Possessive Thinking and the Disturbed Character

One of the biggest reasons why disturbed characters form relationships frequently characterized by various forms of abuse and exploitation is because they think of others as objects to possess.

Continuing my series on the thinking patterns associated with character disturbance (see “What Were They Thinking?” and “CBT and the Thinking Patterns of Disturbed Characters”), we come to possessive thinking. Disordered characters tend to view those that they have any kind of relationship with as possessions that they have rightful claim over and with whom they should be able to do as they please. This type of thinking most often accompanies a tendency to “objectify” others (i.e., view them as mere objects or pawns to manipulate, as opposed to individuals of dignity with whom one has to form a mutually respectful relationship). Possessive thinking also frequently accompanies “heartless thinking” in which no empathy is felt for the need or concerns of others.

Habitual possessive thinking promotes a dehumanizing attitude toward others. When the disturbed character views others as primarily an object of pleasure, a vehicle to get something he wants, or a potential obstacle in the way of something he desires, it becomes almost impossible for him to consider them as persons with rights, needs, boundaries, or desires of their own. Viewing others as objects or possessions also makes it virtually impossible to acknowledge them as individuals of independent worth.

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I’ve counseled many disturbed characters over the years. All too frequently, they reacted with extreme malice when the person with whom they had a possessive relationship tried to declare emotional independence. Sometimes, there were disastrous consequences when they decided that if they couldn’t possess their partner, then no one else could. As I mentioned in earlier posts, the way we think is a big factor in how we act. One of the biggest reasons why disturbed characters form relationships frequently characterized by various forms of abuse and exploitation is because they think of others as objects to possess.

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