If you want to control someone, it’s an easy process. People from earlier generations knew how to do it instinctively, but most of them were raised to be better than that. Today, I am worried that young people don’t completely understand how to manipulate others to get everything they want. Please allow me to point out ways to succeed in life at the expense of others. As long as you win, it doesn’t matter what happens to anyone else, right?
4 simple steps
The first step is to see or hear some slight and blow it completely out of proportion. If you are a man, it might be something along the lines of screaming at the top of your lungs when your girlfriend says something critical about your mother. If you are a woman, you might try having an emotional breakdown when your husband stops to chat with an attractive female coworker. The situation should be serious enough to warrant some reaction, but innocuous enough that you have plenty of room to overreact.
Condition your target to react negatively to everything a disapproved person says…
Second, gauge the reaction. You want your target to apologize, attempt to console you, and try to calm you down. If instead, your target blows you off or refuses to play the game, then you need to be patient and wait until he has more time and emotion invested in you. And, be on the lookout for a bigger mistake to which you can overreact even more! It will surely come if you look hard enough. Analyze and use every situation until you break your target down
Third, give a reward. Praise your target for any signs of submission, whether it is an apology or just an acknowledgment of your feelings. If your target is a romantic partner, add a physical reward such as a favorite meal or intimacy. You want to raise serotonin levels to reinforce the behavior.
Fourth, isolate your target. Isolation should be both physical and emotional. To physically isolate your target, do things like prevent him from getting a job or forbid her family from visiting. To emotionally separate someone, destroy the character of anyone you don’t want them interacting with. Constantly insult the people you don’t approve of with horrible names. Condition your target to react negatively to everything a disapproved person says and blow up every time your target communicates with the unapproved person. Reward your target for telling you about anyone who says something negative about you or your relationship. Don’t forget to overreact!
Keep up the pressure
Finally, escalate and repeat. If your target is your romantic partner, never use violence more than once. That is enough to plant fear into their mind for life, but more than that can land you in jail. And after all, it is much harder to control people from jail. Make a bigger scene and react more extremely to smaller and smaller things. Embarrass him in public. Start making it harder to get a reward and increase the isolation. A fun thing to try at this stage is “gas-lighting”, where you start accusing your target of manipulating you and other ridiculous things. At some point, your target may move out. This is normal, and temporary if you did a good job with the fear and reward cycle.
A fun thing to try at this stage is “gas-lighting”…
Pretty soon, your target’s friends and family will no longer recognize him. No matter how hard they try, they will not be able to talk sense into him. The more logic your target hears, the more bizarre and outlandish excuses he will make for your behavior. Even better, knowing how crazy his reasons sound to everyone else, he will scream at and push away anyone who tries to help. Now you are on the right track. Complete dependence on you!
Don’t worry, this will work on anyone … housewives, engineers, and even doctors and lawyers. Intelligence does not matter. It is all brain chemistry. Try it, and let me know how it goes!
Belief systems are powerful, and when shared by a population, they build civilizations up or burn them to the ground.
Before he died, a distant relative sat down with me and humbly told the story of how he gave his wife a black eye. He did this with all the boys in our extended family at a time when we were old enough to understand but young enough to shape our belief system. He wanted us to grow up with a deeply held belief that it is never okay to strike a woman.
Belief systems define who we are and are difficult to change. I could post a hundred scenarios where you think a woman deserved to be hit, but my subconscious completely rejects the input as absurd or rationalizes why it does not matter. Belief systems are powerful, and when shared by a population, they build civilizations up or burn them to the ground.
A “Men’s Problem”?
Recently, I was at a domestic violence conference where a speaker asserted that “domestic violence is a men’s problem.” He went on to say something about not caring if it offended people, that it should offend people, and his belief was backed by statistics saying women are overwhelmingly the victims. In other words, that is his belief system, and he will rationalize why any contrary information does not matter. So, let me give you that contrary information, and then tell you why it does not matter
First, let me tell you a little bit about my experience with domestic violence. Not only have I seen it in my professional practice, but I’ve witnessed it with family and friends.
Arnold and Ann have a child together. Both parents have drinking problems. When Ann gets drunk and upset, she throws things at Arnold. One day, Ann became especially angry and started throwing items at Arnold and punching his head and body while he was holding their baby. Arnold kicked Ann out, and she called the police and had Arnold arrested. Ann, it turns out, has done this with at least two other boyfriends. The truth was only revealed later when she attacked the wrong person.
