Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Do people who have been brought up to abuse and be terrorists have a choice in their behavior?

cartoon, © 2016
all rights reserved
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I made this cartoon, but on this topic, despite what I have portrayed here, I have no idea!

But, I do have some thoughts on the matter.

If a child is brought up in a home where bullying of his scapegoat sibling is condoned by his sociopath or narcissistic parent, are his emotions and brain more or less permanently wired and conditioned to see that sibling as inferior and a convenient target to abuse? This topic might be good for a researcher to explore.

Some research has been done about parents who raise abusive narcissistic children. According to this article in the Washington Post, researchers Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, and Eddie Brummelman, a post-doctoral researcher at Holland's University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University, discovered that narcissism develops from being treated as superior to other children by parents. Here is an excerpt:

"I've been studying aggression for about 30 years ... and I've seen that the most harmful belief that a person can have is that they're superior to others. 'Men are better than women, my race is better than your race, my religion is superior to your religion.' When people believe they're better than other people, they act accordingly."

He and Brummelman wrote in this paper: "Narcissistic individuals feel superior to others, fantasize about personal successes, and believe they deserve special treatment. When they feel humiliated, they often lash out aggressively or even violently."


Let us take a look at the Kornegay family again as an instance of an over-valued child and an undervalued child living in the same household (I have talked about them before in many other blog posts). The golden child 16 year old son was allowed to discipline and abuse his 15 year old sister (who was kept in an empty room with a locked door with only a blanket and a bucket to pee in). This is how she was punished by the parents, and the 16 year old was just following their orders, and believing in them about his stature (as being entitled and better than his sibling). The 16 year old was allowed to discipline and punish her in any way that he desired, especially when his parents were off on trips (which included verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, including depriving her access to a bathroom, a kitchen, or any emotional or mental stimulation).

Could it be argued that the 16 year old was conditioned to believe he was doing the right thing, so that he always felt he was in the right no matter how much abuse he instigated? The impetus for his abuse was to control the scapegoat, to discipline her, to keep her contained and imprisoned so that she would accept her low stature, so that she would stop complaining and stop fighting for her freedom. Even as an adult, even with exposure to a doctrine in the greater society that bullying and abuse is wrong, would he have really believed that it was wrong, especially if his parents told him he was not wrong, ever?

The problem with reactions to abuse in the present day is that many family members (cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, children and siblings) often have the attitude that familial abuse is a private matter that should be decided within the family, and that it does not concern them, and that they should stay out of it. They often also condone and take part in abusing scapegoat(s) too, especially if the authority figures of a family can convince other relatives that the scapegoating and isolating of their family member is necessary, if they can convince others that the scapegoat(s) are crazy and/or bad and/or deserve abuse. So the bullying becomes a nightmare for the victim. It is a wonder that suicide rates aren't higher (most prisoners live on self-generated fumes of hope for awhile, including victims of abuse, so that may be the reason for why suicide rates aren't higher).

Abusive families can even have liberal agendas. Some of these families espouse being against domestic violence, but not when it comes to their own homes and how they punish their children. They will say that terrorism is evil, that the people in those organizations are bigoted and ignorant, but when it comes to their own child, they are bigoted and treat them like a slave or an outsider, i.e. as "not good enough", or only good enough to bully. I have heard abusive people even say "these terrorists should" automatically and magically "wake up to the fact that violence is not the answer for our species or the planet," and yet at home they partake in violent aggression and scapegoating of a child or other family member.

The truth is, they may not deserve a peaceful world or a peaceful life if they can't make it happen in their own homes with their own families. Perhaps they can't stop the tide of violence and abuse in their homes any better than the terrorists can stop acts of terrorism, acts of war, and taunting towards nations, races or ethnically diverse groups.

I generally refer to the kinds of hypocrites that talk of peace, but condone family scapegoating, as the "they should people". These are folks who go around and say, "They should be stemming violence at these rallies", "They should do something about our neighbor selling drugs", "They should be patrolling our streets more often", "They should let women have the choice about what to do with their own bodies", "They shouldn't be giving food stamps to just anyone; there needs to be an application process which is heavily vetted" (and guess what: in order to get food stamps there is a lengthy application process and it is heavily monitored and vetted, but some of these people don't care that they made factual errors .... the more important part of their message is the they part, the theys being those amorphous authority figures that are in charge of decisions and laws making the world and civilization a certain way). And, of course, I always love: "They should be doing more to put an end to domestic violence" (and yes, abusers say it with a straight face, and even go into detail about how they need to pass better legislation for victims, and it is shocking to hear it!).

One of the reasons why most abusers cannot tolerate therapy (only one quarter of one percent enroll in domestic violence therapy voluntarily -- most domestic abuse offenders who go to therapy are court-ordered), is that they are deathly afraid of shame and their own hypocrisy. Instead of dealing with shame and hypocrisy, they take the tack of blaming their victims instead: the he made me do it desperate and not-believable explanations and defense mechanisms. The reason why they run so fast away from their victims, giving them the silent treatment and spending an inordinate amount of time smearing their victims' reputations, is to make sure that they will not feel any shame at all for what they have done, or their part in it. It is simply easier for them to get rid of their victims (and yes, this does and can include their own children), and to pretend that they are the victims instead, and lie, manipulate and make up stories, all in order to keep the big bad shame monster away from them. Everything is sacrificed so that they do not have to own up to how they treated, and still treat others.

Eventually their narcissism grows so sick and so deep and so entrenched that they actually get happy and smug that they have hurt so many people and, most of all, gotten away with it so many times. They can be extremely bitter old people whose narcissism and abusiveness has gotten much worse -- the overwhelming trend.

Many abusers insist that ending a relationship with their victim, and subsequently living with the constant paranoia at being found out about their true natures is much more preferable than working things out with their victims. If you know of parents who ostracized their child over something trivial (like breaking a vase by accident, or of not being available for babysitting for a week because they had rehearsals for a school play, or of breaking a curfew once, or of unintentionally hurting their parent over a sentence), then this is what is going on, partly. The other part of the picture is that they feel ostracized children will be learning "Don't you ever cross me, or else" kinds of lessons that abusers are famous for. They also believe their ostracized victims should be making amends to them, giving into them, trying to ameliorate the ostracism by behaving ("behaving" often meaning willing to tolerate more and worse abuse just to be a member of the family).

If they take their ostracized children back without their children doing the beg, the plead, the "please forgive me" dance, most often it IS NOT because they feel badly about abusing their child, it is purely to save face. Most of their friends and family know that ostracizing a child who is normal, out in the workplace without addictions or a criminal record, or pursuing an education, is usually about toxic parents that abuse. Sometimes the narcissists are caught at a lie, or making up a story, or their children are speaking out, or their children or a spouse runs into one of the narcissist's friends and tells the horrible story of what the parent did (and it can't be covered up with a lie because so many people are telling the same story), that is the point where the narcissists try to do damage control, because their reputations are at stake. Even if they feel they can cover their tracks, they know people will be looking at them suspiciously. A child talking about favoritism and sibling abuse is a nightmare enough (and many scapegoats of narcissistic parents get ostracized for even making mention of the subject), but a child talking about child abuse is their worse nightmare!

This happens even on a larger scale.

