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« Children, Psychotropic Medications and Death | Main | Saviors and Warriors »

October 25, 2010

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this is an incredibly awful thing. Have you spoken with her about it, or are you participating by being silent?

It is an incredibly sad thing to watch. What should I say to her? She is a therapist herself and knows I'm a therapist. She has not sought my advice or help. I do not take it upon myself to "help" people who have not asked for it.

I always assume -- perhaps wrongly -- that therapists are above all of that stuff. They've studied it, they're aware of it so it seems they should be immune to it.

When you're in a situation like that does it work to use the old standby, "When you throw me under the bus, it makes me frustrated and angry."

Ohhh, therapists are humans like everyone else. And we too come with our own baggage. That's why you should always ask a potential therapist if they get therapy themselves and how they work out their own issues. If they can't tell you - run! LOL.

There's a difference between not 'helping' people who haven't asked for help and remaining silent (aka complicit) while witnessing abuse.

Not so much with the blaming, Secret Agent Girl. We know very little about the situation. What we do know is that the victim is very resourceful and most likely has a therapist of her own. Offering unsolicited advice only serves to keep people bouncing around the Karpman Drama Triangle.

Hi Secret,

I'm not sure I would call this abuse. It is indeed very unhealthy behavior and bad management. Nor would I say that remaining silent is the same as complicity, which I usually think of as participating in a really illegal or illicit act. Do you mean to say that I am obligated to rush in and "save" an intelligent and competent adult else be considered an accomplice?

If so, I beg to differ. My door is always open for a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear, a place to vent or a person from who to seek counsel. And my colleagues know this and use it.

To jump in and defend this woman assumes that she is not strong enough to defend herself. To run in and "save" her assumes that she is not intelligent enough to see there is a problem and figure out a solution for herself.

Oh it feels really good to grab your sword and shield and rush in to save another. It feels good - to you. And you get to be the hero. But what does it do for the person being saved?

Keller - I've just discovered your blog - am a big fan so far. But not so much here. It sounds to me like your co-worker is having a bit of a trauma reaction and can't think straight. You don't need to be a hero to throw out a tool or two for her to pick up on if and when she's ready. In her situation - as a matter of fact for ALL trauma survivors - I'd suggest leaving a copy of "The No Asshole Rule" by Robert Sutton (Harvard Business Press) lying around for her to find - it's a really powerful little book. If she's ready to help herself she'll pick it up. If not, you haven't interfered. If you don't want to go that far, just print out an Amazon review of the book and leave the printout conveniently on the printer.

Remember Elie Weisel: staying neutral only ever helps the oppressor.

Also remember your previous (excellent) post on the social worker "hero" who manhandled her client into a woman's shelter. There is a very large difference between helping someone to help themselves (particularly if/when they're temporarily blinded to the truth) and taking over. Not like you to confuse the two, I'd wager.

Kellen (sorry for the typo in my last post),
You say "I'm not sure I would call this abuse. It is indeed very unhealthy behavior and bad management."

I appears you may have chosen to position yourself on the "I don't see any evidence of abuse so I'll err on the side of fairness" side of the fence. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to offer an alternative perspective (from an auditor's POV). Sutton points out in his powerful little book how what you've described is often the only visible outward sign of corporate corruption and can be, in criminologist terminology, a "tell". Another book to consider (poorly written - but containing powerful concepts) is "Snakes in Suits" by P. Babiak and R. Hare. Your co-worker's new boss may just be a minor bully. Or she could be someone much more serious who just hasn't been outed yet.

If you haven't read much about the inner workings of the Wall Street folks, or Enron, Maddoff, etc... you'll see there was a pattern where the little evidence that was publicly available was discounted in precisely the way you've described. I'm not saying that any of this applies in the situation you've described; only that it bears consideration. Your co-worker may genuinely need more assistance than you realize. Also, her boss is now quite successfully "training" herself how to abuse power and people, whilst simultaneously training witnesses to remain bystanders; if she's picking on a fully trained therapist with impunity she will most assuredly go on to her next less-powerful abusee after this situation has played out. Is that really what you want, or your organization needs?

Just asking...

Hi Just,

Again you make some very valid points and state them very eloquently. I'm afraid I wasn't clear on one point, the Hero being scapegoated is my supervisor and is in administration, though she is clinically trained and licensed. You are absolutely right that this is not what my organization needs. The entire agency is seriously compromised by this woman's scapegoating behavior with staff. Many have been to the human resources department to complain, but to no avail. The HR guy refuses to act. So I am a bit stymied as to how to proceed, except to look for other employment. Any ideas would be appreciated.

I have to laugh at these titles. "Snakes in Suits" sounds like my last boss. I will definitely have to read these. Thanks for the suggestions.


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