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Monday, March 4, 2013

When No One Believes You

The Cassandra Syndrome.

According to Wikipedia: The Cassandra metaphor (variously labelled the Cassandra 'syndrome', 'complex', 'phenomenon', 'predicament', 'dilemma', or 'curse') occurs when valid warnings or concerns are dismissed or disbelieved.

The term originates in Greek mythology. Cassandra was a daughter of Priam, the King of Troy. Struck by her beauty, Apollo provided her with the gift of prophecy, but when Cassandra refused Apollo's romantic advances, he placed a curse ensuring that nobody would believe her warnings. Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions.

The metaphor has been applied in a variety of contexts such as psychology, environmentalism, politics, science, cinema, the corporate world, and in philosophy, and has been in circulation since at least 1949 when French philosopher Gaston Bachelard coined the term 'Cassandra Complex' to refer to a belief that things could be known in advance.

At the time I began to look into this particular issue, I wasn't aware that the situation had a name. I posted a question to the Above Top Secret Forum because of mingling emotions: PMS had me and I was feeling all Cassandra and emo, I've always wondered why no one looks a this particular looming issue experiences face every day of their lives, and I wanted to see what others had to say so that I could compile a list of suggestions to help readers of this blog.

I wrote:

This isn't a post about me, really. I'm going to use my situation as an example because it's the best one I have. For the more dense readers out there, this is me suggesting a situation and posing a question *to you*.  As a result I'm going to mention things talked about here before. I'm hoping to discuss what it's like for everyone in this situation and maybe talk about ways each of us cope with it. I looked around a bit before deciding to start this thread and saw that no one really covers this, but it seems to me that this particular problem with being an adbuctee either by the military or by non-humans deserves more than a mere mention on occasion. It's a symptom of the problem that could use a band-aid, so that folks in this situation can concentrate more on solving the bigger problem.

So here I am; I've had some interesting experiences in my life, seen some things, woke up in the middle of things that folks wish I didn't remember. Things like that. When my husband and I first got together he was all about how he believed me and learning things. Four years later, things are different. And the other day he told me a funny story about how he confused someone at work by explaining to them how I was "delusional".

Which wasn't very funny to me... it kind of hurt actually.

Tell researchers your problem and they might, if you're lucky, talk to you long enough to get some information. Then they dump you like so much trash. Or you're told you're a cabal slave and to go away. (Really did happen to a friend of mine.) Or maybe you'll get lucky and find a researcher who will talk to you like a real person, but after a few months you figure out you're being blown off and strung along for some other agenda. (Hello, MUFON!) Go to forums like this one, hoping for some sort of comradarie, and you get blown off. "They're just dreams." And after a while you start waking up in the morning feeling like you're the only person in the whole world, because there just isn't anybody out there for you. And maybe you're better off in a cave someplace, living with bears.

Maybe part of the problem is a handler device to keep you from getting help. Maybe that's just paranoia talking. One thing you know for sure - you're not crazy. The stinking implant in your bird finger didn't get there all by itself. You aren't trying to get attention or convince someone to write a book about you... you just want to feel part of the pack as it were. And maybe get to talk about your situation, figure things out, find the truth hidden in the mess of your brain.

And okay, your personality doesn't mesh with mainstream society so you find yourself distancing yourself from people more and more - especially that MUFON lady who said you weren't "very bright" for not wanting to kill a harmless ladybug. The thing is, in the end you gotta find solace all alone even though connecting with others would be kind of nice. And there's no feeling like the emptiness you get when no one believes you, even those that claim they make it their business to... or your own mate, who used your story as a dating device and now has essentially abandoned you for the stinking SCA.

Now I think for you out there, this situation isn't always to such an extreme. But I'm sure there are those out there who know what I'm talking about. I don't have any advice for it. I keep a personal blog on the matter. I write it under an assumed name, I put information in there on the rare occasions I find time to collect it, and I put my story down, reread, assess, and try to figure things out. My blog is kind of all I have.  :-) But it's also been the most reliable method I've had for years.

How about the rest of you?

I got your standard expected answers, of course: negative people putting me down and belittling the experiences I purposefully did not elaborate upon. I also got, however, a plethora of fabulous responses that gave me some real good information I need.

The name of the condition for starters.

Many people talking about their own experiences - which allowed me to see how they cope, think and feel.

And naturally a lot of good replies with good advice that I want to share with you now.  So when you're feeling like Cassandra - all alone and surrounded by a close-minded world that spits on your life, keep and remember this list. It will help you, and some of it has helped me over the past 40 years.

  1. Remember you're not the only one. Even if you have no one to talk to, that doesn't mean you're out and out delusional. If you're reading this blog, you have access to at least some parts of the internet. Do a websearch. You're bound to find out that others are out there, like stars in the darkness.
  2. Ground and center. It's a very useful technique for clearing your head past your feelings to access the information and understand what is happening or has happened to you. With understanding can come a great degree of self confidence and reassurance. There are many ways to ground and center. Take a walk in the park, or a hot bath.  Write a journal, paint a picture, go for a relaxing drive. The point is to find  an activity that helps you to clear your mind and relax. 
  3. Meditate. I personally associate meditation with grounding and centering because it's a focused activity that requires you to clear your mind and relax. I can also vouche that weekly meditation at least helps to level out your emotions so that you can find better self-control, which is also essential to understanding your situation and not jumping to conclusions.
  4. Find someone to talk to that will at least listen if not relate This is probably the most popular method, and whether you're an alien abductee or a shell-shocked war veteran it also is a very effective one. *Contrary to popular belief, your confident does not need to have experienced the same or similar things.* I've worked on Vietnam veteran projects, talked to counselors, and helped a lot of friends through things I could never understand simply by listening so I'm sure of what I say here. What's important is your confident empathsizes, communicates, doesn't ridicule in a thoughtless or mean manner (joking around is great), and is someone you can trust to tell things to. The act of being able to talk it out is what you need, not a clique.
  5. Keep confidence in yourself and where you stand. There may be times that you wibble. There may be other times that you wobble. But so long as you know you know your truth, you'll have the kind of faith religious place great stock in. That sort of faith can move mountains, they say.