Saturday, 27 February 2010

Assisted Dying.

There is much emotive propaganda against assisted dying and I want to expose here just exactly what the objections really are and the reasons for them.

We have seen recently various individuals talking on television on both sides of the debate. The opposition lobby seem, though, to be much more forceful and appear to have no scruples about the way they represent their argument. Terry Pratchett`s Dimbleby Lecture was incisive, well considered and persuasive, though when up against the thrust of our opponents, I feel the imperatives must be represented with equal strength, even if necessary statements are difficult to deliver.

I find myself wondering why the argument against assisted dying should be more ruthless than the argument for it? I have a sense that with a gathering momentum of public opinion supporting the plight of the terminally ill, the opponents feel considerable threat to their position and react as viciously as possible. After all, they are not only defending their point of view, but their egos and their unconscious guilt.
In this dynamic between the two sides, there is also an element of " parent- child" in the posture of one camp to the other. I have noticed in the last months how those against assisted dying assume the role of "parent" whilst those in favour of the argument are rendered "child" and I think that this reflects the power imbalance of the terminally ill against the healthy (we`ll come back to this in my next blog on this subject).

If you have been following my blogs thus far, you will know that I have discussed the compartmental conscience as a servant of guilt avoidance. I believe that those against assisted dying are in fact deploying their compartmental conscience both to defend themselves personally from guilt and against societies collective guilt in regard to the terminally ill. This guilt arises both because of the guilt associated with the inability to cure the terminally ill and restore their lives, but also because of the very driving argument that disallows the patient the right to determine their own lives.

It is indeed immoral to deprive the terminally ill of rights that are available to the rest of us .... and guilt is incurred serially for societies insistence upon treating weakened people like children who are incompetent to make their own decisions.

Guilt builds upon guilt, though, and personal and societal guilt at not being able to reverse terminal illness leads to disrespect. Somehow, depriving the dying of the right to choose how and when to die is a way of gaining control in a situation where individuals and society have no control at all. This small gain of control palliates the guilt people feel when confronted with the issues of dying. Unfortunately, it is a stance that serves the carer, doctor or health professional against the interests of the patient, whilst masquerading as true concern for the patient.The fittest "animal" dominates the weakest.

How many times have we heard recently that assisted dying must not be allowed because people may wish to die out of a misguided sense that it would make life easier for their friends and families? This is a ruse indeed. What is actually happening here is that the guilt that health professionals feel in regard to the terminally ill, is assuaged a little by being in control of their patient deciding that they cannot choose when to die; their compartmental conscience then kicks in to legitimise that control by persuading everyone that they are not depriving patients of rights, but protecting them. It is, sadly, a reverse of the truth. "Caring for people" as a disguise for not being able to care about them, is not only a sad state of affairs but truly selfish. Undoubtedly, this quasi-caring that we hear repeatedly in the media, does make those health professionals feel better, but this should not be the focus of their attempts at reason!

When we present our argument for the autonomy of the terminally ill and our basis for the ultimate compassion of assisted dying, we need to have an awareness for the lack of psychological awareness displayed by it`s opponents. For, although they are subject to their own inadequacies, and fight their cause based upon them, they think they are motivated by caring, just as parents feel that they need to decide things for their children in order to care for them. We, generally, tend to want to use what we think is our better judgement when we deal with children, and we instinctively see the same situation with adults who face the end of their lives and parallel the vulnerability of children. The crucial thing here, though, is that we are talking about adults and, demonstrably, treating adults like children is not acceptable whatever our own inadequacies may be.

With me so far? I am going to return to this topic very soon.

Dolphins, Non-Human Persons.

Scientists have called for dolphins to be categorised as non-human persons on account of their intelligence levels. I want to think about this and try to journey into the implications of such a status.

Certainly dolphins are very intelligent and display many human qualities, but what would it really mean if they were to have bestowed upon them such a special designation?

Let`s go straight in at the deep end, so to speak! For a start, in keeping with the honorary appellation "non-human person", killing dolphins would have to be re-termed murder. This would immediately render a previous act of killing, an act of murder and would thereby carry the guilt of a crime and possible implications for punishment.
Lets not forget that animals, being of lesser status than humans, are "killed", "slaughtered" or "culled" and the euphemism reflects their lesser standing.

