Sanctuary for the Abused
Friday, April 28, 2017
10 Reasons Abusers Don't Change
Ten Reasons to Stay the Same
From "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" by Lundy Bancroft.
To answer the question "Why Does He Do That?" we have to examine the foundation on which abusive behaviors are based. On the first level are the abuser's attitudes, beliefs and habits-- the thinking that drives his behavior day in and day out, which we have been looking at. On the second level is the learning process by which some boys develop into abusive men or, in other words, where abusive values come from, which is the topic of ch 13.
There is also a third level, which is rarely mentioned in discussions of abuse but which is actually one of the most important dynamics: the benefits that an abuser gets that make his behavior desirable to him. In what ways is abusiveness rewarding? How does this destructive pattern get reinforced?
Consider the following scenario: Mom, Dad, and their children are having dinner on a Wed night. Dad is snappy and irritable, criticizing everybody during the meal, spreading his tension around like electricity. When he finishes eating, he leaves the table abruptly and heads out of the room. His 10 yr old daughter says, "Dad, where are you going? Wed is your night to wash dishes." Upon hearing these words, Dad bursts into flames, screaming, "You upstart little shit, don't you dare try to tell me what to do! You'll be wearing a dish on your face!" He grabs a plate off the table, makes like he is going to throw it at her, and then turns away and smashes it on the floor. He knocks a chair over with his hand and storms out of the room. Mom and the children are left trembling; the daughter bursts into tears. Dad reappears in the doorway and yells that she'd better shut up, so she chokes off her tears, which causes her to shake even more violently. Without touching a soul, Dad has sent painful shock waves through the entire family.
We move ahead now to the following Wed. Dinner passes fairly normally, without the previous week's tension, but Dad still strolls out of the kitchen when he finishes eating. Does a family member remind him that it's his turn to wash the dishes? Of course not. It will be many, many months before anyone makes that mistake again. They quietly attend to the cleanup, or they squabble among themselves about who should do it, taking out their frustrations over Dad's unfairness and volatility on each other. Dad's scary behavior has created a context in which he won't have to do the dishes anytime he doesn't feel like it, and no one will dare take him to task for it.
Any incident of abusive behavior brings the abuser benefits just as this one did. Over time, the man grows attached to his ballooning collection of comforts and privileges. Here are some of the reasons why he may appear so determined not to stop bullying:
1. The intrinsic satisfaction of power and control
The abusive man gains power through his coercive and intimidating behaviors -- a sensation that can create a potent, thrilling rush. The wielder of power feels important and effective and finds a momentary relief from life's normal distresses. It isn't the woman's pain that appeals to him; most abusers are not sadists. In fact, he has to go to some lengths to shield himself from his own natural tendenty to empathize with her. The feeling that he rules is where the pleasure lies.
Yet the heady rush of power is the bare beginning of what the abuser gains through his mistreatment of his partner. If the rewards stopped here, I would find it much easier than I do to prevail upon my clients to change.
2. Getting his way, especially when it matters to him most
A romantic partnership involves a never-ending series of negotiations between 2 people's differing needs, desires, and preferences. Many of the differences that have to be worked out are matters of tremendous importance to the emotional life of each partner, such as:
-- Are we spending Christmas with my relatives, whom I enjoy, or with your relatives who get on my nerves and don't seem to like me?
-- Are we eating dinner tonight at my favorite restaurant, or at a place that I'm tired of and where the children seem to get wound up and irritating?
-- Am I going to have to go alone to my office party, which makes me feel terrible, or are you going to come with me even though you would rather spend the evening doing almost anything else on earth?
It is important not to underestimate theimpact of these kinds of day-to-day decisions. Your happiness in a relationship depends greatly on your ability to get your needs heard and taken seriously. If these decisions are taken over by an abusive or controlling partner, you experiences disappointment after disappointment, the constant sacrificing of your needs. He, on the other hand, enjoys the luxury of a relationship where he rarely has to compromise, gets to the things he enjoys, and skips the rest. He shows off his generosity when the stakes are low, so that friends will see what a swell guy he is.
The abuser ends up with the benefits of being in an intimate relationship without the sacrifices that normally come with the territory. That's a pretty privileged lifestyle.
3. Someone to take his problems out on
Have you ever suffered a sharp disappointment or a painful loss and found yourself looking for someone to blame? Have you, for example, ever been nasty to a store clerk when you were really upset about your job? Most people have an impulse to dump bad feelings on some undeserving person, as a way to relieve-- temporarily-- sadness or frustration. Certain days you may know that you just have to keep an eye on yourself so as not to bite someone's head off.
The abusive man doesn't bother to keep an eye on himself, however. In fact, he considers himself entitled to use his partner as a kind of human garbage dump where he can litter the ordinary pains and frustrations that life brings us. She is always an available target, she is easy to blame-- since no partner is perfect-- and she can't prevent him from dumping because he will get even worse if she tries. His excuse when he jettisons his distresses onto her is that life is unusually painful-- an unacceptable rationalization even if it were true, which it generally isn't.
4. Free labor from her; leisure and freedom for him
No abusive man does his share of the work in a relationship. He may take advantage of his partner's hard work keeping the house, preparing the meals, caring for the children, and managing the myriad details of life. Or, if he is one of the few abusers who carries his weight in these areas, then he exploits her emotionally instead, sucking her dry of attention, nurturing, and support, and returning only a trickle.
All this uncompensated labor from her means leisure for him. During the house he spends talking about himself he is relieved of the work of listening. The long weekend days when she cares for the children are his opportunity to watch sports, go rock climbing, or write his novel. My clients don't make the connection that someone takes care of the work; they think of it as just mysteriously getting done and refer to women as "lazy." Yet on a deeper level the abuser seems to realize how hard his partner works, because he fights like hell not to have to share that burden. He is accustomed to his luxury and often talks exaggeratedly about his exhaustion to excuse staying on his read end.
Studies have shown that a majority of women feel that their male partners don't contribute fairly to household responsibilities. However, a woman whose partner is not abusive at least has the option to put her foot down about her workload and insist that the man pick up the slack. With an abusive man, however, if you put your foot down he either ignores you or makes you pay.
The abuser comes and goes as he pleases, meets or ignores his responsibilities at his whim, and skips anything he finds too unpleasant. In fact, some abusers are rarely home at all, using the house only as a base for periodic refueling.
5. Being the center of attention, with priority given to his needs
When a woman's partner chronically mistreats her, what fills up her thoughts? Him, of course. She ponders how to soothe him so that he won't explode, how to improve herself in his eyes, how she might delicately raise a touchy issue with him. Little space remains for her to think about her own life, which suits the abuser; he wants her to be thinking about him. The abuser reaps cooperation and catering to his physical, emotional and sexual needs. And if the couple has children, the entire famly strives to enhance his good moods and fix his bad ones, in the hope that he won't start tearing pieces out of anyone. Consistently at the center of attention and getting his own way, the abuser can ensure that his emotional needs get met on his terms-- a luxury he is loath to part with.
6. Financial control
Money is a leading cause of tension in modern relationships, at least in families with children. Financial choices have huge quality of life implications, including: Who get to make the purchases that matter most to him or her; what kind sof preparations are made for the future, including retirement; what types of leisure activities and travel are engaged in; who gets to work; who gets to not work if he or she doesn't want to; and how the children's needs are met. To have your voice in these decisions taken away is a monumental denial of your rights and has long-term implications. On the lfip side, the abuser who dominates these kinds of decisionsextorts important benefits for himself, whether the family is low income or wealthy. One of the most common tactics I hear about, for example, is that the abuser manages to finagle dealings so that his name is on his partner's belongings-- such as her house or her car-- along with, or instead of, her name. In fact, I have had clients whose abuse was almost entirely economically based and who managed to take many thousands of dollars away from their partners, either openly or thorugh playing financial tricks.
An abuser's history of economic exploitation tends to put him in a much better financial position that his partner if the relationship splits up. This imbalanace makes it harder for her to leave him, especially is she has to find a way to support her children. He may also threaten to use his economic advantage to hire a lawyer and pursue custody, on of the single most terrifying prospects that can face an abused woman.
7. Ensuring that his career, education or other goals are prioritized
Closely interwoven with financial control is the question of whose personal goals receive priority. If the abuser needs to be out several evening studying for a certificate that will improve his job advancement potential, he's going to do it. If a career opportunity for him involves moving to a new state, he is likely to ignore the impact of his decision on his partner. Her own goals may also advance at times, but only as long as they don't interfere with his.
8. Public status of partner and/or father without the sacrifices
With his strong people-pleasing skills and his lively energy when under the public gaze, the abusive man is often thought of as an unusually fun and loving partner and a sweet, committed dad. He soaks up the smiles and appreciation he receives from relatives, neighbots, and people in the street who are unaware of his behavior in private.
9. The approval of his friends and relatives
An abuser often chooses friends who are supportive of abusive attitudes. On top of that, he may come from an abusive fmaily; in fact, his father or stepfather may have been his key role model for how to treat female partners. If these are his social surroundings, he gets strokes for knowing how to control his partner, for "putting her in her place" from time to time, and for ridiculing her complaints about him. His friends and relatives may even bond with him on the basis of his view of women in general as being irrational, vindictive, or avaricious. For this man to renounce abuse, he would have to give up his cheerleading squad as well.
10. Double standards
An abusive man subtly or overtly imposes a system in which he is exempt from the rules and standards that he applies to you. He may allow himself to have occaisonal affairs, "because men have their needs," but if you so much as gaze at another man, you're a "whore". He may scream in arguments, but if you raise your voice, you're "hysterical". He may pick up one of your children by the ear, but if you grab your son and put him in timeout for punching you in the leg, you're a "child abuser". He can leave his schedule open and flexible while you have to account for your time. He can point out your faults, while setting himself above criticism, so that he doesn't have to deal with your complaints or be confronted with the effects of his selfish and destructive actions. The abusive man has the privilege of living by a special set of criteria that were designed just for him.
