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Silencing Denying Your Pain Betrayal Trauma And Betrayal Blindness

Uploaded 10/18/2020, approx. 47 minute read

Ready, Vaknin? Steady? Go, go, go.

And so I've received this small mountain ridge of emails and comments and so on and so forth, telling me how wrong I am to rant and complain in my videos, because while I'm admired and appreciated as a scholar, it devalues me. It makes me look, I'm quoting, like a worm, not a man. I'm serious.

And this is a topic of today's video.

We're going to discuss an undervalued, much neglected and overlooked theory called Betrayal Trauma Theory. And we're going to discuss concepts like betrayal trauma, betrayal blindness, institutional betrayal trauma and so on and so forth. It is wrong.

This advice, you should take it on the chin, even if you have a glass chin, you should have a stiff upper lip, you should go through life stoically, you should accept suffering as an inevitable and important part of life, a teaching lesson, that's a tuition, tuition for your pain.

These are wrong. These are seriously bad advice. This is seriously bad advice. It invalidates your suffering, invalidates your pain, minimizes, contests the experience you've gone through.

When you are traumatized, when you're hurting, when you don't know when where to turn, when you're depleted, your inner resources are depleted, you should reach out. You should complain. You should share your pain. You should rant and rave. Absolutely.

In Japan, they have just opened crying classes where they teach people to cry because in some cultures like the United Kingdom and Japan, people are not allowed to cry. It's a sign of weakness, embarrassing weakness. It's shameful to show your vulnerabilities.

What people don't understand is that being honest about your deformities, disabilities, vulnerabilities, it's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of supreme strength. It's a sign of total self confidence.

And another thing they don't understand, you can't induce healing. You can't cure. You can't help even. If you invalidate the other person's experience and suffering, someone comes to you and says, I'm in pain. I'm hurting. And you tell him, it's nothing. Come on. Everyone is going through this. Everyone had experienced it.

What are you doing? You are rendering that person a statistic. You're telling that person that the unique idiosyncratic experience that she had gone through is irrelevant. It's meaningless. It's insignificant. She's overreacting. She's disproportionately dysregulated and labile. You're in a way pathologizing by refusing to countenance and to accept other people's expressions of discomfort, of hurt, of helplessness, of hopelessness.

The first step in depression, in the treatment of depression, the first step in all therapies, which we apply to major depressive episodes is the first step is to say I know. I know that you're in a bad place. I understand your pain and suffering and hurt. Please share them with me. Please complain. Please cry.

And this is the topic of today's video.

When pain is silenced, pain endures. When pain endures, trauma results. When trauma results dysfunction ensues. When dysfunction ensues, it's this short step to disintegration, decompensation, acting out, and in some cases psychosis.

So we need to break this cycle at its inception by embracing the suffering of others, not recoiling, not feeling ashamed for them, not feeling embarrassed.

The suppression of the expression of emotions, the suppression of affect is a pathology.

You who had written to me that you were embarrassed to watch me complaining, something's wrong with you. You need help. You need help because you're not in touch with your emotions. You consider that that uncomfortable negative emotionality is a disgraceful thing to be hidden, concealed under the carpet.

You sweep things under the carpet. They fester. They ferment. Horrible things come out of it.

Okay. That was the serious beat.


Now as Comic Relief, I posted a video a few hours ago courtesy the inimitable Dorcas Williams. So I posted a video. It's called The Vaknin Nut Strikes Again, Comic Relief in 24 hours. I'm going to move it to the playlist. So hurry up and watch it. There's a link in the description. There's a link to yet another earlier video also by Dorcas Williams. Who else?

And that video is titled Watch Sam Vaknin's Genius Bloopers and Showstoppers. Co-start link, minnie The Mug. Watch these two videos. They will brighten up your day. You will feel suddenly revived, refreshed and ready to take on any challenge whatsoever.

As for me, enough with the narcissism bracket. Great narcissists took over the field and now they dominate the YouTube scene. Narcissists and psychopaths.

I am not enough of a narcissist to compete with these coaches and ex self-styled experts and so on. I'm a failure even as a narcissist. It's heartbreaking.

So my second career or shall we say ninth career. I think my next career is going to be as a stand up comedian or in my case, a sit down comedian. I can out Jew Robin Williams and that's perhaps because Robin Williams was not a Jew regrettably.

You know what? I can out breed anyone of course with an audible exception of Richard Grannon, needless to say. Still, I think I have a pretty good sense of humor.

A proposed sense of humor leads. It leads me to the previous video where I said that other people are hell and I attributed this saying to Eugene O'Neill and of course this triggered a tsunami of responses.

Vaknin, you are wrong again. We caught you. There was such glee and jubilation, such joy and cheer among the ranks and the file of these people. It was not Eugene O'Neill who said it. It was Jean-Paul Sartre.

Yes, true. He was the first to say it. He say it in a play called No Exit.

But Eugene O'Neill and Samuel Beckett repeated this saying and I chose Eugene O'Neill on purpose.

Here's an intellectual challenge for you. I'll give you a few hints so that you feel good with yourself when you had solved the challenge.

The previous video had contained a rant about coaches and self-styled experts and so on, plagiarizing my ideas. Idea plagiarizing.

Stealing my content to be more bumptious.

So Eugene O'Neill has something to do with it. I chose him on purpose because he somehow connected to plagiarism, to idealism. He said some things that are somehow connected and I challenge you to find them.

In the meantime, let me read one of his most famous quotes, Eugene O'Neill.

