By Patricia Lefave, Labelled, D.D. (P)
“Change is only possible in the presence of a higher madness, the precious folly of questioning all belief…”
Gordon Warme, M.D.
The Cure of Folly: A Psychiatrist’s Cautionary Tale
Are you a dysfunctional group member?
(Family, school, workplace, exclusive religious group, psychiatric hospital employee, cult member etc.)
If you are, then this therapy style may be for you.
It is Self directed and simple to practice. It has a universal application, as well as being tailored to the specific needs of any individual. All you need to is ask the questions in relation to your OWN personal life experience. Sound simple? Well, it is but it is not so easy as you may think. In dysfunction, the focus of most of the group members is on someone else 95% of the time so this is going to take some getting used to at first. Strangely though, it is the group scapegoats who are likely to find the adjustment the easiest. If you think about it you may understand why that is without too much strain on the brain. Best of all, you can do this self therapy in the privacy of your own home.
Though the therapy may be a universal one, the answers to the questions are not. There are no ‘correct’ answers for all. There are only honest answers for yourself, as an individual. No one will be checking any of your ‘scores’, applying any labels, nor offering any ‘treatments’ or medication.
Confidentiality is not an issue since there are no ‘observers’ or assessors who will be bound by imaginary oaths to keep your answers or feelings a ‘secret’ from anyone.
No university students will be trying to pigeon hole you according to their brave, new mental health training specifications by looking for ‘incorrect’ or pathological sings and symbols in your answers.
There are no points to be added up no scale against which to measure and define yourself; no ‘other’ to gain power and control over you. The choice to test yourself or not is your own and the results are determined by you. With this type of self directed therapy, you are free to explore your own thoughts and feelings and to change them, or not, according to your own findings. Why, even psychiatrists can do this alone while sitting at their desks, in the privacy of their own offices, between the diagnostic and labelling sessions. How’s that for easy?
This self directed therapy process is very simple. This is how it’s done. Read each question below, apply it ONLY to yourself and not to anyone else, answer yourself honestly, and after you have, move to the next question.
If you get stuck on any question, or get the feeling of panic when you realize you have no real answer, just ask yourself WHY you are stuck there. If you find that you don’t know WHY you believe something is either true or not true, then you ask yourself why you do, or do not, believe it. Stay with each question, one at a time, until you feel finished with it. There are no time constraints either, so go with your own flow.
Do not turn away from self focus. This is very important. If you are tempted to justify yourself by comparing yourself to what ‘others’ do, or do not believe, or, if you are seeing yourself in terms of being either ‘superior’ (most common) or ‘inferior’ BY COMPARISON, stop yourself and repeat this instruction to yourself:
“This is therapy for ME, by ME. It is not about ‘THEM.’
Self actualization is my goal; focusing on only ME is my new role.”
The Questions Related to Being in a Group:
Do I participate in group behaviour based on ethical principles?
Do I go along with the group agenda without questioning its purpose or true motives?
Do I go whichever way the wind blows?
If so, why?
Do I fear being forced out of the group or being rejected?
From where did I get that fear?
Is it reasonable?
Is it emotional?
Why do I fear that? Am I willing to go along with covering up for the group if it behaves badly?
What motivates that in me?
Do I justify the cover up?
How do I justify it?
Do I try to claim I am doing it for the sake of others?
Do I claim altruism a lot as part of my excuse making?
Do I follow whatever ‘authority’ sets him/herself up as my leader?
Does doing that help me to sidestep responsibility?
Do I accept responsibility for other members of the group when I should not?
Am I an enabler?
Is it easier for me to follow the leader than to oppose bad leadership?
Is it ever wrong to follow the leader?
What am I willing to give up for the sake of ‘belonging’?
Do I challenge ideas I think are wrong when I am in a group, or keep silent so I will be accepted?
What exactly does ‘assertive’ mean to me when I am in a relationship with others?
What does ‘aggressive’ mean?
Is there a difference?
If no, how do I explain that to myself?
If yes, how do I explain the difference/
Do I consistently tend to be a follower?
If so, why is that?
Do I consistently tend to feel I need to be the leader?
If so, why do I need that?
If someone challenges my leadership, do I get angry and try to abuse my power?
Do I think it is OK to abuse power?
If so, how do I justify that?
Do I think that ‘reality’ is something objective that can be defined in abstract terms/
Can it be defined by democratic vote? (Group consensus)
Do I think I represent objective reality from my subjective point of view? (In other words do I believe my experience and everyone else’s is exactly the same?)
