Other Let's talk about indoctrination and brainwashing.

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
This one's been in my drafts for a long f*cking time. Mostly because to speak of these things requires definition && it is challenging to come up with an overtly scientific explanation of what exactly these things are. Yet it is apparent all over the world and in a variety of situations and demographics including ethnicity and age that this phenomenon exists on some level.

It [brainwashing] can also be a theme in science fiction and in political and corporate culture, but is not generally accepted as a scientific term.

The context that I am interested in discussing is within the realm of organized groups. Whether they be the military, re-education camps, organized crime, rebel groups, cults and religious groups, gangs, and/or other violent non-state parties. According to Wikipedia, indoctrination is defined as:

Indoctrination is the process of inculcating a person with ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or professional methodologies (see doctrine). Doctrine (from Latin: doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or in a belief system.

Brainwashing is conversely defined as:

A forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas. Brainwashing (also known as mind control, menticide, coercive persuasion, thought control, thought reform, and forced re-education) is the concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques. Brainwashing is said to reduce its subjects' ability to think critically or independently, to allow the introduction of new, unwanted thoughts and ideas into their minds,[1] as well as to change their attitudes, values and beliefs.

As a relatively scientific person and having attempted to tackle these concepts very recently in therapy I have encountered a variety of materials some of which are more fantastical than others. The concepts of mind-control seem far-fetched to me, and yet I spent a significant portion of my childhood convinced that my superiors could read my mind and thus I refused to allow myself to think in ways that contradicted their demands on me. This contributed to my compliance with their expectation that I act autonomously (without being physically forced by them).

My first introduction to this was as an 8 year old and at 8 it is said that human beings are still forming the finer intricacies of affective empathy (a common refrain in the book I'm currently reading is that "often, the adults were more petrified of the children than other adults, as the children could not be reasoned with and had no concept of the value of human life.")

I liked it in the army because we could do anything we liked to do. When some civilian had something I liked, I just took it without him doing anything to me.

This was the seductive nature of my training. I was told that if I was strong, I could do what I wanted & would never have to be told what to do ever again. When I was in school and someone said something to me I attacked them. I broke their bones. I screamed and lunged and terrified them and they quickly left me alone and avoided me. I took what I wanted, I did what I wanted, I said what I wanted. There was no fear. You could not punish me or ground me or take away my toys. If I wanted drugs, or money, or toys, or booze, I got it. If I wanted others to fear me, they did.

Yet I also experienced a form of cognitive dissonance whereby I understood what was happening was wrong & took steps, as futile as they were, to try and protect others from our circumstances. So, as "brainwashed" as I was, I was still not completely subsumed by my environment. One phrase that comes up frequently in my research is something known as appetitive aggression which is the concept that the more exposed to violence people (& especially children) are, the more they internalize violent impulses & gain pleasure and enjoyment from them.

Most of my opinions that were influenced by these people came as a result of my own personal experiences with other groups as well as the police. I was not just beaten and tortured until my mind bent around this new moral structure, I also witnessed the truth of what they were saying at the time. As well as witnessing violence against us and experiencing it against me. It was obvious to me that these people were the enemy. && while we were not "the good guys," I had accepted my role as a bad guy who belonged to this family & anyone who aggressed against us deserved punishment or even death.

Yet in the military of North America, the minimum age of admission is generally in adulthood && boot camp can produce similar results even in those who have a solid moral, ethical and personal foundation (aka an adult). One of my old friends, an ex-marine, described it as "totally and completely, 100%, brainwashing. && if one was resistant to it, they would be discharged as a failure-to-adjust."

One aspect of indoctrination that I believe is very difficult & challenging for outsiders to fully grasp is that it changes the way you view the world and it changes your morality and it changes the way you view yourself. As easy as it is for others to tell me that it isn't my fault, I cannot believe that because I viewed myself as an equal member of my group and I wanted to be viewed as such and respected as such. The idea that I was not at fault and ergo not responsible for my behavior, means that my sense of myself is wrong. My family was not my family, my people were not my people, I was not myself.

People who have been morally compromised in this way experience “moral dislocation.” When people are morally compromised, the standard rules of moral exchange might not apply.

There are also conflicts when dealing with indoctrination of the potential actions that said parties are forced into. With indoctrination there is a goal, a purpose beyond mindlessness: the goal is to replace your current moral structures with the moral structures of the group. The group is right and those who would oppose the group are wrong. There are specific thoughts, feelings and values that are repetitively pressed upon you. And when this occurs as a child, it calls into question something called mens rea, or "guilty mind." Meaning, if one commits a crime as a result of being indoctrinated, are they morally responsible for said crime?

