a popular church. Even though you are not wealthy, you are proud of your religious achievement.

In this fashion, the collective standard you conform to, can vary even within a society. Consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unavoidably, you end up with a collective standard to which you conform. These standards function very much like a system of currency. Everyone has his or her own base currency by which everything is eventually settled even if other currencies are occasionally used.

The famous Japanese chef/restaurateur, Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa, opened one of his first restaurants in Peru where eel was considered food for dogs. In a similar way, what is highly valued by one standard may be dismissed by other standards. In Japan, the prestige of being a graduate of Tokyo University is so great that your entire family can be famous in your community for it. If you were to shift your standard by assimilating to a different culture, you would have to give up this status. Many Japanese people spend several years living abroad, but the experience gained in foreign countries must eventually be evaluated by their base currency back in Japan. How their experiences are going to be evaluated back home dictates what they choose to experience abroad.

Much like its currency, the American standard of popularity is more universally recognized than the standards of any other countries. This makes the experience in America versatile and convenient for most foreigners looking to enhance their own value in their base currencies. Going to Harvard University, for instance, is more versatile than going to Tokyo University. For the same amount of effort, the former can take you much further internationally.

Conforming to two dissimilar standards is not the same as conforming to the areas that two standards share in common. Most internationally successful individuals pursue the latter. Madonna, for instance, is famous in Japan, but she does not conform to the Japanese standard. She happens to conform to the overlapping area of the Japanese and American standards. Many famous American comedians, for instance, are not famous in Japan, because sense of humor is not easily shared by the standards of other cultures.

If you truly conformed to two dissimilar standards independently, "you" would be two independent persons. Imagine a comedian famous in Japan for his uncanny understanding of the Japanese politics. Suppose he is also a famous singer in Mexico who sings in Spanish about the struggles of the working class people. This would be an example of true multi-standard existence, where the people of one standard know nothing about how he is perceived by another standard. As you could imagine, this would be rather rare. Most of us conform to only one base standard.

Leaving one standard for another that shares nothing in common, would be quite similar in effect to committing suicide. By doing so, you would be destroying the ego you had built over the years using your native standard. Most standards, no matter how disparate they may appear, share much in common. How difficult the conversion is, is dependent on how little the two standards share in common. The concept of "born again" is precisely this: to shift your standard from the ordinary one to one of Christianity. After the conversion, everything you did, do, and will do in life will be measured against a different standard. A piece of impressive accomplishment by your previous standard may not mean much by your new one. In this sense, you are killing part of who you are. This is when you realize how intangible and arbitrary "you" are in the ordinary sense of the term.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:30 AM   #2
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Your friend sounds like a spoiled little kid that needs to grow up, wake up and smell the coffee..It is her that is making herself unhappy, has nothing to do with customs.
FaranginPhetch is essentially right but the growing up part can be extremely difficult based upon both genetic and environmental factors.

"You start with the clay them mold it to it's final form"

I reckon that until a person is "grounded" i.e. completely happy with themselves, only then can be truly happy with the world around them. One way I have found to achieve this is to enrol in a good martial arts class, one that emphasises both the mental as well as the physical.

Anyway, until your friend has found her own way in the world then she should not get too involved in worrying about external relationships.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:35 AM   #3
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I don't believe it is the cultures problem 24 yrs. old lady still lives at home, sounded to me she did not graduate from high school, if so she needs to go back to finish HS. and go college pick carreer she likes and start live independently.
You can help by talking to her find out what is bothered her and go from there.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:42 PM   #4
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""You start with the clay them mold it to it's final form"""
Pretty hard to do when the clay is already 24 years old,,should start a long time before that, and due to the fact that she was sent away at 16 years of age for 'misbehaving" might give some insights into her mental makeup. Now she seems to think that the world should only do as she wishes, not the other way around..
I meant the clay to represent the new born child in much the same way as clay is the starting point for the making of the pot. Depending on the type and make-up of the clay, a number of outside factors are then applied to mold the final product. Those factors include shaping, painting, glazing and firing resulting in many different types of end product such as utilitarian pottery, fine china, folk art, and damaged.

