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US Government and World Family Needs Crisis Intervention Now

By Melinda Rector
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Seattle, Wa USA
via email Feb. 27, 2003

As a psychotherapist, I have been trained to listen, observe, to interpret body language and behaviors. I coach life skills, such as healthy self talk, and in interpersonal skills, such as communication and anger management. These days many clinicians have expanded their lenses to catch more than the inner psyches-we look at an individual's family dynamics, and beyond, to cultural, including gender, influences. We know that each of us is more than our own interior configurations of inherited traits and learned adaptations to our environment-we also influence and are influenced by the communities and nations we live in.

If we were to think of ourselves and our families as a microcosm, and our federal government within the world as a macrocosm, it strikes me that it might be instructive to consider our US foreign and domestic policy at this tense time on the world's stage through a few lenses we clinically use to assess and treat clients.

Using a Domestic Violence model- Domestic Violence literature describes a perpetrator as someone who needs violence in his/her life, whatever the rationale. Domestic Violence is about power and control, and uses sex, money, physical and emotion abuse as weapons. Along the violence continuum, physical violence escalates from a pinch to a punch, from a threat to an act. Manipulations by the perpetrator include controlling money, isolating the victim, sexual force, emotional abuse such as name-calling and other intimidating behavior, all designed to dominate the partner. Red flags are warnings of potential violence, whether in families, at schools, or on the international diplomatic playing fields. They include body language: clench fists, narrowed eyes; (President Bush displays these repeatedly); red flag thinking: "He's doing this deliberately" or "don't make me hit you" (this appears to be our foreign policy principle); it appears that our leaders find others responsible for our actions, revealing that we are not in control of our own anger and perceived impotence (sexual images litter Powell's and Rumsfeld's statements, using words like shrivel, impotence, and the need to thrust).

We have seen such an escalation of violence in our administration's behavior towards, currently, Iraq-the name-calling of heads of states: ("axis of evil", "maniac", "devil"). We have seen control of $ (called economic sanctions), and the heightening of our nuclear and ground force arsenals. We will even use our own children as weapons (soldiers).

If we look at charts used in Domestic Violence workshops, the kind used in court-ordered programs, we see Power and Control cycles of violence that are identical to those used by our own government to manipulate and control other countries and their economies. To maintain power and control, the perpetrator uses male privilege-"treats her like a servant", "acts like the master of the castle", acts like "the one to define men's and women's roles." The United States acts in the world as the definer of rights. We believe we have the right to disarm Saddam Hussein but he does not have the right to disarm us. In a globalized market, we have the right to exploit others if we can profit from that exploitation. We think we have the right to use the majority of world resources at the expense of other nations.

US Foreign policy has consistently-eg. Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Dominican Republic-overthrown governments that didn't allow the US to exploit their own people, and replaced them, or tried to replace them, with our own puppet governments, using bribery, secret military operations to destabilize and ruin villagers' attempts at people's democratic rights. Land redistribution programs have been soundly put down by direct or indirect interference by CIA operatives or their hired guns.

Finally, perpetrators are known to shift the blame onto the victim, saying "she caused it", or deny the abuse happened. US foreign policy blames the victim-People after people try to rise up in protest to "Americanization" of their culture, knowing first-hand of the suffering this US -sponsored abuse and suffering causes them. We have used napalm, agent orange, other chemical weaponry, caused "jellyfish babies" of the Bikini Islands, poisoned with pesticides, deforestation, pipeline leaks, maimed with land mines (the US has consistently voted against outlawing land mines) and tried to deny it. Our stance: it's their own fault, they caused it in the first place, the Muslims are just jealous of us, the rest of the world is just unlucky-we deserve the most toys because we're the best, the biggest, the strongest, we're just plain right, God's chosen. Anything goes in the name of democracy (read: corporate profiteering.)

Now if an individual comes into my office and spouts off that he is planning on threatening or hurting another individual, it is my legal responsibility to warn the victim, or the victim's parent. I must call the police and/or Child Protective Services. What sort of therapist would I be if I failed to protect anyone as best I can? It is my duty to warn my clients and my fellow citizens that my own government is armed and dangerous and we need to seek protection, and the perpetrator must be detained. S/he is a danger to society. Our US government is a danger to the world.

Let's move on to Diagnoses, based on the current tool, the DSM-1V manual. In Cluster B, Personality Disorders, we find the Antisocial Personality Disorder characterized primarily as a "pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood. "This pattern has also been referred to as psychopathy, sociopathy, or dissocial personality disorder, because deceit and manipulation are central featuresAs with Conduct Disorder, "the specific behaviors include destroying property, harassing others, stealing or pursuing illegal occupations. People with this disorder disregard the wishes, rights, or feelings of others. "They are frequently deceitful and manipulative in order to gain personal profit or pleasure (eg, to obtain money , sex, or power). Further, individuals with Antipersonality Disorder tend to be extremely irresponsible-at home and at work. "Financial irresponsibility is indicated by acts such as defaulting on debts, (escalating national debt) failing to provide child support, (continued decreases in money and programs for education and health care) or failing to support other dependents on a regular basis.

Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder show little remorse for the consequences of their acts. They may be indifferent to, or provide a superficial rationalization for having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from someone (eg, "life's unfair", "losers deserve to lose", or "he had it coming anyway". These individuals may blame the victims for being foolish, lazy, helpless, or deserving their fate. They may minimize the harmful consequences of their actions; or they may simply indicate complete indifference. "They generally fail to compensate or make amends for their behavior. They may believe that everyone is out to "help number one" and that one should stop at nothing to avoid being pushed around".

US involvement with other countries could be summed up by the above description-While we claim to be "liberating" Nicaragua, Chile, Cuba, Hawaii, Iraq, Panama, Germany, Vietnam, we consistently and increasingly cause horrendous damage to these places in the name of providing democracy-whether " the people" ask for it or not. We send in CIA and various secret special forces. We bomb or sabotage their schools, hospitals, power plants, factories. We promise, as in Afghanistan and Kosovo, to restore their bombed- out countries, but over and over the people are left in worse shape than ever. We don't apologize, or show remorse. The puppet governments we tend to set up are never popular with the people, and our promises of "democracy" or even of improved economics are broken. We seem not to care.

If as family members we are being assaulted by the bigger and stronger and meaner Domestic Violence bully, we might be lucky enough, or brave enough, to find a safe shelter for ourselves and our children. If our own government is the abuser-both towards us, and towards our world neighbors, where can we go to find shelter? If our own government, the fathers of our country, as policy-makers, are classic models of Anti-Social Personality, we are in big trouble. These people seldom turn themselves into the law, or seek counseling services since "they don't do anything wrong"-after all, it's always the other guy's fault. With their frail sense of their own power, they must dominate others in order to feel it. Without the powerless, they are weak themselves, or invisible.

Our US government is being run by Anti-Social Personality Disordered men who are behaving like Domestic Violence perpetrators. Under the Patriot Act we are being told to sit down and shut up, and on the International front, they are intending to continue making not only irrational threats but carrying them out unilaterally. If this doesn't scare you, it should. Or have you adopted the "learned helplessness" of the disempowered? If the mentally ill are running our country, and we are allowing this to happen, we will forever be victims.

We have to find ways to get out of the violence cycle by finding every resource possible to shift from passive consumers to fierce and outspoken critics and confronters of those who would use us, steal from us, blame us, abuse us. We must find ways to get unhooked from the international and domestic violence system. We must write, speak out, join together. We must find our resilience and our resolve. For the sakes of our children, for the sakes of our own healing, for the sake of our home planet.


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