The One Who Makes You Think You Must Be Losing It

THE BOOMERANG RELATIONSHIP

Passivity, Irresponsibility and Resulting Partner Anger

Lynne Namka, Ed. D © 1998



One of the hardest patterns of behavior for all of us to deal with is passive aggressive behavior. Passive aggressive behavior happens when the person avoids responsibility and attempts to control others to keep them away through his passivity and withdrawal. It is a dynamic born of fear of being controlled, fear of confrontation, hidden anger and an inability to deal straight with people.

Passive aggressive behavior is complex and takes many forms. We all have passive behavior that comes up when we don’t want to deal with conflict directly or do a task. We all hedge, fudge and remain noncommittal on issues some of the time. That’s normal. It’s only when repeated passivity creates severe issues for others setting up continual tension and anger in the household that it becomes a serious problem that should be addressed. Common examples of this habitual, passive retreat style (read Silent Treatment) of dealing with confrontation and stress include:

  • The person who says one thing but means the opposite.
  • The man who acts passive but aggressively gets his own way by not doing what is wanted.
  • The boss who squelches his anger then strikes out indirectly. (Perhaps by withdrawing.)
  • The woman who says yes when she means no; then gets cold feet and refuses to follow through.
  • The teenager who agrees up front then doesn’t do what he agreed to.
  • The client who schedules an appointment but does not show up.
  • The person who fears self assertion and confrontation, but says no by sidestepping responsibility.
  • Anyone in the family who creatively gets out of doing his or her part of the chores.
  • The Mr. Nice Guy who puts on the sweet face to agree, then does what he darn well pleases.
  • The student who procrastinates with studying and does poorly in school.
  • The parent who refuses to discipline the children and insists on the spouse being the ‘heavy.’
  • The bored housewife who refuses to clean the house or cook for her family.
  • The person who refuses to hear criticism, discuss his problems or read books about the issue.
  • The dad who pushes one child hard but allows the other child to get out of responsibility.
  • The not ready to be committed man wanting someone there for him but feels entitled to his freedom.
  • Any individual who spends his effort into under achieving in school, in relationships and in life!

What all of these people have in common is that the significant people in their life become very, very angry at their resistant behavior. The negative energy in the relationship boomerangs from one partner to the other resulting in an unhappy relationship.

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While women can have passive aggressive behavior, this condition is more typically found in men, therefore this article will focus on the typical male version of this dynamic. The typical passive aggressive man has not worked through his anger and power issues with his parents so he replays them in current relationships. His anger comes out in passive way of avoidance.

Psychologist, Scott Wetzler, in Living With the Passive Aggressive Man: Coping with the Personality Syndrome of Hidden Aggression From the Bedroom to the Boardroom, discusses the dynamic that sets up passive behavior. There are many childhood set ups for this way of coping but most often there is a domineering mother and a father who is ineffectual. Or there may be a passive mother who gets out of responsibility by her helplessness. There are power struggles in the marriage with one parent backing off and withdrawing. The boy feels trapped between choosing loyalties at home. He is afraid to compete with his father who is absent either physically or emotionally or perceived as being inadequate. In the typical mother dominant-father passive relationship, the boy learns that the job of being a man in relationship is to escape the woman’s needs and subsequent demands.

The young boy is not allowed to express his feelings and develop a sense of self. He wants his mother’s attention and care yet he resents her continual intrusion. His anger grows but he cannot express it so it becomes submerged and is expressed in an unconscious ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’ He is not allowed to get his way by direct confrontation and competition so he learns to displace his anger through resistance. He learns to use charm, stubbornness, resistance and withdrawal to protect himself in power struggles. He rebels by becoming moody, being an underachiever or developing behavior problems. His self protectiveness and duplicity from the squelched anger and hostility becomes a habit that he plays out with other women he meets. He desperately seeks a woman to meet his needs of being accepted for who he is, but puts her off with small, continual acts of rebellion. He replays the distancing drama of his original family In the relationship.

Agreement, Resistance and Hidden Hostility as Major Characteristics

The man with passive aggressive behavior needs someone to be the object of his hidden hostility. He needs an adversary whose expectations and demands he can resist as he plays out the dance he learned from his parents. He chooses a woman who will agree to be on the receiving end of his disowned anger. He resists her in small ways setting up a pattern of frustration so that she gets to express the anger that he cannot.


Keep Reading…

Ostracism in Action

What follows is an exercise in ostracism, for the purpose of contemplation on the part of anyone who chooses to read on.  My only request is that you read the entire post before you form your conclusion.

These are a series of comments/responses from the post found here.

I wrote the original post it in such a way to cause an impassioned response specifically from people who don’t understand or believe there is harm in using “timeouts” as punishment, or even contemplative time.  (Contemplative time is not harmful, and it does not look like a timeout.)  Seems as though my approach has been rather successful so far, based upon all the commentary today.  I’m glad you guys are talking!
It is a given that I believe anyone who strikes their child deserves a giant do the same thing to them, without a moment’s hesitation.  I believe the same is true for someone who uses ostracism to try to get a point across to their kid.  They deserve a unified ignore session by those they wish to be included by.

The exercise shown in this exchange goes to demonstrate the topic in question rather effectively. Please know that my harsh tone is not to ridicule or offend the woman to whom I am speaking, but to illustrate a point, by allowing someone else to do it for me.

– To the woman in the exchange, I regret that you have been negatively effected through this.  I hope we can, in the future, have intelligent and thoughtful, compassion conversation. However, if you choose otherwise, I will respect your decision.

