Friday, September 1, 2017

“The Accuser” - Know anybody like this?

“The Accuser” Full story here -
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“The Accuser”
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Fault finding is a destructive behavior for all concerned. Once the behavior of pointing out others’ faults begins, it frequently becomes obsessive. Soon the finger pointer becomes an expert on what is wrong with everything.
Psychotherapists frequently see this pattern in their clients. The genesis of this behavior is counter-intuitive. An observer might conclude that the fault finder identifies the faults of others in order to enhance their own self esteem. However, these personality-flawed, nit pickers are often filled with self-loathing. They make everyone else miserable, and they are miserable themselves. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “Holding resentments is like drinking poison and expecting others to get sick.”
This fault finding habit stubbornly resists the cognitive therapy technique of establishing alternative thought patterns until the new patterns become dominant and the pathological pattern atrophies from lack of use. This leads me to believe that obsessive fault-finding is a biogenic disorder. DNA is the most likely culprit. If there is hope for fault-finders to be helped and their pathologies corrected, the answer is probably biological rather than behavioral.
Several decades ago I found a piece of literature that described the pathology we are discussing as it occurs in prosecuting attorneys.
“The prosecutor's, by obligation, is a special mind, coiled-snake quick, bullying, devious, unrelenting, forever baited to ensnare. It is devoted to misleading, and by instinct dotes on confusion and flourishes on weakness. Its search is for ordinary blemishes it can present as festering boils, its obligation is to raise doubts or sour with suspicion. It asks questions, not to learn the truth, but to convict, and can read guilt into the most innocent of answers. Its hope, its aim, its triumph, is to addle a witness by tricking, exhausting, or irritating him into a verbal indiscretion which sounds like a damaging admission. To natural lapses of memory it gives the appearance either of stratagems for hiding misdeeds, or worse still, of lies dark and deliberate. Feigned and wheedling politeness, sarcasm that scalds, intimidation, surprise and besmirchment by innuendo, association or suggestion, at the same time that any intention to besmirch is denied. . . all these as methods and devices are such staples in the prosecutor's repertoire that his depraved mind returns to them again and again, as a dog returns to his vomit. Eventually, by imperceptible degrees, he loses all decency and renders himself unfit for any human community, his professional skills having robbed him of his soul.” Anonymous
As a frequent expert witness, I have observed that the same behavior is common among lawyers who are conducting cross examination in any court procedure.
The source of the above portrait of a prosecutor is uncertain. I first discovered it in the book “Anatomy of a Murder.” However, I have seen several versions that predate that bestselling novel. Some of the individuals so described were not court officials, prosecutors, or attorneys. The premise of all these versions is that accusing is evil.
Author’s note* The word Satan was not originally the proper name of an evil, supernatural being. Satan was the title of a court official. In ancient courts of law the person who had the official function of “blaming” a citizen bore the title “Satan.” The person we call "prosecutor" was called “Satan” by the ancients. That is why the Bible refers to Satan as "The Accuser."
The pathology of accusing
One of the most dangerous things about fault finding is its effect on children. Many people mistakenly believe that if their verbal abuse is not directed overtly at a child, it does not result in psychological damage to the child. Well established research would contradict that assumption. Merely observing verbal abuse being directed at other people is enough to permanently affect the neuron pathways of children. The misguided teacher who is waging a verbal abuse war against boys does not understand that every girl in the class is also damaged. The angry adult daughter who frequently lashes out against her mother in front of the grandchildren, whether on the phone or in person, does not realize that she is causing permanent psychological damage to the grandchildren who are witnessing such behavior. Husbands or wives who verbally abuse one another may not intend to permanently wound their children, but their cruel words toward one another may show up in the lives of their adult children decades later. Just as second-hand smoke can give you cancer, second hand verbal abuse harms everyone in the room.
Since fault finding and verbal abuse are manifestations of a personality disorder, the solutions to improve the situation are difficult. Personality disorders are almost impossible to treat, and unlike other neurotic problems, they get more severe, rather than mellowing, as time passes.
And if that were not bad enough, if there is one personality disorder there may be more. They tend to manifest in clusters. Fault finding and verbal abuse are part of the “B” Cluster personality disorders. (Cluster B: the Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic Cluster) is comprised of the Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, and Narcissistic Personality Disorders.) So, if people have one personality disorder they are likely to have several.
However, it is important to note that observable traits are not the same thing as a diagnosis. Personality disorders are unique in that they are exaggerations of traits we might all have. Example: If I pack carefully in planning for a trip, selecting which neck tie I will wear every day and color coordinate my socks, I might be thought of as careful or conscientious, but I would not be accurately diagnosed as having an obsessive compulsive disorder. In order to receive a diagnosis, the traits observed must result in a dysfunctional impediment in order to carry a mental illness designation. If I were so careful about packing that I tended to miss my flights (dysfunction) then a diagnostic referral might be in order. Being “careful” how you pack is not a dysfunctional trait. Missing your flight because of excessive attention to superfluous details is dysfunctional. So, it is completely possible to exhibit many of the traits of a personality disorder without meeting the diagnostic criteria. Thus, while a person’s personality can be difficult and problematic, it is not the same thing as being “diagnosable.”
When we see this type of pathology showing up in our family counseling clients, we are faced with sharing some very uncomfortable information with the healthy spouse. Since personality disorders are primarily caused by DNA, the children will also have the tendency (although not necessarily the inevitability) to exhibit psychological problems. The more time the children spend with the pathological parent, the greater the likelihood that they, too, will exhibit personality disorders. As unwelcome as the conclusion of this information might be, the fact remains that the children’s welfare is better served as less of their time is spent with the pathological parent. Unfortunately, family courts and divorce attorneys do not recognize this reality.

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