Emotional and psychological abuse, a silent yet pervasive issue, casts a cloud over our schools, workplaces, and communities. This subtle form of violence inflicts profound emotional wounds, often concealed and disregarded. Emotional abuse, marked by verbal and psychological cruelty, targets a person's feelings and thoughts like a toxin that slowly poisons one's cognitive well-being and may last a lifetime.
Psychological abuse, akin to emotional abuse, extends its reach into the recesses of a person's mind. It involves manipulative tactics, gaslighting, and control, aiming to infect a person's mind and cognition. Psychological abuse undermines memory, motivation, and emotional stability, leaving victims to stew in a mental cesspool of despair.
This essay embarks on a journey to explore the hidden facets of emotional and psychological abuse, seeking to unveil their causes, consequences, and the path toward a more compassionate and empathetic society.
A decade ago, my curiosity was ignited by the increasing incidents of youth suicides and gory attacks on the general public. Media outlets failed to address the root causes, leading to widespread ignorance about the reasons behind such actions. What struck me most profoundly was the lack of information about the intricate psychological and sociological processes that precede these acts, goading their manifestation. It became clear that attributing these tragedies solely to the victim or perpetrator overlooks a fundamental reality–they are symptoms of societal mistreatment. These incidents, whether involving suicide or attacks on communities, don't simply originate from the victim or perpetrator alone. Instead, they are exhibitions of broader societal issues, where the underlying methods of numerous instances of bullying and emotional abuse are often concealed by mainstream media. Said nescience perpetuates ongoing cycles of self-harm, violence, suicide, and homicide among countless individuals, emphasizing the urgent need for a more in-depth examination of causality.
Emotional and psychological abuse takes on various forms, ranging from the subtle, such as belittling or demeaning utterances that foster social aversion towards victims, to the overt examples, like the communal public humiliation of targets, to the sinister manipulation techniques of gaslighting entire communities or populations—such as in what was witnessed with Q-Annon conspiracies. These acts of aggression often disrupt the formation and cohesion of prosocial relationships of many people young and old.
Those subjected to psychological and emotional abuse often find their self-esteem, confidence, and motivations profoundly hampered, rendering them wary of trust and connection with others. It can also make people contrarian and paranoid. Ostracism and isolation further intensify the emotional and psychological scars inflicted by abuse but also impede justice and the ability to overcome addictions and disorders—overall qualifying emotional and psychological abuse as plausibly violent.
It's crucial to recognize that emotional and psychological abuses do not exist as isolated phenomena; they are firmly entrenched within norms that our society and culture promulgates. Harmful behaviours are often normalized in our media and entertainment, perpetuating cycles of misunderstanding and denial, particularly against outgroups and minorities. The key to mitigating this harm lies in comprehending the root causes of systemic abuse and promoting emotional intelligence to reduce the suffering experienced and in turn espoused by culture and individuals, thus increasing public health.
Emotional and psychological abuse can manifest social maladjustment, neuroses, and mental disorders. To effectively address these issues, we must explore their underlying causes. Often, the crux of the matter lies in a deficiency of empathy—an inability to perceive and value the experiences of others. Public health is cyclical: when individuals receive care and understanding from others, they are more inclined to extend the same kindness to fellow beings. Unfortunately, the inverse is just as true, hence the need to change our approaches to social infractions, crimes, and rehabilitation.
A practical and reliable solution to pervasive abuses involves the incorporation of a standardized curriculum encompassing emotional and social science courses across all education grades. Emotional intelligence, with its core components of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, is a learned skill that must be seamlessly woven into our educational curricula from formative years through adolescence and into adulthood.
In my quest to understand and combat emotional and psychological abuse, I undertook the creation of antiss.net—a repository of information and resources on antisocial behaviour and emotional abuse. My aspiration is for this platform to empower the public to recognize emotional and psychological abuse, fostering a collective effort toward a more compassionate and humane world.
Out of a need for contextual accuracy and clinical differentiation, I have invented the concept of "antisocial supply", a term I've coined to represent the attention and perceived self-benefit sought through antisocial behaviour. Antisocial supply differs from its inspiration, Narcissistic supply, wherein antisocial supply transcends specific psychopathology; it serves as a driving force behind numerous antisocial behaviours and activities. Furthermore, it denotes how abusers may become physically addicted to the neurochemical rewards they attain from their antisocial actions—akin to the addiction experienced by avid runners to the euphoria of the "runner's high".
