(THE BOOK) Chapter 16: Socialization

However common trauma may be, there is another, even more inevitable experience that drives human beings into control addiction: socialization.

Socialization is that process by which individuals are trained to adapt and conform to their social environment.  They do this first by learning — and finally by internalizing — a set of rules, norms, values, behaviors, customs and social skills.

To be socialized is what it means to be normal.

And as every human knows, abnormal is dangerous.

That’s because we’re social beings, wired for life in groups.  Deep within us is the conviction that security comes only with membership, with belonging. 

At that same primitive level, we know rejection and expulsion mean isolation and death. 

As a result we’re driven by social needs only slightly less than by biological ones.  Where animals survive by listening to inborn natural instincts, humans survive by obeying the rules imposed by their tribe.

Early sociologists and psychologists saw socialization as a generally good thing, a necessary counterbalance to human selfishness, a civilizing influence.

Most therapists see it differently now.  

We see the cost at which people purchase normality. 

How socialization erodes the individual’s connection to his or her true self.  How over time this becomes an inability to even know who that true self is — what one really thinks and feels, wants and needs.

How self-awareness gets replaced by preoccupation with how other people see them.

How self-care gets replaced by a compulsion to manage and manipulate other people, places and things.

And how self-acceptance and self-love are replaced by a craving to feel valued by others.

I see these results daily, in clients convinced that happiness lies somewhere Out There, and so spend their lives pursuing external rewards – love, approval, success, popularity, fame, money, possessions – in the belief that such rewards are what life is all about.

Who end up losing themselves, and teach their children to do the same.




2 responses to “(THE BOOK) Chapter 16: Socialization

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