Shunning: A Tool Widely Used

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by Scent of Cedar *, Sep 12, 2015.

  1. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Good Morning, Everybody


    In an effort to understand why my family of origin behaves as it does toward me, I began researching the practice of shunning. What I found is that we all practice shunning. It's a matter of degree. From the husband refusing to speak to his wife in the morning to the vilification of political figures, from socially sanctioned racism to religious intolerance to outright terrorism, shaming and shunning are degrees of the same thing: Punishment for deviation from established norms.

    Pack and herd animals practice shunning based on the alpha animal's response to the lesser ~ or to the stronger, more defiant ~ member of the pack or herd.

    This is called the pecking order.

    The pecking order is in effect from the barnyard to the Boardroom.

    For the lesser animal, banishment means isolation and death.

    In the case of the defiant pack or herd member, bullying or shaming will not be tolerated. The alpha animal will be confronted and destroyed or the defiant member will leave, establishing a second herd or pack.

    Shunning, or turning away from, is a form of shaming gone public. Whether it is family of origin uniting to shame one of their own or a community of like minded people uniting to shame another segment of the community, shunning is done to punish; is done to isolate and to leave the outcast defenseless and ashamed.

    One of the articles I read discussed religious terrorism in the Middle East in terms of shaming and shunning culminating in multiple beheadings. Ridicule progressing to victimization progressing to ostracization progressing to socially sanctioned murder.

    In the Middle East, a woman can be publicly stoned for defying religious mores.

    So, that is how far shunning can go. That is how serious a thing it is, to be rejected or disparaged by family and community. Or, in abusive relationships, by our mates. Or when we are bullied at school or at work or at home. In their attempts to elicit allies among our sibs, in their attempts to shame or ostracize us through rumor and innuendo (or calling the cops) this is the ugliness at the core of what our families of origin are doing.

    Not very pretty, is it.

    Isolated, deprived of our people and our memories and traditions, deprived too of anticipation of loving support not only in the future, but in how we are interpreted in our pasts, we are made less than fully, joyfully human.

    And that is the intent of shunning in dysfunctional families.

    Serenity, this is for you:


    Links to articles on shunning/shaming/bullying

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Oh, Cedar. THAT IS PERFECT...lolol!!!!

    Thank you.

    I realize now that my FOO was never getting rid of me to protect themselves. I didn't pose a threat to them. They were doing it to shame, shun and punish. That makes me feel better, as if it is not my fault, but their meanness.

    I've long said there is a mean gene in our family and, in some members, a lack of empathy except when it benefits themselves in some way. I know of nobody in my FOO that has ever done a generous deed for somebody else, especially people they don't know, without expecting a payback in return. No interests in charity, the underprivileged, the disabled, and certainly not the mentally ill, although there is loads of it in FOO.Never a worry about people who can't afford medical care or to eat, unless, of course, it hit THEM. Then they cared about one person who couldn't eat or afford medical care...THEM. Selfish group. Oh, there goes my judging again. Maybe they aren't. This is just how they think.

    I was always an outcast there, but I realize now it is for speaking up and for being different. It is nice to finally shed the shame. Trust me,t hough, certain days I will have an emotional flashback and still feel shame. But it is less now and I can talk myself out of it by asking, "What horrible thing did you really do? Harm somebody so that they have PTSD? Hurt anybody? Steal? Deface property? Is this not a punishment given you because you would not do what said person wanted? Did you take a moral stand, like with the $5000, and stick to it and then get punished?"

    The answers are always yes.

    I gained lots and lots in having compassion by being shunned, so it is not all bad. I value this about me. There are plenty of things I DO NOT That trait s one I am proud of.

    These days I'm trying to work with my therapist on turning negatives into positives and that was an example ;)

    We are doing this, Copa and Cedar. We are winning.
  3. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    I am so happy for you, Serenity. This is happening for me, too. I am surprised sometimes, at how much it all still hurts. I feel badly for all of us who were cheated out of the full wonder of being a real human person.

