The Irony of Deterrents, Part #3

‘Law and Order’ types – Republicans, Conservatives – and punishing parents, these folks who advocate for deterrents and punishments, they like to say how they’re fixing things, how they’re “modifying behaviour” and setting children and criminals right. Well, they’ve been at it for all of recorded history and maybe longer, and of course kids are always new, solving some doesn’t change anything for the next batch, but if their attitude did anything to lessen crime – well, there would be less crime. If there had been any progressive lessening of crime by these methods, these last eighty centuries (three hundred generations?) should have given us some sense it was working. Instead, we have pretty much all reached the conclusion that these things are as they have always been, and always will be, that crime is simply part of the human condition. This despite that our nearest cousins, the chimpanzees and bonobos, seem to live with a peace-to-crime ratio similar to ours.

You know, I offend a lot of people, I basically spend all of my online time telling everyone that they are bad parents, but there’s more. I think that, despite the offense of my message, people are put off by something else. I suspect they all know I’m not being completely honest with them; I think it must show that I’m holding something back. So here it is. No fear.

You ‘Law and Order’ types, you authoritarians, you punishers of children and criminals, know this: you’re not just failing. You’re not just not having the desired effect, oh no. You are destroying the world. You are making the world the Hell that it is for so many people. Your punishments – often intended as deterrents, you hope not to have to follow through, I’ll give you that – have the same effect, cause the same suite of damages that abuse does, to wit, psychological problems, cognitive difficulties, and crime. You are causing all the social problems you say you’re trying to fix.

That, plus you want to talk about how it’s natural and inevitable, and you refuse to do the troubleshooting, you refuse to take your negative stimuli out of the equation. You want to say it’s inherent, the crime, the greed, the violence – but you will defend to your last breath the very active, hands-on stimuli that has been shown by study after reputable study to cause exactly these things, and you will stubbornly never let up long enough to prove it one way or another.

That is the situation.

Now I’ll start talking nice again – well soon.

You didn’t create this situation. But having been told, having had it pointed out to you – the next time you mete out a punishment you will be doing just that. So cut it out. Stop destroying the world.

 

Here’s Part #2, might be critical to this part:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/10/22/law-and-order-the-irony-of-deterrents-part-2/

 

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The Islamic State Just Doesn’t Get It.

Well, it seems those damned Muslims in Iraq and Syria are misbehaving again.

And they’re getting worse!

WTF is the matter with those people? We’ve already bombed the crap out of them at least twice, and still they insist on their revelatory religion, and they’re only getting more committed to it, getting stricter and more fundamentalist. We’re having to go bomb them again, like we told them we would, like everybody knew we would if they acted up again. We’ve tried everything, haven’t we? We occupied them, some really present, hands on supervision, plus we’ve tried invisible death from the sky. If that doesn’t let them know that we will always know when they’re misbehaving and that we can always catch them and correct them, I don’t know what would!

We’ve shot them, bombed them, blown up whole families, even whole villages, yet for some reason, despite that we will kill and maim them, they continue to kill and maim each other. Where do they get this idea that it’s OK to do that? Who do they think they are?

It’s their Quran, isn’t it? It’s a manual for violence, and it teaches that life is cheap. That must be it. They are raised on the belief that violence can solve any problem that presents itself, and that belief is so pervasive and so entrenched that all of our righteous violence can’t seem to get through to them. It almost seems hopeless. It almost seems like we should just give it up. After all, we’ve tried everything.

But how can we? What they’re doing is so bad!

I guess we’ll just have to step it up.

Corporal Punishment is not a Racial Issue

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/09/blacks_and_corporal_punishment_why_we_invent_black_pathologies.html?wpsrc=fol_tw

Here’s what the link is talking about, but examples of the racism that is flooding the web these days in the guise of talk about the NFL scandals and corporal punishment are not hard to find. The link above also debunks the idea that the homophobia of blacks caused the success of California’s Prop. 8.