Glance back quickly over this impressive collection of privileges. Is it any wonder that abusive men are reluctant to change? The benefits of abuse are a major social secret, rarely mentioned anywhere. Why? Largely because abusers are specialists in distracting our attention. They don't want anyone to notice how well this system is working for them (and usually don't even want to admit it to themselves). If we caught on, we would stop feeling sorry for them and instead start holding them accountable for their actions. As long as we see abusers as victims, or as out-of-control monsters, they will continue getting away with ruining lives. If we want abusers to change, we will have to require them to give up the luxury of exploitation.
When you are left feeling hurt or confused after a confrontation with your controlling partner, ask yourself: What was he trying to get out of what he just did? What is the ultimate benefit to him? Thinking through these questions can help you clear your head and identify his tactics.
Certainly the abusive man also loses a great deal through his abusiveness. He loses the potential for genuine intimacy in his relationship, for example, and his capacity for compassion and empathy. But these are often not things that he values, so he may not feel their absence. And even if he would like greater intimacy, that wish is outweighed by his attachment to the benefits of abuse.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
How a Narcissist Trains his Victims
by Kathy Krajco
Nearly everyone has seen something like the following little scene...
A three-or-four-year-old is with his mother in the grocery store. He points at a candy bar, looking at his mother with the brightest, cutest, most engaging little face you ever saw. Mother is busy and hardly glancing at him as she reads her grocery list and says, "No, you don't---"
She was going to say, "No, you don't need that," but she didn't get half the words out before he erupted into "WAAAAH!!!!"
Everyone in the store jumps, wondering who's killing that kid. In one split-second his face has undergone a startling transfiguration into something grotesque.
But he hasn't got the first "WAAAH!!!" half out yet before his mother, with a quick look around at all the people looking at her, grabs that candy bar and thrusts it into his hand.
WAAAAH--off, mid-WAAAH, and there is that darling little beaming angel-face again, unwrapping his his candy bar.
That's what you call a spoiled brat -- a kid who has learned to use temper tantrums to control his parents. The dead giveaway is how instantaneously he switches from one emotional extreme to the other. Real people don't do that in one split second, do they?
He can do that because those emotions are bogus. Faked. He isn't upset when he's screaming, and he isn't happy when he's not. He's just a little actor. He has two masks. One is for positive reinforcement, and the other is for negative reinforcement. He switches from one to the other in the blink of an eye.
Yes! This four-year-old has learned the art of Behavior Modification! It's childsplay, ain't it? His happy face is a carrot to reward you for good behavior, and his mad face is a stick to punish you for bad behavior.
Now notice how similar this is to an adult narcissist's rages. They are exactly the same thing.
Whenever you aren't behaving the way they want, they throw a fit. Like that brat in the grocery store, they don't think they should even have to ask for what they they want. They think you should be so attentive to their desires that you just offer it to them. It would be beneath them to ask for anything. So they throw a "Don't-go-there!" tantrum whenever you aren't playing the part they've assigned to you in the stageplay of their life.
That could be because you are behaving like you deserve respect. Or maybe you are busy and do not have lunch on the table yet. Whatever, the cowboy just herds people by yelling and waving things whenever the cattle in his home get out of line.
His wild act is so obnoxious and menacing that people soon learn how to turn it off. They would rather conform to his specifications than put up with that obnoxious wild act all the time.
Thus he trains them to behave the way he wants them to.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Emotional & Psychological Trauma
What is emotional or psychological trauma?
The ability to recognize emotional trauma has changed radically over the course of history. Until rather recently psychological trauma was noted only in men after catastrophic wars. The women's movement in the sixties broadened the definition of emotional trauma to include physically and sexually abused women and children. Now because of the discoveries made in the nineties known as the decade of the brain, psychological trauma has further broadened its definition.
Recent research has revealed that emotional trauma can result from such common occurrences as an auto accident, the breakup of a significant relationship, a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience, the discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition, or other similar situations. Traumatizing events can take a serious emotional toll on those involved, even if the event did not cause physical damage.
Regardless of its source, an emotional trauma contains three common elements:
it was unexpected;
the person was unprepared; and
there was nothing the person could do to prevent it from happening.
It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual's experience of the event. And it is not predictable how a given person will react to a particular event. For someone who is used to being in control of emotions and events, it may be surprising – even embarrassing – to discover that something like an accident or job loss can be so debilitating.
What causes emotional or psychological trauma?
Our brains are structured into three main parts, long observed in autopsies:
- the cortex (the outer surface, where higher thinking skills arise; includes the frontal cortex, the most recently evolved portion of the brain)
- the limbic system (the center of the brain, where emotions evolve)
- the brain stem (the reptilian brain that controls basic survival functions)
What is the difference between stress and emotional or psychological trauma?
One way to tell the difference between stress and emotional trauma is by looking at the outcome – how much residual effect an upsetting event is having on our lives, relationships, and overall functioning. Traumatic distress can be distinguished from routine stress by assessing the following:
how frequently upset is triggered
how intensely threatening the source of upset is
how long upset lasts
how long it takes to calm down
If we can communicate our distress to people who care about us and can respond adequately, and if we return to a state of equilibrium following a stressful event, we are in the realm of stress. If we become frozen in a state of active emotional intensity, we are experiencing an emotional trauma – even though sometimes we may not be consciously aware of the level of distress we are experiencing.
Why can an event cause an emotionally traumatic response in one person and not in another?
There is no clear answer to this question, but it is likely that one or more of these factors are involved:
- the severity of the event;
- the individual's personal history (which may not even be recalled);
- the larger meaning the event represents for the individual (which may not be immediately evident);
- coping skills, values and beliefs held by the individual (some of which may have never been identified); and
- the reactions and support from family, friends, and/or professionals.
What are the symptoms of emotional trauma?
There are common effects or conditions that may occur following a traumatic event. Sometimes these responses can be delayed, for months or even years after the event. Often, people do not even initially associate their symptoms with the precipitating trauma. The following are symptoms that may result from a more commonplace, unresolved trauma, especially if there were earlier, overwhelming life experiences:
Eating disturbances (more or less than usual)
Sleep disturbances (more or less than usual)
Chronic, unexplained pain
Depression, spontaneous crying, despair and hopelessness
Compulsive and obsessive behaviors
Exaggerating (especially when others chronically disbelieve them)
Feeling out of control
Irritability, angry and resentment
Withdrawal from normal routine and relationships
Memory lapses, especially about the trauma
Difficulty making decisions
Decreased ability to concentrate
The following additional symptoms of emotional trauma are commonly associated with a severe precipitating event, such as a natural disaster, exposure to war, rape, assault, violent crime, major car or airplane crashes, or child abuse. Extreme symptoms can also occur as a delayed reaction to the traumatic event.
Re-experiencing the Trauma
flashbacks or nightmares
sudden floods of emotions or images related to the traumatic event
Emotional Numbing and Avoidance
avoidance of situations that resemble the initial event
an altered sense of time
hyper-vigilance, jumpiness, an extreme sense of being "on guard"
overreactions, including sudden unprovoked anger
obsessions with death
What are the possible effects of emotional trauma?
Even when unrecognized, emotional trauma can create lasting difficulties in an individual's life. One way to determine whether an emotional or psychological trauma has occurred, perhaps even early in life before language or conscious awareness were in place, is to look at the kinds of recurring problems one might be experiencing. These can serve as clues to an earlier situation that caused a dysregulation in the structure or function of the brain.
Common personal and behavioral effects of emotional trauma:
compulsive behavior patterns
self-destructive and impulsive behavior
uncontrollable reactive thoughts
inability to make healthy professional or lifestyle choices
dissociative symptoms ("splitting off" parts of the self)
feelings of ineffectiveness, shame, despair, hopelessness
feeling permanently damaged
a loss of previously sustained beliefs
Common effects of emotional trauma on interpersonal relationships:
inability to maintain close relationships or choose appropriate friends and mates
arguments with family members, employers or co-workers
feeling constantly threatened
What if symptoms don't go away, or appear at a later time?
Over time, even without professional treatment, symptoms of an emotional trauma generally subside, and normal daily functioning gradually returns. However, even after time has passed, sometimes the symptoms don't go away. Or they may appear to be gone, but surface again in another stressful situation. When a person's daily life functioning or life choices continue to be affected, a post-traumatic stress disorder may be the problem, requiring professional assistance.
How is emotional trauma treated?
Traditional approaches to treating emotional trauma include:
talk therapies (working out the feelings associated with the trauma);
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves changing one's thoughts and actions, and includes systematic desensitization to reduce reactivity to a traumatic stressor
relaxation/stress reduction techniques, such as biofeedback or breathwork; and
hypnosis to deal with reactions often below the level of conscious awareness.
There are also several recent developments in the treatment to emotional trauma. Depending on the nature of the trauma and the age or state of development at which it occurred, these somatic (body) psychotherapies might even be more effective than traditional therapies. Some of the new therapies include:
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming)
Integrative Body Psychotherapy
EMDR THERAPIST NETWORK
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Cyberstalking and Online Harassment
A Real Life Problem
The Internet is a wonderful place to work, play and study. But don't let that fact make you blind to its down side. The Net is no more and no less than a mirror of the real world, and that means it also contains electronic versions of real life problems. Stalking and harassments are problems that many people especially women, are familiar with in real life. These problems can also occur on the Internet, in what has become know as "cyberstalking" or "online harassment".
If you thought that owning a computer and having an Internet account would make a person considerate and respectful; then think again. There are just as many predators in cyberspace as anywhere else. It is only their methods that have changed. Some predators might harass you by trailing around after you in live channels like lovesick puppies; unable to take NO for an answer and pestering you with email messages. In other cases this harassment may become a systematic campaign against you; where your harasser bombards you with threatening messages of hate and obscenities. Although distressful enough, the situation can even escalate to the point where your harasser traces your home address and telephone number; causing you to face not just emotional distress but also physical danger. It should come as no surprise to you that the "bad guys" are making use of this wonderful technology to harass people and prey on the innocent. Why wouldn't they? Not all bad guys are street punks with no education. Some are university graduates with computers.
