I am Daniel
I'm funnier when no one else is around
My colleagues and I refer to this belief as ‘The Boiler Theory of Men.’ The idea is that a person can only tolerate so much accumulated pain and frustration. If it doesn’t get vented periodically—kind of like a pressure cooker—then there’s bound to be a serious accident. This myth has the ring of truth to it because we are all aware of how many men keep too much emotion pent up side. Since most abusers are male, it seems to add up.
But it doesn’t, and here’s why: Most of my clients are not usually repressed. In fact, many of them express their feelings more than some nonabusive men. Rather than trapping everything inside, they actually tend to do the opposite: They have an exaggerated idea of how important their feelings are, and they talk about their feelings—and act them out—all the time, until their partners and children are exhausted from hearing about it all. An abuser’s emotions are as likely to be too big as too small. They can fill up the whole house. When he feels bad, he thinks that life should stop for everyone else in the family until someone fixes his discomfort. His partner’s life crises, the children’s sicknesses, meals, birthdays—nothing else matters as much as his feelings.
It is not his feelings the abuser is too distant from; it is his partner’s feelings and his children’s feelings. Those are the emotions that he knows so little about and that he needs to ‘get in touch with.’ My job as an abuse counselor often involves steering the discussion away from how my clients feel and toward how they think (including their attitudes toward their partner’s feelings). My clients keep trying to drive the ball back into the court that is familiar and comfortable to them, where their inner world is the only thing that matters.
Lundy Bancroft in Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (2002), pp. 30–31 (via mikroblogolas)