    We were perfect, instead.

    Here is a secret: I am not wearing polish on my toes. This is the second day. I never do not tend to my pedicure; I am horrified when my polish is chipped and I cannot attend to it immediately.

    I never do not wear polish.

    So, this is huge.

    I look pretty darn sloppy.

    Okay, so that must be where I am coming to next. So...on the pedicure issue.

    It kind of feels like I am defacing property.

    Isn't that an interesting thing.

    You are a very gentle person, it seems to me. More gentle and caring than me. I am all anger bound, still.

    And I have that defaced toes thing going on, this morning.


    See what I mean? Pure defiance.

    For heaven's sake.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I can be gentle and vulnerable. I can stick up for myself and be tough and cause shockwaves in the FOO "do it like I say"

    I find you a very caring person. I went through the anger already, that's all.
  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is how it feels, to have been shamed, and to have been shunned.

    This is Golum, a character from Lord of the Rings.


    Golum is said to have been shunned by his grandmother. He becomes obsessed with the Ring. It blesses him with invisibility, much the way taking on a role blesses the toxically shamed child or adult with a kind of invisibility.

  6. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Very interesting Cedar. I've read through your first post in this thread and it's made me want to read more about this. I think an important aspect of shunning is its use as a tool to try and control the behaviour of others so that they fit the 'norm'.

    We have a new leader of the opposition here, Jeremy Corbyn, a left-wing politician with strong views that don't fit with the establishment. He's been shunned in the past and possibly ridiculed. It will be interesting to watch how the "in-crowd" of upper-class, privately-educated politicians deal with this situation, now that he is in a position of relative power.

    Shunning can have the opposite effect as that wanted. My mother shunned me because I didn't fit with her 'established' ideas of how a daughter should behave. She thought this would force me to toe the line and fit in with her. She is now an elderly woman who has been shunned by her children, particularly her son. Karma. You can't behave how you like and expect no repurcussions.

    There is a saying in the UK: "sending someone to Coventry". It means ignoring someone and not speaking to them, shunning in effect. It's traditionally been seen as a form of punishment but is often used by school-children as a form of 'punishment' for non-conformity rather than for any misdemeanor. It only works if the person being 'sent to Coventry' cares. A shrugging 'who cares' response immediately removes all power from those doing the shunning. So my mother has lost all her power, if she ever had any, in fact she's lost a lot more than her power.

    This is a waffly post isn't it? I'll probably read this back in a while and want to edit it and it'll be too late. (probably much as my mother would like to do with her life maybe - although I think she probably still thinks that she's beyond reproach and everyone else, especially me, is the bad guy)
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Hi, nlj.


    Well, that's the thing. I do care. I feel judged and found wanting and ridiculed and rejected.

    I am ashamed, that my people don't want me.

    The difference now is that I am angrier than I am ashamed.

    When this happened before, I was only ashamed. Really, I was so shamed by it that I can feel sickened even now, when I think about how confused and hurt I was, then.


    So, a much as I am not so proud of how angry I am now over every little thing about them, I am proud of myself for being angry at the same time.

    I just don't want to get stuck in it.

    That is so hurtful. I am sorry that happened to you, nlj. Do you believe the mother shunned out of anger that you refused to bend the knee, or because you did not fit the established ideas of behavior? We are finding that dysfunctional moms seem to shun for the purpose of reestablishing their power bases over us.

    I think they hate to be defied, and shun the defiant child out of that hatred.

    Where another mother might have been proud of her daughter's nonconformity, your mother chose to shun. But the question we are asking ourselves here in the FOO Chronicles is whether anything having to do with the ways our mother's behaved toward us had anything to do with us, with who we were.

    Had you not rebelled against the mother nlj, do you believe she would have enacted a kind of "shunning in place" having to do with domination of you?

