Welcome to a new Good Men Project feature. My name is Eric Maisel, I do primary research in the area of family authoritarians and the harm they do, and every Thursday I’ll be providing important information about authoritarian wounding in the family. I’ll also be sharing your stories because it’s really important that the first-account of victims of authoritarian wounding be heard. I hope you’ll join me each Thursday.
I intend to expose the widespread, epidemic nature of authoritarian wounding and its negative effects on millions upon millions of boys and men (and girls and women). No issue may be more important in a man’s life or have graver lifelong consequences than the wounding he experienced at the hands of an authoritarian father, mother, sibling, or other family member, at the hands of an authority figure like a teacher, club leader, or clergyman, or, as an adult, at the hands of his male or female partner.
This vital issue has escaped our collective attention. There is indeed a significant “authoritarian personality” literature dating back to the 1950s. But that literature, primarily political, sociological and academic in nature, paid little or no attention to authoritarian wounding in the family. I intend to partially fill the gap left by that huge omission with this weekly “Authoritarians in the Family” blog.
I’ll be providing information about every aspect of authoritarian wounding: who authoritarians are, what harm they do, and what you can do to heal from past authoritarian contact. We’ll also look at what you can do to survive current contact with an authoritarian. I’ve done primary research in this area and my writings include Helping Survivors of Authoritarian Parents, Siblings and Partners and many posts on my Psychology Today “Rethinking Mental Health” blog. I’ll have a lot to share with you!
I hope you’ll also want to share your story with me. I invite you to contribute your story. I want this blog to do more than just inform and educate you. I want you to have the chance to heal by sharing your story. You can do that by taking the Authoritarian Wound Questionnaire that follows and by emailing it back to me at [email protected]. Over the coming months, I’ll share many of your stories (with permission, of course). You’ll discover that you are not alone!
Millions of men have been wounded in this way, with lifelong negative consequences that include chronic despair, chronic anxiety, addictive tendencies, and relationship problems. Let’s get this devastating problem exposed and start the healing! A brief, straightforward Authoritarian Wound Questionnaire follows. If, somewhere along the line in life, you’ve been wounded by an authoritarian, you may want to engage with this questionnaire and answer it fully. And I hope you’ll want to share your answers with me.
The Authoritarian Wound Questionnaire
At this moment, you may not know the technical definition of “the authoritarian personality” or its exact look (it’s made up of more than two dozen specific traits). But you do know if you were bullied and treated cruelly if you had to abide by arbitrary, mean-spirited rules, if your every move was watched, or if you were severely punished for minor offenses. If you’ve experienced an authoritarian, you know it.
In future posts, I’ll spell out all the features of the authoritarian personality. But you don’t have to wait for that information before completing the following questionnaire. To repeat: if you’ve had to deal with an authoritarian, you know it. Trust your intuition about this. If you’ve had such an experience, complete the following questionnaire, just for yourself or to share with me. Completing it even just for yourself will begin the healing!
Please feel free to write at as much length as you need: telling your story fully will do you more good than supplying one-word answers.
Authoritarian Wound Questionnaire
1. Have you had the experience of having to deal with an “authoritarian personality” (a parent, sibling, mate, adult child, co-worker, boss, etc.)?
2. What was that experience (or those experiences) like?
3. What would you say were the major personal consequences of having been wounded by an authoritarian? (There are many common consequences but I don’t want to start naming them yet, as that will “put ideas into your head.” I’d rather you think through what you believe those consequences were.)
4. What (if anything) has helped you deal with or heal from this authoritarian wounding?
5. If you’ve been in therapy or counseling, has the issue of “dealing with an authoritarian personality” come up and been addressed? Has therapy or counseling helped in this regard?
6. If you had to make a complete break with the authoritarian in your life, what effect did that have on you, either positive (e.g., you felt safer and saner) or negative (e.g., feelings of loss and guilt)?
7. If you are still dealing with an authoritarian, what (if anything) helps you cope?
Please add anything you’d like to add about living with, working with, or dealing with an authoritarian and/or healing (or not healing) from your authoritarian wounds.
I hope that filling out this questionnaire will help you personally. If you would like to share your story with me (and Good Men readers) please send your filled-out questionnaire to me with a few words granting me permission to use it. You can send it to me, Eric Maisel, at [email protected]
In the coming posts, I’ll share a lot of information about the nature and consequences of authoritarian wounding. I’ll also be presenting a picture of how kirism, a contemporary philosophy of life that I’ve developed, can help you dramatically heal your authoritarian wounds.
The wounds you received in childhood or adulthood at the hands of an authoritarian family member or someone else close to you may have determined the whole course of your life. That’s how profound these wounds can be. Let’s shine a bright light on this epidemic problem so that some long-overdue healing can begin!
Eric Maisel is the author of 50+ books. His three blogs on the Good Men Project are Eric Maisel (on Mondays), Authoritarians in the Family (Thursdays), and Kirism Today (Saturdays). You can visit him at https://ericmaisel.com/, subscribe to his weekly newsletter at https://ericmaisel.com/newsletter/, or write him at [email protected].