Sanctuary for the Abused
Monday, June 13, 2022
The birth of Milton H. Erickson’s Confusion Technique:
Milton Erickson’s Collected Papers-Volume I-pg. 259
"One windy day as I was on my way to attend that first formal seminar on hypnosis conducted by Clark Hull in 1923 , a man came rushing around the corner of a building and bumped hard against me as I stood bracing myself against the wind. Before he could recover his poise to speak to me, I glanced elaborately at my watch and courteously, as if he had inquired the time of day, I stated “It’s exactly 10 minutes of two,” although it was actually closer to 4:00pm, and I walked on. About a half a block away I turned and saw him still looking at me, undoubtedly still puzzled and bewildered by my remark."
"I continued on my way to the laboratory and began to puzzle over the total situation and to recall various times I had made similar remarks to my classmates, and acquaintances and the resulting confusion, bewilderment, and feeling of mental eagerness on their part for some comprehensible understanding. Particularly did I recall the occasion on which my physics laboratory mate had told his friends that he intended to do the second (and interesting) part of a coming experiment. I learned of this, and when we collected our experimental material and apparatus and were dividing it up into two separate piles, I told him at the crucial moment quietly but with great intensity, “THAT SPARROW REALLY FLEW TO THE RIGHT, THEN SUDDENLY FLEW LEFT, AND THEN UP, AND I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT.” While he stared blankly at me, I took the equipment for the second part of the experiment and set busily to work with the equipment for the first part of the experiment. Not until the experiment was nearly completed did he break the customary silence that characterized our working together. He asked, “How come I’m doing this part? I wanted to do that part.” To this I replied simply, “It just seemed to work out naturally this way.”Confusion techniques are techniques that disrupt the regular pattern of a person’s conscious processing strategy, thereby enabling the development of hypnotic processes. In the therapeutic context, confusion techniques utilize whatever the client is doing to inhibit hypnosis or other therapeutic developments as the basis for inducing those developments. More precisely put, is that such hypnotic techniques are naturalistic communications which disrupt rigid mentally set patterns.
Confusion techniques are based on the following assumptions:
1. There are many automatic and predictable patterns in a person’s behavioral processes, such as the handshake;
2. Disruption of any of these patterns creates a state of uncertainty dominated by undifferentiated arousal (e.g. confusion);
3. Most people strongly dislike the state of uncertainty, and are hence extremely motivated to avoid them;
4. The arousal will increase unless the person can attribute it to something (“this happened because …”);
5. As uncertainty increases, so does the motivation to reduce it;
6. The person who is highly uncertain will typically accept the first viable way by which the uncertainty can be reduced (e.g. suggestions to drop into hypnosis).
In accord with the utilization of these assumptions, most confusional techniques follow the basic steps listed below:
a) Identify pattern(s) of expression - identify a regular pattern such as a handshake, or a particular idiosyncratic pattern of the individuals, such as fiddling with the hair when nervous.
b) Align with the pattern - this involves pacing the client until the appropriate context arises. The application of rapport and respect is critical in this step to prevent the client from pulling away from the hypnotherapist.
c) Introduce confusion via interrupting or overloading the pattern - interruptions should be short and quick, usually entailing a few interruption patterns, e.g. the handshake induction involves, initial fluctuation of sensations upon the hand, followed by the lifting of the wrist with the opposite hand, a ghostly wondering look in the eyes followed with an imperceptible release of the hand being shook. This, in turn, should provide a bewilderment and uncertainty to be further utilized.
d) Amplify the confusion - once uncertainty is produced in the subject, the hypnotherapist continues to act in a completely congruent and meaningful way, which amplifies the client's confusion.
e) Utilize the confusion - at this point the client is willing to accept any simple suggestion to reduce or eliminate the confusion, at which time the hypnotherapist can simply state "That's right … go deeply into trance … now … John."
Clinical Applications of Confusion Techniques:
An Ericksonian hypnotherapist uses confusion to support the person by creating an opportunity to disengage from the rigid limits of normal ways of being and experience the "Self", in more nurturing ways. Confusion techniques can liberate a person from a false and limiting identity.
The hypnotherapist must develop, maintain, and communicate a belief that the client is an intelligent, capable, and unique individual deserving the utmost respect, and that the intent of hypnotic communication is to support the person.
Confusion should usually be introduced gradually, after rapport has been established with the client, perhaps after the 2nd or 3rd sessions. The hypnotherapist should establish that his intent is to fully respect and protect the client’s needs and values while stimulating his ability and desire to develop the desired changes. The hypnotherapist should also make clear that fulfilling these intentions will require that he communicates in a variety of ways, one of them being confusion.
In some circumstances, confusion techniques should not be used. This particularly applies to those already deeply confused, such as suicidal individuals, and people in grieving. With these people, confusion is already present – the hypnotherapist only needs to utilize it.
The client’s processes should be the basis for selecting or developing confusion techniques. The general utilization principle that "whatever a person is doing is exactly that which will allow trance to develop", can help the hypnotherapist realize what type of confusion technique might work, and how and when it should be applied.
Key elements & workings of Confusion Techniques:
The various forms of confusion techniques developed are based on the assumption that, as humans, we require understanding, and somewhat of a comprehension to what we experience, otherwise we tend to shut down and go inside, in order to possibly make sense of the confusing occurrence.
There are various techniques employed to do this, such as the handshake induction, pantomime, shock, and various forms of verbal techniques.
The handshake induction employs the method of confusion via a pattern interrupt. Any specific pattern, which has been learned and requires a sequence of steps from beginning to end, if interrupted causes a momentary point of confusion. The key to its use is via the operator catching the moment, and offering a simple suggestion such as, “Now, Alice…just drop … deeply into trance”. Given such an understandable, easy point of direction, the confused individual accepts the suggestion and follows it.
When employing the confusion technique verbally, steps are taken via verbal wording to overload the subject’s mental abilities. This can be done using a play on words such as “knows, nose, nos”. Furthermore, irrelevancies and nonsequiturs can also be employed to achieve the desired results.
Considerations when providing suggestions for confusion to set in are that the operator speaks in a casual, but earnest manner conveying an intent, and expectation of understanding. A steady flow of language with only enough pauses for the subject to almost begin a reply, yet constantly interrupted with new trains of thought.
Eventually the play with words becomes confusing, distracting, and inhibiting, which causes the subject to develop a need for some form of communication which can be readily comprehended, and easily responded to.
Thus, “the Confusion Technique is a play on words or communication of some sort that introduces progressively an element of confusion into the question of what is meant, thereby leading to an inhibition of response called for but not allowed to be manifested and hence to an accumulating need to respond”. “The culmination occurs in a final suggestion permitting a ready and easy response satisfying to the subject, and validated by each subject’s own, though perhaps unrecognized on a conscious level, of experiential learnings”.
Milton’s Confusion Technique as printed in “The Collected Papers”,
Volume I pgs. 258, 259"
"It is primarily a verbal technique, although pantomime can be used for confusional purposes as well as for communication. As a verbal technique, the Confusion Technique is based upon plays upon words, an involved example of which can be readily understood by the reader but not by the listener, such as “Write right right, not wright or write.” Spoken to attentive listeners with complete earnestness, a burden of constructing a meaning is placed upon them, and before they can reject it, another statement can be made to hold their attention. This play on words can be illustrated in another fashion by the statement that a man lost his left hand in an accident and thus his right (hand) is his left. Thus two words with opposite meanings are used correctly to describe a single object, in this instance the remaining hand. Then too, use is made of tenses to keep the subject in a state of constant endeavor to sort out the intended meaning. For example one may declare so easily that "the PRESENT and the PAST can be so readily summarized by the simple statement, “That which now IS WILL soon be WAS yesterday’s FUTURE even as it WILL BE tomorrow’s WAS.” Thus are the past, the present, and the future all used in reference to the reality of “today”.The next item in the Confusion Technique is the employment of irrelevancies and non sequiturs, EACH OF WHICH TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT appears to be a sound and sensible communication (i.e. - schizophasia or "word salad"). Taken IN CONTEXT they are confusing, distracting, and inhibiting and lead progressively to the subjects’ earnest desire for an actual need to receive some communication which, in their increasing state of frustration, they can readily comprehend and to which they can easily make a response. It is in many ways an adaptation of common everyday behavior, particularly seen in the field of humor, a form of humor this author has employed since childhood.
