The Psychology of Torture - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

Sometimesrepparttar victim comes to crave pain – very much as self-mutilators do – because it is a proof and a reminder of his individuated existence otherwise blurred byrepparttar 126108 incessant torture. Pain shieldsrepparttar 126109 sufferer from disintegration and capitulation. It preservesrepparttar 126110 veracity of his unthinkable and unspeakable experiences.

This dual process ofrepparttar 126111 victim's alienation and addiction to anguish complementsrepparttar 126112 perpetrator's view of his quarry as "inhuman", or "subhuman". The torturer assumesrepparttar 126113 position ofrepparttar 126114 sole authority,repparttar 126115 exclusive fount of meaning and interpretation,repparttar 126116 source of both evil and good.

Torture is about reprogrammingrepparttar 126117 victim to succumb to an alternative exegesis ofrepparttar 126118 world, proffered byrepparttar 126119 abuser. It is an act of deep, indelible, traumatic indoctrination. The abused also swallows whole and assimilatesrepparttar 126120 torturer's negative view of him and often, as a result, is rendered suicidal, self-destructive, or self-defeating.

Thus, torture has no cut-off date. The sounds,repparttar 126121 voices,repparttar 126122 smells,repparttar 126123 sensations reverberate long afterrepparttar 126124 episode has ended – both in nightmares and in waking moments. The victim's ability to trust other people – i.e., to assume that their motives are at least rational, if not necessarily benign – has been irrevocably undermined. Social institutions are perceived as precariously poised onrepparttar 126125 verge of an ominous, Kafkaesque mutation. Nothing is either safe, or credible anymore.

Victims typically react by undulating between emotional numbing and increased arousal: insomnia, irritability, restlessness, and attention deficits. Recollections ofrepparttar 126126 traumatic events intrude inrepparttar 126127 form of dreams, night terrors, flashbacks, and distressing associations.

The tortured develop compulsive rituals to fend off obsessive thoughts. Other psychological sequelae reported include cognitive impairment, reduced capacity to learn, memory disorders, sexual dysfunction, social withdrawal, inability to maintain long-term relationships, or even mere intimacy, phobias, ideas of reference and superstitions, delusions, hallucinations, psychotic microepisodes, and emotional flatness.

Depression and anxiety are very common. These are forms and manifestations of self-directed aggression. The sufferer rages at his own victimhood and resulting multiple dysfunction. He feels shamed by his new disabilities and responsible, or even guilty, somehow, for his predicament andrepparttar 126128 dire consequences borne by his nearest and dearest. His sense of self-worth and self-esteem are crippled.

In a nutshell, torture victims suffer from a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Their strong feelings of anxiety, guilt, and shame are also typical of victims of childhood abuse, domestic violence, and rape. They feel anxious becauserepparttar 126129 perpetrator's behavior is seemingly arbitrary and unpredictable – or mechanically and inhumanly regular.

They feel guilty and disgraced because, to restore a semblance of order to their shattered world and a modicum of dominion over their chaotic life, they need to transform themselves intorepparttar 126130 cause of their own degradation andrepparttar 126131 accomplices of their tormentors.

The CIA, in its "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983" (reprinted inrepparttar 126132 April 1997 issue of Harper's Magazine), summed uprepparttar 126133 theory of coercion thus:

"The purpose of all coercive techniques is to induce psychological regression inrepparttar 126134 subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist. Regression is basically a loss of autonomy, a reversion to an earlier behavioral level. Asrepparttar 126135 subject regresses, his learned personality traits fall away in reverse chronological order. He begins to loserepparttar 126136 capacity to carry outrepparttar 126137 highest creative activities, to deal with complex situations, or to cope with stressful interpersonal relationships or repeated frustrations."

Inevitably, inrepparttar 126138 aftermath of torture, its victims feel helpless and powerless. This loss of control over one's life and body is manifested physically in impotence, attention deficits, and insomnia. This is often exacerbated byrepparttar 126139 disbelief many torture victims encounter, especially if they are unable to produce scars, or other "objective" proof of their ordeal. Language cannot communicate such an intensely private experience as pain.

Spitz makesrepparttar 126140 following observation:

"Pain is also unsharable in that it is resistant to language... All our interior states of consciousness: emotional, perceptual, cognitive and somatic can be described as having an object inrepparttar 126141 external world... This affirms our capacity to move beyondrepparttar 126142 boundaries of our body intorepparttar 126143 external, sharable world. This isrepparttar 126144 space in which we interact and communicate with our environment. But when we explorerepparttar 126145 interior state of physical pain we find that there is no object 'out there' – no external, referential content. Pain is not of, or for, anything. Pain is. And it draws us away fromrepparttar 126146 space of interaction,repparttar 126147 sharable world, inwards. It draws us intorepparttar 126148 boundaries of our body."

The Need to Feel Special

Written by Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

The following article is offered for free use in your ezine, print publication or on your web site, so long asrepparttar author resource box atrepparttar 126107 end is included, with hyperlinks. Notification of publication would be appreciated.

For other articles which you are free to use, see

Title: The Need to Feel Special Author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D. E-mail: Copyright: © 2004 by Margaret Paul URL: Word Count: 739 Category: Self Improvement

The Need to Feel Special Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

Fromrepparttar 126108 time Jennifer was a little child, she was demanding of attention, especially from her mother, Sarah. With two older brothers, Jennifer had a “special” place inrepparttar 126109 family asrepparttar 126110 baby andrepparttar 126111 only girl. She made sure to establish a “special” relationship with her mother, who relishedrepparttar 126112 connection since she didn’t have much of a relationship with her emotionally distant husband.

It was easy for Jennifer to control her mother’s attention. Because her mother was needy for emotional connection and afraid of not being liked, all Jennifer had to do was get angry at her mother and Sarah would capitulate, giving Jenniferrepparttar 126113 attention she craved. Jennifer learned early to control her mother by becoming angry, critical and withholding love when her mother didn’t do what she wanted. Unwittingly, Sarah contributed to Jennifer’s neediness, entitlement issues, andrepparttar 126114 belief that happiness was dependent on approval and attention from others.

Jennifer, now in her late 30’s, finds herself continuingrepparttar 126115 pattern she started with her mother - attaching to others in needy and demanding ways. The result is she has not been able to have a successful relationship with any ofrepparttar 126116 men she has dated.

We all have a need to feel special. It is notrepparttar 126117 need that is dysfunctional, it is how we go about gettingrepparttar 126118 need met that can be either dysfunctional or healthy. It is dysfunctional when we make others responsible for making us feel special. When others have to give us attention, compliment us, seek us out, and attend to our wants and needs in order for us to feel special, our behavior is dysfunctional.


You will stop pulling on others to make you special only when you acceptrepparttar 126119 full responsibility of making yourself feel special. This means learning to give yourself all that you may be trying to get from others – treating yourself inrepparttar 126120 loving ways you desire from others. There are many ways of making ourselves feel special. Instead of trying to get others to give you what you want, you can:

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