shared psychosis

i think there’s a flaw in my code

i write to deal with my own experience of mental illness and!!! this happened!!

TRIGGER WARNINGS: mental illness!!!!! description of panic attack situation, and possibly psychosis? also mention of delusions.

keep yourself safe, always always <3

(read it on AO3)

today, it’s tuesday, and his mind is loud.

he hasn’t slept yet, because it’s choking. it is stifling - the fear. the panic. bubbling thick and clinging in the marrow of his bones, like an infection. 

he’s pressed flat to the bed with the weight of it aching on his ribs.

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I did a thread on psychotic disorders on Twitter. You can find that thread where I go into more detail and answer questions here:

Shared Psychosis - Captor and Captive

More commonly known as Stockholm and Lima syndrome, this form of shared psychosis involves both captor and captive forming an emotional dependence to one another. However, this applies just as prevalently to instances of abuser and abused. It also illustrates one of the reasons why the victim stays with or returns to the abuser.

In certain instances, not all, when an individual is held captive and controlled by another person they become codependent emotionally to their captor. Likewise, in some instances, the captor develops an emotional codependence to their captive. The reason why this happens is not entirely clear, and it’s difficult to analyze the phenomenon because the variables are considerable.

However, the circumstances in each situation is the same. The captor/abuser takes away the captives/victim’s autonomy - takes control of what the captive/victim is allowed to do, who they talk to, and are forced into submissive/subservient behavior. Faced with social isolation, emotional degradation and physical control the victim sometimes becomes completely dependent on their captor/abuser for all their needs. Ultimately, this is what the captor/abuser wants, to have full control, for their captive/victim to need them as much as they need their captive/victim.

Unfortunately these instances are romanticized and presented as “true love” when in truth is a case of shared psychosis. The tale of “Beauty and the Beast” is a widely circulated and well-known example. In the tale a person is more or less traded to another, that person is than kept prisoner for an undisclosed amount of time. Faced with no one else to truly speak to the captor and captive become codependent on one another emotionally and mentally. At one point the captor lets the captive go but the captive returns because at that point they are dependent on each other for their emotional/mental needs.

In the Disney version the captor lets the captive have access to a new part of the prison. This is no more romantic than a captor allowing their captive access to a toilet. They are still controlling where their captive can go and when.

Another is the story of “The Phantom of the Opera”. In this case a known serial murderer manipulates and gaslights their chosen victim to believing they are talking to a incoporeal spirit. Then, when the victim begins to form a relationship with another person, the victim is kidnapped and kept hostage for an undisclosed period of time. The captor threatens to kill those who come to rescue the victim (and all those in the building) but with a proof of affection from the captive, the captor lets the rescuers go (nearly drowning them in the process). The captor lets the captive go but the captive returns at least once.

In both these tales the captive/victim has made a fatal mistake, they have misconstrued a lack of abuse for a show of genuine affection. Not actively verablly/mentally abusing at some point does not change the fact that they have abused in the past. Not killing someone in one instance does not remove the fact that they have killed in the past. Being treated well during a hostage situation does not mean the captive is free.

This is true in any abusive relationship. Simply because they are not abusing you now does not change the fact that they abused you in the past and may in the future. In the end the captor/abuser is trying to control you and make you as dependent on them as they are on you.