A primary consideration in the use of a Confusion Technique is the consistent maintenance of a general casual but definitely interested attitude and speaking in a gravely earnest, intent manner expressive of a certain, utterly complete expectation of their understanding of what is being said or done together with an extremely careful shifting of tenses employed. Also of great importance is a ready flow of language, rapid for the fast thinker, slower for the slower minded, but always being careful to give a little time for a response but never quite sufficient. Thus the subjects are led almost to begin a response, are frustrated in this by then being presented with the next idea, and the whole process is repeated with a continued development of a state of inhibition, leading to confusion and a growing need to receive a clear-cut, comprehensible communication to which they CAN MAKE a ready and full response."
Values of Confusion Techniques:
The values of the confusion technique are twofold. In experimental work it serves excellently to teach experimenter's a facility in the use of words, a mental agility in shifting their habitual patterns of thought, and allows them to make adequate allowances for the problems involved in keeping the subjects attentive and responsive. Also it allows experimenters to learn to recognize and to understand the minimal cues of behavioral changes within the subject. A final value is that long and frequent use of the confusion technique has many times effected exceedingly rapid hypnotic inductions under unfavorable conditions such as acute pain of terminal malignant disease and in persons interested but hostile, aggressive, and resistant.
The following was used by Milton Erickson on two separate accounts with different patients. Italicized words indicate tonal markings. “The Collected Papers”, Volume I pgs. 285, 286"
"You know and I know and the doctors you know know that there is one answer that you know that you don't want to know and that I know but don't want to know, that your family knows but doesn't want to know, no matter how much you want to say no, you know that the no is really a yes, and you wish it could be a good yes and so do you know that what you and your family know is yes, yet they still wish it were no. And just as you wish there were no pain, you know that there is but what you don't know is no pain is something you can know . And no matter what you knew no pain would be better than what you know and of course what you want to know is no pain and that is what you are going to know, no pain. [All of this is said slowly but with utter intensity and with seemingly total disregard of any interruption of cries of pain or admonitions of "Shut up".] Esther [John, Dick, Harry, or Evangeline, some family member or friend] knows pain and knows no pain and so do you wish to know no pain but comfort and you do know comfort and no pain and as comfort increases you know that you cannot say no to ease and comfort but you can say no pain and know no pain but you can say no pain and know no pain but know comfort and ease and it is so good to know comfort and ease and relaxation and to know it now and later and still longer and longer as more and more relaxation occurs and to know it now and later and still longer and longer as more and more and more relaxation and wonderment and surprise come to your mind as you begin to know a freedom and a comfort you have so greatly desired and as you feel it grow and grow you know, really know, that today, to-night, tomorrow, all next week and all next month, and at Esther's [John's] 16th birthday, and what a time that was, and those wonderful feelings that you had then seem almost as clear as if they were today and the memory of every good thing is a glorious thing "… (IF YOU THINK THAT WAS TOUGH, YOU SHOULD TRY RE-TYPING IT WITH ONE FINGER)One can improvise indefinitely, but the slow, impressing, utterly intense, and quietly, softly emphatic way in which these plays on words and the unobtrusive introduction of new ideas, old happy memories, feelings of comfort, ease, and relaxation as presented usually results in an arrest of the patient's attention, rigid fixation of the eyes, the development of physical immobility, even catalepsy and of an intense desire to understand what the author so gravely and so earnestly is saying to them that their attention is sooner or later captured completely. Then with equal care the operator demonstrates a complete loss of fear, concern, of worry about negative words by introducing them as if to explain but actually to make further helpful suggestions.
"And now you have forgotten something, just as we all forget many things, good and bad, especially the bad because the good are good to remember and you can remember comfort and ease and relaxation and restful sleep and now you know that you need no pain and it is good to know no pain and good to remember, always to remember, that in many places, here, there, everywhere you have been at ease and comfortable and now that you know this, you know that no pain is needed but that you do need to know all there is to know about ease and comfort and relaxation and numbness and dissociation and the redirection of thought and mental energies and to know and know fully all that will give you freedom to know your family and all that they are doing and to enjoy unimpeded the pleasures of being with them with all the comfort and pleasure that is possible for as long as possible and this is what you are going to do.""Usually the patients' attention can be captured in about five minutes, but one may have to continue for an hour or even longer. Also, and very important, one uses words that the patients understands. Both of the above patients were college graduates.
When such cases are referred to me, I make a practice of getting preliminary information of personality type, history, interests, education, and attitude, and then in longhand I write out a general outline of the order and frequency with which these special items of fact are worked into the endless flow of words delivered with such earnestness of manner.
Once the patients begin to develop a light trance, I speed the process more rapidly by jumping steps, yet retaining my right to mention pain so that patients know that I do not fear to name it and that I am utterly confident that they will lose it because of my ease and freedom in naming it, usually in a context negating pain in favor of absence of diminution or transformation of pain.
Then one should bear in mind that these patients are highly motivated, that their disinterest, antagonism, belligerence, and disbelief are actually allies in bringing about the eventful results, nor does this author ever hesitate to utilize what is offered. The angry, belligerent man can strike a blow that hurts his head and not notice it, the disbeliever closes his mind to exclude a boring dissertation, but that excludes the pain to, and from this there develops unwittingly in the patients a different state of inner orientation, highly conducive to hypnosis and receptive to any hypnotic suggestion that meets their needs; sensibly one always inserts the hypnotic suggestion that if ever the pain should come back enough to need medication, the relief from one or two tablets of aspirin will be sufficient. "And if any real emergency ever develops, a hypo will work far greater success than ever." Sometimes sterile water will suffice."
Saturday, June 04, 2022
Thursday, June 02, 2022
Emotional Abuse or Am I Going Crazy?
What is emotional abuse? Sometimes called "Ambient Abuse," it is an extremely subtle form of control and manipulation that may go unrecognized for months or years – many times even by those on the receiving end – at least until it is too late. By the time the victim is aware of the actual abusive behaviors, she has oftentimes become a bundle of nerves and finds it difficult to see her way off the emotional roller coaster ride she’s stuck on. Worse yet, she can’t even explain what’s happening to her, and in some cases, she may actually think she is going crazy; struggling with anxiety, depression, fear, or eventually – apathy. She may quit doing anything, for fear of doing it "wrong" - at least according to the controller in her life.
Abusers and controllers may start out using little digs like, "Honey, everyone knows that you do it this way …," as just another way to say, "How stupid are you that you don’t know this?" Constant criticism becomes part of the game. "You are too fat, dumb, ugly," or even, "I wish I had that abortion instead of having you!" These are all ammunition in emotional abuse.
Even teasing can be abusive, for it frequently has some truth at its core. Jane lives in a marriage where her husband’s teasing-type cuts are constant. "The Ayatollah says dinner is ready," he announces regularly whenever they have guests. He thinks it’s funny. She certainly doesn’t. And what are we, the guests supposed to think – that he is paying her a compliment? Absolutely not. I don’t care how much he smiles or laughs when he throws it out there – it is meant to wound. And she knows it. And he knows that she knows it.
Emotional abuse may take the form of the controller limiting the "victim’s" outside contacts. "You don’t need anybody but me," he may remind you constantly, and can actually get angry if you spend time with your friends or family, even on the phone. The more he can lock you away from your external support systems, the more he locks you in his boxx of control.
Deanna’s husband tells her what time she can go to bed, what she is allowed to eat, and just how long she’d better be gone when she goes out to do errands. He never gives her a birthday or Christmas gift. He threatens to kill her and hide her car if she doesn’t obey him. He makes her recite each day that she is worthless – that he will tell her what she is worth, what she can and can’t do, and who she is allowed to see when. This is obviously extreme emotional abuse.
Unfortunately, all these situations may seem extremely difficult to escape for the victim. The brainwashing of weeks, months, and years of constant demeaning remarks are meant to make her feel worthless and as though no one else in the world could love her. Thus, her fear of leaving exceeds the fear of staying, and even worse – many times she blames herself for all that is wrong. Guilt becomes her constant companion. Leaving seems impossible. And besides, it’s "not that bad." For if it were, there would certainly be broken bones to prove it. Or so she believes.
If you find yourself trapped in the boxx of emotional abuse, it’s important to know you CAN escape! The long-term emotional damage caused by this type of situation will affect your physical as well as your mental health – and that of your children. While there may not be laws protecting you from the constant verbal attacks, you do have the ability to recognize it for what it is – definitely NOT something that goes hand-in-hand with a loving relationship. Furthermore, teaching your children that this is an acceptable behavior only leads them to believe that emotional abuse is an acceptable part of a normal relationship. Would you wish this for your child? Or your grandchild?