So, why would the intelligence of an animal lead to the elevation of it`s comparative value? Well, we know that it is much harder to be cruel, to a person or animal, if we identify with it. Or, conversely, as we see in acts of genocide or persecution, people to be attacked are dehumanised, they become a faceless, hated or demonic enemy, and, thereby, it is immediately easier to chop them to pieces. We can example this when we consider how difficult it is to rear a sheep or pig, for example, as a pet, and then to send it to slaughter. This fact tells us that when the sheep becomes identifiable as "our sheep" and is imbued with our feelings, it becomes part of us and is then very difficult to re-categorise as food! When we have a bond with persons or animals they become "like ourselves" and as such become part of our group or clan and acquire a position of closeness deserving of protection.

The negative side of perceiving some groups as "other than like us" manifests as racism and demonisation. Where people of another race or creed are seen as outsiders, this very perception makes it easy to be abusive. In a sense, where we have seen racism against blacks, for example, being cruel to them keeps them at a distance and prevents us from seeing them as "like ourselves". So, as we have seen in witch hunts, keeping someone whom we deem to be an outsider, firmly trapped within that class, demands that we should continue being cruel to them. Cruelty helps us to justify our beliefs in the first place, but also keeps us at an emotional distance so that we cannot feel anything for the person we are abusing. If we look at the history of the abuse of black people, we can see that keeping them segregated, degrading them and maintaining their poverty, perpetuates their appearance as people who are "not like us".

When we offer compassion to others, conversely, we are drawing them in as "ones who are like us". The greater the degree of sensitivity we feel, the more humane we are likely to be towards others and the greater our sense of inclusivity. As we study dolphins and see many of our qualities in them, we want to include them as part of us..

We can see that other animals have human qualities too..and a consideration of the humanness of dolphins will naturally lead us to wonder which other animals might also be granted special privilege.( A case for apes and elephants springs to mind. ) Which animals should be deemed "humanlike" and which not? Would the distinction be based upon intelligence, however we should measure that, or upon characteristics that might denote compassion or loving?

But to ask these questions is to arrive at a juncture that spotlights the very reasons we judge or categorise each other, forming positive or negative regard for our fellow human beings. When we find ourselves trying to judge one animal over another, we display our biological tendency towards hierarchy, this time aimed at animals and not our fellows. We are caught in the glare of moral choice as the path of our considerations bifurcate ahead of us..

The consequence of our consciousness in perceiving difference, can lead to good or evil, as we choose. When we raise up one animal as special , against other animals who are not so intelligent and don`t manifest "human qualities", we are in affect, transferring our discriminatory nature onto the animal kingdom. Ultimately, just as we judge and condemn, approve and enhance, reward or demonise our fellows, we will do so with animals. Animals will be victims of racism or prejudice just as we ourselves can be. In the same way that our compassionate embrace will reach out to human beings we can feel to be like us, and our indifference and hostility will damn people whom we feel to be dissimilar, so will the same prejudicial impulse encompass the animal kingdom.

We can see how easy it is to judge, according to simplistic criteria, just who is suitable for inclusion and who is not (see my earlier blog "Compartmental Conscience") and thereby transfer these basic distinctions to a categorisation of animals. Of course, those animals who are characterised by manifest intelligence, lovingness and cuddliness, will be raised up, and those animals with disattributes, such as ugliness, non- human qualities and intelligence that we do not comprehend, may be diminished. It`s subjective. And subjectivity is a dangerous thing.

Which people will we esteem, the beautiful or the ugly? The intelligent or the stupid? I think we all know the frightening answer to this question. Dolphins display similarities to humans......and they are beautiful, smiling creatures, qualities to please us all. In the human world these attributes do very well. In our full breadth of compassion we try to marginalise discrimination against those who don`t have such favour in our eyes and I think, ultimately, we have to be mindful of this in regard to animals too.

More on animals later!!!!!!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Acceptable Forms of Abuse, 5.

