Many years ago I watched a young boy emotionally blackmail his mother. She wanted him out of the house to be alone, and to do it she was offering him money – presumably pocket money – and he was driving the amount up. It took a while but eventually he got the amount he wanted. It was all based upon his shrewdness in judging his mother’s approach, and on her attitude that she must bargain to get what she wanted. She could have said, with a smile, “No”, and that would have been the end of it. But she was on shaky ground and didn’t have it in her to be a real mother, because she had been raised by a mother who was also a shaky character.

Emotional blackmail is a wonderful term. When I first heard it the two words immediately became a focus for understanding the dynamics of many relationships. Before that I seemed to live in a world without such understanding. As when I watched another mother and son arguing. She was going at him in full spate, and suddenly, with such calm, he said, “Mum stop putting me down.” It was a wonderful eye opener for me – to be put down.

Emotional blackmail I think rest upon either the dependence or the independence of those in the interaction. For instance in the first example, if the mother was independent of her son; if it didn’t matter to her whether he went or didn’t, or if she was no longer in such need to bribe him, it would have been different. See independence; individuation.


-unidentified 2014-05-28 16:23:27

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