Mary Jo Fay is a speaker and writer. Her latest book is called, "When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong – Loving or Leaving the Narcissist in Your Life." http://www.outoftheboxx.com
FACEBOOK GROUP: VICTIMS OF NARCISSISTS
(the above group does not allow any discussions involving the children or parenting issues)
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
How Narcisissts & Psychopaths Do It
by Robert Greene
1-CHOOSE THE RIGHT VICTIM
Everything depends on the target of your seduction. Study your prey thoroughly, and choose only those who will prove susceptible to your charms. The right victims are those for whom you can fill a void, who see in you something exotic. They are often isolated or at least somewhat unhappy (perhaps because of recent adverse circumstances), or can easily be made so-for the completely contented person is almost impossible to seduce. The perfect victim has some natural quality that attracts you. The strong emotions this quality inspires will help make your seductive maneuvers seem more natural and dynamic. The perfect victim allows for the perfect chase.
2-CREATE A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY- APPROACH INDIRECTLY
If you are too direct early on, you risk stirring up a resistance that will never be lowered. At first there must be nothing of the seducer in your manner. The seduction should begin at an angle, indirectly, so that the target only gradually becomes aware of you. Haunt the periphery of your target's life-approach through a third party, or seem to cultivate a relatively neutral relationship, moving gradually from friend to lover. Arrange an occasional "chance" encounter, as if you and your target were destined to become acquainted-nothing is more seductive than a sense of destiny. Lull the target into feeling secure, then strike.
3-SEND MIXED SIGNALS
Once people are aware of your presence, and perhaps vaguely intrigued, you need to stir their interest before it settles on someone else. What is obvious and striking may attract their attention at first, but that attention is often short-lived; in the long run, ambiguity is much more potent. Most of us are much too obvious-instead, be hard to figure out. Send mixed signals: both tough and tender, both spiritual and earthy, both innocent and cunning. A mix of qualities suggests depth, which fascinates even as it confuses. An elusive, enigmatic aura will make people want to know more, drawing them into your circle. Create such a power by hinting at something contradictory within you.
4-APPEAR TO BE AN OBJECT OF DESIRE- CREATE TRIANGLES
Few are drawn to the person whom others avoid or neglect; people gather around those who have already attracted interest. We want what other people want. To draw your victims closer and make them hungry to possess you, you must create an aura of desirability-of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for them to be the preferred object of your attention, to win you away from a crowd of admirers. Manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding yourself with members of the opposite sex-friends, former lovers, present suitors. Create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise your value. Build a reputation that precedes you: if many have succumbed to your charms, there must be a reason.
5-CREATE A NEED: STIR ANXIETY AND DISCONTENT
A perfectly satisfied person cannot be seduced. Tension and disharmony must be instilled in your targets' minds. Stir within them feelings of discontent, an unhappiness with their circumstances and with themselves: their life lacks adventure, they have strayed from the ideals of their youth, they have become boring. The feelings of inadequacy that you create will give you space to insinuate yourself, to make them see you as the answer to their problems. Pain and anxiety are the proper precursors to pleasure. Learn to manufacture the need that you can fill.
6-MASTER THE ART OF INSINUATION
Making your targets feel dissatisfied and in need of your attention is essential, but if you are too obvious, they will see through you and grow defensive. There is no known defense, however, against insinuation-the art of planting ideas in people's minds by dropping elusive hints that take root days later, even appearing to them as their own idea. Insinuation is the supreme means of influencing people. Create a sublanguage-bold statements followed by retraction and apology, ambiguous comments, banal talk combined with alluring glances-that enters the target's unconscious to convey your real meaning. Make everything suggestive.
7-ENTER THEIR SPIRIT
Most people are locked in their own worlds, making them stubborn and hard to persuade. The way to lure them out of their shell and set up your seduction is to enter their spirit. Play by their rules, enjoy what they enjoy, adapt yourself to their moods. In doing so you will stroke their deep-rooted narcissism and lower their defenses. Hypnotized by the mirror image you present, they will open up, becoming vulnerable to your subtle influence. Soon you can shift the dynamic: once you have entered their spirit you can make them enter yours, at a point when it is too late to turn back. Indulge your targets' every mood and whim, giving them nothing to react against or resist.
Lure the target deep into your seduction by creating the proper temptation: a glimpse of the pleasures to come. As the serpent tempted Eve with the promise of forbidden knowledge, you must awaken a desire in your targets that they cannot control. Find that weakness of theirs, that fantasy that has yet to be realized, and hint that you can lead them toward it. It could be wealth, it could be adventure, it could be forbidden and guilty pleasures; the key is to keep it vague. Dangle the prize before their eyes, postponing satisfaction, and let their minds do the rest. The future seems ripe with possibility. Stimulate a curiosity stronger than the doubts and anxieties that go with it, and they will follow you.
9-KEEP THEM IN SUSPENSE- WHAT COMES NEXT?
The moment people feel they know what to expect from you, your spell on them is broken. More: you have ceded them power. The only way to lead the seduced along and keep the upper hand is to create suspense, a calculated surprise. People love a mystery, and this is the key to luring them farther into your web. Behave in a way that leaves them wondering, What are you up to? Doing something they do not expect from you will give them a delightful sense of spontaneity-they will not be able to foresee what comes next. You are always one step ahead and in control. Give the victim a thrill with a sudden change of direction.
10-USE THE DEMONIC POWER OF WORDS TO SOW CONFUSION
It is hard to make people listen; they are consumed with their own thoughts and desires, and have little time for yours. The trick to making them listen is to say what they want to hear, to fill their ears with whatever is pleasant to them. This is the essence of seductive language. Inflame people's emotions with loaded phrases, flatter them, comfort their insecurities, envelop them in fantasies, sweet words, and promises, and not only will they listen to you, they will lose their will to resist you. Keep your language vague, letting them read into it what they want. Use writing to stir up fantasies and to create an idealized portrait of yourself.
11-PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Lofty words and grand gestures can be suspicious: why are you trying so hard to please? The details of a seduction-the subtle gestures, the offhand things you do-are often more charming and revealing. You must learn to distract your victims with a myriad of pleasant little rituals-thoughtful gifts tailored just for them, clothes and adornments designed to please them, gestures that show the time and attention you are paying them. All of their senses are engaged in the details you orchestrate. Create spectacles to dazzle their eyes; mesmerized by what they see, they will not notice what you are really up to. Learn to suggest the proper feelings and moods through details.
12-POETICIZE YOUR PRESENCE
Important things happen when your targets are alone: the slightest feeling of relief that you are not there, and it is all over. Familiarity and overexposure will cause this reaction. Remain elusive, then, so that when you are away, they will yearn to see you again, and will only associate you with pleasant thoughts. Occupy their minds by alternating an exciting presence with a cool distance, exuberant moments followed by calculated absences. Associate yourself with poetic images and objects, so that when they think of you, they begin to see you through an idealized halo. The more you figure in their minds, the more they will envelop you in seductive fantasies. Feed these fantasies by subtle inconsistencies and changes in your behavior.
13-DISARM THROUGH STRATEGIC WEAKNESS AND VULNERABILITY
Too much maneuvering on your part may raise suspicion. The best way to cover your tracks is to make the other person feel superior and stronger. If you seem to be weak, vulnerable, enthralled by the other person, and unable to control yourself, you will make your actions look more natural, less calculated. Physical weakness-tears, bashfulness, paleness-will help create the effect. To further win trust, exchange honesty for virtue: establish your "sincerity" by confessing some sin on your part-it doesn't have to be real. Sincerity is more important than goodness. Play the victim, then transform your target's sympathy into love.
14-CONFUSE DESIRE & REALITY: THE PERFECT ILLUSION
To compensate for the difficulties in their lives, people spend a lot of their time daydreaming, imagining a future full of adventure, success, and romance. If you can create the illusion that through you they can live out their dreams, you will have them at your mercy. It is important to start slowly, gaining their trust, and gradually constructing the fantasy that matches their desires. Aim at secret wishes that have been thwarted or repressed, stirring up uncontrollable emotions, clouding their powers of reason. The perfect illusion is one that does not depart too much from reality, but has a touch of the unreal to it, like a waking dream. Lead the seduced to a point of confusion in which they can no longer tell the difference between illusion and reality.
15-ISOLATE THE VICTIM
An isolated person is weak. By slowly isolating your victims, you make them more vulnerable to your influence. Their isolation may be psychological: by filling their field of vision through the pleasurable attention you pay them, you crowd out everything else in their mind. They see and think only of you. The isolation may also be physical: you take them away from their normal milieu, friends, family, home. Give them the sense of being marginalized, in limbo-they are leaving one world behind and entering another. Once isolated like this, they have no outside support, and in their confusion they are easily lead astray. Lure the seduced into your lair, where nothing is familiar.
