Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Jan 17, 2007

Are You in a Cult?: Part 2

Recognizing Stockholm Syndrome

Earlier in this curriculum, we discussed how to recognize the coercive environment within which you may spend your workday.

But lately you've been thinking that things have turned a corner. Your immediate peers have turned into a likeable bunch you actually have lunch with, and you've been seen laughing in meetings. You volunteer for things that don't even need doing, and for about a week you contemplated attending the company party. Just when you thought you might be leaving, they announced your bonus.

Are things truly improving, or have you just been sucked in?
And what's the difference, anyway?

In 1973, a Swedish bank robbery- turned-hostage situation resulted in the coining of the phrase Stockholm Syndrome, after the hostages determined they were safer in the bank vault with their captives than they would be if the police came bursting in. Think Bel Canto, with longer hair.

The condition of identifying with and protecting one's captors is now a recognized state of trauma and post-traumatic stress.
You may do well to be familiar with the symptoms. (from the Iowa Coalition on Domestic Violence,adapted for CWFS use)

Four conditions allow Stockholm Syndrome to develop
• A threat to [terminate] the victim and the ability to carry it out.
• The inability of the victim to escape.
• The victim is isolated from outside views. They are forced to accept the views of the aggressor.
• After a threatening experience, the aggressor displays kindness to the victim.

(well, now you have my attention)

To mix metaphors by way of illustration... New England summer is what keeps us here through a 9 month winter.

Here's how the Coalition describes some of the cognitive distortions your abuser -- that is, Company -- may be putting you through.

Narrowed perceptions focused on the immediate, that is, on surviving in the here and now
In spades. Here at the Big Company, we can barely get from one meeting to the next without crashing into each other.

Denial of abuse: don’t see themselves as abused when they actually are
Because the money, you see. There's just so much money.

Minimization of the abuse
"we've all been there." Also good for using abuse as a rite of passage, Marine Corps style.

Taking the abuser’s perspective: seeing the abuser’s wants andneeds as their own; seeing themselves as the abuser sees them;etc.
Let me take it from here: Parroting what they say...anticipating their needs... thinking of small little nothings to win them over....complimenting their evil prowess...

Rationalizing the abuser’s abuse
I like when they can align the abuse directly with the values. Takes some talent.
Oh, there I go again!

Seeing the abuser as more powerful than the abuser actually is
Good time to remember the foundational lesson of the Finishing School -- make the Boss earn you.

Seeing small kindnesses by the abuser as large kindnessses
$500 "spot award," minus 40% for Uncle Sam! Willikers, Mr Beasley, that's swell!

See their abusers as victims
"We're all in the same boat after all." pfffft

Believe that if they give enough love and understanding to the abuser, the abuser will let them live and may stop the abuse
Apparently this kicks in in the 3rd year at my company.

Believe that the abuser will know and retaliate if they even think a disloyal thought
Why no one will complete the employee survey

To consolidate: The authority tells you the world out there is a scary place, and you have it so much better in here, and they can make good things happen for you if you just wait for the danger to pass. And in the meantime, if they have to be a little tough on you to make sure you're one of the good ones, it's only for the good of the Company. And you really are one of the good ones -- when you apply yourself, when you aren't questioning the authority you work under.

You might want to read these bullet points again after The State of the Union; they are sounding more familiar than I thought.


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger