Monday, June 16, 2014

the silent treatment

name of illustration: The Scream Over the Silent Treatment
after the 1893 painting The Scream by Edvard Munch
medium: inks and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper
image is ©2014 Lise Winne with proper attributes to Edvard Munch
(for questions regarding any images contact LilacGroveGraphics (att)

(note: more of this topic is covered in this blog post, The Silent Treatment is Abuse!) 

I found this by a reader from the Silent Treatment Blog:

It occurs in small ways and begins in all the little things that you stop saying to each other. Then the resentment starts. The quarrels, the arguments, the snippy conversations, the single word answer to every question that is asked. And growing use of the word ‘Fine’. -- Kate

From one of my favorite bloggers on dysfunctional relationships, Thomas G. Fiffer (who writes many articles for The Good Men Project), here are some snippets from this article on the silent pain of emotional withholding (which can also be interpreted as "the silent treatment"). In the article he is responding to a reader who talks about a dysfunctional relationship that is the passive-death non-relationship in which every dissatisfaction you express is completely ignored or casually dismissed. Not with a bang but a whimper……….

Here are some of his responses (again, if you are interested in the full article, it is here):

If you've lived with a dysfunctional partner, chances are you've experienced it. Coldness replaces warmth. Silence replaces conversation. Turning away replaces turning towards. Dismissiveness replaces receptivity. And contempt replaces respect. Emotional withholding is, I believe, the toughest tactic to deal with when trying to create and maintain a healthy relationship, because it plays on our deepest fears—rejection, unworthiness, shame and guilt, the worry that we've done something wrong or failed or worse, that there's something wrong with us ... You're desperately lonely, even though the person who could comfort you by sharing even one kind word is right there ... When you speak, you might as well be talking to the wall, because you’re not going to get an answer, except maybe, if you’re lucky, a dismissive shrug. And the more you talk about anything that matters to you, the more you try to assert that you matter, the more likely your withholding partner is to belittle or ignore what you’re saying and leave you in the cold ... You ask yourself, am I here? Do I mean anything to this person? Do I matter? Do I even exist? ... Your accomplishments go unrecognized, your contributions unmentioned, your presence at best grudgingly acknowledged, and any effort at bridging the chasm is spurned ... Emotional withholding is typically a response to your trying to stand up for yourself, to an assertion of your rights within the relationship. And perhaps the deepest pain of all comes from your partner’s insistence that you deserve to be treated this way, deserve to be punished, and, to paraphrase my older post, your partner’s absurd argument that if you just give up your silly notion of having a healthy, communicative relationship between two equal partners and resubmit to emotional domination and abuse, the caring, compassion, communication, and connection, the warmth and the love, will return ... And they might—for five minutes, five hours, even five days—until you assert your yourself again." --- Thomas G. Fiffer

The point is that even if you capitulate and give in, it is likely to happen all over again when you need to assert yourself again. And it is very, very likely that you will have to assert yourself again over another issue! Imagine all of the ways in which you will not be able to compromise. Some of these might include (or think of your own): you might be expected to apologize to an abusive sibling through the pressure of a parent, you might be expected to allow an abusive in-law who has molested your daughter back into your life by a spouse, you might be expected to go on a dangerous trip in a war-torn country where there is heavy artillery with your newborn baby by an abusive boss, you might be expected to drive through a blizzard when no one else is out on the roads except snowplows, anything... If the relationship has a pattern where you have bended under pressure to concede or grovel for love lest you take the consequences of being dismissed or abused, you'll be expected to knuckle under again and again, no matter what is at stake to you, your life, your health, your sanity ... "What you allow is what will continue."

As Thomas G. Fiffer says in the closing of his article:

The truth is, caring, compassion, communication, connection, warmth, and love should NEVER be conditional and NEVER be willfully withheld, EVER, unless the relationship is already over and you need to draw a boundary to establish your new life and preserve your own sanity. Withholding these within a relationship is abuse, a kind of emotional blackmail, no different from the other kind that threatens to hurt you where you’re most vulnerable if you don’t comply with your partner’s desires or needs. But the harder you work towards creating a healthy relationship, the more your dysfunctional partner will withhold the very things on which the health of the relationship depends. This is how your relationship becomes “the passive-death non-relationship” ... sunk under the weight of scorn and silence instead of buoyed by the lift of love.

