By Susan Forward, PhD.
Click on link in Title to see the Book
First a Note from me, Patricia Lefave, on the reason I included this page of excerpts from this book.
Many psychiatrized people, me included, hear their own experience in the conceptual descriptions in this book. I believe those who are currently the non psychiatrized need to think about this.
The difference in how the same truth is heard is often as simple as to whom the ‘identified patient’ gets assigned as a mental health or mental illness professional. That description of them is the basic difference too I think.
If you get a psychologist like Forward who starts by believing you, the result of a psycho spiritual healing is a more likely outcome.
If you get a psychiatrist who ‘never takes what the patient says at face value’ (as they are taught) does NOT believe you, and therefore hears the same difficulties with others as ‘imaginary’ or ‘attention seeking devices’ a result of permanent and often worsening illness, seen as a ‘brain disorder’ is a more likely outcome. It is often just the difference of being supported or being invalidated that cause the same event or relationship problems to seem like a whole other life.
The Book Excerpts
“Why can’t I ever get my point across?...Blackmailers can skillfully mask the pressure they are applying to us, and often, we experience it in ways that make us question our perception of what’s happening…Yet, no matter how different they appear on the surface, they all have major traits in common…
…The people we are coming up against in these can’t-win situations are skilled manipulators.
Diagnosis: Emotional Blackmail
Sub section: What’s the real motive?
If someone’s primary goal is to win…’ There’s no balance of power…
The Four Faces of Blackmail:
Punishers, Self Punishers, Sufferers and Tantalizers.
Their Blind Spots—and Ours
“…They genuinely believe in the correctness of what they are doing and the rightness of what they want…They tend to fuse and enmesh themselves with those around them.
(My own favourite Chapter: I feel like I could also name this one “Psychiatric Blackmail: tools of the trade’, since it fits so well)
Tools of the Trade:
The Spin Doctor, Confusing Labels, Making us ‘Bad’, Pathologizing, What’s Wrong with YOU?, Dangerous secrets, Enlisting Allies, Bringing in Fresh Troops, Calling on a Hidden Authority, (God, psychiatrists etc.) Negative Comparisons (to others who are ‘better’ than you because they co-operate)
‘…The ‘spin involves applying adjectives—positive ones to the blackmailer and the compliant target; negative ones to the person who resists… The experience is disorienting…we begin to internalize the blackmailer’s questions about our perceptions, our character, our worth, our desirability, our values. We are trapped in a dense FOG…We buy into the spin because we want our friends, lovers, bosses and family members to be right and good, not mean unfeeling or oppressive…
It’s All About Them
…‘All the blackmailers we’ve seen are focused almost totally on THEIR needs, THEIR desires; they don’t seem to be the least bit interested in OUR needs or how their pressure is affecting us. Blackmailers can be like steamrollers when we don’t satisfy them, becoming ruthless in their single minded pursuit of their goals…It is a strange kind of love that is so blind to the target’s feelings…
Making Mountains Out of Molehills
Teaching us a Lesson
…’Insults an infantilizing are similarly explained away with the, ‘it’s for your own good rationale… there are attractive payoffs to clinging to this erroneous idea of punishment as training. Blackmailers can live with almost anything if they can make targets seem like dunces…In this way they can avoid any introspection…’
Old Battles, New Victims
…’the blackmailer strikes out at a target who has become a stand-in for a figure from the past…’
The Blame- Taker
…’ In fact, they [blackmailers] demand that we buy into it. If they’re displeased, we’re the problem. And our compliance with them is the solution. Under pressure from her family to recant or face exile…She had become the family scapegoat… it is not uncommon for one person to become the repository of everything that goes wrong in the family…in order to keep everyone else in balance…It is especially tough to believe your own perceptions are valid when people you love are telling you how crazy wrong or sick you are…
A Vicious Cycle
..”It was a totally no-win situation…Under pressure we do something that doesn’t fit with who we are…”
Rationalizing and Justifying
“Protecting our integrity can be frightening and lonely…She did what many blackmail targets do given a choice between being true to themselves and complying with what someone else wants: she rationalized.’
The Impact on Our Well Being
‘Emotional blackmail leaves us full of unexpressed smoldering feelings.’
The Impact on the Relationship
Targets of emotional blackmail become so accustomed to negative judgments disapproval, pressure and overreactions that…they are reluctant to share major parts of their lives. We stop talking about… (listed)…Just below the artificial calm that surrounds a placated blackmailer and a target who has given in, is the widening chasm that is opening between them….In a blackmail tainted situation, relationships with friends , lovers and family members that once had real depth begins to get thinner as the roster of safe topics shrinks.’
A New Dance
Be prepared for even more pressure as blackmailers try to regain their position.
Standing Up for Your Own Truth
“I need them to accept and believe what I am telling them…There’s no point in my putting down conditions for our relationship because I’ve got years of history with these people and I know what they’ll do. They won’t accept the truth…And they will say I’m crazy unless I go along with their version…they are closed and joined together in this campaign and I can’t give them what they want which is agreeing to their version of reality. At least, I can’t give it to them if I’m going to stay sane.’
“He treats me like I’m invisible.’
You Will Be Stronger
A common fear is that the relationship will split in two…but the consequences of not standing up for yourself are worse because YOU will split in two.
A Special Kind of Courage
Freeing yourself from the fear of disapproval involves knowing which values and judgements belong to you and which have been imposed from the outside.
Fear of Anger
Fear of Change
The fear of change is universal and blackmailers often exploit that fear…
Fear of Abandonment
The fear of abandonment might be the mother of all fears.
The Black Hole
I’ve heard it many times form people who are terrified of abandonment. It seems to be some universally imagined hell…and the black hole exists only in the imagination. It is a lie masquerading as the truth.
Return to Sender
The unconscious pays a lot of attention to symbolic rituals and ceremonies…the point [of these ceremonies we use ourselves] is to stop accepting delivery of guilt that doesn’t really belong to you. It’s not yours. Don’t let it in.
An Exercise in Paradox
This kind of work is called paradoxical therapy. A paradox is a contradiction and refers to something that may seem absurd or ridiculous on the surface but that actually turns out to contain some basic truths.
Rt:1 Feb 2009