Most people want to be seduced. If they resist your efforts, it is probably because you have not gone far enough to allay their doubts-about your motives, the depth of your feelings, and so on. One well-timed action that shows how far you are willing to go to win them over will dispel their doubts. Do not worry about looking foolish or making a mistake-any kind of deed that is self-sacrificing and for your targets' sake will so overwhelm their emotions, they won't notice anything else. Never appear discouraged by people's resistance, or complain. Instead, meet the challenge by doing something extreme or chivalrous. Conversely, spur others to prove themselves by making yourself hard to reach, unattainable, worth fighting over.
17-EFFECT A REGRESSION
People who have experienced a certain kind of pleasure in the past will try to repeat or relive it. The deepest-rooted and most pleasurable memories are usually those from earliest childhood, and are often unconsciously associated with a parental figure. Bring your targets back to that point by placing yourself in the oedipal triangle and positioning them as the needy child. Unaware of the cause of their emotional response, they will fall in love with you. Alternatively, you too can regress, letting them play the role of the protecting, nursing parent. In either case you are offering the ultimate fantasy: the chance to have an intimate relationship with mommy or daddy, son or daughter.
18-STIR UP THE TRANSGRESSIVE & TABOO
There are always social limits on what one can do. Some of these, the most elemental taboos, go back centuries; others are more superficial, simply defining polite and acceptable behavior. Making your targets feel that you are leading them past either kind of limit is immensely seductive. People yearn to explore their dark side. Not everything in romantic love is supposed to be tender and soft; hint that you have a cruel, even sadistic streak. You do not respect age differences, marriage vows, family ties. Once the desire to transgress draws your targets to you, it will be hard for them to stop. Take them farther than they imagined-the shared feeling of guilt and complicity will create a powerful bond.
19-USE SPIRITUAL LURES
Everyone has doubts and insecurities-about their body, their self-worth, their sexuality. If your seduction appeals exclusively to the physical, you will stir up these doubts and make your targets self-conscious. Instead, lure them out of their insecurities by making them focus on something sublime and spiritual: a religious experience, a lofty work of art, the occult. Play up your divine qualities; affect an air of discontent with worldly things; speak of the stars, destiny, the hidden threads that unite you and the object of the seduction. Lost in a spiritual mist, the target will feel light and uninhibited. Deepen the effect of your seduction by making its sexual culmination seem like the spiritual union of two souls.
20-MIX PLEASURE WITH PAIN
The greatest mistake in seduction is being too nice. At first, perhaps, your kindness is charming, but it soon grows monotonous; you are trying too hard to please, and seem insecure. Instead of overwhelming your targets with niceness, try inflicting some pain. Lure them in with focused attention, then change direction, appearing suddenly uninterested. Make them guilty and insecure. Even instigate a breakup, subjecting them to an emptiness and pain that will give you room to maneuver-now a rapprochement, an apology, a return to your earlier kindness, will turn them weak at the knees. The lower the lows you create, the greater the highs. To heighten the erotic charge, create the excitement of fear.
21-GIVE THEM SPACE TO FALL: THE PURSUER IS PURSUED
If your targets become too used to you as the aggressor, they will give less of their own energy, and the tension will slacken. You need to wake them up, turn the tables. Once they are under your spell, take a step back and they will start to come after you. Begin with a touch of aloofness, an unexpected nonappearance, a hint that you are growing bored. Stir the pot by seeming interested in someone else. Make none of this explicit; let them only sense it and their imagination will do the rest, creating the doubt you desire. Soon they will want to possess you physically, and restraint will go out the window. The goal is to have them fall into your arms of their own will. Create the illusion that the seducer is being seduced.
22-USE PHYSICAL LURES
Targets with active minds are dangerous: if they see through your manipulations, they may suddenly develop doubts. Put their minds gently to rest, and waken their dormant senses, by combining a non-defensive attitude with a charged sexual presence. While your cool, nonchalant air is calming their minds and lowering their inhibitions, your glances, voice, and bearing-oozing sex and desire-are getting under their skin, agitating their senses and raising their temperature. Never force the physical; instead infect your targets with heat, lure them into lust. Lead them into the moment-an intensified present in which morality, judgment, and concern for the future all melt away and the body succumbs to pleasure.
23-MASTER THE ART OF THE BOLD MOVE
A moment has arrived: your victim clearly desires you, but is not ready to admit it openly, let alone act on it. This is the time to throw aside chivalry, kindness, and coquetry and to overwhelm with a bold move. Don't give the victim time to consider the consequences; and create conflict, stir up tension, so that the bold move comes as a great release. Showing hesitation or awkwardness means you are thinking of yourself, as opposed to being overwhelmed by the victim's charms. Never hold back or meet the target halfway, under the belief that you are being correct and considerate; you must be seductive now, not political. One person must go on the offensive, and it is you.
24-BEWARE THE AFTEREFFECTS
Danger follows in the aftermath of a successful seduction. After emotions have reached a pitch, they often swing in the opposite direction-toward lassitude, distrust, disappointment. Beware of the long, drawn-out goodbye; insecure, the victim will cling and claw, and both sides will suffer. If you are to part, make the sacrifice swift and sudden. If necessary, deliberately break the spell you have created. If you are to stay in a relationship, beware a flagging of energy, a creeping familiarity that will spoil the fantasy. If the game is to go on, a second seduction is required. Never let the other person take you for granted-use absence, create pain and conflict, to keep the seduced on tenterhooks.
SEDUCTIVE ENVIRONMENTS/ SEDUCTIVE TIME
In seduction, your victims must slowly come to feel an inner change. Under your influence, they lower their defenses, feeling free to act differently, to be a different person. Certain places, environments, and experiences will greatly aid you in your quest to change and transform the seduced. Spaces with a theatrical, heightened quality-opulence, glittering surfaces, a playful spirit-create a buoyant, childlike feeling that make it hard for the victim to think straight. The creation of an altered sense of time has a similar effect-memorable, dizzying moments that stand out, a mood of festival and play. You must make your victims feel that being with you gives them a different experience from being in the real world.
SOFT SEDUCTION: HOW TO SELL ANYTHING TO THE MASSES
The less you seem to be selling something-including yourself-the better. By being too obvious in your pitch, you will raise suspicion; you will also bore your audience, an unforgivable sin. Instead, make your approach soft, seductive and insidious. Soft: be indirect. Create news and events for the media to pick up, spreading your name in a way that seems spontaneous, not hard or calculated. Seductive: keep it entertaining.
Your name and image are bathed in positive associations; you are selling pleasure and promise. Insidious: aim at the unconscious, using images that linger in the mind, placing your message in the visuals. Frame what you are selling as part of a new trend, and it will become one. It is almost impossible to resist the soft seduction.
Friday, May 06, 2022
I do not love; I do not love anybody except myself. That is a rather shocking thing to admit. I have none of the selfless love of my mother. I have none of the plodding, practical love. . . I am, to be blunt and concise, in love only with myself, my puny being with its small inadequate breasts and meager, thin talents. I am capable of affection for those who reflect my own world. – Sylvia Plath
There is a special place in hell for narcissistic mothers. Ms. Plath herself indulged in the ultimate narcissistic act when she committed suicide by sticking her head in the oven while her two young children were asleep in the same apartment. How thoughtful of her to have sealed off their rooms with towels so that the fumes wouldn’t consume them too. She needed someone to live on to remember her and care that she was gone.
Narcissistic mothers do not have children for the same reasons the rest of us do. They do not look forward to the birth of their child because they can’t wait to see what they look like or what type of personality they will have or who they will become. No, they have children for one reason only: More mirrors. They have children so that the children will love them unconditionally, not the other way around. They have children to do things for them. They have children to reflect their false images. They have children to use, abuse and control them.
They don’t see their role as a mother as life’s biggest gift. It’s a burden they didn’t expect. They thought they were creating little “mini-me’s.” They didn’t take into account the fact that somewhere around age 2, these spiteful, ungrateful (in their minds) little creatures start to develop their own individual personalities and wills of their own. For the rest of us, that’s the best part of being a mom — watching our children grow into increasingly independent, confident, free-thinking individuals. For the narcissistic mother, each step away from her is an absolute act of betrayal.
Children have emotions that they express quite freely. This annoying practice is squashed as early as possible since narcissists cannot handle emotions. “What is wrong with you?” and “You’re so oversensitive” and “You’re overreacting” are common phrases uttered to children of narcissists.
These mothers end up resenting all the work that goes into raising a child, having no use for them unless they are achieving, doing something or otherwise reflecting their false image onto them. Children are a nuisance to them, taking precious time away from their own agendas. They don’t like to have to shop for clothes for their children, prepare meals for them, do their laundry, pay for daycare, enroll them in activities, drive them to friends’ houses, throw birthday parties, pay for their college educations or protect them from abuse.
