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Understanding Coercive Control

Part 31: Dehumanisation

Abusers control because they NEED to have control over another. Many also debase their victim by treating them as less than human to justify their behaviour.

#coercivecontrol #dehumanisation #DomesticAbuse
To dehumanise is to treat another individual or group as inferior. Many sociologists and historians believe that dehumanisation is an antecedent to violence.
Those who dehumanise do not persecute groups or individuals they perceive as equal but those they see as ‘less than’.
There are basically 2 forms of dehumanisation:

Animalistic Dehumanisation- When people are denied human traits, they are thought to be animal-like.

Mechanistic Dehumanisation- When people are denied human traits they are thought to be object-like.
Being thought of as less than human ie:

* Subhuman.
* Occupying a rank that is lower than human rank.
* Having a lower degree of intrinsic value than ‘own kind’
* A lesser (or no) degree of moral obligation.
Dehumanization is one of eight forms of “moral disengagement” described by the psychologist Albert Bandura.

Moral disengagement strategies are designed to get people to accept behaviors that they would otherwise recognize as unethical and unfair.
It works by focusing on the target by trying to taint and diminish, instead of focusing on the perpetrator as the actual source of wrong-doing.
The person who is dehumanising then tries to morally justify the actions by re-framing the action as a moral good - ie:-‘the ends justifies the means.’

They justify failing to meet their own standards by claiming that what they do is not as bad as the other person.
People who dehumanise will often justify their actions with diffusion of responsibility - “ Other people do it too.” , as a way to minimize personal responsibility for immoral actions.

This can be clearly seen in group bullying as well as online mobbing campaigns.
Those who dehumanise either lack or have set aside their empathy and respect so that “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, “ no longer applies.
Dehumanisation is common in people with Dark Tetrad personality traits ( Narcissism, Psychopathy, Machiavellianism and Sadism).

Dark Tetrad types share two major characteristics: extreme selfishness and a lack of empathy for others.
They are able to cause harm and abuse others in a variety of ways without any regard for the feelings, safety, or morality of their targets and are often focused on dominance, power and control.
Their sense of entitlement is able to justify any behaviour, to get what they want.
Dehumanisation can also be part of the cycle of violence. People who were mistreated as children can wall themselves off as a defense against that pain (physical and psychological).
Sometimes, what helps abuse victims survive childhood becomes a handicap when they reach adulthood.

They may be afraid of coming into contact with other victims for fear of opening the floodgates to all of their bottled-up past, so they will dehumanise to protect themselves.
Dehumanisation is not just something that can be done to others. It can also be done to the self.
Kyle Dobson, in collaboration with psychology professors Maryam Kouchaki and Adam Waytz investigated the relationship between self-dehumanization and immoral behavior through a series of eight studies.
“ Our research both elucidates a consequence of unethical behavior—self-dehumanization—and demonstrates that this self-dehumanization can facilitate future unethical behavior,” they wrote.
Source: Kouchaki, M., Dobson, K. S., Waytz, A., & Kteily, N. S. (2018). The Link Between Self-Dehumanization and Immoral Behavior. Psychological Science, 29(8), 1234-1246. doi:10.1177/0956797618760784
“Metaphorical blindfolds of a different kind allow some people to fail to see the humanity of others, enabling the blindfolded to commit acts of cruelty,to ignore or deny the harm done by third parties, or to minimize the harm they themselves have caused.”

Nick Haslam, Brock Bastian, Simon Laham, Stephen Loughnan

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