I know from personal experience how really good ideas can go terribly wrong in the hands of some people. When someone applies a "principle" that they don't really understand to make their point, things can get dicey at best. Let alone when someone takes a healthy message and manipulates it to justify their own position.
"Knowing just enough to be dangerous" comes to mind whether dealing with horses or people. The funny thing about this is that in both situations, the horses and the people are victims of this kind of behavior. They pay the price that goes along with manipulations in any form. Horses I've seen abused in the name of good training techniques and children I've seen further traumatized by abusing adults misusing helpful information.
What got me blogging down this road was Choose your feelings
over at Random Kahless. Her manipulative mother said "you chose to feel xyx; my actions didn't cause you to feel - you chose to have that feeling" in an attempt to make Little Kahless feel guilty.
Most of us have heard that we "are not responsible for the feelings of others." But what goes with that information that is equally important is that we ARE responsible for what we do. If we engage in abusive behavior and someones feelings are hurt because of it, we are responsible for that pain that has been caused. There is NO DOUBT about that!
Little Kahless's mother didn't want to be responsible for her behavior at all. She wanted to shove that responsibility onto the child whose was traumatized by her abusive behavior. Her intent from the start was to manipulate the child to take on her own personal guilt. This is a perfect example of someone taking good information and turning it terribly wrong.
I know that sounds confusing. And that is really the point, the confusion. I learned soon into my therapy that confusion was a major tool for abusive people. Being able to keep someone off balance and confused makes them more vulnerable. The more vulnerable a victim is the easier they are to abuse and to keep silent.
How could that statement even be good information. Kahless' therapist says that children are not responsible for their feelings, their feelings just are. I think that's an oversimplified way of saying that the child's feelings in abusive families are reasonable. They are what they are because of the abuse which brings us full circle back to "we are responsible for what we do." That brings the responsibility and guilt back to the mother here.
The good information from the statement "we are responsible for our feelings " comes in a whole different context. It's not designed to let someone off the hook for abuse, it's designed for the "glass is half empty" person to see clear to change perspectives to the "glass is half full."
As I explained in Half Empty or Half Full - Sad or Happy , I have been trying to teach my granddaughter how she has control over whether she is happy or whether she is miserable based on her perspective (the glass is half full versus the glass half empty thing). But she is old enough to understand the concept and is not being abused. Instead we are trying to teach her that she has some personal power and can affect her life by how she uses that power.
Little Kahless spent her childhood being taught that she had no personal power. If she wanted to survive and not be more abused she needed to conform to her parents way of thinking. There were no provisions for her to ever have her own thoughts or feelings. The rules were clear, she must see life by her parents' standards.
It's sure easy to see how someone like little Kahless's mother used something she didn't understand in any way shape or form as a means to control the child even further. The mother even set the child up insisting she write in a journal so that she could be sure she was controlling the child's feelings. For me, that's what makes the psychological aspect of this abuse so heinous.
It's no wonder that Kahless struggles with trying to get free of the ravages of this abuse. Her parents were experts at manipulating the child to carry their burden of guilt. Personally I believe the way to freedom from such crap lies in defusing the confusion they created. Understanding the process they used to shove their guilt off onto her will be a start at getting to the root of all of their evil.