They will smother and overprotect their children under the guise that they are taking care of them. They will fail to provide age-appropriate information on such things as menstruation, personal grooming (make-up, hairstyles, shaving, etc.), budgeting money and dating. This all serves to keep her children under her control as long as possible. If they are ill-informed and overprotected, they will not feel confident to grow or move further away from her.
They will use their children as slaves. They will delegate all household chores to the children as early as possible. They will insist that they pay for their own personal items and clothing as early as possible. Older children will become responsible for younger children. No matter how many of her responsibilities her children take on, it will never be enough or be done well enough. They expect perfection and constantly remind their children that they fail to meet this expectation.
Of course, they train their children to believe that they are the ideal mother. Any evidence to the contrary is to be kept secret at all costs. They will behave much differently toward their children in public than they do at home. They will vehemently deny any wrongdoing on their part and most likely blame their children, completely rewriting history.
Narcissistic mothers don’t stop being narcissists when their children become adults. They will play siblings against each other. They will compare siblings. They will talk to siblings about each other. When they have a problem with one, they will talk to another about it.
They are jealous of their children’s successes, even though they brag to others about them (‘see how great MY kids turned out’). They will make snide comments if they think one of their adult children has a better marriage, house, job, etc. than they do. They are thrilled when they perceive that one of their adult children has failed in some way (although they never tell others about these “failures”; it reflects poorly on them). They are more than happy to assist when necessary because that makes them look good, plus, there is an added bonus of having favors to collect on. Asking a narcissistic mother for a favor feels like selling your soul to the devil. It’s emotional extortion.
These mothers steal their kids’ childhoods, identities and future healthy relationships. They will keep on taking and sucking the life out of their children for as long as they live, if their children allow it. It is incredibly difficult and painful to acknowledge that your mother never loved you without blaming yourself — she raised you to blame yourself for everything. But it is necessary to put the blame where it rightfully belongs in order to insure that this insidious disorder isn’t perpetuated generation after generation.
FACEBOOK GROUP FOR DAUGHTERS OF NARCISSISTIC MOTHERS (MUST BE TOTAL NO CONTACT)
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Abuser As Slanderer
by Kathy Krajco
On their way through life, narcissists leave a trail of trashed good names in their wake. This is a serious problem in the workplace, for narcissists often destroy the careers of their betters. Narcissistic managers and administrators often are serial bullies, who destroy the career and credibility of anyone who doesn't participate in a lynching and therefore is a threat to blow the whistle.
The narcissist is a slanderer partly to get attention. But he is a slanderer mainly because he must be one to create his phony image. He makes himself look good by making others look bad.
Yet narcissists are not the only people who create a false image of themselves. If you want to call it close, virtually everybody does, even that paragon of honesty, Prince Hamlet. In a world that surrounds us with the prying eyes of fault-finders, we would be traitors to ourselves if we were not at least modest about the things we should be ashamed of. Especially insofar as they are none of anybody else's business. In fact, it's a virtue to keep what's private private. It is the moral equivalent of wearing clothes.
Yet narcissists are different: they are hypocrites = for looks only. They think a thing ain't wrong if they get away with it. In other words, they confuse appearances with reality. Consequently, they have no conscience — just an unconscience. That is, they repress their conscience. Hence, what they do in the dark is shockingly different than what they do in the light of day. These are the people who put make-up on their image a little too thick in spots.
Projection is the Oldest Trick in the Book.
Magicians call it "misdirection." The Serpent pulled it on Eve when he accused God of being the liar. ("God told you THAT?") Stupid Eve should have looked at the other end of that pointed finger for the liar. As St. Paul does when he says that if somebody condemns others of being [fill in the blank], you can bet your bippy that he is one himself. Sometimes in a different way, but always at least the moral equivalent of one.* Paul was in line with the ancient Hebrew scriptures. Their name for the spirit in which people do this is satan, which means the "finger-pointer," the "name-slayer" (slanderer), the "prosecutor/persecutor," or the "accuser." In some places (e.g., the Book of Job) they also call him "the policer of the world." Which makes me wonder why religious leaders think that condemning these and those for this and that all the time is a good deed. This trick still works great today: I know of one narcissist who was a pedophile and for many years kept people from noticing the glaring warning signs in his own behavior by spreading rumors about one single teacher after another at his school. (He, of course, was married.)
* An example of what I mean by moral equivalence: Mr. Self-Righteous union-busts to keep the workers in his shoe factory so poor they go barefoot — and shows moral indignation in loudly condemning his neighbor for "muzzling an ox trampling the grain."
The rules about projection are in the Book of Leviticus, prescribed in the ritual for the Day of Atonement. Christianity has inherited them. The scapegoat must be the cleanest, most perfect potential victim available, the one with the most potential to do well in the world. (Sloppy thinking has twisted the meaning a full 180 degrees: these ugly demonstrations of the human race in action, symbolically performed by abominable cruelty to an animal, were intended to shame us. Not to prescribe this travesty of justice as the way to purify ourselves and win salvation from justice.)
I'm sure that people who do this think they're clever, but it's childsplay. Send a muddy child into an unsupervised school yard and wait to see what happens. He will rub himself off on every cleaner, smaller child he can find, till they are all crying and he looks good by comparison.
Looks good by comparison. Those are the all-important words. The hypocrite makes himself look good by comparison with others. He does that the easy way — by making others look bad. This is the root of envy. Which is not a rare motive for what people say about others. It's a common motive.
In a moment of self awareness, the hypocrite says, "Well, I may not be perfect, but I'm not as bad as others are." Then he instantly looks for somebody to make himself look better than = somebody to rub himself off on. And he's certainly smart enough to pick somebody pretty good to look better than!
So, narcissists are by no means alone in doing this. It's just that they invest so much energy in doing it. They are fixated on their image to the point that it is uppermost in their mind 100% of the time. In contrast, normal people project only when on the defensive. And then they're likely to shake themselves off on whoever happens to be near at the moment. So, their aim is poor, and sometimes they project a flaw off onto somebody who actually has it. But a narcissist's aim is impeccable.
For example, whom does he call a liar? The most honest person around.
Who does he say is dangerous? The savior of the group.Every single time. His talent for farce is so great that you could mistake him for astute.
Also, normal people have normal, human and loving relationships. So they don't smear themselves off on just anybody. They wouldn't dream of harming those near and dear. And they stick to slander (which has at least some degree of truth in it), rarely engaging in calumny (lies). When they do calumniate somebody, he or she is an enemy. Even then they don't go hog-wild and calumniate somebody so badly and so widely as to destroy them and ruin their lives. Not so with the narcissist. He is a child with no sense of measure or moderation. He loves only himself. He has no normal human relationships. He relates to people as objects. So he will smear himself off on his own children as thoughtlessly as we smear ourselves off on a towel. In fact, he is most likely to smear off on somebody he owes gratitude, because needing help damages his image. So he repays help as though it were an insult. He must devalue it by devaluing the giver of it, as if such a contemptible person is incapable of really helping somebody as grand as he.
Since he is a little child, the only reign on a narcissist's behavior is what he feels he can get away with. So, the more he gets away with, the more repressed guilt he has to purge himself of. The bad thing about repressed guilt is that it is an unconscious puppet master. Scripture calls it "the demon lurking at the door." The door being the way out, the escape, through repentance.
This could be why narcissists get worse with age. The load of repressed guilt they keep trying to purge themselves of (in a way that only dirties them more) gets so heavy that the wild accusations they make get viciouser and viciouser. It's as though they get drunk on blood.
They become living, breathing Projection Machines. Projection becomes such a knee-jerk reflex that a narcissist accuses his victim of doing to him the very thing (or essentially the same thing) as he is in the very act of doing to the victim. This creates bizarre scenes that make you wonder whether the narcissist is hallucinating or tripping out on psychedelic drugs. You feel like Alice in Wonderland. You have to pinch yourself and wonder whether "it's me or him that is crazy."
Another big difference between narcissists and normal people when they're projecting on you is that narcissists expect you to share their delusion. Yes! You cannot help but perceive this as gaslighting. Narcissists try to make you be what they say you are because, like a psychopath, they view you as an object, not as a human person with perceptions and a mind of your own.* They view you as an extension of themselves (like a tool) to control. It is the moral equivalent of the control a rapist thinks he has over the body of another, whom he views as but an object, an extension of himself, an executioner of HIS will. Psychologists call this bizarre behavior projective identification, a defense mechanism. The narcissist wants you to identify with the image he projects on you. You are a mirror to reflect his fantasy, so he pressures you to behave as though it is real.