    I am coming to believe that is what dysfunctional moms do. They shun in place. We grow up being dominated, being shunned in place. We break away from them, and that is when the shunning goes public and allies are gathered against us to justify the shunning.

    And once again, even in our own shunning, it gets to be all about the mother.

    If we do not break away, they dominate us until our worlds, and our lives, revolve first around them.

    But they never love us.

    I think they do not love us.

    That is the difference. Think what we have all gone through with our own troubled kids. I get mad at them all the time, but I miss them too much to ever decide not to see them, or not at least to hear their voices.

    Why isn't that true for our own mothers, I wonder.

    Why are they forever determined to dominate, instead of finding joy in us, the way we do with our own children.

    Sorry, nlj. I am getting off track, here.


    In seeing the process of shunning as I do now, I have been listening to our media here as they try first to ridicule and then, to isolate and destroy, particular candidates.

    I wonder if Jeremy Corbyn is aware of the dynamic behind efforts to ridicule and isolate, and if this is how he can be strong enough to withstand it?

    Oh, yes. Religious shunning is used for exactly that purpose. I read about an experiment: A group of college students, aware that the experiment will be done to explore the dynamic of the shunned persons, agree to throw a ball back and forth among all of them. Those who will be shunned by not having the ball thrown to them after a certain period are aware this will happen.

    The shunned students experienced intense shame lasting long after the experiment was over. The shunning students felt a sense of ridicule for those who had been shunned, long after the experiment was over.

    Isn't that an interesting thing.

  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    So, as I am coming through this (or going deeper into it, I am never sure which it is), I am wondering, because of the similarity in the sisters' abusive patterns of interaction with us, whether a kind of shunning in place was always the order of the day in our families of origin. I cannot explain, not only the similarities in the sisters' determined cruelty, but in their senses of entitlement.

    How is it they do not see the wrongness in how they see us?

    We are discussing Joseph's having been sold into slavery, by his own brothers, and with the father's apparent complicity, on one of the other threads. How had they been brought up to see Joseph and, more importantly, how had Joseph been brought up to see himself, for that to have happened. How is it the father did not buy Joseph back out of slavery?

    How is it the father just let him go?

    And you know, in my thinking, there is a connection to shunning in place in all this.

    Why did the sisters routinely confide in us? Why call us as they did, but feel, as Serenity's sister did for sure and I suspect my sister did too, that they could cut off contact routinely (as Serenity's sister did) or claim to have been too busy to call, or to pick up when I called, in my sister's case? How is it that Copa's sister could be invited to a lovely lunch and behave like a fishwife with a witness in tow?

    Why did that happen and more importantly for us in our healing, why was that okay with us? Why did we automatically wonder where we'd offended?

    My sister invariably called crying or upset and soon to cry.

    I was forever dropping whatever I was doing to attend to her.

    D H believes (and has always believed) that my sister's choices of presentation ~ the tears and the neediness ~ were manipulatory tactics designed to elicit and establish the family of origin dynamic. That the purpose of the phone calls was to gather information about something else entirely, and that the phone calls lasted, or were repeated, until that purpose was attained.

    Well, not in those words. What he said was he didn't trust my sister as far as he could spit. That stuff I wrote above was an enhanced translation.


    When I stopped picking up for my sister, she had no problem making multiple calls or following me from one post to another on Facebook.

    Entitlement, again.

    When I was further along in my healing and would ask, more often than not right in the middle of a conversation about whatever my sister's concerns were at the time, why she was calling me, she would say because she loved me. There would be all kinds of involved reasons for not having picked up when I called her. Even though my own mother was staying with her. And she did not pick up for me, or for my brother, either.


    I am wondering what the deal was, with the phone calls. Especially in light of the lengths Serenity's sister has gone to to track her down so she could ~ I don't know. "Expose" her here, I guess.

