Am I Under His Spell? Part 2

In last week’s article, we started talking about the very REAL issue of trance in a relationship with pathologicals. Women have described this as feeling “under his spell,” “spellbound,” “mesmerized,” “hypnotized,” “spaced out,” “not in control of my own thoughts…” All of these are ways of saying that various levels of covert and subtle mind control have been happening with the pathological. And why wouldn’t it be happening? These are power-hungry people who live to exert their dominance over others. That includes your body, mind or spirit. Mind-control techniques, either physical or mental, are used on prisoners of war, in cults, and in hostage-taking. They obviously work or there wouldn’t be ‘techniques’ and bad people wouldn’t use them.

Mind control, brainwashing, coercion… are all words for the same principles that are used to produce the results of reducing your own effectiveness and being emotionally overtaken by someone intent on doing so. The result is the victim’s intense attachment to her perpetrator. This is often referred to as Betrayal Bonding or Trauma Bonding.  This is created by:

  • Perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the captor/perpetrator would carry out the threat.
  • Perceived small kindness from the captor/perpetrator to the captive.
  • Perceived inability to escape.
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor/perpetrator.

Mind control then produces dissociation which is a form of trance state. Dissociation is when your mind becomes overloaded and you need to ‘step outside of yourself’ to relieve the stress. Dissociation and trance are common reactions to trauma. For instance, dissociation happens during abuse in childhood as well as during adult traumas like rape. Prolonged mind control in adults will even produce trance states where adults begin to feel like they are being controlled—and they are!

If you have experienced mind control in your relationships, treatment and recovery for it includes:

  • Breaking the isolation—Helping you identify sources of supportive intervention, self-help groups or group therapy, hotlines, crisis centers, shelters and friends.
  • Identifying violence—As a victim in an abusive relationship, minimization of the abuse can occur, or denial about the different types of violent behavior that you encounter. Confusion about what is acceptable male (parental/authority) behavior is often common. Journal-keeping, autobiographical writing, reading of first-hand accounts or seeing films that deal with abuse may be helpful for you to understand the types of abuse you experienced.
  • Renaming perceived kindness—Since abuse confuses the boundaries between kindness and manipulation, you may need to develop alternative sources of nurturance and caring other than the captor/perpetrator.
  • Your ability to validate both love and terror—Because pathologicals often are dichotomous or have polar-opposite behaviors such as kind and sadistic, there is often a split by the victim in how they see the abuser. Treatment may be needed to help you integrate both dissociated sides of the abuser and will assist you in moving through the dreamlike state in how you view and remember him.

In next week’s article, we’ll continue our discussion on other forms of trance states and spellbound conditions.


(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)