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/09/corporal_punishment_in_black_culture_what_charles_barkley_doesn_t_understand.html?wpsrc=fol_tw

 

 

The First Condition for “Legitimate” Punishment

1. Lack of proper authority:

The practice of punishment is a very specific, legitimate sort of abuse; are its effects very different though? Considering the case of children, and assuming that retribution is not supportable when practiced upon children (which I will elaborate upon later), let us postulate a scenario, one where some person is imposing something unpleasant or aversive upon a child, we may make some observations:

If it’s the authorized person punishing a child, then what results?

For the child, education, moral direction, and respect for authority, society and the rules, because he knows he is being corrected by a caring and trusted adult? I believe these are purported to be the goals of punishment.

And if it’s the unauthorized person dishing out unpleasantness, what results then?

For the child, trauma, confusion, fear, potential damage to the psyche? Certainly many people would at least consider that to be something between a possibility and a probability, depending on the severity of the unpleasantness and a number of other variables.

And what if it looked identical not to a passing stranger, or to us, as omniscient observers, but what if it looked exactly the same to the punished or abused person, to the punished or abused child? What if the child thought any number of things that would invalidate the authorized nature of his or her punishment in his or her mind? This is not uncommon, that a punished person, child or not, has a reason for his transgression, somewhere between an outright, far-fetched rationalization and an actual, arguable reason. More importantly however, what is also far from rare is it that a punished person has reason, good, bad, or in between, to feel that his punisher isn’t or shouldn’t be considered to be a respected and trusted authority. So in the likely event that something like these thoughts are in the child’s mind, then what comes of it?

Education, moral direction, respect, because that is what the punisher intended? Or:

Trauma, confusion, fear, potential damage to the psyche, because what the child perceives is not punishment but abuse? Which of these?

Of course, the question of what is effected in the punished or abused child’s mind is rhetorical. We, people, human beings, we suffer physical damage according to the blows we receive, according mostly to the targeted part of our person, and the force of the violence, all of which are determined by the intent of the attacker. This is not the case with psychic damage, which is more complex. The punished, the abused person, their internal effects, those are more closely correlated to their own mental and emotional structures than they are to what’s in the mind or heart of the abuser or punisher. And so, as beauty is in the beholder’s eye, doesn’t the trauma of abuse reside in the mind of the punished or abused person? And so, doesn’t authority lose its transformative power and the act of punishment move some steps closer to becoming only abuse?

Again, rhetorical. I’m saying yes, and maybe every step, the whole walk.

Abuse is a subjective determination, is what I’m saying. I don’t think that is news for anyone, but perhaps it doesn’t get the traction it deserves in our minds. It cannot be the punisher or abuser’s decision as to whether a given action is abusive. If that were any sort of logical possibility, that the people dishing out the unpleasantness got to say what is abuse and what is not, where could we be in terms of crime and punishment, morality, or support for the sufferers? There would be no concept of abuse. No abuse, no rape, no concept of personal human rights. Abuse is, must be, a subjective determination: if I feel raped, I have been raped, if I feel abused, I have been abused. That is the criteria. Therefore, if a child has been subjected to punishment, and he has reason to believe that the three conditions for punishment have not been satisfied, for instance that his punisher, for any number of real world reasons lacks moral authority (not a rare thought), then the child will feel abused.

Again:  if I feel abused, I have been abused. That is the criteria.

Alice Miller was wrong.

Not about the problem. The problem Dr. Miller identified is real. It’s real, and it’s huge and serious. Nearly all children, for basically forever have been abused by their caregivers, usually their parents. Child abuse is ubiquitous and systemic. True dat.

But the doctrine that she offered and has been held by her followers, that a person must have a deep and thorough therapy and recover their memories of childhood trauma, recover the feelings buried during those traumas? This is a good plan for a person, a way for a person to get in touch with themselves, a way for a person to heal themselves, and some folks may succeed. It’s well documented that Dr. Miller failed in her attempt, and sometimes offered as a criticism of her work, at least as a qualifier of the success of her work, but that doesn’t amount to anything. Therapy is not going to solve this problem.