Think about the way parents respond to their children’s bad actions; parents start holding their children responsible for what they do at an early age. Even if they lack the same sorts of reasoning capacities or impulse control as adults, we still see them as the authors of their actions and we still hold them accountable albeit in different ways. We might think their mens rea is diminished, but it isn’t absent.

So what happens when mens rea intersects with forcible, repetitive, long-term conditioning? And is this something only applicable to children or is this also something that we may see in adults? Look at the epidemic of police brutality in the United States today. The culture of policing in the USA (& indeed in many countries around the world) is specific and insular.

Police officers are encouraged to protect one another even in the face of corruption && and as a result, some police officers may feel entitled to act with impunity. They, much like myself as a child, believe that they can do whatever they like without consequence and this behavior is potentially reinforced by their environment. Is this a form of indoctrination, or at the very least coercive peer pressure?

Now, new research published today in the journal Nature Human Behavior suggests that retaining misbehaving officers in police organizations may have far worse consequences than leaving accusations unaddressed: It could actually propagate misconduct itself.

In the case of Patty Hearst (who was abducted at 19) it was somewhat obvious that she was manipulated into partaking in her crimes -- though like myself, she did maintain a "moral sense" of her own even if it was fractured into multiple pieces. & during the commission of one of her crimes, repeatedly asked the victim "are you OK, are you OK?" & during the robbery, the other members of the organization pointed their weapons at her instead of their victims, presumably so she would comply more deeply with her role. Yet, when she was interrogated, her affiliation was undeniably with them & she became enraged and angry at the insinuation otherwise.

And at what point do you stop being indoctrinated and start being responsible for your own agency?

“The time you are threatened all the time is when you are still new. But when you are a real soldier, a good fighter already been trained, you are now respected.”

A lot of this post is definitive: it attempts to define the circumstances of indoctrination and brainwashing and different common examples. But as this is Let's Talk, the ultimate purpose is to open a conversation around the subject that encourages people from all walks of life to discuss their experiences with these topics. As this is a fairly sensitive topic the typical rules of this series apply. Respect others, respect their experiences, tread carefully && take care of yourself if you need a break.
 
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My experiences are different to yours. I feel I was programmed (brainwashed?) by my mum, not organised groups. I then fell into a situation, that wasn't so much organised as it was enabled (a nightclub where they would get underage girls in...as I write that it does sound organised.... and adult men would go, and the rest is easy to work out). But what led me to that was: Mum. And how she programmed me not to exist. And that my body wasn't mine (it belonged to her, so then easy to extend that to belonging to men). That I had no rights over it. And that any feelings I had about the situation didn't matter and shouldn't exist. She turned me into a dream for an abuser.
I'm not scientific and a lot of that goes over my head. So my response is just my thoughts rather than a debate of words and science.
yet I spent a significant portion of my childhood convinced that my superiors could read my mind and thus I refused to allow myself to think in ways that contradicted their demands on me.
I had this too. And in adulthood (when I was convinced that my partner, when I was 19ish) could read my mind that I had cheated so I would try and banish the thoughts). I think this comes from a very young place. Young children have this magical thinking. So I see it as a primitive form of trying to protect yourself with the tools a young child would have had.
This contributed to my compliance with their expectation that I act autonomously (without being physically forced by them).
That makes total sense.
My first introduction to this was as an 8 year old
I do wonder, if like me, this actually happened for you much much younger? That things in your family set you up for this then to happen at age 8?
The idea that I was not at fault and ergo not responsible for my behavior, means that my sense of myself is wrong.
Get this too. I said to my T that letting go these thoughts felt like free falling off a cliff. What else did I have to hold onto? Took time to build new beliefs. That in-between time is tough. Rocky. Who are we and how and what does it mean? Hard questions.
 
Good timing Weemie lol. This is the exact thing that I've been having so much trouble with right now.

People say that all of these horrible things I believe about myself were put into my head by my abusers to make me easier to abuse and ultimately traffic, but to me, they just seem like the truth (that happened to be revealed to me by these people). I have no idea how to make them go away. There's no logic behind it, so they can't be explained away rationally. I feel like it's just true because it's true. Because they told me, they showed me. If it's the truth, there's no need to make it go away, but these things I believe about myself seem to be false and disturbing to other people.

