Double BINDS – Options (Part 4)


wash the brain 

I NEED TO SCRUB MY BRAIN
until I’m free of this poison

PREVIOUS: DB – Frames (Part 3)

SITE: 4 Double-Binds psychiatrists use on mental patients

OPTIONS in dealing with DBs
Once you – the R – have gotten caught in a Double Bind you’re going to have to accept that ‘getting away’ may be painful & slow, especially if the S is important to you & you’re afraid of loosing them.
Remember, people who use DBs need to control others & are NOT safe, most likely a narcissist, & therefore not truly loving. That’s an illusion they create & you buy into. Feeling angry, frustrated & ‘crazy’ – about yourself & toward someone else – are your HINTS that they’re pulling a fast one on you. It might be necessary to move out of their range, which is not easy, but it’s also not the only option.

• Getting relief from a DB situation comes from recognizing & addressing the Conditions which are required to produce it (see “How It Works”= DMs Part 3 and DBs, Parts 7-10). But FIRST – know that you have to ‘chose your poison’ & that there will be some repercussions for the side of the DB you reject. You will need the ego-strength (self-esteem) to bear whatever reaction you’ll get from the Sender, which can include raging, insults, threats, silence, shaming…. Since Ss are control freaks, they’re more likely to hang on & keep trying to keep you hooked rather than dump you. If you stick to not playing along, they’ll either adjust, withdraw or leave.

1. DO LESS: At first, if the pattern of interaction with a special person is so deeply ingrained & your connection to the S is like your childhood & probably symbiotic – you’re likely be too mentally confused (T) & emotionally scared (E) to make radical changes (A). The best course of action is to DO LESS of whatever they’re trained you to do/be, & see what happens. Naturally it will be uncomfortable – not just because of their reaction, but from your own feelings of guilt & fear of abandonment. Remember that guilt is the E. that comes from breaking a rule or law.

2. PICK ONE: Eventually, as you get stronger & with the right support, the most common option is to choose one of the 2 opposing positions presented to you, & stipick oneck to it – the one you prefer & can live with.

EXP: SO – between “I encourage you to go back to school / I discourage you from going back to school” – YOU choose the one YOU want to do, even if you understand & maybe even sympathize with the other person’s feelings, needs, fears….

EXP: SO – between “I disapprove of you when you have not cleaned your house ‘perfectly’” (you’re such pig) and “I disapprove of you when you think you’ve cleaned everything thoroughly (I can always find something you missed) – YOU can choose to NOT drive yourself crazy over-cleaning before mother’s visit, since you’re not going to be acceptable either way!

EXP: MASH’s Klinger tried to get out of the war on medical grounds, SO –
A: he pretended to be crazy – BUT was told that –
B: only crazy people would want to be at war
Result – he was never allowed to be discharged for medical reasons.
NOTE: This is a DM – the word “crazy” being used on two different logic levels. However, Klinger did not fall into the trap. In an impossible situation he chose the ‘crazy’ that suited him & went merrily on his way.

3. “And now for something completely different” (Monty Python): Look for a 3rd kobayashi marualternative which suits you but does not deal with any part of the DB, like cadet James T Kirk did on the Kobayashi Maru test. There may be a middle way between compliance & escape, especially important when you’re in a relationship with a S you’re not ready or willing to leave (boss, spouse, parent, adult-child….).

a. It can be done by directing the S’s attention to a point outside the DB. In the medical example from ‘Double Messages’ Part 3, instead of getting angry, defensive or wounded, one could say: “Let’s just focus on understanding my present symptoms & how to treat them.”

b. It can come from noticing a missing part of the DB – a loophole – as a possible exit from the trap.
EXP: Carla on Cheers always turned an insult aimed at her – back on the speaker, by changing the meaning of their words. No matter how obvious the slur, her response would usually be “So what’s your point?” LOVE IT!
EXP: from the Calvin & Hobbs cartoon, using Tropes:images
> Teacher: “Explain Newton’s First Law of Motion in your own words”.
> Calvin: (writing) Yakka foob mog. Grub pubbawup zink chumble spuzz. (to camera: “I love loopholes!”).

c. It can be done by changing one part of the pattern
EXP: An artist was commanded to paint a flattering portrait of his one-eyed king. He would be executed if he failed to show a faithful likeness, but would meet the same fate if it revealed any imperfections in his majesty. All was well when the royal portrait was finally unveiled. It showed the king taking aim with bow and arrow – with the bad eye firmly closed.
EXP: A woman wanting to stop smoking but not gain weight afterward, was encouraged to find a food plan that would ‘protect’ her. She re-tooled her diet & exercise style first – & then quit. Changing one part of her life-pattern made room for other parts to shift more easily.

4. SLIGHT of MOUTH* – If physical detachment is not possible, the pattern can be dented if not broken, by commenting on or questioning the essence of the D.Messages leading to the DB.
EXPs of what to say:
• “Thinking in no-win terms creates no-win results. Is that your goal?”
• “What are you trying to accomplish? You can’t have both, so which do you really want?”
• “You only believe that because you haven’t considering the impact or consequence of what you are saying”
• “Have you noticed that your statements put me in a no-win situation?”
• “How do you figure out or explain the difference between those opposing ideas?”
• “If those ideas belong together, do they only apply to you or to everyone?” (More)

*Slight of Mouth, a cousin of the magician’s slight-of-hand, was created in the 1970s by SOM-Mouthfounders of NLP as a tool for persuading people to change their beliefs or actions. It’s a powerful set of re-framing patterns, consisting of 14 precise ways to speak to others, which can create or force a particular outcome, & see EXP of Sleight of Mouth” by Robert Dilts.

NEXT: DBs – Facing ourselves (#5)

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3 thoughts on “Double BINDS – Options (Part 4)

  1. I love the article linked at the top. Sometimes when reading pop psychology I can’t stand the cruel assumptions contained in it, such as that the identified patient is always wrong, that the people “dealing with” the patient are always the ones suffering, or that the best way to keep a person in pain calm is to talk down to them and try to control them. How can self-defined “experts” in human nature come to such a conclusion? And why is it so mysterious to them when people they talk down to and don’t listen to react with irritation or apathy? The fact is, once someone is psychologically defined by others, double binds are just part of the package. And it’s time for that to change.

  2. Thank you very much for this post. I feel as though I’ve been given a skeleton key to the many relational cages I’ve been presented.

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