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2010/09/15 at 7:57 pm – In reply to original post (link is shown above)

I can see a lot of your points…however, I don’t feel timeout is that bad. We use it with our 2 1/2 year old daughter only for more severe things…hitting, biting. It is very rare she is in time out. However, we don’t yell or scream we simply say, “Bummer, no ______ , time out) Then right after Time out we say, “Time out is over, I love you!” and we move on. She hasn’t seemed effected by it negatively at all and like I said, it is rare that she is in time out. I don’t see it as ignoring her…I see it has her taking a couple of minutes to think about her choices and why they were poor ones.

That’s a bummer that you disagree and don’t choose to review science, or the entire practice, as your daughter experiences it. Tell you what, I suggest you take a few moments, think about things a bit, and when I think you have had enough time to really understand within yourself something that you seem to not at the moment, I’ll continue. Until then, I won’t be responding, nor will I allow anyone else to.

Review science???? Why spanking is better than time out???? First, you need to respect other peoples’ views and discipline as long as they are creating well rounded kids, who respect everyone, are friendly, treat everyone equally, and are raised with great values. If I see parents who do this…I don’t question their discipline procedures. For kids who are disrespectful, mean, etc. I would question that. You can’t judge….my daughter is one of the happiest kids I know and I’m not the only one who thinks that….So her minimal time outs have not had a negative effect on her! Keep an open mind! I would never spank her…even though I was spanked…there are other, better ways to discipline!


2010/09/15 at 8:44 pm | In reply to Lauren Raymond.

That took you 14 minutes. You are not happy with me, are you? I should now say, I suppose, I have decided (by the fact that I approved your response) that you have had enough time to think about what I have imposed upon you to think about. And, I’ll add that I hope you have a better idea now of what you think, and how you’ll act next time. I respect you! And I see nothing wrong with making you take a couple of minutes to think about your choices and why, in my opinion, they are poor ones.

Pissed, aren’t you.

I dismissed you. I singled you out, disapproved, and decided that your thoughts, comments, and existence was such that I could assign and judge your value.

You still haven’t reviewed the science behind the brain’s response to time outs. But that’s ok, because, unlike your daughter, I cannot force you to do anything. I can isolate and reject you, and I can tell you what you do is wrong, but you’re an adult so, I have no power over you. Or do I? Again, you’re pissed at me.


2010/09/15 at 9:01 pm | In reply to Angie.

Yeah, I was pissed b/c you are judging me based on not knowing me and what my situation is and how I raise and discipline my daughter. I’m proud of my husband and I, we are on the same page with raising and disciplining our daughter and we are bringing up a very well-rounded, respectful, happy child! Now do you have power over me??? No. Am I pissed again? No… I realize what you are doing. I respect you and your thoughts and like hearing other people’s thoughts, ideas, research etc, even if I don’t agree with all of it!

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To conclude this post, with respect being shown to this
woman’s value and autonomy,
I will address a couple of her remarks,
in the voice of direct response.

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“Review science???? Why spanking is better than time out????”
I wonder if you have not read the post in its entirety, or perhaps have not understood the content.
“First, you need to respect other peoples’ views and discipline as long as they are creating well rounded kids, who respect everyone, are friendly, treat everyone equally, and are raised with great values. If I see parents who do this…I don’t question their discipline procedures.”
In response, I respectfully will say that the only thing I have to do is accept that every legal resident of my country has the right to hold, promote, and change their views.  I do not have to tolerate, condone, or allow abuse.  Our society thinks mutilating a boy’s genitals is just fine.  A really good amount of our society thinks striking a child is just fine.  You don’t.  Neither do I.  But you think isolating and rejecting a child, in the name of a timeout (because it works and doesn’t seem to directly cause any damage) is also fine, as does the majority if our society.  I do not.  Our society as a whole follows itself around and around, afraid to detour or step out of line.  Why is this?  Refer to the definition of ostracism, and look at it from a reverse point of view.
There are a few of us out there that step out of the collectively determined appropriate line, almost continually.  Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s not even something we’re aware we’ve done.  We’re not damaging others by doing so, except those that are in need of our following and blind acceptance and approval.  We damage their egos. They are the people who most often retaliate with nonsense and declaration of war.
But, contrary to your point of view of me, I do respect the fact that everyone has his/her own view.  And I hold that very quality with high regards.  In fact, I appreciate those that will speak openly about their views the most. However, my criteria in judging whether a parent is succeeding is different than yours.  And you feel as though I have attacked you simply because of how I chose to not just agree with your decision to voice your opinion.  Admittedly, I took it a few steps further and allowed the natural course of conflict to develop in effort to demonstrate the very interplay to which I am most assertively speaking against when it comes to how it is used with children.
“…as long as they are creating well rounded kids, who respect everyone, are friendly, treat everyone equally, and are raised with great values. If I see parents who do this…I don’t question their discipline procedures.”
My criteria is not based on the generally accepted methods our society uses to determine whether a human is a good person.  Nor, do I use the criteria that if the child doesn’t offend me by their behavior, and appears to be generally respectful and properly functioning, given what I happen to get to observe in a public or even semi-private setting, that the parent is not abusing the child.  My criteria is that the child is raised in an environment that is not harming, not destructive, and does not produce a child who is<em> unwhole </em>or damaged in even the slightest way.  I do not judge a parent’s effectiveness or assign a degree of “good” based upon the child. I judge the parent based upon the actions and decisions of the parent.

