Descending into the particulars


Alright J, I'm going to try this shit. I'm not sure how well it's going to go.

I quit posting my own stuff out on the open forum because it was, well, exhausting and as most of you know, it feels exposed.

Most people had gradually faded away from reading my diary and I've been left to bang at this mostly with just J and a couple of folks who still poke their heads in on my diary occasionally to make sure I've not gone off the deep end.

J (my T) knows that I post here and that I mod. He highly approves of and tells others in his practice about this site. Honestly, the site has been a useful tool.

A little background. We've exhausted most of the 'regular' talk therapy styles and decided that EMDR isn't possible at the moment. Late 2019 I guess, I stumbled on Casuistry.

Essentially: determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing cases that illustrate general ethical rules.

Yeah, yeah, I already hear the furious blinking.

I was listening to Malcomb Gladwell a while back and he did a three part series on casuistry. What he talked about was 'descending into the particulars'. It appealed to me for some reason. The whole notion of taking something apart and looking at each case individually in context instead of using broad brush strokes made sense. The way I have been coming at this, I think that I thought I was going to prove to J that I deserved everything because he had not heard the particulars of each thing I did to deserve what happened. J definitely came at it from a different direction and it derailed me a bit

Fast forward to today and while we are still using Casuistry I am ... I guess I'm a bit stuck. Too close to the bark to see the tree, let alone the forest so to speak.
J asked me to trust him on something. Which is ... well I mean, he's a therapist. and generally speaking his whole thing is to make someone 'feel better' about the shit that they did wrong in their life.

God, just parsing this out enough so that I can get to the question is painful.

He wanted me to talk to the forum (not just my diary) about some of the things that I've gone through to establish whether I deserved them and if the things that happened to me were my fault.

Now before you just jump up and say "OH DES, 100% it wasn't! You didn't deserve that!" hear me out.
Descend into the particulars with me.
Descending into the particulars is painful for me but important.

I actually don't even know how to talk about this but I'll give it a go.
I don't think it serves much purpose to give the whole story (and in some cases I don't remember)so I'll give examples that can be used as a sort of base line for conduct and then talk about the particulars of if UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES the situation bids a different response that would otherwise be thought of as wrong.
Kind of following me still?
Yeah, it's ok, it's a little confusing to me too sometimes and this was my idea.

GENERALLY speaking, is it appropriate to put a kid in a closet ?
Now, in the particulars, if it is to protect the child from themselves or someone else, is it ok?
If the reason someone needed to protect that child is because they(the kid) kicked the shit out of that person's face?
If the reason is because the child is generally out of control and a danger to themselves or others?

I think I'm gonna stop there. It gets a bit more... I can't get more specific right now and this will either blow up and become more than I can deal with or it will sit and get lost in the annals of Myptsd history.


It is never acceptable to put a child in a cloest. That is, at best, incredibly poor parenting. But in reality: it is abusive parenting.
And: back up a minute: what is making that child behave like that in the first place? What's going on for the child? Seems to me there is a story about poor/abusive parenting before the behaviour of the child (resulting in the behaviour of the child) and the resulting closet.

So:nope you didn't deserve it.
Sorry that happened to you.


Thank you for the info on a new type of therapy. I will have to look it up to further understand however, it appears similar to a microcosm versus a macro. (of course, I am willing to be corrected). In a microcosm, behaviors that might seem otherwise easier to defend might occur the wrath and indignatIon of sensible folk in the broader spectrum. >For instance, the father killing a boy’s pet deer (from a classic) that ate the few crops his family had to survive on. Micro=survival. Macro=betrayal of trust.

However, myself being left in the locked closet as a constant by my Momster, may have been her only thought to make sure she did not injure me in her psychotic rage (micro) but it was still…bad parenting. <macro

So the larger question for me (in order to not self-flog with did I as a child deserve the abuse) became -would I do that to my child? I chose not to repeat those types of punishment finding other methods of working things out that included conversation (albeit not always perfect), nurturing and little time outs. Somehow, I wrestled less with bearing the responsibility of another’s bad choice of reaction when I could decide on …is that method effective in a loving manner?

Hope this speaks to you a little, if not I will still listen.


GENERALLY speaking, is it appropriate to put a kid in a closet ?
Now, in the particulars, if it is to protect the child from themselves or someone else, is it ok?
If the reason someone needed to protect that child is because they kicked the shit out of that person's face?
If the reason is because the child is generally out of control and a danger to themselves or others?
generally speaking, it is not. it's not putting them in physical danger, but it does create a situation of duress. i've been locked in places a lot over my life. and isolated for days. so i am speaking from a place of experience as well as from generally understood science. solitary confinement is categorically bad for brains. especially developing brains.

if it is to protect them from themselves, it is incumbent for the individual doing this action to prove that this action will protect them. putting a child at risk of self harm in a closet. is probably going to exacerbete that behavior. and not help it.