Dr. Miller understood the goal, and she was motivated, personally and professionally, yet still she failed. One reason for this is that almost no-one has escaped the problem Miller described – her therapists included. No-one understands all the types of abuse, no-one qualifies all the abuse as such, no-one can acknowledge all of it. The problem she has described is real, and very serious, even – incurable. Every year we live is more influential and more important than the next, so traumas in early childhood have more power over our development and therefore in our lives than any attempts at intervention afterwards can ever have.

It is prevention that we need to solve this problem. There is no fixing it afterwards. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men . . .

Millerian doctrine has it that we cannot save our children except if we become conscious of our personal histories, of our childhood traumas and abuse, but this rests on an assumption very few people fail to make: that all children need be abused, that all children will be subject to force and violence, because they MUST be. The assumption is that all children must be controlled, and controlled by force and or violence. We seem to consider that it is abuse only when it is carried too far.

This is where I introduce punishment as the vector for the disease. I submit, that if we do not punish our children, that if we never hurt them, as Dr. Miller says, “For Their Own Good,” then we will never go too far with it. If we can find a way to never hurt our children, and not PLANNING to hurt them would be a good start, if we don’t plan to hurt them or abuse them any way whatsoever, then we will never visit upon them even the particular abuses our own personal histories have left us blind to. That is the one, universal repressed thing that we are all blind to, punishment, that is the secret, and if Dr. Miller ever realized it, she never told us.

We all have this blind spot, we all think punishment is OK, that punishing is somehow different from abuse. That is the key., and that is the thing that when we realize the truth, Alice Miller’s dream can come true, children raised without abuse, because the children of someone who has realized this will be safe, despite the particulars of their parent’s abuse. These parents will not pass on abuse, because abuse is passed on by force.

If we refuse to use force, our children will be safe.

The Common Denominator, Part #2

Again, psychology tells us that abuse and trauma are damaging to the psyche, and to a person’s development. In simple language, we often say that an abused person “has problems.” It is often considered that an abuser was him or herself, abused. Alice Miller thought so:

“It is very difficult for people to believe the simple fact that every persecutor was once a victim. Yet it should be very obvious that someone who was allowed to feel free and strong from childhood does not have the need to humiliate another person. “

Alice Miller
Alice Miller (20th century), German psychoanalyst and author. For Your Own Good, “Unintentional Cruelty Hurts, Too,” (trans. 1983).

Considering the above, often in cases of clear abuse or even heinous crimes, the perpetrator’s own experience of received abuse is not in evidence. We can be baffled when some person commits acts of violence, and the public record shows that no abuse or violence was committed against the offender. This can become fodder for ‘Law and Order’ crusaders, it can appear to give the psychology of abuse a black eye, it can be pointed to as debunking any correlation between the receiving and the committing of abuse. Then there is talk of sin, Original Sin, video-game and TV and film violence, as well as talk of genetic predisposition. Again, though, the existence of a precursor, or common denominator can reconcile this apparent conflict.

If we thought differently about it, if we saw our world in perhaps a darker light, if we had a reason to think that most people were in fact abused, if our view assumed few people escaped abuse, that view would certainly change the puzzle. When someone committed crimes or abuses that shock and horrify us, we would see that they probably were offended against, as per Miller’s statement; there would be some chance to understand it in some way. The conflicts would clear away, and our confusion would be lessened. That is the key. That is my premise.

– here’s part #1:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/12/15/the-common-denominator/

Good Violence / Bad Violence

We hear a lot of talk these days about abuse, therapy, your inner child, life as a grown child of alcoholics, and the like . . . while on the other hand, at that point in my life when I’m having kids and everyone around me already has them, all these parents tell me the same story of how “Oh Yes, You Have to Discipline Them.”

Am I the only one who’s hearing both these things?

Am I the only one who has seen through to the first cause, the elusive but finally simple and obvious heart of our troubles? Hear me out, people, because I think I know what’s wrong with things. With, in fact, practically everything.

