Pick a divisive issue currently in the news. Write a two-part post in which you take on two personas and approach the topic from both sides. Bonus points for a creative format (roundtable discussion, debate transcript, etc.)
“Childhood sexual abuse is rampant around the world. We’ve all heard about human sex trafficking. We all know that children are involved. We also all should know that molesting a child is a felony in all 50 states here in America.
“What we don’t always know is that the results of being molested can change a person forever; being sexually abused as a child often results in the sexualization of a child who has no clear understanding of the power the offense had. I submit, therefore, that any child who has been sexually abused needs to be in some kind of therapy that will help dispel the terrible after-effects, and help that child not to act out in a socially inappropriate way.”
“Okay, Linda, so what’s the big deal here? I don’t think any right-thinking person would disagree with what you’ve said.”
“Sadly, Pumpkin, that is not the case. My issue for this post is that there ARE people out there, people who claim to love God and to care about the children, who dismiss the troubling results of sexual abuse. They don’t believe PTSD really exists, but is made up by people in my profession simply to create something else that needs therapy. Sometimes, they even go so far as to say that soldiers, for instance, don’t really have PTSD. What’s wrong with them is that they just don’t love God enough, and they have made an idol out of their wartime experiences.”
“Oh, you have to be kidding! ”
“I wish I were. I’ve worked with too many adults who were traumatized by sexual abuse as children, and too many vets who can barely function in civilian society, to be unaware of the belief out there that it’s all bunk. Do you remember, Pumpkin, how our soldiers who fought in Viet Nam all those years ago were vilified? Not only did they see horrendous things over there, but when they came home they often faced a barrage of rotten vegetables and screams of “Baby Killer!” thrown in their faces as they deplaned. Trauma there, trauma back home. No wonder they’ve struggled all these years just to survive.”
“Linda, you started this post with the topic of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.”
“You’re right. I got off on a rabbit trail there that upsets me just as much. Back to sexual abuse. Did you know that there is still an attitude out there that if you were abused, you were probably asking for it?”
“No! I thought that kind of thinking went out with the cave man.”
“I wish. Here are just a few of the things survivors hear:
♦ What were you wearing? Was it revealing or immodest?
♦ Why didn’t you scream or run away?
♦ I don’t see any bruises or anything. Why didn’t you fight?
♦ Didn’t it feel kind of good? Is that why you never told anyone until now?
♦ Are you bitter or angry at the person who touched you? Have you gone to that person and asked forgiveness ?
♦ You know, the “abuser” didn’t touch your soul. He just touched the throw-away parts.
“Wait! What? Who would say such an awful thing? What in the world are “throw-away parts,” anyway? Come on, aren’t you making some of this up? ”
“Pumpkin, my friend, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. I am appalled at the way we re-victimize the victims, blaming them for the abuse, accusing them of “asking for it,” letting them know it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t wanted it to. I know of someone, for example, whose own father abused her for nearly 20 years. She had no idea that what was happening to her was abnormal. She hated it, but her father convinced her she needed to obey him or God would punish her. And he also told her never, ever to talk about it, because what happens behind closed doors stayes behind closed doors.”
“So you’re saying that children are victimized, then threatened so they won’t tell. But why do they just allow the abuse? Wouldn’t you want to scream or try to run away?”
“Sure I would, But pedophiles are crafty, and most of them take the time to ‘groom’ a child. This is a process of getting the child’s trust; of getting the child used to his (non-sexual) touch. It often includes establishing himself as an authority figure in the life of the child, and it is often someone the child’s family trusts–a youth worker, a teacher, a pastor, the friendly guy next door, or the athletic coach. Evil comes packaged very attractively.”
“So you’re saying that the child accepts the sexual touch because he’s basically been desensitized. Then he’s threatened, and he’s afraid, so he says nothing. But, Linda, you mentioned sexual acting out. What did you mean by that?”
