Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother

The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother by Gail Meyers book cover


© by Gail Meyers

The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother will be available soon.  This book contains the things I wish I had known 30 years ago.  During the course of posting the essence of the book on the blog by the same name my computer, blogs, Facebook pages and even a couple of videos have been hacked.  So if you notice anything out of place, please let me know.

Additionally, videos are available on YouTube at Gail Meyers.

Thanks,
Gail


Update 6/08/2016: I am dealing with relentless hackings, harassment and even stalking. However, I anticipate being able to publish the book by late this year - 2016.

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trauma Bonding with a Narcissistic Mother


© by Gail Meyers
Are you suffering from Stockholm Syndrome as a result of childhood abuse at the hands of a narcissistic personality disordered mother?  Stockholm Syndrome, or trauma bonding, is an effective survival technique used to endure childhood abuse.

However, these symptoms can continue well into adulthood. As recovering adults in pursuit of healthier lives, recognizing the symptoms, behaviors and thought processes associated with Stockholm Syndrome is helpful.

 

What is Stockholm Syndrome?

On 23 August 1973 Jan-Erik “Janne” Olsson walked into Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, central Stockholm, to rob the bank. Police were called in immediately, but Olsson opened fire, injuring one policeman and taking four hostages.

He demanded his friend, Clark Olofsson, be brought to the bank along with a car. Negotiators gave permission for Olofsson to be brought in. Olsson and Olofsson then barricaded the inner main vault in which they kept the hostages.

Negotiators agreed that they could have a car to escape, but would not allow them to take hostages with them if they tried to leave. So Olsson called the Prime Minister, Olof Palme, and said he would kill the hostages, backing up his threat by grabbing one in a stranglehold. She was heard screaming as he hung up.

The next day, Palme received another call. This time, it was hostage, Kristin Enmark. She said she was very displeased with his attitude, asking him to let the robbers and the hostages leave.

Olsson fired his weapon and threatened to kill the hostages if any gas attack was attempted. On August 28, the gas was indeed used. Thirty minutes later Olsson and Olofsson surrendered. None of the hostages sustained permanent injuries.

However, the hostages displayed a shocking attitude. They had been threatened, abused and feared for their lives during the ordeal lasting more than five days. Yet, they supported their captors. Allegedly, one woman became engaged to one of the robbers, while another established a legal defense fund for them.1

While this is where the term “Stockholm Syndrome” originated, trauma bonding was previously recognized by psychology for many years. It had previously been found in studies of prisoners, hostages and abusive situations, such as:


What Causes Stockholm Syndrome?

Stockholm Syndrome does not develop in every hostage or abusive situation. In a Law Enforcement Bulletin, the FBI claims 73% of abduction victims show no compassion or affection for their captors.3


However, when Stockholm Syndrome does develop, it has been found that four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for the development. These four situations can be found in hostage situations, severe abuse, and abusive relationships:


  • The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser will carry out the threat.
  • The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
  • The perceived inability to escape the situation4


Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome

While Stockholm Syndrome may not make much sense socially, it does make sense psychologically. Emotionally bonding to the abductor or abuser is a survival technique. A consistent list of symptoms has not conclusively been established due to debate within the profession, but several of the following elements are present:
  • The abused has positive feelings toward the abuser or controller.
  • The abused has negative feelings toward family, friends or authorities trying to rescue, help or support them.
  • Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors.
  • The abuser has positive feelings toward the abused.
  • The abused displays supportive behaviors toward the abuser.
  • The abused displays an inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment.5

Cognitive Dissonance




First proposed in the 1950′s by psychologist Leon Festinger, cognitive dissonance is a psychological term used to describe the uncomfortable tension resulting from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time or behaving in a way that is inconsistent with prior beliefs, values or feelings.

The existence of dissonance or inconsistency, causes psychological discomfort. This discomfort will motivate the person to attempt to reduce the dissonance in an effort to achieve consonance or consistency. The person will also actively avoid situations and information which are likely to increase the dissonance and discomfort.6

 

Trauma Bonding with Narcissist Mother

Adult children of narcissistic personality disordered mothers have usually dealt with abuse for many years without any positive intervention. Worse yet, adult survivors dealt with the abuse as children. The legendary Alice Miller called it being a “prisoner of childhood.”

Children are very much dependent upon their parents for survival. So psychologically it can be very much like being a hostage in an unsafe war zone for many years. Survival can be, and usually is, a very real concern.  Growing up under the constant threat of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, mental, spiritual abuse mingled in with the occasional kindness provides the intermittent behavior required to develop Stockholm Syndrome or trauma bonding.

The child of a narcissistic personality disordered mother perceives there is no safety and no escape. As a result, the child goes into survival mode, resorting to cognitive dissonance in order to survive the abuse. The cognitive dissonance reduces anxiety which allows for bonding with the narcissist abuser (Stockholm Syndrome), even to the point of defending her.

The result is a massive, draining inner conflict. The cognitive dissonance is a symptom of holding these two conflicting ideas at the same time. This is when a child of a narcissist may become defensive and steeped in denial.  There is no longer a “fight or flight” response because the son or daughter perceives there is no escape. Just the constant fear and anxiety of an unpredictable environment. In this survival mode, the child begins to focus on the needs of the narcissistic mother in hopes of some comfort and safety. Thus, begins to fit right in to the narcissistic parent’s inverted parenting.

Stockholm Syndrome and Recovery

It is important to realize Stockholm Syndrome is an effective survival technique. I think many sons and daughters of narcissistic personality disordered mothers, myself included, carried or are carrying this well into adulthood.  However, as recovering adults in pursuit of healthier lives, we need to realize we may still be operating under the mindset of a captive, so we can break these destructive behaviors and thought processes. While this may have helped a dependent child survive an abusive environment, it is unhealthy as adults.

One of the things that really stands out to me about Stockholm Syndrome is the element that sometimes the abuser is nice. I have observed this in my relationship with my narcissistic mother, battered wives and other adult children of narcissists.  It causes great confusion because you have some happy memories with the abuser. I think this is especially true combined with the gaslighting a narcissistic personality disordered mother often inflicts on her children. We need to be very clear with the fact that occasional nice gestures do not counter chronic manipulation and abuse.

Summary

Even though the child may have escaped the physical clutches of a narcissistic personality disordered mother, as an adult the child may still behave as if they do not have control over their life. We do have control over our own lives regardless of what it feels like.  As adult we make a focused effort to break the psychological control narcissistic mother instilled when the child was indeed her captive.

Photo:  The Fox and the Grapes is a fable used to illustrate the concept of cognitive dissonance.  Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine, but he was unable to even though he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked, “Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.”7

 

References

  1. Wikipedia, Stockholm Syndrome.
  2. Counselling Resource Mental Health Library, Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser, web.
  3. Understanding Stockholm Syndrome, Federal Bureau of Investigation Law Enforcement Bulletin, July 2007, web.
  4. Love and Stockholm Syndrome:  The Mystery of Loving an Abuser by Dr. Joseph M. Carver.
  5. Understanding Cognitive Dissonance in Relation to Narcissist Abuse by The Roadshow for Therapists.
  6. Understanding Stockholm Syndrome, Federal Bureau of Investigation Law Enforcement Bulletin, July 2007, web.
  7. The Fox and the Grapes, Aesop Fables.