In my previous two blogs I touched upon the idea that society wants to make us believe that children need to be controlled, and I suggested that this is a dupe.
I want to talk about why this dupe is pursued and also the consequences upon a child`s behaviour.

(Let`s just make it clear that there are degrees of control used upon children and we are not talking about the occasional necessity to curb behaviour. Neither are we here including other factors that impact upon behaviour, such as health issues. I will write about this at a later date.)

A dupe? Well, what do you mean, you might ask? A dupe implies that there is something covert going on here, some mass dissembling. The truth is that it is indeed a dupe, but that there is, generally, no conscious intent to feed us false propaganda about children. It just passes from one parent to another, one teacher to another without question, generation to generation. Yet, though there is little or no awareness for the need to hoodwink everybody into thinking that children will not comply unless forced, there is a group need for everyone to believe this ludicrous defamation of children.
The need is that this long established guilt in regard to children, is in serious need of people to go on justifying it, and all parties perpetuate the same myth about children to keep the belief going. (Honestly, if this negative regard for children were to be transferred to blacks or women or any other sub-group in society, the human rights, anti-discrimination lobbies would go ballistic!!!)

This belief about children uses our old friend the compartmental conscience to slip the whole notion past most of us. As you will know if you have stuck with me so far (!), the compartmental conscience is a psychological mechanism that allows things that are problematic to our conscience to be put into another mental box so that we can send our guilt somewhere else in our minds. In regard to the boarding school debate, for example, parents say that sending a child to boarding school is ultimately good for them and this justifies their strategies to force them to separate.

When we are legitimising threat, force or punishment towards a child, we compartmentalise by putting "guilt" onto the child in order to justify using duress to get what we want from them. The form this takes is to decide that all children are "guilty" of an inability to behave the way we want them to, unless we make them!! Once the child becomes the "guilty party" (and not us) we can legitimise our behaviour. For example: The argument for forcing a child to learn is that if you don`t make a child learn he wont learn anything. It is therefore perfectly acceptable to MAKE him do it.

So we see from this that the propaganda we hear all the time about children is essential to alleviate the guilt parents might otherwise feel about their attitude to their own children...There certainly is a vested interest, in group allegiance and for group guilt avoidance, to make children LOOK like they are "guilty"!!!! There would be no escape from conscience if it were proven that children aren`t animals that need to be tamed !!!! and I think that therein lies much of the problem that society has with home education: It simply does not want to find out that children are not guilty of an inability to learn unless forced to.

Now onto the point of this particular blog: When we force children to do as we wish, we teach children about power. Not just the power of the underling who is the child, but the power of the overlord, the parent.They don`t JUST learn how to submit and they certainly don`t learn to accept the power of their parent/s like a good child is expected to, without resentment. They learn the whole package. That is, they assimilate that the parent experiences the NEED to have power over them and they see that this is something to be desired.They want it too, and they will inevitably mirror this behaviour to some degree. As the child learns to want power, just as the parent does, the parent will have to use more power to enforce it`s will. You then have set up two people who, often desperately, need power over each other, both feeling this as an urgent need.

When parents get locked into power with their kids, they find that their offspring use, just as they do , strategies to gain power. This, in my view, is a prominent reason for much aggravation between parent and child.
Children copy parents behaviour...and parents usually don`t see it coming back at them !!!! Controlling parents get controlling children, to a commensurate degree. Parents who are chaotic emotionally, with mood swings or temper tantrums are reciprocated in kind. So in general terms, children are the parents manifested.

The fact is that a belief that tells us that children need to be controlled and the resultant behaviour parents deliver based upon this belief, is actually a major cause of misbehaviour in children. It`s like this: As an adult, if you try to make me do things and you use all sorts of threats and controls to get your own way, I am going to feel pretty bad. I will feel disrespected and powerless. From this sense of upset I may use the same behaviour back on you. I wont feel secure, I will feel vulnerable and unsettled, on edge. If you force me to learn, I will always retain, even as a forgotten imprint, an experience of learning based upon force. If you punish me for not learning what you want me to, it will always tarnish a subject that I might otherwise have wanted to learn of my own free will.

