Double MESSAGES – Procedure (Part 3)

talk / no 

so I’ll do whatever you want!


BOOK: “Double Bind: The Foundation of the communicational approach to the family.” 1976, Gregory Bateson

REVIEW: Double Messages (DMs) are made up of two opposing statements, formed by the ambiguity between different levels of meaning. They are designed to deprive others of their rights – the right to choose & have options, to be comfortable & feel safe, to have a voice & a will of their own. In the ‘hands’ of controlling narcissists – DMs are always destructive.
AND when accepted, DMs always lead to being in a DB

HOW it WORKs (R = Receiver / S = Sender)
1. The D. Messages <—> D. Binds (DBs) game is made up of two or more people – a victim & someone the victim experiences as their ‘superior’.
a. When the DB is created by government, media, religion….. in order for the DM to be effective – the target audience must be willing to forgo logical reasoning, want to be ‘taken care of’ & assumes the authority is benevolent (which the Ss always say they are), so that the Rs accept whatever is being promoted.

b. On a one-to-one basis, Rs must be involved in an intense, personal & deeply needed relationship, where they feel it’s absolutely vital to clearly & accurately understand what the S wants /needs of them, in order to respond appropriately (to satisfy the other & so keep the connection going)

2. The game is a repeated experience between them, not a single event. The R is therefore trapped with a S who continually gives two different ‘orders of message’, each of which cancels the other one out, yet both must be obeyed. Punishment is always a possibility, & can be: the cold-shoulder, withdrawal of affection, physical abuse, verbal attacks (hate & anger), physical neglect or abandonment…. It’s set up as follows:

a. A Primary Injunction is imposed on the victim:learning DM
— “Learn all your lessons, or I’ll punish you” – AND
— “Don’t act smart, or I’ll punish you”
b. A Secondary Injunction is imposed, conflicting with the first part of the bind, at a higher & more abstract level, & does not have to be spoken.
EXP: “You must do X (to please me), but only do it because you want to (please me)”.

c. A Tertiary injunction is often added, to prevent escape. R picks up on these second-level demands hinted at by posture & tone, also enforced by actual punishment or indirect threats to Rs’ survival, and include such META-messages as:overruled
Do not notice or comment on the discrepancy between how I present myself or my claim to be a good person AND the many ways I continually neglect or abuse you
Do not question my intentions NOR the unfairness of this situation
Do not object or try to evade my threats & punishments
Do not try to get away from or out of the bind I’ve put you in

EXP: Mother’s verbal language say “I love you,” but her body language says, “I don’t love you.” The boy responds by withdrawing and then she blames him for causing a problem in their relationship. There is no way he can be right. When repeated many times:
INTERNALLY – he learns to distrust his experience & thoughts, & be forced into a psychological split – the conviction that she’s all-good (believing her words) & he’s all-bad (S-H, based on her subliminal message + her accusation).
EXTERNALLY – it makes it hard for him to understand or believe what other people really mean, or to communicate effectively with them.

THEN: Once the META-messages become ingrained, the smallest signal will trigger the pavlov's dogpre-set response from an R (like Pavlov’s dog), who will go to great lengths to be ‘good’ & not make the S angry. The R may beg & cry, promising to do better or to do something ‘grand’, but impossible – like being perfect all the time, & dramatically change how they act, from time to time, to see which style of behavior will work to please the perpetrator (S).

• The R may eventually withdraw, stop functioning at all or try to commit suicide, the subtext being: “You disapprove of me the way I am. Maybe you’ll finally be satisfied when I’m dead!” Ironically, in very dysfunctional families, that is one of the literal or hidden statements some parents make: “Why did I have to have a kid like you? I never wanted to have kids in the first place. You’ll be the death of me yet.”……

UNFORTUNATELY, none of the Rs tactics will make any difference. The game is designed for the R to fail – but to keep trying. No wonder so many ACoAs think they’re mentally imbalanced, AND wish they were dead!

SHORT FORM of DMs – with Medical examples:
1. Explicit (direct): If you take some Action, you’ll be punished
>> You go to the doctor with serious symptoms, & told you should have come in sooner.

2. Implicit (hinted): If you don’t take that Action, you’ll also be punished
>> You go to the doctor with mild or vague symptoms, & then labeled hypochondriac or 'bad doc'drug-seeking

3. Meta – If you bring up the contradiction, you’ll be punished
>> If you point out the dilemma, you’re labeled as uncooperative

4. You can’t leave the situation, or you’ll be punished
>> You still need medical care or you’ll get a lot worse  (MORE…..)

♥ About ACoAs: DMs, Part 8a & b

NEXT: DMs – Purpose (Part 4)


2 thoughts on “Double MESSAGES – Procedure (Part 3)

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