The big lie

In Mein Kampf (1925) Adolf Hitler explains the propaganda technique known as The Big Lie.

Most people, he writes, never think to fabricate “colossal untruths,” and so never expect others will have the gall to do so.  This makes them gullible — so gullible that

Even though the facts [disproving the lie] may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.

Some families promulgate Big Lies, too.

I know this because there’s one lie with which therapists struggle every working day.

I wrote about it here not long ago (All my fault).

The lie is,

A family’s problems are

caused by the children.

This lie is usually told by parents, who may believe it themselves.  (Often because their parents taught them to.)

Some deliver it directly.  I wish you were never born.  Or Why do I drink?  You’re why I drink.

That’s rare, though. More often the lie is delivered indirectly.  If I wasn’t pregnant, do you think I’d have married your father?

And sometimes it’s delivered nonverbally, with not words but behavior.

A sigh.  A sniff.  A look.  Averted eyes.  Angry or rejecting body language.  Even comments meant to be overheard.  That kid will be the death of me.

How can children defend against this?

They can’t.

Kids are like sponges.  They absorb whatever poison they’re soaked in.

So if you’re a parent it’s worth taking time to examine how you explain, in the privacy of your mind, your own family’s pains and problems.

Because, accurate or cockeyed, your conclusions will probably become your kids’ conclusions.

And in some cases, the lie they end up living.


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