    But how did her reasoning go, in that she thought we would think less of Serenity because she did that? Her purpose was to shame Serenity, and to isolate and expose her, if she could. That is what she had Daphne write, in her post. The sister had recently been banned from a site she was posting in on. Daphne's second or third post threatened to report the post Daphne had posted in on, here. Like, the sister wanted Serenity to know that those responsible for the quality of the site would "know" about Serenity.

    It could even be that the sister believed her posts would result in Serenity's being banned, here.

    How does that make any sense? I mean, how does the thinking behind those actions make any rational sense. It doesn't. is it the sisters assume we will be isolated and exposed if they ~ I don't know. Do what they do, I guess.

    How is it Serenity's sister's accusations regarding Serenity's thinking could cause Serenity to feel she needed to prove she wasn't beating her wife?

    That is the essence of the thing.

    The thinking behind the sisters' actions, and what that can tell us about the emotional climate of the homes we grew up in.

    I mean, I get it that the sisters' mindsets don't matter...but maybe, they do. Maybe, that kind of thinking about us is the flavor of how we grew up.

    How do the sisters, easily into their fifties if not, as my own sister is, into her do they justify what they feel and the actions they take based on those feelings unless those feelings are so much a part of who they are in relation to us that they don't even see what they do as wrong. Not wrong only because they were doing it to us, but wrong actions for decent people to engage in, whoever they are interacting with?

    Somewhere in their thinking, this is how they were taught to see us.

    I feel so badly for us. What a sad way to grow up; what a sad way to have been defined.

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok. Im on my tablet. U know what that means. Typos. Ugh.

    My sister thought it would work because everyone she knew always believed her view. She is a good pretender of normal and nice. She doesnt expose who she is and publicly says the right things. Nobody in her life knows about the cops for example.

    My friends do know. I have close friends. I dont lie about who I am. I dont think having a mental illness is shameful. I live well with mine. She is mentslly ill with anorexia and probably other things, but she doesnt want to have a professional diagnose her. Digressing...

    She believed shed be believed because her world is only her and her peeps and sick foo believed. She doesnt unferstand how it sounds for her to tell her stuff to neutral people like the cops or to my friends. They will think SHE is wrong. It sounds vicious to neutrals and friends know me. Even if she called my job, they would tell her to take a hike.

    Our sisters are not other oriented. They feel that because they think or say things about us, everyone will agree with their assessment. Daphne expected it. Your sisters do too.

    Thats how I see it.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member


    I hereby declare "no contact" to be "shunning." :)

    I do think many people use it simply to be mean and believe this is the case with FOO.

    But I think I LIKE it ;)
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    She has hurt you so much, Serenity.

    I am glad you have erected defenses against her in all these areas.

    To focus to the point of obsession as your sister has ~ this is not something a healthy person does.

    I wonder whether the police cautioned the sister regarding her calls to the police? I am thinking they must have.

  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    She has hurt you so much, Serenity.

    I am glad you have erected defenses against her in all these areas.

    To focus to the point of obsession as your sister has ~ this is not something a healthy person does.

    I wonder whether the police cautioned the sister regarding her calls to the police? I am thinking they must have.

  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    She has hurt you so much, Serenity. You have been gaslighted, I think.

    Do you suppose the police threatened to charge her with harassment, or with using the police to harass?


    You noted in your post that our sisters were not other-oriented. I think there is something more serious than that happening with our sisters, and between our sisters and ourselves.
  14. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I did not see the first post, so I posted the second. Then, I did not see either, so I posted the third.


  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I never asked her what they told her, b ut from talking to our cop friend that she made a fool out of herself by calling where I used to live, he HAD to take the report and visit and talk to me, although he didn't do it the last time s he called. It was kind of funny. I ran into him at the only bank in town and we chatted a bit then he said, "Oh, yeah. Your sister called again." And we both laughed. I said, "I'm really sorry about her." That's when he told me he had to take it seriously, although...and he stopped there.

