Do You Justify Your Behavior (or those of your children or spouse)?

Posted: October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Previously published on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices Aug 28, 2008

While most of us find the rationalization for incest, murder, genocide, terrorism – and even daily habits like smoking and drinking – appalling and unsettling, others find joy in creating nonsensical worlds filled with alibis, excuses, pretense, and justification.

A father places his hands on his daughter’s breasts, for instance. He tells her, “I can do this, because I’m your father.” The daughter searches in vain through her life experiences trying to find even one morsel of truth in what she is hearing. Finding none, she reasons that, even though his statement contradicts society’s norms, it has to be true because, well, he is her father.

But she is confused. Her reasoning doesn’t make sense. Still unconvinced, she looks for further proof. She will spend her lifetime looking for it until and unless she realizes that she will never be able to make sense out of nonsense.

Daddy is a master manipulator. He fully expects his daughter to trust him because he is her dad. She came from him. She has his blood coursing through her veins. She is HIS.

Stefanie is a 13 year-old child with no self-esteem. Her boyfriend, Joel, figured that out the day he met her, because Joel understands body language and uses it to his advantage.

Stefanie is shy, quiet, and introverted. She knows Joel can’t be 15, but she wants to believe him, so she accepts his lies – that he sneaks his father’s car to pick her up, for instance. As long as Stefanie returns home before her mother, a single parent, returns from her second job, Stefanie won’t get caught. If Joel can keep her under his thumb, Stefanie will never leave him. And if she ever hints that she wants to leave him, this 21 year-old boyfriend will coerce and threaten her until she relents.

Having gained no life experience, shamed into believing she deserves his abuse, Stefanie creates lies to explain the bruises and cuts. Dad is too apathetic to even consider being part of her life. Mom is too busy putting bread on the table to give it much thought. Mom wants to believe her daughter, because not believing might cause Mom to take a day off from work, an action that would cost her the only income she has.

Joel justifies his behavior because he perceives Stefanie as HIS – she “belongs” to him. She is his property. And when you own something you can do whatever you want to it.

Some religious and world “leaders” use this same kind of insane “logic” when challenging their followers to believe what they tell them to believe, because, they claim, they are preaching from the Bible (oftentimes misinterpreted) or utilizing important documents that were supposedly written with government endorsement or as a result of divine intervention. People want so badly to believe in SOMETHING, they follow the leader into whatever abyss he or she leads them.

How does a mind control expert lure unsuspecting victims into his lair? With strategic deception. If you were his potential victim, your antenna might pop up. Your brow might furrow. You obviously wouldn’t believe what you heard, right? Maybe you would question him as you brushed aside all the little red flags that continually cropped up.

But he has answers for all of your questions, and he works very hard to draw you into his lies. For every “why” you ask, he provides a “because”. He waits for your face to soften. He watches the squint in your eye slowly disappear. Ah, now he has you. He just has to keep you “there”– in that state of receptivity. He might have to use drugs to alter your brain just enough for you to believe in him, but once he has you, you are his. You belong to him. He owns you.

These sadistic sociopaths (hereinafter referred to as ss) look for people who feel isolated, because the goal of the ss is to make other people feel that they BELONG to something. Usually, however, the belonging is to the ss who pride themselves in their manipulative techniques.

While every “why” is answered with a “because,” every “because” becomes disguised under layers of untruths that victims perceive as truth, because part of the lie is actually based on truth.

M. Scott Peck, in his book, “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil,” accurately describes a variety of ss-types whose only goal in life is to thwart any attempted success made by their family members and friends. At one time probably (and surprisingly) ss-ers were trusted and loved, but these ss-ers derive pleasure from berating people into submission (I’m hurting you BECAUSE I love you – It’s for your own good).

People who tend to follow and not to lead, who feel isolated and misunderstood, are more likely to ignore warning signals such as the aforementioned furrowed eyebrows and heads cocking to one side. They mistrust their own judgment and rely instead upon people who APPEAR to be in control, who ACT as if they are superior to them, who APPEAR to control even the atmosphere around them.

Hitler is a good example of a hedonist who somehow managed to manipulate the consciences of thousands of people and replace those consciences with pure hatred. He derived his pleasure from the knowledge that he was causing intense pain in others. Imagine how inflated his ego must have been, knowing he duped so many people into believing his lies, lies he insidiously created and distorted so that even today, rebels looking for a cause, attach themselves to his dictates, demands that create war robots out of remnants of what used to be human beings.

Why didn’t (and don’t) Hitler’s followers recognize his pathology? And how did they justify crashing babies into the pavement while weeping mothers stood by helplessly? (With their pat answer: It never happened.) Does peer pressure hold so much power that even adults ignore their consciences while they allow foolish reasoning to dictate aberrant behavior?

Lonely teenagers and young adults are especially susceptible to succumbing to ss because they long for a sense of community. They long to be involved in a cause. Their limited life experiences don’t allow them to notice that EVERYBODY has been hurt at one time or another and that anybody can use that pain and some form of justification to transfer that hatred to any number of people.

The ss recognize youthful inexperience and loneliness. They know that young people feel they are the ONLY people experiencing pain, hurt, and sorrow. What better group of people for ss types to choose than ones who long to “lash out” at something. The ss provide a pseudo-safe haven for lost souls who are looking for a home. They teach these eager-to-belong children that if you want to feel you’re in control, control somebody else.

In the case of Hitler, why not pick Jews? What about African Americans or Irish or Japanese or women – at times throughout history, segments of these populations have been ostracized, humiliated, and overpowered.

People are drawn to those who appear to be powerful, who command attention with their demeanor and their confidence. But they can also be attracted to someone who repels and disgusts them because they feel the need to understand why they find that dominant person to be so repugnant.

How easy it is for people to compromise their integrity when they are pumped with drugs or alcohol. How easy it is for others to manipulate the weak and the lazy. And how difficult it is for courage to find its way through the muck of weakness and laziness, because it demands that people face their opponents, confront their fears, and take control of their lives.

On November 18, 1978, over nine hundred followers of James Warren “Jim” Jones, the American founder of the Peoples Temple, succumbed to the charms of their fanatic religious leader by agreeing to become part of a mass suicide, one of the largest mass suicides in history.

Imagine the power it takes to manipulate a mind to the point that families give up all of their belongings, their children, and their lives.

Imagine life before September 11, 2001. Young suicide bombers were coerced into believing that their “cause” was bigger than any single one of them and that what awaited them in the afterlife was far better than anything they could have hoped to encounter in this life.

Nearly three thousand people died that infamous day, because a bunch of little terrorists didn’t value their own minds enough to prevent a bunch of bigger terrorists from subjugating them. If the bigger terrorists truly believed that the afterlife was really so much better than this life, why didn’t the entire terrorist community commit mass suicide?

Justifying aberrant behavior involves a complicated process. According to Ken Pope, Ph.D., ABPP, and Melba Vasquez, Ph.D., ABPP, in their paper on ethical standards entitled, “21 Ethical Fallacies: Cognitive Strategies To Justify Unethical Behavior” (located at

“Justifications turn the search for an ethical response around backwards. Instead of searching for an ethical response to a situation until we find it, we begin by thinking of a way we would like to respond and then search for ways to justify it. With enough hard work and creativity, most of us can come up with justifications for almost anything we want to do.

The most common justifications rely on twisted judgment, appealing fallacies, and juggled language. They can spin the most questionable behaviors into ethical ideals.”

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  1. Dennis Townsend says:

    Great article!!

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