Etsy, a large publicly traded company who hosts mostly sole entrepreneur sellers of handmade, fine art, supplies and vintage, seemingly couldn't stand all of the bad press in major publications that resulted in many, many sellers speaking out against the company. The company muted so many of its sellers in its public forums from even hinting about Etsy's arbitrary rules about what constituted handmade (and the company's hypocrisies in this regard). In fact, it was argued by many of the sellers, that the venue gave certain sellers who were, in effect, "forum flying monkeys and cupcakes" who went along with every Etsy policy and change, no matter how bad, preferential treatment (favoritism) in the way of features, front page exposure and top press exposure. So, thousands of sellers were muted in the forums and banned from the site for talking about these issues. So, many of these sellers tried another avenue: they banded together to speak out against Etsy in major publications instead, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Regretsy, and many others. This, in turn, caused Etsy to lose credibility with both sellers and buyers, and their business started floundering. Shortly afterwards, Etsy set up "seller teams" which were open to even the muted sellers, but were "private" from buyers and potential sellers, in order to contain the dissension and complaining within its own company (this was the cynical view by many of its sellers, anyway). The sellers' favorite phrase, in fact, within these teams was that "Etsy would prefer us to piss and moan inside the tent, so long as it stays in these private teams, than outside the tent where all of the world can see it and the big publications can run with it."

I think families do this with their ostracized abused members eventually too, and for the same reasons.

So, the ostracized member is most often NOT taken back into the family for the right reasons (love); they are taken back because the shunned member is embarrassing to them and creating embarrassment about them as well. It is rare for narcissists to take back ostracized children unless their child is getting uncomfortably successful for them (they have had the attitude that their scapegoats aren't supposed to be successful, after all; they are supposed to be poor, hungry, hurting, groveling and grieving) or unless their scapegoat is giving the family a bad rap (this can especially be of concern if there are other ostracized members and in-laws who see the evil, hear the evil, and speak about the evil they saw and heard, i.e. backing up the scapegoats with the same stories about abuse).

So, if you are being taken back into the family fold, look at the circumstances of your return first. I would bet it has to do with exposure. I would also bet the furthest thing from these abusers' minds is loving. No, if anything, it is how to be ever more clever so that they can get away with more underhanded not-as-easily-detected abuses, abuses that are nauseatingly transparent, as retaliation over their abused members exposing them. It is probably about hiding the abuse better too. Remember: most abusers don't go to therapy voluntarily, and they never admit to hurting others (unless it is for show).

Licensed therapist, Josephine Ferraro, wrote an excellent piece about why clients who feel shame end therapy sessions abruptly (and mostly she talks about victims of abuse carrying around shame, so you can imagine why perpetrators cannot stand living with shame in therapy for even a milli-second). 
 
So anyway, many liberal families who abuse their children act just like Etsy in this regard. They believe in liberal causes like Civil Rights, Women's Liberation, health insurance for all, peace, safeguarding democracy, Domestic Violence awareness (possibly to hide who they really are), but live a duplicitous life by abusing their children mercilessly behind closed doors.

Which brings me to my next question:  

If a child is brought up in a terrorist organization and taught to kill infidels with a lot of military and weapons training, does the child have any real choice when he becomes an adult? Can he really think that terrorism is wrong and have the forethought to know that terrorism brings devastation to those who are targets of terrorism and those who practice terrorism? If all he knows is that infidels are inferior to him and must be killed, can his mind really entertain other, more contrary thoughts? Is he really capable of moderate, reasonable thinking and reactions? What if he is assured everlasting life and twenty virgins in the after-life for his terrorist activities? Does he feel he has anything to lose by being a soldier of his organization's righteousness?

If there really is no choice for children who have been raised to be golden child bullies and abusers and/or golden child soldiers of terrorist organizations, it means that the brain is more of a computer than an explorer and researcher, more intransigent than investigative.

Even Christ realized that the people who were executing and torturing him did not know what they were really doing ("forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" -- Luke 23:34). His persecutors were taught to hate and torture. He realized the executioners job was just a job, that there was no real enlightenment or understanding behind it. Indeed, none of the people who put Christ to death really knew Christ or made a rational, understanding, unbiased decision. Even though Christ's doctrine has been out there for 2,000 years and counting, most people, I am convinced, still do not understand him and his word. Too many people have twisted his words and intentions, such as "thou shalt not kill", as justification to kill. They think that Christ would make exceptions, that he might order killing in a just war, or order abuse in a troubled household. They think that Christ would condone violent actions in some situations rather than oppose them.