So let`s take this back to a child`s eye view.....If you do this to me as a child, I may be so humiliated that I refuse to learn altogether and you and the teachers will have to use more force to make me do it. If I still am turned off learning, I may start to hurt your world to pay you back for treating me like a thing that has to do as IT is told. But you know, even if I do what you want and I learn because I am told to, and I get qualifications and a good job, do you know what I`ll do??????Simple: I`ll do the same thing to my kids ........unless, unless I become one of the few who see that this is not the right way to behave towards children.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Socially Acceptable Forms of Abuse, 4: Boarding Schools.

This blog discusses boarding schools and is continued from the previous blog:

Let`s look at the way children are typically treated and regarded in society as a default:

Children are treated from an early age, at least to some degree, as if they should be controlled and broken in, tamed into behaving suitably.This belief can even underpin the family life of loving, generally caring parents. Children are taken to nursery even if the child is caused to be desperately distressed, they are weened off breast milk prematurely because continuation is seen as giving in to their demands and being over indulgent. Generally, children are often subjected to lessons in life that are centred around some notion that kids need to be treated harshly in order to toughen them up (!!!!) and they need to be threatened and punished in order to make them behave.

This misregard for children is not only practised by the masses, it is reinforced by the system. Because most people are treated this way as they grow up, they instinctively treat the children around them in the same way. Many people don`t think that children will behave correctly if they are given too much respect, that they will not detach from parents and family in their own good time without being forced to do so, and that they wont learn unless they are compelled to do it. This notion is of course Victorian, and fits well with child labour and canings in school and a harsher, more severe lifestyle. So why do we still believe it?

The answer is that parents are typically brought up this way and simply don`t often question their behaviour. Other parents do the same, the same attitude exists in schools and there are just very few enlightened or introspective people who relate to children as equals. The result is that a conditioning exists that says it is okay to treat children in this way and the huge numbers of people who are conditioned determine that these attitudes are acceptable .

When we come to consider whether boarding schools for young children are a form of abuse, we are already up against a brain-washed mainstream that believes that raising children is all about disregarding their feelings and their rights and that forcing a child to detach is a "cruel to be kind" gesture of love. In so many ways the fact that families in home education are more likely to respect their children and attune themselves to the needs of the child, frightens people who know deep down that they pursue a "force the child to do it, and it`ll be good for the child in the end" method.

So we saw in a documentary recently how parents, and school staff involved in the rejection process young children have to go through, were desperately trying to find justifications for knowingly being cruel to their children. The child`s rejection would benefit the child in the end, so the whole thing is worth doing, approach. The very idea that non- disciplinary nurturing of a child can make a confident, independent child and that non-coercive learning also produces well educated, examination-replete, intellectually adept young people, without all the cruelty and the disrespect, seriously frightens people because it destroys their floundering justifications for treating their children the way they do.

In Part 3 of this blog I want to go on to cogitate the real cause of indiscipline in children and the benefits of not following the pack.

Socially Acceptable Forms of Abuse 3: Boarding Schools.

Boarding Schools:Part 1.

Having recently seen a television documentary about boarding schools, I wanted to examine whether sending young children away to school is in fact a socially acceptable form of abuse.
By young children, I am talking about children of eleven and under for these purposes.

We have seen previously that there are certain criteria that are employed to designate whether something constitutes abuse or not. These factors have to do with such things as how many people are engaged in the practice in question and certain social factors as well. In other words, a manner of behaviour towards children will be seen as unacceptable if a minority practice this behaviour and/or the people engaged in it have little social position.

The first reason for this is that, as we discussed, the law cannot encompass very large numbers of people and, in keeping with group dynamics, these large numbers find security within their particular group. The other reason is that those of lesser social position are consistently seen as "outside of the group" and therefore their behaviours are less legitimate and less defensible. The dominant class to a high degree, promote their behaviours as acceptable and, being directly or indirectly connected to people of social influence, the law making classes, they encourage laws that endorse their standards. This is the way a social animal group functions. It has a vested interest in creating laws that support its sense of right and wrong, according to its perspective.

