While I usually treat depression and anxiety or marriage difficulties, I’ve had a run in my clinical practice of late of cases of parental alienation. Parental alienation occurs when one parent (usually with extreme narcissistic and borderline tendencies) vilifies the other parent. The goal of the vilification is to get the children to regard the other parent as their enemy, and to get the court system to side with them against the other parent. Alienating behaviors prove very harmful to the children, and now are being considered a very serious form of child abuse.
No one likes having enemies. No country wants enemies either. When a person, or a country, takes an enemy stance and initiates fighting, everyone gets injured. At the same, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read the following quote from an Iranian leader, a translation from the Fars-Iran news source. It sounded so much like the statements made by those who engage in parental alienation.
Hizbullah, Palestinian Terror Groups Ready to Annihilate Israel (Fars-Iran)
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Spokesman Gen. Ramezan Sharif said Wednesday: "Today Israel is in its worst condition and the fighters in Palestine and Lebanon are at the peak of their preparedness to confront any aggression by the Zionists and end the disgraceful life of the fake and criminal regime."
Structurally, this announcement sounds just like the pronouncements of parents engaged in parental alienation. The content is different: it’s about the Iranian-sponsored group Hezbollah, whose goal is to destroy America’s ally in the region, Israel. The structure though is just the same as how alienating parents talk, replete with lies and projection.
"Today Israel is in its worst condition."
The reality is that Israel is stronger than ever, both economically and militarily. It’s people are ranked among the happiest in the world. Its exports of technological, agricultural and medical innovations bring billions of dollars into the economy, much of which goes to fund social programs that help the country’s needier citizens. The Iranian statement flips the truth on its head.
Same with the next statement: "The fighters in Palestine (their name for Israel) and Lebanon (where Hezbollah has taken over much of the government and the military) are at the peak of their preparedness…."
The reality is that American economic sanctions have decimated the Iranian economy, leaving the Iranian government unable to continue to fund its terrorist entities, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Clinically, therapists prefer the term "false narratives" to the more blunt term "lies." International relations specialists who describe nations refer to "revisionist history." This term also is a kindly way of saying "lies."
Whatever you call them, these falsities are hallmarks of the communications of those who engage in parental alienation, of terrorist groups, and of the leadership of Iran.
"… aggression by the Zionists."
The term Zionists refers to people who live in or are supportive of the state of Israel. Israeli citizens and their government in fact have zero aggressive ambitions. They just want to live side-by-side with their Arab neighbors, in peace and prosperity for the full Middle East neighborhood. The aggression in the area is 100% initiated by Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel only fights when it has to defend itself. The Iranian spokesman attributes to Israel what the Iranians themselves have been doing. Aggression. That’s projection.
"the disgraceful life of the fake and criminal regime."
These words, meant to describe Israel, in fact aptly describe Iran’s current government. The people of Iran increasingly are suppressed and exploited by their government. Their government is anything but what we in America expect of our government: to be of the people, by the people, for the people. In Iran the government is there to benefit the people in the government, bankrupting instead of helpfully governing the people of Iran and criminal in its corruption. Again, "fake and criminal regime" is a clear-cut projection, attributing to others, in this case to Israel, its own traits.
What’s amusing about lies and projection? And what’s serious about them?
I chuckled when I read the Iranian statement because it so nicely illustrates these cognitive habits of alienating individuals, and also so clearly illustrates how nations can fall prey to the same psychopathologies as individuals. Understanding these pathological habits is critically important for understanding what is going on in today’s world, and also in situations where a parent is engaging in parental alienation.
Alas, beyond parental alienation and terrorist regimes, any individual or country that engages in lies and projection has dangerous agendas. If you are dealing in your life with anyone who uses these mental distortions, beware! You are likely to feel anxious, angry and depressed, and rightfully so. There’s trouble ahead.