There have been many examples of cyberstalking crossing over to "IRL" stalking (In Real Life stalking). Sadly, those users who have been victims of cyberstalking, tell a similar story: That no one took the harassment seriously until it became "IRL". Cyberstalking can be a devastating experience for a person online. As they discover that the difference between the "Brave New World" of the Internet and the Real World is that in the real world people listen when you tell them you are being stalked and harassed. In cyberspace people say things like "well just turn off your computer". Such incomprehension is common. "You can't be hurt on the Internet - it's just words" is commonly heard and "If you can't handle it, then you shouldn't be online" is another commonly hear comment. The online stalking is just as frightening and distressing as off-line stalking, and just as illegal.
Men and women may be stalked on-line, but statistics show that the majority of victims are female. Women are the minority of the Internet population which means that their attention is generally a fierce competition between male users. This part of the Internet, resembles crude online single bars, with little in the way of politeness. Unfortunately the immediate and relative anonymity of live chat communications facilities enable users to be rude and insensitive. Cyberstalking and online harassment are also much easier to practice than real life stalking. In cyberspace, a stalker can harass their victim without ever have to leave the comfort of their own home, or have any witnesses to the incidents.
One reason for the lack of successful prosecution of cyberstalkers, is that there usually is a lack of sufficient evidence available for the officials to warrant "probable cause" in order to further investigate. Many law enforcement agencies are Internet illiterate, therefore unaware that the problem could and does exist. To date, the only legislation regarding cyberstalking is the Communications Decency Act, enacted by the US Congress on 2-1-96, and is still being challenged in the Supreme Court. The real life, anti-stalking laws deal with actual attacks, and until such an attack happens, are actually very limited in defending yourself, or preventing any progression of the stalker. There is very little done about threats or harassment in the early stages.
Online users are vulnerable to being targeted as cyberstalking victims in three areas.
1) Live Chats (Facebook, Yahoo, Skype, Messenger) or IRC (Internet Relay Chat): in which a user talks live with other users. This is the most common place for cyberstalking.
2) Message boards, Blogs, Reunion Sites, Support Groups and Newsgroups: a user interacts with others by posting messages, conversing back and forth. Boards for emotional issues such as divorce; death; domestic violence are especially prone. Disordered persons can track others they disagree with for years reeking all sorts of havoc.
3) Email box: a user has the ability to write anything and even attach files to the email.
Example: a user enables your email, via live chat or newsgroup postings, then emails you with obscenities, and attaches porno pictures. A common area regarding cyberstalking is at the "edu" sites, which are educational institutes, such as colleges and universities.
One user might know another user personally and interacts on the Internet anonymously, so starting the cyberstalk. One student can enter the Internet as easily as another student, therefore not letting his true identity be known. And since user names can be unknown alias, who would ever know the identity or be able to prove the identity. In such cases, the stalker usually has the ability to trace the victim's phone number and sometimes the address of his victim. Another includes interpreting a posting you may have made on a message board regarding your opinion as an "attack" if it differs from theirs. The stalker then becomes fixated on proving you wrong.
Other forms of online harassment:
1) Unsolicited email
2) Live Chat
3) Hostile Postings about you, using a few "facts" to make an untrue picture
4) Spreading vicious, fabricated, untrue rumors about you (as opposed to telling the Truth at exposure sites)
5) Leaving untrue messages on site guestbooks
6) Impersonation of you online
7) Electronic sabotage, (sending viruses, trojans, etc)
8) Threatening phone calls
9) Threatening mail
10) Vandalism of property
11) Physical attack
12) Posing as you on groups, in emails or in postings.
There are many precautions that you can take NOW to protect yourself in advance from the unwelcome attention of a cyberstalker. Remember: The goal of a cyberstalker is CONTROL. Your task is to reverse this situation. Keep control of who you communicate with on the Internet. To do this, you may like to consider the advice below. Remember, the time to deal with cyberstalking is before you become a target.
CYBERSTALKING PREVENTION TIPS
If you are being harassed online by a cyberstalker, the chances are that you are not the first person they have stalked. Cyberstalkers, like other predators, are opportunists. They know what they are looking for and how to get it. "Stalking" is a "power" crime, the stalkers has the power to make you suffer and enjoys that power. Stalkers' self-esteem rises when they attack your self- esteem. The more pain and suffering they can cause, the better they feel about themselves. The best protection against becoming a target of stalking is not to reveal anything personal that you might have in common. Often, stalkers are mentally unstable, paranoid, delusional, and extremely jealous, and have extremely low self-esteem. Stalkers may display selfishness, malice, sadism, be very cunning and arrogant. Most are anti-social, and to put it in layman's terms, be a "control freak", enjoying manipulating other people. They crave power over others, and enjoy the type power that hurts other people. harassment is common enough in live chat on the Internet.
The three most common ways it can start are:
1) sexual harassment (or innuendo);
2) a flame war (argument that gets out of hand);
3)users that show their technological power by attacking innocent users, channels or even networks.
Those who regularly start flame wars online are rude and obnoxious people, often having poor social and communication skills. Their idea of fun is throwing obscene abuse at another just to upset them. These kind of harassers are often loners who don''t have a companion and their attempts to attract your attention is often clumsy and crude. Care should always be taken when turning the away, as the are highly sensitive to rejection and humiliation, and could cause a vendetta to start against you. Understand that although clumsy and crude in most cases, the stalker is not stupid, they are very organized and usually experienced in their war against you.
Stalking is a form of obsession. The difference between a normal cyber harasser and a cyberstalker, is this: harasser moves on to others and forgets you and a stalkers will come back to stalk you another day.
The Internet enables the stalker, his powers, in most cases, merely a knowledge of the technology is all required to have the ability to stalk another user. Most stalkers, having been rejected desire to instill fear in users, therefore, upsetting the normal enjoyment of the Internet.
Note that educated, smooth talking, responsible people also can be stalkers, appearing to be a perfect gentleman or lady with perfect manners. The major "clue" to cyberstalking, is when the stalker pushes for information regarding you personal life, private life, or life away from the net. Rule of thumb, as it may be referred to is: "NEVER GIVE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION ACROSS THE INTERNET!"
Online meetings should stay online, the individuals are, in fact, strangers. Online, the physical warning signs usually in the "body language" are missing. Also the clues of personality within the voice and eyes are missing. All there is to determine a personality is the skill in which they type there messages. There is no code of honor in protecting privacy on the Internet. Each user should therefore take steps to protect their privacy online.
1) never specify gender
2) use neutral-gender names
3) change your password often
4) edit your online profiles often
5) review your email headers and signatures often
6) use secure chat programs that do not permit tracking of your isp#
7) use a good chat network
8) use standard names, passive names to as to not draw attention to you
9) use anonymous remailers
10)use an anonymous browser
11)use encryption to authenticate email
12) discuss privacy with your server.
And last: learn your technology. REMEMBER: PROTECT YOURSELF!
GRAFX-SPECS DESIGN & HOSTING
NOTE FROM BLOG OWNER: Ms. Kester and I have the same cyberharasser.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Diagnosis of the Victim / Types of Abuse
In some cases it is seen that the abused partner becomes abused because it happened in her own childhood, so she is ready to accept it in the marriage. It is repetition of familiar events. In some instances the wife had a father who was indifferent, cold, often absent and often angry when present. She may not remember a single time when he hugged her – so distant was the relationship. These scenarios make her an easy victim to abuse by her husband. Women are abused and they are blamed as being the cause for that abuse. It is the worst kind of persecution. How does the victim feel? She feels hurt because he is hurting her. She feels like nothing because he is making her feel like nothing. She feels ignored because he is ignoring her – her thoughts and her feelings. She feels ridiculed because he ridicules her on a regular basis. She feels closed off, ex-communicated because he does it to her. Sometimes he causes the entire family to ex-communicate her. Whatever she expresses to her husband, he will invalidate it, he will scoff, he will discount it, he will deny it and he will oppose it. She has no self-esteem because he destroys it every chance he gets.
In a balanced and mutually loving relationship, there is the following scenario: both will love to hear the other’s thoughts. Both will express enthusiasm and delight in the other’s enthusiasm. Both will open their hearts and souls to the other. Both will nurture the other’s physical, intellectual and spiritual growth. Both will help the other. Both will live peacefully and let the other live in peace. Evans says that the wife has the right to expect respect, dignity, esteem, appreciation, warmth, empathy, an open communication, attentiveness, caring and equality in the relationship.
Generally, the wife (meaning, the victim) always blames herself for all the problems. She does this because he is telling her that she is to blame and she believes him. She believes she is not expressing herself well enough. She feels she is inadequate in every way. It is due to his endless accusations. What is noteworthy is that the more the wife gives up on getting any closeness from her husband, and the more she finds friends outside the marriage for companionship, the angrier and more abusive her husband becomes. Due to jealousy, due to his personal insecurities, he cannot tolerate that she becomes happy through other, albeit completely innocent friendships.
Let us again summarize what are the typical traits we can identify in the victim of an abusive relationship. She ceases to be spontaneous. She loses her enthusiasm for life. She is always on guard. She has lost her self-confidence and is often afraid to speak in public or to anyone outside the family, because she has been attacked so many times inside the family for what she has said. She is full of self-doubt. At times she may feel she is going crazy. She is deeply confused as to why her marriage is not a happy marriage. She feels sometimes like running away but due to her now completely codependent nature she is afraid to take the step. If the present relationship ever ends, she will be afraid or even terrified to begin a new relationship. These are the traits of an abused woman, of a victim.
Eventually, the wife feels a constant shame and humiliation at his treatment of her. Eventually he abuses her anywhere, even in front of their friends, work colleagues, at religious functions, and in public places. Her shame becomes unbounded. With this kind of humiliation, she begins to reach a breaking point, and all this while sometimes still not realizing why this is happening – that she is a victim of now extreme verbal violence. There is no other word for it. Daily a minimum of four women are murdered by their husbands in the U.S. But, in all these cases, verbal abuse preceded the physical abuse. It never happens that physical violence starts suddenly without any precedent. The first step in the sequence of violence is verbal abuse and ridicule that escalates to verbal violence, which further moves on or has the potential to move on to the physical level at any point thereafter.
