Follow by Email

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Loyalty Factor in PTSD




I have written a lot about the subject of loyalty due to my decades of helping with the abused and traumatized population. My first publication was The Forbidden Betrayal: Loyalty within Sexual Trauma in Treatment Centers Magazine, February 1993. Since then I have written many articles on the subject to inform survivors of the power and influence the issue of loyalty has in relationships whether abusive or healthy.

I was asked by one of my clients that I was coaching the following questions. She asked: "Dr. Bill, I have to ask you about your concept of loyalty. Why is loyalty the hardest issue to overcome in recovery from abuse or trauma? How does loyalty to an abuser form? What powers loyalty? " She paused for a couple seconds, not waiting for my response and then kept talking, "I think shame is far more powerful than loyalty, because as a survivor I can't say the word "shame" without having significant amount of highly charged emotions bubble up in my throat. Maybe understanding that my barrier in my recovery is either loyalty or shame might really help me get further along into my recovery."






Definition of Loyalty

The issue of loyalty is a very important concept to understand if you're seeking to heal. Understanding who you are loyal to needs to be addressed in order to moved out of the past and heal the post effects (Post traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD) of childhood abusive and/or traumatic experiences in order to embrace recovery.



Development of Loyalty

Loyalty is an accrued beliefs placed and then accepted upon a victim by an abuser to insure the"secret will be kept". In American society, in fact in many other societies, loyalty is highly valued core belief, socially and religiously. So perpetrators etched loyalty to them into a victim's mind through repetitive verbalizing in order to protection of themselves. The victim is taught loyalty so that the victim will never betray the abuser and tell anyone what happened or who did it. The victim is forced over and over again to promise his or her loyalty out loud to "not to betray and declare to keep the secret". 

Emotions like love, fear and terror are all mixed together with the declaration by the abuser to provoke an emotional response from the victim. Intense emotions along with repeated verbalizing so the promise belief would bypass the victim's mental filters and embedded the concept of loyalty deep within the victim's subconscious. 

Loyalty is also embedded on another level through the formation of an attachment or bond to the abuser with the victim on purpose. Suggested statements like "I will always be around watching you", "If you ever tell I will return and hurt you (or family)", "We are always together", "No one will believe you over me". Once the emotional bond is achieved between the victim and the abuser, loyalty becomes the most powerful, and most influential belief the victim carries for the rest of his or her life. Once embedded the victim would rather hurt self, ruin his or her own life, or die than betray the their abuser.

The belief of loyalty or loyalty bond, which is found in, taught and highly valued in healthy families and advanced societies. The concept of being loyal can be transformed into the most destructive belief by an abuser and end up being a massive barrier to healing in a post abuse treatment effort. Embedded loyalty can destroy any chance of recovery. 

The loyalty belief or bond to his or her abuser makes it so that the now survivor cannot betray his or her perpetrator even at the threat of death or loss of possible healing. 

Another view is that the abuser puts fault upon the the victim. At that point the victim is made accountable for causing the abuse or trauma situation by the abuser. So the abuser confuses the victim by stating " I will keep your secret (loyalty to the victim) for causing it and you keep our secret". That locks the victim into being loyal to the abuser  or his or her secret would get out.

Case Study

Throughout my 38 years of work in the helping profession as the owner founder and executive clinical director of a specialized inpatient psychiatric PTSD and Dissociative program, I witnessed great progress in the clients from admission to discharge. Clients were able to stabilize in 14 to 20 days from childhood sexual abuse and all types of trauma (physical, emotional, verbal, mental, spiritual, confinement, death of a loved one, divorce, rape, robbery, neglect, abandonment, natural and/or man-made catastrophes) as a result of participating in the trauma treatment program.

I remember a client who was admitted into the program in total despair with symptoms of complex PTSD, major depression. She was experiencing severe flashbacks, panic attacks eating disorder, drug abuse, self-harm, acts  of self-sabotage and thought addiction. She had been in many inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for 16 years and was still having episodic relapse bouts causing multiple hospitalizations a year. Yet with successful completion and participation in the program, she left stabilized in just 14 days filled with hope. 

After discharge she returned to her family, home and to her job. She worked on her recovery process with extreme drive, willingness, and commitment. Even though her accomplishments were significant, all of a sudden with no warning signs at all, she stopped practicing her recovery and began to engage in self-defeating and self-sabotaging behaviors once again as well as in her thought addiction. She returned to my program just 6 months later in much chaos, crisis, pain and presenting the same symptoms as before. Her major need this hospitalization was to recant to the program staff all of what she had truthfully verbalized about her abuse, abusers and strongly reaffirm her loyalty to her abusers stating her abusers were good and had not hurt her. She worked hard and by the end of second time in the program admitted that while at home her loyalty belief had been triggered and she reverted by to being loyalty to her abuser and stopped being loyal to herself. 

Loyalty belief / bond is a powerful recovery issue which can cause a survivor to either align again with his or her abuser and relapse from a recovery path or set a stronger course of healing and align loyalty back to self. 



Thoughts

Back to the original question asked at the beginning of the blog about bond of loyalty vs shame. On the statement mentioned by the client "I think most powerful is shame." I wrote to her "you are partly right." But I had to start with what is shame? Shame I believe is not a feeling. Shame is a concept that is taught or told to a person that that the person broke a belief, law, rule (man's or God's), principle, standard or relationship. Loyalty is the strongest emotional attachment that two or more people can have in common as well as an ethic, moral or religious tenet. So whether a child is taught within a healthy environment or forced to learn through pain, terror or coercion that being and keeping loyalty to family, country, group or authority is what makes them a "good person". Loyalty is the highest form of allegiance, devotion, faithfulness or love, which a person can give to another. Breaking that standard or rule would bring on strong inner guilt and the need to fix what they broke. 

As I have learned more and expanded on my theories of loyalty, I discovered that the origin of "loyalty" is that it is an embedded mind code. The mind code influences the formation of an extremely high valued core belief. 

Perpetrators use shame as a tool in an effort to "control" another person..keep them in line..a way to remind a person of indiscretion or betrayal is bad..a method to make a person "tow an emotional line".. or not betray an attachment to the person, or family (group, religion or "occult"). 

This "reminding process" or "shaming process" is used in the treatment of addictions. The phrase "don't you feel bad you relapsed" is used after a person in recovery has broken his or her promise to be clean and sober one day at a time. Shaming is invoke upon the person for the breaking of the promise. By definition, shame is an accusation made toward a person to make him or her believe they had broken a belief, rule, standard, loyalty, ethic, moral, law, tenet or promise that they had been taught or told to follow. It comes across as "Don't you feel ashamed that you broke your promise?” “Don't you feel ashamed that you didn't follow this rule?” “Don’t you feel ashamed that you betrayed and told this secret?" So based on what I have learned shame is a sub code of loyalty.

Take Away

So for anyone, loyalty and shame are by far more powerful influence on how you behave, think, feel and react to life situations. In the recovery journey from abuse or trauma, your loyalty issues should always be investigated and dealt with completely. In order to heal the wounds of one's soul from abuse, loyalty should be removed from the perpetrator and always be re-affixed upon yourself first.
        
                               


Take Action

Please leave a comment and express you opinion on this subject below. I look forward toward reading comment and learning more.

Visit my website and click here for free eBook

25 comments:

  1. Everything you said is so true. When reading your post it became very real to me... because I struggle with that everyday.

    Honestly...is there a "true" answer to this type of loyalty and shame? It always seems to be a temporary fix...because in the end...there is some type of trigger that sets you back right where you were at the very beginning.

    When abuse is forced upon someone at a very young age...there is a very "deep" core belief developed...is there really a way out? Is there really a way to be free... free from it permanently?

    There have been many times I believed I had overcome the "loyalty and shame" over my abusers...but some how it shows up again as though it had never left...it was just camouflaged...covered up...or showed itself in another form... at first it was not realize to be that same loyalty and shame...because it manifested in a different way.

    When abuse is so deep and starts at such a young age is there not a scar there forever...and there is always a possibility that the scar will start festering from deep inside again and the wound be reopened exposing the pain, shame and loyalty all over again?

    Good Blog...just brought up a lot of questions and fear that there is never going to be a "true fix" to this " Loyalty and Shame...deep core belief" issue. Thanks for listening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your thoughts are---> Right on!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous - Thanks for the "right on". I agree that this article has a lot of value to all. Blessings, Dr Bill

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woundgal - I am glad that you found value in this blog. I have worked for over two decades on this issue of loyalty and have helped many shifting their loyalty back to themselves. When you affix your loyalty to another you lose ownership of self. Changing your mind code allows you permission to own self fully. Enjoy self and be free.
      Thanks for your encouraging words. Blessings, Dr Bill

      Delete
  3. Anonymous - Thank you for your comment and thoughts. Loyalty is a real issue that affects all who have been abused or traumatized. There is a way to release yourself from it by changing the code that has been written in your mind. Change is possible. Dr Bill

    ReplyDelete
  4. Powerful piece of writing here, seeing as many people have issues with loyalty no matter the level of abuse or trauma. Very helpful in trying to understand the nature and workings of loyalty from any direction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew - I appreciate your statements. Even people without trauma and abuse have issues with loyalty. Loyalty to a dysfunctional family, job, peers or authority.
      Thanks again for taking the time to read it. Blessings

      Delete
  5. Dr. Bill very interesting reading. One thing ocurrs to me on thinking about loyalty. Loyalty is less a bonding of two and more a mindset (core belief) of one. I can be loyal to an organization, person, etc. and not have that loyalty reciprocated. In fact in abuse it is never reciprocated. I believe that loyalty is a way of viewing relationships that is more often a onesided hope. People who are "loyal" are more often likely to see that quality in others whether or not it exists.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill - Thank you for your comment. I agree with what you said.

      Delete
  6. This is really a major issue...and the only loyalty I am trying to center on is my well being....if it's not a positive affect then I change my perspective into something that expresses my thoughts not others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sharon - I totally agree with you that loyalty is a major issue and significant in healing from abuse and trauma. Change your thoughts, command them and your life changes.

      Thank you for leaving a comment.
      Blessings, Dr Bill

      Delete
  7. Very powerful piece of information. As my understanding increases about my core beliefs and where "my thinking" at its core comes from I am now able to have some awareness of my own "loyalty and shame". But it in truth is not "my" loyalty and shame. Keeping this in the forfront of is not easy but for me it has become an "exercise" per sae. When I start that self destructive, self depreciating, blame game thinking I STOP and get out of the loop by simply saying "that does not belong to me". It is not 100%. Understanding my triggers is key to my process. Yes I do get "sidelined" when a new trigger pops up. But what I am finding is that as I "watch" for the triggers I can more often recognize them, without "acting out". But more so process them.

    Anyone looking for a quick fix for me it is not there. It took so many years to have this loyalty and shame embedded as mind code it will now take my effort to change the thought patterns. But I know I need to create new thought patterns. All I know is the slavery I was in physically morphed into "me" remaining a slave through my thinking. Now that I have more insight the only thing that is acceptable in my life is my "freedom"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Woundgal - I am glad that you found value in this blog. I have worked for over two decades on this issue of loyalty and have helped many shifting their loyalty back to themselves. When you affix your loyalty to another you lose ownership of self. Changing your mind code allows you permission to own self fully. Enjoy self and be free.
      Thanks for your encouraging words. Blessings, Dr Bill

      Delete
  8. Woundgal - Being free mentally, emotionally and spiritually is the only thing acceptable There is no other answer.
    The wonderful thing is about all of this is you can shift both your loyalties and associated core beliefs with just one skill.

    Thank you for your comment and thoughts.
    Blessings, Dr Bill

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woundgal - You comment is right on. Anyone can learn the skill that will shift your loyalties back into balance and associated core beliefs.
      Appreciate your comments. Blessings

      Delete
  9. I would suggest one other source of freedom and it is that of the body. Our behaviors and thoughts change not only our brains but the body as a whole. Research is now proving how thoughts change bodily functions. Therefore, freedom of the mind would cause freedom of the body.
    Your thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lori - I could not agree with you more. As our thoughts go, so do our emotions and physical body. When we work to find the barriers in our mind and free ourselves from them, i.e. our core belief, our mind is allowed to shift which frees our body and places us back into balance. Loyalty for survivors has always been a barrier and keeps one connected to the abuser. Shift loyalty to self and the body and Soul becomes free once again.

    Thank you very much for your comments. Keep following. Dr Bill

    ReplyDelete
  11. love this. it's such an encouraging and beautiful thought. I'm writing it down :)

    " Shift loyalty to self and the body and Soul becomes free"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lori - Thanks for your wonderful words. You validate my work and me. I truly believe that we should strive to have our Soul be free. No barriers. Keep following. Blessings, Dr Bill

      Delete
  12. Thanks for all the comments and support. God bless you, Dr. Bill!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous - You are very welcome. Blessings, Dr Bill

      Delete
  13. Wow. As I read this article it occurred to me that my abusers actually gave me something very powerful. By teaching me what undying loyalty is, they actually gave me a tool to use to heal myself from the amazing pain they caused me. I now realize that I can use that sense of loyalty by giving it to the person that actually deserves it - myself. By turning that strong sense of loyalty inward, I CAN keep the positive promises that I make to myself. I CAN PROTECT ME! What a powerful thought! Thank you so much for helping me realize this power I have!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lauren,

    Thank you so much for your comments on this blog. Your words are heart felt.

    You have validated that if a survivor is given the right tools he or she can take their healing into their own hands.

    I really appreciate it.
    Dr. Bill

    ReplyDelete