If you have a narcissist in your life, they use the silent treatment as a way to manipulate and control you (the victim) as this article by Alexander Burgemeester will attest to:

When a narcissist uses the silent treatment with someone, they take it to the extreme. A narcissist may refuse to speak to or even acknowledge someone for great lengths of time- and then demand an apology that is out of proportion to the perceived offense. By demanding this apology, it supports the narcissist’s inflated view of himself or herself. The silent treatment is a common form of abuse used by people who cannot tolerate being on the receiving end of someone else’s self-assertiveness ... When the victim does something that displeases the narcissist, they cease to exist for a certain period of time-most often extensive and disproportionate amounts of time. -- Alexander Burgemeester

Many psychology journals refer to "the silent Treatment" as silent bullying.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Is it abuse or brain damage when pathological lying comes from alcoholics?

name of illustration: Brain (D)effects
medium: inks and watercolor on Arches watercolor paper
image is ©2014 Lise Winne
(for information regarding licensing any images, purchasing the original art or a print of the art 
contact LilacGroveGraphics (att)

If you were wondering, pathological lying is abuse

Alcohol can damage the hippocampus of the brain, making it hard to decipher whether an alcoholic is lying or has brain damage. An article I found on the subject is HERE.

You can also see the disturbing pictures of brain damage from alcohol HERE.

Do you wonder if you are in an abusive relationship with an alcoholic (even if the abuse isn't physical)? Take the quiz HERE (mainly for partners of alcoholics, but you can modify your answers if you are in other kinds of relationships). 

But the disease of alcoholism (without brain damage) can also turn a person into a pathological liar. Here are some snippets from an article by Floyd P. Garrett, M.D.:

The first casualty of addiction, like that of war, is the truth. At first the addict merely denies the truth to himself. But as the addiction, like a malignant tumor, slowly and progressively expands and invades more and more of the healthy tissue of his life and mind and world, the addict begins to deny the truth to others as well as to himself. He becomes a practiced and profligate liar in all matters related to the defense and preservation of his addiction, even though prior to the onset of his addictive illness, and often still in areas as yet untouched by the addiction, he may be scrupulously honest.
First the addict lies to himself about his addiction, then he begins to lie to others. Lying, evasion, deception, manipulation, spinning and other techniques for avoiding or distorting the truth are necessary parts of the addictive process.
... In order for the addiction to continue it requires an increasingly idiosyncratic private reality subject to the needs of the addictive process and indifferent or even actively hostile to the healthy needs of the addict and those around him.
... in the more serious or advanced cases all such human counter-attacks upon the addiction, even, indeed especially when they come from those closest and dearest to the addict, fall upon deaf ears and a hardened heart. The addict's obsession-driven, monomaniacal private reality prevents him from being able to hear and assimilate anything that would if acknowledged pose a threat to the continuance of his addiction...
... At this stage of addiction the addict is in fact functionally insane. It is usually quite impossible, even sometimes harmful to attempt to talk him out of his delusions regarding his addiction. This situation is similar to that encountered in other psychotic illnesses, schizophrenia for example, in which the individual is convinced of the truth of things that are manifestly untrue to everyone else.
... In many cases the addict responds to negative feedback from others about his addiction by following the maxim of "Attack the attacker." Those who confront or complain about the addict's irrational and unhealthy behaviors are criticized, analyzed and dismissed by the addict as untrustworthy or biased observers and false messengers. -- Floyd P. Garrett, M.D., Psychiatrist

Perhaps this is why addiction often mimics psychological disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia

Here is an excerpt from someone I found on the AA Active Board:

Alcoholics Are Usually Pathological Liars
Long before they became physically addicted and often when they're very young, most alcoholics adopted lying as a "preferred defense strategy."  In other words, they usually found it easier to lie their way out of situations than to tell the truth and face the consequences.  And once fully addicted, they now have an endless supply of reasons for lying because they are always making excuses for their behavior and shortcomings.
So eventually, lying becomes a way of life and the first lie is that they don't have a problem and they don't need help.  And because everything else is built on top of the denial that they don't have a problem and they don't need help, everything else about their life tends to become a mixture of lying and denial as well.  That's how an alcoholic can rationalize sitting in a bar bragging about their children while in reality, they've abandoned their kids and stopped making child support payments.  In essence, the alcoholic is such a convincing and constant liar and denier, while they're in a good "buzz zone," they can even convince themselves of the lies. -- Larry H.

Quotes on lying and addiction from recovered alcoholics:

The deceit & dishonesty that addiction brings to love is certainly not what love is about. It's contrary to its very nature, to its essence ... Addiction replaces family & friends with those that don't love, those that really don't care, & those that will never have your back ... Addiction is a bully, a liar, a cheat. It taunts. It stifles. It disrespects & disrupts. It removes the life & the heart out of the spirit ... Addiction puts extraordinary pressure on ordinary people. It puts strain on all they hold dearly. It takes honor from everyone it touches. -- Jim Wallor,

Grandiosity and self-centeredness are issues with all recovering addicts ... why we need sponsors to help us stay on track. -- Michael Liimatta, Chief Academic Officer at City Vision College, Kansas City, Missouri

Alcohol destroyed my ability to stand up for something more important than my own narcissistic addictions. -- Bill Wilson