Beverly Engel in her book, The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself, describes six categories of abused women. They are: (1) the selfless woman, (2) the pleaser, 3) the sinner or people who abuse themselves, (4) the codependent or the obsessive rescuer, (5) the drama junkie or people addicted to crisis situations, and (6) the victim or martyr.
In cases where the husband is highly educated, it becomes even more difficult for the wife to extricate herself from his clutches. His education serves to completely intimidate her and it becomes a simple matter to convince her that he is a logical, rational man speaking with his superior intellect, backed up by higher degrees. How many wives will have the self-esteem or the moral courage to object to torturous verbal abuse coming from such an educated man?
One lady’s husband refused to let her have a checkbook, saying men should take care of the money. She said, If a woman (or her husband) is in a high economic bracket, and she complains about not having any money, that she is penniless, we should be alert. Some complain, but far more do not tell due to shame. Some husbands will never confide in their wives regarding financial matters, will be secretive for the entire marriage, will not tell them their salary, will always give the impression they are poor or broke, will force the wife to spend any money that she may have – either earned or inherited, and will give her pittance to cover household operating expenses, forcing her to grovel and beg him for more – which then gives him the chance to say, ‘All she wants is my money.’ It is clear economic exploitation. If a woman tries to question such a man, he will react in anger, thus making the subject a taboo one for life. Can one blame a wife then if she begins to steal from his wallet to obtain enough for basic necessities – instead of having to grovel again and again? Some women have families to assist them in these situations. But other women have no one, making them completely dependent on this economically abusive husband. It is a terrible situation. He purposely doles out the money in such meager amounts that she has no option but to begin begging for more. This gives him the chance to further humiliate, deride and scorn her for begging. Today there are all situations in the society.
In some divorces, the wives make millions from their marriages. In other cases, they end up penniless. It is typical for economic abusers to compel their wives to deposit their earnings into his account. He tells her that he will handle the money. Maybe he tells her it will be easier to keep track of the balance that way. Or he may tell her that she’s not responsible enough to manage a checking account. Surprising that she is responsible enough to earn the money but not mature enough to manage it! Economic abusers generally want their wives to work and earn money, so that they can increase their own wealth. Such men will easily tell their wives that if they don’t ‘behave’, they will cut them off – kick them out of the house without a penny, without food, without clothes. What can such women do? What is the alternative for these women? It must appear to them as a very dark abyss without any escape.
According to Dr. Mary Miller, women are able to adapt more easily to economic abuse as compared to social, emotional and psychological abuse. Resourceful women in these circumstances will steal money here and there, praying their husband will not notice.
“The most powerful weapon in the hands of an oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” -- Steve BikoThe goal of psychological abuse is to undermine the wife’s security. Hence, cause will not lead to effect. The wife finds herself in a senseless, unpredictable environment created by the husband to confuse and terrify her. He will give her mental torture for days and weeks on end, and then suddenly bring her a bouquet of flowers. He will often tell her how lucky she is to have him, as otherwise she would be on the road or in a mental hospital. The tactics used by husbands to torture and control their wives are very similar to those used in brainwashing prisoners. Psychological abuse means, he will call her a slut, a bitch, a fat pig, or a whore again and again. If she makes any small mistake, he will maximize it into a big fight. Slowly she becomes convinced that she really is a slut, if not also a bitch and a whore. She loses all sense of self-worth.
Perhaps what is most common among such husbands is that invariably they convince their wives that they are dumb. The essential purpose of psychological abuse is to convince the woman that (1) she is stupid and incapable of doing anything, (2) she is a failure as a wife and mother, (3) she is innately immoral, and (4) she is essentially sinful. All of this is designed to reduce the wife to complete psychological dependence on the man. Such men are often educated but emotionally immature and hence unable to deal with a vibrant, dynamic woman. This image of the woman as strong is something he is determined to wipe out. This is why even when the wife is totally subservient, when the husband perceives the wife acting like a confident, mature adult, he erupts in psychological violence to reduce the wife to a terrified, guilt-ridden child.
It is very sad to see the survivors of such marriages – they have escaped their oppressor but the inferiority complexes he instilled remain embedded in the minds of the now physically free wives. He alternates verbal abuse with gentleness, wrath with caring, so as to constantly confuse her until she fully submits to his will. Due to daily abuse from their husbands, tormented wives far more often suffer from mental depression and poor physical health. What abused wives need more than anything else are kind people who tell them they are good, not bad. Who tell them they are (internally) beautiful, not ugly. Who tell them they are sane, not insane. They need continual praise and encouragement so that slowly these victims regain a sense of identity, begin to realize that they have some existential value, that they can love people without being tortured in return, that they can accomplish great and noble deeds in life. Gradually the victim will understand that it was not she who was insane; it was her husband who was insane in his treatment of her. Due to their own suffering, such women are in a prime position to serve others who are suffering, regardless of the cause of that suffering. Often they will relate to all human beings who are oppressed and suppressed and try their best to help them. This psychological abuse is often interwoven with emotional abuse.
Moral Abuse – Guilt Trips and Emotional Blackmail
Moral abuse is abuse of one’s character. It convinces the victim that she is immoral or guilty of known and unknown crimes. The abuser convinces her that she is innately selfish and does not deserve to be well treated by him. The way in which this is done is by continually using every opportunity to fill the wife with guilt. According to Dr. Susan Forward,
“…emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten, either directly or indirectly, to punish us if we don’t do what they want. At the heart of any kind of blackmail is one basic threat, which can be expressed in many different ways: If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer.”Dr. Forward describes a pattern that is repeated in cases of emotional abuse. First he makes a demand. Second, she offers some resistance. Third, he puts pressure. If he continues to meet with resistance, he makes threats. She doesn’t want to lose him. So the fifth stage is her compliance. And finally, this cycle repeats itself over and over, because it works! Forward likewise describes emotional abuse or blackmail by using the acronym FOG. Fear, obligation, guilt. The husband instills these three emotions into his wife by one means or the other, and she is at his command.
Fear, and fear of abandonment are in many people, and especially in women. The man needs to only touch on this fear and he can exploit it any time. If there is no recent mistake the wife has made, then the husband will bring up anything at all from the past to throw in her face and riddle her with guilt. I knew one man who, after 34 years of marriage, told his wife that she was still in love with someone she knew 36 years before – before the marriage. It was a great crime in his mind that there was somebody else before she had met him. He convinced her also that it was a great crime. His sole sick purpose was to riddle her with guilt.
Dr. Forward further describes four main types of emotional blackmailers. There are punishers, who are of two types: active punishers who make constant threats, and passive punishers who use the silent treatment. There are self-punishers, who turn the threats inward, emphasizing what they will do to themselves if they don’t get their way. Such men will threaten suicide, quitting their job. There is the sufferer. This is the person who constantly complains of his own misery and suffering. This husband will also constantly remind the wife that she is responsible for his personal suffering.
Finally there are the tantalizers. These are men who try and bribe their wives into doing what they want. Blackmailers will continually remind their wives that they themselves are wise and well-intentioned while the wives are the ‘bad guys’. The husband constructs an unreal story detailing the history of their relationship. Due to constant repetition of this story, the wife begins to accept his lies as truth.
These husbands spend their marriages minimizing their own wrong actions, denying their mistakes and blaming all problems in daily life on their women. I remember one woman who took her husband to visit her aged father, a former professor. For everything the father said, her husband would argue and contradict. Her father put him coolly in his place. After leaving, she had to bear punishment for nearly one year from her husband who almost daily would have rages, shouting at her about how badly he had been treated by her father. Though this was highly abnormal conduct, she still did not realize it. She only realized that she suffered and did not understand the reason.
Amnesty International has published a “Chart of Coercion” which outlines eight types of conduct that a controller engages in for gaining control of another person, as follows:
1. Isolation: This removes a woman’s support system, setting her up for easy brainwashing.
2. Monopolization of perception: It means eliminating outside phone calls, activities and even TV shows which would give the wife glimpses of ‘normal’ life and enable her compare it with her own.
3. Induced debility: He overworks her and allows her less sleep, as it also wears down her resistance.
4. Threats: They keep her in perpetual fear.
5. Occasional indulgences: These keep the woman confused and hopeful and in his control.
6. Demonstrating omnipotence: He can hide the car keys, deny her any money, lock the long-distance phone facility or refuse to eat her food – all to demonstrate his all-powerful control over her.
7. Degradation: It means near daily drilling into her head that she is fat, stupid, ugly, without any skills or talents, so that her self-esteem drops to nil, and she gets convinced that she doesn’t deserve better treatment. After years of this kind of abuse, when occasionally someone comes along and does a simple kindness like present her with flowers or offer praise for her cooking or hard work, she becomes overwhelmed and cries uncontrollably. Long after she has left him, his daily slander, brainwashing and hurling insults over her fatness, stupidity and worthlessness have left an indelible, near incurable stamp on her mind from which it takes years or a lifetime to recover.
8. Enforcing trivial demands: By doing this, he is conditioning her to obey bigger demands.
The bottom line is, she could never do enough. He was always unhappy with her. Her husband abused her emotionally, verbally, by humiliating her. To criticize and refuse to eat the food cooked by his wife is a clear example of emotional abuse. From there he would add other things like telling her she is too dumb to do anything right. Or he would constantly run her down for gaining weight. Later he may begin accusing her of having a lover, and may start stalking her whenever she goes out.
In such cases, if the woman works, it will be a tremendous relief for her to get out and reach the office, where smiling faces and kind people are there to surround her. She will often not understand why the workplace seems like heaven and the home like a living hell. However the husband will often start social abuse by talking to her boss and yelling at her colleagues or even making private visits to the homes of his wife’s friends to discuss the wife’s failings and mental instability. The husband will say that he is doing this merely to help solve the situation when all along his real intention is purely sadistic. This can cause friends to avoid or judge the wife, which causes her deep emotional pain. Then with relish the husband will tell the shamed wife that no one likes her, that she cannot maintain any lasting friendship with anybody. The husband will say this in a way calculated to emotionally hurt the wife. This will reduce the wife to chaotic sobbing and will eliminate any outside competitors to the husband’s emotional resources that the wife represents.