Minority groups with ideas that do not conform to the mainstream have more difficulty in being able to be seen as acceptable due to their lesser social power. Example my previous blog about home education, where families are treated as virtual heretics for not complying with the manner of educating children accepted by the masses. So much so, that a humanistic educational philosophy that does not force a child to learn on command, is seen as aberrant by the masses who are desensitised to the way children are treated by the representative norm in schools. The difference between the two, in terms of the rights and wrongs of either method, is based upon sheer numbers, not upon the morality or efficacy of whichever method.

In general terms..and for reasons of group survival... the masses indulge in harsher educational practices, which are endorsed by the group leaders, with all sorts of justifications. We are presently seeing propaganda in the media, supported by television programs, to convince us that out of control children are the result of indiscipline, lack of parental authority and our hitherto liberal society. But is this really the reason for disruptive and anti-social behaviour in children or are we being duped again? I am beginning to think that out of control young people are just enacting the harsh treatment they have been exposed to.

This blog is continued directly.

Friday, 12 February 2010

CRB Checks

In my two blogs entitled "Does society need victims?" I began to delve into the hidden reasons for the impulses that create attributions of guilt in those who are innocent.

The very quickly infamous C.R.B. check is an obvious example of a group drive to make a minority of people guilty and well represents as a mechanism for offloading guilt from the larger group onto people who become repositories for the guilt feelings that the group needs to shift elsewhere - that`s what victims are there for !!!!! It is, in affect, part of the witch hunt that is taking place in the name of protecting children and, as I have reasoned earlier, our suspicions ( for a witch hunt) are aroused by the very reasons issued to justify these checks.

In my second blog about society needing victims, I find that it is the sacrifice of the presumption of innocence that tells us that a compartmental conscience is activated in order to permit injustice. Of course, our common sense tells us that if rumours and unsubstantiated accusations are counted as grounds for reasonable suspicion (!!!!!!) in regard to the CRB, injustice is certain to take place. The thing that confirms this fact is that these heresay presentations are to be assessed by a panel behind closed doors: no court and no Jury. But our common sense needs an ally when we are up against the psychology of demonisation because those who pursue a demonisation drive are impervious to logic - their justifications tell us that!!!

We know that most cases of sexual abuse happen in the home or are committed by near family, therefore checking everybody who comes into contact with children outside the family is a red herring. We also know that paedophiles will find a way around any checks put in place. Further, a C.R.B check may be carried out on someone with no prior convictions or accusations and the said person may then only subsequently commit abuse. My last point here is to mention that many, if not most, children are silent about their abuse and as Brian Moore said recently on TV, the way to help all children and prevent abuse, is to ensure that all children have somewhere and someone to talk to should something untoward occur, not to focus on attacking the innocent.

But what damage is the CRB check going to do to individuals and to society as a whole? How much does it matter that people are regarded as guilty until proven innocent, if indeed they can ever prove their innocence? Does society suffer or change as a whole when there are demonisation drives and if it does, how does a guilt-shif-endeavour back-fire on the rest of us who have decent values ?

I think that, whilst the gains of guilt-shifting are about wellbeing and survival for the leaders of a group that is pursuing this need, the psychological/emotional deficit for those directly involved is of serious concern. You may be thinking that I have talked about the benefits of guilt-shifting, the way that dispelling guilt carries health benefits and material rewards, and that this is all to the good, surely?

Well, no, this is not the case, a survival of the fittest mentality, though, carrying society as a whole, actually has it`s pay-back against society too. Let`s look at this and see what happens to society when it follows its biological imperatives:

If we begin by taking this analysis into the small scale, we find that a bully in a family does pretty well.... they are largely guilt free and they continuously discharge the negative energy that they accrue by spilling out more bullying. Of course, discharging guilt helps them function more easily, but on a personal level they are damaging their relationships and the gains that come from these; they diminish their sensitivity and emotional capacity all the while, and this leaves them as a person who functions on a level that is desensitised from their actions and unable to access a more caring, nurturing self. They may well do quite well because of the guilt-shift they employ, put they are bereft of the finer, softer, deeper, higher value rewards of relationships that are not based upon threats and power and guilt-manipulation.They are inevitably surrounded, therefore, by their victims who also, due to suppressive unhappiness, function with an emotional deficit, with lives that are propelled, in their turn, by negative energy.

