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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

What is Sadistic Parenting?

As Monique recounted the abuse from her childhood, it became apparent that the abuse from her mother was not typical. While most abusers follow a pattern of tension building, incident, reconciliation, and calm, her mom did not. The tension building phase was constant with no break or relief from the ensuing harm. The incidents came out of nowhere with no justification or warning. There was no reconciliation phase, instead, Monique endured months of the silent treatment. And the calm phase was non-existent in the house. She had to go to school or a friend’s house to get any resemblance of peace.

Monique would come home from school to her raging mother. Her mom would accuse her of doing things that never happened and then insist on punishing her. If Monique protested, the consequences were even more violent. Worse yet, her mother seemed to derive pleasure from her violent rages. Her mom would call her every harsh name in the book, beat her with whatever was near, restrain her from leaving, take all of her things, abandon her on the side of a road, isolate her from family, threaten more harm if she told anyone, and completely ignore her presence for months at a time even during holidays or special occasions. After inflicting her cruelty and seeing the pain Monique was in, she would smile and seem satisfied until the next abuse happened.

By all accounts, Monique was a good kid. She excelled in school, was athletic, and even worked after school. She did everything to stay away from home which only contributed to her mother’s rages accusing her of being a whore and then punishing accordingly. The physical marks on Monique’s body from the beatings were noticeable but when child services were called, her mother forced her to lie threatening to do more harm to her younger sister if she told. Her extended family would periodically try to help but Monique’s mom would cut them off and not allow anyone to speak to them again.

Sadism. Monique’s childhood home was a prison in which she was tortured, beaten, and severely abused. But what kind of parent does this to a child? Sadists are a part of the Anti-Social Personality Disorder diagnosis. In the past, they had a separate diagnosis under the old DSM formats. The name Sadism comes from Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) a French philosopher and writer. His works combined philosophy with sexual fantasies and violent behavior. Sadists are individuals who crave cruelty. It is not clear whether this behavior is inherited, developed or learned. Not all sadism is sexual or involves killing, rather it is about inflicting pain on others that Sadists find exciting or pleasurable. Unlike Psychopaths, they are not as calculating about the abusive behavior, instead, it is all self-pleasuring.

Characteristics of Sadists. One of the ways of identifying a sadist is to administer the Short Sadistic Impulsive Scale (SSIS). It is comprised of ten questions and a person answers each saying it does or does not describe me. Here they are:

  1. I enjoy seeing people hurt.
  2. I would enjoy hurting someone physically, sexually, or emotionally.
  3. Hurting people would be exciting.
  4. I have hurt people for my own enjoyment.
  5. People would enjoy hurting others if they gave it a go.
  6. I have fantasies which involve hurting people.
  7. I have hurt people because I could.
  8. I wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone.
  9. I have humiliated others to keep them in line.
  10. Sometimes I get so angry I want to hurt people.

As Parents. Monique’s mom was a tyrannical sadist as a parent. Her mother would recount her past abuse as if it was a badge of honor and something to be proud of. Her mom used her rages to inspire fear and intimidation. When Monique would become numb to the abuse, her mother would escalate it to another level of torture. Because this started so early in Monique’s childhood, she was naturally conditioned to accept the abuse as normal and it wasn’t until she became a teenager that she realized it was not. Other traits include:

  • Shaming Monique in front of others to minimize any accomplishments Monique made.
  • Physically beating her when friends were around to show dominance and control.
  • Abandoning her on the side of the road and forcing her to walk home in the dark.
  • Leaving her alone with her baby sister when she was 7 years old and then treating her harshly if anything went wrong.
  • Telling Monique she was lying or cheating or sleeping around to get good grades.
  • Punishing her for friends calling the house and disturbing them.
  • Scaring Monique by appearing out of nowhere, interrogating her, and shouting false accusations.
  • Staring or glaring at Monique to intimidate or threaten additional harm.
  • Locking Monique in a closet and not allowing her to come out even for meals.
  • Finding excuses to punish Monique so she could not attend social functions or be with her friends.
  • Outrageous demands of immediate compliance to anything her mother desired and threats with follow through if Monique did not perform.
  • Ignoring Monique’s presence for months and refusing any conversation even after she would plead or beg.
  • Only smiling after abuse was inflicted and Monique was in pain, crying, hurt, or traumatized.
  • Seeking out opportunities to abuse even when there was no justification for it to achieve pleasure.
  • Never apologizing for any abuse, a complete lack of remorse.
  • No show of empathy for Monique, no care for her physical wounds, no concern for the verbal assaults, or the emotional abuse.
  • Did not rewrite the abuse but rather seemed to relish in having done it.
  • Despite Monique’s accomplishments, still considers her to be “a piece of shit”.

Sadistic parenting is the worse form of abuse for a child because the parent gets pleasure out of harming the child not caring for them. A parent is supposed to love, nurture, guide, and cherish their child, not hate, torture, misdirect, and throw them away. Fortunately, Monique left her house in her late teens and never looked back. After several years of good therapy, Monique was finally able to leave her emotional scars in the past where they belonged.

What is Sadistic Parenting?

 


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2019). What is Sadistic Parenting?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 22, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2019/02/what-is-sadistic-parenting/