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Doug Garland
Doug Garland
2 min read

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“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinion for or against. The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes is the disease of the mind.”   ~ Seng T’san

Welcome to my new website regarding The Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS). I was tall poppied approximately 15 years ago and have spent the last 8 years studying and writing about TPS. Keeping the above concept in your mind will aid in removing any of your biases that might color your understanding of the syndrome. It will permit you to interpret my point of view which may be a starting point in your journey.

The metaphor entails visualizing a field of poppies and cutting down the Tall Poppies (TP) establishing equality. The syndrome is more complex than first meets the eye and varies from country to country and culture. The metaphor was first described in Ancient Greece by Herodotus and in Ancient Rome by Livy. Both utilized the metaphor to symbolize government officials cutting down TPs with opposing views. This holds true in most countries today including the US which frequently weaponizes three-letter departments like the  IRS or FBI as cutters.

Much of my original interpretation was influenced by the renowned Australian researcher, Dr. Norman Feather. His studies lead him to conclude that deservingness justified (righteous indignation) cutting down the TP because of egregious behavior. He also identified some emotions harbored by the cutter, especially hostile envy, anger, and resentment. The entire syndrome often ended in schadenfreude - joy from someone’s misfortune.

One of my first conundrums is your TP may not be my TP. The syndrome is very subjective and this is of no consequence to its essence. The greatest conundrum is the occurrence of the syndrome without a TP. I have labeled this peer-to-peer or private TPS. This experience of TPS is the most common but unrecognized and not newsworthy. It occurs in one’s tribe - family, school, neighborhood, or workplace. The cutter may have low self-esteem and often harbors bad envy, anger, or laziness. Meritocracy, hierarchy, and competition foster this TPS as does the internet.

The other type of TPS is public which involves a TP who, because of some egregious act, is justifiably reputed. This event is often sensational and commonly involves egregious acts-emotions of pride (hubris), greed, and lust.

This website contains most of my explorations and may be a source for your information and study.

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Douglas Garland, M.D. practiced orthopedic surgery for 37 years in Southern California. Doug was also a Clinical Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Southern California.


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