Feeding on Others
This concept encompasses both psychological manipulation and a sort of psychic game of dominance and exploitation. The physical or psychological part consists of exercising some form of emotional control over another. The psychic or metaphysical part involves depleting another's life force for one's own gain. This is a sort of vampirism.
Feeding of some sort is very common and often happens without conscious intent or knowledge of the participants. It is felt as either tiredness, irritation, indifference or excitement or high or any of many sensations, depending on whether one be the food or the feeder.
In extreme cases, a black magician may engage in deliberate physical or mental destruction of a victim as a proof or adjunct to one's personal power. Most feeding is however much subtler and can be done with seemingly good intent.
The human being requires a sort of mental food of impressions and attention. The fact that babies die if they do not get any attention is a witness to this. The biological mechanism is genetically programmed to get this food of attention in one way or another. Even negative attention is better than none.
This basic need can develop into all manner of manipulative behaviors that seek to feed off the attention of others. Narcissism is a far gone example of this. On the other hand, such tendencies do not have to result from deprivation, they can be quite congenital, as with the psychopath.
Feeding most often requires at least passive participation of both parties. The exchange can be more or less imbalanced but usually there is at least some token compensation from the feeder to the food to maintain the relationship. This can consist of various things, depending on what the exploited most desires, is most willing to 'sell one's soul for.'
Feeding usually uses some 'noble sentiment' of the victim for leverage. This can be pity for the feeder, a sense of family obligation, a sense of duty to defend the oppressed, any sense of guilt and so forth.
Feeding may involve using another for material advantage but this is not necessarily the main content. Getting attention and controlling the emotional state of the victim can be more important. Feeding is a clearly self-serving activity. Encouraging the feeding habits of others by being willing food generally advances the cause of STS.
Feeding has a tendency to organize itself into a food chain or pyramid. The food of one seeks to replenish psychic reserves by in turn feeding on others. This is generally the reason why abuse and oppression get passed around.
Any defense against being fed upon needs to be based on first considering the possibility of this happening. To detect whether this is taking place, one may disengage from a situation to see if this makes a difference. If this is not possible, one may intensify efforts at self-observation. Symptoms of being fed on generally include emotional reactions or changes in energy levels but since these occur together with decreased interest or ability to think and increased subjectivity, detecting this is problematical.
Emotion is the food in a feeding dynamic. In order not to be food, one should not give any emotional reaction or give an entirely unexpected one. This is difficult because people are usually creatures of mechanical habit and besides addicted to reacting emotionally. Being addicted to being food is a good possibility. Being manipulated through pity for example can make one feel important and necessary and noble, increasing one's subjective self-importance while one is in fact only being used. The situation of feeding injects a certain psychic anesthetic into the food source, so that the actual nature of the interaction gets masked by other chemicals. Feeding scenarios involving mutual addiction are a real possibility. Codependence or sadomasochistic relationships may be an example.
Feeding habits of people are usually deeply engrained and often unconscious or at least tucked aside even If one were at some level aware of them. Not all predators think of themselves as such. They will usually try to reverse the entire situation if they are confronted with evidence of their behavior. Emotionally or physically disengaging from the dynamic is best. Change in people is very rare and never happens without work on their own behalf. Learning new tricks or conditioned responses or becoming more stealthy or faking having 'changed one's ways' is not considered change in this sense.
In the case of a serious, concerted attack, it is often effective not to address the attacker directly but rather to make the whole situation public. Feeding off others relies to a degree on being done covertly.
The myth of the vampire states that victims of vampires become vampires themselves. This is an apt allegory. This does not only mean that they need to compensate for the lost energy by taking it in turn from others. This also means that they in a quite concrete sense adopt the world view of the vampire, with its unique subjectivity and sensation seeking. In metaphysical terms, one could speak of being drawn into the vortex spiraling towards the thought center of service to self. A vampire has no or little objective self-consciousness. The vampire lives in a constant state of identification with feeding and getting more to satisfy the self's subjective cravings. When one is in this state one will increasingly 'not 'self-remember' and will have less consciousness for stopping the spiral. This is why these dynamics often culminate in a crisis and crash.
Because feeding naturally forms food chains, the human predators are not the ultimate beneficiaries. Rather, the psychic energy gathered in all the personal dramas of feeding tends to be funneled through to the higher density forces of STS. Their human agents are also food and generally undergo a process of psychic decay. This is yet another meaning of the 'power corrupts' dictum.