I have been reading a book called "Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)" and decided to share some insights I have learned from the book as believe it is an important message to spread. The book is authored by Gavin De Becker, who himself experienced abuse from his own mother when he was a child and now works to help others identify predators and abusive people to prevent harm.
People who do abuse, usually come from abusive families or have been abused in some way themselves. However as you know, some use their experience to help others prevent abuse such as the author Gavin.
Gavin discusses the "survival signals" that will help identify predators. These include:
I will use the pronouns his/her because even though it is mostly males who abuse, it is also important to be aware that females can also abuse others, such as it was Gavin's drug addicted mother who used to bash all her children for hours at a time.
Forced teaming is when the predator will use the word "we", "both of us", or "we're a team" in his/her conversations. If this happens when you just met someone then be aware that it is a sign of grooming.
Charm and niceness is used as a strategy to again groom the parent/caregiver and or child to his/her web of deceit. Gavin says that if the person comes across as too nice, then it is probably too good to be true. The person will be nice to initiate a social interaction, but once he/she develops trust, then it will transform into abusive behavior where boundaries will be violated.
Too many details will be provided by the predator to again continue the social interaction and also gain further information of the person they want to abuse. Gavin mentions that when people are deceitful, they will give too many details to assume honesty, however an honest person won't need to include so much detail because of their sincerity. Too many details may include what his/her own child has as a pet, what type of pet, his/her child's name, where he or she goes to school, etc. The predator may not even have a child, but will mention this to build rapport and trust.
Typecasting is what predators do to make the parent/caregiver and/or child feel insecure and let the child into his/her own care. For example, he/she may say that the parent/caregiver is overprotective, so the parent/caregiver will want to prove he/she is not and let the child spend time with the predator.
Loan-sharking is when the predator offers to help the parent/caregiver, but expects more in return. For example, the predator will come visit the parents, befriend them, offer to do the gardening, shopping or spend time with them and in return may ask to spend alone time with the child.
The unsolicited promise is when the predator provides an empty promise to gain trust. Gavin says to trust your intuition of what the person says, and if it doesn't feel right, then it probably is not right.
Discounting the word "no" is when the predator will not hear the word no. The predator will keep following and asking in a variety of ways, even though you said no.
An example Gavin provides is when a parent was shopping with her young son in a busy market. The predator noticed that the boy could not be bothered shopping with his mum (predator noticed vulnerability here) so approached them to offer to spend time with the boy while the mother shopped (unsolicited promise and loan sharking). Surprised at the offer of leaving her son with a stranger, the predator kept asking, the mother kept saying no, but in the meantime the predator kept mentioning his own son, his sons favourite pet (too many details and discounting the word no), said she was probably overprotective (typecasting), often used the word "we" (forced-teaming), was too nice, and promised to bring him back (unsolicited promise), while the mother shopped in peace (loan sharking). While the mother thought this man was crazy with his suggestion, her attention went to shoes she liked. At the same time the predator took her son away because the boy started to gain trust in this man who had a son his own age. The mother noticed her son missing, but her son and the predator was too far for her to catch them. They disappeared out of her sight. She never saw her son again.
Gavin continually stresses to listen to your intuition to identify a predator. If somebody does not feel right, then leave without a thought. Intuition and identifying the signals to survive is what can save you and your child/children.
Gavin also says to keep your child safe, tell them to go to a nearest woman if they feel there is danger rather than tell them to go to a nearest police station (as the closest one may be too far) or to a nearest male (as most predators are mainly men). Also females are known to be nurturing and therefore mostly likely to spend time helping. Also, teach your child how to approach safe strangers so they can learn what is safe and not safe and how to get help. If they learn stranger danger, then seeking help may be too difficult if every body is considered dangerous. For example a mother would ask her son to approach a stranger and ask for the time. One day he did need help, and was able to identify a safe person and ask for help.
