Jean-Charles Bouchaux (Rodez, 59 years old) is a renowned French psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. In 2009 he published wicked narcissists, a book whose publisher calculated it would sell around 1,000 copies but has already exceeded 300,000. It was published by Arpa in Spain six years ago. In it, Bouchaux describes how the psyche of those who use family, professional, or emotional ties to subdue other people. Now the psychiatrist is back with another book, unseen violence, A type of aggression that is often suffered without realizing it. And that too is practiced without being conscious. Bouchaux, born 59 years ago in Rodez, France, answers the phone from Montpellier.
Ask. What is silent violence?
answer. This is a type of violence that we are not aware of. Sometimes it is exercised with a smile on the face. This is when in a job your boss asks you for something for which you have no skills, you will never be able to do it well, but he asks you nonetheless. This is what happens when we subject others to failure.
P. What happens to the victim?
R. Slowly he goes into depression. He is sad and doesn’t understand why.
P. Any special case?
R. The case of France Telecom, tragically famous. Its managers behaved as if the employees wanted to quit, but the company did not want to pay their severance pay. There were dozens of suicides.
P. Why are many people unable to restrain those who subject them to silent violence?
R. Because they don’t feel like doing it, because forms of denial are active. If I accept reality as it is, then I realize that this person is hurting me, this relationship has to end. We allow things to happen in relationships that we shouldn’t. And this also applies to witnesses of this type of violence, who become participants. The attacker inflicts collateral violence on them.
P. He says that apart from almost all of us suffering it to a greater or lesser extent, we also experience it. Why?
R. Because we are not aware of doing it. The first thing is to observe yourself, become aware.
P. Doesn’t our imperfection as living beings disappoint you?
R. No, the essential thing is to realize that in our imperfection lies our own happiness. An imperfection, affirming that the world is not ideal, doesn’t frustrate me at all. The big problem is the ideal, the idealization of oneself. It is very comforting to admit your flaws. That’s what happens when we discover that our partners don’t meet the ideal, fortunately.
P. They say that most of our suffering has its origins in an intoxicating wound.
R. The underlying pain is the pain of abandonment. If I am not the ideal person then people will not like me.
P. Why does it need to be loved?
R. This is a childish fear. An archaic phobia: the fear of dying. If I am not that ideal creature, if they leave me, I am in danger of death. However, this agony of abandonment seems to dampen its intensity. A complete graduation.
P. He also says that it is good to talk about what hurts us. And if we are heavy in doing it? What if we screw up?
R. You can vent with a friend, although many people may find it annoying. What do I recommend in talking to a therapist.
P. But many people cannot afford it. How do you think we should fix this problem?
R. Maybe we should pay a percentage of what we earn. It’s a thought. I do it at my job, my rate is flexible. Yesterday a 21 year old girl came. She can’t pay me 80 euros, she will pay me around 20, which is already a lot for her. But it is important that you pay. Somebody gets to repair it.
P. Have you finalized your vote for this first round of election? It is already Sunday.
R. I am on the left but I do not recognize myself in any party. In the first round I would vote for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who hasn’t convinced me either. In the second round, the situation looks even worse.
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