It’s not even new, really. All the information is available, all the data necessary for anyone to make sense of it all – but, unfortunately, this being a large, integral part of our problems, we can’t make sense of anything. That’s a function of repression. A modern, psychobabble concept, and for those rare among us that can and do read but haven’t heard it yet, I’ll explain it briefly.

Repression is the function whereby one or more of a person’s desires and/or needs are not met (or not even allowed to be expressed) and are therefore buried by the person, along with the pain, buried beyond consciousness. It’s a survival tactic, particularly for children, and it works. However, the main side effect is that the person’s unconsciousness of the pain and need remains, extending into the future and onto other people. For instance, if a person is obliged to repress feelings of say, helplessness, then that person will be unable to see or appreciate any feelings of helplessness in others. If the person can see it, likely they will despise it.

Did I say ‘brief?’ Anyhow, that’s the basic theory.

Now, I don’t really hold with what appears to be the lay version of childhood trauma at work. In the most unflattering, simplistic terms this theory has it that, in an otherwise normal early life, incidents of trauma can cause harm, causing repression to occur, therefore causing symptoms later, blind spots that leave us and those around us at risk and in trouble. Actually, put that way, I don’t disagree. It’s possible; I’ll give you that. But it’s hardly worth worrying about, really. Compared to the truth.

Anyhow, the theory boils out something like this: mostly everything’s OK, but you get some people who have problems and there’s a name for the great cause, and that’s abuse. Now abuse is, I think, having any kind of sex with children or with anyone who, for whatever reason cannot give full, conscious, free consent; and something I will diplomatically call Overdoing it in the old Discipline Department. Violence, in short, or better yet: use of Force. You ask me, this theory falls a little short of reality.

We, as a society, seem to believe in a two-sided kind of violence, what I will call Good Violence/Bad Violence. The idea of GVBV goes like this: if some private citizen takes a person and locks them up in his basement for weeks or years, then that’s illegal, immoral, traumatic, psychically and emotionally devastating. I think most people, and certainly most experts would agree. But, according to GVBV, when an old man in black robes in a legal position to do it sends someone to the giant cellar called prison, that’s supposed to do something positive for society (read people). Then we use different words; it’s not abduction and torture, it’s a deterrent. It’s not abuse, it’s punishment. The point here is we are talking about the same act. Unless you have the appropriate license, it’s a crime, and a wicked one; with the credentials, it’s a good day’s work serving humanity.

Morally, the problem is obvious. Wrong for you, wrong for me. Now, I know it would be turning the world upside-down to just adopt that moral stand, but that’s not my thrust, not really. The real point is in how we think about violence, or the broader concept, force. If we thought about it, no-one would really believe in GVBV like it’s portrayed on television, where the good guys shoot the bad guys, for, guess what, shooting people. Good murderers and bad murderers. Individually, I hope half of us can’t believe that kind of stuff, but as a society, we appear to.

When the awesome non-logic of GVBV is brought into the light, one can’t help but question it. If violence from an unlicensed, freelance source is bad, then so too is it bad from a sanctioned one. Now, so far, I’ve confined my argument to the justice system, but that is only a side effect. The other licensed source of violence is the real problem: child rearing. The rest, the justice system, the corporate world, etc., these are only fractal offspring: child rearing is the model, the base unit. What if GVBV is false? What if it is, and every act of discipline, punishment, and control ever practiced on us all, all of our pre-adult lives, had no good effect? What if it’s a simple law of nature that violence and force are harmful to their objects? That it’s . . . bad? And that our well-meaning parents and educators did it to us and we in our turn will do it to our children, believing in this mythical good violence?

