Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Resentful Compliance vs Commitment

By Jim Hutt, Ph.D., Family Problems Topic Expert Contributor
The focus of this post is to elaborate on two related themes. One, the differences between resentful compliance and commitment. Two, how understanding those differences can alter the course of a relationship.
Resentful Compliance
Resentful compliance is an agreement that is not an agreement, but sounds like one. Right away you can see the potential problems resentful compliance might spawn. Resentful compliance, or going along to get along, as it it sometimes called, means doing something somebody else wants you to do, but, for whatever reason you do not want to do it. Problem is, you do not, or cannot, say “no,” when you want to, and instead you agree to do something just to get the other one off your back.
Here’s the twist–there are the resentfully compliant who do what  their partner wants, but are resentful about doing it. There are also those who don’t do what their partner asks or demands; they say ‘yes,” but passively fail to follow through. They, too, resent their partner for a variety of reasons. They actively agree to do what their partner wants to get them off their back, then passively refuse to follow through.
When complying with a request or demand is accompanied by resentment, and it develops in to a pattern, the resentment toward your partner is palpable, and the disdain for repeatedly selling yourself out is significant. This type of conflict pattern is difficult to break without counseling and drives a huge wedge between the two of you. The resentfully compliant one feels bossed around on the surface, and underneath it feels weak, powerless and scared to express him/herself. The resentfully compliant one usually feels unheard, misunderstood, unloved and without a voice. This person is often conflict averse.
The partner of the resentfully compliant one, on the other hand, resents the passive aggressive behavior, and often meets with denial when confronting it. If confronting the resentfully compliant is done with intense emotional reactivity, the price of honesty is deemed too high, and the conversation shuts down as quickly as it began. Rinse, wash and repeat, the gap between two of you widening. This is a recipe for one of two typical outcomes: either constant bickering and fighting, or, painful distance and silence, like two ships passing in the night. By the way, neither of those lead to a good sex life.
It’s up to the resentfully compliant one to begin to voice their discontent with what’s going on. Your partner is angry and resentful that “you never live up to your commitments,” or, “…you never do what you say!” Likewise, the one making the request must keep their reactivity low when they hear “no” if they want commitment in place of resentful compliance.
What neither understand is that there is never commitment when there is resentful compliance. Resentful compliance negates responsibility, undercuts integrity, and only gives the appearance of a commitment. That is why resentful compliance is often mistaken for a commitment
Commitment follows a decision to accept responsibility for doing something based on mutual acceptance and/or agreement. A request is considered, discussed with your partner, perhaps with some negotiation, and then acted upon. When following through with a particular commitment, integrity remains intact, and the trust between the two of you is reinforced. Commitments  are made consciously, and typically are made together.
When you follow through with a commitment, you do so because you understand that following through, in general, keeps trust alive. There may, indeed, be the occasional decision to be a good sport and “go along to get along,”  but it is not done as part of a pattern that has a core of resentment running through it.
The Partners of The Resentfully Compliant
Are you the partner of someone who is resentfully compliant?  If you think you are, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Does my partner avoid conflict?
  • If so, what role, if any, do I play in that?
  • Do I make it difficult for my partner to say “no?”
  • Am I aware that my partner cannot say “no,” and do I take advantage of that to get what I want at my partner’s expense?
These questions begin to address the core of the patterns that resentfully compliant people and their partners engage in.
The Resentfully Compliant Partner
If you are the resentfully compliant one, ask yourself:
  • Do I avoid conflict regardless of how my partner responds to me?
  • Am I afraid to say “no” because of thoughts, beliefs, feelings and patterns I developed in my family of origin?
  • Do I refuse to accept responsibility for my role in this pattern, and instead blame my partner?
Answers to those questions begin to break the patterns resentfully compliant people and their partners repeat. Discuss them with each other. If necessary, explore them with a counselor who can facilitate a healthy process.
These patterns can be changed, but requires persistence, effort and commitment.  Resentful compliance will not work.
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©Copyright 2011 by Jim Hutt, Ph.D., therapist in Menlo Park, CA. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to The following article was solely written and edited by the author named above. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the following article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment to this blog entry. Click here to contact the Topic Expert and/or see Jim's Profile

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Santa Barabara Massacre: Up The Downward Spiral Of A Psychotic Mind

Written by
Mark Allison

Complete unedited manifesto can be found here.

