Things - and people - are not always as they seem. Transactional Analysis has a neat phrase, that people may utilise a "chosen camouflage" to portray the opposite of their real nature.
A woman, who shall be nameless and happens to live close by, elected to get counselling qualifications and open part of her home for counselling sessions. It is not a problem as such, in that there are a few visitors coming for their 50-minute hour and leaving, though often not returning. Counselling is no easy process and can be quite expensive. Maybe some are not happy their sessions are held in a room with an adjoining wall to this property. I never tested out if one can hear voices or words. If the counsellor in question has doubts about my integrity, she should hold sessions in a different room or rent somewhere suitable. I question why she ever thought her plan a good one, or has not since modified it.
And I question why a counsellor who aims or claims to be a professional, antagonises her older neighbour, who could perhaps make legitimate observations regarding activities on adjacent property. Might the counsellor be seeking an excuse to give up? Are some people reluctant to return as things do not feel right to them, or for them? Different styles and environments suit people differently. If something works for you, use it. If you don't feel easy, try to work out why, and move on or away if that feels better.
A counsellor or therapist can be competent and ethical, yet still engender a great deal of anger or resentment in clients, their spouse, or any family or friends who take issue over something. With a therapist who is not so well-meaning or ethical, all hell can break loose! Most therapists make mistakes, or something misfires, but usually clients are able to see that for what it is, and continue.
I won't go into detail about my experiences and misgivings about the on-surface pleasant neighbour. Actions speak louder than words, and anomalies stand out eventually.
An old Proverb
Comparisons are odious, says a 15th century proverb. I knew another counsellor who has since changed her spots, about whom similar veiled criticisms were made, though clear enough for her to be recognisable by others. Watch out for yourself and those for whom you have concerns. Be careful what you say. Stand by and be ready to step in, if need be, to save unnecessary grief.
Empty vessels make the most noise, which usually implies that people sound off for the sake of getting noticed. Or it can be a manic defence mechanism if you are familiar with that. I use it here to drop a hint that someone with emptiness in their lives may conceal it in a number of ways. People who are reasonably happy or in a good relationship, tend to share or wish others well, and not to cause problems, or aggravate or score points. Most of us have some good times and "worser" ones, or times when we're tactless. Watch out for a person with a long empty day, trying to portray goodness and light. What happens when it doesn't wash? Who might they then attack and blame?
Health check/Reality check
If you wake up tearful or shaky or it descends in the daytime, with a feeling you've been bullied or harassed, examine what else it could be, and also get your health checked. Don't assume it can't be bullying just because you can't pin it down. Chances are that someone has got under your normal defences or found a soft spot. Ask a friend or colleague if they notice any changes in you, like you've been on a short fuse lately.
Covert Bullying and Stalking
Bullying can be a bit like stalking - probably because people think they have a right to, or can get away with it. If you're lucky, someone else notices. Sometimes someone unexpected offers support, almost simultaneously. Who knows how these things happen? There have been a lot of coincidences along the way, going back to when we first moved in.
I had the shock of a bereavement and needed to be left pretty much alone to get my bearings. As I started to do more, this bullying thing happened. Why? It can be easy to get paranoid after bereavement but that was not it. I am older than the other party and not likely to be a subject for envy or jealousy. As with being stalked, that simply does not come into it. Sometimes it has been a younger, pretty woman, as in a situation where a newcomer to an office excluded people I'd known for years from talking to me. Only one other person could see what was happening, a single factor which helped immensely. I have tried to step in for others at the receiving end, with no-one to support them or who 'sees'. It may be possible to step into the firing line and take the brunt of it, but that can be detrimental to one's own health.
In the present situation, the other party suddenly became friendly, and within 2 months turned the opposite, and it is hard to see why. What she has told her partner I have no idea, but he now looks at me with a gape like Fozzy Bear, as if I have 3 heads with horns on. I try to keep my distance, be a bit unpredictable (I guess this thing is about 'control'), and make sure our property has a very different style from the neighbouring one and is well marked, so that even if someone is distressed or not thinking clearly, there should be no confusion.
Over the years I have tried to indicate where therapy can go wrong. Never did I think I could be at the receiving end of strange behaviour from a counsellor who knew my circumstances, and who offers to counsel the bereaved for a fee.