All of the other types of abuse discussed here can be viewed as means of emotional violence. Joan Zorza, director of the National Center on Women and Family Law, has noted that while women in shelters will talk easily about their broken noses, black eyes and swollen faces, it is when the talk turns to the emotional abuse that they break down sobbing, becoming riddled with feelings of worthlessness and ‘badness’ – all the ideas their spouse has been feeding them for years. Often the husband will convince the wife that she is crazy or has psychological problems, and then he takes concrete steps to prove it. Such an abuser – emotional or physical – will fight hard against his wife divorcing him, because he cannot bear to lose the control. He will tell the judge that he loves her. But, this ‘love’ will be in total contrast to his conduct, which tells the real story. The real story is, he was an emotional bully. This was the role he played in the life of his wife. Typically, such men will make mountains out of molehills. It is a clear warning to a woman that something is not right in the marriage, that something is wrong with the man. It starts over the smallest of issues, and then his anger grows into rages. The result of emotional abuse is that women lose their integrity and their dignity. They lose their self-respect.
Emotional abuse is inflicted not merely to reduce a woman to a state of psychological dependency, but for the sadistic purpose of emotional violence. Hence emotional abuse like physical abuse is done not merely to protect one’s ego but because of the pleasure the emotional violence brings. Emotional violence is designed simply to use intimate knowledge of the wife’s heart to commit emotional battery. Emotional violence, like physical violence, very easily spirals out of control because like physical violence it is so easy to do and the results are so immediate. Here the goal is simply to inflict emotional pain. This is the reason why emotional abuse along with physical abuse is the most destructive form of abuse. The goal here is to eliminate the existence of the wife emotionally as a separate being with rights and dignity.
The wife facing this violence on a daily basis is deprived of any real existence emotionally except as a resource for the husband’s emotional needs. Thus using emotional violence the husband eliminates any sense of responsibility towards the wife as a separate emotional entity with rights and needs, because by his emotional beating she is stripped of all self-identity. What women need to realize is that just like the bullies on the school-ground who used to beat up the weak boys in class, emotional bullies are in reality emotional cowards. Confident people have no need to bully others. Cowards do, because it makes them feel big and strong temporarily.
Materialists reduce the human psyche to a bundle of sensations, thoughts and emotions. Just like materialism is always connected with imperialistic conquest of other peoples and their lands, so the reduction of the wife to merely a collection of physical and emotional services is essentially a form of domestic imperialism. It is important to understand that emotional violence, even if not accompanied by physical violence, is an innate evil just as much as macro-imperialism is. Hence fighting against emotional violence in the home is just as much a required human duty as protesting imperialism in the global home.
Fighting against emotional violence through awareness programs must forcibly remind abusers that no one has the right to inflict emotional violence on another human being and that just as we can no longer commit physical violence behind closed doors, so also will society no longer tolerate emotional violence behind closed doors. It is especially important that young people be taught a zero tolerance attitude towards emotional violence.
Social abuse comprises of slandering, shaming, ostracizing and isolating the wife from her close family members and friends. The husband will not allow her to even speak to them on the phone, let alone see them. He will ridicule and deride her relatives, calling them every name he can think of, insulting their characters or personal habits, making up slander about them. One can call it called family-bashing. This is the definition of social abuse. Some women live completely isolated, always in the house, speaking to no one except their husband and children, for ten, fifteen or twenty years – nearly their entire adult life. Is it not similar to the life of a prisoner? Yet, if she expresses reluctance to mix with the husband’s ‘friends’, he will attack her forthwith and call her anti-social.
Only rarely, if it is financially required, will such a husband allow his wife to work, where she has the chance to escape her virtual prison. Still more rarely will he allow her to develop herself intellectually by taking courses. If such a wife gets the chance to do either, she lives in a world of heaven and hell – hell at home and heaven for the few hours she can escape the home. Isolation is a horrible weapon wielded by men to make their women desperate and helplessly dependent on the one person in their life – their abuser. He forces her to retreat not only from her family members but from the entire community of human beings. Another tactic used by abusers is to bring in other people – family members, friends, anyone – and use them to outnumber his already exhausted victim on issues of conflict.
It is common in some Middle Eastern and Asian countries when men leave for work to lock their women inside the house from the outside. It is shocking, however, to find out while doing research into domestic violence that here in this advanced, supposedly more civilized United States there are some husbands who also their lock their wives inside the house while they are out! They may also make sure she has no car, thus increasing her dependence and immobility.
One of the tactics of death squads throughout history, be they in medieval Spain, communist China, or fascist Guatemala, is to initiate ordinary people into the practice of killing victims. The victims are condemned in Spain as devilish Jews, in China as American capitalist agents, in Guatemala as Cuban communist agents. By making everyone a part of the process of violence they hope that everyone will be so shamed by guilt that their crimes will never be punished. On a micro-social scale this is exactly what abusers do to their wives through society.
There are different stages that relatives, friends and especially children go through as part of the drama of social abuse. They act (1) as witness to abuse, (2) as partial participant in the abuse (starting with jokes), (3) as a convert to the belief that the victim is innately stupid, evil, immoral, and (4) as an even more violent abuser than the husband himself. The end result for those who may only reach stage (1), is that they will try to block out the memory of the social abuse, thus ensuring that any kind of help or justice for the victim remains an impossible dream.
“It killed me having to ask for a few dollars to go marketing or buy the kids shoes – like a beggar. But that’s the way it was….. I tried not to notice how he made fun of opinions I expressed on anything, whether it was politics or an author… From the very beginning, if (he) didn’t get his way, he would make me pay. Sometimes he wouldn’t talk to me for weeks or wouldn’t eat, even when I cooked his favorite dinner, and believe me, I tried. Oh, how I tried!”
FROM: Wife Abuse: Breaking It Down and Breaking Out by Garda Ghista
Sunday, April 23, 2017
PORN: Count The Cost
Many men dream of owning a bigger home, a vacation home or even of the possibility of purchasing a second house as investment property.
It’s a sad but astounding reality that the average financial cost incurred by a man involved in compulsive, secret sexual activity is the value of a house in his neighborhood – it has cost him that dream, that piece of property!
How is that possible? First, the obvious tangible cost: purchasing porn, strip clubs, prostitutes, legal and medical expenses, guilt spending, and possibly divorce or loss of employment costs. Those all add up over the years.
But even more profound are the unseen costs: lack of productivity in your career, missed job opportunities, working in a job underneath your abilities, loss of creativity and energy. Then there’s the cost of chasing your fix or running away from consequences of your behavior. Financial immaturity plays a large role, as there is little focus on the wise investment of your earnings, and often lots of “have it now” spending.
In the process of helping thousands of men confidentially break free from the tractor beam of porn dependency and all its associated destructive behaviors, we conduct what the military calls BDA – Bomb Damage Assessment – an honest assessment of what the impact of his compulsive sexual behavior has cost him;
- Financially (actual monetary cost)
- Relationally (loss of important relationships)
- Emotionally (stunted maturity)
- Physically (sexually transmitted diseases)
- Spiritually (loss of one’s true destiny), and,
- His legacy (children following in their father’s footsteps)
The hope in conducting BDA with a man is that it will help him come to his senses and to stay in that reality; for men who get help and overcome pornography compulsion often dramatically increase their financial status living lives of hope, prosperity, purpose and fulfillment as they no longer live in a false reality.
Clay Allen is the president of AVENUE, a nonprofit organization that equips men to live lives of sexual integrity.
For more information, click here
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Triggers are one of the symptoms of PTSD.
A trigger can send a person who suffers from this disorder into the extreme areas of emotional being, such as intense anger, exaggerated sadness, crippling numbness, flashbacks, nightmares, and other areas not mentioned here. A trigger then may be described as a situation, a noise, a smell, a thought, or anything else that puts a PTSD sufferer off into a “dark-area” or sets that person off by reminding them of the original trauma or situation they experienced. Symptoms caused by a trigger can differ from person to person. To help cope with triggers, a person who suffers from PTSD can make a list of the things in everyday life that set them off and then write them down and make a “trigger list”. We can write down some of the more common noises, smells, colors, ex….that cause us distress. Once we are more aware of these triggers, it is easier to cope with the symptoms.
Here is some more information about triggers:
According to the American Psychiatric Association people suffering from this disorder have repeated episodes in which they re-experience the traumatic event. This can be triggered in sudden, vivid memories that are accompanied by very painful emotions and take over the victims attention. The memory can be a flashback - a recollection that is so strong that the individual thinks he/she is actually experiencing the traumatic event again or seeing it unfold before their eyes. In the book PTSD-A Complete Treatment Guide by Aphrodite Matsakis, Ph.D., she talks about the trigger response on page 140 of this book, ” As explained in Chap. 3, PTSD is not only a psychological phenomenon but a biochemical one. The human brain remembers everything; its memory cells store information about every event that occurs to a person, especially unusual events such as traumas,” further on she says,
”Perhaps one of the worst parts of being a trauma survivor occurs when the adrenals are aroused by an event in the present that reminds the survivor of a past event. Long-term memory tracts, in which memories of the traumatic event and secondary wounding experiences are stored, tend to be activated, and the survivor then experiences feelings associated with the past event. These present-day events are often called triggers, because they trigger the emotions associated with the trauma.”SOME Kewl SAYINGS:
A sign-post to healing is knowing its OK to ask for help or support again.
It is normal to be affected by trauma….you are not crazy!
(there is no rush in recovery) Slow recovery is good recovery.
PTSD changes the person, not the other way!
Thursday, April 20, 2017
The Inner Landscape of the Psychopath
The surface of the psychopath, however, that is, all of him that can be reached by verbal exploration and direct examination, shows up as equal to or better than normal and gives no hint at all of a disorder within.
Nothing about him suggests oddness, inadequacy, or moral frailty. His mask is that of robust mental health. Yet he has a disorder that often manifests itself in conduct far more seriously abnormal than that of the schizophrenic.
Inwardly, too, there appears to be a significant difference.
Deep in the masked schizophrenic we often sense a cold, weird indifference to many of life's most urgent issues and sometimes also bizarre, inexplicable, and unpredictable but intense emotional reactions to what seems almost irrelevant.