Are you kidding me? Nothing, absolutely nothing, he said condoned war, abuse or terrorism. How arrogant to think that he would rubber stamp all of the wars, or the present war, in his name! One thing about arrogance is that it can turn people into narcissists and sociopaths who think they are better than their victims.

It is my contention that Christ, even with followers, was a scapegoat for irrational rage and hatred. And did we human beings pay for it! And we are still paying for it as one war after another, after another, after another, with no rest for the earth and its living creatures, is instigated for the sake of religion.

I believe that most scapegoats come to the conclusion that Christ did: that people do not know what they are doing when they hate. And believe me, scapegoats go through feelings of anger and hatred just as much as the perpetrators do, but they don't let it take over their heart and their thinking (usually). They can be especially angry over all of the injustice they are put through, but their reactions in dealing with their anger are night-and-day different from their abusers (usually). Unlike the haters who torture others as a pastime or job they think they are entitled to perform, and where obtaining new narcissistic supply for their hatred is just part of their game plan, the scapegoat leaves the field of battle because he does not want to feel hatred. It is my contention that he does not leave the battlefield because he is hated; it is because he does not want to feel hatred, and to be living in battlefields. He already knows that the hatred that is being lobbed at him over endless inconsequential controlling tactics from his perpetrator(s) is irrational. The real issue is that scapegoats do not want to resemble their perpetrators at all: they just don't want to go around in life filled up with hatred, scheming retaliations, letting hatred define all of their movements throughout life the way perpetrators do. Most scapegoats, I have found, are most interested in doing work that helps others. They might pursue legal avenues, restraining orders and the like, to keep perpetrators from seeking any more ways to hurt them, or from hurting others. In other words, it is not a measure for revenge, but a setting up of boundaries. Unlike perpetrators, other people are not an obsession: scapegoats don't tend to think about "people manipulations". Survivors don't want to spend their lives being punitive, petty and "stupid" carrying around hatred in their bodies, minds and souls. They know first-hand what the perpetrators of hatred do to victims who are hated, so getting hatred out of the body and soul can be the primary focus and motivation of setting up boundaries and going "no contact" to safeguard against any more abuse. These are good reasons for going no contact, unlike narcissists who use the silent treatment. Narcissists silent treatments are about manipulating people and punishing those people who refuse to be manipulated. Going no contact, however, is a response to abuse, a protection from abuse, and a protection from one's children learning from abusers, and being around manipulation and abuse.

So scapegoats and refugees of violent dictatorships seek ways to avoid the abusers and terrorists: they leave their families; they leave their countries. They move to places where they can live in peace and not be tortured. Most scapegoats come to the realization and conclusion that hatred, lack of empathy and lack of deep rational thinking (stupidity) are one and the same.

Hatred is blind. Once hatred takes hold (overwhelming the emotions to the point where it takes over its host with irrational decision-making), perhaps that is when the brain becomes incapable of new ideas. A moderate ordered peaceful mind and the "thinking" that is required to make situations peaceful, is deeply compromised to make room for all of that rage. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that I believe that narcissists generally and often experience so much rage that it is the only thing left in their minds, hearts and bodies: it has completely and utterly taken over them to the point where nothing else can be felt, and no other thought can get in. These aren't generally people who solve problems, so it must be. Instead, they make many more problems for themselves, as well as for others. And they never have a creative solution to an interpersonal problem they are encountering with another person. The silent treatment is the only thing most of them understand and use, unless they have gone further into the physical abuse stage as well. Which is to say, their method of solving interpersonal conflicts and issues is quitting (they are, by and large, quitters in areas of their lives that are not working out exactly as they want, not just in relationships). So, it would stand to reason that their systems are mostly full of rage and hatred.

Hatred pretends to love the few, by sacrificing the many. It is myopic, hard hearted, unpopular and throw-back. It is emotional, and not thinking. It is irrational, and not expansive or enlightened. It's bed-fellow is often fear, envy, selfishness, greed and anger.  There is a reason why Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, William Wallace, Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Crazy Horse, Spartacus, Mandela and Moses are looked upon with reverence.  

