Assaultive Projective Identification and the Plundering of the Victim's Identity
(Okay, has this caught everyone's attention? Good. It is the title of an article from a medical journal. Peer reviewed. Adult world. Printed on paper. No one can make it disappear by flushing it down the cyberspace toilet.)
Jay, thank you for that. You put something complex into a nutshellBlame the victim, pity the perpetrator
There is a double standard Ive seen for years. The New Age scene reeks of it, and so does the Dharma Lite scene.
My opinion, is that many persons affected by trauma, whether in person, or transmitted through family suffering, try to deal with that trauma by becoming seekers.
Unfortunately, in the New Age/Dharma Lite scene, they are given a message of false empowerment--take care of the perpetrator.
Win a prize in the Compassion Olympics by cooing over the poor pathetic perpetrator.
The victim--nah. Too obvious. But to feel compassion for someone who continues to abuse thier power...that gets you the New Age Gold Medal for Compassion.
In this scene, people try to sidestep trauma by playing language games, by dissociatively splitting off from the horror they cant stand to face inside themselves, splitting off from the betrayal they cant stand to recognize.
Folks, I know I sound mean and nasty.
But I know how it hurts to face the ghastly truth of being radically lied to by people I loved and trusted. Found some stuff out two years ago and I had 5 months of stress induced insomnia that was so severe that I nearly went nuts. If I had had the slightest bit of genetic loading for schizophrenia or bipolar, I wouldve landed in the hospital.
As it was, I was so batshit from sleep deprivation that I felt like I was on a wobbling boat at sea while walking down the sidewalk, typing errors piled up higher by the day as I wrote stuff, and my eyes stared and my face grew haggard and looked 20 years older.
If I had not had access to medical care, I'd have been in seriously deep shit.
Thats the price of owning a previously dissociated trauma. And I think I paid a milder price than many people do.
Rather than have this horror, people often prefer to buy some notion that there is no such thing as power abuse.
They split off from their own suffering and allow themselves to be convinced their suffering is illusory. But all too often this happens in relation to the guru teaching them this escapism:
Your suffering is illusory--thats the spoken and written message.
But...nonverbally, in the day to day routine of the ashram or online, there is subtext
Only the gurus suffering is real. Only the guru ( or powerholder) is considered worthy of compassion. Thier surgeries get spoken of, cooed over. Your much greater illnesses are illusion.
The person on the receiving end of the abuse, the dumpee, is to blame.
One author has a most interesting personal definition of charisma:
'I am using the term 'charisma' here in a special sense to denote that numinous personality change deliberately infused into the victim'.
This was written about 30 years ago by Leonard Fischer/Agehananda Bharti in his Memoir, The Ochre Robe. He lived through the Nazi occupation of Europe and was horrified by the effects on people. Later, in India, he was perturbed by how many people he met who considered Hitler an avatar, reasoning that because he had attained so much power, Hitler must have had superb karma. Power equalled legitimacy. Those with this opinion had no ablity to make any distinction between legitmate/benevolent power and power stolen using lies and used for evil purposes.
Power equaled legitimacy. It is a very primitive state of mind, yet can co-exist with a high IQ and considerable social charm--in which case run for your life.
What is yet more interesting is that decades after Bharati wrote this in Ochre Robe, a psychoanalyst named Stanley Rosenman seems to have identified a similar process and describes it in detail.
Stanley Rosenman has written about how identity and even emotions are interfered with when someone else inserts thier own introject into targeted persons--victims.
Rosenman examined this only in the context of traumatic assault, such as rape or prolonged torture.
He didnt consider that this could be done by seduction, persuasion, by presenting oneself as a guru and securing peoples attention by promsing priviliged access to the ancient heritage of India.
But we are free to ponder this. Rosenman has suggested that a self impaired perpetrator may seek immortality by injected shards of his or her introject into others.
This article is worth reading. Therapists can get it through subscription to PEP. Others may have to look for it at a psychoanlytic institute library.
But I think Rosenman manages to describe the same process alluded to by Bharati:
'I am using the term 'charisma' here in a special sense to denote that numinous personality change deliberately infused into the victim'.
I took some rough notes on Rosenman's article.
Rosenman, S. (2003). Assaultive Projective Identification and the Plundering of the Victim's Identity... Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis
(abstract of article)
A destructive mode of projective identification is delineated: a predator's catastrophic attack calculated to cause the victim a stress disorder marked by a disarrayed identity. This discomposure enables the perpetrator to aggrandize a manifold inroad upon the victim's identity to imprint, intrude, mingle and/or lodge his representation into it; to ravage, steal from, impoverish, and/or corrupt it; finally to have his representation emerge as an internal regulator of the traumatized prey's functioning. The victim's debased integrity is manifest in the symptoms of his ensuing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."
"The article was grim reading, but very, very informative. The Rosenman article is an updated version of the material presented by Lapin.
Rosenman made use of testimony from people who had survived parenting from adults traumatized by war and persecution, and from persons who had survived prison atrocity, torture and other forms of prolonged, grievous assault. (This is not good stuff to read within an hour or two of bedtime--learned that the hard way.) (My note - any trauma the parent suffered would count).
The stuff that jumped out at me is that many times perpetrators present a very pathetic wounded child aspect of themselves while simultaneously intruding on and damaging vulnerable targets. ((Though Rosenman does not say so, this wounded pathetic child aspect of the perp is probably flip side of the vibrant charming child aspect of the perp when he or she is being sunny and seductive.))
The pathos literally disarms us--both before we are assaulted--and it disarms us after we are assaulted, by shaming us into distrusting our anger and revulsion at being trust busted.