To hell with the truth. Yes, he did say that and he said it first. To hell with the truth. As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything. It's irrelevant and immaterial as the lawyers say.

The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober.

Sounds like a good description of a shared fantasy. A proportionate fantasy.

People said to me, your video is a very abstract, very worthy, very difficult sometimes to get through, not for the masses. Can you give us a metaphor, an allegory, a picture of the cycle of the relationship with the narcissists?

And I decided to describe how I experienced my life. I experienced my life this way.

I am on a cat boat. Do you know what a cat boat is? Cat boat is a sailboat, usually with a single sail, sometimes with two, but usually with a single sail. And it's small. It's like for two, three people.

So I'm on a cat boat and I'm sailing. I'm sailing in an ocean whose name I know not. It's been forever, forever in a while. I don't know where whence I came. I don't know where I came from. And I definitely don't know where I'm going, if I'm going anywhere.

And around the boat, as I say, and the weather is patchy. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. The cat boat, there are people drowning. They surround my boat. They're flailing. They extend waterlogged hence towards me. They want me to grab their hands and they're clearly suffocating and going up underwater, above water, they're bobbing up and down.

And so I extend my hand and I entice them into my boat because it can get really lonely and monotonous. And this is the love bombing and grooming stage where I reach out to drowning people and I entice them to the safety and the dryness and everything I have on my boat, the food, the shelter, protection from the weather elements. And this is the love bombing and grooming phase.

And so they climb onto my boat and they spend some time on it. And that's the shared fantasy. And then they vanish or they make demands and vanish. That's the bargaining phase. And I see them on someone else's boat and I wave goodbye and I wave hello and I wave farewell to all the good times and all the ghosted memories and all the broken dreams. And I just sail on. I know that sooner or later another drowning person will be drawn into my sailboat and I don't allow myself to get attached. I don't bond. I don't experience emotions because I know that if I do, it's going to end badly for me. I'm going to hurt to an extent that might prove dangerous, intolerable as it is.

So I just observe. I'm on my boat. I share everything. I share everything on the boat with this drowning person that had climbed over.

But I'm kind of detached. I'm a spectator. It's a movie.

And yes, I allow myself to dissociate and to dream and to fantasize and to hope. And we have memories. We create memories together and we generate an intimacy and a togetherness.

But I know, I know it's all an illusion. I know it's going to end sooner or later. And I know I'm going to see her on someone else's boat and it's going to break my heart.

And so I just sail on. And I know that I will never make it to any shore. I know that I have no destination. I just love the dolphins and the whales and the wind on my windswept face and in my hair. And I love the salt in my wrinkles. And I'm waiting. I'm waiting because I know that sooner or later I will likely die this way on this boat. And maybe there will be someone there to hold my corpse over the rail and onto the waves. And maybe not.

And that's my life. And that's my death. And this is the story of my voyages. And I hope through this allegory you capture the inner experience of the narcissist existence.

A solipsistic flying Dutchman. A ghost in his own body sailing a ghost ship. A ghost ship which picks up drowning, broken, damaged people.

And then there's a brief moment of meeting of the souls, of togetherness, of hoping, of dreaming. And yet it is doomed and both parties know it is doomed. And it is this impending doom that paints everything with a tragic brush.

Because the narcissist's life is a waste, a wasteland, a graveyard, a misery and above all a Greek tragedy because everything is foreordained and foretold. And there is no escape.

Character is destiny.


We can move on to betrayal trauma.

The basic assumption of betrayal trauma is that trauma is independent of the reaction to trauma.

Betrayal trauma was coined and described by Jennifer Frey, ERYDY-D. I hope I'm pronouncing her name correctly, Jennifer Freid, maybe.

She introduced the terms betrayal trauma and betrayal trauma theory.

Long ago, in 1991, she made a presentation at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. It is absolutely to the discredit of the profession that betrayal trauma theory is not much more dominant and possibly the dominant theory of trauma. It definitely guides me in my studies.

And so Freet made this presentation. It was titled memory repression, dissociative states and other cognitive control processes involved in adult sequelae of childhood trauma. And it was August 1991.

And I want to quote from this talk that she gave.

She said, I propose that the core issue is betrayal, a betrayal of trust that produces conflict between external reality and a necessary system of social dependence.

Of course, a particular event may be simultaneously a betrayal trauma and life threatening. Rape is such an event.

Perhaps most childhood traumas are such events.

Betrayal trauma theory, she says, involved the psychic pain involved in detecting betrayal, as in detecting a cheater. It's an evolved, adaptive motivator for changing social alliances. In general, it is not to our survival or reproductive advantage to go back for further interaction to those who have betrayed us.

However, if the person who has betrayed us is someone we need to continue interacting with, despite the betrayal, then it is not our advantage to respond to the betrayal in the normal way.

What she's saying is we must distinguish two situations.

If we depend on the person, if we can go no contact, if we have to continue to be in touch with someone because we need him, then we deny the trauma. We deny the betrayal because it's not to our advantage to confront him. We may lose him.

So for example, a child with mother, a child betrayed by an abusive, distant, dead, emotionally unavailable, selfish, narcissistic, instrumentalizing, parentifying, objectifying mother, such a child cannot confront that mother. He cannot get rid of that mother. He cannot go no contact with that mother. He cannot even think bad things about mother because he needs mother for survival.

And that's a perfect example of denying the trauma, denying the betrayal trauma.

And then if you are not dependent on the person, you can just say goodbye. You can just walk away, but many people don't have this option.

Instead, she says, if we are dependent on the person, if we can't go no contact, if we can't just walk away, instead, we essentially need to ignore the betrayal. If the betrayed person is a child and the betrayer is a parent, it is especially essential that the child does not stop behaving in such a way that he will inspire attachment for the child to withdraw from a caregiver he is dependent on would further threaten the child's life, both physically and mentally.

Thus, the trauma of child abuse by the very nature of it requires that information about the abuse be blocked from mental mechanisms that control attachment and attachment behavior.

One does not need to posit any particular avoidance of psychic pain per se here. Instead, what is a functional significance is the control of social behavior.

Brilliant, brilliant on multiple levels.

First of all, she contextualized trauma within the realm of social interactions.

Anne Freud himself hinted to this when he said that the superego has relational mechanisms, mechanisms related to other people. And of course, in object relations theory, this already blossomed and flourished into a full fledged tenant and foundational concept.

But what she did, she recast trauma as a social interaction.

And her second major contribution is to say that we cannot not, it's not always, we can't always acknowledge the trauma, the betrayal and confront our tormentor and our abuser.

Because there are circumstances where what we need to do in order to survive is to deny the trauma to block the trauma.

So as to allow us to continue the attachment and the interaction with the abuser.

And so there's this concept of betrayal blindness.

Betrayal blindness is the unawareness, not knowing.

You remember from one of my previous videos, the unthought known, unthought known, Bolas came up with this concept.

So betrayal blindness is the unawareness, the not knowing, the forgetting exhibited by people when they're betrayed.

It's in a way, one of the ways betrayal blindness comes into being is dissociation.

And so again, Fred introduced the concept of betrayal blindness in 1996, and expanded on it in 1999.

And then together with Birell, in 2013, they developed betrayal trauma theory, which I'm going to discuss in a few minutes and incorporated it in there.


Now, such blindness, we can, we see it, for example, in adultery.

Very often, the spouse or the intimate partner, they have all the proof, all the evidence, everything they need to realize that they're being cheated on.

And it's very, very traumatic.

And yet they suppress, they repress, they deny, they dissociate, they forget, they ignore, they lie to themselves, they refrain, they confabulate, just not to confront the trauma.

Same in the workplace, where you can't afford to lose your job. And same in society, victims, perpetrators, witnesses, they all display betrayal blindness, in order to preserve relationships, or institutions, or social systems, because they depend on these.

There was a very important and interesting essay by Eileen Zurbrigen. Why do they have these names? I think they ended up in psychology because they have these names. It's very traumatizing.

Zurbrigen, whatever.

So she wrote an essay, Betrayal Trauma in the 2004 election. And she used the theory to give a demonstration of something called institutional betrayal.

Institutional betrayal is when the wrongdoing, the abuse, is perpetrated by an institution. And it's perpetrated on individuals that depend on the institution.

So failure to prevent a catastrophe, like a pandemic, a response that supports wrongdoing, suppression of rights, abuse, infringement, encroachment, coercion, rings a bell in today's circumstances.

Or for example, in sexual assault, where the system actually pathologizes and re-traumatizes, re-victimizes the rape victim, not the rapist.

So these are all institutional forms of institutional betrayal.

And again, institutional betrayal is a part of betrayal trauma theory.

And I refer you to Platt, Barton and Fritsches, 2009, Smith and Fritsches, 2011, several papers, Medrano, Martin and Fritsches, 2011. And the core book is Blind to Betrayal, highly recommended, Freid and Birell, 2013.

I want to quote a sentence from Freid. She wrote in 2008, betrayal trauma occurs when the people or institutions on which a person depends for survival significantly violate that person's trust or well-being, childhood, physical, emotional or sexual abuse perpetrated by a caregiver are examples of betrayal trauma.

And then we come to betrayal trauma theory.

And the earliest paper that had dealt with this, the best of my knowledge, is a paper by Sivers, Schuller and Freid from 2002. And there they wrote that betrayal trauma theory is a theory that predicts that the degree to which a negative event represents a betrayal by a trusted, needed other will influence the way in which that event is processed and remembered.

Now that sounds simple, but it's absolutely one of the most revolutionary approaches to trauma and to the consequences and sequelae of trauma. I will read it again, more slowly this time. Pay attention.

Betrayal trauma theory is a theory that predicts that the degree to which a negative event represents a betrayal by a trusted, needed other, that degree will influence the way in which that event is processed and remembered.

The more you depend on someone, the more you need someone financially for survival, to raise the kids together, whatever you could be rendered homeless, you could be rendered destitute, you could lose your children, you could use your job. The more dependent you are on someone, the less you will perceive that that person is abusing you, tormenting you, taunting you, violating your boundaries.

And throughout the 1990s and in a seminal article published in 1994 and in the book in 1996, Fraid, together with others like the Prince, Gleaves, expounded on that.

And so she gradually refined the concept of betrayal trauma. And she said it is trauma perpetrated by someone with whom the victim is close to and reliant upon for support and survival.

And so betrayal trauma theory, the first appearance of this phrase was in 1994 by, of course, Jennifer Fraid.

It's situations when people or institutions on which you rely, you're relying for protection, you trust for resources and survival. These people violate your trust, well being, break your boundaries.

And sometimes statistically and egregiously betrayal is the core and dissident of many, many mental health manifestations.

For example, when you use betrayal theory, you have perfect explanation for dissociation. You know, because dissociation is intended to preserve the relationship with a caregiver when you can't go no contact. And the child dependent on the caregiver for support will have a higher need to dissociate traumatic experience from conscious awareness.