Given: Society will kill my ideal – a wholly, undamaged child who grows to a complete and unharmed adult.  But in my home, my child will never experience the insecurity, uncertainty, or lack of my utmost respect for their existence.
Even when I am angry, I will never isolate or reject my child so she can “think about what she’s done wrong”.  I will work with her to understand her motives, and work with her (that means use words and conversation, body language and compassion) so that she understands my responses.  If, however, she goes off on her own, to spend time alone by her own choice,  I will not prevent it – which goes back to respecting her autonomy and value.
“First, you need to respect other peoples’ views and discipline as long as they are creating well rounded kids, who respect everyone, are friendly, treat everyone equally, and are raised with great values. If I see parents who do this…  I don’t question their discipline procedures. For kids who are disrespectful, mean, etc. I would question that.”
Again, I don’t judge anything based upon the child. I don’t impose myself or my beliefs either. However, if asked, I will respond with the information and education I have. And if given a chance to demonstrate, I welcome people watch that education in action with my own child.
“You can’t judge….my daughter is one of the happiest kids I know and I’m not the only one who thinks that….”
Actually, I can judge; I have a fairly well developed sense of discernment. What I think you want to tell me here is that you are angry and offended and feel as though I have passed judgment upon you.  In other words, by my actions, you feel like I have asserted that I am somehow superior to you.  I would be just as pissed if someone tried to do that to me.  But what might not be so apparent is that instead of asserting a superiority, I just got in your face, as an equally intelligent and capable person.
Instead of being wishywashy, going with the accepted norm,  and allowing you to speak and not responding in turn,  I responded in a manner that is very similar to what our society forces upon its children routinely, in the name of good parenting and good child rearing.  Our society even goes so far to promote this method as the most humane, most considerate, and most concerned with the welfare of the child.
If you think about it, that exact same mantra was propagated across the planet, by well meaning, upright peoples with excellent values, only the context was to spank, to segregate, and to subjugate the female gender – just in the last few generations.  The masses bought the blah then, and they buy it now.  But science quietly presses on, discovering and sharing with those who wish to educate and inform themselves.   – Again I refer to Mr. Roddenberry… may he rest in peace.  😉

“Yeah, I was pissed b/c you are judging me based on not knowing me and what my situation is and how I raise and discipline my daughter. I’m proud of my husband and I, we are on the same page with raising and disciplining our daughter and we are bringing up a very well-rounded, respectful, happy child! Now do you have power over me??? No. Am I pissed again? No… I realize what you are doing. I respect you and your thoughts and like hearing other people’s thoughts, ideas, research etc, even if I don’t agree with all of it!”

I am not actually judging you.  I have questioned you.

I have spoken against something you feel is just fine and you have taken it personally.  This is a reasonable response.  But I wonder if you might be interested in substantiating your chosen belief and actions, as not being harmful, in response to my assertion that it is, in fact harmful and damaging.

I am happy that you are satisfied with your choices, that your husband and you concur (which makes it a lot easier, definitely), and that you believe your daughter is being properly cared for.  However, I still do not approve of, nor condone the use of ostracism or any form of manipulation or abuse.  That’s the funny thing about abuse… we all know it causes damage, but we use it in so many different ways that often it is hard to pinpoint or even recognize, until much, much later.

No, I do not know you or your daughter, but I don’t need to either.  What I do know is that you use this method, you think it’s just fine, you are willing to defend it in theory (hopefully you’ll substantiate, as mentioned), and that you don’t like it when I turn the method around and you are the target.

Your blog describes an episode of your daughter hitting you.  That same post has your description of your assigned consequence, which was one that she was given a choice to allow to occur.  She continued hitting you, thereby choosing to test whether you would follow through (the consequence was your refusal to read her a story before bed, as is the routine).  Then, after enforcing your threat, you left her alone to cry. Your post indicates her father intervened by showing her security, love, and affection.  She accepted his comforting, accepted the consequence of her action, and everyone got some sleep.
S O U R C E

  • My question is, why you allowed her to cry alone, after executing her consequence.
  • My other question concerns why she was hitting you in the first place.

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If there is anything to understand about me, it is that I do not function on the approval of a collective.  I also don’t take anything for fact just because multiple people will “agree” it must be fact.  Proof is one thing, opinion is quite another.
That said, I choose my beliefs, actions, and values based upon fact, knowledge, and experience.
I invite your solid responses.  And if any of you are interested in discovering what can be an option for raising a child without damaging them, by any form of abuse, I encourage you to begin to follow the threads related to the alternative ideas I will start presenting, as I compose them with some resemblance of logic and coherence.

My best to all of you.

Punitive Timeouts & Spanking: Equally Damaging

As you read this, if you are unaccustomed to my beliefs or written tone and rhythm, please go here first.  Then, as you read, keep Ken’s comments in mind.

I am in a state of aggravation, spurred by injustice, impossible scenarios, no sleep, trepidation over the damage I may be causing my child with all this transition (moving, traveling), and struggling through a significant crevasse between my husband and I.  Right now, I am not whole.  I am torn in two, with a thread of goo left dangling in between. Please forgive my attempt at coping by using sarcasm instead of sheer wit and completely pure communication.  I’m jaded and in protective mode right now… and as if life isn’t large enough as it is at the moment, I have found myself being expected to conform or defend some of my core beliefs to some very real and large, tangible people (outside my home’s walls, but not far from them).  One of the topics is the use of timeouts.