“Little children who are introduced to sexuality before they can understand its importance will do all kinds of sexually-oriented behaviors. Masturbation, self-exposure, trying to look at another child’s private parts, drawing pictures, and sexualized play with toys are all included. Then, of course, there are the long-term results. These include self-harm like cutting and anorexia/bulimia, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, even attempted suicide. These are all common behaviors in the population of sexually abused children as they become adults. What really elevates my blood pressure is that, again, we blame the victim and not the perpetrator. We tell these people that they “just need to put it behind them now, and move forward.” But we do nothing to help them get unstuck. We don’t help them rid their minds of the pictures imprinted there by what has happened to them. We dismiss it as if it were nothing more than a mosquito bite, and we even try to protect the perpetrator. This is especially true if the perp was a pastor, youth pastor, children’s worker or community hero. And of course, when we protect such a person, we enable that person to continue his behavior with full confidence that he won’t be caught or stopped.”
“Wow, I can see why this upsets you so much. It’s hard to believe that people are so blind.”
“I know, Pumpkin. I know.”
A person who has been abandoned, whether physically or emotionally, tends to develop habits of self-harm. Usually, these habits involve substance abuse: Alcohol, drugs, cutting, sexual promiscuity, obesity. Because he believes he is not worth loving, he doesn’t care much about taking care of his health.
The tendency to try to bury the hurt and fear under alcohol, food, sex, or drugs is very strong. Of course, doing so only creates more problems and makes healing slower and more complicated.
Along with self-abuse comes the need for constant, excessive reassurance. This need is not, of course, restricted only to those who have been abandoned. We’ve all known people who seem to need to be told often and with feeling that they are ok, that they are loved, needed, look wonderful, have talents and gifts, and so forth. And we all know how draining it is to be in the position of the one who must always give the reassurance that is demanded, without ever getting anything back. The inevitable result of such a relationship is that sooner or later, the one who is always required to give reassurance will drift away to find a healthier relationship. Once again, the abandoned person’s self-perception is validated; she is not worthy of being loved, of having friends, of being cared for. In a twisted kind of way, she feels kind of good about being proven right.
Some who counsel in this area believe that abandonment and narcissism are closely related. That’s an interesting theory, and makes some sense to me. The truth is, when any of us focus on our misery to the exclusion of anything else, we are truly putting ourselves and our needs first and foremost. “No one else loves me,” goes the inner monologue, “So I will focus on loving myself.” Because no one wants to be around a person who is fixated on his own value, needs, appearance and popularity, he is quickly abandoned again. It’s a circular pattern, like a snake eating its own tail.
Self-esteem becomes part of the dialogue here as well, in psychological realms. If you’ve been following my Friday Counseling Issues posts for some time, perhaps you’ve already read how I feel about the whole concept of self-esteem. If not, you can go here. Scroll down to the bottom–I think there are four posts–and read to the top. My position is not popular in today’s mental health arena, just so you know ahead of time and won’t be too shocked 🙂
Next week, we’re going to look at some ideas to help yourself if you have abandonment in your history.
The sociopath is often quite proud of his sexual attractiveness. He is promiscuous, indulging in many brief affairs. He likes to think he is what all women want, and he has no problem being with several women. He likes to brag, too. He believes other men envy him because he’s so irresistible.
This man’s murders always included sexual assault. Ted Bundy chose attractive young women he could charm, and it worked for him.
That’s not true of every sociopathic killer, but it’s not unusual, either. His abberant behaviors often start before he’s 13. He can have a history in the juvenile justice system. He may have been a bully, and was almost certainly a chronic but successful liar and cheat. His charm often fools his parents into making excuses for his terrible behavior.
The sociopath has a hard time fulfilling long-term goals. His restlessness keeps him moving toward the next new experience. He gives up one thing for another quite easily, has a hard time staying in one job for any length of time, and just generallyfloats along on a cloud of expectation that somehow things will all work out–or that other people will take care of him.
He is extremely impulsive. He doesn’t resist temptation while he thinks through whatever he wants to do. He needs gratification right now, and woe be to the one who gets in his way. He is often physically reckless, doing things most people would consider just stupid.
His irresponsibility often gets in the way of his longed-for success. He can’t be depended upon to keep his word, to simply follow through on day-to-day obligations. He walks away from debts, loans, legal agreements and relationships without a qualm. He has better things to do, higher mountains to climb, wider rivers to cross.