"You're a worthless whore. Your only purpose is to serve this man sexually. You want this. You can't tell anyone about this because they will know how disgusting you are" etc

I feel bad because this didn't go on for too long, so my experience is different (at least this particular experience). Although, I don't think it would take long to fundamentally alter a child's beliefs, especially when the "forcible and repeated" aspects are very much there. Especially, when the child had previous experiences that told them similar things about themselves

Not much else to say right now, but I appreciate this post
 
Just a couple of thoughts:
As easy as it is for others to tell me that it isn't my fault, I cannot believe that because
...said every chronic abuse victim ever. We may find different reasons to blame ourselves. But we all find a reason that we can believe.

Herman considered the whole "it's my fault" thing to be part of what makes it complex ptsd (and many more since have agreed with her) - that is, this belief is part of the illness, rather than some kind of 'truth'. It serves a protective purpose - it allows us to continue functioning in impossible circumstances. It makes sense of the world we found ourselves in, in a way that we have some control over. We believe it not because we actually have a persuasive and rational reason, but because our ability to survive, to function, is dependent on our ability to believe ourselves when we think "it's all my fault because...".

Your reason why it was your fault? Doesn't cut the mustard. But you won't (arguably can't) believe me, not because your reason is a good one, but because you have complex ptsd. And the same goes for me and mine.

Ultimately, we all find a incredibly persuasive reason (in our own mind) as to why it was all "my fault". I have a great reason - it's as rock solid to me as your reason is to you.

Like: you can't necessarily heal a person's paranoia unless you're actually healing the schizophrenia that's causing it. The problem is not the paranoid beliefs, it's the schizophrenia.

In the same way - when you start healing your complex ptsd, you won't need me to persuade you it wasn't your fault, because the healing process will finally allow your brain to do that all by itself.
And at what point do you stop being indoctrinated and start being responsible for your own agency?
Legally, morally, in lay terms...it's complicated.

A more useful way to think of this might come back to the illness. Agency is part of recovery. The goal is to heal, stop having flashbacks, etc. Recovering our agency is perhaps part of that process. Quite seperately from considering the legal or moral point in time - when you recover your agency? You know that you're healing (not the other way around).
 
We believe it not because we actually have a persuasive and rational reason, but because our ability to survive, to function, is dependent on our ability to believe ourselves when we think "it's all my fault because...".

I've often considered that self-blame, in many cases of abuse, serves an evolutionary purpose to preserve one's belief that the world has meaning and to exercise as much control over the situation as one could feasibly have.

I was forced into committing acts of violence, murder, maiming, torture, training, & rape/sexual abuse and I was not able to resist without facing consequences that were worse than compliance. I interpreted it as having a decision, to comply or not to comply, and deliberately making the choice to go through with those harmful actions.

(Though, logically, when I look at some of these events -- some but not all, "I made the deliberate decision" is less apparent -- in one I was almost "startled" into obeying, in another I found the victim had stopped moving due to blood loss. Another I deliberately disobeyed && did not understand what the outcome would be/did not believe them.)

I hesitate to be totally and 100% honest about this (I am mindful of where I am & that many of the people on this website are survivors of interpersonal violence) but there are incidents where I purposefully intended serious harm to others & gained pleasure from it and it is very probable that those individuals lost their lives based on the medical realities of the injuries that were inflicted onto them. && as an adult I have struggled deeply with homicidal ideation my entire life.

Which I then began to enjoy doing (some of this, was almost certainly due to amphetamines, which in my view [&& I say this as an ADHDer] are very much evil drugs) and also committed on my own without oversight or adult intervention at all. There was a very strong, deep and pervasive entitlement that came with knowing I could force people to do what I wanted. School became meaningless, "what I wanted to be when I grow up" was meaningless, my family was meaningless.

That all didn't matter because they were just a means to an end anyway: to do what I wanted to do. Because of the perception of decision (&& actual outside decision) I was able to preserve a sense of agency that allowed me to feel that I controlled some part of the situation and thus the world made a certain amount of sense. I just had to accept that perhaps I wouldn't always understand the meaning but the linearity of cause and effect seemed to prove there was one.

She turned me into a dream for an abuser.
I do wonder, if like me, this actually happened for you much much younger? That things in your family set you up for this then to happen at age 8?

There were a few "roles" that our group fulfilled. That of a sexual slave (servant) who engaged with clients and made money for the organization, that of a domestic servant responsible for the upkeep of the facility we were kept at (most children were both), that of a drug dealer/den operator, && what would ultimately become my role if I had stayed within the organization, that of an enforcer/specialist.

I was a recruit being trained for enforcement which means my ultimate purpose would have been to go out and make sure that everyone knew not to f*ck with us and to carry out retaliations as necessary, to train new children and break them down into obedient slaves and make certain that everyone was giving us the proper cut of their earnings.

The experiences I had were not universal & I only knew 2-3 other kids who had been promoted to recruits from servants. By the time I was 8 I already had no feelings. At 14 I was told I have had inhibited RAD my entire life. My emotional responses are still very low which is what allows me to speak of this as openly as I do. When I was together with other kids I would hush them & encourage them to emotionally regulate themselves, to put it out of their minds, to think of other things or even hit them to stop them from crying so loudly that they drew attention.

In short, yah. I was perfect for the role I was selected for. It was easily noticeable that I had no emotional affect along with antisocial tendencies already combined with a clear deference to my perceived "duty" -- my mind was quite "militant" already && over the years I've had to resist this (my closest call came as a security guard && I ended up quitting because the internal environment was very toxic. But the job? I loved, unequivocally, it was a perfect fit for me. Harry Potter becomes a magic cop eyeroll eyeroll.)

And I was accustomed to being completely physically controlled because I spent my formative years locked in a room and starved. Once I started my training I was given a lot of money, food, clothes, toys, etc. This also had an effect as I felt like I was providing for my family and not relying on them to financially support me. And as a child even when children aren't abused, they are considered by the adults around them to have less importance and less agency. I perceived myself as extremely important and totally self-sufficient.

I think this comes from a very young place. Young children have this magical thinking.

Yah. I also believed I could control people with my mind & see the future, see people's souls, make them do whatever I wanted, shit like that. Especially the clients. I thought I was the one in control because I was seducing them and managing the situation and stroking their egos and avoiding their worst decisions. The fact that I stayed alive & kept others alive reinforced that I had power/s and I was special and that they had granted me a supernatural ability.

Like: you can't necessarily heal a person's paranoia unless you're actually healing the schizophrenia that's causing it. The problem is not the paranoid beliefs, it's the schizophrenia.

Framing it as a consequence of being mentally ill is intriguing. My suspicion is that I most likely lack proper psychological insight (a fact that is, unsurprisingly, easy for me to admit as "my mind is not really my own" is such a simple, easy thought for me to accept as fact anyway.) Having a dissociative disorder on top certainly compounds that as "what I am like" is not static. There are some parts of me that have absolutely no remorse and desire to kill and maim others as an adult.

&& that psychological insight that would allow me to formulate a coherent understanding of events (force -> perpetration -> appetitive aggression resulting from force = the blame lies with the adults around me) vs (force -> perpetration -> agency -> self-sufficiency -> purpose -> self). & I suppose it is correct that this is caused by the fundamental moral breakdown and world-shifting symptoms that are inherent in complex trauma survivors, especially those who have experienced repetitive childhood abuse.

I then fell into a situation, that wasn't so much organised as it was enabled (a nightclub where they would get underage girls in...as I write that it does sound organised.... and adult men would go, and the rest is easy to work out). But what led me to that was: Mum. And how she programmed me not to exist.
"You're a worthless whore. Your only purpose is to serve this man sexually. You want this. You can't tell anyone about this because they will know how disgusting you are" etc

What you both experienced was horrendous && I am very sorry that it happened to you. You both deserve to exist in a manner that honors your intrinsic humanity as safe, peaceful, and dignified. It also is apparent that yes, that both of these are organized situations of violence. We operated out of a nightclub as well at times, supplying drugs and finding clients.
 
This one's been in my drafts for a long f*cking time. Mostly because to speak of these things requires definition && it is challenging to come up with an overtly scientific explanation of what exactly these things are. Yet it is apparent all over the world and in a variety of situations and demographics including ethnicity and age that this phenomenon exists on some level.

At least some of us have the fortitude for long posts.


As a relatively scientific person and having attempted to tackle these concepts very recently in therapy I have encountered a variety of materials some of which are more fantastical than others. The concepts of mind-control seem far-fetched to me, and yet I spent a significant portion of my childhood convinced that my superiors could read my mind and thus I refused to allow myself to think in ways that contradicted their demands on me. This contributed to my compliance with their expectation that I act autonomously (without being physically forced by them).