What I’m saying is, there is no good violence. It’s all just violence, and it’s what’d I say, immoral, traumatic, etc. GVBV is a myth; it’s all bad violence, however well meant. This seems clear: we are never going to win our war on violence if we believe in the good violence we practice on our kids (and our criminals), and expect it to produce good things in them, and in the world. We sanction violence when we sanction good violence. We are continually supporting the very violence we hope to minimize by our good violence, for example:

We punish a child somehow, by hitting it, or by some more creative way of making it’s life less pleasant perhaps, not necessarily hitting, for, guess what? For, oftentimes, hitting, or finding a more creative way to make the child’s sibling’s life less pleasant. When really, we know the child’s violence toward it’s siblings to be bad violence, our identical, or at least analogous act qualifies for good violence status in our minds, because we are teaching them how to behave. This, ironically, is true. We are teaching them how to behave, but not the way we think. We are teaching them our behavior, not our ideals. According to GVBV, though, if there’s a lesson involved and the punisher is licensed, then the violence isn’t what’d I say, immoral, traumatic, psychically and emotionally devastating. No no no, not that kind of violence! This was good violence!

Again, I keep missing the point, which is the confusion that GVBV causes. Sanctioned violence, unsanctioned, with a huge gray area between . . . it’s anarchy calling itself civilization. Rules for me, rules for you, rules for the police, different rules for the very rich, and again for the very poor. In the preceding parent/child/sibling exchange, likely as not, the real issue was played out: the explanation. This is where the parent gives the lesson, “Don’t Hit your Brother. ‘Here’s the deal: you hit him; I hurt you (or more creatively make your life less pleasant), until you learn not to. This is me, proud of myself, teaching you not to hit.’” This is where it’s passed on, the belief in good violence. That was bad; this (identical act) is good. No wonder the world is full of people who continue to break the rules, no matter how much legal violence we use on them. It’s hopelessly confusing.

I’ll try another tack. We seem to think there’s a ‘safe’ amount of force and/or violence to use on children, you know, like ‘safe’ levels of pollution, or radiation, heavy metals in our food. Knowing full well the damaging effect of illicit violence – to the point where victims are awarded lottery-size compensatory payments – knowing that, we still think a little bit of it is actually good for you! A person needs discipline. Well.

Who are the most disciplined people in the world – soldiers, elite soldiers, say, the Marines? And what are they good for, what is their function, their job? That should tell us what discipline does for us. And if that doesn’t tell us, what about our children, in the cities, in the gangs? What is that but kids hardened by abuse and Good Violence, doing basically what the Marines do, that is, shooting one another over economic and territorial issues?

We have to really look at whether or not it really is that simple, that violence, force, is simply bad in any quantity, regardless of who is dishing it out. Like gravity, you know, it counts for everything and everyone; it’s a natural law. It’s an unlikable notion, but here it is.

We cause all the bad violence in the world by dealing out good violence to our children, that is, everyone, at the beginning of all our lives. In the name of education and socialization, we induct our young into a life where ‘Might is Right’ is the only truism, all the while selling them our concept of child rearing which is GVBV. Now, if the test of a theory is whether or not it explains more than the old theory, try this one on. Take it into your heart for a week or two; try to look at things this way. If the theory is good, you should understand more through it, it should explain phenomena that was previously not understood, or misunderstood. If it describes a pervasive, almost universal force, revealing its effects everywhere you look, then it’s a revolution in thought, enlightenment – but only history shows us those. Of course these things take time. Also, it would require that we face the awful truth that all those nice, struggling people who raised us – even if we don’t consider what we would all call abuse – unwittingly raised us up with all manner and degree of control, from withdrawal of love to force to violence to torture, and, and this is the killer, all to no good effect! I mean, if violence has bad effects, which it does, no matter who deals it out or why, which in all likelihood it does, then all that yelling and screaming and spanking and being locked in the playpen, and being sent to our rooms, forced meals and mealtimes, toilet training, all that did us no good whatsoever. In fact, guess what?

