Thinking Thoughts and Doing Stuff

Man, I came home from work and I did laundry, cleaned out the litter box, and did a load of dishes. And I started doing the points on my Batbaby Cowl. I also ate brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes for dinner and damn, it was delicious and no one is here to have other opinions.

One thing I realized at the wedding is the extent to which my family’s bossiness is about managing anxiety. And to that extent, the amount they fear other people don’t like them is managed by being unlikable so that there is no need to fear.

At work, we’ve published a couple of books on abusers, on why they kill and whether they can be reformed. Abusers abuse because it works. It satisfies something in their brain (and I think because it also brings on soothing behaviors from others, but that’s kind of secondary to my point). It gives them a sense of order and control and power and it is very hard to get people to stop abusing. Sometimes, you can luck out and, if they abuse when they’re drunk or high, treating that addiction can end the abuse, but, in general, abusers abuse and they don’t change.

And it can be very difficult to tell if they have changed because real reform looks a lot like the honeymoon period during an abusive cycle and abusers can be very effective in their manipulations to regain access to people to abuse.

Along those same lines, abusers kill to maintain control over their victims. Which is why many murders happen when or shortly after the abused are leaving.

Since I’ve been thinking about the strength of the compulsions associated with anxiety, I wonder if there’s a compulsive component to abuse. I mean, this skirts very close to “Oh, they can’t help it. They’re just emotional/passionate/whatever.” And I don’t want to do that. The fact that abusers don’t abuse their bosses shows that it’s not wholly a compulsion.

But I was talking to friends this weekend and one of them has a strong background in brain things and she said that, as many things as can go wrong in a brain, there’s only a handful of underlying responses. Like, for instance, ADHD, anxiety, and addiction are all very different things, but they all seem to have to do with what’s happening with the serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

And if abuse allows you to regulate your serotonin levels by controlling your environment and keeping order in the people who surround you, and if the reward centers in your brain light up when you abuse because it’s cathartic and reestablishes control, I’m just saying, it makes sense to me why it’s so fucking hard to stop.

It’s not just that it works. It’s that it works and is pleasurable. Which is not something most people want to admit to themselves either about themselves or a loved one–that another’s suffering makes the abuser feel good.