Previously, Ben was arrested for beating his wife, Betty. The attack was so severe that she required hospitalization. But he used the kids as leverage to get his wife to come back, and she never prosecuted him. One day when they were both drunk, they had an argument, and Betty locked Ben out of the bedroom and passed out. Ben decided to retaliate for his prior arrest by filing a false report that Betty pointed a gun at him. Police records showed multiple inconsistent statements on Ben’s part, including bizarre claims that Betty’s prior injuries were due to her own clumsiness. And yet, because Betty doesn’t remember anything, she is labeled a perpetrator and indicted for family violence assault with a deadly weapon. “She pointed a gun at me” almost always wins over “I don’t remember what happened.”
How do you tell who is the victim and who is the abuser? The victim is probably the one you don’t like. Think about it. Is it the popular kid being beaten up at school, or is it the popular one doing the beating? Abusers are masters at manipulating other people’s belief systems – not just their victims’. It is downright creepy hearing the support an abuser receives from family, friends, and fellow church members against the victim. I wish I could repeat some of the things they say.
Anecdotal versus Statistical Evidence
These examples may not matter to you because they are anecdotal evidence, which refers to evidence derived from individual stories and experiences. It is often dismissed as immaterial because it is considered less reliable than large scientific studies. This, however, is another belief system that you should challenge.
Your belief system may prevent you from considering this latter possibility and questioning the validity of your assumptions.
While statistical evidence is more reliable, it is only as reliable as what it measures. For example, if I go to the courthouse and count the number of men and women in suits, I should get a good indication of how many lawyers are there. Why do it that way? Because it is more efficient than asking everyone to show a bar card. It’s important to remember, though, I am not measuring lawyers, I am counting people in suits and assuming that is a good proxy. My assumption sounds reasonable, but it could be way off. Domestic abusers do not carry around domestic abuser cards. We can only count arrests, admissions, complaints, or some other proxy. Nobody can go back in time to see what really happened.
In my anecdotal experience, the number of male and female victims are about even, and the number of wrongful arrests and incorrect findings of domestic violence is frustratingly high. In the two examples above, a study counting arrests would find three female victims and one male victim. Case 1 revealed one female victim when it was actually one male victim. Case 2 showed one male victim when in reality the female was a victim twice. So, the study is flawed.
Maybe my anecdotal data is completely unreliable, and I am an outlier in the statistics. Or, it could be that studies matching my experiences better reflect reality. Your belief system may prevent you from considering this latter possibility and questioning the validity of your assumptions. See, for example, this story: “Women more likely to be perpetrators of abuse as well as victims“. University of Florida News (last visited October 30, 2017).
Being a Victim
At this point, it may help to talk about why victims return to their abusers. As I said before, abusers are masters at manipulating people’s belief systems. An idea that they instill in women is that if they leave, they will lose their children forever. For men, the notion is that if they leave, they will be arrested, ruining their lives and reputations. Thanks to the belief system that domestic violence is a men’s problem, this is sadly a very real risk.
If you are not willing to have your belief system challenged and instead want to silence or shut out contradicting information, then you are part of the problem.
How do men become victims in the first place? Like me, many men are instilled with the belief system that it is never okay to strike a woman. They live in fear that if they lift a finger in their own defense, they will be prosecuted. Women have fingernails, hands, feet, and whatever weapons are handy that are capable of inflicting damage and pain. Imagine you are that guy in school who was beaten up all the time. Now, you are being hit by your wife, and your self-esteem is entirely wrecked. If you call the police, you risk being arrested. If you leave, you also risk being arrested. In either case, do you really have any options?
Whose Problem is It?
The more important the problem is, the more ideas and perspectives are necessary to solve it.
So, how can we determine whether domestic violence is a men’s problem? In my opinion, that’s the wrong question. The question should be, “What use is a belief system that says domestic violence is a men’s problem?” All around us, there are victim monsters in pretty floral dresses with bright eyes smiling at you, and victim monsters wearing dashing suits giving you friendly handshakes and pats on the back. Does it matter if 4 or 40 percent of victims are men? The children in their homes see horrible treatment and abuse of their mothers or fathers. What belief systems are being wired permanently into their little brains? Let’s focus on that.