Remember? When we were the kids, and our parents pulled some of that parenting stuff on us (Boom! ‘Don’t hit!’), remember what we thought then about their ‘explanations?’ Well, we thought they were full of shit, didn’t we? And you know what? They were. We were right, then. Back then, at some point before we were completely broken, we knew ‘Boom! Don’t hit!’ made no sense. Maybe we even guessed that something had to be terribly wrong with our parents for them not to see it. And it did us no good whatsoever, did it? In fact . . .

In fact, it killed our spirits, separated us from our emotions, and the third crucial point, one often missed by bookstore psychological theory, it disabled us for rational thought. In the absence of any comparison and with enough force behind it, we were forced to accept, as our only working premise the logic of ‘Boom! Don’t hit!’, that is, of GVBV. The worst thing it did to us is that it made us into the kind of people who, believing in GVBV, will destroy our children the same way, conditioned, desensitized, brainwashed. Proud of ourselves for our use of good violence in raising our children. The kind of people who can do anything, even allow or support a state of war.

Although I’m not as concerned as some over the nuclear aspect of this conversation, that is, that the desensitizing effect of good violence might just lead to global nuclear holocaust, because frankly, I’m more concerned about this little problem of GVBV in child-rearing here, thank you. What did the man say? ‘The disaster has already occurred!’

See, if things are so bad here now that global nuclear war is a real option, then some kind of disaster of near-equal magnitude has already happened! By analogy: when you’re young and healthy, death seems unthinkable, no alternative at all, right? But when you’re old, sick, alone, suffering terrible pain and not long for the world anyhow . . . well pulling the plug gets less ridiculous. Newlyweds think divorce a horror, but a married couple with thirty years of unfaithfulness and resentment between them might see it as a godsend. Well, what kind of state are we in already that a nuclear war is a real fear, that it doesn’t look so impossible? Brutalized, desensitized, cut off from our emotions, and addled with the logic of good violence. Believing any horrendous lie that we hear in the absence of any example of logic or truth by which to know the difference.

Now, I ask you. In this state of affairs, can we presume to ‘teach’ our children anything but the twisted logic that ruined us, and can we still justify the force required to teach a falsehood to a mind that has not yet quit functioning? Any adult using any force or control to ‘teach’ a child teaches only one thing, over and over again: Might is Right. It comes, not only free, but first and foremost, with every other lesson.

This is the problem of nearly all parents: they are oftentimes horrified by the behavior of their children once the little ones have gotten their legs and their words, the parents being unaware, through repression, of the child’s previous abusive experience. What with cribs, playpens, forced meals and toilet training, by the time our parents can talk to us, we’ve already been damaged, well on our way to becoming either deluded, dangerous, or both.

Violence, good or bad, propagates violence, good and bad. Part of the problem is that there is no way to tell good violence from bad, because, truly the distinction exists only in our addled minds. Depending on the dosage one receives, one will draw the line at a different point when it becomes one’s turn to dole it out, as to where the good ends and the bad begins. We still do the bad on occasion, helpless to stop it, but at least then we are repentant, when we cross the line that exists in our minds. The real problem is the evil we do believing it to be good.

Because good and bad violence can often appear identical (because they are), the legitimate status of the good variety allows bad violence to thrive unseen and unnoticed on our streets and in our homes. Having taken this idea on, viewing the world through it, I’m convinced that at least some of the too numerous abducted and murdered children we’re all aware of were hauled away, kicking and screaming, in broad daylight. Likely there were even witnesses assuming they were watching a normal parent/child interaction. With any honesty, one has to admit it’s possible.

Now I’m not saying, “Ban the Good Violence Now” for two reasons:

One: we have a whole world now, populated with people raised on the old system, that is GVBV, both of the deluded, law-abiding citizen type and the outright crazy and criminal type, and without restraint, these people will make things even worse, things being as they are. Frankly, I’m afraid of violent people, and any we lock up seems a relatively positive thing. Consider this: once a person has been abused, it’s a long road to bring them back to sanity and gentility. We have all suffered it, and crazy, violent people continue to suffer it into adulthood: confinement in prison or mental hospitals and torture by their keepers as well as fellow inmates. This, this being my whole point, does not make them nicer.

