General Question

Nullo's avatar

How do they fix abusive people, anyway?

Asked by Nullo (21978points) March 22nd, 2012
19 responses
“Great Question” (4points)

Most advice regarding bullies and other abusive people is about getting the victim away from the problem. This is Right and Good, but it leaves one to wonder: How do the professionals fix the now-contained lowlife? Or do they?

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ragingloli's avatar

They probably go untreated and become politicians, ceos and soldiers.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I would not be so quick to assume said low-life is contained; usually one of the biggest problems is the systematic refusal to contain the low-lifery.

BUT, basically, no matter who you are or what your issues are, you have to want to change. If you don’t want to change, there’s very little anyone can do. Part of what makes abusers abusive is their ability to manipulate, so they’re often pretty good at “changing” and not changing. If you want to be fixed, you can be, if you don’t, there’s not a whole lot others can do.

There is some work in transformative justice on getting to the root causes and preventing abuse and creating an atmosphere in which it’s truly and obviously in the abusers’ best interest to actually change.

rooeytoo's avatar

They rehabilitate them, whatever the hell that means! I think you gottawanna change, nobody can fix it for you. And if you don’t wanna, it’s a waste of money to force feed someone rehabilitation.

@Aethelflaed – you typed faster than I did!

dabbler's avatar

@ragingloli I doubt they’d have the discipline and ability to work in a team necessary to be soldiers in a modern army. They’d get themselves or someone else killed pretty fast.

ragingloli's avatar

Nah they just break into Afghan houses and murder innocent children.
Or as someone on another site said: ”[...]stopped the next Osama, the next Ahmadmendijihad, the next Hussein, the next Obama.

mattbrowne's avatar

Professionals show appreciation, knowing that human dignity is inviolable. Professionals reject the sin (abusive behavior), but not the sinner. Abusive people were often victims of abusive people in their past which might have crushed their self worth.

The apostle Paul was an abusive person as Saul of Taurus. And he was capable of change. His belief changed him. People today deserve the same chance.

A key for professionals is to believe in people and their capability to change.

noraasnave's avatar

@ragingloli you appear to be earning your profile name. Soldiers? I take some comfort that Marine generally aren’t called ‘soldiers’. I can appreciate your narrow focus, in light of the recent events in Afghanistan.

Having given you those concessions, it might interest you to know that if a military member is found to be abusive (which admittedly is hard to hide these days) they are charged, reduced in rank, and separated from the military, because of the law which precludes an Abuser from owning/operating a firearm.

In my short time in the Marine Corps (19½ years) I have seen quite a few people kicked out for said reason.

While I can appreciate your anger for the outrageous actions of ONE servicemember in a warzone, in an austere environment, separated from friends, family, and the comforts of America—across the world; I do not agree that this represents all servicemembers that honorably serve in the Military, be they Army, Marine Corps, or whichever.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @mattbrowne. Most of the time they are not born that way and are made. I would think you can change a made abuser by getting them to deal with the injustices they have suffered and working through that anger and being made to realize that lashing out doesn’t make their suffering disappear. Can’t say I believe it would work every time but I would think it is still worth it to try and salvage someone.
As for those who are born that way. Born without empathy. I would think there is no way to fix them. It is a character flaw. Empathy can not be taught.
But I do think some abused people are born with empathy and with time they lose it because the people they are suppose to trust abuse them. Doesn’t mean its gone forever. Just shelved because they don’t want to ever be vunerable again.
I think the lashing out is just there way of making sure they don’t get hurt. But what they fail to realize is that it prevents good things from coming their way and actually perpetuates the bad things in their lives.

janbb's avatar

In our county, youths who are accused of bias bullying are often required by the police to attend seminars on prejudice and hate crimes at our college’s anti-genocide center.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Most abusers don’t change, because they continue to benefit in some way from abusive behavior. Typically, the combination of reinforcement from derived benefits and the cognitive belief that it’s okay or even the right thing to do keeps people from changing abusive behaviors.

Trillian's avatar

You’re asking about a vast, sweeping trend which has no one simple answer. @mattbrowne has made a valid point. But it doesn’t cover all the territory you’ve brought up. You are speaking about learned behaviours which incorporate a host of other issues. People are capable of change but other factors come into play here regarding up-bringing and decision making capabilities. Which fall under still other factors such as parenting, education, and an entire societal gamut of interconnectedness which cannot be looked at or solved piecemeal. We can only put bandaids on broken arms the way our systems are set up now.

Judi's avatar

As the victim of bullying, I have to say that the bully is usually the teachers pet. The person who ends up being accused of bullying is the one who gets tired of the mental taunting and lashes back.

tinyfaery's avatar

You can’t fix people. People have to want to change. Then they need the proper tools to learn how to change.

IMO, most abusive people don’t change. They just don’t believe that their actions need fixing. It’s everyone else’s problem.

mattbrowne's avatar

Some time ago I read an article about the role of attachment in dysfunctional abusive relationships. There seems to be some connection to

during childhood which can lead to

Coloma's avatar

Usually they are not fixable, especially if they have some sort of personality disorder.
Some people may outgrow their behavior with maturity, others are too damaged to make positive changes.
As @mattbrowne said, most people with personality disorders/abusive behavior, have issues that go back to their very young childhoods, if not infancy, based on attachment issues, abuse, neglect etc.
A very few find their path to healing through their own spontaneous awakenings, most are stuck in their faulty programming forever.

Sad but true, most Leopards do not change their spots.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Sadly, it appears through the therapy my family partakes in that what @Judi states is the truth.

My son and the rest of his social group learn how to stave off bullies. My child and his groupmates are bully attractants due to their social differences. So here from a very early age, we’re teaching the bullied, not the bullies.

It would be near impossible to teach the bullies when they’re young. As I’ve seen, most of the bullies have parents defending their child(ren)s actions.

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

You pray for them, somehow find your own inner compassion…forgive, move on and pray-that YES, they will end up so miserable and alone they may DECIDE to truly change.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

They don’t. Some people are just jerks. It’s inevitable.

noraasnave's avatar

@tinyfaery your post reminds me of a joke:

How many psychologists does it take the change a light bulb?

One….but it takes a long time and the light bulb has to WANT to change.

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