The same can be seen in the wider group: The more society indulges as a group in behaviour that is negative and suppressive, such as we are discussing, the more it prevents a society that is based upon positive traits of humanity and justice. Whilst the masses thrive in a harsh , unjust and brutal society, the downside is that the dominant people will be deficient in emotional facility. In a sense this can be represented in terms of a masculinisation of society as opposed to an adoption of feminine traits. We see in the UK in the last decades how government has acted wrongfully, mendaciously and unfairly and that it`s commensurate guilt has led to greater bullying behaviour. In other words, whether we are talking about bullying on a small scale or in large groups, the more guilt is incurred the more actions have to take place to send guilt to others.

The process spirals downwards, more and more guilt leads to more and more guilt shifting behaviour, more and more demonisation and more persecution. This is why on a scale demonstrated by governments, the more a government has to be ashamed about, the more it persecutes citizens in any way it can to off-load its guilt. Eventually, if unchecked, this pattern leads to a totalitarian state; along the way, there is an increase in suppression and control, surveillance and demonisation, which, of course, leads to more paranoia about the populace and more of the same practices. The result in terms of society, is that greater numbers of people have to become involved in guilt deflection and the group as a whole becomes more harsh, more desensitised to what it is doing to people, and less and less just.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Socially Acceptable Forms of Abuse,2

In this blog I want to begin to think about what forms of cruelty to children are permissible, accepted by society, and which are not. Of course many acts of cruelty are not generally seen as "abuse", but this reflects the selective nature of designation and shows that this is not objective territory at all. So, there are inconsistencies in the way society perceives abuse according to culture, time and place, and many other factors, and I want to investigate why these disparities exist.

We have recently seen the verdict in the Edlington case where two boys tortured two younger boys......... There had clearly been domestic violence in the home of the convicted boys, along with drug abuse and violent and pornographic videos. Certainly the boys had learned violent behaviour from their home life and, whether as victims of it personally, or as carriers of this acquired behaviour, were impelled to inflict this upon other children.

Although all of these factors in the domestic life of these boys add up to unacceptable conditions for the raising of children, the signal for intervention is violence towards the children. Many families allow children to watch violent movies, many children see sexual material that is beyond their age, many witness domestic violence, there are innumerable families where a parent is taking drugs, yet these situations are generally not able to be policed.

Clearly physical violence towards children is an extreme abuse (as is serious neglect) and this is reflected in law.
The law though, follows societies confusion about what is abuse and what isn`t, as is exampled by issues around smacking: Smacking, so called, is permitted in law with a stipulation that the smack mustn`t leave a lasting mark. I find this unsatisfactory, not least because I think that hitting children is wrong in any circumstances, but unsatisfactory also because it is morally muddled. I think that with many people "smacking " their children the law would not find it easy to enforce a smacking ban and this, concomitant with the pretty vocal lobby that says smacking is needed to enforce discipline, means that government does not want to go against the masses. So it fudges things by allowing a bit of gentle smacking that attempts to pacify the folks who believe smacking to be violence against children, whilst also pandering to those who want to smack children to maintain discipline or give the child a counter-fear to stop them running into the road, or some such.

For me, the central issue in regard to smacking children is one of children having equal rights in this respect to any other person. That is, I feel that if it is not permissible to smack/hit adults, then children should not have lesser rights just because they have little social power. The other issue is one of teaching a child that relationships are based around power.

I think we need to think about the term "smack" for a moment: Firstly, it is a euphemism used to diminish the act, though in reality it is not possible to grade violent behaviour, or to euphemise violence to make it allowable towards certain sections of society, namely children, because when children are on the receiving end of a "smack" they cannot discern that it is technically a smack ..and therefore not a hit or an assault. They feel it as violence. The end result of smacking a child will produce psychological damage just as it`s more violent equivalent does (the amount of damage will vary according to all sorts of variables). Confirming this fact, children who have been smacked will often go on to smack their children, just as children raised in homes with a greater degree of violence will likely be violent in their future relationships.

