Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Understanding Our Protagonists

Those With A Hidden Agenda of Domination

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

"It is impossible to defeat an enemy that has been allowed to set up camp in our heads. "
Old Native American Saying

One of our greatest problems has been in the failure to recognize there is no reason in what our protagonists do. We often give them much to much credit fro understanding and also for ‘good’ intentions.

I think it is a natural human inclination to look for the good in people and I am glad that we do, if we were to assume that everyone is irrational until proven otherwise, (as the psychiatric profession tends to do with ‘us’) the whole world would be operating on it’s collective limbic brains as reptiles do. We would all be constantly defending our territory or violating the boundaries of others. (Hmmmm….we’re not really too far away from that regressive position now are we?) Perhaps there is a reason we think of the ‘devil’ as the serpent, or the snake (in the grass) huh?

In any case, those of us who get psychiatric labels very often get them because we have mistakenly looked for reason in our protagonists, when reason is not what was motivating them. It is not what drives them to do what they do or be who they are. What drives such people is power and control over others, and they also believe that the end, to gain that control and retain it, justifies the means. So, to understand them and your relationship with them, you must know how their minds work differently from yours.

This can be understood in quite simple terms actually. It doesn’t have to be complex. Once understood, we are able to see clearly enough to become able to detach emotionally from other people’s irrationality, as their agenda is no longer ‘hidden’ from us.

This is about finding the missing puzzle pieces that allow us, finally, to make some real sense out of what has happened to us and what we can understand as a group senselessness right from the start. This is a group problem in which we play but a small part.

There is a great deal of paradoxical truth in this, but you CAN escape from this maze of anti-logic. I did, and if I did, anyone can, with the right key to unlock the door. I am just like you; an equal human being worth no more, and no less, and knowing that is one of the keys to your escape from the chaos and confusion.

That does not mean that all thinking and behaviour has equal value but, it does mean that PEOPLE do, and when we deviate from that basic truth by seeing ourselves as either superior or inferior to other people, that is when we begin to engage in the irrational ‘game.’ EVERYONE has done this to some degree. We are taught this as a norm by the generation before, which was also taught to them the same way. That fact though, does not mean we must overlook it, nor continue on in the same way so as not to offend those who made the error before us. The only way to ‘win’ this ‘game’ is to refuse to play it. Instead, we step OUTSIDE the irrationality of it and learn the new game. The win/win game. The resolution game.

I think you will find that if you get your mind set in a certain new way, using a simpler basis of reasoning for yourself, your whole life experience before this will click into place. Suddenly, things you did not understand about your confusing relationships will begin to make a new kind of sense to you. (Don’t be surprised if you start ‘getting messages’ that seem to fit, from everything; the T.V., books, newspapers etc. Don’t let it scare you. It is just part of the coming out of the long nightmare you have been caught within. )

Those who haven’t experienced the ‘decompensation’ of their ego structure will not understand it, but that does NOT mean that it can’t be understood. So try to relax with it and don’t panic. You are not alone, and things will get easier after this. Have faith in yourselves, in God, in reality, in a greater collective truth, ; whatever terms you use personally to understand your own life. It’s not the terms used that matter. It’s the essence of truth within the terms.

Personally, I see differing points of view, expressed in various forms like the spokes of a wheel; a wheel of life you might say. Each spoke is like a different path taken, to arrive, in time, at the ‘hub’ of the matter. Once we arrive, we see the same truth and recognize that all paths taken to get there safely are valid. It is the common destination we must set our sights upon and not the route used to get there.

So first, let’s look back to the loony bin trip; understanding the protagonist(s) with the hidden agenda of domination. The protagonist can be a he or a she and I recognize that. For the sake of my own writing, I am saying ‘he’ because that is what is true in my own case, and because saying ‘he or she’ all the time is a real pain to write and it sounds really annoying after awhile to have to read. Just so you all know though, I am aware that being the domination type is an ‘equal opportunity’ attitude and behaviour.