When we are taught as children to hate (whether it be a sibling, a race, or group of people), and taught to view them as outsiders who need to be punished, abused, ruled and isolated, are we risking the longevity of our own species? I would say yes, but this is a blind guess, not backed up with research.

These are important questions. The answers lie not only in education, but whether we have an ability to fight terrorism, bigotry, enslavement, family abuse, unnecessary wars, school bullying in an ever-crowded world with ever-more need and ever-more diversity. It is not a matter of who comes out on top and survives, it eventually becomes a matter of survival altogether, for all of us.

Further reading:

Erroneous Blaming and Erroneous Punishing is Abuse! -- my own post about how many abusers take their own perceptions of someone else's thoughts and feelings, and use it to punish. I believe this is at the heart of terrorism too, where people's skin or a religious persuasion is used as an excuse to start a war (punish)

Toxic family values stem from Great-Grandparents life experiences -- from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog

Further reading on the present political climate in terms of narcissism, scapegoating (bigoted policies) and abuse:

America's Agitator: Donald Trump Is the World's Most Dangerous Man -- from Spiegel Online International, a German publication
Some Excerpts:
* On his narcissism:
 Those who have experienced this man's temperament know just how thin-skinned and aggressive Trump can be when criticized or provoked, and how mercilessly and excessively he pursues revenge. 
* On his scapegoating:
 Racism has since become a core element of his campaign, but it has only intensified in recent months. At first, Trump was only talking about the need to stop illegal immigrants. Only when he realized that this was what got him the most applause did he become more radical. In June, he said that Mexico is "bringing drugs, crime and rapists" to the United States, and that he would "build a great, great wall on our southern border," and "I will have Mexico pay for that wall!" He also announced that he would deport all 11 million illegal immigrants within two years.
* On his belief that he is superior (a "golden child", god-like) ... note: narcissism runs in families and is passed down through the generations:
 But what worried him the most, says D'Antonio, is Trump's belief that he is genetically superior to most people in the world. In all of their conversations, he notes, Trump kept returning to the notion that by virtue of his birth, he is simply better than other people ... 
... His son, Donald Trump Jr., shares his father's conviction. He said he was a firm believer in the concept of breeding, in "race-horse theory." Then he pointed at the ceiling with his finger, in the direction of his father's office. "He's an incredibly accomplished guy, my mother's incredibly accomplished, she's an Olympian, so I'd like to believe genetically I'm predisposed to (be) better than average."
* Lack of self reflection, the worst quality of narcissism:
 His biographer talks about the dark sides of Trump's self-absorption. "Trump lacks any self-irony, any form of critical self-perception." The entire family is like that, he explains. When he tried to joke with Trump's children about their father's penchant for gold and glitter in his buildings, none of them understood what he was getting at. "They don't notice when something is ridiculous," says D'Antonio. "This is the most telling characteristic of the entire Trump clan: the persistent denial of reflection."
* Enlisting bullies to take care of people who disagree with Trump's views:
 Almost every evening, Trump goads his supporters to shout down protestors or throw them out of his rallies. He often ridicules these individuals from the lectern. If one of them happens to be on the heavy side, he pokes fun at "that fat guy," which fans interpret as a signal -- that Trump won't mind if they get a little physical with the protester ...
... A study by pollster Matthew MacWilliams shows that what Trump's supporters have in common, more than anything else, is the desire for authority. MacWilliams asked people whether they preferred a respectful, obedient and well-behaved child or an independent and curious one. Those who tend to favor the former are seen as being authoritarian. Trump was the only candidate strongly favored by the respondents with authoritarian ideas.
* Trying to win over voters by making wild promises that are not spelled out, the main strategy being making arrogant statements and insulting his fellow Republicans, Jerry-Springer-show-style: 
Never before has the grand, time-honored Republican Party been as helpless and hapless as it is right now. The party's leadership had sought an establishment candidate like Jeb Bush or the younger Marco Rubio. But Trump?
"We are in total chaos," says Peter Wehner, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush. He says the Republicans are already divided and that a Trump candidacy could spell the end of the Grand Old Party. When Wehner talks about Trump, it sounds as if he's referring to the head of some dictatorship. "Trump is erratic. He is emotionally unstable, has authoritarian tendencies and a certain cruelty. He is a toxic figure, a demagogue. Trump would cause a lot of damage to the Republican Party. If he won the nomination it would be a hostile takeover. We must prevent it."

