Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Abuse Victims Engage in Dangerous "Magical Thinking"

Personality disorders are not only all-pervasive, but also diffuse and shape-shifting. It is taxing and emotionally harrowing to watch how a loved one is consumed by these pernicious and largely incurable conditions. Victims adopt varying stances and react in different ways to the inevitable abuse involved in relationships with personality disordered patients.

1. Destructive & Unrealistic Optimism
A form of self-delusion, refusing to believe that some diseases are untreatable. Malignant optimists see signs of hope in every fluctuation, read meanings and patterns into every random occurrence, utterance, or slip. These Pollyanna defenses are varieties of magical thinking.

  • "If only he tried hard enough",
  • "If he only really wanted to heal",
  • "If only we find the right therapy",
  • "If only his defences were down",
  • "There must be something good and worthwhile under the hideous facade"/ God doesn't make evil people,
  • "No one can be that evil and destructive",
  • "He must have meant it differently"
  • "God, or a higher being, or the spirit, or the Soul is the solution and the answer to my prayers".

"The abusers hold such thinking in barely undisguised contempt. To them, it is a sign of weakness, the scent of prey, a gaping vulnerability. They use and exploit this human need for order, good, and meaning - as they use and abuse all other human needs. Gullibility, selective blindness, toxic optimism - these are the weapons of theses beasts. And the abused are hard at work to provide it with its arsenal."

2. Rescue Fantasies

"It is true that he is chauvinistic and that his behaviour is unacceptable and repulsive. But all he needs is a little love and he will be straightened out. I will rescue him from his misery and misfortune. I will give him the love that he lacked as a child. Then his (narcissism, psychopathy, paranoia, reclusiveness, abusiveness) will vanish and we will live happily ever after."

  • "The shelter, counselor, friends will help me out." (Services for the abused are notoriously lacking and often have no idea what to do. Persons who are disabled or financially hurting fall through the cracks frequently)
  • "I can just bury myself in self-help books, family activities (cooking, crafts, the latest diet, exercise, etc) or go out with my friends and I will forget about all this. A well-lived life is the best revenge." (This completely overlooks the mental & physical devastation caused by PTSD. It is an avoidance strategy to avoid doing anything concrete about the abuse & facing reality)
  • If the person has been abused long enough to develop disability (adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia, lupus, other chronic autoimmune problems) they & friends may adopt an "ignore it" or "you can just get over it" stance during times when they are feeling good. (They will take a job they can't do, lose it and lose credibility & their insurance when the employer finds out they are actually sick. Advising anyone who is ill to continue to TRY to work is ABUSIVE.)
  • They believe some government program will "take care of them" and when they realize it doesn't -- their friends & family minimize and invalidate them with "it can't be that bad" or "look to the next thing & be positive" or "maybe if you just..." talk. Again - ignoring reality.

3. Self-recrimination
Constant feelings of guilt, self-reproach, self-recrimination and, thus, self-punishment.

The victim of sadists, paranoids, narcissists, borderlines, passive-aggressives, and psychopaths internalises the endless hectoring and humiliating criticism and makes them her own. She begins to self-punish, to withhold, to request approval prior to any action, to forgo her preferences and priorities, to erase her own identity - hoping to thus avoid the excruciating pains of her partner's or her clueless friend's destructive analyses.

They often take to a glass or 2 of wine, medication and other pursuits to numb reality.

Many of these partners, when they realise their situation (it is very difficult to discern it from the inside), abandon the personality disordered partner and dismantle the relationship. They are often called "bitter" or "hateful" by others who choose to continue to cling to magical thinking.

Others prefer to believe in the healing power of love or God/ Prayer . But here love is wasted on a human shell (the abuser), incapable of feeling anything but negative emotions.

4. Emulation
The psychiatric profession uses the word: "epidemiology" when it describes the prevalence of personality disorders. Are personality disorders communicable diseases? In a way, they are.

"The affected entertain the (false) notion that they can compartmentalize their abusive (e.g., narcissistic, or psychopathic) behavior and direct it only at their victimizers. In other words, they trust in their ability to segregate their conduct and to be verbally abusive towards the abuser while civil and compassionate with others, to act with malice where their mentally-ill partner is concerned and with "Christian charity" towards all others.

They believe that they can turn on and off their negative feelings, their abusive outbursts, their vindictiveness and vengefulness, their blind rage, their "non-discriminating" judgment.

This, of course, is untrue. These behaviors spill over into daily transactions with innocent neighbors, colleagues, family members, co-workers, or customers. One cannot be partly or temporarily vindictive and judgmental any more than one can be partly or temporarily pregnant.

They judge and chide anyone who doesn't go along with their POSITIVE THINKING attitudes or who embraces reality rather than numbing it. Thereby passing on abuse. "To heal is to not feel" is their motto.

To their horror, these victims discover that they have been changed and transformed into their worst nightmare: into their abusers - judgmental, malevolent, vicious, lacking empathy, egotistical, exploitative, violent and abusive."

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