* A narcissist's need to conform you to his or her specifications can go to bizarre extremes. For example, I know of one female narcissist who, during an assault on her sister, habitually forced her up against a wall and then spent a long time moving and twisting her sister's arms about to position them grotesquely — thus forcing her sister into different "shapes."
Behave is the key word. Narcissists do not connect with reality: appearances are all that matter in their world. So, you can lay out your grievances to a narcissist in a letter to let him know what you think, but if tomorrow you encounter him and act as though none of it happened, he is perfectly satisfied.
So, though the narcissist's projective identification seems like gaslighting and affects the victim like gaslighting, it is not gaslighting in the strictest sense of the word. For the narcissist only cares how you behave; he does not care what you think. He doesn't think at all about what you think. In fact, you can crash his brain by asking, "What do you think I think about you?" The question does not even compute.
Bottom Line: Anyone who outshines a narcissist diminishes the glow of his glory. So, that person had better be somebody with power that he fears or had better lay low and get away.
ORIGINAL FROM THIS GREAT SITE
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Stockholm Syndrome & Cognitive Dissonance
By Joseph M. Carver, PhD -- Mental Health Professional, Clinical Psychologist
People are often amazed at their own psychological conditions and reactions. Those with depression are stunned when they remember they've thought of killing themselves. Patients recovering from severe psychiatric disturbances are often shocked as they remember their symptoms and behavior during the episode. A patient with Bipolar Disorder recently told me "I can't believe I thought I could change the weather through mental telepathy!" A common reaction is "I can't believe I did that!"
In clinical practice, some of the most surprised and shocked individuals are those who have been involved in controlling and abusive relationships. When the relationship ends, they offer comments such as:
- "I know what he's done to me, but I still love him",
- "I don't know why, but I want him back", or
- "I know it sounds crazy, but I miss her".
Recently I've heard "This doesn't make sense. He's got a new girlfriend and he's abusing her too… but I'm jealous!" Friends and relatives are even more amazed and shocked when they hear these comments or witness their loved one returning to an abusive relationship. While the situation doesn't make sense from a social standpoint, does it make sense from a psychological viewpoint? The answer is - Yes!
On August 23rd, 1973 two machine-gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees "The party has just begun!" The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28th.
After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, it was clear that they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue. The hostages had begun to feel the captors were actually protecting them from the police. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to aid in their criminal defense fees. Clearly, the hostages had "bonded" emotionally with their captors.
While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as "Stockholm Syndrome" due to the publicity – the emotional "bonding" with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations such as:
* Abused Children/ Adults
* Battered/Abused Women
* Prisoners of War
* Cult Members
* Incest Victims
* Criminal Hostage Situations
* Controlling/Intimidating Relationships
* Betrayal Victims
* Abusive, Controlling Boss
In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The "Stockholm Syndrome" reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages. On the down side, it also assures that the hostages experiencing "Stockholm Syndrome" will not be very cooperative during rescue or criminal prosecution. Local law enforcement personnel have long recognized this syndrome with battered women who fail to press charges, bail their battering husband/boyfriend out of jail, and even physically attack police officers when they arrive to rescue them from a violent assault.
It's important to understand the components of Stockholm Syndrome as they relate to abusive and controlling relationships. Once the syndrome is understood, it's easier to understand why victims support, love, and even defend their abusers and controllers.
Every syndrome has symptoms or behaviors and Stockholm Syndrome is no exception. While a clear-cut list has not been established due to varying opinions by researchers and experts, several of these features will be present:
* Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
* Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
* Support of the abuser's reasons and behaviors
* Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
* Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser
* Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment
Stockholm Syndrome doesn't occur in every hostage or abusive situation. In another bank robbery involving hostages, after terrorizing patrons and employees for many hours, a police sharpshooter shot and wounded the terrorizing bank robber. After he hit the floor, two women picked him up and physically held him up to the window for another shot. As you can see, the length of time one is exposed to abuse/control and other factors are certainly involved.
It has been found that four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome. These four situations can be found in hostage, severe abuse, and abusive relationships:
* The presence of a perceived threat to one's physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat
* The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
* Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
* The perceived inability to escape the situation
By considering each situation we can understand how Stockholm Syndrome develops in romantic relationships as well as criminal/hostage situations. Looking at each situation:
Perceived threat to one's physical/psychological survival
The perception of threat can be formed by direct, indirect, or witnessed methods. Criminal or antisocial partners can directly threaten your life or the life of friends and family. Their history of violence leads us to believe that the captor/controller will carry out the threat in a direct manner if we fail to comply with their demands. The abuser assures us that only our cooperation keeps our loved ones safe.
Indirectly, the abuser/controller offers subtle threats that you will never leave them or have another partner, reminding you that people in the past have paid dearly for not following their wishes. Hints are often offered such as "I know people who can make others disappear". Indirect threats also come from the stories told by the abuser or controller – how they obtained revenge on those who have crossed them in the past. These stories of revenge are told to remind the victim that revenge is possible if they leave.
Witnessing violence or aggression is also a perceived threat. Witnessing a violent temper directed at a television set, others on the highway, or a third party clearly sends us the message that we could be the next target for violence. Witnessing the thoughts and attitudes of the abuser/controller is threatening and intimidating, knowing that we will be the target of those thoughts in the future.
The "Small Kindness" Perception
In threatening and survival situations, we look for evidence of hope – a small sign that the situation may improve. When an abuser/controller shows the victim some small kindness, even though it is to the abusers benefit as well, the victim interprets that small kindness as a positive trait of the captor. In criminal/war hostage situations, letting the victim live is often enough. Small behaviors, such as allowing a bathroom visit or providing food/water, are enough to strengthen the Stockholm Syndrome in criminal hostage events.
In relationships with abusers, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse), or a special treat are interpreted as not only positive, but evidence that the abuser is not "all bad" and may at some time correct his/her behavior. Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal or physical abuse in a certain situation. An aggressive and jealous partner may normally become intimidating or abusive in certain social situations, as when an opposite-sex coworker waves in a crowd. After seeing the wave, the victim expects to be verbally battered and when it doesn't happen, that "small kindness" is interpreted as a positive sign.
Similar to the small kindness perception is the perception of a "soft side". During the relationship, the abuser/controller may share information about their past – how they were mistreated, abused, neglected, or wronged. The victim begins to feel the abuser/controller may be capable of fixing their behavior or worse yet, that they (abuser) may also be a "victim". Sympathy may develop toward the abuser and we often hear the victim of Stockholm Syndrome defending their abuser with "I know he fractured my jaw and ribs…but he's troubled. He had a rough childhood!" Losers and abusers may admit they need psychiatric help or acknowledge they are mentally disturbed, however, it's almost always after they have already abused or intimidated the victim. The admission is a way of denying responsibility for the abuse. In truth, personality disorders and criminals have learned over the years that personal responsibility for their violent/abusive behaviors can be minimized and even denied by blaming their bad upbringing, abuse as a child, and now - video games. One murderer blamed his crime on eating too much junk food – now known as the "Twinkie Defense". While it may be true that the abuser/controller had a difficult upbringing – showing sympathy for his/her history produces no change in their behavior and in fact, prolongs the length of time you will be abused. While "sad stories" are always included in their apologies – after the abusive/controlling event - their behavior never changes! Keep in mind; once you become hardened to the "sad stories", they will simply try another approach. I know of no victim of abuse or crime who has heard their abuser say "I'm beating (robbing, mugging, etc.) you because my Mom hated me!"
Isolation from Perspectives Other than those of the Captor
In abusive and controlling relationships, the victim has the sense they are always "walking on eggshells" – fearful of saying or doing anything that might prompt a violent/intimidating outburst. For their survival, they begin to see the world through the abuser's perspective. They begin to fix things that might prompt an outburst, act in ways they know makes the abuser happy, or avoid aspects of their own life that may prompt a problem. If we only have a dollar in our pocket, then most of our decisions become financial decisions. If our partner is an abuser or controller, then the majority of our decisions are based on our perception of the abuser's potential reaction. We become preoccupied with the needs, desires, and habits of the abuser/controller.
Taking the abuser's perspective as a survival technique can become so intense that the victim actually develops anger toward those trying to help them. The abuser is already angry and resentful toward anyone who would provide the victim support, typically using multiple methods and manipulations to isolate the victim from others. Any contact the victim has with supportive people in the community is met with accusations, threats, and/or violent outbursts. Victims then turn on their family – fearing family contact will cause additional violence and abuse in the home. At this point, victims curse their parents and friends, tell them not to call and stop interfering, and break off communication with others. Agreeing with the abuser/controller, supportive others are now viewed as "causing trouble" and must be avoided. Many victims threaten their family and friends with restraining orders if they continue to "interfere" or try to help the victim in their situation. On the surface it would appear that they have sided with the abuser/controller. In truth, they are trying to minimize contact situation that might make them a target of additional verbal abuse or intimidation. If a casual phone call from Mom prompts a two-hour temper outburst with threats and accusations – the victim quickly realizes it's safer if Mom stops calling. If simply telling Mom to stop calling doesn't work, for his or her own safety the victim may accuse Mom of attempting to ruin the relationship and demand that she stop calling.
