definition of stoic / definition of stoicism

an original definition by J. E. Brown

  1. The belief that people, especially other people, should not be allowed to have emotions.
  2. A self-centered belief that others should just stop whining.
  3. The attitude of “You exist purely for my entertainment. Instead of crying and whining about your so-called ‘problems’, you should think about how your behavior/sadness affects me!”
  4. The opposite of empathy.
  5. A perverted system of ethics in which you’re responsible for everything that happens TO you.
  6. A form of insensitivity. A belief that other people do not have real feelings or emotions, and all emotional displays are intended to manipulate others.
  7. Techniques for trivializing the problems of others. Techniques for conveying to people that their problems look really small to you.
  8. A socially accepted way of expressing hostility and dominance.
  9. A type of cowardice, in which only the safer target (i.e. the weaker target) is advised to show restraint.
    Example: When an abuser picks on a victim, the stoic bystander lectures the victim for his reaction but does nothing to stop the abuser. (This bystander’s behavior is also an example of Feeding Frenzy, in which bystanders recognize an easy target and join in the abuse.)
  10. The pop psychology that teaches people to be passive victims.

Synonyms: {You’re reading “Definition of Stoicism” by J. E. Brown.}

  • egocentrism; narcissism; solipsism; self-centeredness; being insensitive; being a jerk.


  • being a friend.

Related Concepts: {Read this comp1ete article at .}

  • censorship; empathy deficiency; empathy disorders; negativity; practicing pop psychology without a license; silencing the emotions of others.


Street Definition: Showing no emotion.

Red Flags: Keywords Often Used by Stoics:

  • master, mastery (as in “mastering oneself”, “mastering your emotions”, “mastering your life”)
  • change your expectations
  • cheer up
  • complainer
  • faking
  • focus on what you can change
  • get over it
  • hypersensitive
  • hysterical
  • If you resist your abuser/bully, you might make him mad. (Double standard under which bullies are treated better than victims)
  • control your emotions
  • perceptions: “I’m sorry you perceived that I ____.”
  • perspective
  • reactions are a choice
  • stop being a victim
  • thick skin, thin skin
  • victim mentality
  • free, freedom: when you ____, you will be free
  • whiner, whining
  • you shouldn’t let it bother you (esp. the belief that insults bother you because you choose to let them, not because (duh) they’re insults. Anyone who abuses you on purpose should be slapped in the face and/or dumped.)
  • Smile!
  • Advice designed to increase your powerlessness, such as: “Turn the other cheek.”

Excerpts from my book (in progress)


I was six years old when I first saw a fish fileted. People filet a fish alive. They just put the fish on a board and start cutting on it.

I asked, “Doesn’t it hurt the fish?”

“No,” my grandmother said, “Fish are cold-blooded, so they don’t feel pain.”

It just goes to show you:

  1. People do whatever they want, then look for excuses.
  2. When looking for excuses, people believe whatever’s convenient. Never mind thinking. Never mind logic.

Likewise, when people decide to hurt you, they turn off their empathy chip. They tell themselves you don’t feel pain.

Stoicism consists of denying that people (especially other people) have feelings.

— J. E. Brown

Remember, stoicism is a philosophy, not a science. It arose thousands of years ago, not out of research, but out of self-centeredness.

Stoicism pretends to be a philosophy, but it is nothing more than the ideologizing of insensitivity.
It comes from a time when human sacrifice was considered entertainment. When murder in the Colosseum was considered a sport. A time when human life was not valued.

Stoicism is not a philosophy (in the sense of “a system of beliefs or actions”), but an expectation/insistence that other people should be philosophical (in the sense of “calm and unemotional and unflappable”).

Stoicism is an attitude of dismissiveness toward other people’s problems.

— J. E. Brown

From the chapter on how to be an insensitive jerk:

Happy, healthy people must surround you at all times. The poor, the homeless, the sad, the depressed, these should all go look for work, for housing, for happiness, all of which grow on trees, or so you’ll be happy to tell them.{Read this comp1ete article at .}

— J. E. Brown

I think "you are responsible for your own happiness" is what people with a lot of power and privilege say.

In fact, people with power and privilege are the biggest on "responsibility" in general. Why? Because they want to convince themselves they earned and therefore deserve what they got by birth and good luck.

People in poverty, people with diseases, people with disability, et cetera, are much more likely to be frustrated, and are reasonably offended by the idea that they have so much control over their circumstances.

It's always empowering and always feels good when you step up and say you can take control of something. But if you a person can't actually take control, it is really cruel and insensitive to keep suggesting that it is so.

— Matt Pizzuti


My review of the book of Discourses by the stoic philosopher Epictetus:

The rantings of the ancient philosopher Epictetus, who went around telling people how they could become less offensive (to *him*) by controlling their emotions. Because it was all about *him*. Because people who have problems are just a bunch of whiners.

Epictetus had a point of view which nowadays we call “uncultured” and “inhuman”. His system of “philosophy” consists mainly of sneering at anyone who’s Other. His collection of beliefs is one which any teenage hipster could come up with — and even today, many still do.

Here, check out his medieval advice:

  • “It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.”

Great advice. I’m sure crazy basketball coaches and abusive spouses *love* that one.

  • A gladiator, headed to his death in the Colosseum, should have the attitude “I go either to excel, or to give another the occasion to excel.”

This is why I dislike the Stoics: They found it so easy to trivialize other people’s situations. They felt that everyone exists for the entertainment of others.

A great book for those who believe in slavery and human sacrifice.