If you are not willing to have your belief system challenged and instead want to silence or shut out contradicting information, then you are part of the problem. You may see yourself dedicating your life to standing up for what you believe in, but you aren’t. The more important the problem is, the more ideas and perspectives are necessary to solve it. And yet, today we do the opposite
Listening is Better than Pontificating
Aren’t some things worth a broken ego? How about we don’t shut out ideas we don’t want to hear? Why not put the problem of domestic violence above our belief systems and listen? Are ideas that challenge our deeply held beliefs scarier than the monsters they might be creating?
When a parent remarries, the new spouse is often the source of alienation between the children and one of the parents. This is especially true when there is a clash of cultures. Mixing cultures can be a recipe for disaster between divorced parents and their children. Watch this one hour video by Stefan Molyneux for an example of the problems it can cause.
Unfortunately, you cannot know when you are experiencing cognitive dissonance. Everyone else seems just as wrong either way.
The first thing we need to cover is “cognitive dissonance”. Cognitive dissonance happens when new information clashes with our own realities. If you see a flying pig your mind will rationalize that it must have been shot out of a cannon or launched from a trebuchet. Your mind has to come up with something to rationalize the absurdity of the situation because in your reality pigs cannot fly.
Everyone wants to marry a soul mate. We want, and hopefully think we have found the most wonderful perfect person to share our lives with. In our reality, this new wonderful person could not possibly be the cause of a child hating us or hating the other parent. In order to deal with this absurdity, our minds will rationalize that either the other parent is causing the alienation or the child is the problem. In the video you can hear at about the 60 minute mark where the father says he respects and admires Stefan Molyneux. He deals with the absurdity of disregarding the opinion of someone he highly respects by hallucinating that the reality is more nuanced than even Mr. Molyneux can understand.
Unfortunately, you cannot know when you are experiencing cognitive dissonance. Everyone else seems just as wrong either way.
Our culture informs our reality
Mixing cultures is also a recipe for cognitive dissonance. Culture and values are intimately tied up with who we are. By the time you marry someone, you’ve negotiated those differences. You look past them to see the person you love and rationalize and adjust to the differences. This is all well and good, but your ex spouse and children are not going through the same process in the same way. It’s like you’ve gone to the personality tailor and swapped out a chunk of who you are. To you, you are the same person, but to those closest to you, you are not. Moreover, anything your ex or your children do not like, they are going to blame on the new spouse. And because some of those changes involve new culture and values, you can bet there are going to be some things they do not like.
The best thing you can do is focus on the children and not the fault.
If you divorce from a conservative culture and marry into one that is more permissive, your ex may see you as becoming immoral and teaching the children bad values. If you go the other way, your ex will see you as becoming oppressive and authoritarian.
In either case, the children are likely to be caught up in the middle of the culture war and be forced to choose sides. Both parents are going to want to teach their values to their children. When they were married, the parents had already worked through those issues, so in divorce they likely co-parented well to start with. When the culture of one household changes, it throws everything out of balance.
Alienating a parent
Alienating a parent is never good for the child. Because of cognitive dissonance, people never think that they or their new spouses are part of the problem. It’s always going to be entirely the other parent’s fault. And remember, nobody knows when they are in cognitive dissonance. Everyone else is just being crazy and acting absurdly.
In some cases, the goal of the new spouse is alienation. Because of the cultural differences, the step-parent simply sees the other parent though the cultural lens he was born into and wants the other parent gone for the good of the children. In other cases alienation is the goal of the ex-spouse for the same reasons. Either or both of these could be the reality, or it could be completely accidental. Regardless, everyone will believe it is the other parent’s fault. Worse, everyone will have all the evidence they need to prove it is the other person’s fault because of confirmation bias (the nearly inescapable tendency to only look at evidence that supports one’s beliefs and disregard or minimize other evidence.)
What should I do?
The best thing you can do is focus on the children and not the fault. Understand that no matter what you think of the other parent or how much you want to think otherwise, alienation is bad for the child. If you think alienating the other parent in your special case is the right thing to do, you are experiencing cognitive dissonance.
If the relationship between either parent and the children deteriorates after a re-marriage, start family counseling before you start blaming. Don’t put your children’s emotional health at risk, even if it is not your fault.