In severe cases of Stockholm Syndrome in relationships, the victim may have difficulty leaving the abuser and may actually feel the abusive situation is their fault. In law enforcement situations, the victim may actually feel the arrest of their partner for physical abuse or battering is their fault. Some women will allow their children to be removed by child protective agencies rather than give up the relationship with their abuser. As they take the perspective of the abuser, the children are at fault – they complained about the situation, they brought the attention of authorities to the home, and they put the adult relationship at risk. Sadly, the children have now become a danger to the victim's safety. For those with Stockholm Syndrome, allowing the children to be removed from the home decreases their victim stress while providing an emotionally and physically safer environment for the children.
Perceived Inability to Escape
As a hostage in a bank robbery, threatened by criminals with guns, it's easy to understand the perceived inability to escape. In romantic relationships, the belief that one can't escape is also very common. Many abusive/controlling relationships feel like till-death-do-us-part relationships – locked together by mutual financial issues/assets, mutual intimate knowledge, or legal situations. Here are some common situations:
* The legal ending of a relationship, especially a martial relationship, often creates significant problems. A Controller who has an income that is "under the table" or maintained through legally questionable situations runs the risk of those sources of income being investigated or made public by the divorce/separation. The Controller then becomes more agitated about the possible public exposure of their business arrangements than the loss of the relationship.
* The Controller often uses extreme threats including threatening to take the children out of state, threatening to quit their job/business rather than pay alimony/support, threatening public exposure of the victim's personal issues, or assuring the victim they will never have a peaceful life due to nonstop harassment. In severe cases, the Controller may threaten an action that will undercut the victim's support such as "I'll see that you lose your job" or "I'll have your automobile burned".
* Controllers often keep the victim locked into the relationship with severe guilt – threatening suicide if the victim leaves. The victim hears "I'll kill myself in front of the children", "I'll set myself on fire in the front yard", or "Our children won't have a father/mother if you leave me!"
* In relationships with an abuser or controller, the victim has also experienced a loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, and psychological energy. The victim may feel "burned out" and too depressed to leave. Additionally, abusers and controllers often create a type of dependency by controlling the finances, placing automobiles/homes in their name, and eliminating any assets or resources the victim may use to leave. In clinical practice I've heard "I'd leave but I can't even get money out of the savings account! I don't know the PIN number."
* In teens and young adults, victims may be attracted to a controlling individual when they feel inexperienced, insecure, and overwhelmed by a change in their life situation. When parents are going through a divorce, a teen may attach to a controlling individual, feeling the controller may stabilize their life. Freshmen in college may be attracted to controlling individuals who promise to help them survive living away from home on a college campus.
In unhealthy relationships and definitely in Stockholm Syndrome there is a daily preoccupation with "trouble". Trouble is any individual, group, situation, comment, casual glance, or cold meal that may produce a temper tantrum or verbal abuse from the controller or abuser. To survive, "trouble" is to be avoided at all costs. The victim must control situations that produce trouble. That may include avoiding family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who may create "trouble" in the abusive relationship. The victim does not hate family and friends; they are only avoiding "trouble"! The victim also cleans the house, calms the children, scans the mail, avoids certain topics, and anticipates every issue of the controller or abuse in an effort to avoid "trouble". In this situation, children who are noisy become "trouble". Loved ones and friends are sources of "trouble" for the victim who is attempting to avoid verbal or physical aggression.
Stockholm Syndrome in relationships is not uncommon. Law enforcement professionals are painfully aware of the situation – making a domestic dispute one of the high-risk calls during the work hours. Called by neighbors during a spousal abuse incident, the abuser is passive upon arrival of the police, only to find the abused spouse upset and threatening the officers if their abusive partner is arrested for domestic violence. In truth, the victim knows the abuser/controller will retaliate against him/her if
1) they encourage an arrest,
2) they offer statements about the abuse/fight that are deemed disloyal by the abuser,
3) they don't bail them out of jail as quickly as possible, and
4) they don't personally apologize for the situation – as though it was their fault.
Stockholm Syndrome produces an unhealthy bond with the controller and abuser. It is the reason many victims continue to support an abuser after the relationship is over. It's also the reason they continue to see "the good side" of an abusive individual and appear sympathetic to someone who has mentally and sometimes physically abused them.
Is There Something Else Involved?
In a short response – Yes! Throughout history, people have found themselves supporting and participating in life situations that range from abusive to bizarre. In talking to these active and willing participants in bad and bizarre situations, it is clear they have developed feelings and attitudes that support their participation. One way these feelings and thoughts are developed is known as "cognitive dissonance". As you can tell, psychologists have large words and phrases for just about everything.
"Cognitive Dissonance" explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable. When we have two sets of cognitions (knowledge, opinion, feelings, input from others, etc.) that are the opposite, the situation becomes emotionally uncomfortable. Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation – few want to admit that fact. Instead, we attempt to reduce the dissonance - the fact that our cognitions don't match, agree, or make sense when combined. "Cognitive Dissonance" can be reduced by adding new cognitions – adding new thoughts and attitudes. Some examples:
* Heavy smokers know smoking causes lung cancer and multiple health risks. To continue smoking, the smoker changes his cognitions (thoughts/feelings) such as
1) "I'm smoking less than ten years ago",
2) "I'm smoking low-tar cigarettes",
3) "Those statistics are made up by the cancer industry conspiracy", or
4) "Something's got to get you anyway!"
These new cognitions/attitudes allow them to keep smoking and actually begin blaming restaurants for being unfair.
* You purchase a $40,000.00 Sport Utility Vehicle that gets 8 miles a gallon. You justify the expense and related issues with 1) "It's great on trips (you take one trip per year)", 2) "I can use it to haul stuff (one coffee table in 12 months), and 3) "You can carry a lot of people in it (95% of your trips are driver-only)."
* Your husband/boyfriend becomes abusive and assaultive. You can't leave due to the finances, children, or other factors. Through cognitive dissonance, you begin telling yourself "He only hits me open-handed" and "He's had a lot of stress at work."
Leon Festinger first coined "Cognitive Dissonance". He had observed a cult (1956) in which members gave up their homes, incomes, and jobs to work for the cult. This cult believed in messages from outer space that predicted the day the world would end by a flood. As cult members and firm believers, they believed they would be saved by flying saucers at the appointed time. As they gathered and waited to be taken by flying saucers at the specified time, the end-of-the-world came and went. No flood and no flying saucer! Rather than believing they were foolish after all that personal and emotional investment – they decided their beliefs had actually saved the world from the flood and they became firmer in their beliefs after the failure of the prophecy. The moral – the more you invest (income, job, home, time, effort, etc.) the stronger your need to justify your position. If we invest $5.00 in a raffle ticket, we justify losing with "I'll get them next time". If you invest everything you have, it requires an almost unreasoning belief and unusual attitude to support and justify that investment.
Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable, and even humiliating. The initiation rituals of college fraternities, Marine boot camp, and graduate school all produce loyal and committed individuals. Almost any ordeal creates a bonding experience. Every couple, no matter how mismatched, falls in love in the movies after going through a terrorist takeover, being stalked by a killer, being stranded on an island, or being involved in an alien abduction. Investment and an ordeal are ingredients for a strong bonding – even if the bonding is unhealthy. No one bonds or falls in love by being a member of the Automobile Club or a music CD club. Struggling to survive on a deserted island – you bet!
Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:
* Emotional Investment – We've invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
* Social Investment – We've got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
* Family Investments – If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
* Financial Investment – In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
* Lifestyle Investment – Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
* Intimacy Investment – We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.
In many cases, it's not simply our feelings for an individual that keeps us in an unhealthy relationship - it's often the amount of investment. Relationships are complex and we often only see the tip of the iceberg in public. For this reason, the most common phrase offered by the victim in defense of their unhealthy relationship is "You just don't understand!"
Combining Two Unhealthy Conditions
The combination of "Stockholm Syndrome" and "cognitive dissonance" produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended. In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed "all their eggs in one basket". The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.
For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship and eventually to their personal health and existence. The more family/friends protest the controlling and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes defensive. At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual.