If the product is damaged it then takes a great amount of effort to make damage whole.

Sorry I didn't make myself clearer in the original post.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:47 PM   #5
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There is entirely to much emphasis put on the culture thing, use your own mind, culture has nothing to do with it..
With all due respect, I disagree. People are an amalgam of who they are genetically and how they deal with the rules culture puts upon them.

My friend is conflicted. In her romantic relationships she wants an American to treat her like a Thai guy is expected to his girlfriend/wife historically but she wants all the freedom that American women have and she wants to be equal to her boyfriend in all the ways American women feel they should be equal.

I know this is a little vague. Am I making sense?

Also here there are other Asian support groups where they talk about trying to stay true to their native culture while trying to be American. It IS a problem for people who come to live here that were born and partially raised in other countries. It is easy to lose your way when the rules change halfway through the game. I guess what I'm asking for is for the Thai's to give their experience in how they dealt with issues such as this.
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Old 09-21-2012, 02:55 PM   #6
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PETERG, I understood what you meant, but still at 24 the shaping of her personality and thinking is done, at least all is done that can be done without her approval..

But I still have not been told what a Thai Guy is supposed to do for or to his girlfriend that is different from what is done by a farang.

Maybe all of my traveling around all these years has screwed me up so bad that I cannot see what is going on around me and notice exactly what each person is doing that is so different from the other,
""""My friend is conflicted. In her romantic relationships she wants an American to treat her like a Thai guy is expected to his girlfriend/wife historically but she wants all the freedom that American women have and she wants to be equal to her boyfriend in all the ways American women feel they should be equal."""
Maybe this is the part that is so hard for me to understand.
Well anyway I guess this PHOENIX has all the info she/he/it needs as they have not posted for awhile, or maybe the post is a TROLL..
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Old 09-21-2012, 03:16 PM   #7
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But to be "Culture" it should be something that has been going on for more than 1 generation or 1 month.

The culture custom of sin sod is fine with me as it has been going on for many years,
Of the children taking care of the parents and old folks as that has also been going on for a long time, just as it used to in the States and other parts of the world before programs were in place to free the younger one from that duty.
But for someone to say it is custom "Culture" for the way a boyfriend treats his girl, or the way a husband/wife treat their other is not a custom, but just human nature to treat them right, or wrong, what ever ones nature is.
As this thread started, A Farang will not treat his G/F any different than a Thai, some will be all sweet when thay have no intentions of being like that forever, and some will never change from what you see is what you get, Altho it might be so that a farang will be more open as to what he is and what he thinks than a Thai would at first, which I would rather have it that way. I explained exactly my wishes and desires and my way of doing before we were ever to serious about our life together,,no need of putting up a front only to surprise them with what you really are later.
Which my wife has told me Thai men do,,but little did she know that men are the same the world over,,we come in all different models, just like cars.
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Old 09-21-2012, 04:25 PM   #8
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Default How to Help a Thai Friend Reconcile American Culture w/ Thai Culture
Hi. I'm new to this forum. I wanted to post here because I have a question on behalf of a Thai friend of mine.

My friend came to live here (in America) from Thailand when she was in 8th grade. She started misbehaving when she got to high school so in 10th grade her mother (who's re-married to an American and has four children by him) shipped her back to her family in Thailand. She came back to the states when she was 18 to live permanently and has since gone back to Thailand to visit for a year (she's now 24.)

My question/problem is this: my friend is very lost now. Her mother kind of ignores her (and we all know how important Thai's family is to them) and my friend doesn't really feel like she fits in here (in America) or in her native country. She's having problems reconciling her Thai culture with her American culture; basically she's really confused and she has no social or familial support system.

Is there anything I can do as her friend to help her? Does anyone reading this forum have any experience in this matter? Is there a website or a support group online that I can direct her too?

Any advice that you can give me will be helpful. I'm a little scared for my friend, she's really depressed.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:27 PM   #9
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is Thai CUSTOM..