Somehow, me saying that timeouts are torture in my opinion isn’t enough to get the various people to which I refer above to leave me alone.

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What is the point of a time out?

From the adult’s perspective, if we’re honest, first and foremost, hopefully the answer to that question is to insist a child realize they have evoked your disapproval by their actions and behaviors.  Second, to be completely honest, it is to give the adult a moment’s peace, during which they do not have to contend with the child’s behaviors and actions that are causing frustration.

We accomplish our task by forcing our child to endure rejection, isolation, and dehumanizing “space to think”, which if they had managed to “think” in the first place, they would never have allowed themselves to be forced into the position they found themselves in – the experience of ostracism by a trusted, loved, care giver.

Below you will find links to subsequent posts as I complete them related to the subject, picked apart concept for concept, and sometimes sentence for sentence.  I hope you will summon your curiosity and continue the learning process, open your mind to your child’s world view, and soften your heart so that a greater knowledge and understanding might enter your parenting and the future health of your child (and you).

Too spiritual, mystical, out-there talk??

Ok, here’s the same thing without the flowers and fairies:  Timeouts cause the brain to sense physical pain because it is in fact, a deliberate action of forced isolation, rejection, and detachment, even at the most “dutiful and appropriate” level. What’s worse, that isolation, rejection, and detachment is being forced upon a child powerless to prevent it by the very entity that is supposed to represent a safe, secure, and protected place/person (be it a parent, teacher, etc).

The betrayal, on multiple levels, is astounding and horrifying.

It’s real.

Don’t believe me?

Try this: Cause those around you to purposely ignore your presence, the other adults you see as valuable for one reason or another, in your daily life. Now, make it so you cannot stop their lack of or refusal to acknowledge you (otherwise known as “removal of positive reinforcement”) until you conform to their will and wishes, or until you regain their approval in some way (if you are capable).  Tell me this is not damaging.  Tell me this doesn’t hurt you. Tell me that it doesn’t make you squirm, angry, resentful, vengeful, and ultimately needy.  I dare you to try.

Now, take that one step further and view the same scenario through the eyes of an under/undeveloped child, inexperienced in social and emotional behavior patterns, still forming a fundamental sense of self and confidence, not capable of fully understanding why, or what they have done to loose the approval of others that resulted in this forced rejection and isolation. (May bet is that if you use timeouts, or spanking for that matter, you do not fully disclose pertinent thoughts to your child, as that might just give them too much knowledge to use against you at some point, so there is a good chance that the child is not fully aware of all aspects of their infraction.)

My take?  Smacking a child may possibly cause less scarring than using timeouts/ostracism, and you all know what I think about using violence and spanking, smacking, hitting, whipping, or using any sort of like action – that being to strike, in any manner.   The reason is simple: Spanking causes humiliation, fear, and physical pain.  Ostracism causes all the same, in addition to a loss of perceived self value, loss of approval, pain of rejection, fear of isolation, and the prevention of remedy (while they sit there thinking about what they’ve done, they are effectively prevented from generating a resolution or remedy).  The amount of psychological scarring and damage is doubled.

Please understand that if I am made aware of your choice to hit your child, and you’re within arm’s reach of me, I will hit you in the exact manner and force you used on them.  And then… maybe I’ll ignore you after, just to make sure you get the full effect of the devaluing and dismissal.

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Ok, here we go……

I have had parents tell me that using timeouts is an excellent option for them, it gets great results.  I cringe.. if you understand anything about me, you know that first and foremost, I believe it paramount that we raise our children with intelligence, the ability to reason and understand their world, respect for their world (this includes those who are in a position to care and provide for them), and a curiosity to explore, develop, and learn.  THE moment I hear a parent tell me that they’ve figured out a system to manipulate their child, for the sake of their own will and desire, regardless of why or what, I start to ache for their little one.  Then, I find out they hit them (ok, spank – really, show me what the physical action of a spanking is, now repeat the action with the same force using the same tool either against a piece of foam like the kind you use in the base of a fake plant, or a brick wall if you’re brave and dumb enough.  It’s the same action as hitting, and when the object makes contact, let’s see what happens).  OR I find out they faithfully don’t spank, “would never dream of it, that’s awful and abusive”, but oh yes, they definitely use timeouts, otherwise known as rejection, which includes the transmission of obvious disapproval, and then of course the torturous forced isolation aspect.  Yes, that’s a great solution.

That same parent, in their next breath, ridicules their child passively, dishonors their child’s autonomy and dignity by speaking about them as if they are less, and typically though standing right there, the parent behaves as if the child is not in the room. Then, as if to redeem themselves in the face of, well, my face, which is typically by then contorted and unable to hide the pain it feels due to the unavoidable sense of compassion and dismay I feel for the child, they begin to offer semi-relevant praise “about” their child, that they sort of direct through their child in hopes that I’ll buy it and encourage them that they’re really a great parent after all.  All the while, their child is standing there knowing full well that the praise is empty, that it has a hitch or some sort of catch and they’ll hear about it as soon as I’m not in the room, and that their parent will insist they acknowledge the efforts and praise offered, as if it is an obligation for the child to also validate the parent, as the parent insisted I do.

But I don’t. And to date, only one parent has stood their ground long enough to start asking me why I won’t buy into their ploy and help them feel good about themselves, so that their kid is forced to do the same thing… Only one parent has ever had the courage to question my refusal to help them make their child feel inferior, of course that’s not really what they want, they just want to be superior.

