Beware of the jerks (and jerkettes)

Are you a pushover for predatory jerks?

In Don’t Let the Jerks get the Best of You,” Dr. Paul Meier warned, “we are living in a jungle and its full of hungry jerks.”

If you need advice for dealing with difficult people or some instructions on the art of psychological defense against jerk abuse, this book will help you.



Let’s be honest enough to confess that we all act like jerks on occasions. Being a jerk simply means being selfish. It’s an inborn quality that starts with earliest childhood and must be corrected. The Proverbs warn that, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…” (Proverbs 22:15). When a child doesn’t receive correction for selfish behavior, he develops an inordinate sense of entitlement or jerkishness.

Without large doses of consistent, loving discipline, a child thinks he lives in a world where he’s always supposed to get what he wants. Children “need to learn boundaries and limits because they think they rule the roost. When their little desires are not met, they can get angry—very angry. Their sense of entitlement is at its height” (Meier).

All the software for being a jerk is in place at birth and the tendency never completely disappears. We don’t need to offer instruction on how to act like a jerk. Of course, when jerkish behavior appears in children, it’s a little less disturbing than adults who act like jerks or adults who don’t correct jerkish behavior in their kids.

We all have to confront this tendency to be a jerk. “Reality says I am going to be a jerk to some people and they’re going to be jerks to me. That’s not necessarily okay, but it is reality” (Meier).

Before getting too worked-up about others, let’s acknowledge our own tendencies to act selfishly and take advantage of others. Jesus taught his followers to, “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

And must I even say that jerkish behavior is not gender limited? Men are often more quickly labeled as jerks but based on extensive research, Dr. Meier suggests, “there are an equal number of women who are jerks—or, if you prefer, ‘jerkettes’.

Yet, as Dr. Meier indicates, we are not all the same kind of jerks.

  • Forty percent of us are First-Degree jerks who are mildly to moderately selfish.
  • Another forty percent are Second-Degree Jerks who are seriously to acutely selfish.
  • Ten percent of society is made up of the most dangerous type: Nth-Degree Jerks. These people are severely to sociopathically selfish. They’re the sickos who lie, cheat, abuse, and even kill, all without guilt or remorse.

What about the other ten percent?

“Somewhere out there,” wrote Meier, “there are folk who have practically conquered all their jerky tendencies. We call these people Mature Adults. To become a totally mature, loving, caring adult should be everyone’s goal.”

The goal of Dr. Meier’s book is to help us get there. He analyzes each type of jerk and includes a practical questionnaire to help you know if you or someone you know fits the category. He also offers protective strategies to safeguard you from Second and Nth Degree jerks.

Equally helpful is the section on people with masochistic tendencies. These are people who tend to put themselves in positions where they continually get hurt, mistreated, or taken advantage of. They have a strong pull toward self-destructive behaviors and attitudes.

Dr. Meier presents fifty questions to help assess the degree of masochism in yourself or others. He admits that he and his wife had definite leanings toward masochism. As an example, early in their marriage his wife’s philosophy was, “Great men have great faults, and great women learn to live with them.” She has changed her philosophy to: “Great men have great faults and great women point them out—in a tactful non-jerky way, of course!”

This is a move from masochism to maturity. To help make that move, the second half of the book offers six steps out of masochism to maturity and closes with an in-depth maturity test.

  • Are you tired of letting the jerks get the best of you?
  • Do you want to gain freedom from the destructive effects of selfish behavior and enjoy mature relationships free of jerkiness and masochism?

According to Dr. Meier, you must learn, “some simple psychological judo holds and throws that will allow you to face predatory jerks with confidence, gain the advantage and deal with them lovingly, or at least in a civil manner that let’s them know you will not be manipulated, controlled, or abused anymore.”


Steve Cornell


See: Warning: Dangerous People

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Abuse, Accountability, Anger, Antagonists, Conflict, Counseling, Difficult people, Discernment, Enabling, Jerks, Parenting, Parenting Groups, Parenting teens, Self love, Selfishness and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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