Monday, April 26, 2021

Why can't I Decide what to Answer on those "Yes or No" / "This or That" Personality Tests?

Same thing used to happen to me when I took psychometric tests or plowed through recovery workbooks (I've done two dozen). I still have a "big yellow mental school bus" full of brats in a food fight, and they rarely agree on much of anything. But Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mind-Body Bridging Therapy (MBBT) and other therapies built a "driver" who can pull over and intervene. (The driver is likely to have different point of view, as well.)

Early life trauma may induce Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and splitting (in my reply to the OP on that Reddit thread) to try to deal with the CPTSD by protecting the abused and/or neglected / abandoned child from the overwhelming terror of realizing what the hell is going on in a world where he or she is fully dependent upon others for his or her very survival. Which may ultimately lead to a collection of Personality Disorder traits called Borderline (or Dissociative Identity) PD to "structuralize" that splitting. And those trait systems get "stored" in various default mode networks that make up an Internal Family System in the brain.

See The Abused Child's Awful Dilemma and Dissociation in Depth.

BUT, there is a way OUT. See...

The Internal Family Systems Model: The Freeway Onramp Out of CPTSD > BPD Hell?,

The 10 StEPs component of Choiceless Awareness for Emotion Processing, and the rest of...

A 21st Century Recovery Program for Someone with Untreated Childhood Trauma... because IME there's a LOT one can do without spending a fortune on psychotherapy, as well as to speed up the process if one is in therapy or at least at the fourth of the five stages of therapeutic recovery.

References & Resources:

A CPTSD Library

Section One: Basic explanations & recovery activities

Section Two: More advanced

Section Three: Neurobiology

Section Four: BPD as an Upshot of CPTSD

Section Five: Critical Thinking

Section Six: Workbooks

Section Seven: Workbooks Specifically on Anger Processing

Friday, April 23, 2021

The Five Progressive Qualities of the Committed Cult Member

Recruitability. I was either raised in the cult or already so blind, deaf, dumbed down, gullible and senseless that I was a perfect mark for the bait. (But see below.)

Exploitability. Got enough Codependency to be an approval junkie? You betcha!

Dependability. Got a "mission?" Count on me to git 'er done.

Deployability. Just show me the target. I'll suffer and die for the bite, errrrrr, The Cause.

Expendability. Wad me up and throw me out when I'm no longer useful.

(Developed further from a pair of concepts in Alexandra Stein's Terror, Love & Brainwashing. See also A Comprehensive -- and Free -– Online BOOK on How Cults Work and how to recover from them.)

Relative to the first quality above, Stein suggested a more nuanced and less totalistic notion she calls "situational vulnerability." Especially with respect to the typically more educated and higher functioning people who become involved in the so-called "human potential" cults like Scientology and Landmark, I support the notion that surrounding cultural conditioning (e.g. in the high-technology, media and entertainment industries) predisposes those who place a high value on achievement to seek whatever "legs up" they can get, wherever they can get them. But in the less educated and lower functioning world of those born into the welfare and lower working classes, I continue to assert that the precise wording of my definition of recruitability (or "pre-conditioned vulnerability") is largely accurate.

In similar regard, see also: The Typical Path of Cult Involvement and The Cultic Pyramid.

Friday, April 9, 2021

The Internal Family Systems Model: The Freeway Onramp Out of CPTSD > BPD Hell?

In my experience over the past 15 years or so, pretty much everyone with CPTSD-induced BPD who gets into the Internal Family Systems Model when they're in the third or fourth of the five stages of psychotherapeutic recovery figures they've Seen The Light on the Road to the Promised Land.

Small Children learn how to Split into Parts because they NEED to. The IFSM "parts" are the result of that splitting.

Over time one dis-covers all kinds of IFSM "critters" running around in their heads, including various inner children of different ages. See, for example, Three Definitions of “Splitting” in not-moses’s reply to the OP on that Reddit thread, and Is BPD a Dissociative Splitting between "Parts" that are "Inner 2-Year-Olds" vs. "Inner 13-Year-Olds?"

But the "parts" can be thought constructs well beyond dysfunctional inner children and parents, as well as functional inner adults. My personal faves are...

The three at the corners of the Karpman Drama Triangle, as well as...

The Four Types of BPD (because virtually everyone with BPD caroms from one of those types to at least one of the other three), and...

The I's & The Eye's: Three States of Cognitive Consciousness.

Building the "Third Eye" (see above) with Choiceless Awareness for Emotion Processing on the platform of A 21st Century Recovery Program for Someone with Untreated Childhood Trauma has proven to be the paving on the Freeway Out of Hell for me, at least. See also Dissociation, Memory Retrieval, "Resociation" & Reprocessing.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Pre- & Post-Manson Family Cultic Psychopathology (hopefully) Explained

Someone on Reddit's Cults forum brought up the Charles Manson cult a few hours ago. I spent a lot of time in Hollywood during my misspent youth and actually knew more than half dozen people who'd (at least claimed to have) lived at the Spahn Ranch... in part via my involvement in The Center for Feeling Therapy cult only five years after the Tate / Labianca murder spree. I'd also met and talked with Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme outside the Hall of Justice during the trial in 1970 and been in a position to observe both Patricia "Katie" Krenwinkel and Susan "The Shiv" Atkins in the 1990s. But I was not yet sufficiently educated about cult dynamics to be able to connect any significant dots, nor had I read any of the later (and much better than Vincent Bugliosi's) books on the topic including Nikki Meredith's (flawed but insightful and informative) The Manson Women and Me and Jeff Guinn's Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson.

About two years ago, however, I saw Tarantino's movie, and the coffee began to percolate. Understanding the Cultic Pyramid, the Karpman Drama Triangleinsecure attachment and cultic power structures as I do now, I'll try to construct a case on the published and otherwise well-known psychological evidence that young...

  1. Charlie M. was indeed the well-documented victim of almost the worst combination of childhood circumstances anyone could imagine, having been repeatedly neglected, ignored, abandoned, discounted, disclaimed, and rejected, as well as invalidated, confused, betrayed, insulted, criticized, judged, blamed, shamed, ridiculed, embarrassed, humiliated, denigrated, derogated, scorned, set up to screw up, victimized, demonized, persecuted, picked on, vilified, dumped on, bullied, gaslit..., scapegoated..., emotionally blackmailed, defiled and/or otherwise abused by others upon whom he depended for survival in the first few years of life;

  2. Charles "Tex" Watson had been raised religious (possibly too religious, morally perfectionistic and false-self "goody goody") out there in Copeville, Texas, about 20 miles from downtown Dallas and firmly in the "Bible Belt";

  3. Susan Atkins was the daughter of a pair of alcoholic parents who were so dysfunctional, she had to move out of the house when she was 13 (and likewise going "churchy," a way of being she definitely reassumed at Corona and Chowchilla); and

  4. Patricia Krenwinkel was a big, mannish girl who was both bullied and bullying from the time she was six or seven, and who became fiercely Jesuit in a highly idealistic, moralistic and assertive school of Roman Catholicism she shared with Robert F. Kennedy.

If one has read Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, Eric Hoffer's The True Believer, and David Lykken's "A Case for Parental Licensure" in Theo Millon's Psychopathy, not to mention Alexandra Stein's Terror, Love and Brainwashing and some of the other books in A Basic Cult Library, it becomes evident that a) early life experiences were hugely influential, and b) all of the aforementioned played specific, well-identified and documented authoritarian roles in the Manson Family cult structure that are perhaps more easily seen in better known examples:

Charlie 1 was clearly the Adolph Hitler (the horribly abused son of the awful Alois Schicklgruber) in his little gang. He dimly understood how to present a seeming solution for the problems of others who'd been similarly abused (or thought they had, at least). Manson was Hoffer's "raging idealist," the one who "explained" things and had sufficient charisma to attract and maintain a following, even as his ideas became increasingly paranoid. But, like Hoffer's rabble-rousing idealists -- including Jean Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx before the French and Russian revolutions -- he was not one to risk his own neck in the front lines. Despite his exposure to the Church of Scientology shortly before the murders, as an organizer  Manson was no L. Ron Hubbard, Swami Prabhupada or Werner Erhard, but he was very much like them with respect to manipulating others to manifest his objectives.

"Katie" Krenwinkel was The Intimidating Enforcer and more or less the Heinrich Himmler of the Manson family. She was no intellectual for sure, but she knew a source of empowerment for her dire need to dominate others, her excuse being that it was in the Holy Name of the Great Seer, Charles Manson. In many ways, Krenwinkel was more than just the power behind the throne; she was the power, period.

"Tex" Watson was The Schutzstaffel "SS". A confidant-appearing but nevertheless approval-seeking toady, he did whatever Katie told him to do to protect the integrity of the cult to support her Compensatory Narcissistic imperatives so long as they coincided with Manson's... or at least appeared to. Watson was one of the family's Lee Harvey Oswald robotic patsies; the "good soldier" willing to march into the machine gun fire to earn Manson's and Krenwinkel's approval.

Susan the Shiv was another "good soldier" (along with Leslie Van Houten, but beyond anyone else in The Family I know of, truly "The Manchurian Candidate." Atkins might have found Katie's and Charlie 1's approval appealing, but that was NOT the sole source of her motivation. Compared to Watson's and Krenwinkel's cold-blooded, (il)logically purposeful True Believers, Atkins had a side that fits the description "wildeyed, Prisoner of Hate, bloodlust murderer." She simply couldn't kill her hated mother / self in the visage of Sharon Tate enough and drove her knife into Ms. Tate's body sixteen times.

Over the years at Corcoran, Donovan (near San Diego), Corona and Chowchilla...