The parent that asked me why it was that it seemed as though I appeared to think they were full of shit, is the same parent that an hour later broke down in front of their child, crying, while sitting on the floor in front of the child, begging the child to forgive him for his arrogance, sense of entitlement, and gross oversight of the true value of his child.  The child responded with compassion and bewilderment, and didn’t say much.

The two left that night, together, connected in a way they’d never been, with a mutual respect present that was brand new.  The child admired the parent, though he was confused and didn’t seem very trusting or certain of the situation.  The parent discovered the immense worth and complexity of his child, and found that he too held a high level of admiration for the child, it had just been hiding under the surface for years – 9 years to be exact (the child was 10 years old).

I heard from this father about a month ago, his child is now 12.  This father is still struggling with allowing himself to truly acknowledge and respect his child’s autonomy and worth. He is driven to seek reasons and actions that justify him feeling and thinking this way, before he demonstrates this belief to his child.

We talked about this concern and the father indicated that he, himself, held a deep resentment toward his own parents and other care givers for never allowing him to feel as though he was a legitimate and useful contributor, simply because he was nothing more than a child.  He grew up assuming that all children were nothing more than something to be dealt with, tolerated until they’re grown, appreciated for what they do that pleases the adult (and in truth, mimics the adult’s preferences), but not too highly appreciated lest the child become arrogant… it goes on and on.

It’s a simple point of attributing a lessor worth and diminished degree of legitimacy to a person, simply because of their age.  We, as a human race, do this to each other based on ethnicity, language, religion, wealth, and gender. We’d be truly crazy hypocrites if we didn’t do the same thing because of age too. Come on, really.. we’re not that dumb, are we?

The positive side the father reported, however, was that his child and he shared a mutual respect for each other, and instead of punishment for error, the father had learned to use logic, reason, natural consequence, and give his child room to error, room to disagree, room to explore and discover, room to question and seek guidance – instead of shoving it down the child’s throat, and room to return respect and admiration for the father that can so deeply love, if he allows himself to be that vulnerable.

The real catch is, this father changed not only the dynamics of his relationship with his then pre-teen child, but that decision affected his relationship with the child’s mother immensely and brought the two parents back together in a mutual love and respect that neither had ever experienced in their former relationship together. Now, each member of this family knows they are valued, appreciated for who they are and what they think, admired for their efforts and dedication, and respected because they are, not because of what they do or don’t. Love found a place to call home and it took root. And this kid, let me tell you, is one emotionally healthy, intelligent, and confident kid, with a boatload of personal integrity and ability to demonstrate compassion and dedication like none I’ve recently seen or known, of the same age.

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Now, to discuss specifically the harm and damage that is the actual result of using a timeout punishment system – quite possibly the most poignant and intelligent perspective I have ever come across regarding the use of timeouts:

What you probably didn’t realize is that the silent treatment is a form of ostracism. When someone is ostracized it affects the part of their brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. Do you know what the anterior cingulate cortex does?

The anterior cingulate cortex is the part of the brain that detects pain. When you give someone the silent treatment you are causing that person physical pain. Simply by ignoring someone else’s existence you can inflict pain on them. This is what the ever popular “time out” with a child is so effective. The child feels ostracized, therefore is feeling pain even though no physical pain was inflicted on them, and therefor they want to behave so they don’t have to feel that way again.

The silent treatment can be a very destructive behavior when it involves personal relationships. Let’s say with a husband and wife for instance. The silent treatment breeds bitterness on both ends and it borders on emotional abuse… I’m not making that up to be dramatic. That’s what “they” say.

S O U R C E

Then, we take a look at this from another angle –

Numb to the pain

It turns out that “hurt feelings” may be a more valid term than most of us think. Research by Williams suggests that ostracism triggers the same area of the brain that’s active when we feel physical pain. He and his colleagues used FMRI to examine what happened in the brain when people played several versions of “Cyberball”: Participants were either included in the game, excluded having been told their computer wasn’t hooked into the network, or intentionally excluded.

Each time participants felt excluded—even when it was unintentional—the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex lit up, according to findings published in Science (Vol. 302, No. 5643). This area is well-known for being part of the brain’s pain detection system, says Williams. Participants also reported feeling emotional pain.

Williams’s findings make sense from an evolutionary perspective, argue Leary and Geoff MacDonald, PhD, in a 2005Psychological Bulletin (Vol. 131, No. 2) article. They propose that social pain piggybacks on nerve pathways in the brain originally laid out for physical pain. The two now share many of the same pathways, resulting in similar responses to the two seemingly disparate phenomena, they say. It makes sense, says Leary, a Duke University professor of psychology, because social rejection and pain serve the same purpose—alerting an organism to a potentially life-threatening risk.

It may also support a counterintuitive theory proposed by Baumeister and his colleagues: that social rejection leads initially to emotional numbness. They have conducted studies in which they tell participants that based on a psychological evaluation they will end up alone later in life. They’ve found that the participants’ behaviors are affected by the news, but their moods aren’t. Baumeister compares this emotional numbing with the analgesic effect that can happen after an injury. We don’t feel pain until we’ve gotten to safety. This same pathway, he argues, may cause emotional numbness after rejection to allow the brain to begin to cope with the pain before it sets in. In fact, in a series of studies, Baumeister and colleagues find that after rejection, not only are people emotionally numb, but their threshold for physical pain increases.

Williams agrees that emotional numbness can happen. In qualitative interviews he conducted with victims of long-term ostracism, many people described their trouble engaging emotionally. However, he says, it’s not clear yet when or under what conditions people feel numbness versus pain.

