The Crushing Double Bind

The Crushing Double Bind

The Crushing Double Bind graphic

Written by Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC
Self-Love Recovery Institute – President/CEO
PsychotherapistEducatorAuthorExpert Witness

So many people suffering from Self-Love Deficit Disorder (codependency) dream of what it would be like to experience personal and emotional freedom; freedom that has been stolen by remorseless, selfish, and parasitic narcissists. For many, such thievery has occurred right before their eyes. For others, their birthright to self-respect and self-love was invisibly and undetectably stolen from them through sustained and carefully crafted campaigns of gaslighting and brainwashing.

More powerful than gaslighting is the systematic use of what I call the “Crushing Double Bind.”

I define the Crushing Double Bind as a strategic and systematic campaign to render the methodically weakened SLD helpless, by making them feel powerless and trapped. This Catch-22-like strategy teaches SLDs that any attempt to stop or escape their narcissist causes worse harm than staying put. When the solution becomes the punishment, the SLD is frozen by extreme anxiety and dread. Creating and executing a plan to escape their physical and psychological dungeon feels simply impossible for such emotionally frozen victims. The narcissist has successfully created a “can’t win for losing” predicament.  

When an SLD is immersed in the scheming narcissist’s double bind strategy, it often creates a mental health condition known as “learned helplessness.” Learned helplessness occurs when the SLD continually experiences impassible barriers, repeated failures, and little to no support. Over time, they stop trying to overcome their seemingly hopeless condition, even when they have the ability to do so. The SLD lives in a world of illusion that the narcissist has crafted specifically for them. An environment that is filled with real or imagined blockades and debilitating consequences, and the SLD becomes trapped more by brainwashing (or purposeful mental manipulation) than real circumstances. Sadly, losing and giving up the dream of winning becomes a safter alternative.

Unfortunately, freedom is not guaranteed if an SLD successfully frees themselves from the entangled web that the narcissist has woven tightly around them because of what I call SLDD Addiction.” An SLD who musters the strength and courage to break free from the narcissist will now face yet another seemingly insurmountable obstacle as they begin to experience the bone-achingly painful withdrawal symptom of their addiction, “pathological loneliness.” The SLD will often find themselves “bargaining” with themselves and many will succumb to the delusional belief that they can control, change, and even learn to enjoy the narcissist. Like many addicts, they make the terrible mistake of returning to their drug of choice to avoid the pain of withdrawal.

But there is a solution! Although not an easy one, as it requires a skilled therapist who is experienced and trained in my intensive Self-Love Recovery Program (SLRP). This program does not simply involve affirmation, empathic listening, and coaching for what to do and what not to do. It requires the SLD to really dig deep in order to overcome the origins of SLDD, and to fight against the psychological forces that prevent SLDD from being neutralized or cured. The unique healing journey you will experience in the Self-Love Recovery Program requires the resolution of attachment trauma, core shame, pathological loneliness, and addiction. What may feel impossible is possible!

It has been my personal mission to make a difference in the lives of people afflicted by SLDD. To bring education, inspiration, courage, motivation, and healing to the many who suffer from this condition. In my treatment modality, I have worked diligently to provide ways for you to not only educate but heal yourself. To that end, I highly suggest reading my book, The Human Magnet Syndrome to learn as much as possible about SLDD, its origins, and the cure for it – my Self-Love Recovery Treatment Program (SLRP).

SLRP is best explained through my full-length (4-6 hour) video seminars, which are available at Self-Love Recovery Institute’s website – SelfLoveRecovery.com. If you are currently working with a qualified therapist, I encourage you to share the material and what you learn from it with them.

Until next time, I leave you with this thought to ponder…

  • I deserve to be in places, spaces, and relationships where I feel safe, respected, loved, and valued.
  • I will learn the difference between my real and brainwashed fears.
  • I am strong and worthy enough to fight to get my own thoughts and perceptions back.


Ross Rosenberg M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, is Self-Love Recovery Institute’s CEO and primary contributor. His internationally recognized expertise includes pathological narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and attachment trauma. Ross’s “Codependency Cure™ Treatment Program” provides innovative and results-oriented treatment.

Ross’s expert educational and inspirational seminars have earned him international acclaim, including his 23 million YouTube video views and 235K subscribers. In addition to being featured on national TV and radio, his “Human Magnet Syndrome” books sold over 150K copies and are published in 12 languages. Ross provides expert testimony/witness services.

More about Ross and his educational and inspirational work can be found at www.SelfLoveRecovery.com.

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