— J. E. Brown

Epictetus, the ancient Roman “life coach”, liked to say that a slave should learn to think of himself as free. He liked to say that you’ll be free if you simply don’t let your captivity bother you. Just stop having emotions about it, he said. Once the cage stops bothering you, it doesn’t exist.

Um — No. That’s total BS, actually.
By that definition, freedom consists of concealing from oneself that one is a slave!

A cage is a cage.
Denying that the cage exists does not make you “free”.
Refusing to call it a cage does not make you “free”.
Decorating the cage with New Age mind games or other religious aphorisms does not make you “free”.
And finally, false hope does not make you “free” — it only drugs you into not fighting your captivity.

If you would see people free, encourage them to fight what enslaves them.

— J. E. Brown

I feel nothing but scorn for stoicism, because when we hide what we’re going through, the people who understand us, the other people who are in our shoes, feel alone. Emoting, done right, is a kind of performance art, every bit as much as the advice to “dance like no one’s watching.”

... See, this is what our culture of Stoicism buys us: People suffer in silence. I think that if people suffered out loud, the rest of us could learn, and make different choices.
In that vein, I like this article from Dan Pearce: Pulled from the Truth Box, week 5

— J. E. Brown

Stoicism is about selective correction of others. The powerful, for example, are never corrected — stoics will only attack safe targets.
Hence, all correction means “I think of you as my subordinate.”

One reason you might want to hide your emotions: Some people who learn about your misfortunes will automatically assume you’re a beta, and try to take advantage.

Stoicism is a tool for constructing and maintaining a pecking order.

— J. E. Brown

Random Thoughts.

Sometimes we mistakenly believe someone to be stoic when in truth he is simply unmoved. Furthermore, sometimes we mistakenly believe someone to be simply unmoved when he is in fact immovable.

Have you noticed that when a murderer is found guilty in a court of law, some journalists describe his reaction as “stoic”, while others describe that same facial expression as “showing no remorse”?

In contrast to the self-esteem movement, stoics seem dedicated to helping people think less of themselves.

They tell you “I don’t believe in sweating the small stuff.” And by “small stuff”, they mean “your stuff”.

No one tells a man with a broken leg or even a headache sufferer that he needs to adjust his attitude to pain and stop demanding relief.
The difference, clearly, is in the person offering advice.

When you hear the self-help crowd lay out ways that you can “change your perceptions” by being more “positive”, run away as fast as you can. That kind of self-“help” is nothing more than religionized gaslighting.

Stoics don’t care about others; the emotions of others disgust them.
They seem to forget that their disgust is an emotion too.
Their disgust at the emotions of others disgusts me.

Those who can’t handle the sight of a little human emotion aren’t as stoic as they’d have us believe.
They forget that their disgust and disdain are emotions too.
Maybe they should take their own advice:
As they’re so fond of saying, maybe they should be more in control of their own emotions.
Maybe they should “master it” instead of “letting it master them”.

I’ve engaged in a program of kicking insensitive people out of my life. After all: If they’re really as thick-skinned as they always claim to be, it shouldn’t bother them, right? ;^)

— J. E. Brown

The Thermostat.

It is a law of cybernetics that if you design any self-regulating system (a thermostat, a pressure safety valve, or a voltage regulator) to respond at only one particular temperature or pressure, then that is the temperature or pressure you will get. The system will let off steam at the selected level, and this creates a limit.

The principle applies equally well to physical systems and social systems: If you design a society where people are taught to complain when rudeness and injustice occur, then rudeness and injustice are limited at that level.

On the other hand, if you advise victims not to complain about abuse, you are removing the thermostat which would have let the victims call for help, and the amount of abuse in society rises because you have bent or broken or tampered with its regulating mechanism.

— J. E. Brown

Nobody is obligated to be entertaining just for your benefit. Remember the two Iranian sisters who were joined at the head? Remember how interesting it was to see that they could drive a car, prepare a meal, and deal with all the other special challenges of their life? And they did it all with such good cheer and optimism. Not only could we have learned a lot from them if they had stayed joined, but they were great examples. But that entertainment and learning would only have benefited us. It was necessary at last to do the unselfish thing and think about their benefit, and to allow them their wish, to be separated. That’s what it means to care about others.

— J. E. Brown


If someone tells you: Your correct response is:
“You should focus on what you can change.”

I see something I can change: I’m going to start spending less time with unsympathetic people! ;^)

“You know, it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.”

Which means of course that frowning is better exercise. :^)

“I prefer to keep my feelings to myself.”

I find this is usually a cover for having no feelings.

“Reactions are a choice.”

So is empathy. Where is yours?

“If you don’t like what he said, just ignore it!”

I’m curious. This advice you’re giving, about ignoring — when’s that going to take effect? I mean, is that advice you live by, or is that advice that you only give to other people? If you don’t like what I wrote back to him, just ignore it. Now go correct someone you have authority over, asshole.

— J. E. Brown

Stoic people want you to be happy. How thoughtful of them! Trouble is, they want you to be happy for their entertainment.

— J. E. Brown


To think that entertainers always have to be happy and funny is kind of a shallow thing.

— Pete Seeger

The truth is that parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet.

— Bill Cosby

A large segment of white society is more concerned about tranquillity and the status quo than about justice and humanity.

— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

… science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.

— Helen Keller

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

— Alice Walker

A good indignation brings out all one’s powers.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

3rd edition 30 Jan 2016
2nd edition 10 Aug 2015
1st edition 15 Nov 2013

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