Pathological Relationships

Dealing with a problem partner

Am I Under His Spell Part II

The victim's intense attachment to her perpetrator

In my previous column, we started talking about the very REAL issue of trance in relationships with pathologicals.

Women have described this as feeling 'under his spell,' 'spell bound,' ' mesmerized,' 'hypnotized,' 'spaced out,' and 'not in control of my own thoughts.'  All of these are ways of saying that various levels of covert and subtle mind-control have been happening with the pathological.  And why wouldn't they be happening? These are power-hungry people who live to exert their dominance over others.

That includes your body, mind or spirit. Mind Control techniques are used on prisoners of war, in cults, and in hostage taking, either physical or mental. It obviously works or there wouldn't be 'techniques' and people wouldn't use it.

Mind control, brainwashing, coercion...are all words for the same principles that are used to produce the results of reducing your own effectiveness and being emotionally overtaken by someone intent on doing so. The result is the victim's intense attachment to her perpetrator. This is often referred to as Betrayal Bonding or Trauma Bonding.

This is created by:

•Perceived threat to one's physical or psychological survival and the belief that the captor/perpetrator would carry out the threat.

•Perceived small kindness from the captor/perpetrator to the captive.
 
•Isolation from perspectives other than  those of the captor/perpetrator.
 
•Perceived inability to escape.

Mind control then produces dissociation which is a form of trance states. Dissociation is when your mind becomes overloaded and you need to 'step outside of yourself' to relieve the stress. Dissociation and trance are common reactions to trauma. For instance dissociation happens during abuse in childhood as well as adult traumas like rape. Prolonged mind control in adults will even produce trance states where adults begin to feel like they are being controlled. And they are...

If you have experienced mind control in your relationships, treatment and recovery for it includes:

* Breaking the Isolation - Helping you identify sources of supportive intervention; Self-help groups or group therapy, also hot lines, crisis centers, shelters and friends.

* Identifiying Violence - As a victim in an abusive relationship, minimization of the abuse can occur, or denial about the different types of violent behavior that you encountered. Confusion about what is acceptable male (parental / authority) behavior is often common. Journal keeping, autobiographical writing, reading of first hand accounts or seeing films that deal with abuse may be helpful for you to understand the types of abuse you experienced.  

* Renaming Perceived Kindness - Since abuse confuses the boundaries between kindness and manipulation, you may need to develop alternative sources of nurturance and caring other than the captor/perpetrator.

* Your Ability to Validate both Love and Terror - Because pathologicals often are dichotomous or have polar opposite behaviors such as kind and sadistic, there is often a split by the victim in
how they see the abuser. Treatment may need to help you integrate both disassociated 'sides' of the abuser, and will assist you in moving through the dream-like state in how you view and remember him.
 
In my next column, we'll continue our discussion on other forms of trance states and spell bound conditions.

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Sandra L. Brown, M.A., is CEO of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education.

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