Thought Policing

Thought Policing - Any process of trying to question, control, or unduly influence another person's thoughts or feelings.

The term "Thought Police" Comes from the classic novel Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell. In the book, Orwell describes a society in which a person's thoughts is regulated and manipulated by the government and thinking the "wrong" thoughts is legislated 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 persons behavior then their thoughts. Independent thought, questioning, reasoning, rationalization, comparisons, just free thoughts may become a threat to a controller or abuser who may 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 own thoughts to keep the peace, change your own set of values and beliefs to try to live in harmony. This may work in the short term - but it's not that easy to change your core values and beliefs and is a recipe for future conflict in your relationship and loss of self esteem for yourself.

It can be tempting to try to thought police others in relationships. However, thought policing is an unhealthy way to try to control others and, if sustained over time, can become a form of emotional abuse. 

At Out of the FOG, we believe that a person's thoughts are their own property - and that nobody has the right to control, interrogate or legislate 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 feeling - let them have it!

If a person chooses to believe something that 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 - they 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 be guilty of thought policing yourself and you may be better served focusing on behaviors that you find unacceptable rather than thoughts.

If a person is policing you thoughts - we recommend doing what you can to be who you are, think what you want and believe and feel what you feel and believe what you believe. 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.