“Blind to Betrayal”: Betrayal Blindness and Trauma

A must-read for everyone who has experienced betrayal and betrayal blindness — and that means almost all of us. Laura S. Brown, Ph.D., regarding Blind to Betrayal

Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren’t Being Fooled by Jennifer Freyd and Pamela Birrell addresses the important topic of betrayal trauma and its effects.

Freyd, who’s the editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation and who has done extensive research for years regarding the phenomenon of betrayal blindness, defines it as follows: “the unawareness, not-knowing, and forgetting exhibited by people towards betrayal.”

Betrayal trauma, she notes, “occurs when the people or institutions on which a person depends for survival significantly violate that person’s trust or well-being: Childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse perpetrated by a caregiver are examples of betrayal trauma.”

More quotes by Freyd about the impact of betrayal, as cited in Medical Xpress:

  • “On discovery of betrayal, a key response is to reorganize one’s perceptions of what has happened—to rewrite history. Betrayal therefore has a fundamental impact on one’s perceptions of reality.”
  • “…(I)t usually is safer for children to be blind to betrayal when it comes from the hands of a caregiver or someone the child trusts. In that situation, seeing the betrayal would likely only make matters worse – because a natural response to seeing betrayal is to confront it in some way. If a child confronts a betraying caregiver his or her situation is likely to become worse, even threatening survival.”
  • The survival response of betrayal blindness “keeps us from being fully strong, alive or healthy. It makes us vulnerable to more betrayal and makes it difficult to have truly intimate relationships.”

Wendy J. Murphy, JD, New England Law/Boston, Author of And Justice For Some: “Fear of experiencing the overwhelming pain of knowing that people to whom we render ourselves vulnerable have exploited rather than cherished our trust makes us ‘blind’ to betrayal even when it’s right there in front of us. Drs. Freyd and Birrell have built a critical bridge of knowledge that allows us to take the blinders off and become comfortable in our discomfort. This book is a gift to all who suffer with or support those who feel stuck in the reluctance to know the ugly truth about the people and institutions we entrust with our minds and bodies.”

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