This matches with how many abusive gurus (like my doctor, warped's doctor\bf, all our abusers) go into pathetic grand opera mode when feeling misunderstood--the pathos. It brings their defenders out of the woodwork (their relatives, friends, followers). Even those grievously victimized by Cohen still feel afraid to be disloyal and this has greatly muzzled the survivor's community and prevented it from becoming an effective agent for reform. Despite knowing how cruel and dangerous Cohen (one particular "guru" we've been following in CA) had been to them and that he was continuing to do this, most of the survivors pull their punches and feel afraid to be disloyal or hurtful-even a woman who was pressured and tormented to surrender over 2 million dollars still felt this hesitation. IT all fits with what Roseman describes--the seductive pathos of the tormentor.
In using pathos,the perp sets it up so the victim gets shamed and conned into feeling parental and loyal to the wounded child in the perp--and in feeling protective of the wounded child in the perp, the victim is simultaneously conned into disowning his or her own violated innocence. In this scam, its the powerholder/perp who gets the compassion and the victim ends up shafted with disorientation, shame and self loathing.
Two, Rosenman notes that perps feel soiled by what they've been through and some get a temporary sense of renewal and invigoration by disrupting the innocent happiness of their target and witnessing the person succumb to the shock that the perp went through. Rosenman noted that survivors of atrocity may resent and envy their children at having a chance at happiness and may force the children to become privy to the parent's grim outlook on life--a kind of misery loves company dynamic. (my note - they HATE our happiness. My doctor, and the LGAT he tried to suck me into, try to persuade clients that they don't know just how miserable their lives are. Many alternative practitioners use this underlying unhappiness as the "hidden cause" for illness).
So the identity and emotional life of the perp get transferred into the targeted victim and takes over the victims inner life. IF you're a child, you dont feel free to explore life on your own terms. You feel your own energy and happiness are taking something away from your parents. Roseman noted that some perps get a sense of immortality, or at least a sense of mastery (the vampire) by taking over the inner lives of their victims and (to quote the abstract) 'have (the perp's) representation emerge as an internal regulator of the traumatized prey's functioning. '
Now...doesnt this sound exactly like an LGAT's agenda--'emerge as an internal regulator of the traumatized prey's functioning.' The set up is a socially engineered assault/disorientation that punctures boundaries and fosters injection of the LGATs' "representation" so that it then takes over and runs the targets inner life for them--and sets up a conflict between true self and the foreign and predatory material injected by the LGAT. (my note - we both have had experience with either gurus or LGATs, but this injection applies to abusers in general - they become part of your internal workings).
But Rosenman's article describes another part of the process--the way perpetrators use thier pathos, their woundedness, to feel entitled to leech from others---and use their pathos to charm their victims into parenting them--and shame thier victims to ignore their own valid revulsion at being leeched from. When someone is pathetic, its hard to face that they are dangerous and using pathos as a cloaking device.
The tip off when perpetrators abuse others this is that:
*Only the perpetrator's childhood pathos and suffering gets respect.
*The perpetrators adult agency in continuing the legacy of abuse--is ignored, trivialied--or given a spiritual rationalization.
*The perpetrators adult agency is foisted onto the victim.
***And the shattered powerless victim (often groomed and pre-selected by the perp because he or she is vulnerable, is conned into parenting and nurturing the wounded child in the perp while the adult voice of the perp cons the victim into feeling responsible for the perps actions. The victim feels powerlesss and craves a sense of agency, so may accept the perpetrators definition of agency---"You made it happen. You made your own abuse." Its only abuse because you CALL it abuse.
And a false sense of agency in feeling parental toward the perpetrator...to the poin
***The victim is conned a sense of false empowerment by parenting the perpetrator.
The predation being done in in the present moment is denied. The experience of the victim suffering in the present moment is given no respect whatsoever."
Stamp out rape. Say yes.
As I wrote elsewhere:
In New Age and Dharma Lite circles, there is a phobia against honest, frank speech.
And it may be that people who allow themselves to be emotionally spayed or neutered may at an unconscious level get off on following a leader or guru with anger management problems, because the leader gets to indulge the anger and other behavior forbidden to the followers.
One also sees this where a guru or leader milks his or her sufferings for pathos, and monopolizes compassion, while the followers are forbidden to see their own pain as equally valid.
The followers care for the guru while failing to give a damn about their own well being and fail to give a damn for the well being of each other.
All compassion is monopolized by the leader, while denied to the followers.
The leader becomes an insatiable black hole, absorbing all the emotional energy and vitality of the group. The leader is allowed to be angry. The leader is allowed to be cared for. The leader's sufferings (even when its just something that can be remedied by surgery) is exaggerated as drastic.
The followers are forbidden anger, forbidden care when suffering, told to 'turn it around' when they feel perturbed, forbidden to defend themselves or see thier own perspective as valid.
Only the leader's perspective is valid. Only the leader's experiences and emotions are real.
But from Janaki's account, the leader never has to turn it around.
A guru who is greedy and nasty can become a emtional surrogate of sorts, carrying and acting out impulses and emotions forbidden to the followers.
In Janaki's case, she mentions being in some Indian gurus ashram at age 14, then she follows Muktananda, then gets involved with BK.
That is a very very long time to be in guru-land. That very likely meant she was socialized to disown emotional boundaries early on and then rationalize this disowning of valid anger and emotional boundaries under the guise of spiritual rationalization.
The poison of an LGAT is that you think you are fully autonomous when in fact the toxic introject of the forum leader has been downloaded into a subconscious part of yourself and is working you as a puppet so as to defend the LGAT, disrupt dissent by trolling, or by earning money and running PR.
Stanely Rosenman--has spent a lot of time counseling and writing about the issues faced by survivors of the Nazi holocaust but also the impact the parental trauma has had upon children and even grandchildren of those who survived.
Dr Rosenman has not 'lost the moon'
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/17/2009 10:13PM by corboy.