PSYCHOLOGY – The scourge of toxic conditions is increasingly being addressed, especially in the media. How to identify them, how to escape from them, how to get help when you realize that you are the target of harmful behavior: through testimony and expertise, the devastating consequences that can result from it, as well as ways to escape it, are dissected. Essential insights that enable many people to become aware of what they – or a loved one – are going through, and to protect themselves from it.
However, there are many cases where the diagnosis is made in a slightly hasty way. Situations that are of course hurtful, mechanisms that can prove harmful to one or the other, but where the expression does not necessarily match what is happening in the couple. Other cases where waving these two words means clearing oneself of one’s own responsibility in the affair and consequently closing one’s eyes to a charitable question mark.
This is what psychotherapist Sylvie Tenenbaum tends to suggest in her new book, “Sometimes victim, sometime executioner: decode the mechanisms of toxic relations,” published by Larousse editions. A book that, using the author’s analysis and precise dialogues to illustrate her point, strongly encourages people to drop the reflex of demonizing the other.
In particular, she writes: “The toxicity of a relationship is not the privilege of perverts or other psychopaths, but arises from situations that are reproduced, over and over again, with mutual misunderstandings, and each interlocutor can become toxic to the other ….” The solution, like the problem, thus, starts from our ability to communicate (or in this case the absence of such an ability), and from accepting that each party plays a crucial role in a relationship that is falling apart. Exchange.
“It’s not always someone else’s fault”
When we contact Sylvie Tenenbaum by telephone, our first question is about the ease with which we seem to resort to the term “toxic relationship” when discussing our sentimental concerns. He is asked: has it become a “catch-all” word? “Absolutely,” the expert replies. She further confirms this: by using it “sometimes arbitrarily”, one ends up “depriving” it of its meaning. “As with the terms ‘pervert’ or ‘bipolar’,” she laments.
“Words determine how we feel. By using ‘toxic’ we dramatize a situation. It also feels like you can have no influence on what goes on. But feeling helpless also means you do not ask. questioning herself. ”In addition, shrink launches: we must“ stop believing that when things go wrong, it is always the fault of others. ”An injunction that she addresses perfectly in her text, including through excerpts from conversations, which have been reported to her, or which she could attend, and which present mechanisms to be avoided.
From emotional blackmail to denying the other person’s feelings, through the need to “punish” him for past actions that we are supposed to have forgiven: “very frequent” are these kinds of problematic attitudes, the specialist assures. But they do not turn the person who uses them into a monster. “No one is safe from being an executioner or a victim,” the specialist insists. ‘A person who hurts is not necessarily toxic. It could mean that he is in pain or that we are in pain. That we no longer understand each other for that and that reason, and that we do not know how to handle it ”.
“Relational life is not a long calm river,” she writes again. And hammer it: it’s essential to distinguish the pathological manipulators from the people who react punctually in an inappropriate, clumsy, selfish way – and in fact painful to the other – but develop thanks to dialogue. It is therefore not so much the person himself who should be labeled as “toxic”, but his reactions, which are difficult to gather, later to establish and work together on.
Express what you feel to clarify things
We wonder: what can we strictly qualify as a toxic relationship? “The relationship is toxic when you are not feeling well and do not understand what is going on,” explains Sylvie Tenenbaum, who as such talks about a romantic, friendly, family or professional relationship. . “We do not feel comfortable and we can not put our finger on what is wrong.”
Also look at The HuffPost: How do you recognize a toxic relationship?