On Emotional Violence

This article is a sequel to On Physical Violence, and carries forward a lot of its themes.  However, I think a lot of the issues around emotional violence are less clear cut, and so the intent of this article is much more speculative and investigative.

What is Emotional Violence?

Some examples of emotional violence are:

  • making threats
  • trying to incite feelings of guilt or inadequacy
  • constant non-constructive criticism
  • isolation
  • intentional public embarrassment

ire430cWhat do these actions have in common?  They are intentional, and they are an attempt to elicit an emotion; and furthermore, the emotion is an unpleasant one.

However, I don’t think the unpleasantness of the emotion is the defining characteristic here.  If you’re in a bad mood, and some horribly cheerful person comes up to you and tries to cheer you up, I think this falls under emotional violence as well — not as severe, certainly, but nevertheless unwelcome.  I suggest that emotional violence be defined as intentional elicitation of undesired emotion.

In other words, emotional violence is what is commonly called emotional manipulation, but with the addendum that the manipulation be toward emotions that are not wanted by the victim.

Does this correspond in any way to physical violence?

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On Physical Violence

NO violence — even in self-defense.

A few months ago, I mentioned off-handedly that my feelings about violence were close to that of Gandhi and Tolstoy.  Kate Gladstone asked me about this in the comments, mentioning a book called THE RING by Piers Anthony, in which he describes a society in which some people wear a special ring that prevents them from committing any violence at all.  She notes:

“…his conclusions on non-violence in THE RING include, *but* go fascinatingly beyond, the common sentiment that a rule of absolute non-violence makes its followers the inevitable victims of those who haven’t adopted such a rule.

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