in some cases in the hospital. they do use secure isolation. but even in those situations. but for the most aggressive of patients. they usually keep the door open. and sit with you and talk to you. because they know that this is very scary. and can be damaging when you are in crisis to suddenly just be left somewhere alone. even as an adult.

so question two actually needs to be broken down a little further. what behavior, specifically is being addressed by putting someone in a closet? there are situations where it is appropriate. putting a child in a closet because someone has broken into your house? that is logical. because a closet is a reasonable hiding place. and you do not want them to be found. and they can be quieter and blend into the dark easier.

putting a child in a closet as a punishment, for hurting other people is not rational. if a child is out of control to the point of being dangerous to themselves and other people that child needs professional intervention. if you are putting them in there to prevent them from rabidly hurting someone else while waiting for professional intervention? that is also logical.

but if you're just doing it every time they are lashing out without actually getting the individual the medical help they obviously need; putting them in a closet is not going to solve the problem. and it will likely make the problem worse.


I remember doing a semester in bioethics when I was having fun with some of my minors filling in my Arts degree. Fascinating topics. And pretty much every big issue we looked at, we ended up analysing individual case studies. Sometimes I think you do need to do it that way. Because....
GENERALLY speaking
We aren't, are we. We're talking about ourselves, healing our life, our circumstances, with our pathology. And it's unique. It's always unique.
Pain isn't unique. But how you got to where you are is.
is it appropriate to put a kid in a closet ?
I can think of at least a handful of situations where of course you would put your child in the closet.
Hiding from an intruder, or even just a drunk parent.
You and kiddo have left home because there's a flood/extended power outage/bushfires/tornado, you're sleeping at refuge, and the closet it warmest/softest/safest.
Kid is learning hide and seek.
Kid is afraid of the vacuum cleaner and you and kiddo agree that the closet feels the safest place to be while you vacuum.
Kid is terrified of thunderstorms.
Kid is throwing a temper tantrum and mum has just received a phone call saying "Maam, your husband was just killed in a car accident..." and she's just lot the plot in hysterical grief for a moment.

I could go on.

None of them are relevant to your situation, and what was the right thing to do in your situation. Or the wrong thing to do. Or how it felt being you in that moment.

Our lives are more complex than that. That's why we still have therapists, rather than computers with a fancy algorithm that can simply pump out the right answer if you enter all the details.

That's why we get into the detail.

People like J, who care about you, wouldn't ask you to otherwise. Because it's too goddamn painful to do it unless it's absolutely necessary. And you're absolutely ready.

So yeah, the whole "Of course that wasn't your fault/shouldn't have happened/left you traumatised" so often feels hollow, or fails to resonate. Because when we're talking about what happened to us? There's nothing "of course" about it.

Take it step by step. In pieces. Or in big wads. Whatever works for you. But if you are ready for something more concrete, more solid, more real than "Of course...", well, yeah, that's when we start to look at the detail.

When you do the detail, and get "OMFG, that wasn't your fault/okay", that's when it starts to mean something. And when it becomes hard to avoid the reality of it.
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Sorry if I don’t respond to everyone individually. It’s a bit much to think through and this has caused a huge amount of upheaval in my present day world

and to be clear. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a different therapy modality but generally it seems to be working for me- to argue it in this manner

So yeah, the whole "Of course that wasn't your fault/shouldn't have happened/left you traumatised" so often feels hollow, or fails to resonate.
<shrug> It’s more than that. It’s also, “well of course that’s appropriate! I had just done X”
A big one being when I kicked my mom square in the face and her nose exploded. (It was an impressive amount of blood) Being jerked up and thrown in the closet sounds reasonable.

Another time (this time an attic) I don’t remember specifics but locked in the attic for an extended amount of time. Days? Not sure but I was much older (preteen/teen)and was fighting and refused to yield. She won in the end. But I was a serious handful and to say I was difficult would be an understatement. It was summer in the south and it was hot. She needed the advantage. I was already taller than her- she was 5’3”.
Point is I deserved that.
and there were times when honestly Being left in the closed was safer than the alternative.


I get it is so hard to shift the narrative we built up as children to protect ourselves. I.e. what we think is happening isn't happening and if it is, it's our fault.
Only problem with that is: it isn't your fault and it wasn't deserved.
The fact you're asking means you have doubt otherwise why ask?

How old were you the first time you were put in the closet?
I go back to my original view: something was happening to you for you to behave like that in the first place.
And you're saying being in the closet was safer than the alternative? What are the two binary options you have here? Was there another way, a healthy way, for an adult to parent you? I would say: a big fat yes.


A big one being when I kicked my mom square in the face and her nose exploded. (It was an impressive amount of blood) Being jerked up and thrown in the closet sounds reasonable.
That did happen to me too. I was playing with her, I was 4 and super hectic. I remember it well because as you say, loads of blood. I didn’t do it by purpose. I got scared. She got super pissed, I could see it on her face while she was holding her nose, rinsing it and grabbing her phone to call the doc. She resented me for the incident, repeating that during years. Even that, it wasn’t okay because it made no sense. It wasn’t my fault. It happened. Accidents happen. But she interpreted the entire thing emotionally as if I were wanting to harm her. I don’t know why. I think she has PTSD and that at that time it was pretty bad. Still she didn’t throw me in a closet. Still her response wasn’t really okay neither.