Do I like the idea of being in some group which views itself as ‘superior’ to some other group?
What does being a ‘team layer’ mean to me?
Is there a bad team to be on as well as a good team?
If yes, how do I know the difference?
If not, then does it really matter at all what team I am on?
Is the idea of life as a contest against others a good idea?
Is that where the ‘team’ idea came from; like it equates to sporting events?
What does this idiom mean to me: “There is no ‘I’ in team?”
Is it even POSSIBLE to deny I am an individual while I am on a team?
Is it desirable to do that?
Have I even thought about this before?
If not, why not?
Who decided there is no “I” in team? What might that person’s motivation have been?
Did that person exempt him/herself from that abstract rule?
Was there a reason for that?
If there is no ‘I’ in team, who is making up the rules?
Who is in charge then?
If the rule maker is the one in charge, then isn’t THAT one the ‘I’?
So does that mean there is an “I” in team but I am not supposed to notice that?Does it mean that it is OK if I notice that, as long as I go along with pretending I don’t know?
Does my group often insist that I go along with pretending I don’t know what I DO know?
Isn’t that what ‘splitting’ is?
What purpose does it serve for the group to do that?
Can the ‘I’ in team idiom EVER be the truth?
If it is not the truth can we stop pretending that it is?
If no, why not?
If yes, what do I think may happen if we all give up our pretensions?
Does the answer scare me?
Do I feel relieved by it instead?
If my group ridicules, mocks and ostracizes someone who has done us no wrong, what might be motivating that group behaviour?
Do I go along with it when it happens?
Do I join in with such behaviour?
Either answer; WHY? What is my payoff?
D I ever object to the group behaviour and say so?
Does the group I belong to support illusions and lies?
Does it justify its lying?
Do I support that?
If so, why do I support that?
Do I believe it is OK to take care of my own interests at the expense of others?
Do I condone scapegoating behaviours in groups?
Does my group demand ‘loyalty’ and punish those who are disloyal?
Does it do this emotionally and without reason?
Do I go along with that?
Do I close ranks to protect the group as a whole whether it is right or wrong?
Do I minimize the effects of group abuse on others?
Do I blame the victims in order to avoid personal responsibility as a member of such a group?
Do I deny the existence of victims or try to claim victims bring their own victimization upon themselves?
Why do I do that?
Is that all right with me, as long as I am not the individual being blamed?
Does my group behave in an elitist way? (‘Insiders’ and ‘outsiders’)
Does it promote group arrogance?
Do I feel comfortable or uncomfortable with that?
As a member of such a group, do I reward blind loyalty with praise or physical/material benefits?
Do I ever use that kind of reward system to control others?
Are members of my group generally manipulative?
Do I (or they) they deny it?
Do I justify it?
Does the group try to force its will on others?
Does it resent those who resist?
Am I OK with that?
Why am I OK with that?
Does the group promote secrecy and control of internal information?
Do I question the purpose of that?
Does my group focus on keeping up appearances?
Do I also think that is the way to be?
Does it ever strike me as cult like in its practices?
What was it that attracted me to this group?
Is it supplying me with something I believe I need?
What is that?
Should I have questioned that?
If I think so, am I questioning it now or trying to avoid looking too closely?
Should I stay in this group or get out of it?
I would like to see some of you who have some success with this as an exercise in honesty write out your self assessment and consider publishing it somewhere like on Muzzles Off or anywhere else you think it might help to break through the group resistance. I think we all need to work together and work HARD at being as public as possible in all our experience. Nothing demystifies like public exposure.
Still, I recognize that many of you cannot do that safely so I can not ever condemn your choice not to do so.
For you I hope that answering some of the questions just for yourself in this piece or the companion piece helps you to find your own way, to hold onto your own stability and to at least get psychologically free of the world’s dysfunction which has been handed to you like the proverbial hot potato.
Disclaimer: I am happy to disclose that I am NOT a mental health professional. I am only the test ‘subject’ for my own little system. If you try this ‘therapy’ for yourself, you also will be both ‘client’ and ‘therapist’ in your own personal system. Please remember to do this in private as otherwise you may be seen as ‘talking to yourself’ and we must all pretend we humans don’t do that if we are expecting to be accepted as ‘normal’ by other humans who agree to pretend they don’t do it either.