Behind the exquisitely deceptive mask of the psychopath the emotional alteration we feel appears to be primarily one of degree, a consistent leveling of response to petty ranges and an incapacity to react with sufficient seriousness to achieve much more than pseudoexperience or quasi-experience. Nowhere within do we find a real cause or a sincere commitment, reasonable or unreasonable. There is nowhere the loyalty to produce real and lasting allegiance even to a negative or fanatic cause.
Just as meaning and the adequate sense of things as a whole are lost with semantic aphasia in the circumscribed field of speech although the technical mimicry of language remains intact, so in most psychopaths the purposiveness and the significance of all life-striving and of all subjective experience are affected without obvious damage to the outer appearance or superficial reactions of the personality. Nor is there any loss of technical or measurable intelligence.
With such a biologic change the human being becomes more reflex, more machinelike. It has been said that a monkey endowed with sufficient longevity would, if he continuously pounded the keys of a typewriter, finally strike by pure chance the very succession of keys to reproduce all the plays of Shakespeare. These papers so composed in the complete absence of purpose and human awareness would look just as good to any scholar as the actual works of the Bard. Yet we cannot deny that there is a difference. Meaning and life at a prodigiously high level of human values went into one and merely the rule of permutations and combinations would go into the other.
The patient semantically defective by lack of meaningful purpose and realization at deep levels does not, of course, strike sane and normal attitudes merely by chance. His rational power enables him to mimic directly the complex play of human living. Yet what looks like sane realization and normal experience remains, in a sense and to some degree, like the plays of our simian typist.
In Henry Head's interpretation of semantic aphasia we find, however, concepts of neural function and of its integration and impairment that help to convey a hypothesis of grave personality disorder thoroughly screened by the intact peripheral operation of all ordinary abilities.
In relatively abstract or circumscribed situations, such as the psychiatric examination or the trial in court, these abilities do not show impairment but more or less automatically demonstrate an outer sanity unquestionable in all its aspects and at all levels accessible to the observer. That this technical sanity is little more than a mimicry of true sanity cannot be proved at such levels.
Only when the subject sets out to conduct his life can we get evidence of how little his good theoretical understanding means to him, of how inadequate and insubstantial are the apparently normal basic emotional reactions and motivations convincingly portrayed and enunciated but existing in little more than two dimensions.
What we take as evidence of his sanity will not significantly or consistently influence his behavior. Nor does it represent real intention within, the degree of his emotional response, or the quality of his personal experience much more reliably than some grammatically well-formed, clear, and perhaps verbally sensible statement produced vocally by the autonomous neural apparatus of a patient with semantic aphasia can be said to represent such a patient's thought or carry a meaningful communication of it.
Let us assume tentatively that the psychopath is, in this sense, semantically disordered. We have said that his outer functional aspect masks or disguises something quite different within, concealing behind a perfect mimicry of normal emotion, fine intelligence, and social responsibility a grossly disabled and irresponsible personality. Must we conclude that this disguise is a mere pretense voluntarily assumed and that the psychopath's essential dysfunction should be classed as mere hypocrisy instead of psychiatric defect or deformity?
Let us remember that his typical behavior defeats what appear to be his own aims.
Is it not he himself who is most deeply deceived by his apparent normality?
Although he deliberately cheats others and is quite conscious of his lies, he appears unable to distinguish adequately between his own pseudo-intentions, pseudo-remorse, pseudo-love, and the genuine responses of a normal person.
His monumental lack of insight indicates how little he appreciates the nature of his disorder.
When others fail to accept immediately his "word of honor as a gentleman," his amazement, I believe, is often genuine. The term genuine is used here not to qualify the psychopath's intentions but to qualify his amazement. His subjective experience is so bleached of deep emotion that he is invincibly ignorant of what life means to others.
His awareness of hypocrisy's opposite is so insubstantially theoretical that it becomes questionable if what we chiefly mean by hypocrisy should be attributed to him.
Having no major values himself, can he be said to realize adequately the nature and quality of the outrages his conduct inflicts upon others?
A young child who has no impressive memory of severe pain may have been told by his mother it is wrong to cut off the dog's tail. Knowing it is wrong he may proceed with the operation. We need not totally absolve him of responsibility if we say he realized less what he did than an adult who, in full appreciation of physical agony, so uses a knife.
Can a person experience the deeper levels of sorrow without considerable knowledge of happiness? Can he achieve evil intention in the full sense without real awareness of evil's opposite? I have no final answer to these questions.
Attempts to interpret the psychopath's disorder do not, of course, furnish evidence that he has a disorder or that it is serious. For reliable evidence of this we must examine his behavior. Only here, not in psychopathologic formulations, can we apply our judgment to what is objective and demonstrable.
Functionally and structurally all is intact on the outside. Good function (healthy reactivity) will be demonstrated in all theoretical trials. Sound judgment as well as good reasoning are likely to appear at verbal levels. Ethical as well as practical considerations will be recognized in the abstract. A brilliant mimicry of sound, social reactions will occur in every test except the test of life itself.
In the psychopath we confront a personality neither broken nor outwardly distorted but of a substance that lacks ingredients without which normal function in major life issues is impossible. [...]
Simon, Holzberg, and Unger, impressed by the paradox of the psychopath's poor performance despite intact reasoning, devised an objective test specifically to appraise judgment as it would function in real situations, as contrasted with theoretical judgment in abstract situations. These workers are aware that the more complex synthesis of influences constituting what is often called judgment or understanding (as compared to a more theoretical "reasoning") may be simulated in test situations in which emotional participation is minimal, that rational factors alone by an accurate aping or stereotyping can produce in vitro, so to speak, what they cannot produce in vivo. Items for a multiple choice test were selected with an aim of providing maximal possibilities for emotional factors to influence decision and particularly for relatively trivial immediate gratification impulses to clash with major, long-range objectives. The same items were also utilized in the form of a completion test. The results of this test on a group of psychopaths tend to support the hypothetical interpretation attempted in this book.
If such a disorder does indeed exist in the so-called psychopath, it is not remarkable that its recognition as a major and disabling impairment has been long delayed. Pathologic changes visible on the surface of the body (laceration, compound fractures) were already being handled regularly by medical men when the exorcism of indwelling demons retained popular favor in many illnesses now treated by the internist. So, too, it has been with personality disorders. Those characterized by gross outward manifestations have been accepted as psychiatric problems long before others in which a superficial appearance of sanity is preserved.
Despite the psychopath's lack of academic symptoms characteristic of those disorders traditionally classed as psychosis, he often seems, in some important respects, but not in all, to belong more with that group than with any other. Certainly his problems cannot be dealt with, medically or by any other means, unless similar legal instrumentalities for controlling his situation are set up and regularly applied.
I believe that if such a patient shows himself grossly incompetent in his behavior, he should be so appraised. It is necessary to change some of our legal criteria to make attempts at treatment or urgently needed supervision possible for him, the most serious objections are primarily theoretical. Perhaps our traditional definitions of psychiatric disability can stand alteration better than these grossly defective patients and those about them can stand the present farcical and sometimes tragic methods of handling their problems.
This is not to say that all people showing features of this type should be regarded as totally disabled. It is here maintained that this defect, like other psychiatric disorders, appears in every degree of severity and may constitute anything from a personality trait through handicaps of varying magnitude, including maximum disability and maximum threat to the peace and safety of the community.
In attempting to account for the abnormal behavior observed in the psychopath, we have found useful the hypothesis that he has a serious and subtle abnormality or defect at deep levels disturbing the integration and normal appreciation of experience and resulting in a pathology that might, in analogy with Henry Head's classifications of the aphasias, be described as semantic.
Presuming that such a patient does fail to experience life adequately in its major issues, can we then better account for his clinical manifestations? The difficulties of proving, or even of demonstrating direct objective evidence, for hypotheses about psychopathology (or about ordinary subjective functioning) are too obvious to need elaborate discussion here.
If the psychopath's life is devoid of higher order stimuli, of primary or serious goals and values, and of intense and meaningful satisfactions, it may be possible for the observer to better understand the patient who, for the trivial excitement of stealing a dollar (or a candy bar), the small gain of forging a $20.00 check, or halfhearted intercourse with an unappealing partner, sacrifices his job, the respect of his friends, or perhaps his marriage.
Behind much of the psychopath's behavior we see evidence of relatively mild stimuli common to all mankind. In his panhandling, his pranks, his truancy, his idle boasts, his begging, and his taking another drink, he is acting on motives in themselves not unnatural. In their massive accumulation during his career, these acts are impressive chiefly because of what he sacrifices to carry them out. If, for him, the things sacrificed are also of petty value, his conduct becomes more comprehensible.
Woolley, in an interesting interpretation of these patients, compared them with an otherwise intact automobile having very defective brakes. Such an analogy suggests accurately an important pathologic defect which seems to exist. In contrast with an automobile, however, the braking functions of the human organism are built into the personality by reaction to life experience, to reward and punishment, praise and blame, shame, loss, honor, love, and so on. True as Woolley's hypothesis may be, it seems likely that more fundamental than inadequate powers to refrain is the inadequate emotional reactivity upon which the learning to refrain must be based.
Even with good brakes on his car, the driver must have not only knowledge of but also feeling for what will happen otherwise if he is to use them correctly and adequately.
Some of the psychopath's behavior may be fairly well accounted for if we grant a limitation of emotional capacity. Additional factors merit consideration. The psychopath seems to go out of his way to make trouble for himself and for others. In carelessly marrying a whore, in more or less inviting detection of a theft (or at least in ignoring the probability of detection), in attempting gross intimacies with a debutante in the poorly sheltered alcove just off a crowded ballroom, in losing his hospital parole or failing to be with his wife in labor just because he did not want to leave the crap game at midnight (or at 3 A.M.), in such actions there seems to be not only a disregard for consequences but an active impulse to show off, to be not discreet but conspicuous in making mischief. Apparently he likes to flaunt his outlandish or antisocial acts with bravado.