On a last note, even though children who have experienced violence or have been abused will most likely become violent or abusive such as controlling, the experience can actually help them use their adversity into becoming successful. It is important that when you see a child who is rough on the outside, that they actually need love to be filled on the inside. In summary, look beyond what you see, empathise with them, help them identify where their behaviour is coming from (their past experiences) and that they can become more than what they have learned as a child. As Gavin says "You and I can give that same gift (help them learn that their violent and/or abusive past can teach them how to be better and may even give them knowledge to teach others how not to behave) to abused children, children who are not, contrary to popular belief, destined to become violent adults. If we show them that they are the residents of their homes and not the architects, then where they are needn't limit where they go". Teaching them that it was not their fault the violence occurred, will help them learn they did not cause the unhealthy behaviour, but can learn from the experience to become a better person.
Learning about healthy relationship with self and others is conditioned from past experiences, meaning that parents and other caregivers can unconsciously demonstrate to people they care for about being anxious, disorganised (wanting to be close, but move away due to fear) or avoid relationships. In turn, the person (such as you) may then meet a partner or friends that support and maintain the unhealthy style (e.g., if you are submissive your partner will be controlling). Therefore the style can last for generations. It is important to be the change so you can then demonstrate to people you care about (and work with) about how to treat yourself and others well.
Researchers Litman and Pezzo (2005) measured individual differences about gossip. Gossip at work and in personal life can be seen as destructive, but also as a way to establish relationships and gain information about others. However, it its important to discern if the information is correct or incorrect.
The study found that there were striking differences about gossip as half the respondents found gossip as “negative talk behind someone’s back”, whereas the other half of the respondents found that gossip “was a fun way to learn about others”. Moreover, people who viewed gossip as a positive social value, were more likely to find negative gossip interesting and want to share it. Overall, people were comfortable with transmitting gossip that was positive.
Gossip can be seen as both socially undesirable and as a way to facilitate socialisation. Therefore it can be considered as a tool to start and maintain friendships. However, it is important to keep in mind that the person who is spreading negative or false information may have a passive-aggressive personality that wants to ‘get back’ at the other person and therefore spread malicious information; it may be used to bring down another person; or deny responsibility for mistakes and lack of productivity. Even if hearing the information will help you build relationships, the important question to ask is “do I want to be part of this situation?”.
In summary, if you are hearing negative information about others, it would be best to double check the information or ignore it all other to maintain your own level of honesty and integrity, rather than continue on a story that may hurt others unnecessarily.
Source: Litman, J. A. & Pezzo, M. V. (2005). Individual differences in attitudes towards gossip. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 693-980.
People are social creatures that live within a community. Each person interacts with one another, leading to change and growth. Games people play is one way that each person interacts. Games people play has been formulated by psychiatrist Eric Berne, M.D. Moreover, it is a perspective from transactional analysis that is often considered in the workplace and personal life experiences. The perspective suggests that every person plays a predictable series of interactions or otherwise described as social transactions that can be labelled. Two labels include:
Debtor - can be a lifetime game where the person will use the struggles of managing debt as a life purpose to talk about how he/she succeeded. There is also the “try and collect” usually performed by young married couples. It involves the debtor playing others (usually parents and grandparents) in a game of “I spend your money and you have to chase me to collect the money I owe you” and enjoying the chase and game. The problem occurs when the creditor becomes determined to collect the money and becomes coercive. The creditor can then play the game of “try and get away with it”. Moreover, a gift can put the recipient in psychological and/or physical debt for years to come.
Kick me - when a person does something (e.g., ignores the person, treats them with disrespect, arrives late) that results in a negative stroke (I’ll explain soon) to confirm that he/she is bad. Then he/she will say: “why does this always happen to me” and/or with pride “my misfortunes are better than yours”.
Every person will play a game where they expect positive or negative strokes to be returned, such as “I will do/say this, and you will do/say that”. The stroke is, as according to Berne, essential for psychological and physical health. If a stroke is not returned, then the person may experience anxiety, depression, etc. A stroke can be verbal, non-verbal or physical (e.g., touch).
In summary, understanding the games people play will help you understand why you and others interact, how to manage the interaction and most important of all how not to get hurt as some games are exhausting and can damage your sense of wellbeing and self.
