I think I did pretty well on this latest unscripted video… but afterwards I felt concerned that I hadn’t talked about how awful the advice of “block and never talk about it” actually is. This tactic of dealing with people by simply cutting them out of the picture is a signature tactic of narcissists, and it’s not how normal healthy minded people operate. Normal healthy people talk things out, they discuss, they negotiate, that seek out common ground, and they often find agreement. However, narcissists don’t do this. They shut down all communication and terminate the relationship. This is because narcissists see any form of compromise or negotiation as them losing. “To the victor goes the spoils” as the saying goes, and a narcissist won’t tolerate not getting their own way on their own terms: thus a total end of communication seems desirable to them because they think it prevents their mind from ever being changed again and this inflexibility is somehow “winning” or revealing of personal strength.
The counter point to this perspective is that when you remove yourself from the conversation you don’t empower yourself, in fact, you are putting yourself in the least powerful position possible with no ability to influence the outcome whatsoever. I might have easily concluded that my ex was just a lying cheating whore and told everyone that, simply because she didn’t advocate for herself, and the scant information she provided to me can easily be interpreted in that direction. It wouldn’t even be malicious for me to draw that conclusion from the facts on the ground, and several of my friends have already reached that conclusion about her: she was all fake and lying to me from the start. Personally, I don’t believe this because I think I know her better than that. I’m certain she isn’t a narcissist doing this to be maliciously controlling. But all the same, by not explaining herself, she lost all control over the narrative and now history will be written by someone else and her voice silenced because she didn’t speak up for herself.
The biggest problem I have here is that this bad advice isn’t uncommon. I’ve seen it taught in university by lecturers who are almost certainly narcissists. Which raises the question: how many young and naive student psychologists are absorbing these bad ideas and then passing them onto their clients? Unwittingly sabotaging their clients? I recall one colleague, a registered psychologist, advising a mother to call the police on her nine year old son if he walked off by himself when they were out. I was shocked by this advice, but since she was my supervisor at the time I assumed she knew what she was doing. Well the police were called, the nine year old was petrified out of his wits, lost a lot of trust in his mother, and nothing concrete was improved. However, for years later I would find myself reading various stories in the newspaper along the lines of “police shoot child after mother calls for help.” I concluded that the police shouldn’t be called for domestic situations, because it doesn’t matter how much training in crisis management the police have, they just aren’t smart enough to handle a crisis since the IQs of police recruits are increasingly regulated to make sure they were too stupid to question their orders as part of the ongoing international program to militarise police forces. If anything this recent lock down has taught us, police have no idea how to handle an elderly or pregnant woman not wearing a mask much less a child throwing a tantrum.
However, my supervisor wasn’t a stupid woman. She was young and inexperienced yes, but she was definitely a smart woman. So where did this really bad advice come from? My hunch is that it came from her teachers at university. If you’ve ever read “Mad in America” by Robert Whittaker you will understand that those who claim to know the most about mental health and to be the foremost authorities on the topic, have a long history of doing extremely dangerous and irrational things to their clients. The field of psychology I fear is dominated not by sincere individuals curious about the mind, but by ambitious narcissists eager to learn better ways to manipulate and control other people. Psychological science is after all a tool like any other: it is morally neutral. That’s to say, a hammer can be used to build a house, or end a life; it depends solely on the motives of the user. Likewise, psychology isn’t necessarily about building people up, but equally likely to be about tearing them down to be exploited.
A decision like cutting someone out of your life shouldn’t ever be made lightly. I spent years agonising over my decision to cut my family out of my life. I tried for years talking to them, pleading with them, urging them to get therapy, and trying to understand them… but I didn’t see any evidence they cared or were even interested in hearing my perspective. It was only when I realised they didn’t actually care about me, only about themselves, and there was nothing I could do about this, that I made that decision. Thus I ended the relationship only after all other attempts to reach understanding had failed. However, it seems to me like psychologists these days are advising people to cut all ties off with other people, especially with ex-boyfriends, as the first resort, and selling it as some kind of empowerment. Anyone who gives this kind of advice ought to be regarded with immediately suspicion: your voice can’t be heard when you walk away from the conversation. Sure, you might not be listened too even if you do speak, but walking away removes all hope and opportunities for an improvement to the situation and dooms one to being at the mercy of what happens next.