“I Can’t Afford To Hate Myself”, Says The Self-Defending Ego – Incest and Child Abuse From A Different Perspective

 

Only in the past two month I happened to find out about three of such situations, from people I know.  It is hard to hear about it. But everyone knows that it is way harder to those directly involved. It is increasingly common to hear testimonies of parent-child ill-treatment and abuse, of past and ugly mistakes that leave unhealed wounds for years ahead, at times for a lifetime. The victim feels that it is to blame. We usually try and comfort the victim with the usual… “Well, it was long ago,” “It wasn’t your fault,” “It will pass,” etc. But the meaning and causes behind the “parent perpetrator / child victim” behavior have a life-long, time-bomb effect, and the damage is very profound, and the victims, defenseless little children no more, have yet a hard time in coming to terms with it.

Yet, in these chaotic times, the current process of evolution in consciousness we are undergoing wants the old society to be transformed, and, in order for this to happen, the ugly elements in the collective unconscious need to come out into the light of consciousness. So that they happen no more.

 

 

ego
Ego is very touchy and allergic to pain; it wants to defend itself at any cost. When I say “I AM” this “I” is partly unconscious, because, without my conscious awareness, it denies the aspects of myself that I find unacceptable. The strategies that the ego uses are quite a handful, but I also find that creating a mask, “who I would like to be seen as” is also an effective defense*. Jung calls this mask “persona”, after the masks actors used in ancient  theater.

We may keep on asking, what makes someone (at times, the closest to you, the one that gave you life, that is supposed to protect you above all and everything) attack you physically and psychologically, you, a defenseless child? Would it be that the child is so undeserving that he, or she, deserves punishment and maltreatment? According to common sense, and to new science, a child is coming to this life totally innocent, helpless and unprepared, so it is up to us, parents, to provide to all its needs.
If, at any time along the child’s development there are reasons to believe that he/she didn’t progress well enough, or less well than expected, then it must be the parents’ fault, and not the child’s. A child may defend himself/herself ferociously against a stranger, for instance, but cannot defend against parental authority – even adults cannot defend themselves against authority (Milgram experiment)

But these are only rational speculations, while there is nothing rational in this type of behavior. Whatever the reason, it leaves indelible traces in the abused child – for life. Not for the physical damage, but for the psychological one. All our psychological wounds come from any kind of action that is being perceived as out of the norm, condemnable at the societal level. It is a long, well established religious dogma: no incestuous relations between close relatives – it may be that people were observant enough to realize that along time such relations would generate offspring less fit for survival and procreation, something that genetics discovered relatively recently. If animals, wild or domesticated, are avoiding interbreeding, there must be some evolved instinct in nature in order to discourage it.
However, humans have found their way, as usual, to go around religious and natural prohibitions: ancient Egyptians’ royalty encouraged the practice, so that it became a sort of “privilege of the gods” (pharaohs were “gods on earth”). Christianity also knows of glamorous examples (among who knows how many secret ones) like the illustrious family that gave the world three popes. “Borgia were an incestuous family”, says Giovanni Sforza about the family of his wife, Lucretia – their Vatican orgies were quite famous and in plain daylight.

child protection
There is no evidence that in these examples, people were in no way affected by the weight of their acts, on the contrary, they caused their singular ways to be seen as privileged and exclusive – who knows how many envious followers they left in their historic trace??
In our days, conventions in our society dictate that incestuous relations be prohibited and blamable – probably partly on the religious bases, partly as a natural instinct that even animals follow. How does a child, victim of such abuse, know that this is an outrageous thing, outrageous enough as to cause deep psychological trauma for a life time? Maybe the child knows it deeply, innately, the same way animals “know”. Why does the abusive parent do it? Because there must be something gone terribly wrong with him or her, something to have rendered him/her psychologically and emotionally impaired – maybe, most probably, something similar had happened to himself (or herself, as mothers and grandmothers are known to do it too).

projection

When a person is acting this way against his/her own progeny, he, or she is doing it because he/she is deeply hurt, hateful towards self, even desperate and disgusted with oneself – and it doesn’t have to be consciously known. In fact, their biggest problem is that they are not conscious that they are so profoundly hurt, and why. They can only act blindly, repeat and mirror the reprovable behavior that caused them such painful emotions on a similarly vulnerable victim, the way they were themselves. Which makes them feel even worse: this is why they blame the victim, the child, for their own ugliness and helplessness – from here the bad words, the beating, the worsening of the abuse. This is a typical example for “projection”: a psychological term that explains how unacceptable, negative behavior is being projected, reflected on others. A liar would see that everybody is lying, a thief would claim that everybody is a thief, a stingy, avaricious man would poke fun at others for their stinginess.

I am amazed at how many brave men and women, even children, decide to speak up, let the world become aware that all these reprovable things like incest and pedophilia are happening. It is by bringing dark things to the light that dark, uncontrollable instincts lose their power and become harmless, as awareness and reason gain over emotion and instinct.

light into darkness

We are humans in the process of bringing light into millenia of unconsciousness and darkness – we are collectively paining in the process of transformation of the animal instinct into evolved awareness. Hard as may be, we are the transforming heroes, so that these things never happen again in the next generations.