Think what seems strange about your own situation, and who is having some input or impact on it, or on you. Have a think and a re-think, get a short change of scene if you can - a bus ride helps me. If any of this matches, be ready to change, or move on in some way when you are able. These things may seem irrelevant or trite, but it is easy to lose one's equanimity, personal dignity or integrity when under pressure. Perhaps that is the true aim behind it. Anyway, I do not suggest confrontation, particularly when you are upset, because it would only sound as if you're not making sense. Where could it go afterwards?
I write this, having worked in many everyday jobs, some supportive and like being in a nice family, and the other kind where there is bullying and undermining. Both sorts still exist, though the latter variety seem to have further deteriorated, with an added dimension of the Internet, emails, sniping and trolling, so that the workplace can be even more intrusive. For the young, who may be bullied online, as well as during time at school or the bus journey home, things can be particularly hard, and we need to recognise that too.
A Man's Home is his Castle
As more homes are built as far as the eye can see, with small gardens at angles and little privacy, more people living longer and being at home, I think neighbourhood disputes are likely to increase. It is probably a matter of luck. People like to feel master of all they survey, and control their environment with colour schemes, extensions, DIY. Previous owners nextdoor had a beanfeast ending in high fences and a highly bald yard, a style that attracts more of the same. Each time it changes hands it gets decorated top to bottom, front to back, immaculate over pristine; then start all over.
What do people do when the work is done, cupboards bought, stuff in place? Most leave, with nothing or no-one to seek to control in that setting, no more cardboard boxes, delivery vans or electricians. There may be no need to work for a living, or their job has folded. People are left with themselves or their partner to try to control. They open doors and windows, and presto, uncontrollable neighbours intrude on their dream of perfection. Innocent people can get hurt from the spin-off, which is something I wish to pre-empt.
Channel-flipping, I watched a True Crime slot on neighbour problems along the lines of Neighbours from Hell, close anyway. Several people targeted were aged 50 plus or pensioners, home most days on limited means, or in poor health and often alone. In attempting to sort out what was a strategy against them and how they reacted, an interesting factor emerged: Many had virtually allowed themselves to get painted up a corner. They did not want trouble and adapted their own habits, including when they flushed the toilet so as not to disturb anyone. Obviously some older people are less pleasant than others or play some part in the mix. But when some tried to take a stand, they tended to be the ones ending up in court with perhaps a suspended sentence. One can suddenly be in a situation with no clue as to why, with people making things up and molehills becoming mountains. Things you'd think would settle down over time, just do not.
A Feeling of Control or Entitlement?
I poke around picking up bits, and sometimes a theme comes to mind in another context. When problems arise or people try to solve a quicker route home in their car (another 'castle' thing for sure), psychologists suggest a need to feel in control, no matter if there's no difference in journey time. If you look at crime, murder particularly, the underlying dynamic often seems to be that the perpetrator no longer feels in control of the situation, the victim, or himself: Snap.
In the last few days, I read about an increased feeling of 'entitlement' in sections of the population, leading I think to increased narcissistic or selfish behaviour. Check it out, but you get the drift and my aim is not to harp on. It's been a nice long Summer. Roll on privacy of Winter: Draw the curtains, pull down the blinds, fish out the duffle, no need for a show or pretence.
Why do other people pretend to be more than they are, or to have special entitlements?
People portray themselves in a way that will get kudos, and it does not go down well if others fail to reinforce that or undermine it. I'm a bit of a Dumbo, in that it takes a while for me to see the wood for the trees. When someone realises instinctively that I no longer endorse their act, it is not a good sign! My belief is this happened in the scenario I describe. The other party believed she had a handle on things, on me or my territory. This was based on my appearing unable to assert myself, or to do much. People generally accept changes in others. I wonder what it says about a counsellor who behaves like a virtual teenager when something thwarts her, perhaps by refusing to fit her self image or personal myth. Perhaps there are too many of those myths, or the metaphors have become overly mixed. Who knows?
I'll spare you speculation about the so-called 'Shadow Self'. Some people behave more than others as if they think they're the Good Fairy, and descend into a virtual Hell while projecting that or protecting it. If any of the dynamics or feelings I mention here strike a chord, it has been worthwhile writing.
In a recent re-run of an NCIS episode, 'Ducky' put it succinctly: that people may cast a narrative with themselves as hero or heroine, and make other people into a villain. Part of it may be a control mechanism to get a victim to behave in certain ways by pushing their buttons. Others may get drawn into the mix.
