Analysis paralysis and the link to abusive and violent relationships.

Jason Brien.

     Whilst everyone is familiar with procrastination, how many of you are familiar with analysis paralysis? Basically, analysis paralysis is the act of over-thinking about a decision so compulsively that ultimately a choice never gets made. Hence the notion of paralysis. The overthinking individual gets so stuck in the exploring and figuring out all the options stage that they cannot mentally progress onto the actual selection of a decision.

     Everyone can experience a bout of analysis paralysis every now and then but people in abusive and violent relationships/environments are much more likely to experience this phenomenon than the average person. Why is this? The volatile and unpredictable nature of an abuser leads the non-abuser to continually walk on egg shells. They have to closely monitor their behaviours and decisions so as not to trigger the abusers rage, anger and violence. The non-abuser is in a constant state of fear and confusion about how to act around the abuser.

     Every decision that they do make results in derision, contempt and humiliation by the abuser. “ Why are you so stupid?”. “Why did you do that? You know I don’t like you doing that”. “Can’t you even cook properly? You’re so stupid and useless”. “why can’t you be like such and such?”. “Who said you could go out and buy that?”. After repeated exposure to this, the non-abusers confidence gets so low that they lose confidence in their own decision making skills. If every decision that they make is wrong and stupid (from the perspective of the abuser), then when it comes time for the non-abuser to make a decision, every possible outcome will result in a negative outcome for them. 

So how can they make a choice between multiple bad endings? They are so infused with fear and confusion, they literally cannot commit to a course of action. Their brains shut down. They cease to think independently. This is when the abuser gains control. Since the non-abuser is so petrified of making their own decisions and expressing their independence, for fear of abusive and violent retribution, they submit to the abusers demands. It is much ‘easier’ for the non-abuser to ‘allow’ the abuser to make all the decisions and to simply follow their ‘masters’ orders.