Putting anyone in a closet or in confinement, as preventive of a greater harm than the closet, is okay.

Doing as retaliation or punishment as grief says is absurd because there isn’t any risk anymore. It’s not preventive. It’s going to cause greater harm because being placed in isolation is a high stressor in itself when not done with consent or not having the time to understand why. Of course if you’re in a war and the enemy is in your house it’s the right thing to do. You still will be very marked by that memory even if being in the closet allowed you to survive. Because it’s the sign something bad is going on.

The best are circumstances you don’t even need it. So having to do this is already the sign of a preexisting problem.

Something is okay if it causes lesser harm. Something is not okay when it causes greater harm.

If a kid punches your nose, let’s say even with intention, it’s absolutely useless to retaliate in the sort, unless the kid is still willing to fight and is not stopping and you’re not managing to get of them. Which is unlikely when you’re an adult in full capacity. And if the kid is willing to fight constantly, something is very wrong not with the kid but with the environment.


I think this is very tricky.

The actual question of is it ever Ok to put a kid in a closet? and your subsequent follow ups of the extent that you felt you were "difficult" child or that you "did something bad like making your mother bleed" sort of makes me think of feelings that I had carried all my life.

The feeling I carried most of my adult life was that I am difficult. I wanted to win the war with my mother so I was a serious scorned child fighting against the almighty mother and she won every time but I also won sometimes too making her life difficult - why not? (well ending up traumatic says - she won!) but I cant give it to her yet.

It is ironic you used the words
She won in the end.
Those words tell me the thoughts or feelings you may have had while you were in the closet - there was some sort of war/competition going on between you and adult, and you ended up in the closet.

Now there is the saying that when adults do something (like getting divorced for example), the child feels that is their fault. Now I am wondering, is it you that feels putting a child in the closet is good idea or is it your perpetrator's feeling? and as a child you believed you caused the being in the closet just like every child whose parents divorce feeling they caused the divorce.

IMHO and from my experience, what causes traumatic in the child is often taking the feelings of the hurter/the aggressor and thinking (the logical failure of a child) that this is their feeling.

You were in a closet as child. I am very sure logically today you have pretty good idea what that means. the person who hurt you wanted you in the closet. if being in the closet was your idea as a child, would it be a traumatic and cognitive thing today? I do not know. I am curious to see how you explore this train of thought.

edit- one of my most recovery phase of my therapy was distinguishing my child feeling from that of my abuser - my mother. I was acting like my mother when I walked to therapy and coming out of as carrying the feelings of my child side which of course were super frightening for me to ever identify with. So the subjective side of my childhood disappeared out of fear, I ended up believing whatever my mother wanted me to believe - I am harmful, difficult, idiot, stupid, ugly you name it I have become it! that is why I am taking this approach of whose eyes are you operating from?


This is a super interesting question

Disclaimer - not a parent
Have I wanted to toss my nieces into a closet when they've been in an epic meltdown?
Yep. Anything to get away from them
Have I done it?

Did it cross my mind?
So did using .....
A bucket o water over their heads
beating then to make them behave
Leaving them outside in the rain
Refusing to feed them
Throwing them in the shower until they calm down

Did I do those things?
Why? Because I'm the adult in the situation. It's up to me to find a way to cope with how they are affecting me without doing something that will harm them.

Unless, of course, doing those things increases their safety
If I'm a danger to them because I'm totally out of control? Then a closet may be my best option.

Then its up to me to figure out how to prevent this situation from happening again.
Because I'm the adult


Honestly… when I could not deal with what was going on between my child and I -h3ll even now as he is an adult with children of his own…I took him/I to therapy or as an adult he/I will go to therapy. I guarantee you… placing a child in a closet, is not normal nor sanctioned by child psychologist. Furthermore, I seriously would report any adult that did it to a child as child abuse to the proper authority In a New York second.

In my state of California-the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law is 57 pages long and includes the closet!, Knowledge of such neglect without contacting authorities is also considered a crime. There are guidelines for determining reasonable suspicion that include microcosm details. Please report any appear of neglect or abuse to your local agency and protect a child immediately- it is everyone’s business not a parenting entitlement.

Normalizing, justifying any maladaptive parenting that many of us went through …doesn’t have to happen to the next generation or now : please if you are new to the board…protect the children, read up on the laws and don’t look away. Thank you.
The only time that I, as a parent, would throw my child into a closet would be if it was some kind of terrible emergency like an approaching tornado or gunman. I literally cannot imagine any other time I might do this.

As a punishment? Hell no. What the hell would my kid learn from being thrown into a closet?? I don't do purely punitive things like that, because the result of being punitive is resentment and/or fear, neither of which I want to cultivate in my children.