Systems theory suggests that every person lives in a system which cannot be considered linear as many different situations causes an effect. Therefore when one person is treated badly, there will be various circumstances that can explain the outcome. The circumstance may be that the person causing the treatment may be feeling bad themselves but need to see it in someone else, which was caused by their own past. It could also be that the person who feels that they are treated badly lacks assertive skills and is not sure how to manage the interaction. Therefore you would have to look at the needs of the system itself (such as system at the workplace or family structure, which is also known as second-order) and the needs of the individual (which is also known as first order) and create a balance.
Using systems theory is also helpful in the workplace, as interactions and behaviour is caused by the system in the workplace. Therefore considering one particular situation may not be as helpful as considering various aspects. As example, suggested by Ms Smith-Acuna, an employee was having trouble with a colleague and felt anxious, unsupported and was too apologetic, however her own way of conducting the meeting (fitting in the with system) needed improvement and she needed to improve her assertive skills (changing the individual) to improve how the meetings functioned, while her colleague needed to change her behaviour as she was critical and impatient. If the change-agent was to only look at the two people, then important details would have been missed. Details of how the meetings were run (system of the organisation) and how the individual fit within the system (second-order system).
Another example is family therapy using systems therapy. A teenager was always angry, but when he was able to manage his anger, another teenager in the family started playing up. It was discovered that the children were expressing the anger that the parent needed to express (of the marriage). However, once the parent realised what was really going on (a system that may have lasted generations and can be resistant to change), the dynamics of the whole family started to change. Systems theory can also help understand that change in behaviour can cause change in systems, however systems need to be considered in two parts - the rules, roles and boundaries that support the system which always works toward maintaining homeostasis and the structure of the system. It is also important to remember that systems also has sub-systems (e.g., department in the workplace) which need to be considered.
In summary, behaviour is often reinforced by the system the person is in as it is providing feedback. You will need to ask is the system causing me to behave, feel or think in this way or do I need to change to fit in the system. What needs to change to create a balance? Often, in the workplace it is usually the latter as some people may fit in the system and some may not and either need to change or move out. You would have to look at the whole picture, and its different parts, to understand the causes.
Source: Systems Theory in Action - Application to individual, couples and family therapy by Shelly Smith-Acuna.
The conundrum of human behaviour. It can be playful, rewarding, hurtful, encouraging, and comforting. Can it be judged by what you see at first sight? I don't think so. Sometimes you need to interact for a while to find out the truth. Sometimes, people will use their social skills to manipulate or use desirable or undesirable qualities to achieve a conscious or unconscious goal that may be hurtful or helpful to others. Moreover, others will seek out vulnerable qualities to take advantage of another person to achieve their own goal. Do you remain on guard or trust completely. Do you work with your head or your heart only. I'd say both.
If you have a mind that looks for patterns and consistencies, sometimes a person will thwart what you assumed. They will do something completely the opposite to what you expected. The evidence before you suddenly changed. Or is it what you only wanted to see, and the evidence before you no longer supports what you perceived? Remember, that perception is filtered from your belief system. What about if you are value driven, do you change your values or change what is around you or just accept without judgement? It's a conundrum, surely.
Carl Rogers used person centred therapy on a client who he found out told a lie the whole time because the client realised he could get away with it. He took advantage of the situation. The therapy was to provide unconditional positive regard conditions in the treatment room. To accept fully what the client had said, without judgement. Whereas in contemporary counselling, the therapist will look for inconsistencies to challenge the client so they will be aware of their words and actions. The strategy is to help them grow out of a dysfunctional pattern and create conditions for change. Carl Rogers' technique is today mainly used to build a rapport with the client and as part of the treatment, not the treatment itself.
In the end, every day is a learning experience. The test is to use each experience as a chance to grow yourself. To realise that you cannot change others and that if they did indeed choose to use your vulnerabilities as a chance to manipulate you, that you have learned from the experience and to grow from it. It is also a chance to realise that yesterday no longer exists, but was part of your wonderful experience. Today is a gift and to be open enough to learn from what you have been presented with and tomorrow is a day you will never know, as they say a mystery.
