Thought Policing - Any process of trying to question, control, or unduly influence another person's thoughts or feelings.
Over-Managing Other’s Minds
The term "Thought Police" Comes from the classic novelNineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell.In the book, Orwell describes a society in which a person’s thoughts are regulated and manipulated by the government, where thinking the “wrong” thought is as a crime known as “ThoughtCrime”. Orwell demonstrated in his book how in order to maintain control over a people, dysfunctional governments try to influence and control not just the way they behave - but how they think.
The same is true in dysfunctional families and relationships, where a controller or abuser tries to maintain power and control by first controlling a person’s behavior then controlling their thoughts. Independent thought, questioning, reasoning, rationalization, comparisons, even just free thoughts, may become a threat to the abuser who may therefore seek to interrogate the victim and repress their right to free thought.
When a person starts to police your thoughts you may feel offended - or you may feel the urge to hide your true feelings, deny your thoughts to keep the peace, or change your own values and beliefs to try to live in harmony. This may work in the short term however, it’s not that easy to change your genuine core values and beliefs, making this a recipe for future conflict in the relationship and loss of your own self-esteem.
Thought policing can be a form of emotional abuse which is not only restricted to people with Personality Disorders. It can also be very tempting for Nons to try and thought police others.
Learning to Cope
At Out of the FOG, we believe a person’s thoughts are their own property and that nobody has the right to control another person’s thoughts.
We believe this is true both for Personality Disorder sufferers and for those who are in relationship with them. So a person with a Personality Disorder has no business trying to read the mind of a family member or partner, and a person who does not have a Personality Disorder has no business trying to read and control the mind of a person with a Personality Disorder. If a person has a thought or feeling - let them have it!
If a person chooses to believe something you know isn’t true - that’s their business - not yours. Let them believe what they want to believe and feel what they want to feel. That’s their stuff! Your own feelings and your own thoughts are your own stuff and your own property and that’s where your focus belongs and is most fruitfully spent.
If you find yourself becoming upset with someone over the way they feel or over the way they think you may even be guilty of thought policing yourself! It is always more productive (and appropriate) to focus on behaviors you find unacceptable rather than thoughts.
If a person is policing your thoughts, do what you can to maintain your integrity of thought and feeling and beliefs. . You can’t easily change what you think, feel and believe and you don’t owe anybody an explanation for how you think, feel or believe. We are accountable for our behaviors - not our thoughts.
If a person is railing at you over how you think, feel or believe the best policy is to say to them - “that’s just how I think” or “that’s just how I feel” and agree to disagree. It usually does no good to try to convince another person that your feelings or beliefs are any more valid than theirs or that your thoughts are any more accurate than others. It’s best just to try to “agree to disagree” and if the other party can’t accept that then walk away from the negotiation and end the conversation.