There isn’t ANY abstract principle or platitude in existence that doesn’t have both a light side and a dark side to it. That is the nature of abstraction. But abstractions can not be applied universally to specific situations and this is what human beings want to do. Psychiatrists want to do it more than others it seems. They have to be specifically connected to the individual’s concrete reality of they are just like white noise; virtually meaningless.

That seems simple but, if the concrete details of experience are hidden, in part or in whole, disguised or altered; it can produce a very complex mess as the predictable result. One thing that helps to sort out that mess is to focus on the principle at the start of it and to give up trying to sort out the details of the mess. If you focus on the principle, you will find that your mind is capable of some amazing, nearly automatic computing, and it will begin to sort out the details of the complex mess for you. It is much like locating a bug in a computer program and once found the rest of the program straightens out and works just fine. So try to relax with it and stay primarily focused on the simple principles. There are only two of them you need to recognize to start.

1. Human beings are relating in terms of equal worth.
2. Human beings are relating in terms of superior/inferior.

The only one you can really control is you and if you stay focused, some others, but not all, will change in response to the change you make in yourself.

Number 1 creates peace and mutuality of purpose.
Number 2 (appropriately numbered) creates war and the domination game.

Most people are not fully one or the other. All of us have been caught up in this to some degree since we were born into this mess. Most of us operate within an uneasy, often unrecognized combination of the two attitudes. To get farther out of that mindset, we must first become aware of it. If we can recognize it in ourselves, we can also recognize it in others BUT beware that you do not try to abstract your own experience, assuming your life details are identical to those of others. While we have much in common, we are also different people with unique life stories. What we recognize we can deal with more effectively. It is a matter of degree of error. Some of us are less messed up than others.

Once we understand what is really going on in the minds of our protagonists, (the domination and submission types) we must change the way we deal with them, stop giving them too much credit for brains and awareness, and relate to them in a simple and very direct way from the “I’ position. Staying in the first person singular with them does two things. First it gives you control over your own reality and empowers you as a person. That helps you define your own ego structure and will help you to feel whole and separate again. Remember, you cannot reason with something that is not based on reason so don’t try. It is too easy to get sucked into an endless argument if you try to solve something that the other is not interested in solving so this is when you just change you view and put up good boundaries instead. That is the only means n of communication you will be able to use in such cases.

The other thing you may have to use is ‘broken record.’ Eventually, if enough of us repeat simple truths often enough, it will penetrate the group delusion. The ‘superior’ people aren’t really ‘rocket scientists,’ they only believe that they are. ’

Let’s try putting ourselves in the mind of the domination type for a minute. (But don’t stay there) The first thing he does is tell himself that he is right about everything, and therefore qualified, and perhaps even duty bound, to straighten out everyone else’s life and beliefs FOR them. In other words, he assigns himself the role of a ‘god’ and others are either ‘good’ if they agree with him or ‘bad’ if they don’t. This starting point in the domination types belief system is HIS problem, but since he is certain he HAS no problem, anything, which threatens his beliefs about himself must always be ‘spun’ to become the other person’s problem and never his. These are what I call key ‘D’ words; dysfunctional absolutes. Listen for them as a signal of thinking style. Dysfunctional families and other groups use them all the time to control others. This sets the tone and the style for his endless defense of his own position. From this point on, in order to maintain his delusional position as the ‘most high’, he MUST invalidate anything and anyone that suggests he is wrong. This is the attitude behind the domination game. Now, if you KNOW that, you can stop looking for logic in what he says and does. He is not operating on the basis of ‘logic.’ He is operating on his need for power and control over those who threaten his belief system and his position.

Those who threaten that the most of course, are those who tend to question everything and/or who refuse to co-operate in playing the submissive role he tries to assign to them. Conversations with him are not really about what they appear to be. Even the subject matter is often basically irrelevant. They are about his agenda first. Since he feels he is always right, he also feels free to manipulate others, or even to lie, to achieve his goal. He believes the ‘end’ (straightening out or eliminating his ‘inferiors’) justifies his means.

So now, let’s look at this communication style between the controller and the controlled, focusing on the attitude and not the content of the conversation, details which are often mostly irrelevant to HIM. Usually, while we are still looking for l9gic in him, he is manipulating a group of others with the aim of controlling his target. Remember, his psychological attitude is geared toward total control of external reality so that he does not have to examine his internal reality and can avoid finding any fault within. He sees nothing wrong with trying to control everyone else even though he indicates that at least part of him knows he IS wrong. If it wasn’t wrong, he wouldn’t be hiding his agenda. He justifies that to himself though too, by claiming he is doing that for the good of the others. (He is not equal after all. He is ‘superior.’)

So, if you understand how HE thinks, his strange communication will stop confusing you with it’s obvious contradictions. You will hear them as he does NOT intend that you should hear them, as HIS irrational attempt to control you and external reality.

He believes that external reality, and everyone n it, should accommodate his beliefs which remain static. He does NOT believe that he should change his beliefs to integrate reality, or accept any evidence which might prove he is wrong. That’s the psycho-spiritual attitude of the domination type; the controller. To understand that is to see him and hear him so clearly, that you will be able to predict his moves and manipulations. Warning: Some of these controllers are what psychiatrists would term, ‘psychopaths’, meaning they have no conscience to limit their actions or human empathy, so they have no restrictions on what they are willing to do. Do not engage with them in their ‘game.’ The only way to ‘win’ this twisted ‘game’ is to refuse to play it.

The following is a sample conversation between a domination type and his targeted victim. The victim has just discovered that someone she thought was her friend, has been telling stories about her behind her back, so she confronts hi with it.

Mary: I have just been told you are telling people I am ‘bothering’ you and you don’t know why. Is it true?

Joe: What gives you that idea?

Mary: Well your co-workers are talking about it while I am in the room with them.

Joe: you’re imagining things.

Mary: No. I’m not. What have you been telling them?

Joe: I have not said a word to anyone.

Mary: Then WHY are they talking about me?

Joe: They aren’t.

Mary: Are you saying I am lying?

Joe: I didn’t say that.

Mary: Then what are you saying?

Joe: I’m not saying anything.

Mary: Don’t you believe what I am telling you?

Joe: I believe that YOU believe it.

Mary: Are you implying that my beliefs are wrong or that I am imagining this?

Joe: Can’t you admit you could be wrong? Imagination is a funny thing

Mary: I am asking you straight out if you are doing what I have heard you are doing.

Joe: And I have answered you. Perhaps you are hearing things. (Smirks)

Mary: So you are denying you have said anything to anyone is that right?

Joe: I don’t know what you are talking about. I’m sure you ‘think’ you have heard things but I don’t know about anything. Maybe your conscience is bothering you for some reason.

Mary: And what is my conscience supposedly bothering me about Joe?
Etc. etc.

The fact is, Joe has done exactly what Mary is suggesting he has done, and much more besides, including talking the group with whom he has been discussing her, into covering up for him. He has pretended he is afraid of Mary and that she is attacking HIM for no reason. Of course, Mary does not know this at this point. She is only beginning to become suspicious because of the feed back she is getting from third parties which Joe is now becoming aware of also.

Joe’s ‘game’ is going to go into full gear now.
The group being involved is now going to hear everything that Mary says in relation to Joe’s set up. He has already suggested to them How they should perceive Mary and since it would not be ‘reasonable’ for Joe to lie, most people involved will tend to accept Joe’s version of events as a way of understanding where Mary is coming from.

This attempt at communication by Mary with Joe could go on forever because the two people involved have opposing agendas. Mary is looking for reason and resolution. Joe is interested only in dominating Mary and making sure that no one else finds out what his true goal actually is. Joe wishes to make sure that resolution does NOT occur.

Mary cannot deal with Joe on the level of ‘reason,’ nor can she get Joe to admit the truth or just leave her alone. Joe has a goal and his goal to prove himself superior is what motivating Joe’s behaviour is. Joe has, for some reason that makes sense to Joe, selected her as his target. She may have said something, or perhaps just looked like someone, that triggered Joe’s domination response but, and I emphasize this, Mary is not the problem. It is Joe’s perception of Mary that is the problem, not Mary’s perception of Joe.

