|Addicts seem to have a Ph.D. in emotional manipulation.|
Many therapists have clients in their eighties who have turned themselves into paupers and are living our their retirement years in distress and torment because they are unable to resist the emotional blackmail of their alcoholic or addicted children. (It should also be noted that some people can become addicted to spending itself, for a variety of reasons.) At the other extreme, I have interviewed prison inmates whose families have decided to press charges because their children have stolen money and personal belongings from them in order to support their addictions. In the middle are the clients we see every week in our private practice, who have sought our support in order to learn the art of "toughlove" -- to say no to the demands of their addicted children or other family members, both for the sake of the addicts themselves and to preserve the clients' own financial and psychological well-being.
When the victims threaten to deny or withdraw emotional support, they are subject to a series of manipulative tactics from their addicted family members which may include anger, rage, threats of suicide or actual suicidal gestures, and promises that the abuser will never have anything to do with them again. These tactics frequently succeed because, as family members, the abusers often know their victims well enough to understand exactly what to say and which buttons to push in order to manipulate their victims into giving in. This only encourages further exploitation in the future. For this reason, you should never make a threat to an addict, i.e., "This is the last time you are getting one cent out of me!" that you are not prepared to carry out.
Victims of emotional manipulation need to recognize that addicts are not the loving, playful children, friends, or relatives they once were were before their addiction turned them into someone else. Victims need to see themselves as survivors of abuse, and to create healthy barriers between themselves and their abusers.
|Don't let an addict shame or guilt you into giving in!|
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