Friday, March 27, 2009

The Invalidation Of A Common Experience

By Patricia Lefave,
Labelled, D.D.(P)

First posted January 2006

I am writing this as a response to some of the things a few people have told me before.

I believe one of our biggest problems is that no one around us, including psychiatrists, will ever validate the reality of our experiences, as real events and/or troubling relationships with others. The group denial always seems to be present, as though the majority of other human beings, most of whom consider themselves to be mentally healthy, cannot bear to know our experience is real.

It is to that end that the dysfunctional invalidation "game" is played, while we, on the receiving end of it, try desperately to hold on to our correct perception of an often horrifying reality, we would sometimes rather NOT know ourselves. The temptation to accept ourselves as inherently defective, if only to cause the group invalidation and emotional, verbal, or sometimes physical, abuse to stop, is sometimes a very powerful incentive. Many of us give in to the pressure, I'm sure, for just that reason.

I once worked in my job as a healthcare worker, with a labeled woman who said to me, I feel like I have to give the psychiatrist therapy first, knowing he's sure he is right, before I can even BEGIN to talk about what happened to me, and how I feel about it. I feel like I was raped twice. First by the rapist, then a second time by the psychiatrist denying the rape occurred, and punishing me further for telling anyone that it happened. No one hears me.

All the groups who get involved in our traumatic events, seem to use manipulation, invalidation, and isolation as psychological weapons of control. They force us out of the group if we don't cooperate with their definition of our reality and experience, and their determination FOR us of our "appropriate" emotional reactions.The groups all seem to have the same elements within them.

There is someone in a position of power who covertly tells the group members that the "reality" between the victim and himself/herself, is the exact opposite of itself. The group believes the liar, and punishes the victim for telling the truth they don't want to accept as "real."

Those of us who tend to get labeled, all seem to be the ones who can't, or won't, sell our souls to belong to such a dysfunctional group, no matter what it costs us, even when the group members involved are members of our own families. Maybe especially because they are, and we expect more from them than we can ever get. We fight for resolution, and have the attempt to get it, proclaimed to be a "flaw" in us because we won't give up.

People with less integrity sell their souls to belong to a group every day, and have no problem living with themselves, but not us. We have to have both: the truth acknowledged, as well as, belonging to the group that won't acknowledge it! It is this impossible need that keeps us trapped in paradox.

I consider us to be more highly integrated personalities than those who show such contempt for us, not less integrated. Many times, we can only maintain our membership, at the expense of our integrity, by allowing the truth about ourselves, and our experience, to be rejected by the group, as a condition for acceptance by them. They use isolation and group pressure to control us and get the desired responses, as if we were lab rats being trained to work for our food. We are also not supposed to notice that, even though it could not be more obvious.

Psychosis to me, was ego death. Just like any near death experience, it was a very profound one. I almost suffered the death of my Self, the core of my being. I considered suicide, as a possibility at one point, as the only way out. I feared I would never make it back to my own individual identity again. But I did. In fact, I am stronger now than I have ever been, simply because I made it back. Not because of psychiatry's "help", but in spite of a concerted attempt to stop me, by defining my experience as a "disease" process rather than what it really was.

But you know, once the group rejection is accepted, it's no longer feared. Once it is no longer feared, it can no longer be used as a psychological weapon of control. We can't change the manipulators. Heaven knows how hard we trysometimes! But, we can change how we react to the attempts at manipulation. I even made up my OWN group to belong to for that and called it Re.A.C.T. which stands for "Reactive Assertive Clients' Team"; A.C.T.T.'s Nemesis.

We can belong to a group, but it has to be the other group; the one we are actually in. Our peer group, the people with integrity, who were rejected by the group without integrity. The truth is, some of us come from families, (or workplaces, schools, institutions, etc) in which one, or more members, would rather see us judged to be insane for telling the truth about them, than admit the truth about what they did, or admit that they can ever be wrong about anything.

The truth sometimes appears only after we peel away the lies and manipulations used to cover it all up. In my own experience, someone with a hidden agenda has always been operating covertly, pretending to be one thing to me, and the exact opposite to a group being manipulated by him, while he posed as my Rescuer, or Saviour. The group then treated me as though I were guilty, or "sick", and accusing him "falsely", then backed up the aggressor, as though he were a long suffering hero to put up with my "groundless" complaints about him. Someone has always directed the "misunderstandings", and always denied it when caught or confronted with the truth, even when there was evidence to back it up. The groups often refuse to even look at evidence.

I believe we can get love from outside as well as, inside, but , it has to be based upon mutual respect for boundaries, and not dysfunctional mind games and coercion. I believe it is perfectly all right to blame those who violate us in such ways, and in fact that it is something we all need to learn how to do in order to stop this kind of thinking and behaviour from recycling, generation after generation. That ability is lacking in us, and was in fact, often trained out of us by our abusers. We all think we have to find a way to solve our problem with boundary violating people, without knowing what the problem really is, because we are taught that if we become aware of it, we will be forced out of the group to which we so much want to belong. It is because we don't know how to blame "others" (a group to which we never seem to belong ourselves) that we cannot free ourselves from the co-dependent nightmare.

The isolated and ostracized ‘sick’ or ‘stupid’ one is constantly invalidated and place in a double bind. The reason that is done is so that the aggressor/controller can validate him/herself, defend that position and always find an excuse of what he/she does.
In plain language that excuse is:
“I wouldn’t be treating you like this if YOU weren’t’ MAKING me do this.”
This may be stated or just implied but it is always there. It is the classic, never failing excuse for abuse.

That relationship of perfectly mirrored dysfunctional opposites is the essence of co-dependent relating. Both partners in the original relationship AGREE to blame the victim, and often the whole group does too. For although they will teach us that "blaming others" is wrong, in absolute terms, it magically stops being wrong, when it is the abusers who are blaming us, for blaming them, for what they in fact, have done! No wonder we all get dizzy when we are caught up in that circular logic!

We must learn that "blame" is not the same as vengeance. When we blame appropriately, but let go of vengeance, we finally break the cycle, stop getting enmeshed in twisted relationships, and learn how to bond in real intimacy, as complete and unique individuals, in our own right, with other complete and unique individuals. These are the people who base their relationships on a premise of equal worth, rather than a perpetual power struggle for domination and control of others.

We all want Self control and that, in itself, can be the agreement we make that joins us all together as One in spirit. In fact, I don't think there is any other principle that can help us to accomplish that goal. That premise and goal must rest on the same point. We need to make a new, well functioning circle; an infinite loop of health and peace for all people, not just some, at the expense of others.
In a group like that, we are equal parts of the whole, as well as, completely separate, at the same time.

That's real integration to me. It's not a choice of either/or. It's AND. Complementary opposites, not adversarial opposites; and that's the difference between Heaven or Hell, right here on Earth.

Since posting this piece, I have been shown a very good Site that relates to what I am saying here and I want to include it here. Please take a good long look into this Site:

Emotional Intelligence: Invalidation


1 comment:

Barbara said...

Brilliant brilliant post!