But I think that the notion that violence should be used, or threatened, as a way of controlling behaviour is a twisted mind-set. To teach a child that one must comply in order to avoid violence is a barbaric lesson that shows disrespect towards children as people, and damages the child`s respect for the parent. Even from a loving parent, a smack communicates to the child that "this person who loves me will also hurt me". It is a mixed message indeed to love someone and to use violence against them.

Justifications for hitting a child compound this mixed message.. The old maxim `cruel to be kind` tells us that people know that it is wrong, deep down, and need a justification like this to offload their guilt: the compartmental conscience tries to help the parent who smacks by creating a category that upholds the idea that hitting a child is really a sign of love, since it teaches them right from wrong or what in their environment is dangerous. Nevertheless, whatever the justification, a child exposed to cruel- to- be- kind- violence, grows up experiencing that if you want someone to do something, the way to achieve that is with threats.

What is the difference between using physical violence to enforce the behaviour we desire, and using psychological violence? Well, in affect, certainly, none, both cause serious damage. There are reasons, however, that psychological violence does not have the same status or sympathy-value.

My point in examining corporal control has been to make a path to the consideration of whether violence that is visible...and therefore provable, has greater status than psychological violence that is more concealed and much harder to prove.

The law generally reflects this: A person can be gaoled for a physical attack which seriously wounds someone or kills, yet psychological torture which leads someone to ill health, mental or physical, or suicide, is not provable so therefore very hard to prosecute. In regard to children, serious violence is an obvious act, psychological violence is not. Where abuse of children is psychological, as the general case I explored in my previous blog, and where there are no external signs of abuse, the law does not wish to intervene. That is inspite of our present crusade against child abuse.

But there is another reason why psychological violence, through a range including emotional cruelty, is largely permissible: Looking at society as a general group, more people are emotionally abusive than people who are physically violent. There is a great deal of emotional cruelty inflicted upon children, often, or even from time to time, and the numbers involved are significant because one cannot make a law that outlaws something that is pursued by the masses. For example, we might consider adultery to be a crime, yet so many people are adulterous that we cannot prevent this by law. There are too many people involved, with manifoldly mitigating circumstances, to make such a thing practical.

The selection of types of abuse that we deem impermissible, therefore, is not based upon an absolute morality, but upon practicalities like the numbers of people involved, the scope of enforcement, group moral trends and issues of group psychology driven by people in positions of influence and power. For these reasons children subjected to psychological abuse have a burden, most often resulting in aberrant behaviour and educational and societal dysfunction, that neither legally nor attributively links to the perpetrator.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Socially Acceptable Forms of Child Abuse.

After talking to a friend about the way his teenage son is treated by his ex wife, I feel so strongly that I must set out some thoughts here...

Let`s extend this into a general case: A boy is failing in school, is tending towards unwanted behaviour and is evidently unhappy. He lives with his mother who grew up in an abusive family and we find that she exerts the same kind of behaviour upon her son,systematically, as was inflicted upon her when she was growing up.
The boy`s personal possessions, including a computer, have been taken away by his mother as a punishment. He then is anxious for his father to get him a sophisticated mobile phone. We surmise correctly that he wants this phone to raise his self worth materially, since he has been dispossessed of material parts of him by his mother.

How do we analyse this situation?

Well, firstly, it is typical that children who are abused in any way learn this behaviour and may inflict it on others when they grow up, particularly on their own children. As we talked about before, a mode of relationship is learned and then enacted. If children learn that relationships are about power and punishment they will certainly often do this to others, by instinct.

So why don`t adults think about the way they were treated, how it felt, their unhappiness, and steer their own behaviour away from the example of their parents? Well, of course many do, where they have the ability, intelligence or just sensitivity,to reflect and to delete these destructive behaviours. But not all adults have the facility to do this and they blindly go on just as their parents did, causing hurt and humiliation and permanent damage in their own children. What is more, they are so caught in this acquired behaviour that they do not realise that they are causing the very aberrant behaviour that they are punishing their child for. What is actually happening is that the parent, the mother in this case, is disrespecting her child so much that she is creating an unhappy, disaffected and depressed child who behaves badly out of a depressed sense of self protection. Moreover, not only does the child find it difficult to function against a wall of negativity, but actually being disruptive and failing academically becomes both a weapon of self defence and, perversely, a twisted gesture of "love" for the parent: the child is being the way the parent wants him to be. He loves his mother and, unconsciously, pleases her by taking this role.

