The Targeted Parent is chronically left to respond to attacks, accusations, provocations and various slanders of all descriptions by various accusers. This enormously difficult psychological environment is a recipe for the development of either acting out behaviors and/or depression.
In past studies focused on this perspective, what was found to have happened to these individuals who were depressed and whose sense of control was external to them, was that when their depressive symptoms had abated, what had actually happened was that their perceived locus of control had become internalized.
Their "locus of control" had moved from being external to being internal. In other words, they had found ways to refocus their sense of control and attention to things that were within their control.
In cases of prisoners of war, we find that the most resilient prisoners were also able to accomplish this. The classic movie The Great Escape provides repetitive examples of this. The character played by Steve McQueen survives unbelievable periods of isolation in the Cooler by throwing a baseball in a repetitive manner, obviously taking him to a different experiential place.
When Ruben Carter, the former prizefighter was falsely imprisoned for murder, he chose to be awake at night and sleep during the day, symbolizing not only his protest but also his refusal to be in that place.
What these resilient examples reveal is the importance of finding avenues of control, often in very creative ways, that then protects one from giving in to the depths of depression or to the depravity of violence. This is no small feat. Like many things in life, it is simple, but not easy.
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