Importantly, both Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance develop on an involuntary basis. The victim does not purposely invent this attitude. Both develop as an attempt to exist and survive in a threatening and controlling environment and relationship. Despite what we might think, our loved one is not in the unhealthy relationship to irritate, embarrass, or drive us to drink. What might have began as a normal relationship has turned into a controlling and abusive situation. They are trying to survive. Their personality is developing the feelings and thoughts needed to survive the situation and lower their emotional and physical risks. All of us have developed attitudes and feelings that help us accept and survive situations. We have these attitudes/feelings about our jobs, our community, and other aspects of our life. As we have found throughout history, the more dysfunctional the situation, the more dysfunctional our adaptation and thoughts to survive. The victim is engaged in an attempt to survive and make a relationship work. Once they decide it doesn't work and can't be fixed, they will need our support as we patiently await their decision to return to a healthy and positive lifestyle.
Family and Friends of the Victim
When a family is confronted with a loved one involved with a Loser or controlling/abusive individual, the situation becomes emotionally painful and socially difficult for the family. While each situation is different, some general guidelines to consider are:
* Your loved one, the "victim" of the Loser/Abuser, has probably been given a choice - the relationship or the family. This choice is made more difficult by the control and intimidation often present in abusive/controlling relationships. Knowing that choosing the family will result in severe personal and social consequences, the family always comes in second. Keep in mind that the victim knows in their heart the family will always love them and accept their return – whenever the return happens.
* Remember, the more you pressure the "victim" of the Loser/Abuser, the more you prove the their point. Your loved one is being told the family is trying to ruin their wonderful relationship. Pressure in the form of contacts, comments, and communications will be used as evidence against you. An invitation to a Tupperware party is met with "You see! They just want to get you by yourself so they can tell you bad things about me!" Increasing your contacts is viewed as "putting pressure" on their relationship – not being lovingly concerned.
* Your contacts with your loved one, no matter how routine and loving, may be met with anger and resentment. This is because each contact may prompt the Loser/Abuser to attack them verbally or emotionally. Imagine getting a four-hour lecture every time your Aunt Gladys calls. In a short time, you become angry each time she calls, knowing what the contact will produce in your home. The longer Aunt Gladys talks – the longer your lecture becomes! Thus, when Aunt Gladys calls, you want to get her off the phone as quickly as possible.
* The 1980's song, "Hold on Loosely", maybe the key to a good family and friend approach. Holding on too tight produces more pressure. When the victim is out of the home, it's often best to establish predictable, scheduled contacts. Calling every Wednesday evening, just for a status report or to go over current events, is less threatening than random calls during the week. Random calls are always viewed as "checking up on us" calls. While you may encounter an answering machine, leave a polite and loving message. Importantly, don't discuss the relationship (the controller may be listening!) unless the victim brings it up. The goal of these scheduled calls is to maintain contact, remind your loved one that you are always there to help, and to quietly remind the controller that family and loved ones are nearby and haven't disappeared.
* Try to maintain traditional and special contacts with your loved one - holidays, special occasions, etc. Keep your contacts short and brief, with no comments that can be used as evidence. Contacts made at "traditional" times – holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. – are not as threatening to a controller/abuser. Contacts that provide information, but not questions, are also not as threatening. An example might be a simple card reading "Just a note to let you know that your brother landed a new job this week. You might see him on a Wal-Mart commercial any day now. Love, Mom and Dad". This approach allows the victim to recognize that the family is there - waiting in the wings if needed. It also lessens the lectures/tantrums provided by the Loser as the contacts are on a traditional and expected basis. It's also hard to be angry about brother's new job without looking ridiculous. Also, don't invent holidays or send a reminder that it's Sigmund Freud's birthday. That's suspicious…even in my family.
* Remember that there are many channels of communication. It's important that we keep a channel open if at all possible. Communication channels might include phone calls, letters, cards, and e-mail. Scheduled monthly shopping trips or outings are helpful if possible. The goal is to maintain contact while your loved one is involved in the controlling/abusive relationship. Remember, the goal is contact, not pressure.
* Don't feel the victim's behavior is against the family or friends. It may be a form of survival or a way of lowering stress. Victims may be very resistive, angry, and even hostile due to the complexity of their relationship with the controller/abuser. They may even curse, threaten, and accuse loved ones and friends. This hostile defensiveness is actually self-protection in the relationship – an attempt to avoid "trouble".
* The victim needs to know and feel they are not rejected because of their behavior. Keep in mind, they are painfully aware of their situation. They know they are being treated badly and/or controlled by their partner. Frequent reminders of this will only make them want less contact. We naturally avoid people who remind us of things or situations that are emotionally painful.
* Victims may slightly open the door and provide information about their relationship or hint they may be considering leaving. When the door opens, don't jump through with the Marines behind you! Listen and simply offer support such as "You know your family is/ we are/ I am behind any decision you need to make and at any time you make it." They may be exploring what support is available but may not be ready to call in the troops just yet. Many victims use an "exit plan" that may take months or even years to complete. They may be gathering information at this point, not yet ready for an exit.
* We can get messages to people in two ways - the pipeline and the grapevine. The pipeline is face-to-face, telling the person directly. This seldom happens in Loser situations as controllers and abusers monitor and control contacts with others. However, the grapevine is still open. When we use the grapevine, we send a message to our loved one through another person. Victims of controlling and abusive individuals are often allowed to maintain a relationship with a few people, perhaps a sibling or best friend. We can send our loved one a message through that contact person, a message that voices our understanding and support. We don't send insults ("Bill is such a jerk!) or put-downs ("If he doesn't get out of this relationship he'll end up crazy!) - we send messages of love and support. We send "I hope she/he (victim) knows the family is concerned and that we love and support them." Comments sent on the grapevine are phrased with the understanding that our loved one will hear them in that manner. Don't talk with a grapevine contact to express anger and threaten to hire a hit man, and then try to send a message of loving support. Be careful what and how the message is provided. The grapevine contact can often get messages to the victim when we can't. It's another way of letting them know we're supporting them, just waiting to help if and when needed.
* Each situation is different. The family may need to seek counseling support in the community. A family consultation with a mental health professional or attorney may be helpful if the situation becomes legally complex or there is a significant danger of harm.
* As relatives or friends of a victim involved with a controller or abuser, our normal reaction is to consider dramatic action. We become angry, resentful, and aggressive at times. Our mind fills with a variety of plans that often range from rescue and kidnapping to ambushing the controller/abuser with a ball bat. A rule of thumb is that any aggression toward the controller/abuser will result in additional difficulties for your loved one. Try to remain calm and await an opportunity to show your love and support when your loved one needs it.
* In some cases, as in teenagers and young adults, the family may still provide some financial, insurance, or other support. When we receive angry responses to our phone calls, our anger and resentment tells us to cut off their support. I've heard "If she's going to date that jerk, it's not going to be in a car I'm paying for!" and "If he's choosing that woman over his family, he can drop out of college and flip hamburgers!" Withdrawing financial support only makes your loved one more dependent upon the controller/abuser. Remember, if we're aggressive by threatening, withdrawing support, or pressuring – we become the threatening force, not the controller/abuser. It actually moves the victim into the support of the controller. Sadly, the more of an "ordeal" they experience, the more bonding takes place as noted in Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance.
* As you might imagine, the combination of Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance may also be active when our loved one is involved in cults, unusual religions, and other groups. In some situations, the abuser and controller is actually a group or organization. Victims are punished if they are viewed as disloyal to the group. While this article deals with individual relationships, the family guidelines may be helpful in controlling-group situations.
You may be the victim of a controlling and abusive partner, seeking an understanding of your feelings and attitudes. You may have a son, daughter, or friend currently involved with a controlling and abusive partner, looking for ways to understand and help.
If a loved one is involved with a Loser, a controlling and abusing partner, the long-term outcome is difficult to determine due to the many factors involved. If their relationship is in the "dating" phase, they may end the relationship on their own. If the relationship has continued for over a year, they may require support and an exit plan before ending the relationship. Marriage and children further complicates their ability to leave the situation. When the victim decides to end the unhappy relationship, it's important that they view loved ones as supportive, loving, and understanding – not a source of pressure, guilt, or aggression.
This article is an attempt to understand the complex feelings and attitudes that are as puzzling to the victim as they are to family and friends. I've outlined recommendations for detaching from a Loser or controlling/abusive individual but clearly, there are more victims in this situation. It is hoped this article is helpful to family and friends who worry, cry, and have difficulty understanding the situation of their loved one. It has been said that knowledge is power. Hopefully this knowledge will prove helpful and powerful to victims and their loved ones.
Please consider this article as a general guideline. Some recommendations may be appropriate and helpful while some may not apply to a specific situation. In many cases, we may need additional professional help of a mental health or legal nature.