All the factors just described — family, trauma, socialization, culture — combine in the human mind to drive controlling behavior.
And the ultimate goal of that behavior is the most primitive and stubborn of all human goals:
I refer here not just to physical survival, though certainly much of our controlling (like when we’re driving a car or battling an illness) has that as its aim.
I mean emotional, psychological, and social survival as well.
We cannot help but believe control is essential to these, too.
Thus it is emotional survival that forces children to appease their narcissistic parents, since on the deepest level they know they need parental love, nurturance and protection in order to live.
It is psychological survival that demands trauma survivors limit their exposure to threatening triggers, since the alternative — constantly recurring states of fight-or-flight — would lead to intolerable stress and the disintegration of their minds.
And it is social survival that requires each of us to absorb and obey the dictates of the society to which we belong, since – again, on the deepest of levels – we know that we cannot last long without acceptance by the tribe.
For all these reasons we each come to believe that control is essential to our lives.
This conviction is so unconscious and inescapable that it makes getting control feel like a matter of life and death. It’s why even the idea of losing control can produce anxiety, and why control addiction plays like a silent soundtrack behind every human experience.
And where does it come from, this conviction that we must control or die?
Mainly from the structure of our minds.