We are in a position of unrest in our Country. We know it, we feel it and we are all watching and moved by the threats and promises our leaders are making on our behalf. Many do not trust the ‘politicians’ and many do not trust ‘the rich and their big businesses’ and their agendas.
But let’s explore the underlying thoughts that go into ‘following’ the leader of our choice. Is it possible we are supporting a candidate that has truly ‘gotten us under their spell’? Is it possible we are being manipulated as a group of people in the same way an emotional abuser maintains control over their victim?
The victim that stays with an abuser does so because the abuser uses a consistent pattern of Self Confidence, Dependence, Attachment:
- Bullying– Devaluing/threatening making bold statements such as “you are worthless”, “you do not belong” – this creates personal insecurities and distrust in your own opinions, judgements or beliefs
- Instilling fear, scarcity, or distrust in others, or in the process of life “they will hurt you”, “you can’t make it on your own”, “you don’t have enough smarts/money”- this creates a dependence on the abuser
- Creating an artificial love, bond or supportive role of “I am here for you and will take care of and protect you like no other can”, “you can’t do it without ME”.- this creates an emotional attachment
The abuser is verbally offensive, threatening, bullying, and uses constant criticism to make you believe you are unable to function without them. They use tactics like intimidation, shaming and manipulation to ‘control’ and subjugate the other person. They end the cycle or pattern with a sense of love and support that solidifies your attachment to them in a way that allows you to believe they care and that they will ‘help’ you, like no other. Therefore as a victim it is easier to ignore their cruel, degrading words and instead justify and support the abusers process.
Many abusers have a variety of personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorders.
**Here is the kicker, most of the time the victim of emotional abuse does not see themselves as being ‘mistreated’ or abused. They have developed methods of denial and of minimizing the situation, or even supporting and defending the abuser. The bully has followers because it is a common fallacy that the bully will protect and not turn against their followers.
However, the long term effects of being emotionally abused are depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD. Plus being controlled leads to a devastating and possibly even life threatening environment.
Here are some of the signs of emotional abuse:
- The abuser humiliates, puts down or makes fun of people publicly
- They regularly demean or disregard other’s opinions, ideas, suggestions or needs
- The abuser uses sarcasm or ‘teasing’ to degrade or create insecurities
- They accuse others of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks
- The abuser tries to control by treating individuals like a child
- They correct or chastise other’s behavior publicly
- The abuser tries to control other’s finances and how money is spent
- They try to belittle and trivialize others, their accomplishments or their hopes and dreams
- The abuser tries to make others feel as though they are always wrong and the abuser is always right
- They give disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language
- The abuser regularly points out flaws, mistakes or shortcomings of others
- They accuse or blame others of things that are proven untrue
- The abuser has an inability to laugh at themselves and can not tolerate others laughing at them
- They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect
- The abuser makes excuses for their behavior, tries to blame others and has difficulty apologizing
- They repeatedly cross boundaries and ignore your requests
- The abuser blames others for their problems, life difficulties or unhappiness
- They call others names, give them unpleasant labels, or makes cutting remarks under their breath
- The abuser is emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time
- They resort to pouting or withdrawal to get attention or attain what they want.
- The abuser doesn’t show empathy or compassion
- They play ‘victim’ and try to deflect blame rather than taking personal responsibility
- The abuser disengages or uses neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten
- They don’t seem to notice or care about other’s feelings
- The abuser views others as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual
- They withhold personal contact, sex, money or support as a way to manipulate and control
- The abuser shares personal information told in confidence that could prove to be embarrassing or humiliating about individuals he protects publically
- They invalidate or deny their emotional abusive behavior when confronted
- The abuser makes subtle threats or negative remarks with intent to frighten or control you
As a community of Americans we are getting ready to vote for our next leader. It is so important to look at our reasoning for voting for an individual. We have one candidate that is using these abusive techniques to gain followers:
- Devaluing entire groups of people
- Instilling FEAR that the Country is bad and needs reform
- Developing artificial bonds- ONLY they can save us
Is this a method of mass group control? When we look at others that have used this technique to gain allegiance within a large group of individuals in history, they are all considered Dictators. Is this what we want for America?
Do we understand we are being persuaded to believe, follow and support a candidate that is using a psychological method to gain dominance? Do his followers understand this is form of manipulation?
Is it ethical to use known psychological techniques of manipulation to ‘control’ a large group of individuals? We’ve made it illegal to use subliminal advertising in marketing because we know this is a form of psychological/emotional dominance. Should we continue to condone this form of advertising in a political arena?
Is it illegal to harass, threaten or create an unsafe environment for an entire group of individuals?
If an abuser was in a 1:1 relationship and they were proven to be emotionally abusive it is actually covered under our criminal code that if these remarks are violent, threatening or cause the victim to fear for their safety then it is illegal. Criminal law prohibits someone from uttering threats of death or bodily harm to another person. Threats could include, “you make me so mad I am going to break your leg” , or “I am going to slit your throat”. If it is spoken with the intention of intimidating the recipient then a criminal offence, and criminal court can punish the person. Is it feasible to think a Class action suit could be brought about to protect the safety of all the individuals that are feeling threatened by these remarks?
In the end, no candidate has a pristine history and it is important to note that what we know and understand about these candidates are mostly presented through the lens of the media. However, I will ‘vote my conscience’ and remember that every human being is a gift to our world and has the ability to contribute in a positive way when raised in a supportive environment. How do we want our children, grandchildren and future generations to live, in fear of others or in knowledgement that each of us brings to this world a uniqueness and diversity?
Just Another Thought by Dr. Lise’