I have been drawn into someone's unpleasant mix, and cannot yet see why. Tiny issues to do with living in close proximity, or ordinary comings and goings, turn into much bigger ones. If I start to explain some of it to friends, or seek advice, my listeners would think (or say) that I am being overly sensitive. Anyone who has been through this knows what it is like. The best way to describe it is like mis-direction performed by a stage magician or a con-man. There is deception somewhere, in an attempt to portray themselves as being one thing, while doing other things to divert, confuse or cause discomfiture. That I cannot explain all of it or go into detail here, does not make it unreal. There are some avenues open to me, but my guess is that when 'it' does not work, or the cover-story proves inadequate, things will change. The area where we live has advantages. There is little privacy, but even if people have a disagreement, if they see someone doing wrong behind the other person's back, they'd still tell them about it.
To return to the point, a counsellor or therapist behaving in an unprofessional or unkind manner to someone living nearby, bodes ill for some of her clients, who will have an instinct about how the process should affect them, and it's never too late to change one's mind. Most people have experience or awareness of how life, health, relationships, job or finances, can take a sudden downturn through a 'quirk of fate', unfortunate decision, or unintended consequences. It has happened to us or people we know, or we see it in film or TV dramas, so there's quite a repertoire to draw on. I question how or why anyone trained in counselling concepts, can act as though ignorant of things that occur out-of-the-blue or longer-term, and risk possible spin-off. Or do they somehow wish things to get worse?
However plausible someone seems, and in whatever setting, you are the person best equipped to make decisions. Some friends or colleagues may be able to talk some of it through with you.
In a bizarre twist, this 'whatever' situation changed. You could say I was mistaken about much of it, but rather this appears to confirm it. I do not know what lay behind the virtual gangstalking behaviour, though I always felt it unnatural. Some had the appearance of acting, a skit put on for my benefit. Why? I simply add to observations up on this page, that it is just as spooky when people backtrack on months of what seemed like a campaign. Did they realise it could look bad to others, or if I spoke out? They seemed to assume it was in-the-bag people would think me batty or inadequate. Well they can do if they wish.
But what changed, I wonder? Could someone else have warned them not to draw attention to themselves, or risk damaging their reputations? Or does something altogether different lie behind the behaviours? I just could not see why I was drawn in in any way. If you find yourself in a difficult situation such as bullying, whispering campaigns, harassment etc., try to ride it out as best you can. It does tend to go elsewhere in time, or fade or switch. I can tell you that I am wary of anyone who suddenly becomes friendly, with a bright smile and a wave, which is a pity.
My guess is the person involved has a likely history of doing her capers in an ordinary workplace, offering sympathy to someone she encouraged others to target. She has simply transposed that onto a neighbour situation, which is now her workplace. Look for books on workplace bullying or 'mobbing' which can show incredible alliances among some workers to discredit others.
Everyone has their own thoughts or input, something they can offer to the mix, or others can take things forward in their own way. Just when you think a situation unlikely to change, another angle may reveal itself, or parts of the mosaic shift to a better focus.
It is likely to be easier to scare or hurt people who already have had bad experiences, like abuse or a bereavement. Suppose you actually give people bad experiences, particularly when they are young, then you insist they need help or to talk things through with a 'qualified person', i.e. you create a 'new reality' where more labels are given to more behaviours, implying there is something wrong emotionally or biologically that requires intervention. There are plenty of good websites and books on the labelling process, or where medication or ECT are given which do more harm than good in some situations. Because of the labels, or could it be something else?
I don't class myself as a conspiracy theorist, but just suppose people responsible for making policies affecting significant portions of society, have ideas contrary to what you feel are best for you and yours. They find it easier to handle society if they have-a-handle on it, in other words moving the goalposts over what is 'normal behaviour' till the majority feel inadequate, or in need of what is called talking therapy - or worse, unnecessary or harmful drugs or ECT.
Therapists and counsellors can indeed Go Rogue and you can find information in the Sources below. Prescription drugs can become addictive and cause problems, and I don't adhere to the idea they cannot ever be life-savers too. What I aim to show is that the trend towards more therapy or talking-through, particularly in a longterm and paying situation, can become a deliberate policy to entrap, or engender dependence. It can be an individual therapist's notion that people need a particular approach (research tends to show that the type of trusting relationship that develops matters more than the therapeutic model used). I believe that there is value in many approaches, but that some are being used in ways that probably were not intended by their founder/s.
