I spent years researching the actions of perpetrators to understand enough to help my clients answer the “WHY” question. Anyone who has ever been victimized by a perpetrator of violence asks the “Why” question: “Why did they do that to me?”
The tragic but freeing answer is that it wasn’t really done to you. It wasn’t personal. There were really no traits in you that caused this violence to be done to you. You, as victim, could have been any available person. There really are no personality, physical or behavioral traits specific to you that caused you to be a victim. You were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and crossed the path of someone who needed to hurt you.
As I researched these subjects, I decided that there is a continuum of violence addiction. You can visualize this as knots in a long string that stretches across the room. Smaller knots are on the south side of our room and represent things like assault and battery. These knots grow larger as we walk across the room: rape, child abuse, serial battery, murder, serial rape, and serial murder.
While not technically physical violence, I always added con artists and burglars to my list as they are such personal crimes…leaving an emotional violence on their victims. I can imagine con artists getting the same kind of high from their crimes as the murderer does. Depending upon the extent of their robbery, the con artist and burglar are nearer to the middle of this continuum.
Like all other addicts, the violence addict grew up with relatives in their extended family tree who had varying addictions. This leads to physical heredity, not emotional behavior. There is a common myth that most perpetrators were victims themselves when they were children. Notice I said myth. And research does show that most people who are violent did come from terribly abusive homes. However, in my opinion, when we look more deeply at the information, the experience of child abuse is not the cause of future abusive behavior.
Instead, I think it is much more productive to look at the same disease model used to explain all other addictive behaviors. A violence addict finds early in life that he or she feels smarter, more powerful and actually invincible when they throw their emotions at another being. While it may sound strange, this is the allergy.
Normal people do, at times, loose their tempers, speak rudely and behave badly to others. However, most people react to this personal loss of control with feelings of weakness, shame and distress. Contrary to a normal person, the violence addict experiences this initial loss of control with feelings of power, aliveness, and vitality. At some point in a violence addict’s early life, they find that harming another FEELS GOOD to them.
As children, they harm small living creatures like bugs. As they grow, they begin harming bigger creatures like neighborhood pets. This is the beginning of tolerance. Tolerance continues to mean that the substance or behavior that leads you to feeling high stops working. Most addicts increase their substance or behavior. Violence addicts increase the size of their victims, the intensity of their actions and the riskiness of their behavior. At this point, some violence addicts add rituals to their actions to increase the likelihood that they will experience their high.
All addictions progress in the following areas: Tolerance and consequences. There are social, employment, family, legal, and personality consequences for violence addiction . As the addict increases their addictive behavior, they change. You cannot continually and compulsively harm others without changing inside yourself. Eventually, an addict, any addict, will step outside the confines of a normal life and remove themselves from all human assistance.
Like all addictions, the violence addict has his or her own defensive system. I think that it must be quite difficult for a person to be harming others and deny to themselves that they are doing anything different from the norm. So, a violence addict must somehow mentally distort reality to make it okay for them to take actions that are obviously against normal moral code. They justify their feelings and behaviors. In my readings, it seems that they fantasize, devalue others, ascribe omnipotence to themselves, and develop grandiose fantasies.
There are no self help groups for violence addicts. To my knowledge, there are no effective treatments for violence addicts. In fact, so far, the best we can, as a society, do for a violence addict is to lock them up and protect ourselves.
I have written other articles on the topic of identifying violence addicts, con artists and people who lie to you online. See the list here.
If you have responses to my writings, have questions, or just want to share your thoughts, you may post them in the box below. I’d love to hear what you are thinking.
If you want to shake off the impact of a violence addict from your life, change your relationship pattern or achieve your relationship dreams, contact me.
Telephone: (615) 464-3791
©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D. All rights reserved.