Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If You Had Controlling Parents Part 1

By Dan Neuharth, PhD.

This is a personal review of this book and its conceptual ideas as they relate to my own experiences with others including; relatives, cult trained protagonists and psychiatry. I see this as three versions of the same problem. Patricia Lefave, Labelled, D.D. (P)

Here are a few excerpts which will sound very familiar to many of the psychiatrized.
I have already identified several of the categories he is using here as relevant to my own case. With the exception of a couple of Dan’s beliefs, I think that most of the psychiatrized under labels like: schizophrenic, schizoid, paranoid delusional disorder, borderline personality disorder, bi-polar etc. would find this book and the website by the same name (listed on Quantum Spirits and also in the title link here) very helpful in the pursuit of self definition. Dan, unfortunately, and like many others, excludes the labeled in this experience, when in fact, in my own experience and that of many others like me, it is the experience we have which is taken to the farthest polarized extremes in our relationships.
So if you are one of those he suggests would not be included in this, just skip that judgement and keep reading it for yourself.
The title of the book could also easily be used with replacement identities such as: If You Had Controlling Friends, or a Controlling Cult Leader, or spouse or psychiatrists. My own experience is about the SAME psycho dynamics with a few individuals and the groups of people that get involved in it as a result. I once told psychiatrists that it was all the same to me whether it was the relationship with my protagonist and his friends or dysfunctional family relating or being controlled by psychiatry itself. There is a discernable pattern there and it is the same one repeated with slightly different jargon.

This perspective by Dan Neuharth on our commonly experienced reality includes the following:

Page 10: “As you read on, you might notice your inner dialogue. Thoughts like; ‘Don’t blame others’ or ‘It’s all in the past’ may actually be the internalized voices of your parents.”
(Or your psychiatrist, or that mental illness worker who spits that out as a knee jerk reaction the minute you attempt to implicate anyone ELSE as relative to your distress. The mental illness profession, over all, is well known for its well programmed knee jerk response system as a reaction to your complaints about abuse by any ‘authority figures.’ PL)

“These thoughts may feel like warnings to stop exploring.”
“Your sense of self can change.”
“In working with women and men who grew up controlled, I have found that most have trouble blaming anybody BUT themselves because they tend to accept their parents point of view at the expense of their own. Children of controlling families aren’t trained to act in their own interests. They’re trained to serve and take care of their parents.”
“When children’s needs conflict with parental needs, the children are seen as nuisances, problems or threats.”

In the chapter “How Overcontrol Works
Dan states:
“When you solve a mystery you destroy its power over you… Discovering how a magician does a trick can clear up your bewilderment…former members of destructive cults get their lives back by understanding exactly how they were recruited and indoctrinated.”

(Dysfunctional families and other controllers like psychiatrists often use exactly the SAME techniques, often including the same platitudes and jargon designed as debate stoppers. Mo own reintegration took place when I solved the mystery of my own experience by finding the information that allowed me to do that for myself. Some are not as fortunate as I and many don’t even know where to START looking, because too much has been hidden from them by those who are working so hard to avoid ‘blame.’ Dysfunctional people hide things from those outsiders and from other family members as well. This is many children’s reality, not their ‘attention seeking’ delusions.” PL)

Dan N. States:
“Exploring controlling family brainwashing is based on two paradoxes of healing:

"To let go of a painful past you may temporarily need to get closer to it.
To take greater control of your own life, you may need to revisit the days during which you had the least control. “

“Lacking any outside reality check many controlled children have no way to know that they are not alone in their suffering. “

One of his clients stated: “I could have been a cardboard cut out of myself and my dad would have treated me the same. He would just not listen. After awhile it makes you doubt yourself.”

Two Faced Behavior
“Controlling parents often tell their children to act one way, then act in opposite ways themselves. “
(Many of us have this same experience with psychiatrists too. PL)

“The “Using’ father presented a ‘saint persona’ to outsiders but was uncaring at home.”

Dysfunctional Communication
“…Dysfunctional communication focuses primarily on who is right and who is wrong, who wins and who loses, who gets hurt and who avoids pain.”