If that policy is being accentuated, fuelled, by subversive techniques and practices such as retraumatising those who have already been hurt, you'll see why I and some others have concerns. It is therapy in reverse; knowledge being used to 'undo' people. If some parts of society are actually being traumatised by those who have the know-how, what would that suggest? Have you watched the News lately?
Some writers suggest there are deliberate attempts to destabilise the strength of families, to denigrate the role of fathers or mothers, or family bonds in general. That really does seem to be throwing out the baby & bathwater and much more, because often it is family loyalties and care, and the traditions, that get people through the bad times. If you are fortunate enough to have friends, neighbours or colleagues to give at least some support, that can make a big difference too. Otherwise I hope there is something here to follow up.
This is for you, if you find yourself wondering about the legitimacy of individuals or movements, whatever things look like, and particularly if people try to convince you, or - something even nastier - ostracise and bully you.
You can look this up on search engines. Going from memory (I hate looking at this stuff but feel it is behind a lot of this), Laura Huxley promoted the idea that older people, particularly on their own, would benefit from close proximity to or touching young children. Some countries or individuals have tried to bring in very early sexual education, or ages of consent for actual sexual activity.
I am no expert, but recall horrific films of sexually transmitted diseases shown in the school hall when we were teenagers, let alone toddlers.
Exactly: Let alone toddlers.
If you wanted to destabilise some individuals, or a whole batch of society, what easier way than to sexualise them early, then claim something is wrong with them that needs sorting out, as in more grist for the therapy mill? Then, as can be seen through 2013-2016, start a hue and cry over #CSA/child sexual abuse, stir up memories, emotions, resentments, stoke it up with Inquiries into historical and institutional abuse, and create animosities amongst survivors and those concerned for them. A nice little earner, a way of 'control', a way to whitewash events and people that one hoped would be seen for what they truly are.
'Twas on a Monday morning
The Gas-Man came to call;
The gas tap wouldn't turn - I wasn't getting gas at all.
He tore out all the skirting boards
To try and find the main,
And I had to call a Carpenter to put them back again.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!
'Twas on a Tuesday morning
The Carpenter came round;
He hammered and he chiselled and he said: 'Look what I've found!
Your joists are full of dry-rot
But I'll put it all to rights.'
Then he nailed right through a cable and out went all the lights.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!
'Twas on a Wednesday morning
The Electrician came;
He called me 'Mr Sanderson' (which isn't quite my name).
He couldn't reach the fuse box
Without standing on the bin
And his foot went through a window - so I called a Glazier in.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!
Twas on a Thursday morning
The Glazier came along,
With his blow-torch and his putty and his merry Glazier's song;
He put another pane in -
It took no time at all -
But I had to get a Painter in to come and paint the wall.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!
'Twas on a Friday morning
The Painter made a start;
With undercoats and overcoats he painted every part,
Every nook and every cranny,
But I found when he was gone
He'd painted over the gas tap and I couldn't turn it on!
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!
On Saturday and Sunday they do no work at all:
So 'twas on a Monday morning that the Gas-Man came to call!
'Illuminating the Shadow: Transmuting the Dark Side of the Psyche' by David Furlong
'From the Beast to the Blonde: on Fairy Tales and their Tellers' by Marina Warner
'Managing Monsters: Six Myths of our Time' by Marina Warner, (Reith Lectures 1994)
'Search for the Real Self: Unmasking the Personality Disorders of our Age', James F. Masterson
'Recovering Your Lost Self from Adversity', Art Martin, Tony Stubbs
31 people recovering from financial ruin, life-threatening illness, betrayal, insanity, incarceration, child abuse, tell how they face gigantic obstacles.
'Disrupted Lives: How People Create Meaning in a Chaotic World', Gay Becker
'Is it Time to Regulate Psychotherapy?' The Guardian, 9 May 2010
(Note: Some organisations are better than others. The fact that someone belongs to a reputable organisation does not necessarily mean that they are ethical, or would suit each person.)
'How Therapists Abuse their Clients' from VEX - See the full Website at http://website.lineone.net/~vex/