“This is the story of how I, came to be. This is the story of my entire life. It is a dark story of sadness, anger, and hatred. It is a story of a war against cruel injustice. In this magnificent story,….”

And so begins the autobiographical, self proclaimed manifesto of Elliot Rodger,  the alleged gunman who opened fire last Friday on the campus of UCSB

This is not really a manifesto at all but rather a tragic story of an individual's slow descent into the psychotic realm. A lost child unable to find an authentic sense of self and who clings desperately to a idealized false self. The author describes, chronologically, in great detail his  gradual decline from a somewhat unremarkable childhood into his adult “twisted” world.  Upon reading through his journal it is hard to put your finger on any one event that could have been the “trigger” to cause the diabolical transformation from wounded child/adult to homicidal maniac.

What was wrong with Elliot Rodger.  From a psychological point of view we might have tried to rule out (or rule in)  Narcissistic Personality Disorder as described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders (DSM V).  To match this diagnosis an individual would need to exhibit at least 5 out of the 9 criteria.
  1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
  2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. believes they are "special" and unique which separates them from others.
  4. often a need for excessive admiration. 
  5. a strong sense of entitlement.
  6. is interpersonally exploitative, that is they tend to take advantage of others vis-à-vis manipulations.
  7. lacks empathy
  8. is often envious of others
  9. is often arrogant   
From his own words and writings, it appears that Elliot Rodger matches 8 of the 9 criteria of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.   That is certainly a compelling argument for NPD.

Does NPD alone turn a person into a killer.  The short answer is no.   NPD, however, if left untreated and perhaps if it is co-morbid with other disorders certainly can set the stage for extreme and unpredictable behavior. 

Something went wrong here.   Our system failed Elliot Rodger and more importantly, the victims of his actions.  According to numerous news reports Rodger was being treated by multiple counselors over the years.  It's not clear if they had experience in treating disorders such as NPD.   One thing is certain,  if one of the "therapists" who treated Rodger  had pick up the DSM (a mental health professional's equivalent to the bible) they would have had to work hard to not see the glaring evidence that would suggest Rodger  was suffering from NPD and should have ordered further psychological assessments. 

Symptom criteria summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. 
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Therapy Nook - Mark Allison - Blog: Was the Santa Barbara Shooting a Tarasoff mandate ...

Therapy Nook - Mark Allison - Blog: Was the Santa Barbara Shooting a Tarasoff mandate ...: Written by Mark Allison  Tarasoff ruling states that a psychotherapist has a duty to protect or warn a reasonably identifiable third p...

Was the Santa Barbara Shooting a Tarasoff mandate failure?

Written by Mark Allison 

Tarasoff ruling states that a psychotherapist has a duty to protect or warn a reasonably identifiable third party (victim) if the therapist has reasonable suspicion that the patient poses a serious risk of inflicting serious bodily injury to the victim.  According to numerous news reports, Elliot Rodger discussed plans to inflict harm onto his fellow students at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus through a series of YouTube video postings weeks before he actually executed his plans.  At the time of these videos it has been stated that Rodger was under the care of a social worker (psychotherapist).  If Rodger had discussed any of what he posted publicly with his therapist, would this be enough information to trigger a Tarasoff warning?

Would love to hear comments and opinions from readers and colleagues regarding Tarasoff and this case. 

Suspected shooter, Elliot Rodger from Friday's YouTube
video he posted hours before the attack.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mark Allison MFT Video introduction

A video introduction to psychotherapy with Mark Allison

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How To Fight Fairly

LA Couples Therapy Presents a workshop on conflict resolution skills for couples.

The "How to Fight Fairly" workshop will teach you a deeper level of understanding about how fights happen,
the tools to communicate fairly and effectively,
and how to come out of your fight with a stronger understanding of each other.
To find out more click on LA Couples Link below.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

How Do People Change

Mark Allison discusses how people make lasting changes in their lives.  A short discussion about  Interpersonal neurobiology approach to change.