Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wicked Manipulation

So, I'm a bit of a true-crime TV buff.  When I'm around the house, writing or on the computer, I'll put Netflix on the TV and turn on one of their many Discovery crime shows.  Mostly it's for background noise, but I'll pay peripheral attention to what's on.  One of those shows that caught my attention is called "Wicked Attraction" and it's all about these weird relationships (mostly men and women), usually two minor criminals that hook up together and it quickly escalated into something that neither would have gotten into on their own.

After a few of these episodes I noticed a trend through a few of the episodes.  They would start out as a seemingly normal, loving relationship, then once a more committed level is reached (ie. marriage, moving in together), a switch would flip in the dude's head and he would start to get controlling.  These normal chicks miss or ignore the red flags and it keeps getting worse.  It would go from being overly strict for minor things, putting her down, to limiting her access to friends and family.  More, and more, and more for years sometimes.  Next thing you know the high school prom queen is helping her husband lure underage girls into their car to make him happy.  It's creepy shit.

What got to me though was how do these women fall for this?  I mean, it's clearly manipulative and controlling behavior, their warning alarms should have been majorly buzzing.  The similarity is probably not a conscious decision, but these creepy guys are using the same tactics that military interrogators use to break suspects.  Control every aspect of their life, limit or exclude all outside contact.  Keep them off balance mentally, physically, emotionally.  If something good happens it's because the interrogator lets it happen.  If something bad happens, it's the suspect's fault.  It breaks down the person's self confidence, their self esteem, their sense of self, and eventually they will do anything to please the interrogator.  It conditions them to comply or suffer.

So, how do these women fall for it?  Unlike a suspect, these chicks could leave at any time.  The first time the creep get's too controlling, they could just walk out.

Those questions got the mental ball rolling all over the place.  First, these creeps had probably been doing this for a long time.  If they do it long enough, go through enough women who DO get out, eventually they'll find one that doesn't.  They probably are really good at evaluating potential victims, each relationship that doesn't work provides information that influences picking out future relationships.  They become very good at picking out women that are susceptible to being controlled.

Secondly, these women are in the situation, not looking in from outside.  They're blinded by love.  It's stupid easy to see what's going on in someone else's situation, it's a lot harder when it's us.

And that's when I realized how idiotic I was.  I had been in a situation eerily similar to theirs.  How can I think less of these women when I was in a relationship like that?  I didn't walk out, so how can I give them crap for sticking around?

When Cat and I first got married, she was really sick.  I mean, she was physically sick.  She was diagnosed as Bi-Polar, handed some drugs (which made it worse).  It was really difficult, the doctor's were no help, and it was frequently like riding a roller coaster.

Cat's this amazingly intelligent person, out going, and beautiful.  And she could wrap ANYONE around her finger in a second.  I've mentioned around here that she was the most amazing manipulator I've ever seen, and that is the truth.  She could spend five minutes with anyone, be their best friend, and get whatever she wants.  She goes to the bar, makes a million best friends (many of which are head over heels for her, men and women), and could talk them into anything.  One guy lent her his new BMW M3 because she asked for it.  Granted, he probably wanted to get into her panties, but what guy lends out his new BMW to a chick he just met?  She could read the situation, figure out which "Cat" she needed to be, and convince almost anyone to do whatever she wanted.

For those of you that don't know anything about Bi-Polar disorder, there's not really any in between moods.  Ecstatic or depressed.  It's really high highs and really low lows.  When she was low, she could be the absolute crappiest, meanest, person I've ever met.  She's smart, she knew every button to press to make me feel like the absolute worst person on Earth.  She was even physically violent at times.  But then she'd be on one of her highs and she would make me feel like the absolute luckiest guy in the world.  I stuck around for those highs.

Very quickly, just like our dog, I could hear the tones in her voice.  When a certain "low" tone was hit the dog would go hide under the kitchen table and the muscles in my shoulders would freeze up.  I would do anything, anything to try and minimize the damage.  If she felt low at midnight and wanted a specific burger from Sonic's on the other side of town, I would immediately jump up and grab the car keys.

Now, some might say "Well, you were just being a good husband."  But that doesn't really apply, it was more like being a trained dog, all I wanted was to avoid the worst of the lows.  Seriously, there were two muscles that went from my shoulder up the sides of my neck, to just below my ears, that would seize up when I heard the sound of a low coming on.  I was utterly conditioned by her moods.  I haven't done the research, but I suspect it's very similar to what women go through in physically abusive relationships.  Just like Pavlov's dogs, ring a bell and they start to salivate.  It's called "classical conditioning":

WIKIPEDIA: Classical conditioning (also Pavlovian conditioning or respondent conditioning) is a kind of learning that occurs when a conditioned stimulus (CS) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus (US) that causes an organism to exhibit an automatic unconditioned response (UR) to the US.  After pairing is repeated (some learning may occur already after only one pairing), the organism exhibits a response, the CR, to the CS when presented alone

Does that mean I would have helped her kill someone?  I like to think that I wouldn't have, but it's alarming to me that I was in a situation like that.  Especially since I was just going off on how stupid these chicks were that fell for these psychopaths.  At the time, I knew I was trained, but never really thought about how deep that training really was.

Eventually, Cat and I figured out (on our own, the Doctors were no help) that her Bi-Polar disorder was being brought on by allergies.  She was already susceptible to the disorder, but the allergies were what brought on those really low lows.  Once we had her on allergy medication her moods really leveled out and life got a whole lot better for me and the dog.  It was good for a few years and then we split up later.

All of this, especially my own revelations, made me think that maybe our society needs to have better education on these kinds of manipulative relationships.  I mean, we talk about "healthy" relationships in health class, but that doesn't really teach people what warning signs to look for in a bad situation.  But when love is involved, who is ever thinking clearly or listening to friends and family?

No comments:

Post a Comment