I have friends from Chiang Mai down to Pattaya, most are retired, some are in business.
I know a farang that I rented an apt. from in CM and lived above his home on the 2nd floor, he has been married to a Thai for 15 years, They fight, scream, cuss each other everyday, she goes off gambling til 2 am or so every nite and he goes downtown and sometimes brings home a hooker for awhile at around 2200 and is always gone again by midnite.

#2 Thai sister in law and Thai husband, He is not that bad a guy but a sharp shooter without a steady job but always gonna make a million on his next deal, His wife is a school teacher, she really raises hell with him all the time, screams at him, Chases him out of the house, never satisfied with him and they do not get along at all.

#3- farang that chases women and spends a lot of money on em, his Thai wife actually abuses him, beats him, scratches skin off and hits him with household objects, wakes him at night with a knife against his throat, threatens to kill him..

#4-Farang with Thai wife, same as I, gets along fine, does things for each other, never a problem, his wife doesn't work but mine does..

#5-Thai husband and wife, he sells used cars on occasions, always drunk, chases women and never has money for his wife, she works and sells things here in our village, he will give her a divorce if she will give him 400K baht..

6-Thai husband, has 2 young women on the side that he pays phone bills for certain considerations, wife is not happy about it..

#7-My wife and I see different people that she knows in a food shop in town, married men and women with people that they are not married to, out on dates..And older Thai men making arrangements with Thai students from a univ. to pay phone bills for considerations..

#8- My 15 yo stepdaughter went up to her aunts place to stay the night when told that her and her cousin couldn't go to town in the evening,, Both girls were caught uptown at 0100 and brought back home, they had crawled out of the bedroom window and went 10 km to town anyway. They are Thai, and I don't think that is Thai custom but it happens..
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:43 PM   #10
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FiP, I don't think Phoenix is a troll - but the atmosphere is not very welcoming in this thread any more. I think you have been playing down the problem very hard. this is a genuine problem that thousands of people face all over the world, and you shouldn't be calling people caught in between two cultures hysterical or childish. some can handle it well, others will be stuck for ages, I've seen both. I really don't know what to say or how to help, apart from suggesting that you should try to help her find a support group where she can discuss the issues with women in similar position, that would help her verbalise her problems more explicitly, talk to people who really understand her, and see how others are tackling the same things. I really wish someone with more relevant experience about growing up in two cultures would come forward with some suggestions....
Betti, thank you for your response.

It's obvious that FiP has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to this subject so I'm going to ignore his responses as they are not relevant. And in no way do I hold this entire board accountable for the negativity and ignorance of one of it's posters

For the rest that say it lies on the person, I understand that it's effortless for some to make the adjustment between one culture and another, but in this thread we aren't talking about those people but instead are referring to the ones who at first had some trouble with acclimation but who were eventually able to adjust. It's harder for some than others. I would like to hear the experiences of those who were eventually able to mentally join the two.

Obviously, when helping a person who's really depressed several issues have to be addressed. In my friends case, I feel helping her link the two (cultures) is a big piece of what will help her feel better but I realize that it's not all that needs to be done. I addressed this specific problem on this messageboard because where's a better place to go on the internet for trying to get feedback on this particular problem?
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:42 PM   #11
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With all due respect, I disagree. People are an amalgam of who they are genetically and how they deal with the rules culture puts upon them.

My friend is conflicted. In her romantic relationships she wants an American to treat her like a Thai guy is expected to his girlfriend/wife historically but she wants all the freedom that American women have and she wants to be equal to her boyfriend in all the ways American women feel they should be equal.

I know this is a little vague. Am I making sense?"""