Two: we would have to invest some of us with the power to enforce this no violence thing with what, guns and prisons? Kind of defeats my whole idea.

No, not more rules and reprisals (read punishments, read violence). But we must begin to move away from this largely unspoken and unconscious belief in the great lie of GVBV. We must stop believing that force and violence will be the tools to put an end to our social problems. They, by definition, once removed either way, are the social problems. Aren’t they?

1.R.D.Laing, Sorry, I can’t recall which book!

Punishment of Children as Domestic Abuse . . .

Punishment of Children as Domestic Abuse . . .

Authors: (of the above graphic, as well as the original descriptions of the phases of the cycles below, not in ALL CAPS) Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.  Last updated: December 2012.

Well, I’m just throwing this out there. Honestly, I haven’t spent the time and thought on this that I have with most of this project. It’s a bit of a reach perhaps, but one may have to admit there are some parallels between the domestic violence pattern and the pattern nearly all of us have been part of as normally punished children. It makes sense that any mental gymnastics one would use to justify dishing out unpleasantness on people, and making one’s self believe that from this bad can come good might follow a predictable form, so I’ve added, in CAPS (or in red CAPS), the ‘other’ cycle of domestic abuse to the above graphic, the Cycle of Parental Punishment:

THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE IN PARENTAL PUNISHMENT

The cycle of violence in domestic abuse

PARENTAL PUNISHMENT FALLS INTO A COMMON PATTERN, OR CYCLE OF VIOLENCE:

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:

Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior.  The abuse is a power play designed to show you “who is boss.”

PUNISHMENT – YOUR PUNISHING PARENT “IMPOSES SOME UNPLEASANTNESS” – THREATS, INTIMIDATION, CONFISCATION OF YOUR PROPERTY, OR RESTRICTION OF YOUR FREEDOMS. IT IS A POWER PLAY, INTENDED TO TEACH YOU RESPECT FOR THEM AND ALL AUTHORITY.

Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he’s done.  He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behavior.

GUILT – AFTER PUNISHING YOU, YOUR PARENT FEELS GUILT, BUT NEVER QUESTIONS THEIR USE OF PUNISHMENT. THEY’RE MORE WORRIED THAT YOU’LL RESENT THEM, THAT YOU WON’T LOVE THEM ANYMORE, OR ALSO THAT OTHERS WILL FIND OUT ABOUT THE FIGHTING IN THE FAMILY.

Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he or she has done.  The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.

EXPLANATIONS – YOUR PARENT RATIONALIZES WHAT THEY HAVE DONE, RESTATING YOUR MISDEED AND EXPLAINING WHY YOU NEEDED THE PUNISHMENT, AND WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU. THEY MAY SAY THEY DIDN’T ENJOY IT, BUT THAT YOU MADE IT NECESSARY.

“Normal” behavior — The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship.  He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm.  This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

NORMAL BEHAVIOUR – YOUR PARENT DOES EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO REGAIN CONTROL AND KEEP UP THE APPEARANCE OF A HAPPY, HEALTHY PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP. THEY MAY ACT AS THOUGH IT NEVER HAPPENED, OR THEY MAY BECOME ESPECIALLY SWEET FOR A TIME. THIS PHASE LETS THE CHILD KNOW THAT WHEN HE BEHAVES, THE PARENT IS HAPPY AND NON-VIOLENT.

Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again.  He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay.  Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

CONSISTENCY AND DENIAL – HAVING EXPLAINED TO YOU AND THEMSELVES THE REASON FOR THE PUNISHMENT, AND SATISFIED THAT YOU’RE BOTH HAPPY AND LOVING ONE ANOTHER AGAIN, YOUR PARENT HAS REASSURED HIMSELF THAT HE’S DONE THE RIGHT THING, AND IS OVER HIS MOMENTARY REMORSE AND READY TO DO IT AGAIN, THE NEXT TIME YOU MAKE IT NECESSARY.

Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.