Rejection’s link to aggression

Regardless, it’s clear from the research that ostracism and rejection have very real consequences. Williams’s student Lisa Zadro, PhD, now at the University of Sydney in Australia, interviewed 50 people who were either ostracized or perpetrators of ostracism. Those who’d been ostracized reported depression, eating disorders, promiscuity disorders and even attempted suicide. Almost all said that they would have preferred physical abuse to ostracism.

S O U R C E

In fact, long-term rejection can have disastrous consequences in the form of anger and aggression. Leary examined cases of school shootings and found that as many as 80 percent of shooters suffered from prolonged peer rejection. These are, of course, only correlations, but many lab studies support the idea that rejection can lead to aggression.

“There seems to be a failure of self-regulation in people who feel rejected,” says Baumeister. “And this allows a shift toward anti-social and aggressive behavior.”

But aggression is only one reaction people can have, says Williams. He and others find that people may also become more socially attentive in an attempt to win approval. Aggression, he argues, is more likely to occur when people have lost a sense of control. They use aggression to reassert themselves—a motivation that becomes more salient than any desire to be liked.

If you use timeouts, any chance you see the correlation here with either the aggressive response, or the opposing passive response? Do I need to draw to connect the dots or can you?

… on his first day, I witnessed the teacher giving a 4 yo boy a time-out for grabbing a toy from another child. They made him go and sit by himself on a chair away from the other kids and told him to “think about what he had done”. Then they eventually led him back to the group, and said, “next time you want a toy, you will use your…” and he said right on queu, “…words”. So obviously this is not the first time it has happened. I was just shocked. I was told in my tour they didn’t use time-outs. Apparently they do. They didn’t speak meanly, they were calm, but everyone was staring and I felt bad for him. I felt he was humiliated a little, ostracized, singled out.

S O U R C E Go read the rest of this.  The article is a bit choppy, but insightful.

Research suggests that ostracism is an effective form of controlling contranormative behaviors, punishing deviance, and increasing in-group cohesion (Alexander 1986; Barner-Barry, 1986; Basso, 1972; Boehm, 1986; Mahdi, 1986). For example ostracism is still one of the more common methods used to discipline young children, by parents and teachers alike. The issue of enforcing time outs, in schools and special education programs alike, has been discussed at length by social psychologists. The common denominator of most forms of time-out is the reduction of social attention. But this can be carried out in a number of ways, from physically relocating the child to a time-out room, to systematically ignoring the child who remains the same social environment (Brooks, Perry, & Hingerty, 1992; Heron, 1987). It has yet to be determined as to whether time-outs are a beneficial form of discipline.

S O U R C E


Note #2 – the ancient Greece part – I added a bit of something to the definition.

os·tra·cism
–noun

1.

exclusion, by general consent, from social acceptance,privileges,friendship, etc.

2.

(in ancient Greece, and in most contemporary homes and schools where children spend their time, across the United States and other countries) temporary banishment of a citizen,decided upon bypopular vote.

Ending the Silence in Your Relationship

The use of withdrawal and refusal is a coping mechanism and learned behavior by someone who was not permitted to experience his or her feelings in safety, likely beginning in childhood. It is a damage response. It is also what these emotionally crippled people employ as a defensive, damage control device.

The person who uses this control technique does so often out of a feeling of hopelessness; they feel they have no other recourse. And many do not as they simply lack the emotional skills necessary to use two-way, emotionally open communication. They are terrified of being open because that is where they’re vulnerable. Chances are, as kids, the parental environment was one of emotional instability, covert retaliation, and continued manipulation and diminishing (which causes a hypersensitivity to it in the future).

The resulting adult will avoid these abuses, even if only perceived, using the only method of control they were able to generate as children: Silence and withdrawal (read internalizing). In this state, the emotional abuser can’t keep getting to them and the tables are turned. The trouble is, this behavior becomes a conditioned response that outlives its usefulness and is continued into the adult’s future relationships, where he or she then perpetrates the damdge instead of being the victim of it. And in all honesty, they self damage, but will rarely become aware of it.

Understand me clearly, the person who believes themself to be whole and fully functional but then employs this control technique is not whole, they are damaged. Internal scars and survival techniques are at play, deep beneath the surface. These people often live with partners who rountinely feel as though they must be crazy, because along with the harm done to the receiving end of the silent treatment is often a distortion of reality by the one who has withdrawn. The act of withdrawal is often accompanied by a very covert shift of blame. This can occur in situations where there was not even reasonable cause for any blame to exist in the eyes of the partner who doesn’t employ the technique. There is a cycle going here.

If you rountinely find yourself using the withdrawal and internalization method, you know that all the stuff you shovel down inside just stays there, piling up. Just like it did as a child. The difference now is that you could be on a level playing field emotionally with those you love and/or live with. You could choose to seek help in gaining healthy coping mechanisms and helpful methods of interaction at such intimate and vulnerable states as are created in committed relationships. You could choose to save yourself future hurt, spare your partner the anguish you cause them, and prevent any future generation you create from the damage. You can choose to stop the cycle of pain and harm, for all involved, including you. But chances are without that pain, conflict, it whatever causes the weight of your burden to remain, you would be lost. It would be foreign and therefore not safe for you to experience these sort of interactions with freedom to feel, security to explore, and trust that your partner doesn’t want to harm you. Fear of being hurt and harmed drives your reluctance, and for good reason, your fear is a learned response.

