Double MESSAGES – Styles (Part 5)

DMS all tied up


I can mess with your mind!            

PREVIOUS: DMs, Part 4b

See ACRONYM page for  abbrev.


NOTE: Do not confuse DMs with changing your mind, or ‘going back on your word’ : “I said I would, but now I can’t. Sorry.”. It can anger or disappoint someone, but it is not presenting them with 2 contradictory statements or command, which the person must try to make sense of & ‘honor’ EXP:  “I love you, I hate you /  Be good,  be bad / Help me, don’t help me”…. at the same time.

VERBAL AMBIGUITY is also not a form of DMs, which are single statements having 2 or more possible meanings – perplexing, sometimes leading to mistakes & embarrassment, but not usually harmful. EXPs:
> “I saw John with binoculars.”  Who had the glasses – me or John?
> Consider “The HORTA” episode from the original Star Trek, when Cpt. Kirk finally encounters the rock-creature mother reacting to crewmen smashing her eggs, & she etches on the wall in acid: “NO KILL I”.
> Or the alien cookbook “To Serve Man” in the 1962 Twilight Zone episode

STYLES of Double Messages (DMs)
1. Two opposite VERBAL declarations, sometimes together, often at different times which makes it much hard to catch.  EXP:DM re. alls
A – Sam says to Jane:  “Let’s get together. Call me anytime” (I need to connect – I’m lonely).
SO Jane calls, but no answer. She tries a day later & he answers, but is curt.

She tries again in a week & he gets angry:
B – “Why are you calling so much?” (I feel suffocated by you neediness / pushiness).
MESSAGE: You’re a commodity AND a nuisance! (Come here/go away)

EXP : The computer HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey” was programmed with a D. Message, forcing him into a D. Bind :
A – “Always process information accurately” (never lie) – AND
B – “Keep the true purpose of the mission a secret from your fellow crew members” (in this case – you must lie)
OUTCOME = a ‘mental break’, leading to the only solution HAL could come up with – murder the crew.

2. A hostile communication (verbal abuse) WITH an endearment
EXP: “Don’t be so stupid, darling / My dear, you’re a pathetic sweet covers sourmoron /
I hate you, don’t leave me! / Baby, you know I can’t live without you! Why do you always let me down?”

3. One verbal WITH one physical (tone of voice, facial expression, body position or style of interaction…). What is said doesn’t match how it’s said
EXP: • Your brother says you’re really smart, but with a smirk
• Someone says “Your hair looks great” with a frown
• A co-worker looks angry & stiff, but says: “I’m fine, nothing’s wrong”
• A wife spends less & less time at home, but says: “I’m not avoiding you”
• A husband says: “Of course I love you”, in a flat tone & looks away

4. Both non-verbal : Bateson’s famous EXP – a hug given stiffly = OSTENSIBLY an act of affection AND/BUT with emotional distance. Note the legs on the stiff-hugger – not quite ‘in’.
It leaves the recipient wondering – Which is it, are you happy to see me or not?

5. Verbal ‘encouragement’ inside a negating event
EXPs: “Of course I want you to get better”, as the husband hands his newly recovering alcoholic wife a beer
• Boss to new bank MBA employee: “Here’s a important project to cut your teeth on. Lets see how good you are”.
BUT unknown to the young man – the ‘project’ is an unsolvable accounting mess specifically designed to fail.

Only an ACoA would drive themselves crazy actually trying to work it out – afraid to look dumb & get fired!
★ Unlike young Lt. James T. Kirk, who solved the ‘unsolvable’ Kobayashi Maru dilemma – by changing the rules – one legitimately way to deal with DBs!

CHART : Typical DB relationship between a co-dependent & a narcissist.
PINK wants a ‘one-way symbiosis’ without being vulnerable.
GREEN needs to have boundaries, but is willing to forgo them in order to keep the relationship, no matter how harmful.  MORE…)
NOTE that here the healthy win-win options are not used – ‘whited out’ .
Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 8.00.17 PMNEXT: DMs (Part 6)

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