  • Polly Y. Eisendrath, James James Albert Hall, “Jung’s Self Psychology – A Constructivist Perspective” p 6

20 thoughts on ““I Can’t Afford To Hate Myself”, Says The Self-Defending Ego – Incest and Child Abuse From A Different Perspective”

  1. This is an interesting and thought provoking post. I’m sorry to learn of your reason for writing it, but I hppe that writing your autobiography has helped to shift some of the grief. The saddest thing of all, is that abuse affects how you percieve yourself, and the way you respond to life as a result.

    You may be interested in this: Recent research in prisons appears to show that people who are abused are no more likely to have been abused, than to have been well treated. I have long believed that the original theory is flawed.

    I haven’t yet researched it on the internet, so I can’t offer you a link. – and it’s possible that, owing to a changing consciousness, patterns have changed in recent years.

    There are two basic kinds of child abuse. The first is deliberate and perverted. Children instinctively know that this is wrong behaviour.

    The second kind is abuse as a normal form of punishment, or correction of “wrong “behaviour. This was once commonplace – almost universal – so, naturally, children followed their parents example, thinking they were doing the right thing.

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    1. Why, Jane, I’m afraid there’s a terrible misunderstanding. I wrote this in response to some post of yours, trying both to be supportive and raise awareness about a problem that is increasingly redundant these days, and you even responded to it, remember? (BTW, I have just found out from a post by a famous psychotherapist in the US that the incidence is extremely high, and I trust him to know what he is saying from his platform) – I only tackled the subject as one in n intended larger series of posts dedicated to causes that lead to destroying individuals’ lives and our society as a whole, like bad mothering, for instance, resulting in homosexuality (according to Jung) – now, I am happily married, with three adult children, and I dare anyone to assume that, by writing on this, I would be a homosexual (I don’t like the other word) person myself.

      As about my memoir (a memoir is an account of a significant instance in your life, as opposed to an autobiography, the recounting your life), it’s the journal of my discovery of my real dad in his last 30 days, his life, his weaknesses, and his inner child. God Bless his Soul, I wouldn’t want the world to think such a horrible thing about my dad!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so sorry – that’s terrible mistake for me to have made – maybe you should delete my comment…
        I’m afraid my memory is a bit patchy, probably due to the fact that I haven’t been well, but even as I was reading it, it seemed very familiar.
        I’m trying not to laugh at my stupid mistake – honestly I am…

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        1. I understand, confusion may be easy, especially since I didn’t make any clarifying affirmation in the post – maybe I will remedy, just in case. I am more worried about the memory of my father than of my own whereabouts, as I am already attacking him enough in my memoir, but, I hope, only rightfully, for having been to harsh and severe.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. That’s OK, Jane. I fear now that I should have been clearer about my personal stand to the issue, and thus, avoid ambiguity. I am concerned about my father’s memory more than about my own whereabouts, as I am already attacking him (rightfully, I hope) for being to harsh and stern, and emotionally distant – but hasn’t this been the case for most men of his (and our) generation ??
          Having come to this, I wonder if you would be interested enough to have a look at my manuscript, as beta reader (let’s start, say, with one or two chapters, and then, if you liked them and asked for more, I could hand you the rest).

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you a thousandfold, Jane – the honor is mine. Of course I praise your opinion, and I need it, objective and sharp as you know to be to yourself. How can we exchange mails? I guess we can use the contact information feature provided by WP.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I can’t figure out how to do a contact form, so I’ll give you mine here, and you can copy and paste it, then edit the address out (I’m afraid that if you delete the whole message, Akismet will decide I’m a baddie, and start spamming my messages – it happened before…)
            janebasil@ymail.com

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve worked with families and children over 30 years in the area of social services. Thanks for bringing to light what goes on in dark places. I appreciate you using your platform to raise more awareness and give voice to those who had to remain silent and suffer alone.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time, Jaqueline 🙂 I guess people should learn to grow above the undesired things that may have happened to them – I would like everyone to understand that they are not responsible. What they are responsible for, instead, is to work consciously at building self-love to bring themselves back to life – stronger. But I don’t really believe that one kind of abuse is in any way more dramatic than any other – abuse is abuse, I guess. The person that got hurt by an abusive father can suffer equally strong like the person who had to grow up with a very weak, defenseless father, or like the one who knew no father – or mother, or both; like the person who suffers because his-her mother abandoned, neglected, had affairs, drugs, or was weak, or whatever – and I’ve seen all that already.
      If there is anything that can be done, I believe, is to stop shaming – ostracizing the victim, help them see nothing was done to Them – but that something was wrong with the parents – and I’m sure, they themselves had suffered injustice in their turn. We just need to break the chain, raise awareness of these things, help both sides to heal, for their personal good, and for the collective good. We just need to build a better humanity.

      Thanks for stopping by again!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This post is a triumph! I wish I had read it when i was thirteen – although I may have been too deeply entrenched in my situation to be able to make use of it at the time, it could have helped me to make better choices in life.

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