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SCARS™ Psychology of Scams: Repeating The Scam – Engaging In Risky Behavior Over & Over
During the formative years of contemporary psychiatry, much attention was paid to the continuing role of past traumatic experiences on the current lives of people. Charcot, Janet, and Freud all noted that fragmented memories of traumatic events dominated the mental life of many of their patient and built their theories about the nature and treatment of psychopathology on this recognition.
Janet thought that traumatic memories of traumatic events persist as unassimilated fixed ideas that act as foci for the development of alternate states of consciousness, including dissociative phenomena, such as fugue states, amnesias, and chronic states of helplessness and depression.
Unbidden memories of the trauma may return as physical sensations, horrific images or nightmares, behavioral reenactments, or a combination of these. Janet showed how traumatized
individuals become fixated on the trauma: difficulties in assimilating subsequent experiences as well. It is “as if their personality development has stopped at a certain point and cannot expand anymore by the addition or assimilation of new elements.”
Freud independently came to similar conclusions. Initially, he thought all hysterical symptoms were caused by childhood sexual “seduction” of which unconscious memories were activated when during adolescence, a person was exposed to situations reminiscent of the original trauma. The trauma permanently disturbed
the capacity to deal with other challenges, and the victim who did not integrate the trauma was doomed to “repeat the repressed material as a contemporary experience in instead or . . . remembering it as something belonging to the past.”
In the article below, the author shows how the trauma is repeated on behavioral, emotional, physiologic, and neuroendocrinological levels, whose confluence explains the diversity of repetition phenomena.
Many traumatized people expose themselves, seemingly compulsively, to situations reminiscent of the original trauma. These behavioral reenactments are rarely consciously understood to be related to earlier life experiences. This “repetition compulsion” has received surprisingly little systematic exploration during the 70 years since its discovery, though it is regularly described in the clinical literature.
Freud thought that the aim of repetition was to gain mastery, but clinical experience has shown that this rarely happens; instead, repetition causes further suffering for the victims or for people in their surroundings.
Over the decades, the science of psychology and the understanding of trauma has advanced incredibly. But in our history of working with scam victims, we have struggled to understand the psychology of the recidivism and proclivity of continued risk-taking after the trauma of a scam – why some people repeatedly put themselves out there to be scammed over and over. This may be an explanation that victims can understand and use to help guide them away from these repetitive and destructive behaviors.
Part of the reason for sharing this information is to help all victims and their families understand that scam, especially romance scam trauma can have profound and lasting effects on the victim. It is very important that these issues are addressed from a healthcare perspective and that every victim seeks out trauma counseling or therapy to successfully recover their future!
The Compulsion to Repeat the Trauma
Re-enactment, Revictimization, and Masochism
By Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
TAGS: SCARS, Important Article, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Romance Scams, Scam Victims, Re-enactment, Revictimization, Compulsion to Repeat, Repeating the Trauma, Scam Repetition, Scam Recidivism
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