This leads to a further point: be very clear on the truth. Realise that the person may well have a distorted view of reality, especially when it comes to personal relationships. When the person says something that is clearly untrue, or distorted, or inconsistent with what they have said before, don’t simply accept it or let it pass by unchallenged. You may be able to question directly their version of reality, for example by reminding them of what you know to be true and stating clearly that what they have said is actually untrue. Alternatively, if direct confrontation like this is too difficult or complex, it may be easier simply to constantly and consistently state what is true, without criticising them directly. This may mean they might slowly incorporate those truths into their own reality, and their version of reality can shift in a more truthful direction.
However, sadly, it is best never to assume you will be able to convince the person rationally or speak easily to their conscience. Since they are operating with a distorted view of reality and a distorted moral framework, such attempts rarely bring them to change in any straightforward way. We also strongly suggest that you don’t try to “get into their heads” by guessing what they’re thinking, or predicting their actions. This can send you even more crazy.
In a few key situations, where the behaviour has been particularly complex and damaging, we have found it helpful to keep clear, well-organised written records of things a person says over time, and compare these records side by side as time goes on. If you do this, it will help you to clearly see the shifts in truth and the direct contradictions in their communication with you and others. Without a written record, it can be very difficult to pin it down; you might have a vague feeling that things are not right, but you can’t necessarily see it all together. If you put all the conversations together—e.g. taking the multiple texts or emails or messages or conversations and laying them out in one document—it can help you to see the issues more clearly. You might never show such a document to others; it may simply help you personally, to demonstrate that you’re not crazy, despite the person’s protests that they are being criticised unfairly and that they are innocent. It will also enable you to speak the truth where it matters, and not to be swayed by the person’s attempts to redefine the truth when amongst others.
Read the next section: Recognise illegitimate guilt—don’t let them define morality
Copyright © 2021 Lionel and Bronwyn Windsor
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To read the whole paper: Slow-burn crazy-making behaviours
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