April 30, 2011

How to avoid using defense mechanisms

by Suzanne Rose
Created on: April 24, 2011

Defense mechanisms are commonly used to reduce anxiety and allow people to deal with stressful stimuli. According to the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, these can be either positive or negative for a person. You can reduce your use of defense mechanisms through the following strategies.

Identify the defense mechanisms you employ

You will have difficulty avoiding the use of defense mechanisms if you do not recognize that you are utilizing them. First you should learn about the different mechanisms. You may repress some of your bad memories by pushing them to your unconscious mind. Projection occurs when a person projects feelings to someone else. For instance you do not like a person so you think that they do not like you. Rationalization occurs when you find pseudo-logical reasons to support an action such as cheating on a test. Other defense mechanisms include intellectualization, regression and displacement.

Enlist others to help you recognize your defense mechanisms, because it may not be apparent. You may miss some of your maladaptive behaviors, even when they are glaringly obvious to others.

A mental health counselor such as a psychologist can also help you recognize defense mechanisms so that you can take steps to eradicate them. This may be especially useful if you do not understand all of the different types that exist.

Develop healthy ways to reduce your stress

The problem with defense mechanisms is that they are not always effective at reducing the stress of the situation. For instance, some voluntarily or involuntarily choose to repress feelings of sadness when a spouse leaves. The person may think that the feelings of sadness are all gone, however they may still be in that person silently eating away at them. Without a healthy way to get out, these feelings of anxiety manifest themselves in even more dangerous ways. For instance, the person may start to drink or even use drugs.

Instead of using defense mechanisms or unhealthy measures, try to find healthy ways to deal with stressful situations. For instance, you may have a good friend or a mental health counselor to talk to about your problems. You can deal with your anxieties and problems directly. Although it may be difficult to face them in unabashed truth, you will hopefully be able to bring them to a healthy resolution.

Other healthy behaviors may help you get out anxiety. Exercise may be of use to you. Meditation allows you to calmly acknowledge and get out your stress in a healthy way. The more positive ways you can find to manage your anxiety, the less need of defense mechanisms you will have.

Defense mechanisms can help one to deal with anxiety, however they can be unhealthy. The above tips can help you change your usage of these.


Emotional side effects of verbal domestic abuse

by Wayne Leon Learmond

Created on: April 09, 2011

The emotional side effects to verbal abuse are many. Those who suffer in silence from verbal attacks from their husbands, wives or indeed, even children, begin to withdraw from society. There are those who have suffered many years of physical and, indeed, mental abuse. The legacy of that is fear, self-loathing and, a feeling of low self-worth.

People who are victims of verbal abuse tell of how they withdraw into their shells. They speak about a once, happy-go-lucky person, who did not worry or stress about anything in particular. They speak about how nervous and anxious they have now become. How the mere sound of the key being turned in the lock as their partner returns home can result in panic attacks.

They become jumpy, trying to please, but always, - within their partners eyes - failing. They tell of breaking into tears on a regular basis [which is again, caused by stress and anxiety]. And of how this emotional turmoil has taken its toll on their lives [both in physical health and mental health too].

For years partners put up with constant verbal attacks from those who say they ‘love them’. The love of their husbands or wives who verbally abuse them has become ‘twisted’ to such an extent, that many women and men look on it as the ‘norm’. This, despite the fact that they know deep down it is not ‘normal’ behaviour at all.

Yet, the fact remains, that despite all of the mental abuse suffered by wives or husbands, there are many who still refuse to leave. This is a curious fact that needs to be looked into a lot more. There have been numerous cases in which a husband or wife has broken away, and left their abusive partner...yet, they go back...why?

Their new partner may be ‘kindness personified’, and would do anything for them. However, there is something missing in the relationship. It is a curious fact that many women, and indeed men, begin to miss the ‘abuse’ they received from their ex-partners. It is as if their minds have been ‘conditioned’ to receiving verbal abuse,. And the fact remains that there have been many cases in which victims of verbal abuse, have begun an argument with their new partners, in order to generate a ‘reaction’.

When they do not receive the reaction they are looking for, then they may leave, to go back to their abusive partners. It is almost as if they cannot function without the drug [for that is what it has become for many who are verbally abused] of being verbally abused. They miss it and, yet many, when questioned cannot explain why?

There seems to be a definite psychological aspect to this problem and, may experts look upon this as just one aspect [out of many] of unnatural, psychological behaviour. This is a direct result of physical and mental abuse. Other psychological symptoms, due to verbal abuse, are a husband or wife who slowly withdraws from society as a whole.

They become very insular and begin to hide within themselves, not wanting to go out, or to do the things they used to love doing. They begin to slowly withdraw from their friends, and spend majority of their days, indoors. They become more and more 'detached' from the friends they once knew. And the one who is in 'control'is their verbally abusive partner, yet, many victims place all their hopes and fears on the ones who say that they love them.

They seem to give up control of their own mind, and so, this gives their partner ‘free reign‘. Victims may call this ’love’ [giving up their lives for the one they love], but outsiders, who can see what is going on, will call it something else - manipulation.

Many victims of verbal abuse become sub-ordinates’ to the verbal attacks. And many begin to believe the lies, and ‘put downs’ their abusive partners use, to keep them in ‘control’ [and to keep them in ‘check’].

The fear of ‘failing’ their abusive partners, in some way, can cause untold mental damage. This is because those on the receiving end of such assaults can never relax. They can never be ‘themselves’ and constantly seem to be waiting for the ‘next attack’ to come their way. They have lost the ability of all rational thought, and have given up that right to their partners who - they say - 'know them better than anyone else'.

There are no easy solutions in reference to verbal abuse and assaults. One can only offer help, if it is asked for by the victim. At the end of the day, it has to be the victim’s choice to seek help. Friends and family may try to persuade them to leave their abusive partners, but other than attaching a lead around their neck, and forcing them out, there is nothing anyone can do.

Organisations, in the form of ‘support groups’ exist, for those people who are going through this. The link below will give you access to those groups. They offer anyone who is suffering right now, the help that they need.

Psych Central Abuse Support Groups


Emotional side effects of verbal domestic abuse

by Bridget Webber

Created on: April 04, 2011

The emotional side effects of verbal domestic abuse stem from a lack of self esteem. As an individual is bullied and abused they begin to lose confidence, and question their ability to make decisions and carry out simple tasks. Domestic verbal abuse may not show on the victims body, but inside their emotions becomes scrambled, making them nervous and insecure.

Domestic abuse of this kind takes place within the home. The four walls of someone’s house can hold, and hide, a great deal of anxiety and emotional trauma, as they wrestle with confusion about why they are being abused, and consider what they can do to alter things.

Victims of verbal abuse look first to themselves as the problem, rather than at their abuser. They are more likely to try and alter aspects of themselves in order to seek positive change than to criticise the individual who is the real cause of their low self esteem.

If an emotional abuser has problems a victim is likely to consider that they should help them overcome them, and that this will, in turn, stop the abuse. This can make them dedicate a great deal of time and effort to looking after the abuser, at the expense of taking care of their own needs.

When an individual suffers from domestic verbal abuse they may begin to lose their individuality in favour of their abusive partner, parent, or adult child. They may take on their taste and opinions, as they no-longer have confidence in their own. They may also spent a lot of emotional energy constructing ways of behaving which is least likely to cause offence to their abuser or rattle them.

Giving to their abuser becomes a major side effect, as the individual becomes more and more fearful of the potential repercussions for having a different opinion than the abuser, or saying anything which may ignite a bad mood. Life revolves around taking care of an abusers needs, and avoiding their wrath.

Verbal abusers tend to put down their victims in order to keep them in their place. They belittle their efforts to shine, and make light of their achievements. They attempt to alienate them from friends and family so that they don’t have an adequate support network. This leaves the abuser with more control.

The effect of such behaviour on their victim is that they become isolated, and get little positive feedback from other people or helpful advice. They also begin to doubt their ability to be good at anything, and may let talents slide in favour of tip toeing around their abuser and attempting to lead a quiet life.

The emotional side effects of verbal domestic abuse are not always apparent to outsiders. It is in private, or within the family home that most abuse takes place. This makes reaching out to other people difficult, as making them aware of the situation can be hard.


Emotional side effects of verbal domestic abuse

by Dr. Deborah Bauers
Created on: April 05, 2011

There are individuals on both sides of the debate that argue about whether the emotional effects of verbal domestic abuse are more damaging than those of domestic violence.  In reality, it is probably impossible to separate one from the other because when physical abuse takes place, a spouse or significant other is also a victim of emotional abuse that is characterized by powerlessness, degradation, and fear.  But when verbal domestic abuse occurs alone, its victim often lacks the support of family, friends, and society who fail to understand how, just words, can lead to deep emotional scars. Verbal abuse is emotional battering and the perpetrator beats down his/her victim with weapons of the tongue that leave deep and invisible wounds inside the soul.

A verbally abusive individual is someone who manipulates, intimidates and blames his partner for the sense of powerlessness that characterizes his own life.  Over time, by relentlessly belittling, regularly brow beating and intentionally humiliating his victim, a verbally abusive spouse is able to manipulate and brainwash a partner’s feelings and thoughts. For many companions, constant verbal abuse results in “learned helpless.”   This means that the abused individual eventually comes to believe that everything the abuser says is true and that she/he is incapable of changing self or the dynamics of powerlessness that are felt.

To say that the results of verbal domestic abuse are “side effects” minimizes them.  In reality, they are the central focus of abuse and the marks of living with an individual who is capable of inflicting great psychological pain; emotional injuries that can only heal if the abuse ends  and the victim is able to regain  self-sufficiency and self-worth. The effects of verbal domestic abuse impact the victim in manyways. These may include:

1  Becoming a people pleaser and “walking on eggshells” to avoid being abused
2. Developing severe depression that can potentially lead to suicide
3. Having a distorted view of self
4. Feeling responsible for the partner’s violence
4. Becoming confused and frightened of losing a grip on reality
5. Becoming isolated from family and friends by the abuser
6. Developing a deep sense of personal shame
7. Becoming a victim of not just verbal abuse, but physical abuse as well

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that one in every four women has been physically abused. Totals for reported cases range from 960,000 to 3 million per year and include data regarding abuse of not just women, but men and children as well.  An overwhelming number of these cases have all been victims of verbal domestic abuse either simultaneously or prior to the onset of the physical abuse.

If you, or someone you care about, are living with someone who consistently belittles, threatens, or tries to gain unhealthy control, you need to know that this relationship can destroy your self-worth and leave you helpless and frightened. To get additional information about the signs of verbal and physical domestic abuse or to get help for yourself or a friend who is suffering at the hands of an abuser, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.