But you can change your responses. You can change perceptions and understanding. There is another option. An entirely other world that you could exist in that is safe and makes conflict useful. Where love and compassion are the ulterior motives. Trouble is that as long as you keep yourself securely in your hole, back against the wall, where you think you are safe, there is a huge likelihood you’ll never realize the love and compassion staring you in the face.

And the reason they will never see it is because they are indeed damaged souls. Deeply hurt during a time when they could not prevent it (childhood, naive first relationship, illness, etc). These people can change, but need help from an outside source that can teach them and help them develop the the tools they lack.

In the mean time, it you suffer the effects of another imposing their rejection, withdrawal, and/or isolation the best thing you can do is turn to education. Inform yourself of the patterns, the cycles, the experience of life through their eyes. If you can part ways, do so. If you are not in a position to separate and sever your relationship, find an educated source to talk to and locate your unending supply of inner strength. Most importantly, define your boundaries and set them at the place just in front of allowing yourself to become a victim.

If there are any on here that are struggling with this topic and would like to talk to someone via email, I invite you to contact me directly, or another unbiased, uninvolved person.  Don’t struggle alone, and in isolation. Reach out and find help, find someone with the necessary education and experience to talk with, so that you can rise out of the hurt and difficulty that surrounds you.

Humiliation – Far Reaching Effects on Children, Adults, Society

Humiliation

– Sarah Rosenberg, July 2003

Simple Definition
A leading researcher on humiliation, Dr. Evelin Lindner, defines humiliation as “the enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that damages or strips away their pride, honor or dignity.”[2] Further, humiliation means to be placed, against ones will, in a situation where one is made to feel inferior. “One of the defining characteristics of humiliation as a process is that the victim is forced into passivity, acted upon, made helpless.”[3] Johan Galtung, a leading practitioner, agrees with Lindner that the infliction of humiliation is a profoundly violent psychological act that leaves the victim with a deep wound to the psyche.[4]
Humiliation and Social Order
Historically, maintaining hierarchical societies meant that elites scrupulously guarded their honor against attempts to soil or humiliate it, while some form of more or less institutionalized humiliation was part of the reality for the lower echelons of a community. As long as such a reality is accepted as the norm, and it is believed that this structure helps to achieve and maintain common societal goals, the system is considered acceptable. Though some people in lower ranks may wish to be on a higher level, they do not view the system itself as flawed. By contrast, in societies such as Somalia, with its non-hierarchical egalitarian clan structures, Lindner’s research shows that attempts to humiliate people are fervently resented, at least by the males of the major clan families. The more egalitarian a society, be it pre-hierarchical or post hierarchical, Lindner asserts, the less use there is for institutionalized humiliation, particularly as a way to maintain order, and the less acceptable it is.
Humiliation and Human Rights
Lindner’s research on humiliation and the effect of humiliation on groups is related to her segmentation of human history into three phases of development and her categorization of the ideal types of human societies that can be found in these stages. Most relevant here is the connection between humiliation, conflict, and the human rights revolution.[5] When subordinate groups become aware of human rights values and adopt them into their value system, they reframe their formerly accepted subordination as humiliating circumstances that can no longer be deemed to be acceptable. In other words, when people redefine their situation and interpret formerly “normal” subjugation as structural violence, they begin to clash with the system. This clash can translate into violence. This can occur gradually, or a sudden change in power can lead to immediate devastating violence.
Why Paying Attention to Humiliation is Important
It is widely recognized that one of the main reasons for Hitler’s rise to power and the onset of World War II was the humiliation of the German people in the aftermath of World War I. Though perhaps less obvious, humiliation seems to be part of much suffering world-wide, and makes millions of peoples’ lives despondent. If violence between and within groups and nations is to be reduced, understanding the role of humiliation as a cause is critically important.
Humiliation, Trauma, and Victimhood
What is the difference between humiliation, trauma, and victimhood? The answer is both simple and complex. One may be traumatized without being humiliated. For example, one’s home may be destroyed by an earthquake, in which the victim may be devastated and traumatized but not humiliated. This differs from the situation in which soldiers kick someone out of their home in the middle of the night and bulldoze it or set the home on fire. This latter case exemplifies the use of humiliation as a weapon by some people upon other people. More still, one may even be a victim of violence without feeling humiliated. The difference between feeling humiliated or not in these cases may depend on the subjective framing of the situation by each person involved when violence is perceived as accidental and non-intentional, similar to natural disaster, it may not be felt as humiliation. Importantly, the more a victim is aware of human rights values, the more likely they are to feel humiliated. When one is acted upon in a way that undermines one’s sense of equal dignity, as it is enshrined in human rights, the psychological damage of humiliation is being inflicted. It is this damage that is particularly hard to recover and heal from. Lindner believes that humiliation is the necessary concept for defining victimhood as “victimhood” and as such has to be considered as the key ingredient that makes conflict comprehensible and thus preventable and manageable. According to Lindner, “victimhood at the hands of fellow human beings must entail the notion of humiliation, otherwise it would not be seen as victimhood but as pro-social event or natural disaster.”[6]
Responses to Humiliation — Hitler vs. Mandela
It is still somewhat of a mystery why responses to humiliation can differ so much. Lindner cites Hitler and Mandela as examples. Hitler chose to respond with war and atrocious acts of violence as a means of restoring national honor. His goal was to impose a new hierarchical world system with Germany on top. Mandela, on the other hand, opted for the enlightened path of peace and human rights for all of his countrymen. Mandela chose a healing track using dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation while still dealing with issues of justice as well. More research needs to be done to help explain why some choose a violent response to deal with feelings of humiliation and others choose peaceful struggle. But it is important to keep in mind that the “humiliation” factor in any conflict may well be the most difficult obstacle to overcome, and strong leaders are needed to prevent escalation of conflict through violence and bloodshed.
There are three possible outcomes to the effects of humiliation:
  • Acquiescence, or depression and apathy, nothing changes.
  • Antagonism, anger, rage, and the violent pursuit of change, often hierarchy is not abolished but merely reversed.
  • Antagonism, anger, rage, and the non-violent pursuit of change, including forgiveness and reconciliation, and the dismantling of hierarchy towards a human rights based system of equal dignity for every citizen.
Rage at the situation may overflow and a violent conflict may erupt as people try to change a system of humiliation. Human rights ideals indicate that humiliation and victimization of other have to eliminated, not simply the social hierarchy reversed. Mandela strove to abolish humiliation altogether in his society through wise social change, while Hitler used it as a core component of his campaign. Unfortunately, it seems easier to strike back and far more people in the world may feel the urge to resort to violence (though maybe not to the extent Hitler did) than there are those who would endure twenty seven years in prison, forgive their captors, and work with them to forge a united future. Better to avoid humiliation in the first place, lest we create more Hitlers, or, short of that thousands of suicide bombers.
[1] This essay is based on the work of Evelin Lindler, who sent us many of her papers, and corresponded via e-mail with me about the draft of this essay.  Our thanks to Evelin for helping with this topic.
[2] Lindner, Evelin G. Humiliation or Dignity: Regional Conflicts in the Global Village. Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial work and Counseling in areas of Armed conflict, forthcoming (2002), p.2.
[3] Lindner, Evelin G. Humiliation or Dignity: Regional Conflicts in the Global Village. Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial work and Counseling in areas of Armed conflict, forthcoming (2002).
[4] Paraphrasing of quotes taken from Johan Galtung as recorded in Lindner, E G Humiliation – Trauma that has Been Overlooked. Traumatology, Vol. 7, (March 2001).
[5] For more on Pride, Honor, and Dignity societies, see Lindner, E “What every Negotiator Should Know: Understanding Humiliation,” (2000), http://www.globalsolidarity.org/articles/what.pdf Lindner says that knowledge of human rights intensifies feelings of humiliation and that the humiliation factor is the hard core of any conflict. Another characteristic of humiliation is that when victims admire their humiliators they react more intensely when power changes hands. (Psychology of H.)
[6] Lindner. E-mail with the author, (2003).

