Author: Ann Schiebert
Just to summarize this paradigm, the basis for an RDS (Reality Distortion Systems) is denial. The denial is embedded in a system which contains thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and interpersonal dynamics that encapsulate those who are members of the RDS. When one is in a RDS, it looks normal and the discomfort that an RDS causes, is looked on as, "just part of how life is".
A Reality Distortion System is closed. It defends against opening to information that might contradict the denial upon which it is based. The people who are living in an RDS, are attracted to people who share a similar RDS. Reality Distortion Systems are intergenerational. That is part of what makes them so difficult to escape. It is rather like Pythagoras, in the 6th century BC, trying to convince scientists of that time that the earth was round and not flat. How many centuries did it take before the world’s population accepted this idea? Those in an RDS are simply not able to take in information that might contradict their well practiced belief system.
When someone in an RDS questions the denial it is based on, the RDS rallies the troops, so to speak, to discredit the questioner. And the person who has questions even questions himself/herself. Those who question are usually demeaned, insulted, accused of being disloyal. An RDS is a, “living,” system and it will go to lengthy means to keep itself in place.
What causes those in an RDS to ever question it? After all, if we never moved out of an RDS, there would be no change in the world.
Here are a few possibilities:
1. The RDS has consequences. For example, if my family drinks and drives and I think it’s OK, that’s probably what I’ll do, even though it’s against the law. But then I get a DUI and have to go to mandated classes. The information contradicts my and my family’s belief that there is really no harm done in drinking and driving. I might begin to question my beliefs. I might begin to challenge my family’s drinking/driving practice. That questioning will stir up things. More on this later.
2. One might meet others in school, for example, who we befriend. Then I visit their homes. I notice that no one in their family drinks and drives. In fact, I might observe that it’s not considered a possibility. I wonder why? I might ask my family and get a response like, “oh, they are just prudes,” or some other discounting opinion about a family who is not in the same RDS. Then I might be called, “oppositional,” or, “a shit disturber.” Anything to bring me back to the RDS and end the questioning of it’s validity.
3. I might be an excellent student and get a scholarship to college. However, my family has never had anyone go to college, and they don’t think it’s necessary. “One should get a job after high school and contribute to the family’s good,” is the RDS. But I might decide to buck the family RDS and go to college. Instead of support when I return home for the summer, I might be called, “snotty,” and some of my family members might point out that I think I’m better than they are because I’m going to college. Another impediment to getting out of the family RDS.
More about this, next post.