    There were only three cops in the town and we knew them all very well, but she kept getting him, Jumper's friends father. I take that, since she knew about it, to mean that her petty attempt to control me crossed the boundaries of our silent vow to stay out of each others children's lives.

    Yes, she hurt me. Past tense. She can't anymore. It will never happen again.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar, of course it's deeper. It's childhood sibling rivalry in senior citizens. Sick, really.

    I'm glad mine is finally over. I hope yours is too. And Copas.
  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I think it could be more than rivalry, Serenity. Our sisters believe what they think; it seems they are determined that with enough witnesses, what they think can be true.

    Your sister believed she would be supported here; believed she needed outside validation for her stories even after you moved to another town and that she would find it through police involvement; believed that naming you terrible names on an anonymous internet site would make it true.

    That chills me to the visceral bone.

    Not only for your sister Serenity, but for each of the sisters. Once you stop excusing the behaviors, once we stop believing that of course these women love us because they're our sisters...the behaviors are weirdly strange and deeply hurtful things.

    It's like we've been betrayed by someone we thought loved us every day of our lives.

    Have they been lying about us to everyone in their lives, to everyone we introduce them to in ours?

    Is that a piece of this?

  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar of course she thought she could get me banned here because she always goes over my head to keep me in line. And she is always surprised when people don't believe her, but since the only two people there were her and me and me and my mom, she doesn't get that she is only telling a story from her perspective or her own altered reality, as could be said with me too. If she tells people I"m mentally ill and she's not, then she can trick herself to believe she never had and still has an eating disorder that makes her do certain things in a peculiar way and makes her think in a certain way. It's just me. After all I admit it. And if you don't admit it, it's not true. But an eating disorder is a mental illness that can kill you (I hope it doesn't kill her. I really mean that with all my heart).

    And if she says I abused my mom and her mom was not the cause of her problems for ignoring her as a child, which is a definite form of abuse, then it didn't happen. After all, as she says she "grew up" with a borderline sister (you can't be borderline at three or ten or even sixteen years old), she can blame everything on me. I was the one who didn't teach us manners, boundaries, life skills, cleaning and cooking skills, or give nurturing. I am the default for the person who is really responsible, my mother. It is a fact, and even she knows it, that my mother would not discipline me for teasing her and THAT is why it went on. And my brother helped me do it too. It is a fact that my mother supported my brother's college education with enthusiasm while she made my sister get a loan and refused to let her major in her choice of a career in order for her to co-sign. It was always my mother's decisions. My dad did what my mother wanted. He cowered before her too. Yes, he yelled at her, but he was scared of her too, just like I fought back but, at the same time, was afraid of and at times felt the extent of emotion that could mean hated her. It didn't last, but there were times. My sister saw that. She heard it. She was there when she felt so low in self-esteem and so neglected that shse stopped eating. She has still not recovered. She thinks she had. If you knew her and know anything about eating disorders, you'd know being very underweight and being beautiful are still primary focuses in her life.

    "I like attention." (for looks) Often she has said that. In a married man. In an abusive jerk. Flattered by anyone who told her she looked good. I never saw the lady eat. I did see her cook for others. Never once in my adulthood seen her sit down at a restaurant and order a meal and eat it. Drink coffee, yes. Drink alcohol on an empty stomach because she "fasted" so she could drink (because of calorites) yes.

    There are personality problems that go along with being anorexic, such as being controlling. YYou stop eating because you feel as if your life is out of control, but you have control of this one area.

    "SWOT, I saw your sister at the XXX Grocery Store, and she is so skinny. She looks like she has HIV>" (Ex husband)

    "If I weight more than 100 lbs, I diet until I'm under that." (Her)

    Why am I sharing with my friends?

