Friday, March 13, 2015

Denial: Tell me something good I need to hear something good

When a child is abused they may become very insecure and they may be more inclined to latch onto any kind of hope in many cases it may be a false hope. This leads to beliefs in quick fix solutions like religions, the lottery and get rich quick schemes. People who become insecure are much more likely to follow the crowd and become independent on others for support. In the moist extreme cases they may suffer from black outs. What is much more common is people who are easily distracted by trivial things like the “Balloon boy” that just made the media obsession list.

More common behavior tends to include the lottery and religious beliefs that doesn’t include much if any scrutiny. Wishful thinking and lack of determination encourages shallow behavior that is often counterproductive. It also leads people to follow the crowd and believe what they are told without scrutiny. People like this often accept stories they are told about without scrutiny and make little or no effort to sort out the truth from fiction in a story put out by the leaders of society that they are predisposed to listen to. Some facts are very easy to figure out like the fact that the lottery has to be fixed in favor of the house in order to survive and prosper they must first cover expenses then cover profit before giving back winnings to the public. The existence of this massive industry is evidence of an enormous amount of shallow behavior and wishful thinking. There is also a big problem with people that accept political arguments without thorough scrutiny. An example would be the Health care reform proposals that have been presented to the public without addressing many of the basics. I addressed this in the previous entry about violent town hall meetings. By providing package proposals without organizing them in a reasonable way whether it is health care on any other issue it makes it tougher for the public to sort out the details. It is much easier to shut it out and trust the “experts”. The problem is if the experts were so credible they would have done a better job presenting their work so the public could understand it and they wouldn’t need to rely solely on the experts.

Child abuse and sexual abuse is often denied and the memories suppressed because it isn’t socially acceptable to bring them out into the open in many cultures. These abuses are much more common than people realize. In many cases when they are brought out into the open it may seem like it is getting much worse when what is actually happening is that abuse that has been happening all along is just being brought out into the open. When this happens there is a tendency by many people to blame those that bring it out into the open but this only prevents people from acknowledging the problem and fixing it. In the most extreme cases this may be brought out in criminal trials by defense lawyers to argue mitigating circumstances and this is often met with the claim that the abuse abuses are made up to justify their crimes. Many researchers including Dorothy Otnow Lewis and James Garbarino have found that this isn’t true. Defendants are usually very reluctant to use it as a defense and often deny it happens at all. In many cases they only find out about the abuse as a result of determined investigators that search for independent evidence. There is also a great deal of denial when holding leaders accountable including parents and religious leaders. The Catholic priest scandal is a classic example that continues to face efforts to deny or downplay the events. There is a great deal of reluctance to hold parents accountable for the actions of their kids because they can’t see a direct cause and effect. It is rarely ever so obvious that a direct cause and effect can be detected and proved. What is much more common is an environment of abuse and neglect that teaches abusive behavior.

Another common example of denial is the constant demand for justice focusing primarily on punishment and very little on extensive research. The people calling for justice are often as angry as the perpetrators of violence. These people don’t realize that in many cases the perpetrators  started out calling for justice then when they didn’t obtain what they thought was fair they took matters into their own hands. There are of course many other cases where they gave up and stopped caring so the violence they committed is clearly unjustifiable; however that doesn’t mean it is unexplainable.

In more extreme cases it leads to black outs and suppressed memories about abuse and in the most extreme cases it may lead to psychological conditions like schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder. Cornelia Wilbur and Dorothy Otnow Lewis have both done research into this and concluded that it is real and the result of serious child abuse. There are some critics that claim that multiple personality disorder is not a real disorder in some cases they say it is being faked for the benefit of criminal defense.  This may be true in some cases but there is evidence of some kind of disorder that precedes the need for this claim as a defense. Even some of the critics claim that the child abuse still leads to psychological problems and if they are faking it to an extreme degree that would be somewhat insane itself. So this would indicate the alternative is something with the appearance of multiple personality disorder.

The most effective way of dealing with this is to address child rearing in a consistent and rational manner from the beginning. This involves teaching them to sort through details from an early age without excessive pressure. This means taking the time to help them along and in some cases allowing them to sort out their own mistakes within reason.

This was first posted on tripod on 10/17/09; it was partially inspired by an episode of “The Practice,” where a client kills one of her parents and is unable to deal with it well. At one point she says to Eleanor during her defense when things look bad, “Tell me something good I need to hear something good.” At the end of the movie after wining on an insanity defense and finding out her sister new about the abuse she endured she saw her in the street and without thinking ran her over and killed her as well. When Eleanor showed up at the scene of the crime and found her locked in the back seat of a cruiser she repeated the quote, “Tell me something good I need to hear something good.”

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.



markinjapan April 09, 2011 02:30 PM

Very interesting blog. Based on my clinical practice, I have observed that physical and emotional abuse has a very similar effect on the child (it has a significant effect on their brain development, specifically their arousal system) as sexual abuse. In fact I tend to agree with Derrick Jensen, Ra Goddess and Alex Knight ( that we are all deeply damaged by growing up in a culture of abuse and that "healing" will be a fundamental component of all successful organizing efforts.

Wilhelm Reich in The Mass Psychology of Fascism was the first to outline the role of authoritarian upbringing and the lure of fundamentalist religion and reactionary ideologies that trick working class people into voting for authoritarian politicians who enact policies that are contrary to their economic interests.

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall April 09, 2011 07:09 PM

Thanks for the links; I’ll have to check them out. This is the first I heard of The Mass Psychology of Fascism, although I have read some material about the subject that is much more recent. Authoritarian upbringing can be used to virtually enslave the brain as I have indicated in other previous blogs. I assume you meant to say pseudo fundamentalist religions since they don’t really start with the fundamentals nor do they get the fundamentals right.

zacherydtaylor April 11, 2011 10:41 AM

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