Therefore human behaviour is a conundrum, but I'm guessing that it is meant to be. That it enables life to be a classroom, where we learn from each other. To accept others fully, to not be so judgemental but to learn that there is the good, the bad, and that each will bring out what we need to be challenged in order to grow into a better person.
I just want to add, that for those who have Autism, ADHD or are highly intelligent that human behaviour is more of a challenge because you find shifting perspective a challenge, you continually look for patterns and that you think more with your head than emotionally. You also notice detail more, highly sensitive and the outside world can be exhausting. But if you learn the skills, learn more about yourself and how to manage what you find too difficult sometimes, such as change, you can become a master at learning about differences and that when something unexpected thwarts you that feeling completely uncomfortable is part of the growth process. Just be okay with it and continue to grow. It would be easier living in a bubble and to only use your mind, but life experience will teach you more than a book, a classroom or the internet. Sometimes it will hurt, sometimes it will be joyful, but staying the same won't help either.
A study conducted by Kistenmacher and Robert Weiss investigated the use of motivational interviewing on men who batter. It was found that the treatment improved changes compared to the control group, which did not receive any type of motivational interviewing.
The stage of change model was used to identify if the participants recognised that they were hurting their partner. The study stated that most battering men don't believe in hitting women, however their behaviour states otherwise. Therefore in treatment, denial would have to be recognised and addressed. Moreover, when abusers are in the pre contemplation stage of change they usually blame their partners for the abuse, don't understand the benefits of changing and won't end their abusive and/or violent behaviour.
It was discussed in the literature that there is no "one best fit treatment" for abusive and violent people, however matching the best treatment plan to suit individual needs will produce the best outcome. For example, when using cognitive behaviour therapy, there is a suggestion from the therapist that the client is in action stage, when in fact he or she may not even recognise the harm he or she is doing to others. Therefore motivational interviewing may be necessary before any action is taken. Using this approach will help the client become aware of the benefits of change and the harm they are causing. Therefore the client is the one suggesting "why" to change, which in turn starts the process of motivation to change.
The study suggested that motivational interviewing should be paired with other treatment plans to increase potential for positive change and end the violent and/or abusive behaviour.
Source: Kistenmacher, B. R., & Weiss, R. L. (2008). Motivational interviewing as a mechanism for change in meant who batter: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Violence and Victims, 23 (5), 558-570.
Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is characterised as extreme outbursts of aggressive behaviour that can lead to damage or destruction of property and physically injuring animals and/or people within a 12-month period and the behaviour is out of proportion to the circumstance. The behaviour is short-lived and impacts social and vocational aspects of the individual’s life. One example of IED behaviour is road rage as mentioned in the psychological literature.
Over the years, research for IED has found that the disorder in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual I - IV was too narrow and each manual therefore broadened the disorder. Initially the disorder excluded individuals who had generalised aggression between the explosive acts (DSM II), whereas in the DSM-5 it does allow these symptoms. The implication for allowing generalised aggression between the explosive acts is that more people are able to become diagnosed and therefore receive appropriate treatment. Another important change includes symptoms classified as severe to less severe meaning that IED is dimensional. The challenges that researchers have found when reexamining the disorder was that there are over 200 meanings for aggression causing a lack of precision in creating measurement tools for research and that low prevalence rates did not provide enough participants for research purposes.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder is not a part of another mental disorder but can be diagnosed in addition if it occurs when the other disorder is not present. Individuals with IED show characteristics of impatience, hostility, trait-anger, being assaultive and resentment. They also have greater prevalence of mood disorder and higher levels of state and trait anxiety. Individuals with IED tend to console their victims after the attack as they did not want the outburst to occur and became remorseful.
Research has found that individuals who have symptoms of IED are often in the correctional system and tend to miss out on treatment. It is important to understand an individual's aggressive outbursts from a therapeutical point of view to correct the behaviour with the appropriate treatment.
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author, 2013.
Baron, R. A., & Richardson, D. R. (1994). Human Aggression (2nd ed.). New York: Plenum Press.
Coccaro, E. F. (2010). A family history study of intermittent explosive disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 44, 1101-1105.