Rosenberg, Sarah. “Humiliation [1].” Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2003 <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/Humiliation/>.
http://www.fsu.edu/~trauma/v7/Humiliation.pdf
http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/ShapiroNovNYConference.pdf
http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/evelin/Negotiator.pdf


Becoming Babywise

Not much more that I can say… I haven’t yet forced myself to get through the pages of the Babywise book, but what little I do know of it, I completely disagree with it having an ounce of intelligence.

For much better, baby-friendly alternatives to Babywise please see any of these excellent baby/toddler parenting resource books below.

Remember:  Babies cry to communicate that a NEED has not yet been met – they do NOT cry to manipulate. Their cries are their only form of communication if parents do not recognize and attend to their other non-verbal cues/signals signifying particular needs. Listen to your primal mothering/fathering instincts. Pick up your baby, love him, feed her, snuggle him, wear her, rock him, soothe her – it will all be over in the blink of an eye and you will be so thankful that you peacefully parented your little one while s/he still fit in your arms.

S O U R C E

In My Silence

Contemplative Indignation

I spoke with a friend tonight about time outs. Now my wheels are spinning.

I haven’t had a chance to write in a long time due to some personal changes, uprooting, and a general, massive directional modification in (my) life’s path.  That said, I am reminded this evening of the value not only to myself, but the potential value to others, for me to put thoughts to paper – forgive me, but is there a technological synonym, really?   Yeah, didn’t think so.

I am too tired to write much tonight, save the few comments I have already responded to, but I will give you a bit of info on the topics I’ll tackle in the coming days/weeks as the muse inspires and allows. And you all know my muse is a toddler, right!!

Topics to be explored (your feedback, input, data, etc., is always encouraged):

  • Ostracism (Time Outs), Rejection, Humiliation of Children in the Name of Discipline and Punishment
  • Curbing Insolence, or Perhaps Appreciating It
  • Your Child’s Worldview
  • Engaging – Not Just Monitoring Your Child (Anyone see the Incredibles??)
  • Bedtime (No, Not Mine, the Kid’s… Ok, Mine Too)
  • Peaceful Coexistence vs.  Harmony

So, until I can think straight and don’t see little blurs darting in/out of my peripheral vision…

Good night.

Resources: Understanding Ostracism, Timeouts

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/805746/positive-discipline-why-timeouts-dont-work

http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Ostracism

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/04/social.aspx

http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9781572306899

http://www.mothering.com/discussions/archive/index.php/t-922731.html

http://books.google.com/books?id=M0flM4dgpDUC&pg=PA12&lpg=PA12&dq=timeouts+ostracism&source=bl&ots=NNNExUmWFw&sig=CqcXM8QwYW_Em3HQSdQbxsmn_-8&hl=en&ei=Se-OTL6JLYSdlgfovZm0Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

List goes on… I’ll add more as we go.