VIGILANCE AND CONTROL – YOUR PARENT PLACES A LOT OF RULES AND RESTRICTIONS ON YOUR BEHAVIOUR AND WAITS FOR THE NEXT TIME YOU BREAK ONE, SO THEY CAN HAVE A CHANCE TO PUNISH YOU AGAIN, AND SO “TEACH YOU HOW TO BEHAVE” AND “INSTILL SOME RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY IN YOU.”

Food for thought . . .

Pre-verbal Rage

For not punishing to help anything, it has to start at birth. Not much sense in abusing someone early and then removing the restraints. That is where we’re at now, that’s why the world looks like it’s all going to Hell in a handcart. We control our babies totally, train our toddlers with punishment and “non-violent” means, and then stop when they’re old enough to tell anyone about it! So we piss them off while they’re pre-verbal, and then beg and whine against their infantile rage later, neither them nor us understanding why our teenagers hate us. Ask them what’s wrong, they can’t tell you, and it can’t be cured, the rage comes from the pre-verbal period. That’s another huge part of the puzzle that seeing punishment as violence miraculously solves.

Punishment is a last resort, or it should be. Punishing a human being is the end of communication, it’s where we say ‘I’m done talking to you, have THIS instead.’ The implicit breach of personal trust and caring that comes with every act of punishment creates the situation for the next one. Once we’ve abandoned communication and resorted to physical aversives or “non-physical” aversives that are supported and facilitated by either physical means or intimidation, we’ve lost the better options.

Bullying as Punishment

the world runs on authority, on force. The army, the police, schools, corporate hierarchies, parenting, parenting, parenting. Family structure. Punishment and discipline is a system by where we control unwanted behaviour by force, and punishment, which, punishment is defined as dishing out unpleasantness to the misbehavers in order to motivate them to change their ways.

This is pretty much a definition of bullying. The bully punishes the victim. The bully justifies this punishment by listing the victims’ misbehaviours, or the victims’ family’s, or race’s, or faith’s misbehaviours.

This is punishing behaviour, this is bullies doing what their parents did, doing what the police do, I mean the bully’s behavior is VERY CLOSE to that, closer than any of us would like to think. I’m saying the bully feels he is doing what he sees around him, that in the parlance of some schools of psychology, the bully is getting his power back, after some authority figure has taken his power from him.

So, parents, schools going to the bully kids and telling them to stop is a joke to these kids. They see it as just more ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ So do I, for that matter. I, for one, would love to see someone ask the kids if I’m right about that. Don’t take my word for it. Ask the kids.

Parents don’t think they are bullying. We have a consensus about what is acceptable punishing behavior, and we really cannot seem to draw parallels with our legitimate punishments and other similar behaviours. If we can’t, if we won’t see how bullying is an extension, an extrapolation of our punishing ways, then there is very little hope that any of our conversation about bullying, any of our attempts to combat it will get any traction, very little hope of our ever solving a problem if we refuse to understand it in the first place. Surely, someone has noticed that speeches that don’t acknowledge this difficult truth have not had any dramatic effect on the bullying phenomenon? I think any approach that doesn’t include this idea would be considered empty and hopeless, at least to any group that lives under threat or reality of punishment – like our kids.

Long and short, if we don’t stop ‘bullying’ our kids at home, we will never stop their bullying, that should be obvious. I don’t know why it isn’t.

Many nations have outlawed corporal punishment, in Canada, we are in the process of outlawing it, and I can see the next step, that we will someday realize that the damage caused by punishing behaviours generally outweigh any benefit, and when we all stop anything like bullying, so will our kids. Until then, we will fight this bullying thing in vain, fighting it in the schools, and causing it at home.

So now, there are programs, task forces, plans and research, all government money spent to figure out this embarrassing problem, and if we don’t try to stop people from the use of punishment – corporal and otherwise – on our kids at home, we are wasting all those resources. And that is a sad, cruel joke, one that the parents don’t understand, and only our kids are laughing about. Not in a good way.