Joe’s goal is to make Mary submissive or subordinate to him. It is however, a ‘secret’ goal which only he knows and of which Mary will become aware. Once she does, the only way to deal with Joe will be to disengage emotionally from Joe’s game and expose it. Even if Mary knows that, it won’t be easy, since Joe has manipulated the group to believe and support him.

The point is, that if you look at Joe’s conversation, understanding Joe’s hidden agenda, rather than trying to sort out everything he says by looking for reason, where there is no reason, you will stop being confused by the details of the conversation. The details in this case are all but irrelevant.

This relationship with Joe and those like him become real, concrete problems for their targets when such people are in positions of power over their victims. Domination types do what they do for the feelings of power they get by doing it. The degree of damage to Mary’s life may depend, in part, of the type of power position Joe is in with relation to Mary. In any case, it doesn’t take a huge difference in roles of concrete power to negatively impact on Mary’s life.

Examples of power relationships with this potential for abuse may be the following:

Father/daughter, Boss/employee, nurse/patient, landlord/tenant, cop/ suspect, jail guard/inmate, teacher/student, etc. etc.
The power structure can also be reversed, depending upon which of the binary pair is operating with a hidden agenda.

Am I suggesting that ALL such relationships are ‘sick’? No. I am suggesting that twisted people will abuse power when they are in positions like these ones, simply because the position itself, gives them an opportunity to act out.

There is a simple reality test you can use for yourself, if you are not sure if there is a real problem.
If the relationship between you and the other were to be reversed, that is, if you were to speak and behave towards your protagonist, exactly as he does towards you, would it still be judged as wrong, or right? If it would be judged differently, it suggest that the relationship is skewed, that it is not based upon equality of worth and principles that apply to all, but is a co-dependent relationship of superior/inferior. In other words, what is being judged to be either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ depends upon WHO is saying it or doing it, rather than WHAT is being said or done.

In such a case, you can ‘reason’ about it till the cows come home, but it will never change until, or unless, the basic principle of relating changes. Since domination types are not looking for resolution, it is likely that you will have to give up the relationship itself, in some cases.

It’s great if people can operate on the same principle, but that doesn’t’ always happen. That doesn’t mean that you have to stay emotionally/psychologically connected to the ‘superior’ one though. If it happens while we are children, we try to change to the ‘other’ because we have no choice but to try if we are in a situation where there is no escape possible. This is sometimes true as adults as well, if we are trapped in the mental illness system or some other situation in which there is no escape possible, such as wars, or hostage situations. When we can’t physically get away from it, we have to find inventive ways to try to cope. What we CAN do as adults, is try to change the way we deal with it.

Think in terms of exposure and revealing all the tings we are told we must keep silent about. Silence enables abuse. You will have to judge how much you can say and how far you can go in talking about it on an individual basis. Obviously, some are in more immediate danger than others so act with caution. There is certainly danger involved in speaking out about things some do not want known, but, as a labeled friend says, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.’’ His quoting of Janis Joplin meant, ‘if you take everything away from me, you have nothing left to threaten and control me with and that means I ma free of your domination game. Sometimes, the attempts to dominate backfire when the one being controlled finally just loses interest in resolution with the controller.

It is the public which needs to understand what it is like to get ‘treated’ by being labeled silenced, and basically ignored, after a ten minute invalidating little chat in a psychiatrist’s office. It is virtually impossible to resolve anything with an ‘expert’ who avoids two way communication as a ‘normal’ way of being in the world. The current system is flourishing, largely because it operates in ‘secret’ and mystifying ways disguised by pseudo ‘confidentiality. This is just like any other dysfunctional, self protective group. So, we all need to demystify it.

Everyone in a position like the one defined by the above list of relationships, is not abusive, but the abusive see BEING in such a position as an opportunity to act out, while hiding behind a mask of reason and authority. Most of the world tends to automatically accept the mask of reason as reality. Those who see BEHIND the mask, who know otherwise from experience, are often left alone with our truth.

Now though, we have each other. You are not alone anymore with your truth. Don’t lose hope. Your experience CAN be understood and you can save yourself, even if no one around you hears a word you say as ‘real.’

No comments: