“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves”
Most people don’t make logical choices, but emotional ones. That’s why most of what you see around you makes no sense. And that’s why we’re living in the sad world you see today.
It would be nice if our emotional choices would be good ones, originating in love, positive emotions and delicate feelings. But it isn’t so. Fear – in many forms and disguises – is unfortunately the main driving force today. And negative emotions generate negative decisions and produce negative outcomes.
The woman who’s standing in front of me today has come for a certificate of disability. She is diagnosed with depression and other organic problems, being disabled for many years. But since the commission for health evaluation asks for a yearly psy certificate, here she is in front of me for a new psychiatric exam.
As our discussion goes on, at some point I notice that she is presently more anxious than depressive. And then she begins to tell me about the extreme fear she feels when she goes outside her home, when she has to deal with shopping or going to places where there are a lot of people. Agoraphobia that is. This fear has increased over the years, despite her treatment. So I question her about the way her illness began, looking for answers in her past.
– I got depressed because my husband used to beat me. He kept drinking most of his life and he kept punching me in the head with his fists and his elbows while he was under the influence of alcohol. Then, in the later years, he even walked on my head with his feet while I was knocked out. This caused me huge headaches. But I got used to be beaten. And then I got used to the pain and the dizziness. Now my husband rarely gets drunk; he has liver and heart problems and I FEAR he might die. So my main problem now is a constantly growing fear; the fear that I might end up alone. He is such a GOOD companion… I can’t get out of my house alone now and he accompanies me everywhere; he even came with me at the hospital today. I can’t imagine life without him!
In my first years as junior psychiatrist I used to feel anger versus the abuser and empathy versus the victim. Now I only feel disgust. And sometimes I feel nothing at all.
She deserves it.
She deserved to be beaten.
And she deserves what she lives now.
Yes, it is unfortunate that her only option was to endure the abuse and I can understand that social pressure left her with no possible option other than surrendering herself, but however… HOWEVER… when someone walks on your head… you SHOULD wake the hell up and say STOP!
It is illogical to let someone beat you, right? As I told you, people make irrational choices. She should have called the police or leave her husband for good immediately. Instead, she made an emotional choice… and definitely a very poor choice. She stayed in hell.
Now her ancient abuser is her helping hand while she has agoraphobia and she can’t get out of her house alone. Her husband acts like a counter-phobic object, as we call it in psychology. He is the solution for the problem that, paradoxically, he himself has created in the first place. He is the solution against her fear of open spaces.
Symbolically speaking… he is her solution against freedom itself…
Technically, this is called the Stockholm Syndrome. It’s when the victim joins her abuser in a common story of interdependence.
Ever question yourself why so many totalitarian rulers lasted for tens of years?! Why, despite all the critical signals showing that a country or society is going down, nobody did anything and people didn’t unite against that abusive ruler, accepting even to be submitted to genocide? The answer is simple: people make decisions based on fear. Irrational and poor decisions that unfortunately have a life-long impact and on many generations…
The solution for the woman is simple: the vicious cycle can be broken when her fear is broken. She can receive medication + psychotherapy against fear, against agoraphobia, and at some point she might not need her husband as a psychological crutch. She might become free to have a decent life. But you know what will happen next? She will keep staying with her abusive husband, due to social pressure (what would the others say about her?) but also due to a weird sense of gratitude (a sort of complicity with her abuser). Because… you see… in this kind of game you need the complicity of the two sides; one needs to abuse and the other one needs to be abused…
The quote at the beginning highlights the intimate and subtle link between the abuser and the abused, just like you see in a yin-yang symbol: the white originates in black and vice-versa. Or the light gives birth to darkness and from darkness emerges light. If you are a fearful and submissive sheep, you will stimulate a savage leader, a monstrosity, someone ready to commit atrocities. The weaker you become, the tougher gets your abuser. And the game goes on until either the sheep collapses… or the sheep gives up being a sheep. The sheep can be a person, a nation, a country or an entire civilization…
Now… since we’re here…
When dealing with patients or individuals, you generally know what the outcome will be. It depends on their self-esteem. A woman who is sufficiently secure and well-balanced will never get to the point of being beaten. She will never start a partnership with a future abuser because she will foresee him long before he gets drunk and beats her. But if this however happens, she will assert herself clearly and the abuser will either give up being violent or give up being in a couple with her. A woman who tolerates being beaten repeatedly, hoping that her partner will eventually, hypothetically, heal, is in fact a good partner in the Stockholm game. She will be beaten until either she is killed or the abuser dies due to an accident caused by alcohol consumption or he goes to prison due to excessive violence. The story ends badly no matter how. Therefore, you can predict the outcome fairly well even at the beginning of the story if you know how much self-esteem the woman has… or should I say… how free she initially is. In rare fortunate cases when the patient has the possibility and the will to pursue a psychotherapeutic effort, with a therapist and possibly medication, she has another chance to rebalance her life and stop the chaos and the hell she’s living. That is why I and other psy professionals are available; this is our work and we do it with infinite patience because we know healing is possible.
When dealing with nations or countries, it also depends on the degree of freedom present in that particular nation. There are assertive nations, who dislike dictators and abuse, and consequently they never had such regimes in their history or they had them for brief periods. These are countries where individuals know they have the power to challenge their leaders, either through protests (even violent ones) or through general strikes (who might paralyze the entire country until they get what they want). Then there are countries that had tyrants and carry so many scars that they decided they will never go back to what they endured. That is… they learned their lessons. And then there are countries like mine, who have such a low self-esteem that they keep living on their knees throughout history.
Romania had tyrants as rulers throughout most of its history. The local population has tolerated a lot of foreign dictators (Romans, Hungarians, Austrians, Turks, Greeks, Russians, etc.) but also its own dictators (local Romanian chieftains). The Romanians were abused by foreigners but they were also abused by themselves. Looking at the big picture and from a comfortable distance, one can clearly see that while the abusers change their faces, the population as a whole remains the same, unchanged. In fact, it is the Romanian population who stimulates the emergence of its abusers and not the other way around. As an example, at some point in history there were foreign kings ruling Romania. Their ruling is known as the most beautiful and prosperous period in modern Romanian history (roughly between the two world wars). First, it was King Carol I, a typical German. Then it was King Ferdinand, also a conscientious German king. But when King Carol II came to power, he was already corrupted by the Romanian environment, even if he had German blood in his veins. He interfered in politics, became a tyrant and due to some of his decisions the country fell rapidly in the hand of the communists. His son King Michael never had the opportunity to rule. Some years later, the era of Communist Romania and Ceausescu began. It lasted 45 years and it was an overt atrocity. Now, 30 years after the fall of the communist leadership and after a timid journey towards the Western values, the society has collapsed again back in the grip of the Stockholm syndrome, this time again under the ruling of local Romanian leaders. We truly never learned anything from the Communist era and 45 years of abuse weren’t enough. There is still room for more suffering and it will undoubtedly come.
What is to be done when dealing with entire nations? In a civilized country there are, as I said, 2 options: mass protests and general strike. Romania attempted mass protests, but when Romanians from Diaspora (presumably much more educated and determined since they live and earn their money abroad) came to protest in Bucharest, they were beaten by police and gendarmes. This has sparked outrage in the country and in Europe but did not produce further effects. Indignation and criticism not followed by concrete actions amount to zero. Beaten, humiliated and defeated, the Romanians from Diaspora went back to their respective countries, probably never to return again. It was a lesson learned the hard way: never challenge the abusers who rule the country today. The local population, beaten and defeated as well, went on to pursue its own interests, struggling to survive in the national Stockholm syndrome. If you ask anybody in the street who is the best Romanian president in history, everyone will say it was Ceausescu (yes, the communist leader). As I emphasized in the story of the beaten woman, the abuser was “such a GOOD companion”… A general strike would be a second choice, but this involves the reduction of the incomes and the gathering of people with a common goal. Knowing that salvation in Romania is always individual (own interest) and never collective (the general interest), this is not possible (and if attempted, it will fail).
There is however a third solution who has been used many times throughout the Romanian history: the bloodshed. The slaughter. Occasionally, Romanians turn violent. Violence erupts unexpectedly and can’t be foreseen. It is uncontrollable but not constructive, and people don’t get something substantial; they only punish by death the abusers and then allow other abusers to keep abusing them. For instance, they killed Ceausescu and now, 30 years after, they allow the ancient communists and their children who are now adults to commit atrocities again, pretending that they are not the same thing. As you can see, as long as the population remains the same, it will give birth to new abusers or it will, in extreme and disguised as some sort of providential help, welcome new ones from abroad.
I’ve chosen the title “Beat Me!” because it is the prevalent message we, as Romanians, convey to the outside world. Every time a Romanian goes abroad, he/she is unconsciously sending this subtle message to everyone he/she encounters. That is why we are treated as slaves. We lack dignity and self-respect, that is, respect for our own persons. Every time a patient opens the door in my office, he/she is transmitting the same message: Hit me! Beat me! Abuse me! They willfully give money so as to be treated preferentially even if they are already covered by social security and their medical exam is refunded. Others imperatively demand things they do not deserve, hence stimulating my anger and my will to punish them. It is all part of the same old game…
What do I do? What is my part? What is my fingerprint? What do I leave during my passage through this life that happens to be during these times and in this country?
My message is the one of DIGNITY. I lift up my patients. Through my behavior, through the way I treat them and also the others who work in the hospital, I remind them that they are free humans and not victims. If you have dignity you won’t accept to be beaten. If you have dignity you won’t prostitute yourself for extra money. If you have dignity you won’t accept to be humiliated and also you won’t humiliate the others. If you have dignity you become more civilized. Education, civilization and my personal example is what I bring to the world during this lifetime.
Will you join me?