For the first thing, You posted nothing in your Bio, so we do not know your gender, your age or your location.. so we have nothing to base your reasoning or questions on,,

I am a Farang, I am married to a Thai woman, We are happy together, there is no difference in how we treat each other based on any geographical customs.
We are all human beings and as such we each have a mind that directs our actions towards others, It has nothing to do with customs.
Thai men do not treat a woman any different than an American, some say one thing and do another, happens in all places, only from what my wife says, it is more so here than would be done by a Farang, say sweet things and then go behind and do different, say you do not drink and chase women, then go and do those very things.
We have both Thai couples and Farang and Thai couples in our group of friends, and the men in both groups are equal in their actions to their mates, some cheat and drink and some do not,,has no bearings on their bloodlines.
There is no genetic difference that states how a man is going to treat his mate after or before marriage.
Your friend sounds like a spoiled little kid that needs to grow up, wake up and smell the coffee..It is her that is making herself unhappy, has nothing to do with customs.
Now if you have something specific to base your opinions on, I would like to hear it other than that, I think you are just looking for a cop out to side with your friend and make her right and everyone else wrong thru your conceptions of customs.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:37 PM   #12
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Culture is not the law that people must obey like Thai-Chinese culture passed along as the oldest brother should stay with the parent(not must). Most Thai are raised to believe in Bhuda but not all. Thai women are taught to be house wives and marry to the grooms parents select, but the girls have the right to reject.

From what I read her behaving story it happens here too in Thailand we call those girls the players if one loves the other so much one will not goes out flirting around (freedom of seeing other men). It is more personal problem if she is depressed then you have to find out and help her, it is difficult for anyone to give you the right answer without knowing the whole story.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:02 AM   #13
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Sounds like she is a little confused, Many Thai's live at home, till they get married, where many Americans live independently not long after leaving school. I think the problem is she learnt to much of the the Thai ways and has not adapted to the American way of life, that her mother has adapted to, as the mother has an American husband.
All you can do is be her friend and supportive. You just need to explain to her this is just the American way, and her mother still loves her.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:24 AM   #14
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Hey, I think this thread got wildly off the point and very quickly. Phoenix’s first post raised all sorts of red flags without even the inherent conflict of cultural differences.

Someone in the 8th grade is typically around 12 & 13 years old and this can be a very hard time in a young person’s life without any additional pressures. Moving half way around the world to America where social norms are based on a Protasent, Judo- Christen ethic, an almost unquenchable material clinging and an exceedingly difficult language to learn would be overwhelming in its self, even with a good supportive family life.

It’s well documented in America that second marriages with children are very difficult on all parties involved, particularly the children. This girls Mother, if I’m reading correctly, had 4 children with her new American husband. Wonder where her loyalties could begin to lie?

Sometimes “causing problems” at that age can be symptomatic of underlying difficulties. Perhaps at that time a good marriage, family counselor could have helped. Sending “The Problem” away is not addressing an issue it’s just avoiding it. Some people are not good parents no matter what their cultural back ground is.

So there are all sorts of stuff this young woman may be dealing with and cultural differences are only part of the mix, not I think the cause. One of the hardest things to do when one is depressed is to do anything. Any effort seems Herculean. Unfortunately your options are limited as to what you can do because the responsibility is ultimately up to her. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”, as it were. As a friend you can listen with love and compassion and that is really about it.

The journey is hard and takes a lot of effort at times. I can only recommend two things. One would to be find a counselor / therapist she feels comfortable with and the other would be to find a Wat and consult with a Monk. At the least she has a caring friend and that’s a good start. Good luck to you both.


May all beings have peace, may they be happy.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:50 AM   #15
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to a large extent I agree that often people are using the word 'culture' when as a local I think it should be 'circumstance'. For instance, lets take the issue of heirarchial structure. In my country today, the heirarchial structure in work place/politics is no culture of ours. The original one is was where the leader is expected to be nurturing and benevolent and with that he or she ran things with great power. The students or juniors are fully committed and full of thanks. This still continues in some institutions of the country which have had the opportunity to evolve in their own local terms.

But unfortunately, in many cases, by jumping times, we now have a left-warped version of our original way of 'heirarchy' which is no where like what I mentioned. Today, the people in power are heartless and without commitment from either side. I know for sure in my work place (with people of a certain kind) people would not have it, given an opportunity. But because of lack of options and the lack of words and a lack of threshold of people complaining - we continue so. That is also why many sometimes many of us work better with farangs as managers, because with the entry of an outsider and break in typical perceptions we adapt quickly to a 'better' sharing way of working...

