Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren't Being Fooled

BOOK: Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren't Being Fooled
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Advance praise for Blind to Betrayal


Title Page










Chapter 1: Blind to Betrayal


Chapter 2: Children Betrayed


Rebecca's Story


Kevin's Story


Betrayal as a Violation of Trust


Chapter 3: The Wide Reach of Betrayal Blindness


Girl on a Plane


Mark Walker: Another Case of Betrayal


A Special Case of Betrayal Blindness: Stockholm Syndrome


The Story of Jacques Sandulescu's Betrayal Blindness


Jaycee Lee Dugard


Chapter 4: Blind Adherence


Institutional Betrayal by Employers


Cover-Up of Church Sexual Abuse


Research on Institutional Betrayal: Violations of Members' Trust Surrounding Incidents of Sexual Assault


Military Sexual Trauma and Betrayal Blindness


Institutional Betrayal in the Courtroom


Betrayal Blindness in Bystanders


Chapter 5: Why Blindness?


Dependence on the Caregiver and Attachment


Social Contracts, Trust, and Cheater Detectors


Betrayal Blindness When Attachment and Cheater Detectors Collide


Chapter 6: Knowing and Not Knowing


Samantha's Story


Did Sam Remain Unaware of Mark's Infidelity?


Sam and Betrayal Trauma Theory


Chapter 7: Mental Gymnastics


Blindness for Battering


Keeping Secrets Supports Betrayal Blindness


Double Standards and Other Mental Gymnastics That Support Betrayal Blindness


Dependence on the Perpetrator and the Need to Maintain the Relationship




Chapter 8: Insights from Research




Attention and Memory




Knowing and Not Knowing about Feelings


Perpetrator Grooming and Demands for Silence


Groupthink and Government Cover-Up


Need to Trust


Chapter 9: Betrayal Blindness Is Toxic


The Toxic Effects of Betrayal on Individuals


The Toxic Effects of Betrayal on Relationships


The Toxic Effects of Betrayal on Society


Chapter 10: The Risks of Knowing


“Knowing” about Betrayal


Beth's Story


Telling May Risk More Betrayal


It's Difficult to Know, and It's Difficult to Disclose


Why Don't We Disclose?


Chapter 11: The Healing Power of Knowing


Power, Trust, and Betrayal


Disclosure Can Be Effective in Healing


Cathy's Story: The Importance of Safety and Hope


Awareness and Parenting


Chapter 12: The Healing Power of Telling


Facing Betrayal on the Societal Level Leads to Justice


Sean Bruyea's Story: Speaking Truth to Power


Chapter 13: Speaking Our Truth


Chapter 14: Now I See: Facing Betrayal Blindness


For Those Who Suspect They Have Been Betrayed


For Friends and Supporters


For Institutions and Powerful Others


Final Words


Recommended Reading




Advance praise for
Blind to Betrayal


“Even if, like me, you are less than enchanted with therapy (
therapy!), you will find much of value in this courageous path-breaking book that honors the stories of survivors of abuse of many kinds. It is compelling, readable, and most important of all, true.”


—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of
Assault on Truth,
Final Analysis
, and twenty-four other books 


Blind to Betrayal
dares to say what most of us know, intuitively, about the basic human need to trust in the goodness of others. Fear of experiencing the overwhelming pain of knowing that people to whom we render ourselves vulnerable have exploited rather than cherished our trust makes us ‘blind' to betrayal even when it's right there in front of us. Drs. Freyd and Birrell have built a critical bridge of knowledge that allows us to take the blinders off and become comfortable in our discomfort. This book is a gift to all who suffer with or support those who feel stuck in the reluctance to know the ugly truth about the people and institutions we entrust with our minds and bodies. Open this book—then open your eyes to the power and liberation that always comes with new insight and truth.”


—Wendy J. Murphy, JD, New England Law/Boston, author of
And Justice for Some


“Drs. Freyd and Birrell open our eyes to the profound and pervasive human vulnerability of betrayal blindness. They show how it deprives us of key information and realizations, often with catastrophic results; how the scientific research helps us to understand it; and how we can break free of it. These preeminent experts have created a book that will be of great help to many people and that belongs on the book shelf of all therapists and coaches, on the reading list of all clinical training programs, and in the hands of everyone who seeks a better understanding of human behavior and experience.”


—Kenneth S. Pope, PhD, ABPP, diplomate in Clinical Psychology


“Powerful, illuminating, and disturbing, this translation of decades of meticulous scientific research and sophisticated clinical observation is an eye-opener in the best sense for social scientists, clinicians, and any reader interested in understanding the impact of trauma from a unique new perspective. The work Dr. Freyd and her colleagues have done in this controversial and increasingly urgent area of violence and victimization, the description she and Dr. Birrell provide of the paths to recovery that become possible when psychological blindness is recognized and understood, and the compelling case examples in this book, is a groundbreaking and essential contribution.”


—Julian D. Ford, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center


“Drs. Freyd and Birrell have created a masterwork for all of us who struggle to comprehend our own experiences of not seeing, not knowing, and not protecting ourselves and others from betrayal. The pervasiveness of both betrayal and betrayal blindness, and the challenges inherent in becoming able to know and see betrayal, as well as the psychological science making sense of these painful dynamics, come to life in this book. It's one that I'll be buying several copies of, because I know that it'll constantly be on loan to clients and students. A must-read for everyone who has experienced betrayal and betrayal blindness—and that means almost all of us.”


—Laura S. Brown, PhD, ABPP, director, Fremont Community Therapy Project


Copyright © 2013 by Jennifer J. Freyd and Pamela J. Birrell. All rights reserved


Cover Design: Wendy Mount
Cover Photograph: ©Tooga/Getty Images


Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey
Published simultaneously in Canada


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ISBN 978-0-470-60440-3 (paperback); ISBN 978-1-118-22069-6 (ebk);
ISBN 978-1-118-23448-8 (ebk); ISBN 978-1-118-25890-3 (ebk)

BOOK: Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren't Being Fooled
4.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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