* Name-calling and verbal abuse (comparing refugees and migrants to animal species like snakes, pigs, rats, spiders, etc), another narcissistic trait not too endearing:
Bush, to his credit, never compared migrants to poisonous snakes -- something Trump did recently at a rally in Pensacola, Florida. Later that night, Trump addressed what has been one of his favorite topics lately: Europe's refugee crisis. "Just talk to the folks over in Germany," he said. "Europe is being destroyed."
When he puts on his reading glasses, the audience goes quiet. "Just listen to this," he says, pulling a piece of paper from his pocket. He printed out the lyrics to "The Snake," an old soul hit from Al Wilson. The song is about a snake, half frozen from the cold, that asks a woman to be let inside. The woman takes pity on the animal and holds it to her bosom, upon which the snake bites and poisons her.
Trump reads the lyrics aloud passionately, as if he were auditioning for a role. "Oh, shut up silly woman," he says, imitating the snake: "You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in." The crowd cheers. They're over the moon. Trump just stares back at them. "We're gonna get bit."


A Washington Post Article on a scientific study about child rearing that predicts voters for Trump -- voters for Trump overwhelmingly want children who are "obedient" and do what they are told by authoritarian figures, as opposed to parents who want children to develop into thinking autonomous personalities with their own interests, insights, perspectives and trajectory.
Note: most victims of abuse prefer the latter, and raise their children that way too, because we have been scorched and burned too many times by the former. The problem with authoritarianism is that "authorities" who are abusive and inflammatory are a nightmare to those who live or think differently from the authoritarian figure. Dictators are so rigid in their prejudices against those who are "different" that it creates an immediate dichotomy: the "for" group and the "against" group, what revolutions are made of. In a country like the United States, known for its diversity, having a dictator who is inflammatory, bigoted and intolerant of other viewpoints will be a disaster for so many people.
I would bet that Trump, in the long run, will be remembered as the most hated president we have had in U.S. history. I will also predict that he goes down in history as being a ruthless dictator who tried to overturn democratic procedures. Trump believes he will be great for the nation and proclaims this over and over (and people latch onto his rhetoric and promises instead of his policies); however, just because Trump believes it, doesn't make it so.

Another article on Trump as narcissist by Bobby Azarian

Another perspective on why people who believe in authoritarianism are, by-and-large, voters for Trump by George Lakoff

In contrast, here is an article from CNN and Reverb Press that quoted Bernie Sanders, talking about his religion (and it is decidedly non-narcissistic, against bigotry, against looking at scapegoated refugees who are trying to run away from war and ruthless dictator as a problem):
Again, quote by Bernie Sanders:
Every great religion in the world -- Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism -- essentially comes down to: "Do unto others as you would have them undo to you" ...
... The truth is at some level when you hurt, when your children hurt, I hurt. I hurt. And when my kids hurt, you hurt. And it's very easy to turn our backs on kids who are hungry, or veterans who are sleeping out on the street, and we can develop a psyche, a psychology which is "I don't have to worry about them; all I'm gonna worry about is myself; I need to make another 5 billion dollars." ...

... So I believe that when we do the right thing, when we try to treat people with respect and dignity, when we say that that child who is hungry is my child ... I think we are more human when we do that, than when we say, "Hey, this whole world, I need more and more, I don't care about anyone else." That's my religion, that's what I believe in." 


I am not sure who this cartoon was made by (I found it on facebook).
If you know, please contact me and I will give credit here for this
insightful cartoon:

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