Just a minute you might say, what are we saying? Well, it`s hard to believe, but the child, in a sense, fulfils the "wishes" of the parent in his need to fight back. What? "The wishes of the parent"? Surely we are not saying that a parent who is angry with a child for being a failure or for being naughty, actually wants the child to be this way? Well, yes, in an unconscious way they do. ... and this is why:
The parent grew up in a family where love was supplanted by bullying, so that the only "love" she knew was a bully- victim kind of love. We all experience "love" relative to what kind of treatment we received when we were small children. If it was nurturing and kind and accommodating, that is what we feel is love, if it was bullying and punishing and based upon a bully-victim polarity, then that is what we know as "love". We can then go on to replicate this precisely in our adult relationships.

In our general example, the mother, unwittingly enough, is reproducing the kind of relationship that is familiar to her from her early years...and in that sense is safe and comfortable with it..... She diminishes her son and creates a victim whom she can blame for bad behaviour, just as her parent/s performed a guilt-shift on her for precisely the same reasons. This time, however, she is the bully and HER child is the victim. And this is why this unconsciously manipulated drama is attractive to her: When she was a child, she was the victim, humiliated, powerless, with a screaming soul unable to find release, now HER release from her prison is her own child, who symbiotically enables her some peace by "allowing" her to switch roles.

When a parent humiliates a child, systematically, in this case by invading him and stripping away all his self worth and the precious territory of his personhood, this is psychological rape. It inflicts the same pain and humiliation as a physical rape and does the same kind of mental damage. Just as in rape as we know it, it is difficult for a person to recover from such violation, the damage of psychological rape is hard to heal, particularly since this kind of damage isn`t so apparent to observers.

Taking away these possessions, things that are extensions of, symbols of, a child's core being, is a power message to the child that says that every bit of them is owned and controlled by the parent. There is nowhere for them to go, not even in their own mental space. Just like in physical rape, the parent penetrates the child with sadistic vigour and relishes the power they have over them. The message is you cannot run, you have to submit, and if you fight me I will destroy you until I win; I will even destroy you with your own fight-back. This strategy is very sophisticated, so much so that the instinct of the mother puppets the child into behaving badly so that he even despises himself right into his inner being. As this scenario plays out, the child behaves more and more badly and the mother tightens her purpose. She "knows" that the child will take her negative regard for him into himself and will have an enemy within as well as without, just like has happened to her. Ultimately, the self-injury that is failure and bad behaviour may turn to more disturbed self harm. You see, the mother has a tendency to self harm.

This is unconscious psychological warfare, it is a subtle and deeply pathological game. Ultimately......and not all kids are going to be totally broken by this insidious game, I hasten to add, ultimately, the parent needs to murder the child from within. This is why degradation is so important and bad behaviour is elicited: As every agent of psychological torture knows, you must destroy the person on the outside with all manner of demeaning tactics, in order to destroy them on the inside. The unconscious aim is to turn the victim in upon himself so that even he feels himself to be a bad person. Then you have won.

As a digression, I just want to mention that I am mindful of a book I read that made a very deep impression upon me: "The Stolen Child" by Keith Donohue.......... The tragedy of the story is that hobgoblins who live in a forest, who were once abducted children, watch and wait and study children in our world until a time when they can substitute themselves for a child they abduct. Only when they can steal another child can they achieve the freedom to go back into the world themselves as real children in a normal family. The emotional pain for me in reading this book, was that one child`s pain could only be assuaged by inflicting the same pain upon another child. You get my point I am sure, the situation we are discussing in this blog is in part one person`s pain, the parent, being released by the infliction of pain upon another, the child.

Well, this is how bullying is inherited and why many adults need to bully in order help themselves. Instead of them as children being the victim, the guilty one, they make someone else guilty instead.

In my next blog I want to talk about this again and to address the question of what we do about the child in this terrible circumstance. How we look after him and try to prevent the mother creating a clone of her psychological make up and how we deal with socially permissible abuse.