While each individual’s story has significant differences, what unites us is even more important. We all share a common behaviour that occurs in many relationships to one degree or another. Through extensive research in the field of psychology, the behaviour known as subjugation has been identified as one of the major schemas or patterns of thinking that can damage and destroy a life. If it is present in a chronic pattern, it can bring about unbearable, excruciating pain, humiliation, victimization, loss of self, and even death. This is due to the fact that habitual subjugation causes a person to violate their honesty and principles; what is true for them. They will bend what they believe, want, prefer, need and desire to be accepted and approved. These wrong motives demand a high price. I call this destructive condition chronic subjugation.

Chronic subjugation is far more common than most people realize. The condition is no respecter of status, physical appearance, education, financial balance sheet, religion, ethnic group, political affiliation, or résumé. It can appear in anyone’s life, often disguised as an attractive or virtuous quality, although it is neither. Individuals who chronically subjugate are no longer in touch with what they are interested in, what they want or think, or even who they are. They have been so focused on pleasing others so completely that they have few or no preferences or opinions. They have lost themselves in the dysfunction.

Chronic subjugation wrecks lives.

But it doesn’t have to.

The dysfunction can be eliminated.

If you find yourself resonating with the above description of chronic subjugation, recognizing that this condition is yours or that of someone you love, I want you to know that there is hope. Neither you nor your loved one is condemned to a life of suffering from this destructive pattern. There are solutions. They require consistent work, and with this pattern of behaviour, the work can be tough at times. Yet I have repeatedly witnessed success in my clinical practice, as well as my own life. Chronic subjugation can be conquered, and the first requirement is to understand the difference between chronic subjugation and self-denial.

 This chronic condition occurs through voluntary compliance; it is imposed not from without but from within. The heart cry of each of us is to be liked, accepted—yes, loved. Individuals may acquiesce to chronic subjugation because they fear abandonment, rejection, retaliation, feel guilty, or simply have a hunger to please. Whatever the reason (and there are many), these individuals persistently place the opinions, preferences, values, desires, and needs of others before their own. This occurs so habitually that chronic subjugation slowly smothers those who practice it. Their “I” and “me” become absorbed and eventually lost in the lives of others. Their voluntary servitude leads to their own ruin. The compulsion to say yes becomes a destructive form of self-denial—a denial that can end in self-annihilation.

Is there a place for self-denial? Of course, there is. Subjugation is not to be confused with healthy self-denial, which leads to contentment. The sacrifice of one’s own desires or interests for another person is a noble and admirable quality. However, this sacrifice must be freely given and should never lead to losing one’s identity to another or others. Self-denial is a healthy expression of other-centred love and not a denigration or subjugation of self. When the giver, on the other hand, experiences an irresistible impulse to comply, the giver should beware. This type of knee-jerk giving results in a pattern of chronic subjugation with the loss of healthy motives. Truth is not behind these motives; only the self-centred desire to be accepted and approved of, regardless of how ingenuine the yes may be. A false self is being presented. This leads to resentment, anger, and bitterness toward self and others and a downward spiral in terms of emotional, mental, and physical health. In its healthy form, self-denial is considerate and generous. But chronic subjugation is unhealthy and destructive. Chronic subjugation is not properly self-denial but self-abuse. It ruins relationships, masquerading as a virtue while promoting self-loathing and eventually anger toward others when they lose their respect of the one chronically subjugating. It seems a way to achieve happiness and peace, but it delivers neither.

Genuine self-denial and chronic subjugation are worlds apart.  One of those worlds—the way of life that at first appears good and attractive but in time reveals itself as hurtful, deceptive, and soul-destroying is to be avoided. Generally speaking, which of these worlds do you live in? Begin observing yourself and choose the healthier life.

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About Joyce L Campbell MA NCC LPC

My education and career have been designed for you. I have aspired to being an instrument of healing for others from childhood. The desire to help others led to the completion of a masters’ degree in counseling. As well as, the granting of National Board Certification, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Psychotherapist credentials. This website has been created for you. Twenty-three years of private practice as a clinician have benefited numerous clients. The work that I do affects body, soul, and spirit positively. The interconnection of the body, soul, and spirit demands attention for complete healing. My expertise in dealing with what I call chronic subjugation and the doormat syndrome generates the ability to break free from continuous people-pleasing. It is stunning how common this negative behavior is. We are all somewhere on the spectrum of subjugation, compliance. You may chronically subjugate in only one area of your life or to one person exclusively. That behavior is equally destructive. If you chronically, habitually give in to others’ preferences and opinions you are slowly losing who you are. I, myself, was once a victim of chronic subjugation. This need not be. One can even continuously give up and give in to a loss, tragedy, or health problem. When this choice is made we stay stuck in life, we stop living and only exist. This behavior is not limited to one gender, income level, nationality, educational level, or world view. Thousands of others have achieved success in conquering this debilitating issue. You can too. You need not allow chronic subjugation to control and shape your life. I am on a mission to expose this phenomenon and provide a way to eliminate its’ ability to destroy lives. Emerging from research, observation and my own experience, systematic and deliberate steps have been devised to overcome this harmful behavior. Yet it is key to accept that this work is not an event but a process. A process that does require effort and commitment to overcome this dysfunctional lifestyle. Visit my “Blog” and “Quotes of Note” to be encouraged and inspired.

2 Responses to Subjugation

  1. Lydia Buhler says:

    I connect with this but I am just wondering if there are resources to help a person with it. Or is it only with a therapist that you can address it?

  2. Hello Lydia,
    Thank you for your question. I have written a book on the topic of subjugation and the steps needed to overcome this harmful way of functioning. Soon I will be seeking a literary agent to present it to a reputable publishing company.

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