  1. Manson became increasingly psychotic and delusional. He'd always had to "live in his head," and that did not serve him well in incarceration, much as was the case when L. Ron Hubbard moved into the trailer outside a remote little village east of Paso Robles, California, where he ultimately expired;

  2. Watson found Jesus (again) and worked the foolishly codependent convict groupies like so many murderers have done before and since to try to crowbar his parole;

  3. Krenwinkel did her best to put a lot of distance between herself and the others, earning a psych degree and becoming a 12th Tradition-bending personality in AA and NA, but never really took full responsibility for her actions in '69 because she continued to be (as many, but far from all, do in AA and NA) a compensatory narcissist; and...

  4. Susan the Shiv did her own version of the born again maneuver and worked it to try to get parole, but she continued to be so easily triggerable that she gave herself (actually her still rage-steeped, "not okay inner child") away again and again in pre-parole hearing psych evaluations (something the photo on her Wikipedia page reminds those who've actually seen her).

The point of all this was to try to illustrate that it's very difficult for the leopard to change his or her psychopathological spots once the die has been cast -- or conditioned, in-doctrine-ated, instructed, imprintedsocialized, habituated, and normalized into a default mode network -- in the human brain.

I've seen way to many examples of former, higher-level cult members (and others with lingering Religious Trauma Syndrome and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who simply never got past that die-casting, especially if the principal reason they climbed to the eighth or ninth level on some Cultic Pyramid was to try to compensate for an awful childhood with some means of self-empowerment.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Leaving the Cult may NOT go well if one is NOT adequately Prepared

Cultic Addiction Switching, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Developmental Stunting & Self-Harm are Possibilities

Though some will be, MOST cult exitors will not be chased around by The True Believers trying to “save them from their big mistake.” The bigger issue effective and complete withdrawal (see not-moses’s reply to the OP on that thread) from the cultic addiction, very much including the desperate, disorganized attachment to others one has (supposedly) become close to, as well as the dire need to be a part of “something bigger.”

But “something bigger” includes more than the “sense” of community. It includes the upshots of a conditioned, in-doctrine-ated, instructed, imprintedsocialized, habituated, and normalized need to dodge the untreated psychological upshots of having been similarly conditioned etc. to a lingering state of Learned Helplessness, Dread & the Victim Identity. Left unrecognized, unacknowledged, unappreciated and unattended, that nasty combo will very often fuel a compulsion to find a new cultic involvement to provide the same addictive “fix” that kept one locked into the cultic addiction cycle in the previous cult.

The new cult may look, sound, taste, smell and feel entirely different from the old one. (Christianity-loathing former evangelicals, fundamentalists and/or charismatics may be intensely attracted to “new age,” human potential, political cause or even multi-level marketing cults. I’ve seen this a lot.) But the "hole" it fills (temporarily) is the same unless or until the exitor deals with that.

Beyond all that, there’s a particular matter one has to deal with if one has left a cult in which “moral purity” is a major coercive component. (Which would include virtually all of the fundamentalist Christian, Jewish, Islamic and other Abrahamic churches, as well as many Hindu and Buddhist cults.) Many exitors become so disgusted with the relentless “moral blackmail” heaped on them to induce Sin, Shame and Guilt that they rebound psychologically into brief, lingering or even permanent – and very costly -- moral depravity (much as I did in my 20s and 30s). The sudden release from the extreme “moral confinement” of the cult has lead many exitors into all manner of self-destructive behaviors including wanton alcoholism, hard drug abuse, hardcore ritualistic satanism, hate-fueled & revenge-bent career prostitution, sexual perversions (e.g. with pre-teen and small children; I have seen a LOT of that), risk addictions, etc.

The Abrahamic and other “social organizing” religions do serve a purpose, even if that purpose is so often contaminated and corrupted: They confer what Lawrence Kohlberg called the first of the three stages of moral development. But they tend to slow development of the second, and block access altogether the third of those stages, largely because deeply instructed belief does not allow the mind to see, hear, feel or sense what is perceived adequately to ever reach the higher stages.

In whatever event, understanding, appreciating and attending to what I have described above appears in my experience to be a requirement for successful, long-lasting, comfortable and trouble-free emergence from Religious & Cultic Trauma Syndrome.

References & Resources

How & Why People Leave One Cult — and End Up in Another

Still Stuck in the Muck of RTS? There IS a Way Out.

SIQR, the 10 StEPs & Recovery from Religious Trauma Syndrome: A How-To Guide

Dis-I-dentifying with Learned Helplessness & the Victim I-dentity (and not-moses's answers to a replier's questions there)

Do I need Exit Counseling or Deprogramming?

To find an understanding, secular therapist if you need one, see my reply to the OP on Decided to start therapy

Choiceless Awareness for Emotion Processing and pretty much everything else

CA4EP and the 10 StEPs for Emotional Blackmail

Comprehensive -- and Free -– Online BOOK on How Cults Work and how to recover from them

A Basic Cult Library