A Double Bind Communication Pattern is any verbal injunction that can only be obeyed when it is disobeyed. And, it is the chronic presence of a no-win communication pattern that induces neurotic thoughts and feelings.
Some people have become masters at living Double Bind Communication Patterns. However, the ability to excel in communicating with Double Binds always comes at others’ expense. A Master of the Double Bind seemingly has the ability to verbally cause his/her Victims to feel like losers. When we are caught in toxic Double Binds our automatic response is “Guilty as charged”. (I say “seemingly” because we can teach you how to stop accepting the “False Guilt” that is engendered by Double Bind talk.)
For example, a Double Bind connoisseur can find failure in even the best performances. Straight A’s in school melt in the glaring light of the subtle tone of disappointment and scorn from the Double Binder with a Black Belt in Shaming. A child can never win if Momma is insecure because of her child’s success. Yes, we usually learn the Double Bind system and develop an automatic false guilt reaction at our momma’s knee.
But that is not the worst part of it. The most personal devastation and emotional destruction arises not from the unkind cuts of others but from the Double Bind Master unleashes that toxicity upon himself through self talk ruminations. God gave us a brain with a high quality, high speed audio-video camera that records and replays life in a distorted manner within the confine of our skull. However, because of the Fallen Nature, our brain is damaged. The brain’s automatic default position is fight or flight.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D. is a Psychiatric Neurologist who is an expert at using cutting edge technology to watch what happens to the brain when we pray, sing, worship, read and think about sensitive topics. He and Mark Waldman have studied the brain for decades and have concluded that “Human beings have a neurological and biological propensity to act in profoundly hostile ways” toward others and self.
When this hostility is turned toward the self it cuts a deep route of chronic and consistent Pessimism about life. If a child suffers from trauma or a Double Bind environment more than likely he or she will have a painful emotional tear around that memory. If the pain level of the original pain is 5.0 on a 10.0 point scale, the chronic repeating of the thought can cause it to rise to a level ten or one hundred times as toxic. Rumination over and over of any negative event can lead the person to a lifestyle of depression, shyness and mental disorder.
As children we are wonderful observers of life but terrible interpreters of meaning. We observe and remember how others treat us with Double Binds and then replay those events with great speed and accuracy for days on end until a habitual mental process of self talk is deeply embedded into the heart and mind. We carry our own toxic ideas and self talk with us wherever we go, adding to its strength and disgust on a daily basis even if we have forgotten the original events.
The primary result of living in a Double Bind System is the inability to discern what kind of behavior will be rewarded and what will be punished. It is an intuitive law of our human nature based on the imago Dei nature God gave us to seek pleasure and avoid pain. However, in a Double Bind Relational System, the child, church member, employee or citizen is unable to predict when an action will be affirmed and when it will be rejected. Our Pessimism will drive our Perceptions and distort them beyond imagination. This leaves us with a deeply anxious inability to make decisions lest we be punished and not know why.