In other words, you can begin to regard the false self that the child creates as a form of dissociation. It's like a repository. It's like the child says, okay, I'm exposed to abuse, I'm exposed to trauma by, for example, mother, but I can't be conscious of it.

Because if I become conscious of the abuse and the trauma, if I develop negative emotions, if I get hurt, then I won't be able to attach to mommy. I won't be able to bond with mommy and I won't be able to receive from mommy what I need in order to survive. That's a dangerous path.

So exactly as Melanie Klein suggested, the child splits.

But in a pathological dysfunctional family environment where the mother is a dead mother, the child doesn't split the mother into good and bad because there's no good. There's only bad.

So the child cannot split the mother. Instead, the child splits himself.

Healthy, normal children split mommy into bad mother, good mother, bad breast, good breast. That's Melanie Klein.

Children, when they develop, when they grow between the ages of six months and two years, their mommy sometimes is good, sometimes is frustrating, sometimes is there, sometimes is absent. So the child learns to separate these aspects into a good mother and a bad mother.

And later on, by the way, the child annexes, appropriates the bad aspects so that he can idealize mother.

But it's always clear that there's a unitary child and a kind of disjointed mother.

The need to split mother is critical in development. The child who later develops into a narcissist made a wrong turn.

Instead of splitting the bad and good aspects of mother, he splits his own. His personality fractures and fragments in a dissociative process.

And that gives rise to the false self. He cannot split mother into good and bad because there's no good in mother.

So he splits himself.

Betrayal trauma theory also integrates evolutionary processes, mental moduli, social cognitions, developmental needs, and even ethics.

Because there's a violation of trust, it's highly unethical. There's a question of foundations of morality we know, and it's common and accepted and orthodox thinking that empathy underlies morality. It's not possible to be a moral being or an ethical being without empathy.

So in such situations, ethics, the development of morality is challenged.

All people from a very alleged age react to injustice. We have two years old reacting to injustice in numerous studies.

So we realize when there's a violation of the social contract, we realize when our trust is betrayed, we realize when our boundaries are breached, they are cheat detectors.

And so in the context of abusive relationships, you want to escape. That's your first urge. Your reflex is to run away, you know, flight, fight, etc. You touch a hot plate, you withdraw your hand, withdraw avoidance. The flight response is fundamental.

Second most fundamental is the fight response. Then there is the freeze response. And finally, the phone response.

But in abuse and trauma, initially in healthy situations, it's flight.

But what do you do if escape is not a viable option? If your cheater detecting mechanism leads you to want to avoid and want to escape and want to flee from a person upon whom your survival depends, you can't go away, you will die.

So what you do you suppress your cheater detecting mechanism for the higher goal of survival. It's psychogenic amnesia. It's designed to perpetuate attachment by blocking painful experiences.

And we have this in in romantic betrayal. Early literature freed, you know, everyone was talking about betrayal of an unspoken agreement like betrayal of trust, there was an unspoken agreement and it was breached.

And this is the source of the pain.

But betrayal trauma theory suggests that all these manifest all these behaviors like domestic violence, cheating and so on, they involve a betrayal of trust.

But when the victim has no viable exit strategy option, when the victim remains or returns to the abuser does not report the abuse, reports the severity of the abuse experiences shame and anxiety, which are also mechanisms mental mechanisms intended to downplay what's happening or to repress to deny what's happening.

All these are attachment injury. And it's a component that is critical in betrayal trauma theory. It's not only in a betrayal of trust, like in the classic literature, it's a betrayal of trust in a time of need and dependence.

This combination is what is what destroys, erodes and corrodes the victim that the victim had been betrayed at its most vulnerable moment at her most vulnerable moment.

She depended. She depended on her abuser. She believed her abuser. She relegated functions to her abuser, sometimes ego functions, internal functions.

And then the betrayal. Betrayal alone is bad. But betrayal with trust, betrayal with need, betrayal with survival, betrayal. That's horrible.

And in the context of intimate partner violence, vulnerability, fear relationship, relationship expectations, shame, low self esteem, communication issues. These are all outcomes of the exposure to betrayal trauma.

And there are barriers not only to escape, but also barriers to forming new relationships.


You see, ironically, if you cheat, if you cheat on an abusive partner, it's a sign of health. It's a sign of partial health. Let's be precise, because at least you are taking care of yourself. At least you're trying to solve your wounds. You're trying to self administer some medication. It's a dysfunctional solution. There are much better solutions. No contact is the best solution.

Gray rock, second best solution. But cheating is a solution that indicates partial health.


I want to introduce here another concept. And it's a concept of a sumptive, a sumptive world.

In 1992, Jan of Balman, she identified, he identified three assumptions.

One, the world is benevolent.

Two, the world is meaningful.

Three, the world is worthwhile, is worthy.

These three highly optimistic, I call them malignantly optimistic, assumptions put together create what he called the sumptive world.

The sumptive world is the core belief system.

Individuals perceive the world as essentially good, secure and fair. And these assumptions are shattered by distorted social behavior, antisocial behavior, even asocial behavior.

When social behavior becomes anomic, sick, pathologized, then this worldview is at risk. It's threatened.

Maybe the world is not benevolent. Maybe it's not meaningful. And maybe it's not worthwhile. And so I'll commit suicide.

In the context of betrayal trauma theory, when caregivers or intimate partners in close relationships, when they violate you, they destroy your sumptive world and they impair your ability to reconstitute the sumptive world.

Because if you're burned once badly, it's difficult after that to be naive, pathologically naive, malignantly optimistic. It's difficult after that to trust, really, to trust again.

And so they damage you for life. Watch my previous video about self-stalking, the damage you for life.

And they contribute to avoidance, not only of the trauma experience, which is betraying yourself, but avoidance of future, future possibilities to remedy the damage.

And this is a part of post-traumatic stress disorder or complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

An individual who may experience little or not conscious awareness of their trauma still develop PTSD or CPTSD.

It shows you that consciousness, awareness are not everything.

If the trauma does not have conscious knowledge, the effects of the abuse still manifest physically via somatization or psychological symptoms such as dissociation.

Watch my video presentation to the conference about signs of narcissistic abuse.

Many found that dissociation can be a predictor of developing PTSD after trauma. So dissociation precedes actually trauma.

It's not true that people who have PTSD or CPTSD are conscious. That's one of the reasons that I keep railing against the over-diagnosing and self-attribution of CPTSD.

Every victim in his dog has CPTSD. That's not true. PTSD and CPTSD are very often preceded by a denial of the abuse, denial of what had happened, repression, forgetting, dissociation.

That's why the body is reacting and the mind is rebelling against this lie, this confabulation.

The body is telling you, hey, wake up. You've been traumatized. And your mind is telling you, listen, I'm in trouble. I've been badly damaged. Stop invalidating me. Stop denying what had happened. Face up to it.

Dissociative identity disorder is at the end of this spectrum because some trauma victims deploy a protective response such as dissociation or repression to block awareness of the trauma to the end, to the extreme.

For example, in childhood sexual abuse, some interpersonal injuries, they create dissociative reaction that is so bad that it leads to dissociative identity disorder, previously called multiple personality disorder. And it's connected intimately with overwhelming trauma or with a very, very long exposure to complex trauma.

This trauma can create identity diffusion or identity disruption or disturbance. Your very identity is challenged by the trauma and the abuse, partly because you are denying them. It's like you're internalizing energy, bad energy.

Freud used this metaphor. He said that unconscious content has energy. And this energy is like a volcano, like tectonic energy along fault lines. And this energy finally flares up, erupts and fractures you.

And this is multiple personality dissociative identity.

And in borderline, borderline, borderlines are on the verge of this. They're like on the edge. That's why they're called borderlines.

They're on the border between neurosis and psychosis. They are so dysregulated and they lack narcissistic defenses. For example, they do have access to their negative and positive emotions and they have empathy.

So borderlines don't have defenses. And whenever they experience hurt and humiliation and rejection or even anticipated, they fracture. They're at high risk of a psychotic episode or suicide. 10% of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder end up committing suicide and about 30 to 40% self-mutilate and self-harm.

So distinct personalities sometimes are the only solution.

Remember the splitting that I told you before? That's multiple personality. When the child is faced with overwhelming, inexorable, uncontrollable abuse and trauma, the child fractures, breaks apart, splits in the fullest sense of the form. The false self is another personality. The true self is another personality.

What is this if not multiple personality?

The narcissist has dissociative identity disorder. It's a private case of DID. He has two personalities with distinct perception, cognition, sense of self, agency. I mean, they are so disparate, the true self and the false self. The person with such condition experiences gaps in the recall of everyday events or traumatic events, same with the narcissist.

Narcissists try to bridge these gaps by confabulating and so they are perceived to be liars. Few narcissists lie actually. They don't need to. Their whole life is a lie. The false self is false. It's all a fantasy. It's all a confabulation. There's not a shred of truth in any of it. The least of all in what the narcissist knows about himself and the continuity of his life, the narcissist is discontinuous.

And of course, narcissist is trying like everyone else. Try to somehow self-soothe and self-medicate with alcohol, with drugs, with women, with something, with work, work hours, addictive behaviors.

Interpersonal trauma such as betrayal trauma is intimately connected to addictive behaviors, especially substance abuse.

So childhood, physical and sexual abuse increases the risk for substance abuse. And betrayal trauma also shifts the locus of control from internal to external.

Once you're traumatized and abused, and especially if you can't, you're not allowed to have a voice. Especially if you're terrified to verbalize, to actualize, to manifest your pain and your hurt. Especially if you suppress the rants at the beginning of each video. Especially then, you would tend to feel that you are no longer in control of your life.

The control of your life, your inner life, and your life generally, your biography, has shifted from the inside to the outside. Starting with your abuser. Your abuser is in control. He's at the driver's seat, intermittent reinforcement. He decides what day is good, what day is bad. Sometimes what moment is good, what moment is bad. So handing over the control to alcohol or to drugs is a natural extension.

When you talk to alcoholics, they tell you, the drink made me do it. The drug made me do it. I mean, they refer to the drink or the drug like a kind of abuser. It's a way to cope with post-traumatic negative affect traits, such as avoidance, tension reduction, self-medication.


And when we come to personality disorders, and most particularly to borderline personality disorder, there are numerous studies that show that it has links to early maltreatment and attachment difficulties in early childhood.

The maltreatment is emotional, physical, verbal, or very frequently sexual abuse, but by caregivers, by people in whom the child plays trust to perpetuate and maintain its survival.

Betrayal trauma theory incorporates attachment disruptions and damage from caregiver. It's part of the definition. And it is the only marriage I'm aware of between attachment theory and abuse theory. It includes dissociation as a diagnostic criterion of borderline personality disorder.

And some people say that betrayal trauma theory explains the dissociation that borderline experience, because dissociation is a defense mechanism against childhood trauma.

High betrayal traumas have been implicated in the development of traits indicative of borderline personality disorder. And it goes further and further. It's very deep.

Betrayal trauma theory is very deep. It explains hyper reflection in the schizophrenia spectrum. In other psychotic disorders, it explains hallucinations. So they tend to suggest that childhood abuse is intimately linked to hallucinations.

When you reduce betrayal trauma via talk therapy, hallucinations disappear. There's no need for medication. It's an amazing theory, which I really advise you to go more deeply into.

There seem to be intergenerational effects. Intergenerational levels of dissociation are correlated with betrayal trauma experienced by the individual, but also with the betrayal trauma experienced by the mother of the individual.

So it seems that the mother is ending her betrayal trauma. The child becomes the repository of her betrayal trauma. Her pain, her hurt, she offloads it to the child.

It's perhaps that mothers with betrayal trauma or dissociative symptoms, maybe they have more difficulty in creating a safe environment for the children. Maybe they are predisposed to becoming dead mothers. They can become a safe base.

So let's summarize this part of the video.

Betrayal trauma says that there is a social utility in remaining unaware of trauma when the perpetrator is a caregiver and it's based on the study of social contracts. It explains why and how humans are excellent at detecting betrayal and that under some circumstances detecting betrayal may be counterproductive to survival.

And there are cases where the victim is dependent on the caregiver and so survival may require that she remains unaware of the betrayal or even denies it.

And so there are examples of childhood sexual abuse and childhood psychological abuse to substantiate this.

The traditional assumption in trauma research has been that fear is the core of the response to trauma. Afraid, change that.

And it is not to the merit or the credit of my profession that the revolution that she had introduced did not go further.

Afraid as early as 20 years ago in 2001 noted that traumatic events differ in degree of fear of betrayal depending on the context and characteristics of the event.

Research suggests that the distinction between fear and betrayal is very important to the post-traumatic outcomes.

The prince in the same year, 2001, found that self-reported betrayal predicted PTSD and dissociative symptoms much more than self-reported fear.

So it seems that the critical element is not a fear, it's the violation of trust, it's a betrayal.

And there are numerous other studies that have confirmed this, that betrayal is the psychologically toxic substance that creates dissociation that leads to post-traumatic conditions, including PTSD.

I refer you to Kelly, to Weathers, to Mason, to Bruno as late as 2012. And I also encourage you to go online and have a look at Fraid's two-dimensional model for traumatic events. It places everything neatly everywhere.


Now a few frequently asked questions.

One, is it necessary for the victim to be conscious of the betrayal in order to call it betrayal trauma?

The answer is no.

I will quote from the Prince and Fraid, it's an article they published in 2002.

The role of betrayal in betrayal trauma theory was initially considered an implicit but central aspect of some situations.

If a child is being mistreated by a caregiver, he or she is dependent upon, this is by definition betrayal, whether the child recognizes the betrayal explicitly or not.

Indeed, the memory impairment and gaps in awareness that betrayal trauma theory predicted were assumed to serve in part to ward off conscious awareness of mistreatment in order to promote the dependent child's survival goals.

While conscious appraisals of betrayal may be inhibited at the time of trauma, and for as long as the trauma victim is dependent upon the perpetrator, eventually the trauma survivor may become conscious of strong feelings of betrayal.

Of course, we still have to study in depth the emotional perception of betrayal, how betrayal is experienced, the distress, the subjective experience of distress, and what's the connection to recovery? How does it prognosticate recovery?

And Brown and Fraid started to do this work in 2008, but it's far from complete.

Next question, is gender a factor? Do men or women experience betrayal trauma more often?

It seems that men experience non-betrayal traumas more than women. Women experience betrayal traumas more than men.

This goes well with other discoveries that women attach more deeply and differently, they're more empathic and so on. I am not sure how valid this is nowadays.

The number of narcissistic women today equals the number of narcissistic men, and many women have begun to develop psychopathic features, psychopathic behaviors and traits. Many women, especially and also post traumatized women, women who had gone through CPTSD are indistinguishable from border lines.

And so I don't know how valid this is here, but Goldberg and Fries, in a series of articles in 2004, 2006, said that men experience betrayal trauma less, and the impacts of betrayal trauma on men and women, according to the Prince, are also different.

Men have impact is less significant with women.

These gender differences probably have to do with socialization.

Some factors of socialization, even acculturation, because gender roles, as you recall from my previous videos, gender roles are learned. They're not real. They're not embedded in biology.

99% of gender roles is learned. It's mediated and communicated via socialization agents, like mother and later father.

So we learn these roles. And we can, by the way, unlearn these roles, or the learning process can be disrupted. And then we end up being gender undifferentiated, very confused about how to be a man, how to be a woman, how to be a middle ground.


And so now there's a question about how is betrayal trauma related to the Stockholm syndrome.

And I want to quote from a website dedicated to Fries' work.

Stockholm syndrome, named for a 1973 bank hostage situation in Sweden, refers to what seems at first a paradoxical reaction to being held hostage.

This reaction involves positive feelings towards the captors, the kidnappers, the hostage takers.

Stockholm syndrome is a term applied to the special case of those feelings developing after a hostage takeover, as when an individual or group is kidnapped and held for ransom.

From a theoretical perspective, Stockholm syndrome reaction may possibly be understood as a special kind of betrayal trauma.

The unusual aspect of Stockholm syndrome, compared with most betrayal trauma situations, is that the strong emotional attachment occurs after the abduction and without the pre-existing context of an enduring caretaker or trusting relationship.

It is usually considered that for Stockholm syndrome to occur, the captors, the hostage takers, must show a certain amount of kindness or at least a lack of cruelty towards the hostages.

From a betrayal trauma perspective, the most important elements of predicting Stockholm syndrome would not be kindness per se, but rather caretaking behavior on the part of the captors and an implicit or explicit belief on the part of the victims that survival depends upon the hostage takers.

And so the victims would have to experience the captors, the hostage takers, as a source of caretaking and as necessary for survival in order to develop the emotional attachment necessary to create a betrayal trauma.

Once the captors are experienced as necessary caretakers, a process much like that in infancy could occur, such that the victims have a good reason for attaching to the hostage takers and thus eliciting caretaking behaviors.

At that point, a certain amount of reality distortion might be beneficial to the victims, such that seeing the captors in a positive light might support an adaptive response to the victim's predicament.

This theoretical possibility leads to an empirical prediction that remains to be tested.

Anecdotal support for the premise that features of dependence and survival are at the heart of the development of Stockholm syndrome can be found in an FBI online article about the Stockholm syndrome.

In cases where Stockholm syndrome has occurred, the captive is in a situation where the captor has stripped nearly all forms of independence and gained control of the victim's life as well as basic needs for survival.

Some experts say that the hostage regresses to perhaps a state of infancy. The captive must cry for food, remain silent and exist in an extreme state of dependence, like a baby.

In contrast, the perpetrator serves as a mother figure, protecting her child from a threatening outside world, including law enforcement's deadly weapons. The victim then begins struggle for survival, both relying on and identifying with the captor.

I also refer you to an article by Fritsching, a 2007 article, which elaborates upon it a lot.

It is important to note that Stockholm syndrome is rare, whereas betrayal trauma events and reactions are unfortunately fairly common.

Nonetheless, Stockholm syndrome might prove to be a useful, extreme boundary condition for investigation of betrayal trauma theory, while at the same time betrayal trauma theory might provide useful insight into behavior of hostages that is otherwise considered paradoxical.

I would add to this that trauma bonding is a middle case. Like in the extreme, when you are really taken by kidnappers with guns, you might develop Stockholm syndrome.

But when you are kept hostage, because you are dependent on an abuser, an egregious abuser, even just a verbal abuser, physical abuser, psychological abuser, sexual abuser, when you are dependent, when you can't walk away, when you can't go into contact for a variety of reasons, there's a middle ground and that's trauma bonding.

It also incorporates betrayal trauma, because in trauma bonding you're denying the negative aspects of abuse, torment, torture, teasing, withholding, ignoring, humiliating, rejecting and degrading you. You're denying all this and you're denying all this so that you are able to continue to attach and bond with the source of everything that you need or the things that you need. So that's a middle ground situation.


Next question, are demands for silence a factor in not knowing about betrayal?

So there are implicit motivations for not knowing. We describe them.

A person is dependent on the abuser, so he denies the abuse.

But the victim may have other reasons for not knowing, for silencing, for repressing, for denying. For example, the perpetrator might demand silence, might isolate the victim from his social safety net or family or friends, might establish a role that your dirty laundry is made only in-house. You never air the dirty laundry, a rule of silence.

And others may collaborate and collude in that because of discomfort and embarrassment, family, society. Demands for silence, and I refer you to work by Veltuis in 1999, demands for silence may lead to a complete failure to even discuss an experience, to even mention it. You know, it's uncomfortable, it's shameful, it's disgraceful, I don't want to embarrass anyone, I don't want to discomfort anyone, so I'm not going to talk about this.

Experiences that have never been shared by anyone else may have a different internal structure than shared experiences. Shareability and social support are critical in healing, curing, reframing, and transforming traumatic experiences towards closure.

I want to link betrayal trauma to a few other disciplines and modalities.


Let's start with attachment theory.

John Bowlby, the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather attachment theory in the objects relations school, John Bowlby in 1969 identified a link between attachment processes and dissociative psychopathology.

He proceeded Bowlby by quite a while, so he said that some attachment processes may lead to dissociation.

He referred to internal representations as internal working models. I call them internal objects, actually the current usage is internal objects.

So internal working models where one can discern which internal content is dominant, which internal content requires attention, and which can be segregated into unconscious awareness.

It's like a male sorting facility before the age of Trump, where the male is sorted to be taken care of, express male, surface male, and to the garbage male, like male in balance.

Once the attachment system is activated, the internal working model is identified as a guide to the formation of attachment behavior and to the appraisal of attachment emotions in the self and in others.

There's a theory of mind. What makes other things tick? Are they attached to me? Are they showing signs of attachment?

Boulby emphasizes that traumatizing experiences, especially with one's caregiver, these are likely to result in negative impacts on a child's attachment security, stress, coping strategies, and even sense of self.

Securely organized internal working model, the evidence indicates that secure attachment is associated with positive appraisal of one's own attachment emotions and expectations that a child requests will be experienced as significant and legitimate by a caregiver.

Compare this to an insecurely attached or insecurely organized internal working model, avoidant, resistant. This is associated with a negative appraisal of attachment emotions, with the expectation that one's requests for attention and attachment will be rebuffed, will be received as a nuisance or an intrusion by the caregiver, emotionally unavailable mother, dead mother.

And then there's a disorganized internal working model, it's very common in borderline and even in narcissism. This is linked to unresolved traumas and losses experienced by the caregiver and the effect they had on the subsequent attachment style of the offspring.

Maine and Hesse in 1990, they theorized that within betrayal trauma theory, disorganized attachment develops when the caregiver is both a source of the child's solution and a source of the child's fear.

What do you do when the same person is supposed to provide you with safety and security and daring and exploratory grandiosity and love, the same person? And that very person is the source of your nightmares.

The waking nightmare, the surrealistic dreamscape. What do you do in such case?

You approach, avoid what?

And this form of attachment leads to altered consciousness. And this altered consciousness is what we call dissociation. It's a disruption of conscious memory, identity, perception of one's immediate environment.

Freid herself and her colleagues in 2007, she identified knowledge isolation, the extent to which information is hidden from awareness, volatice, unfought-known, is a private case.

Dissociation during time of extreme stress or trauma, we have conclusively demonstrated using functional magnetic resonance imaging, that when you dissociate in extreme stress or trauma, people have been exposed, for example, to most horrifying real life videos and photos. And we saw how the brain, the neural mechanisms, the brain changes, the functioning changes.

And there's evidence that childhood trauma is a neurological factor, is a cause of dissociation and has massive impacts on several areas of the brain, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, hippocampus, amygdala.

So the level of betrayal trauma experience, high, moderate, low, they influence the degree of dissociation.

When you have low betrayal trauma, it's sometimes doesn't create dissociation. But low betrayal trauma doesn't include strong elements of violations of trust.

It seems again, that the trust is the critical problem. And we have empirical evidence that exposure to high betrayal trauma, where there's a massive violation of trust, is linked to increased level of dissociation, impaired memory of trauma- related words, as compared to low dissociation.

Trauma, stress-related disorders, dissociation, and personality disorders founded on dissociation, which emanate from dissociation, like borderline, like narcissism, all of them are connected to betrayal trauma, dissociation during trauma affects individuals and causes them to compartmentalize the traumatic experience from conscious awareness. Dissociation is an adaptive process. It's aimed to maintain self-preservation, subprotection against psychological pain.

And if we look at the development of psychopathology and tied into attachment theory, this dissociation is the core feature. It's the core feature in most, I would say, psychiatric disorders. Association can occur even to the point where there's alternative personality state or self-state, as we have in borderline personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder.


And so models of attachment-based dissociative disorders, trauma-related disorders, they all involve betrayal trauma. And post-traumatic stress disorder, diagnostic groups, personality disorders, trauma and stress-related disorder, dissociative disorder, even schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, even substance abuse disorders, addiction, all of them are unified in the mechanism, in the transmission vector.

Trauma abuse, dissociation onwards to the pathology.

Now there's something called betrayal trauma inventory, BTI, and it assesses betrayal trauma in patients. It measures all kinds of physical, emotional, sexual abuse, childhood, in adulthood, all kinds of traumas. And it's essentially behavioral. It deals with behaviors, like did someone hold your head underwater or try to drown you before you were at the age of 16? I'm not kidding, it's one of the questions.

And so you see how many yes, how many yeses there are. You calculate the age, the relationship, the severity of the injuries, memory of the events, and it takes about 45 minutes. And coupled with or founded upon the abuse and perpetration inventory, API, you get a pretty clear picture of any trauma or traumatic landscape before the age of 16.

The brief betrayal trauma survey is adapted from the BTI. It includes only 11 items for traumatic experiences, such as sexual, physical, emotional abuse. And it includes a question if the person was someone close to them on an interpersonal level. And it looks at events prior to the age of 18.

Then there is the institutional betrayal questionnaire, IBQ, created by Smith & Trade in 2011. It's even shorter. It is a 10 item questionnaire. It assesses institutional betrayal in the context of sexual assault on college campus, for example, similar, and identifies the level of involvement of the institution in the unwanted experience, and in the associated experiences, for example, normalizing totally pathological conditions, or creating environments which facilitate abuse and breach of rights, covering up incidents and failed policies.

This is all, I am sure, very, very relevant during this pandemic.


And finally, let's talk about what can be done. Treatment for betrayal trauma is very new. And no one is quite sure what to do. There's not enough evidence based treatment. And betrayal trauma is a very wide concept that applies to numerous pathologies, which no one is quite sure how much they have in common.

So there's an article by Jennifer Gomez in 2016, suggested that relational cultural therapy may be the best treatment for betrayal trauma. It's a therapy which was established by John Miller. It's a feminist therapy, honestly.

So I don't advise men to take it. And the therapist focuses on relational disconnections that the client experiences.

So there's not the therapy doesn't deal with symptoms. It deals with disruptions in relationships. It works through decontextualizing the betrayal trauma, separating the self decision making from the trauma.

And it's an interesting approach, because it introduces the social and cultural aspect. And it implies that what we experience the symptoms are actually merely the way we experience disruptions in meaningful relationships.

Again, we are coming to Sapolsky's and others point of view. The self is the intersection of relationships. Take away all the relationships, there's nothing left. Even in pathological narcissism, there's a hive mind. Even there, even the false self is the intersection of the gaze of multiple others. It is this intersection that gives rise to a human being in the full sense of the word.

When it's disrupted, you get a narcissist, you get a psychopath. But even then, they're not. They're not islands. The narcissist cannot survive without narcissistic supply, which happens to come from other people. The psychopath cannot achieve goals, goal oriented, cannot achieve his goals, act on his impulses, be defiant if there's no one to defy and no one to take from.

We are social creatures, zoned politicon.

Thank you, Plato. Thank you, Augusto Titis.

And if any of you succeeds to solve the riddle of why I had chosen to attribute this sentence to Eugene O'Neill and not to its originator, Jean-Paul Sartre, please let me know. I'll be delighted.

One of you came close by. Don't let anyone traumatize you by betraying your trust.

Watch my video about who to trust and when to trust. It's a good introduction.

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