Next Friday, we should wrap this up. I don’t know about you, but I find this study a bit depressing. The pain these people bring into the lives of others, especially those who try to help them, is difficult to see.
In our study of this personality, we’ve learned that sociopaths differ from psychopaths mostly in the degree of violence they’re willing to use to gain their ends. Sociopaths can actually function well in society, where psychopaths tend to find social interaction very unpleasand and difficult.
The other traits we’ve looked at include surface charm and a glib tongue; an over-inflated sense of self-worth; a need for constant stimulation, and pathological lying. Next is the sociopath’s unique ability to con and manipulate people and situations to gain his ends. He is a master at manuevering around people and situations to accomplish his goal, which is always involved with some kind of gain to himself. He may even seem to be trying to make things better for others. It’s a ruse. He’s really interested only in furthering his own gain.
He is never bothered by remorse or guilt for the pain he causes others. His attitude is completely without empathy for his victims. He he tends to see them as stupid, unworthy, and getting exactly what they deserve. He is disdainful of almost everyone else. There is no such thing as conscience.
He has what we in the mental health profession recognize as a shallow affect. His feelings don’t go very deep, in spite of his apparent charming exterior. The only emotions he may feel deeply include anger growing into rage if he is thwarted, and a deep disdain for other people. His superiority to others is unquestioned in his own mind. He doesn’t really feel any loyalty or commitment to anyone else, and he will leave relationships without any sense of loss when it suits his own interests to do so.
The sociopath lives a parasitic lifestyle. He expects other people to support his goals, financially and any other way they can. He expects to be boosted, given special privileges. Anyone in his life who has money is a mark for his attention. A refusal to give him what he wants results in his rage and desire to get revenge.
He has poor to none when it comes to behavioral controls. The unwritten rules for appropriate behavior in society don’t touch him. He expresses his negative emotions easily and sometimes physically, if he thinks he can get away with it. Irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse are characteristic. He demonstrates inadequate control of anger and temper, and he acts hastily, giving no thought to results of his behavior. When confronted, his lies are quick, easy, and believable. He can even work up tears if he needs to, in order to convince everyone that nothing was ever his own fault.
Don’t expect these folks to “get better” with counseling or confrontation. The only thing that can come close to working positive change in their lives is the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
Glib and charming, sociopaths often seem like the most fun people you could ever be around. When you are around them a little longer, though, you find that they are totally self-involved. Everything they do is centered on what the gain for themselves will be. Far from lacking in self-esteem, they think very highly of themselves indeed.
These folks are full of a grossly inflated view of their own abilities and importance, truly believing that all eyes should be focused on them all the time. They are opinionated, cocky braggarts. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.
They are often easily bored, and seek constant stimulation, something new, something just a little riskier than what they’ve already done. They are risk-takers, and may seem very exciting to be with. However, once the excitement goes away they’re often restless, angry, and sarcastic. Easily bored, they look elsewhere for stimulation. They’re not much good at relationship once the shiny new has worn off. They are experts at finding ways to not do tasks they find boring.
They lie. As Dr. Phil would say, if their lips are moving, they’re lying. The lying can be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; they’re expert at concocting stories that have no shred of truth, but are completely believable. At their worst, they are deliberately deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative.They do and say what they have to in order to gain the result they want—and are entitled to. If you are hurt by their lies, then you shouldn’t have gotten in the way.
I’ve been writing these Friday posts over at http://www.lindasbiblestudy.wordpress.com for some time now. I’ve decided to publish them here as well. Hope you all find something of interest in the coming weeks.
This is Ted Bundy. He doesn’t look like such a bad guy, does he?
However, he was a truly bad guy. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say (Wiki isn’t always right, but this time they’ve got it. I remember very clearly reading this same stuff in the news back then:
Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy (born Theodore Robert Cowell; November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989) was an American serial killer, rapist, kidnapper, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. After more than a decade of denials, he confessed shortly before his execution to 30 homicides committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978; the true total remains unknown, and could be much higher. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy)
He is known as a sociopath or a psychopath. They’re really pretty much the same thing. To me, the most chilling…
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