This description struck me. My experience is both similar and different. I'm thinking of my nuclear family of birth, which a therapist has described as a "cult." So similar to an organized group in a way.

I have not thought of it as mind reading, although my mother tried. She would accuse me of all sorts of things that I would internalize to reshape my self view. I.e., it's wrong to be "cold" now so I can't be cold, I have to stop being cold. And my attitude was never subservient enough, and I always frittered away my time.
Yet I also experienced a form of cognitive dissonance whereby I understood what was happening was wrong & took steps, as futile as they were, to try and protect others from our circumstances. So, as "brainwashed" as I was, I was still not completely subsumed by my environment. One phrase that comes up frequently in my research is something known as appetitive aggression which is the concept that the more exposed to violence people (& especially children) are, the more they internalize violent impulses & gain pleasure and enjoyment from them.

Definitely, for a long time, got excited by others' fights and violence when I could directly observe it and knew it was real (not T.V.) I was not the object of that violence and someone was letting the pent up energy fly...

As I write this, it dawns on me how, as I've sought peace, it has come to me. This does not excite me now.
Most of my opinions that were influenced by these people came as a result of my own personal experiences with other groups as well as the police. I was not just beaten and tortured until my mind bent around this new moral structure, I also witnessed the truth of what they were saying at the time. As well as witnessing violence against us and experiencing it against me. It was obvious to me that these people were the enemy. && while we were not "the good guys," I had accepted my role as a bad guy who belonged to this family & anyone who aggressed against us deserved punishment or even death.



One aspect of indoctrination that I believe is very difficult & challenging for outsiders to fully grasp is that it changes the way you view the world and it changes your morality and it changes the way you view yourself. As easy as it is for others to tell me that it isn't my fault, I cannot believe that because I viewed myself as an equal member of my group and I wanted to be viewed as such and respected as such. The idea that I was not at fault and ergo not responsible for my behavior, means that my sense of myself is wrong. My family was not my family, my people were not my people, I was not myself.

It has made my memory more suggestible. In a situation a few years ago, my ex said the situation was X. I had already told someone it was Y. (For the record, Y was much more blaming of myself.) Now, I don't know what the truth was, since my ex also had a tendency to lie. And his version was good for both of us. I did notice that I was so caught up in feelings of shame that I gravitated toward a response that blamed myself when really that may not have been the case. I saw how I could not meaningfully distinguish between what happened and what my mind created.
And at what point do you stop being indoctrinated and start being responsible for your own agency?
 
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You bring up with some really interesting topics. I was reading an article earlier this morning that had me wondering about the ways people influence others, who buys into stuff and why. And that was with adults.
People say that all of these horrible things I believe about myself were put into my head by my abusers to make me easier to abuse and ultimately traffic, but to me, they just seem like the truth (that happened to be revealed to me by these people)
Looking back at it, now, as the person you are today, how credible were those people? Were they people you would respect and trust now? I think it's pretty hard for kids to sort adults into categories of being "worth believing" and "not worth believing". Believing the wrong people has consequences, and you're living that. But it's a lot to expect a kid to be able to sort people into those categories. Especially when "bad" people are all they've had the chance to experience.
You're a worthless whore. Your only purpose is to serve this man sexually.
Personally, I'd say that can't be true of you because it isn't true of anyone. Can you think of anyone, other than yourself, that you think it's true of? (I'm betting NOT.) Might be just me, but I find it helpful to step away from the emotions this stuff stirs up and look at the logic (or illogic) of this stuff.
Yet in the military of North America, the minimum age of admission is generally in adulthood
It's TECHNICALLY "adulthood". But there's a fair amount of research that says the brain isn't fully mature until the mid-20's and recruiting is usually aimed more at the late teens. (And, in North America and Northern Europe, and probably other places as well, there'd be a huge public outcry if they tried recruiting people who weren't legally adults. They actually lowered the voting age in the USA BECAUSE of the outcry during the Vietnam war about people being old enough to be cannon fodder but not old enough to vote.) I'd be shocked if the military in first world countries isn't aware that's it's easier to indoctrinate younger people than older ones. They just have rules about how far they can go with stuff.
I've often considered that self-blame, in many cases of abuse, serves an evolutionary purpose to preserve one's belief that the world has meaning and to exercise as much control over the situation as one could feasibly have.
Totally! It's got to be SOMEBODY'S fault or the world is totally random and that's pretty terrifying. (Except that I think the world is, pretty much, totally random. LOL)

@Weemie, put any real kid you can imagine in the situation you were in, and they would have picked a route to survival. I imagine the route would depend on their personality traits and physical abilities. The route you took was logical. Anything "better" is the stuff of super hero comics, isn't it?

I've honestly been thinking about this lately because I keep seeing apparently normal people buying in to some pretty outlandish beliefs and I can't understand why. There are examples of propaganda (like if you tell a lie loud enough, often enough people will come to believe it) apparently at work in places I would have though it impossible. For example, I have a client who's an accountant. She's smart and I'd expect an accountant to be a pretty fact based person. But she seemed to believe Alex Jones when he said the Sandy Hook school shooting was fact. When I asked her if she'd thought about how hard it would be to pull that off, all the people who'd have to be in on it and keep quiet (hospitals, first responders, funeral homes, cemeteries, news folks....) it kind of stopped her. At least on that theory. She's got more. She's not crazy & she's not stupid. WTH??? And, if I really believed the presidential election had been "stolen" what would I feel compelled to do about it?

We don't spend nearly enough time teaching people how to think. ANY people. Much less children. In fact, don't even GOOD parents prefer it if kids follow directions rather than think for themselves?
 
there'd be a huge public outcry if they tried recruiting people who weren't legally adults

Around here, they start recruitment in grade 10. So like, 15-16. To me, the idea of a 15 year old (&& this is interesting because if we believe the precedent set by David Crane [which pissed off many people of the public, in fact, who believed he was too soft] & by the Charles Taylor/Sierra Leone trials, I believe the cut off for "refusal to prosecute" was around 15 - so those kids were generally prosecuted).

But the idea of a 15 year old going thru boot camp and then getting plopped into a battlefield is completely f*cking ridiculous. Having been in a few different shootouts at various points I can safely say that I was nowhere near equipped to make adult decisions in that moment. All of the people that were in my deprogramming/rehabilitation group therapy did not approach the situation like an adults, either.

The moralistic and nationalistic motivations that typically occur with an adult military member didn't occur with us. For us it was all about looting and shooting and fear and respect and family. This was our family, it was us vs them, but it wasn't about political conflict at all. It wasn't about Osama flying the plane into the tower and I feel a righteous sense of indignation because my country is attacked so I go gung-ho and join up.

I was just like, YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH GUNS AND DRUGS BABEYYYYYYYYY. Like, you know what I mean?

(&& reading these accounts of the peacekeepers in Rwanda having to weigh moral odds and make logistical decisions -- that was not happening with me. I was mindlessly obeying orders & the one time I actually took an action on my own, it was absolutely the wrong decision [Freida says "wrong decision, right reason" -- I have to kinda hang onto this because when Mariupol happened && everyone was screaming about the maternity ward, I was like {yurhhhhhg}.]

Even though I was making a "moral decision." At 17, the law says I clearly had mens rea and I knew what I was doing when I took that action & it was a deliberate, conscious, specific choice. At 14 I was shown as having a 170 verbal IQ which means I knew what right and wrong was at that age and I was not impaired developmentally or intellectually. Much like your accountant, I was intelligent and aware, but yet I chose to fire my weapon.

Because I was trying to stop the situation from happening. Wrong decision. I was not trained enough to fire at a moving target (I could barely hit a f*cking stationary target.) & I was lucky I didn't hit a kid or pregnant lady. But adrenaline flooded me and the gates in my brain clicked open. I realized that this was wrong. What we were doing was wrong. We were right outside of a school, right outside of a hospital. That was the moment that I felt myself start to "deprogram" from what I had known was true for my whole life up until that point.

It was pure miracle that not a single person lost their life in that situation.

@Weemie, put any real kid you can imagine in the situation you were in, and they would have picked a route to survival. I imagine the route would depend on their personality traits and physical abilities. The route you took was logical. Anything "better" is the stuff of super hero comics, isn't it?

The Double-Standard Effect (what I call the difference between how we process trauma as it happens to us vs how we see other victims of trauma that is similar to ours) is very real for me because I can clearly see that even a 17 year old does not have the same agency as a 31 year old. Yet, in my mind, an 8 year old (me) does. In my mind, "we hold children accountable for their behavior," makes perfect sense.

Of course I should be held accountable for my behavior. This wasn't just pushing Sally on the playground or stealing someone else's toy or talking back to a teacher. Yet, I have met those kids who have done far worse than me and who got rehabilitated at a far later age than me and who continued to commit atrocities as adults & I see that they are worth extending compassion and dignity to. I see that they are worth reintegrating into society and worth teaching better skills to.

As I write this, it dawns on me how, as I've sought peace, it has come to me. This does not excite me now.

I'm really glad that you have begun to work toward peace and that violence isn't something that stimulates you now. I am doing my very best to get to that point myself. I still have moments where homicidal and aggressive ideation overtakes me to the point that I physically lash out. These moments are becoming fewer and farther between the older I get. I hope that one day things will be still and peaceful and calm.

Can you think of anyone, other than yourself, that you think it's true of? (I'm betting NOT.)

&& for @prynne yupyup. Double-Standard Effect in motion!

We don't spend nearly enough time teaching people how to think. ANY people. Much less children. In fact, don't even GOOD parents prefer it if kids follow directions rather than think for themselves?

Very much so. When I'm really off the deep end I believe that school is just a method of indoctrinating children to mindlessly accept their role in a capitalistic, ableist society. Critical thinking is the enemy of indoctrination, though as a child I did demonstrate superior critical thinking there was a discrepancy between the critical thoughts I had of, for example, the War on Drugs or the George Bush presidency vs my ability to critically engage with my own circumstances.
 
My experiences are different to yours. I feel I was programmed (brainwashed?) by my mum, not organised groups. I then fell into a situation, that wasn't so much organised as it was enabled (a nightclub where they would get underage girls in...as I write that it does sound organised.... and adult men would go, and the rest is easy to work out). But what led me to that was: Mum. And how she programmed me not to exist. And that my body wasn't mine (it belonged to her, so then easy to extend that to belonging to men). That I had no rights over it. And that any feelings I had about the situation didn't matter and shouldn't exist. She turned me into a dream for an abuser.
I'm not scientific and a lot of that goes over my head. So my response is just my thoughts rather than a debate of words and science.

I had this too. And in adulthood (when I was convinced that my partner, when I was 19ish) could read my mind that I had cheated so I would try and banish the thoughts). I think this comes from a very young place. Young children have this magical thinking. So I see it as a primitive form of trying to protect yourself with the tools a young child would have had.

That makes total sense.

I do wonder, if like me, this actually happened for you much much younger? That things in your family set you up for this then to happen at age 8?

Get this too. I said to my T that letting go these thoughts felt like free falling off a cliff. What else did I have to hold onto? Took time to build new beliefs. That in-between time is tough. Rocky. Who are we and how and what does it mean? Hard questions.
My Mom used the attempt I tried to take on my life at the age 10 to try to get me to forget (which worked for 48years) that my 1/2 older brother, her Baby boy, sexual assaulted me for years. She always protected her other children over me and 3 of my siblings. And made us the bad guys. I blocked it all about my 1/2 demon but knew of the "Uncles" I knew and used alcohol and other means to get rid of the feelings. Then I got married and I just moved on not knowing what happened when I was 10. My life was not my own never has been. I am very scared of even having my husband touch me. It all just crashed in my life 3years ago when a Girl's mother who was gone, came up and told me the true story about her daughters death and how my 1/2 demon sexually assaulted her before he gave her a hotbox. This girl was in her early 20's and was so into women. She was my son's friend. No none of this about what happened to her can be proven yet but they will I have to believe that, but her Mom telling me that story broke open my gates of hidden secrets of the past and now I am falling apart again. Only this time I have several good people around me to keep me from it. Well I want to let you know that there are all kinds of us with Mom's that really should have never been. I heard this quote in the Crow, I am probably going not going to get it right but Eric tells the drug addicted mother, "In a Child Eyes Mother is God." Well in my case she is just the Evil Incubator. Know you are a better person and be that better person.
 
In my mind, "we hold children accountable for their behavior," makes perfect sense.
ya,,,, we hold children responsible for the decisions that children are capable of making. The decisions that match the brain development of an 8 year old

No One expects that an 8 year old child is capable of making decisions like the ones you had to make. Especially with the abuse history. Hell most adults couldn't live thru the abuse you endured and still be able to make an adult decision

It's why indoctrination works. Because the criminals grab the kids before they have the emotional stability and brain development to fight them.

And not that I want to burst your bubble or anything, but a high IQ in an 8 year old doesn't really mean anything other than the kid can do more advanced mathematics and other academic tasks.

