THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS
I can mess with your mind!
PREVIOUS: DMs, Part 5
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
NOTE: Do not confuse DMs with changing your mind. Even if you ‘go back on your word’, (“I said I would, but now I can’t. Sorry.”), which may anger or disappoint someone, you are not presenting them with 2 opposing statements or command which contradict each other, AND/BUT which the person must try to make sense of & ‘honor’, such as “I love you, I hate you / Be good, be bad / Help me, don’t help me”…. at the same time.
VERBAL AMBIGUITY is also not to be confused with DMs. It comes from a single statement having two or more possible meanings which are perplexing, sometimes lead to mistakes & embarrassment, but are not usually harmful. EXPs:
— “I saw John with binoculars.” Who had the glasses – me or John?
— Consider “The HORTA” episode from the original Star Trek, when Cpt. Kirk finally encounters the rock-creature mother reacting to crewmen smashing her eggs, & she etches on the wall in acid: “NO KILL I”.
— The 1962 Twilight Zone episode – the alien cookbook “To Serve Man”.
STYLES of Double Messages (DMs)
1. Two verbal commands or declarations, sometimes together, often at different times, making it much hard to pin down. EXP:
A – Sam says to Jane: “Let’s get together. Call me anytime” (I want to connect – I’m lonely). SO Jane calls, but no answer. She tries a day later & he answers, but is curt. She tries again in a week & he gets angry:
B – “Why are you calling so much?” (I feel suffocated by you neediness / pushiness). MESSAGE: You’re both a commodity AND a nuisance!
EXP – The computer HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey” was programmed with a DM, forcing him into a Double Bind (DB):
A – “Always process information accurately” (never lie) – AND
B – “Keep the true purpose of the mission a secret from your fellow crew members” (in this case – you must lie)
This created a ‘mental break’, leading to the only solution HAL could come up with – to murder the crew.
2. A hostile communication (verbal abuse) WITH an endearment
EXP: “Don’t be so stupid, darling / My dear, you’re a pathetic moron /
I hate you, don’t leave me! / Baby, you know I can’t live without you! Why do you always let me down?”
3. One verbal WITH one physical (tone of voice, facial expression, body position or style of interaction…). What’s said doesn’t match how it’s said
EXP: • Your brother says you’re really smart, but with a smirk
• Someone says “Your hair looks great”, while making a sour face
• A co-worker frowns & looks angry, but says: “I’m fine, nothing’s wrong”
• A wife spends less & less time at home, but says: “I’m not avoiding you”
• A husband says: “Of course I love you”, in a flat tone & looks away
4. Both non-verbal : Bateson’s famous example – a hug that is given stiffly = an act of affection AND/BUT with emotional distance. Leaves the recipient wondering – Which is it, are you happy to see me or not?
5. A verbal ‘encouragement’ embedded in a negating situation
EXPs: “Of course I want you to get better”, as the husband hands his newly recovering alcoholic wife a beer
• Women are told they have the same right as men to pursue careers & a good salary in the marketplace BUT are prevented from gaining access to upwardly mobile jobs available to men – subtly, indirectly
• Boss to new bank MBA employee: “Here’s a important project to cut your teeth on. Lets see how good you are”. BUT unknown to the young man – the ‘project’ is an unsolvable accounting mess specifically designed to fail.
PS: Only an ACoA would drive themselves crazy actually trying to work it out – afraid to look dumb & get fired!
— Which is unlike young Lt. James T. Kirk, who solved the ‘unsolvable’ Kobayashi Maru dilemma – by changing the rules. That is legitimately one way to deal with being in a DB.
EXP: This chart shows a typical DB relationship between a co-dependent & a narcissist. (MORE…)
PINK wants a ‘one-way symbiosis’ without being vulnerable.
GREEN needs to have boundaries, but is willing to forgo them in order to keep the relationship, no matter how harmful
NOTE that here the healthy win-win options are not used – ‘whited out’ .
NEXT: DMs (Part 7)