“Probing” Questions – What a thread with a nonsensical title can reveal.

A couple of years ago I became interested in interviewing techniques, and read a few books on the subject. This came about because I was watching some “true crime” type TV shows and sometimes thought that interviewers were not asking questions that could be quite revealing. Right before this I had quite a bit of research into relationship dynamics personality disorders (and personality more generally). Of course, in a criminal case, if someone is read his/her rights that person can invoke those rights at any point, asking for a lawyer and refusing to ask any questions. This means the interviewer needs to consider if certain questions should be asked within a short period of time, if the person hasn’t “invoked,” obviously. And the main concern seems to be obtaining confessions, as one would expect.

Then there are interviews with those convicted of heinous crimes, but again time seems to be a major concern, because the prison officials seems to always limit the interviews to short periods, sometimes only half an hour. In my experience, one can discover a lot more about “what makes a person tick” by taking much longer periods of time, though not necessarily all at once, to ask questions that the interviewee is not likely to anticipate, especially if he/she thinks you are interested in something else. For example, what about asking a convicted serial killer if he/she had any stuffed toys as a child, then following that up with related questions, such as, “can you remember how old you were when you gave up the stuffed toys and what you were thinking when you did?” There is no way for the person to know what to make of this question, let alone predict that it would have been asked, so preparation is not possible. In this case, at least to me, it’s more about the reaction (especially the immediate one) to the question than the “content” of the question, as the person could lie.

Let’s say he/she did have a stuffed toy, but answered the question, “no, that’s for kids who will grow up to be weak,” with apparent anger. By itself, it suggests an anger issue and/or a “macho” view of the world, but by itself it wouldn’t mean that much to me. Instead, IMO, one needs to ask other questions (that don’t seem to be related) in order to get a better sense of the person’s behavioral and personality patterns, for example, how did your parents treat children who were not related to them? Moving on to fragrances, and as I pointed out in the recent post about accusations of “hysteria,” it struck me that if any people could be accused of some sort of “mass hysteria,” it would be those who appeared to be quite agitated by the release of Sauvage. On Basenotes.net, there was one thread that became the focal point of this, with the title of, “Dior SAUVAGE. A constructive discussion.”


From what I remember, though, there weren’t any claims made about such people “over-reacting,” despite what seemed to be strong negative emotions on the part of many participants who thought Sauvage would be much “better.” So, I decided to create a new thread to ask those who expressed at least some disappointment about Sauvage if they would tell us how they felt about, using the phrase “lost it,” because it is vague but at least fairly strong, which certainly might meet the criteria for “hysteria” (in the minds of perhaps a majority). The title, Dior’s Sauvage: A Carnal Dementia was also meant to be vague. It could be viewed as connected to the question, or even as a joke, considering the title of the other thread about Sauvage (I thought it was humorous). What resulted was quite interesting, as I was first accused, at least implicitly, of having some sort of “ulterior motives.” I wish I had some idea of what might result, the closest thing to that being the thought that at least a few people would say something like, “yes I was disappointed but I certainly never came close to losing it.” Here is the link to it:


After that, the posts were “all over the map,” and many just reiterated their opinions from the other thread. I guess I should not have been surprised, but few were interested in answering the question, with one long-time member calling it “bizarre.” This supports the conclusion I reached in my recent psychological research, which is that very few people are aware of their emotions (for example, boredom is a negative emotion, though I mild one). On a TV show about sports coaches with “anger issues,” in fact, one of the coaches said something like, “I’m not going to participate in some sort of hippie, drippie nonsense about my emotions – I don’t need help with that.” He said that while in an apparent state of rage, which was interesting enough, but it was also clear that to him, anger was not an emotion! My guess is that his notion of “emotional” involved hippies holding hands and singing folk songs or a woman curled up in the corner of a room quietly sobbing.

Now beyond that thread, which I suggest you read and draw your own conclusions, it’s obvious that scents have an emotional impact on people. Of course, vintage aficionados are going to feel some level of negative emotions if they buy a bottle of what they think is the substance they purchased twenty years earlier but discovered it to be very different, possibly “unwearable.” Even the author of the FromPyrgos blog expressed this kind of sentiment in his recent post about Cool Water for Men’s reformulation! On the other hand, it also seems to be the case that those who decided not to get involved with vintage or who think the reformulations are more “modern” and therefore wearable sometimes get irritated by the threads about vintage scents, even when those discussions are clearly meant to help people identify certain formulations. The author of the best blog for this endeavor, “Raiders of the Lost Scent,” told me that he received quite a few angry messages about not revealing the results of some GC/MS tests done on some very old scents, such as Amazone by Hermes.

Why? It didn’t make any sense, as it’s unlikely anyone would try to recreate that scent, given the expense, level of interest in that kind of scent, IFRA restrictions, etc. From what I could gather, it was about “protecting” something “special.” Whether or not you want to call that “hysterical,” it seems like some strong negative emotions had been generated by the use of a scientific test that would only help to provide some sense as to what made Amazone “tick.” At this point, it seems clear that these concoctions do generate strong emotions, and that most people can’t recognize their own emotions, but sometimes over-emphasize the emotional responses of others. What is to be done? Probably nothing, other than to try and be a “role model” and not allow emotions to become too strong or to last for too long (there are even studies that strong positive emotions can be problematic!). Don’t allow yourself to get “baited” into responding with obscenities, personal attacks, “straw man” arguments, etc. Learn to “laugh it off” and hope that “cooler heads prevail” in others in the “not-so-distant” future.

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