What Is It And How Does It Apply To Relationship Scams A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money!
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A person with an addiction uses a substance or engages in a behavior
Behavior / Behavioral Actions
Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams., for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeat the activity, despite detrimental consequences. Addiction may involve the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, and nicotine, or behaviors such as gambling.
There is evidence that addictive behaviors share key neurobiological features: They intensely involve brain pathways of reward and reinforcement, which involve the neurotransmitter dopamine. And, in keeping with other highly motivated states, they lead to the pruning of synapses in the prefrontal cortex, home of the brain’s highest functions, so that attention is highly focused on cues related to the target substance or activity. It is important to know that such brain changes are reversible after the substance use or behavior is discontinued.
The same is true for scam victims. The involvement in the scam – even though it was caused by the criminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. can still result in addiction because of the repeated introduction of emotional hijacking at a very intense level.
In our experience, we have observed that unlike other types of addictions, the addiction in scam victims tends to generally fade quite quickly. We have observed that most victims are over the addictive aspects of the post-scam experience within a month or two (sometimes less). However, the withdrawal does have an emotional impact on the victim,
Addiction & Mental Health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". According to WHO, mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health".
Both substance use disorders and gambling behaviors have an increased likelihood of being accompanied by mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, or other pre-existing problems. Substance use and gambling disorders not only engage the same brain mechanisms, but they also respond to many of the same treatment approaches.
There have been no scientific studies on the effects that romance scam addition causes in victims (as far as we are aware), though we see parallels with gambling addiction.
Substance use and gambling disorders are complex conditions that affect the reward, reinforcement, motivation, and memory systems of the brain. They are characterized by impaired control over usage; social impairment, involving the disruption of everyday activities and relationships; and craving. Continuing use is typically harmful to relationships as well as to obligations at work or school.
Another distinguishing feature of addictions is that individuals continue to pursue the activity despite the physical or psychological harm it incurs, even if it the harm is exacerbated by repeated use. Typically, one’s tolerance to a substance increases as the body adapts to its presence.
This is where scam addiction seems to differ from other forms of addiction. Though, sadly, we do see plenty of victims that have not sufficiently withdrawn or overcome the addiction after the scam ends and revert to behavior that will result in yet another fake romantic relationship.
Effects on the Brain
Because addiction affects the brain’s executive functions, centered in the prefrontal cortex, individuals who develop an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is causing problems for themselves and others. Over time, the pursuit of the pleasurable effects of the substance or behavior may dominate an individual’s activities.
But it should be noted that in scam victims that trauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people.
Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.
Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. also plays a part and that overlapping symptoms and effects can make it hard to treat initially until the addictive phase has passed.
All addictions have the capacity to induce a sense of hopelessness and feelings of failure, as well as shame Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; withdrawal motivations; and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness. and guilt, but research shows that recovery is the rule rather than the exception (though that is not what we see in scam victims.) There are many routes to recovery. Individuals can achieve improved physical, psychological, and social functioning on their own—so-called natural recovery. Others benefit from the support of community or paraprofessional peer-based support. And still, others opt for clinical-based recovery through the services of credentialed professionals.
The road to recovery is seldom straight: Relapse, or recurrence is common—but definitely not the end of the road. For those who achieve remission of an addiction disorder for five years, researchers report, the likelihood of relapse is no greater than that among the general population. Neuroscientists report that synaptic density is gradually restored.
In the case of scam victims, if a victim can maintain their recovery activity for a year it is likely to never be an issue again.
Myths About Addiction
The processes that give rise to addictive behavior resist a simplistic explanation. There is not just one cause: Although genetic or other biological factors can contribute to a person’s vulnerability to the condition, many social, psychological, and environmental factors also have a powerful influence on substance use.
Some characteristics, such as a lack of ability to tolerate distress or other strong feelings, have been associated with addiction (this includes past traumas and a lack of resiliency), but there is no one “addictive personality” type that clearly predicts whether a person will face problems with addiction. Except in the case of romance scams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. where almost ALL victims experience addiction caused by hormones and neurotransmitters triggered deliberately by the criminals.
Symptoms of Addiction
In the case of scam victims the post-scam symptoms are very few:
- Disorientation, confusion, shock, and panic after the scam is discovered and accepted.
- A frenetic search for a savior after the scam ends.
- A wave of initial anger Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam.
A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically.
Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability. to contrary views and guidance.
- Uncertainty about the scam being really a scam – could this all be a mistake
The thing about romance scam addiction is that at the same time a victim is going through withdrawal, they are also traumatized and beginning to process grief. This leaves the victim in a blender full of mixed symptoms.
Causes of Addiction
In the case of romance scam addition, the cause is the obvious 800-pound gorilla in the room – it was the scam!
None of the other predispositions of addition need to apply, though if a person was previously an addict it can have an effect on their resistance or vulnerability to these crimes.
Treatment of Addiction
Romance scam addiction will fade on its own – per our experience – without any extra effort UNLESS the victim is in denial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. and jumps back into another online relationship to feed that addition.
However, it is important that the victim engages in a real scam victim support and recovery program so that all of the other factors are supported, considered, and that the victim is helped to make it through the post-scam process.
Regardless, we always recommend that scam victims seek the help of a local trauma counselor or therapist, and join one of the SCARS support and recovery groups.
Here are resources to help find a trauma counselor or therapist:
SCARS Support & Recovery Groups
To join a SCARS online support and recovery group go here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SCARS.Avoidance.Information.Public.Group