When negative consequences are negligible or slight (both materially and emotionally), who does not like to cut up a little, to make a bit of inconsequential fun, or perhaps playfully take off on the more sober aspects of living? Dignity might otherwise become pompousness; learning, pedantry; goodness, self-righteousness. The essential difference seems to lie in how much the consequences matter. It is also important to remember that inclination and taste are profoundly shaped by capacity to feel the situation adequately. A normal man's potential inclination to give the pretty hatcheck girl $100.00 would probably not reach awareness in view of his knowledge that this would result in his three children's not having shoes or in his having to humiliate himself by wheedling from a friend a loan he will never repay.
If, as we maintain, the big rewards of love, of the hard job well done, of faith kept despite sacrifices, do not enter significantly in the equation, it is not difficult to see that the psychopath is likely to be bored. Being bored, he will seek to cut up more than the ordinary person to relieve the tedium of his unrewarding existence. If we think of a theater half-filled with ordinary pubertal boys who must sit through a performance of King Lear or of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, we need ask little of either imagination or memory to bring to mind the restless fidgeting, the noisy intercommunication of trivialities, the inappropriate guffaws or catcalls, and perhaps the spitballs or the mischievous application of a pin to the fellow in the next seat.
Apparently blocked from fulfillment at deep levels, the psychopath is not unnaturally pushed toward some sort of divertissement. Even weak impulses, petty and fleeting gratifications, are sufficient to produce in him injudicious, distasteful, and even outlandish misbehavior. Major positive attractions are not present to compete successfully with whims, and the major negative deterrents (hot, persistent shame, profound regret) do not loom ahead to influence him. If the 12-year-old boys could enjoy King Lear or the Ninth Symphony as much as some people do, they would not be so reckless or unruly. [...]
In a world where tedium demands that the situation be enlivened by pranks that bring censure, nagging, nights in the local jail, and irritating duns about unpaid bills, it can well be imagined that the psychopath finds cause for vexation and impulses toward reprisal. Few, if any, of the scruples that in the ordinary man might oppose and control such impulses seem to influence him. Unable to realize what it meant to his wife when he was discovered in the cellar flagrante delicto with the cook, he is likely to be put out considerably by her reactions to this. His having used the rent money for a midnight long-distance call to an old acquaintance in California (with whom he bantered for an hour) also brings upon him censure or tearful expostulation. Considering himself harassed beyond measure, he may rise from the dining room table in a petty tantrum, curse his wife violently, slap her, even spit on her, and further annoyed by the sudden weeping of their 6-year-old daughter, throw his salad in the little girl's face before he strides indignantly from the room.
His father, from the patient's point of view, lacks humor and does not understand things. The old man could easily take a different attitude about having had to make good those last three little old checks written by the son. Nor was there any sense in raising so much hell because he took that dilapidated old Chevrolet for his trip to Memphis. What if he did forget to tell the old man he was going to take it? It wouldn't hurt him to go to the office on the bus for a few days. How was he (the patient) to know the fellows were going to clean him out at stud or that the little bitch of a waitress at the Frolic Spot would get so nasty about money? What else could he do except sell the antiquated buggy? If the old man weren't so parsimonious he'd want to get a new car anyway!
And why did he (the father) have to act so magnanimous and hurt about settling things last Saturday night down at the barracks? You'd think from his attitude that it was the old man himself who'd had to put up with being cooped in there all those hours with louse-infested riff-raff! Well, he'd thanked his father and told him how sorry he was. What else could a fellowdo? As for that damned old Chevrolet, he was sick of hearing about it. His grudge passing with a turn of thought, he smiles with half-affectionate, playfully cordial feelings toward the old man as he concludes, "I ought to tell him to take his precious old vehicle and stick it up his _____!"
Lacking vital elements in the appreciation of what the family and various bystanders are experiencing, the psychopath finds it hard to understand why they continually criticize, reproach, quarrel with, and interfere with him. His employer, whom he has praised a few hours before, becomes a pettifogging tyrant who needs some telling off. The policeman to whom he gave tickets for the barbecue last week (because he is such a swell guy) turns out to be a stupid oaf and a meddler who can't mind his own business but has to go and arrest somebody just because of a little argument with Casey in the Midnight Grill about what happened to a few stinking dollar bills that were lying on the bar. [...]
It is not necessary to assume great cruelty or conscious hatred in him commensurate with the degree of suffering he deals out to others. Not knowing how it hurts or even where it hurts, he often seems to believe that he has made a relatively mild but appropriate reprimand and that he has done it with humor.
What he believes he needs to protest against turns out to be no small group, no particular institution or set of ideologies, but human life itself. In it he seems to find nothing deeply meaningful or persistently stimulating, but only some transient and relatively petty pleasant caprices, a terribly repetitious series of minor frustrations, and ennui.
Like many teenagers, saints, history-making statesmen, and other notable leaders or geniuses, he shows unrest; he wants to do something about the situation. Unlike these others, as Lindner has so well and convincingly stressed, he is a "rebel without a cause."
Reacting with something that seems not too much like divine discontent or noble indignation, he finds no cause in the ordinary sense to which, he can devote himself with wholeheartedness or with persistent interest. In certain aspects his essential life seems to be a peevish bickering with the inconsequential. In other aspects he suggests a man hanging from a ledge who knows if he lets go he will fall, is likely to break a leg, may lose his job and his savings (through the disability and hospital expenses), and perhaps may injure his baby in the carriage just below. He suggests a man in this position who, furthermore, is not very tired and who knows help will arrive in a few minutes, but who, nevertheless, with a charming smile and a wisecrack, releases his hold to light a cigarette, to snatch at a butterfly, or just to thumb his nose at a fellow passing in the street below. [...]
A world not by any means identical but with some vivid features of both these underlying situations can be found in Huysmans' Against the Grain and in Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea. In the satirical novels of Evelyn Waugh, also, an atmosphere difficult to describe sometimes develops - an atmosphere that may give the reader awareness of attitudes and evaluations genuinely illustrative of deeply distorted or inadequate reactions to life. [...]
The leading characters depicted therein show a peculiar cynicism which is more conscious and directed and purposive than the behavior of the psychopath. But none of the characters presented show even an approximate awareness of what is most valid and meaningful and natural in human beings. A negative response to life itself, an aversion at levels more basic than ordinary morals or the infraconscious foundations of taste and incentive, is conveyed subtly and impressively.
It is difficult to illustrate by incident, by the expressed attitude of the characters depicted, or by any clearly implied evaluation of the authors the specific quality of what is evoked in these novels as the essence of an unhappy, mutilated, and trivial universe in which all the characters exist. The sense of pathology pervades to levels so deep that rational scrutiny cannot reach and meet the fundamental implications; nor can inquiry satisfactorily demonstrate its precise source. If the actual world and man's biologic scope were only that conveyed in these interesting works, it would perhaps be less difficult to account for obsessive illness and for the psychopath's career as reasonable reactions to a situation where no course is possible except one profoundly pathologic in one way or another.
Thoughtful contemplation of what is depicted in these works of fiction suggests a world as fundamentally altered as what Straus presents as the world of the obsessive patient. In the effective and terse implication of general emotional incapacity in these characters, the authors succeed in evoking awareness of a sort of quasi-life restricted within a range of staggering superficiality. This, rather than those aspects of the works that apparently brought them popularity, may deserve high literary appraisal as concise and valuable communications of something that is by no means easy to convey in direct language. Such a superficiality and lack of major incentive or feeling strongly suggest the apparent emotional limitations of the psychopath. [...]
What Straus and Havelock Ellis have brought out is not discernible in the reactions of the psychopath. It is, as a matter of fact, somewhat veiled in the reactions of most obsessive patients. Observation of the psychopath makes it increasingly plain, however, that he is not reacting normally to the surroundings that are ordinarily assumed to exist. I cannot clearly define the specific milieu which such a patient encounters and to which his reactions are related. There is much to suggest that it is a less distinctly or consistently apprehended world than what Straus describes as the inner world of the obsessive patient. It is my belief that it may be a world not less abnormal and perhaps more complexly confusing. We should remember, however, that we have no direct evidence to prove that a deficiency or distortion of this sort exists in the unconscious core of the psychopath. We can only say that his behavior strongly and consistently suggests it. This discussion has been based, of course. on a hypothesis that the psychopath has a basic inadequacy of feeling and realization that prevents him from normally experiencing the major emotions and from reacting adequately to the chief goals of human life. [...]
Beyond the symptomatic acts of the psychopath, we must bear in mind his reaction to his situation, his general experiencing of life. Typical of psychoneurosis are anxiety, recognition that one is in trouble, and efforts to alter the bad situation. These are natural ("normal") whole personality reactions to localized symptoms.
In contrast, the severe psychopath, like those so long called psychotic, does not show normal responses to the situation. It is offered as an opinion that a less obvious but nonetheless real pathology is general, and that in this respect he is more closely allied with the psychotic than with the psychoneurotic patient. The pathology might be regarded not as gross fragmentation of the personality but as a more subtle alteration. Let us say that instead of macroscopic disintegration our (hypothetical) change might be conceived of as one that seriously curtails function without obliterating form. [...]
Let us think of the personality in the psychopath as differing from the normal in some such way. The form is perfect and the outlines are undistorted. But being subtly and profoundly altered, it can successfully perform only superficial activities or pseudofunctions. It cannot maintain important or meaningful interpersonal relations. It cannot fulfill its purpose of adjusting adequately to social reality. Its performance can only mimic these genuine functions. [...]
The persistent pattern of maladaptation at personality levels and the ostensible purposelessness of many self-damaging acts definitely suggests not only a lack of strong purpose but also a negative purpose or at least a negative drift. This sort of patient, despite all his opportunities, his intelligence, and his plain lessons of experience, seems to go out of his way to woo misfortune. The suggestion has already been made that his typical activities seem less comprehensible in terms, of life-striving or of a pursuit of joy than as an unrecognized blundering toward the negations of nonexistence.
Some of this, it has been suggested, may be interpreted as the tantrum, like reactions of an inadequate personality balked, as behavior similar to that of the spoiled child who bumps his own head against the wall or holds his breath when he is crossed. It might be thought of as not unlike a man's cutting off his nose to spite not only his face, but also the scheme of life in general, which has turned out to be a game that he cannot play. Such reactions are, of course, found in nearly all types of personality disorder or inadequacy. It will perhaps be readily granted that they are all regressive. Behavior against the constructive patterns through which the personality finds expression and seeks fulfillment of its destiny is regressive activity although it may not consist in a return, step by step, or in a partial return to the status of childhood and eventually of infancy.
