Thursday, October 21, 2004

This explains so much...

I still feel stunned when a woman tells me she's returning to live with a man who recently broke her jaw. With her teeth clenched and mouth wired shut, she says she's going back, "because he loves me and I love him." Pardon me if I'm not bowled over by the magic of love.

I still feel shaken by the boy who tells me, in great detail and with boundless enthusiasm, all about the father who abandoned him when he was 4-years-old. And I am still disturbed by the good soldier who blindly follows his leader's orders and marches into danger -- although his leader has shown, time and again, poor judgment, lack of planning, and disregard for the men who serve him.

As a psychologist, I should know better than to be stunned, shaken or disturbed by these images. After all, I know why humans behave irrationally. I even do it myself.

On Sept. 9, 2001, President George W. Bush's approval rating was 55 percent. Only three days later, after the worst attack on U.S. soil in history, his approval rating was 86 percent.

In psychology, the enhanced allegiance to a person associated with your abuse is referred to as trauma-bonding. It is a powerful phenomenon. It accounts for why a woman might return to the husband who broke her jaw. It explains why otherwise intelligent people begin worshiping those very people whose behaviors have threatened their safety.


The abuser never admits mistakes, never truly apologizes and never shows weakness. The abuser, despite his inconsistent and capricious decisions, insists he has not changed his philosophy. He is determined and resolute. The abuser manipulates us with fear.


The choice is clear: Shall we believe in ourselves, risk his disfavor, and assert our independence, or will we continue to irrationally cling to our failed leader? Shall we boldly vote for change Nov. 2 or will we wire our jaws shut for another four years?

Full article at link.


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