While each individual’s story has significant differences, what unites them is even more important. We all share a common behavior that occurs in many relationships to one degree or another. Through extensive research in the field of psychology, the behavior known as subjugation has been identified as one of the major schemas or patterns of thinking that can impair a life. If it is present in a chronic pattern, it can bring about unbearable, excruciating pain, humiliation, victimization, loss of self, and even death. I call this destructive condition chronic subjugation.
Chronic subjugation is far more common than most people realize. The condition is no respecter of status, physical appearance, education, financial balance sheet, religion, ethnic group, political affiliation, or résumé. It can appear in anyone’s life, often disguised as an attractive or virtuous quality, although it is neither. Individuals who chronically subjugate are no longer in touch with what they are interested in, what they want or think, or even who they are. They have been so focused on pleasing others that they have few or no preferences or opinions. They have lost themselves in the dysfunction.
Chronic subjugation wrecks lives.
But it doesn’t have to.
The dysfunction can be eliminated.
If you find yourself resonating with the above description of chronic subjugation, recognizing that this condition is yours or that of someone you love, I want you to know that there is hope. Neither you nor your loved one is condemned to a life of suffering from this destructive pattern. There are solutions. They require consistent work, and with this pattern of behavior, the work can be tough at times. However, chronic subjugation can be conquered, and the solutions I present in my proposed book are effective. I have repeatedly witnessed this in my clinical practice and in my own life.
This condition occurs through voluntary compliance; it is imposed not from without but from within. The heart cry of each of us is to be liked, accepted—yes, loved. Individuals may acquiesce to chronic subjugation because they fear abandonment, rejection, retaliation, feel guilty, or simply have a hunger to please. Whatever the reason (and there are many), these individuals persistently place the opinions, preferences, values, desires, and needs of others before their own. This occurs so habitually that chronic subjugation slowly smothers those who practice it. Their “I” and “me” become absorbed and eventually lost in the lives of others. Their voluntary servitude leads to their own demise. The slavery of yes becomes a destructive form of self-denial—a denial that can end in self-annihilation.
Is there a place for self-denial? Of course, there is. Subjugation is not to be confused with healthy self-denial, which leads to contentment. The sacrifice of one’s own desires or interests for another person is a noble and admirable quality. However, this sacrifice must be freely given and should never lead to self-absorption into another. It is a healthy expression of other-centered love and not a denigration or subjugation of self. When the giver, on the other hand, experiences an irresistible impulse to comply, the giver should beware. This type of knee-jerk giving results in a pattern of chronic subjugation with the loss of healthy motives. It leads to resentment, anger, and bitterness toward self and others and a downward spiral in terms of emotional, mental, and physical health. In its healthy form, self-denial is noble. But chronic subjugation is unhealthy and destructive. Chronic subjugation is not properly self-denial but self-abuse. It ruins relationships, masquerading as a virtue while promoting vice against oneself and eventually against others. It seems a way to achieve happiness and peace, but it delivers neither.
Genuine self-denial and chronic subjugation are worlds apart. My proposed book is about one of those worlds—the way of life that at first appears good and attractive but in time reveals itself as hurtful, deceptive, and soul-destroying.