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Doc@DrIrene.com

Quick Guide to the Abuser's Treatment

Quick Guide to the Abuser's Treatment 

by Dr. Irene

To laugh often and much; 
To win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; 
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, 
To appreciate beauty, 
To find the best in others, 
To leave the world a better place, 
Whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition. 
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, 
This is to have succeeded.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

In a nutshell, treatment goes something like this:

Recognizing The Roots of Irrational Thought

The abuser is an individual who, for whatever reason (biology included) did not have his or her infant needs met or pain soothed by the caretaker at a time when it was age appropriate. (Keep in mind that not all infant needs or pain can be met or soothed! Sometimes the best mom is depressed or preoccupied; sometimes the child's physical discomfort is too great to sooth, etc.)

This future-abuser grows up globally angry that mom or dad or whomever didn't make it all OK. A pattern of mistrust is established very, very early in life: Caretaker can't be trusted. 

The future-abuser feels so needy, he or she focuses much attention on giving and getting. There is lots of keeping score. Every time the caretaker misses the boat, that is "proof" that they don't care. (See the roots of insecurity here?) 

The child retaliates: withholding love, running away, looking for a "better" caretaker, temper tantrums, etc.

The Underlying, Irrational Thinking Persists Today

The child grows up and - as we all do - keeps repeating the same old, same old patterns. The pattern is some variation of:
bulletdemanding that wants and needs be met by the caretaker
bulletexpecting the worse: the caretaker doesn't "care" enough to meet the needs
bulletretaliation: withholding, affairs, temper tantrums, substance abuse, etc.

Once the adult abuser begins to identify and articulate aspects of this pattern, he or she  often still believes that it is the partner's job to meet their needs! (Hogwash.)

Not only that, they think the partner actually has the capability to do so! (Often the partner thinks they can too!) This is where personal boundaries are lost.

When they get that it is their job to meet their own needs (and only their needs), abusive people don't have a clue how to start! Therapists teach them the self-caring skills that are as natural as breathing - to healthier people.

Self-caring skills, for lack of a better word, includes things like:

bulletThe right to feel. The right to feel angry! Differentiating between feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Taking responsibility associated with one's feelings. 
bulletAllowing the self to feel, and to tolerate these feelings, especially the more painful or sorrowful ones. Recognizing that underneath anger...there is often hurt.
bulletListening to what these feelings are saying, taking the information and then letting the feelings go. Learning to listen to the internal rudder.
bulletMaking smart and responsible  and controlled choices about one's behavior in life. (Once this behavior becomes habitual, it gets easier and easier to do & feels more "natural." Early on, it has to be "imposed."))
bulletTaking responsibility for mistakes - and learning from them, as opposed to falling into a punitive mood state.
bulletGiving up harmful habits, that may feel good for the moment, but that come with a host of long-term and very negative consequences. 
bulletLearning to trust...
bulletAnd much, much more: A new philosophy; a gentler, more adaptive way of looking at life.

Each one of these topics is easily a chapter. But, you get the drift.

Good reading to get the abuser-in-recovery (or anyone else for that matter) in a good mindset: Metcalf's What Would Buddha Do? 101 Answers to Life's Daily Dilemmas  Excerpt: ..."When you're bored...you are the one who engages in the act of boring. It is not the world that is boring you, it is you who are boring the world...So when you are boring, stop doing it. Look inside and ask yourself, "Why am I draining the life from this moment?"...Boredom becomes impossible." (p.18)