Sunday, March 16, 2014

What, Would a Republican Ever Betray You?

Jennifer Freyd and Pamela Birelle. Blind to Betrayal. Hobeken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2013.

This is an eye-opening insightful book that describes how so many of us are literally blind to the ways we are betrayed in life. The book describes the psychological reasons why our brains, in attempting to protect from traumas, make us reject obvious betrayals. There are many kinds of betrayals, from those within families, relationships, and our institutions.

Some of the readers of this reviewer’s postings are Policy students. The notes from this book that follow are for them, as well as the public who wish to learn more in general about this topic. The book goes into far greater explanations and does so in a manner that is understandable to the general public. Complex psychological issues are clearly and expertly presented.

Policy students may wish to note both how governments can be involved in betrayals. Further, the general issue itself creates societal issues that need to be addressed by our intellectual disability services.

For those seeking a review, this is an excellent book for people who wish to learn more about this area of Psychology. It may be useful to learning more if one has experienced betrayal or if one seeks to learn more about others who have been betrayed. This book will be extremely helpful.

For those seeking some notes about some points from this book, my notes are as follows:

Our brains often operate is convoluted ways, according to the authors. Sometimes when the mind deduces that someone emotionally close has evidently committed betrayal, the mind reduces the immediate pain from that recognition by transforming the betrayal evidence from recognizing it towards rejecting it. This though may be worse in terms of long term pain, especially if the betrayal continues and continual emotional pains are inflicted.

The authors recommend that people admit to themselves and others when they discover betrayals. What may emerge from this is hope that the mind may process this towards leading to healing. The alternative of continued blindness may be more emotionally harmful to the betrayed as well as allowing the injustices of further betrayals to continue.

People sometimes suffer from what is known as “betrayal blindness”, which is an “unawareness of information that is present but is somehow “whooshed” away”. It has been a fault of the psychological profession that this has been little studied, leading the authors to note that “Psychology as a discipline may suffer from betrayal blindness” as it is more concerned about individuals and their symptoms than upon interpersonal relations.

Children may suffer betrayal blindness when it comes to being abused or discriminated against.

There is societal betrayal. Children grew up being taught that they exist in a society that awards merit and believes in equality of opportunities. Many, especially people of racial minorities, learn later in this this is not reality.

There is a visual aspect to betrayal blindness. It is possible for someone to see something that one doesn’t want to see and have the mind not register the sight. The mind protects itself by doing that. Often one may intellectually know what they saw, yet a mental defensive mechanism of denial operates that does not properly process the information seen.

People who are betrayed become either confrontational or withdrawn. Those that withdraw may go into denial

People abused by a parent who loves them display betrayal feelings, Psychologists often focus on the resulting symptoms but not the underlying issues of feeling betrayed. Many suppress these memories that may lead to later psychological problems.

Sexual assault victims sometimes react passively to the attack. Fear is often a facto.r When the victim knows the assailant, betrayal is often felt

“Stockholm syndrome”, where a captive develops empathy for the capturer, is a subset of betrayal blindness. The captive person’s mind better registers whatever kindness the capturer shows and reduces the traumatic aspects. In some kidnap cases, seeking to create an attachment bond with the capturer is also a survival skill.

There can be collective betrayal blindness. An example of that was in 2003 when many continued believing our leaders that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction long after this was disproven.

There is institutional betrayal. Employees become blind to workplace injustices. There is institutional blindness, with the child sex scandals of the Catholic Church prominently demonstrating this.

An Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire of 345 female college students found 47% had been sexual assault at least once. Over a third experienced the assault from an institutional source. Those who suffered institutional betrayal had higher level of traumatic symptoms.

In the Penn State child sex abuse, there was public sympathy for the coach who was blind to the assaults and let them occur. Many who opt to remain blind to an assault continue this blindness in subsequent cases.

There have been many sexual assaults within military personnel. This trauma, when experienced in addition to combat trauma, can be devastating.

It is sometimes difficult to criminally prosecute assailants.The freezing defensive mechanism is often labeled by defense attorneys. Many victims, especially when suppressing the memories, make poor witnesses who may have inconsistencies in their testimonies or may not recall details of the crimes.

Bystanders are sometimes blind to betrayals. It is easier to avoid difficulties through “psychic numbing” than to take risks that could be harmful in order to help a victim. A horrific example of this was seen in the collective passivity of people who looked the other way when people were taken away during the Holocaust.

People, when confronted, often choose to fight, flee, or freeze (also known as “toxic immobility”). The freezing action is often seen in response to suffering a betrayal.

Research indicates that trauma exposure creates poor mental health. Such exposure creates increased risk for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, dissociation, borderline personality, and physical problems.

Research finds women are usually more affected by betrayal trauma than are men.

If a victim is dependent upon the person committing an assault, the victim may decide it is more important to preserve the relationship. The abuse is then tolerated and sometimes forgotten.

Research shows people with high degrees of alexithymia, which is a difficulty in realizing one’s own emotional feeling and experiences, often exists with people who were abused as children.

“Group-think” creates self-censoring among members of a group. This can lead to institutional betrayal blindness.

Betrayal blindness can cause high dissociations and make one more apt to be forgetful in general and more apt to be a betrayed victim again. It can then be more difficult to form relations with others.

Some victims go on to victimize others. This creates even more stressful problems.

A person who discloses betrayal faces the denials and counter-accusations from the perpetrator. This can further psychologically damage the victim and causes a retreat back into silence.

A betrayed person can help heal by acknowledging the betrayal.

Societal admission of cultural betrayal can create justice. People now recognize the mistakes made during times of genocide and government abuses. This makes people recognize and resist these injustices.

It is important that people listen to dialogues when presented with someone discussing a betrayal. Only disclose something learned when it is safe to disclose it.


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