Individuals inclined to antisocial behaviour often resort to the objectification of their targets, a strategy that facilitates their justification of abusive behaviour. Recognizing the myopic objectification of targets in our communities becomes crucial in curbing vexatious emotional and psychological transgressions and their escalation into physically harmful actions.
When a target is reduced to a mere object of abuse, abusers unshackle themselves from ethical constraints. They engage in abusive behaviours as a means to transfer and project their internal dissonances onto the target, temporarily alleviating their own suffering—reinforcing twisted values.
Identifying emotional and psychological abuse, whether it manifests emotionally or psychologically, can be a formidable challenge, given that abusers often employ insidious ways of manipulation. Familiarizing people with common harmful methods of abuse, for example, logical fallacies or cognitive distortions, social phobias, or moral panic, as well as examples of the abuse of IoT (Internet of Things) devices and apps, can equip them with the ability to effectively recognize, curtail and prosecute abuse.
Contemporarily, the misuse of IoT devices, including a wide array of audio and visual IoT devices and apps, is a trend in public, domestic, and workplace settings. These devices are often used or engineered for antisocial entertainment and can facilitate abuse or violence. Many devices and apps possess the potential for instantaneous and continuous connection to an unwitting target—a gaping societal vulnerability that antisocial individuals exploit maliciously. This exacerbates the issue of emotional and psychological abuse, as individuals who manipulate these IoT devices to invade the privacy and emotional well-being of others perpetuate harm through ever-evolving and surreptitious methods.
Unfortunately, the act of confiding in others about emotional and psychological abuse, whether it exhibits emotional or psychological facets, can be a daunting endeavour, especially when the abuse remains subtle or evades substantial notice. In the absence of direct evidence, victims risk being misunderstood or even misdiagnosed by professionals. As an example, consider the persistence of social persecution; they still commonly exist but have become far less salient than they were a century or more ago—the police cannot always investigate toxic rumours or destructive gossip.
Reporting emotional and psychological abuse can be a complex mission, sullied by embarrassment, skepticism, or hindered by the absence of concrete evidence. Police procedures often demand direct proof, making it difficult to address more subtle forms of abuse. This leaves authorities susceptible to making erroneous judgments about victims' situations, fostering doubt and incredulity in the process. This underscores the urgent need to explore alternative methods for addressing and combating the covert nature of emotional and psychological abuse. These methods should extend beyond merely questioning the malevolent intentions or "evil spirits" of antisocial individuals. It is no longer sufficient to rely solely on traditional mores; we must instead refocus on capturing and legally penalizing those responsible for perpetuating genuine abuse that infringes upon the civil liberties of others.
In our 21st-century society, we still witness "witch hunts" in the form of community mobbing, gaslighting, and other abuses that violate individual freedoms. These antisocial acts of cruelty may masquerade as childish games, norms, or traditions, but they are inherently antisocial and definitely illegal.
To empower victims of abuse to recognize and change their circumstances, three critical factors must be in place. Firstly, they need a genuine opportunity to break free from the cycle of abuse. Secondly, a supportive environment is vital, encompassing social support, professional help, safe spaces, and legal protections. Finally, access to essential resources and tools, such as education, therapy, financial assistance, community support, and technology, is necessary to facilitate their healing and transformation. These three elements, desire, support, and resources, collectively enable victims to take crucial steps toward recovery and empowerment.
In spite of these formidable challenges, the fight against inequality finds its footing in education, awareness, and openness to transformation. Coordinated support from prosocial individuals stands as essential for victims of abuse, providing them with the strength and prosocial opportunities needed to reclaim peace and harmony.
Society and culture are awakening to the imperative need for change and social equality. Armed with a heightened awareness and the tools to combat emotional and psychological abuse, such as an insistence on the inclusion of perceived outgroups, we can embark on a collective venture to construct a world characterized by compassion and empathy—for our families, our friends, and most importantly, our children.
Society is evolving!