Humiliation, denial, aggression, domination … The wounds of authoritarianism heal very slowly, leave scars and even condition us on certain aspects. Thus, the shadow of an authoritarian father or mother, a dominant couple or a narcissistic and equally authoritarian boss can accompany us for years in the form of a knot that we do not know how to undo. .
It is always important to come back to this subject, that of authoritarianism. Whether from a social or psychological point of view, it never hurts to stress this dimension that has caused so much damage to our history. Since Theodor Adorno theorized for the first time on this subject in 1950 in his book The Authoritarian Personalitythis field has only progressed and taken shape thanks to social psychology and the many works and research in the field.
"Emotional wounds are the price to pay for being independent."
However, as the literature on this type of psychological profile becomes more and more extensive and reliable, we do not have much work yet on the impact that authoritarianism can have. And we are not just talking about the effect of parenting in this context. We also refer to affective relationships and work scenarios controlled by a clearly authoritarian figure.
It is these microspheres where a series of dynamics, which are as tiring as harmful, is set up, and that we do not always know how to manage. This is an important subject that deserves further study.
The poet Luis Cernuda said that we are all echoes of something. We all carry a voice, a weight, a burden that conditions us consciously or unconsciously. We know, for example, that a childhood of abuse and abuse generates a traumatic effect that affects children at all levels: emotional, psychological, development … Now, the veil of authoritarianism is present in many ways in our society and, more importantly, it does not coexist only with us: we allow it to exist.
There are mothers and fathers who underestimate their children, mistreat them and limit their emotional development. The same goes for many organizations and businesses. We value innovation, creativity and human capital, but there are still people in management who prefer docility and who do not hesitate to underestimate and to control their employees.
Dr. Eric R. Maisel, a well-known psychologist and writer at the University of California, validated a year ago a questionnaire to assess the wounds of authoritarianism. This interesting instrument allows us to explore the impact that these types of dynamics have on human beings. Thus, and after having applied this test in multiple social contexts: universities, health centers and renowned companies, it was possible to conclude that a large part of the population "bears" the imprint of this mark, the one that authoritarianism has exercised at some point in our lives.
Eric R. Maisel's scale measures ten dimensions that can occur in any family, couple, work relationship, etc. Identifying these characteristics would help us reduce the negative impact of authoritarianism and act appropriately before these consequences take root in our thinking and behavioral dynamics.
Here they are :
- Threats and the use of fear or blackmail
- An underestimate
- Chimerical rules (unclear, meaningless or variable)
- Hatred: this emotion is always presentit is projected on us or on others. The authoritarian always has his "blacklist", the people he hates and considers his enemies
- They have their own truth, their own schema and their own conception of the world. The rest of us are wrong
- They are controllers, but the need for control of the authoritarian personality goes far beyond. He also likes to ridicule, humiliate
- A rigid thought
- They are intrusive
- They are wary of everything and everyone
- A total absence of empathy
The wounds of authoritarianism are traumatic. They can change our personality, shape our choices and even our appearance. Everything will depend, no doubt, on the time we spent in contact with the authoritarian figure and the way in which we ended our relationship with that person.
Let's see what effect this kind of abusive and painful dynamics can have on us:
- Low self esteem
- Feeling that we have no control over ourselves
- Posttraumatic Stress and Anxiety
- Feeling of inefficiency
- Frustration and anger accumulated that we do not know how to channel
Many people come to therapy after many years working in a company. After leaving this employment contract, they feel the need to leave behind another type of contract: the emotional contract. It paid only with suffering, with the violation of dignity and generated by a figure of authority who exercised abuse, control and even humiliation.
The same thing happens in many relationships, where one of the members has acted with the same dynamics. We must therefore bear in mind that in cases where someone restricts our freedom in any way, what he does is abusive. It may not leave a physical mark, it may even be that our Criminal Code does not record certain behaviors as the subject of a complaint, but these are means by which our rights are respected and, as such, we must defend ourselves.
Psychological intervention in these cases should focus on restoring lost self-esteem. What patients need is to express themselves in many of these situations and to discover, understand and accept that they have actually been victims of emotional abuse. In addition, therapies such as EMDR (Reprocessing and Desensitization) have become in recent years an interesting strategy for treating unpleasant or traumatic events, reducing anxiety and promoting emotional recovery.
To conclude, let us never forget the effect of this fine shower of authoritarianism that takes place almost without us noticing it in countless scenarios, both public and private. The consequences often have a huge cost.