Such reactions appear to be, in a sense, against the grain of life or against the general biologic purpose.
Regressive reactions or processes may all be regarded as disintegrative, as reverse steps in the general process of biologic growth through which a living entity becomes more complex, more highly adapted and specialized, better coordinated, and more capable of dealing successfully or happily with objective or subjective experience. This scale of increasing complexity exists at points even below the level of living matter. A group of electrons functioning together make up the atom which can indeed be split down again to its components. The atoms joining form molecules which, in turn, coming together in definite orderly arrangement, may become structurally coordinating parts of elaborate crystalline materials; or, in even more specialized and complex fashion, they may form a cell of organic matter. Cells of organic matter may unite and integrate to form the living organism we know as a jellyfish. Always the process is reversible; the organic matter can decompose back into inorganic matter.
Without laboriously following out all the steps of this scale, we might mention the increasing scope of activity, the increasing specialization, and the increasing precariousness of existence at various levels up through vertebrates and mammals to man. All along this scale it is evident that failure to function successfully at a certain level necessitates regression or decomposition to a lower or less complicated one. If the cell membrane of one epithelial unit in a mammalian body becomes imporous and fails to obtain nutriment brought by blood and lymph, it loses its existence as an epithelial cell. If the unwary rabbit fails to perceive the danger of the snare, he soon becomes in rapid succession a dead rabbit, merely a collection of dead organs and supportive structures, protein, fat, and finally, inorganic matter. The fundamental quest for life has been interrupted, and, having been interrupted, the process goes into reverse.
So, too, the criminal discovered and imprisoned ceases to be a free man who comes and goes as he pleases. A curtailment in the scope of his functioning is suffered-a regression in one sense to simpler, more routine, and less varied and vivid activities.
The man who fails in another and more complex way to go on with life, to fulfill his personality growth and function, becomes what we call a schizophrenic. The objective curtailment of his activities by the rules of the psychiatric hospital are almost negligible in comparison with the vast simplification, the loss of self-expression, and the personal disintegration which characterize his regression from the subjective point of view. The old practice of referring to the extremely regressed schizophrenic as leading a vegetative existence implies the significance that is being stressed.
Regression, then, in a broad sense may be taken to mean movement from richer and more full life to levels of scantier or less highly developed life. In other words, it is relative death. It is the cessation of existence or maintenance of function at a given level.
The concept of an active death instinct postulated by Freud has been utilized by some to account for socially self-destructive reactions. I have never been able to discover in the writings of Freud or any of his followers real evidence to confirm this assumption.
In contrast, the familiar tendency to disintegrate, against which life evolves, may be regarded as fundamental and comparable to gravity. The climbing man or animal must use force and purpose to ascend or to maintain himself at a given height. To fall or slide downhill he need only cease his efforts and let go. Without assuming an intrinsic death instinct, it is possible to account for active withdrawal from positions at which adaptation is unsuccessful and stress too extreme.
Whether regression occurs primarily through something like gravity or through impulses more self-contained, the backward movement (or ebbing) is likely to prompt many sorts of secondary reactions, including behavior not adapted for ordinary human purposes but instead, for functioning in the other direction. The modes of such reactivity may vary, may fall into complex patterns, and may seek elaborate expression.
In a movement (or gravitational drift) from levels where life is vigorous and full to those where it is less so, the tactics of withdrawal predominate.
People with all the outer mechanisms of adaptation intact might, one would think, regress more complexly than can those who react more simply. The simplest reaction in reverse might be found in a person who straightway blows out his brains.
As a skillful general who has realized that the objective is unobtainable withdraws by feints and utilizes all sorts of delaying actions, so a patient who has much of the outer mechanisms for living may retire, not in obvious rout but skillfully and elaborately, preserving his lines.
The psychopath as we conceive of him in such an interpretation seems to justify the high estimate of his technical abilities as we see them expressed in reverse movement.
Unlike the general with the retreating army in our analogy, he seems not still devoted to the original contest but to other issues and aims that arise in withdrawal. To force the analogy further we might say that the retiring army is now concerning itself with looting the countryside, seeking mischief and light entertainment. The troops have cast off their original loyalties and given up their former aims but have found no other serious ones to replace them. But the effective organization and all of the technical skills are retained.[And utilized destructively.]
F. L. Wells has expressed things very pertinent to the present discussion. A brief quotation will bring out useful points:
The principle of substitutive reactions, sublimative or regressive in character, has long been known, but Kurt Lewin's (1933) experimental construction of the latter is especially apt, if not unquestionable mental hygiene. A child, for example, continually impelled to open a gate it is impossible for him to open, may blow up in a tantrum, grovel on the ground, till the emotion subsides sufficiently for him to become substitutively occupied, as with fragments of gravel and other detritus he finds there, by which he forgets his distress about the gate. [...] The human personality has the adaptive property of finding satisfactions at simpler levels when higher ones are taken away, fortunately so if this keeps him out of a psychosis, otherwise if it stabilizes him in contentment at this lower level ("going native") or if the satisfactions cannot be found short of a psychosis (MacCurdy, 1925, p. 367). All such cases have the common regressive factor of giving up the higher-level adjustment (opening the gate) with regressive relief at a lower level (playing with the gravel).Another illustration given by Wells emphasizes features of the concept that are valuable to us:
Consider, for example, the group of drives that center about the concept of self-maintenance, the "living standards" of civilization. This means the pursuit of the diverse means to surround oneself with the maximum of material comfort in terms of residence, food, playthings, etc., for the purchase of which one can capitalize his abilities. That the normal individual will do this to a liberal limit is taken in the local culture as a matter of course, probably more liberally than the facts justify. For this pursuit involves a competitive struggle beset also with inner conflicts (e.g., ethical), which by no means everyone is able to set aside. Among regressions specific to this category are those undertakings of poverty common to religious orders, but this regression is quite specific, since these orders often involve their members in other "disciplines" from which the normal individual would flee as far (Parkman, 1867, Chap. 16). It is quite certain, though hard to demonstrate objectively, that many an individual in normal life regresses from these economic conflicts only in less degree. He does not take the vow of poverty like the monastic, nor does he dedicate himself to the simplified life of the "South Sea Island" stereotype, but he prefers salary to commission, city apartment to suburban "bungalow," clerical work to (outside) sales.A thought expressed by William James in 1902 and quoted by Wells deserves renewed attention:
Yonder puny fellow however, whom everyone can beat suffers no chagrin about it, for he has long ago abandoned the attempt to "carry that line," as the merchants say, of Self at all.Something relevant to the points now under consideration may be found also in Sherrington's comment on reactions (or inlaid precautions) against unbearable pain or stress in the human organism. He says:
With no attempt there can be no failure; with no failure no humiliation.
So our self-feeling in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do. It is determined by the ratio of our actualities to our supposed potentialities; a fraction of which our pretentions are the denominator and the numerator our success: thus, Self-esteem = Success/Pretensions.
Such a fraction may be increased as well by diminishing the denominator as by increasing the numerator.
To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified; and where disappointment is incessant and the struggle unending, this is what men will always do.
The history of evangelical theology, with its conviction of sin, its self-despair, and its abandonment of salvation by works, is the deepest of possible examples, but we meet others in every walk of life.
How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young-or slender! Thank God, we say, those illusions are gone. Everything added to the self is a burden as well as a pride.
Again in life's final struggle the chemical delicacy of the brain-net can make distress lapse early because with the brain's disintegration the mind fades early - a rough world's mercy towards its dearest possession.There are, it seems, many ways for this to occur without signs of any change which we yet have objective means to detect, chemically or microscopically. Such changes may occur under the stimulus of agents that do not have direct physical contact with the brain or with any part of the body.
Withdrawal, or limitation of one's quest in living, appears in many forms.
The decision for taking such a step may be consciously voluntary, but it seems likely that many influences less clear and simple may also play a part. In the earliest years of human life a great deal of complicated shaping may occur, with adaptive changes to promote survival by an automatic refusal (inability) to risk one's feelings (response) in the greatest subjective adventures. In adult life such decisions sometimes emerge in clear deliberation.
The activity of the psychopath may seem in some respects to accomplish a kind of protracted and elaborate social and spiritual suicide. Perhaps the complex, sustained, and spectacular undoing of the self may be cherished by him. He seldom allows physical suicide to interrupt it.
Be it noted that such a person retains high intelligence and nearly all the outer mechanisms for carrying on the complicated activities of positive life. It is to be expected then that his function in the opposite (regressive) emotional direction might be more subtle than those of a less highly developed biologic entity.
The average rooster proceeds at once to leap on the nearest hen and have done with his simple erotic impulse. The complex human lover may pay suit for years to his love object, approaching her through many volumes of poetry, through the building up of financial security in his business, through manifold activities and operations of his personality functions, and with aims and emotions incomparably more complicated and more profound than that of the rooster.
When complexly organized functions are devoted to aimless or inconsistent rebellion against the positive goals of life, perhaps they may enable the patient to woo failure and disintegration with similar elaborateness and subtlety. His conscious or outer functioning may at the same time maintain an imitation of life that is uniquely deceptive.
Perhaps the emptiness or superficiality of life without major goals or deep loyalties, or real love, would leave a person with high intelligence and other superior capacities so bored that he would eventually turn to hazardous, self-damaging, outlandish, antisocial, and even self-destructive exploits in order to find something fresh and stimulating in which to apply his relatively useless and unchallenged energies and talents. [...]
The more experience I have with psychopaths over the years, the less likely it seems to me that any dynamic or psychogenic theory is likely to be established by real evidence as the cause of their grave maladaptation.
Increasingly I have come to believe that some subtle and profound defect in the human organism, probably inborn but not hereditary, plays the chief role in the psychopath's puzzling and spectacular failure to experience life normally and to carry on a career acceptable to society. This, too, is still a speculative concept and is not supported by demonstrable evidence.