“…In most controlling families there is an intricate system of confusing communication.”
(There is the kind of ‘communication’ in psychiatry too. Often the individual being psychiatrized is going from the amateur version of constant confusion to the professional one. Psychiatry frequently reinforces the problem rather than relieving it. PL)

“One woman arrived for our interview with a flow chart…”
(I can sure relate there! I defined the patterns in this the same way to a psychiatrist! PL)

Client states:
“…or they’d make guilt provoking statements, throw a temper tantrum or label me a paranoid schizophrenic.”
(Sound familiar? PL)

“.. A lot of the time I think I am crazy when my mom disputes my version of things.”
“When faced wit conflicting messages, children can conclude that either:

a.My parents are wrong, lying or out of control.
b.I must be wrong or missing something.

(I concluded that I was missing something with both my parents and, later in life, with my nurse protagonist. I tried to find the meaning that was hidden from me. There WAS meaning deliberately hidden from me but my assessors decided that there was not and that the fact that I believed there was, was a sign of MY ‘mental illness’ and NOT a sign of my aggressor’s. Sometime sit is this simple switch between identities that is the cause of the individual’s breakdown. I suspect this is true more often than anyone would like to believe. In fact my parents and this nurse were wrong and they lied whenever it suited them to maintain power and control. Of course, most people also have the same type of knee jerk response to statements like: “My father is a liar.” For we are not to blame our parents for anything are we? Many well meaning, good intentioned people will ‘correct’ us for that non stop correction we have ALREADY received from those who have trained us to believe that we must not see, feel or know the things we do about them. All too frequently the well meaning good intentioned correctors are acting as enablers without realizing it. How horrible we are, according to them, for knowing the truth and for actually saying it, right out loud. PL)

Dan states:
“By doubting their own perceptions and giving the benefit of their doubt to their parents, children try to reduce their terror…Unfortunately, by adopting misperceptions to reduce their hopeless and helpless feelings. Children only increase their guilt and self doubt… Controlling parents are generally disinterested in exploring their adult children’s grievances with them. Many controlling parents spill emotional angst in their children’s laps and then just walk away.”

“In essence, controlling parents brainwash with a one-two-three-four punch:

1.Creating an environment hostile to growth.
2.Blaming the children for creating the environment.
3.Criticizing their children when the children suffer the consequences of the environment the parents created.
4.Denying doing any of this.

(This is often done in psychiatry as a repeat performance of the very situation and the psychodynamics of it, which caused the ‘patient’ to be seeking help, or else forced into it, in the first place. Try substituting the word “patients” for ‘children’ and the word ‘psychiatrist’ for the word ‘parents’ to get a feel for how well the concepts of this fit into both situations.PL)

A Patient History:
“It is understandable that Belinda has trouble with authority figures and office politics when the authorities and politics in her family were so erratic.”

(it is also likely that Belinda is much more tuned into that than others since she has had to be in her own life experience. PL)

“…Belinda was constantly on the lookout for clues and cues…Rather than thinking that the rules didn’t make sense- which would have p8ut her in violation of controlling parents’ number one rule of no dissent- Belinda concluded that she was flawed.”

(Some if us KNEW the rules didn’t make any sense and some of us stated that openly, which BROKE the number one rule. We even claim sometimes that the parents’ thinking is flawed. As a result, ‘blaming our families’ is recognized by others as one of the ‘flaws’ in us, which ‘proves’ we are ‘mentally ill.’ There is also a ‘no dissenting opinion’ rule in psychiatry. Those who break it are forced out (or sometimes forced BACK IN) whether patient or mental illness professional.
Patients are declared to be ‘non-complaint’ and ‘treatment resistant’ which is, ironically, TRUE. Whether it is also a ‘flaw’ is debatable, but of course there is will BE no debate.
The mental illness professional who does not ‘comply’ with the establishment’s goals or with the no dissenting opinion rule just gets ostracized, or, if in training, may become an ‘unsuitable candidate.’ At times, he or she may even find him/herself on the receiving end of his/her OWN psychiatric label.
Interestingly, those doctors who comply with being defined in psychiatric terms themselves, and who support the establishment view, often get promoted in the system and are frequently the ones who write and run the programs for their employers. The inmates do indeed, frequently run the asylums. PL)

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Marian said...

In an article I wrote recently, I called psychiatry "the ultimate double bind"...


Kerryn said...

I seem to have been through a very similar psychiatric grind. Thankyou for your eloquent comments. I was labelled BPD under the DSM4. If you look underneath the message of its criterion you suddenly find yourself been told you have no identity, you cant trust your perceptions - or your feelings. (been labelled uncompliant also) Not helpful in context of abusive past.

Patricia said...

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