Coccaro, E. F., Kavoussi, R. J., Berman, M. E., & Lish, J. D. (1998). Intermittent explosive disorder-revised: Development, reliability, and validity of research criteria. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 39(8), 368-376.
Galovski,, T., & Blanchard, E. B. (2002). Psychological characteristics of aggressive drivers with and without intermittent explosive disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40, 1157-1168.
Saha, A. (2010). A case of intermittent explosive disorder. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 19(1), 55-57. doi: 10.4103/0972-6748.77639.
To obtain interpersonal competency you need to think about what you value and the cost and rewards the interaction is going to give you.
Interdependence Theory suggests that we consider the cost and rewards when mixing with other people. When considering the cost and rewards we will consider if the person can satisfy our highest value. The value is interchangeable and is used to compare, which means that I can choose to interact with somebody because they are confident but they talk too much. I value confidence highly and willing to overlook verbosity, therefore I am willing to compensate. The cost of "confidence" will provide me with rewards of positive energy: I am investing in good energy. To do this I will provide the other person with silence so they will be heard as they prefer being verbose. Therefore we are okay communicating as we are willing to compensate. Over time, the way I think will change because I realise that verbose people aren't that bad. Even though Attachment Theory suggests that the way we think is stable (some theorists do say it can change over time) Interdependence Theory says it is susceptible to change, depending on whether we are willing to compensate so we can gain the necessary rewards: the rewards is far greater than the cost.
In a nutshell, what Interdependence Theory suggests is that we are always assessing other people's styles because of the outcomes it produces. The outcomes will provide internal satisfaction (and exceed it). If the value the other person is not as satisfying then we will feel discontent and look for alternatives. We are also willing to compensate by overlooking styles that we don't really value as other parts of the person provides high intrinsic value; making us more flexible.
On the other hand we can become dependent (rather than remaining interdependent) on the other person, and overlook a quality that does not match our value. This is why some people choose to stay in abusive relationships or work with abusive colleagues. Even though they may value respect, they don't have enough or relevant education to get out of it and therefore feel they have to put up with it. To overcome this possibility, always consider what you value. If the person doesn't match it and leaves you feeling unhappy and dissatisfied, then consider what is the cost and rewards you are gaining. If the cost is your happiness and the reward is financial dependence/convenience, then decide is it really worth what you are missing out on and can you get that reward elsewhere. Interdependence Theory suggests that people start to explore opportunities for more satisfying outcomes by considering the rewards and costs. What is the reward going to cost you? Realise you have the power to decide what is best for you, especially after you learn what you value.
Source: Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Interpersonal Processes, Edited by Garth Fletcher and Margaret Clark. Blackwell Publishing, 2003, USA.
Friendships are about sharing stories, learning more about yourself and the world around you and it is also a way to help you cope in difficult situations. Your social network is the best way to help you cope when life becomes stressful. Your social network can provide advice or direct you to an appropriate resource. They can even help you remember about a resource that was sitting in your preconscious.
Whenever you get into a social network it is most likely because you want to achieve a goal. During the relationship, whether it is an acquaintance or friendship, it is managed by each person maintaining the desired goal and required stimulation. A stimulation can include a phone call, meetings, or through social networking. Stimulation will satisfy the emotional, physical and emotional self but it is best achieved through physical contact.
Physical contact allows each individual to read faces and other non verbal cues. Furthermore, when people communicate physically they can effectively work with the sensory data. The sensory information is housed in the central nervous system. For example if I noticed that my friend looked at me sideways with the corner of his mouth turned sideways then I would notice that he was hostile towards what I had said. To manage the conversation I would take a few slow breaths to manage the information that is passed through my thalamus so when it reaches the amygdala it won't go in over drive. It will also allow the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system that is in the vagus system to work in harmony. In summary, because I have managed my own stress I can then manage the other persons stress, before they start making their own assumptions that will become processed into the cerebral cortex and become a perception.
In conclusion, physical contact can help you manage the emotions, thoughts, stress and fears of the other person so the exchange you both create will have meaning and allow the goals to be reached.
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