However, many a farangs in the company sometimes refer to the way of working among locals as their 'culture' and think so it is... That sometimes I think is mistaken....

On the other hand I also do not appreciate some trying to change everything just because of their perception of what's right or wrong wherever in the world.

So, I think its a tricky judgement...
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:52 AM   #16
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I nor anyone else said that there is no such thing as custom in Thailand.

What I did was show that people are different and anytime that something is questioned then that behavior is passed off and explained as "Thai Custom", whether it be from Songkran being changed from pouring water on the hands of elders to throwing buckets of water in the face of motorcycle riders,
To it being accepted for married men to have numerous Mi Noi' and for women to accept anything that is done by a male.

All things change when a different style of living is introduced into a culture and then things change so that culture is no longer a hard and fast rule to be lived by everyone.

No one should say that Thai Custom is making their life miserable and unlivable because someone is not doing what they think is customary to a certain area when it is getting more and more each day to be an amalgam of different and mixed customs.

So if anyone wants to live the origional Thai Customs then they should do so by all means but not be unhappy when most have advanced to modern living styles.
Throw away your gas cooker and go back to cooking on a charcoal brazier,,Give up your motor vehicles and go back to travel and farm work with Buffalo, no more refrigerators or electric fans.

But the poster of this thread does not see it that way, the girl wants to live in what she calls "Customs", be it that she wants only the parts of them that suit her and make her life better and more livable. Which everyone is doing.
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:01 AM   #17
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It's obvious that FiP has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to this subject so I'm going to ignore his responses as they are not relevant.
Hi Phoenix,

Don't dismiss FiP quite so quickly. In essense he his right although maybe it can be expressed in a different manner.

In my view situations like these are based on low self esteem . i.e. childish behaviour. The way out is build that self esteem so one can negotiate life without worrying to much about what others say or do. Having said that, it's not such an easy thing to do especially if the depression you describe is clinically based.

So, the first thing to do is for your friend to see a good Doctor who can then point her in the right direction. Either the treatment of the physical symptons or the low self esteem.

Either way, it is up to her, if she is not willing to take that first step then there is not much you can do
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:18 AM   #18
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You are very right, she put herself in the place she is now and it is up to her to get herself out, there is nothing anyone can do for her now.
There is entirely to much emphasis put on the culture thing, use your own mind, culture has nothing to do with it..
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Old 09-22-2012, 04:29 AM   #19
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FiP, I don't think Phoenix is a troll - but the atmosphere is not very welcoming in this thread any more. I think you have been playing down the problem very hard. this is a genuine problem that thousands of people face all over the world, and you shouldn't be calling people caught in between two cultures hysterical or childish. some can handle it well, others will be stuck for ages, I've seen both. I really don't know what to say or how to help, apart from suggesting (agreeing with you :-) ) that you should try to help her find a support group where she can discuss the issues with women in similar position, that would help her verbalise her problems more explicitly, talk to people who really understand her, and see how others are tackling the same things. sorry I cannot recommend any specific group for this purpose. I really wish someone with more relevant experience about growing up in two cultures would come forward with some suggestions....
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Old 09-22-2012, 04:31 AM   #20
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HEY, What I said was what my wife told me to write mainly, she just has a hard time writing in English and expressing her self and when something pertaining to Thai I ask her,
She said that it sounded to her as the person asking for the help didn't know what they were talking about when the statement about the Thai BF came up, as against the Farang,
If the person is so depressed then they should see a Dr. preferably from what is written, a head Dr. That would be the one to take over her mental recovery and not a Web Forum as there are very few people posting on here that are qualified to take over the mental recovery of someone in deep cultural shock and if there were they would require to talk directly to the party having the trouble and not a friend.
And then if Group Therapy was involved, it still would be the person with the problem and not the friend who was sent to the group..
Can ya dig it???
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