IQ isn't tied to emotional development. It's not tied to brain development.
It's not tied to what real life decisions a child can be expected to make. It is simply one part of the brain is more advanced than the others. But if you put a kid with a high IQ in an abuse situation you will have the same results as with any other kid.

Just sayin.....
 
a high IQ in an 8 year old doesn't really mean anything other than the kid can do more advanced mathematics and other academic tasks.

For me this is somewhat inverse as I do very poorly at academic tasks but score very highly on complexity, critical thinking, verbal comprehension, reading, spelling, nuance, politics, general knowledge, etc. So as a kid when I was put into a situation my brain immediately started going

"OK. Slow down. What's happening. Who is here. Where are they. What are they most likely to do. What do you know about them. What can you do right now. Do they have a weapon, what kind of weapon is it. Can you distract them. Can you shift this scenario in some capacity. Can you get them to focus on you."

And that was at like, 11-12. I'd be that kid watching the zombie movie like, "their grandma is bitten. You have to shoot her in the head. It's logical. She's already dead. If you don't shoot her, she will bite everyone else and it will result in more loss of life." && everyone else is like, .... wut????

But then contrast this with the very simple fact that... yah, I just didn't have an adult response. Everything about my reality is so f*cking dichotomous. I can say one thing but then a memory will pop up and completely dissolve that understanding I just had of my reality. "But I was this. Or I was that. Or I usually did this." It's a f*cking mess in here.

I made mistakes and heel-face-turned at wrong moments and slammed into walls and was awkward and weird and bizarre, the way kids are. I had magical thinking/delusional beliefs && I was high, most of the time. So even though my brain was piecing everything together as logically as possible the answers I came up with weren't always coherent.

Beh. What a shit show. Kyle once admitted they purposefully tried to recruit kids, the younger the better, because kids were the easiest to train & much more cost effective. Reading RD talk about it in his book ("kids are smaller, need less food, take less time to train..." yah, Kyle said that to my face.)

most adults couldn't live thru the abuse you endured and still be able to make an adult decision

Well, I did see adults do it. There were adults there who had lived through it.

The process I went through was, realistically, the same one they had already been through. This wasn't true of everybody but sometimes K said stuff that made me think he had a similar trajectory to me. && that is what makes it challenging to process the, "if you were a monster, you'd be doing it to kids as an adult."

Because honestly? It's hard to see the difference between me and Kyle. We were both antisocial/conduct disorder/developmental disorder/attachment disordered kids who got recruited very young. The only reason I didn't end up like Kyle was because I was removed from that environment just before I hit 13. Otherwise? I probably would have fallen into my role. I don't know, I guess. I'm not sure I could stomach what he did.

He threatened and carried out threats and punishments that I wouldn't have had the stomach to do on my own. But I can't say how I would'a turned out. I guess it's a matter that I don't really take it as, "who a person is," as some kind of mythological thing. People are just probable responses and habituations and patterns. In reality, as animals, we're not all that different from one another.

I'm closer to Kyle than I am -- almost certainly -- to you or most other members on this forum.

that my 1/2 older brother, her Baby boy, sexual assaulted me for years

I'm very sorry to hear that and I hope that you are in a safer, more peaceful environment now. Welcome to the forum, by the way.
 
"OK. Slow down. What's happening. Who is here. Where are they. What are they most likely to do. What do you know about them. What can you do right now. Do they have a weapon, what kind of weapon is it. Can you distract them. Can you shift this scenario in some capacity. Can you get them to focus on you."
This ^^^
ya... this is abuse panic buttons going off because of experiences. It's learned behavior, taught by exposure to constant stress. When I was dispatching I talked to so many kids who could do that. They could create escape plans because they could see every possible angle and they could describe what was going on in details that no child should be able to even conceive. Because these kids lived it every.single.day Just like you.
Well, I did see adults do it. There were adults there who had lived through it.
ya - but when we talk about the kind of adult decisions they made the damage to their thought processes becomes clear.
It's hard to see the difference between me and Kyle.
At that stage true. Would you have become like him in the long run? Who knows.
And yes - there is a chance he could have been saved.
But I think the part you discount is that you knew, even at that age, that what was happening was wrong.
Your moral compass, the one they had been trying to destroy since day one, still worked.
That's what made it possible for you to move forward into a different world.
Because YOU wanted to change.
That's what separates you from the Kyles.
 
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