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A general theory of abuse and recovery - Input Junkie
November 13th, 2013
08:23 am

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A general theory of abuse and recovery
I've been online since the 90s, which is a great opportunity to observe human behavior a little from the outside.

One thing I noticed was the huge amount of energy a fairly large proportion of people put into being abusive. This is amazing, considering how little they get out of it according to more usual ideas of human motivations.

This led to thinking about in-person abusers, and what drives them. While I don't understand all the reasons for ongoing abuse, some of it is obviously status enforcement. I believe the reinforcement for in-person abuse is seeing the other person being stressed by it. The advice to not let them see they've hurt you is of moderate value-- it helps sometimes, but not everyone can conceal the signs of emotional hurt completely, and (as with trolls on the internet) I'm pretty sure that some abusers can keep themselves going by imagining they've hurt their target.

In any case, I'm pretty sure abuse isn't just intended to cause hurt, it's intended to prevent the target from feeling good. If the target feels good, they might leave or shove back effectively.

From which it follows that someone who's been a target of extended abuse has been trained into the pattern that feeling better leads to feeling worse.

Recovery involves developing a gut-level belief that it's safe to feel better.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1024545.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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From:elenbarathi
Date:November 14th, 2013 10:24 am (UTC)
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There are a lot of different kinds of abuse, and the people who do it are individuals, not generic 'abusers' whose intentions can be assumed. Some abusers are indeed sociopaths who enjoy causing pain, but that isn't necessarily the norm: there are plenty of people who hit or scream at the children or partner they genuinely love, not trying to make them feel bad, but trying to make them act right. It's an ineffective method, but they don't know a better one, so the cycle goes on in spite of their good intentions.

It kinda devalues the term 'abuser' to apply it to Internet trolls. It's like calling a groper on the bus a 'rapist'.

Children brought up by malignant narcissists may be trained to believe that feeling better leads to feeling worse. Adults aren't so easily conditioned, though, and even little kids generally realize they're being made to feel bad by someone else's actions, not by their own emotions.

Chikdren and adults are 'apples and oranges' in this matter, and what they generally need for recovery. For adult women, for instance, a lot of times what they require to feel better is to let go of the misperception of themselves as dependent children who need to feel safe and protected. It's a characteristic of adulthood to accept that all safety is temporary.
From:paulshandy
Date:November 15th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
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I think a lot of the abuse on the Internet is what some people are usually thinking but won't say in front of people, or would say in a bar but didn't have a public forum before websites came along.
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