    She tells everyone I am mentalaly ill, which is true. Without my medications, I would probably be too depressed to function. That's serious. I've been hospitalized for that and take very good care of my physical and mental health to make sure I stay stable. And I do have down days, although not as bad as before Paroxatene, my magic medication, and all the new therapy that has helped me soooooooooooo much. I am in NAMI and am studying to becoming a Peer Mentor for others who are mentally ill. My sister makes me out to anyone who will listen as a crazy person because I have a mental illness. And she adds to my diagnoses as if mood disorder not otherwise specified, Anxiety disorder, panic disorder, mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and neurological disorder not otherwise specified are not bad enough. Nope. She homed in on borderline, which I thought I once could be. I think just as strongly that she could have it. In truth, I think we both have traits, which I try to control. Every therapist I have brought this up to, plus psychiatrists, said I do not have it. I have had long term relationships. I have never attempted suicide. I do not cut. I do not fight with my employers (my issues at employment are neurologically related), I have long term friends, I don't cut, I don't have an eating disorder (yes, this is common with borderline), I do not refuse to take my medications, refuse to go for help, or deny that I NEED help. I do not steal or break the law or have problems with authority figures. All of these are borderline traits. I don't have most of them. And people way smarter than her have told me this. But, being her own type of mental illness, saying I have it and she doesn't makes her feel in control of me, although, to be honest, since she was suspended from her site, I have had radio silence from her and it's good. I won't seek her out.

    This is something that I really wanted to put out there for my friends. I have a few symptoms of Borderline (BPD), not enough for a diagnosis and very much under control. And so does my sister. And she is mentally ill with a very serious eating disorder. And my Uncle Vain did too. And he ran and ran and ran, just like she does. And over-exercised. And wouldn't eat normally. And he thought he was very healthy. And he died at 72 which, by today's standards, is not old.

    My sister is so much like my uncle was that it's spooky. In this way of over-worry about appearance, eating and over-exercising they are exactly the same. She says Uncle Vain only ate certain things and that is wahy he died young. Well, I've never seen her eat. Sadly, I think one of her kids may be following in her footsteps with encouragement from sister. She has smart kids, beautiful kids...I can't think of anything bad about her kids. But they can't be 100% ok if they were raised by her. Just as my kids have some issues too, but only one seems to have anything similiar to me...Bart. Biology. Anorexia is becoming known as a biological pre-disposition. I hope I'm wrong with every fiber in my being. But I don't think so.

    Ok, so this is the very last thing I wanted to put down on paper. I am tired of Sis calling ME mentally ill, when I admit it and everyone I know accepts it. And I'm tired of her using it as a slur. She is using it to punish me yet again.

    And I am not going to post as often because Daphne was here. At least not here will I post as often. I just never know who is still reading this.

    But this was oen bit of ranting that must have been bubbling up inside of me because I was literally pounding the keys as I typed.

    What kind of people are these? Why do they so much want to feel better about themselves that they have a need to so mean about us? And my sister can post on an anon. site forever. I don't care. She shares this in her real life too. That's different. Except in therapy, I don't really talk bout her in real life. I am not interested in telling her friends or anybody about what I think of her or know of her. I could have. I could tell her friends the horrible things she told me about them or their significant others. There are ways. Daphne proved that.

    What is the point of that though? I never want to talk about her to anybody. Most people never even hear I have a sister or a brother. I talk about my husband and kids with love a nd pride, but not about my FOO.

    Why do they feel the need to do it? It isn't even true.

    Ok, I'm done (whew!).

    On a lighter note, no work today, but I had so many things to get done that I just got home. I walked my two best friends (doggies) and spent some time with them and getting ready for a healthy jog. Not a twenty mile job, but a half hour to forty five minute mild jog along the river. It is very beautiful there and it's so cool and sunny outside. Paradise.

    I hope you two are having a great day. I am glad I can vent. Now I feel like I got even more weight off my shoulders and can enjoy the rest of my day.

    At least be glad that your sibs don't tell everyone they know that you have a "crazy" (her word) sister. As if she is Ms. Normal.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
  19. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Well, there's that.