My wifes Compulsion and Submissiveness


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In competition, t h i s i s sanctioned see Butt, , pp. In fact, the destructive nature of dominance i n close interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s has recently been documented. For example, Greenberg and Johnson i d e n t i f i e d dominance-submission i n couple i n t e r a c t i o n as the most c r u c i a l index for assessing 4 marital dysfunction.

Although submissiveness i s generally thought to be the counterpart of dominance, t h i s thesis argues that when dominance i s exercised subordination i s actually fostered. When one achieves dominance status, another person or persons must be subordinate. S i m i l i a r i l y , i f dominance i s a means of achieving success, the achievements of those who are not dominant must be secondary to the one who i s. Those who are subordinate may thereby be denied or r e s t r i c t e d i n t h e i r achievement of se l f - s e l e c t e d goals because they have f a i l e d to place themselves f i r s t and achieve dominance.

Therefore, i f s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n depends on dominance i t may be unattainable for many persons because everyone cannot occupy " f i r s t " place. And i f success depends on being dominant or placing oneself f i r s t , i n a sense i t i s achieved at the expense of those who do not achieve dominance status see M i l l e r , , for example. Studies which portray dominance as a healthy dimension of personality do not generally discuss subordination as a consequence of i t.

Many of the ideals of western culture: r e a l i z i n g personal po t e n t i a l , achieving personal goals, and choosing f o r oneself, have occurred i n a context i n which dominance i s accepted as a desirable t r a i t of personality. Oppression at a t h e o r e t i c a l level i s rejected by the culture and there i s an understandable reluctance on the part of i n d i v i d u a l s to surrender personal freedom or to be subordinate.

However, i t i s untenable to approve of dominating behavior i. A current approach for resolving t h i s dilemma i s to place r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for being dominated on the person who i s i n the subordinate p o s i t i o n. I t i s assumed that subordinate i n d i v i d u a l s are disposed to take a submissive role by v i r t u e of t h e i r psychological make-up. The synonymous use of the terms submissiveness and subordination i n t h i s way i s common i n the l i t e r a t u r e.

I t i s reasoned one would not submit to dominance i f one were more s o c i a l l y competent, less passive, or more ass e r t i v e. As a consequence, assertiveness t r a i n i n g has arisen as a way of teaching people how to r e s i s t domination appropriately. The behaviors of submission: accepting another's w i l l or authority, placing another's interests or needs ahead of one's own, and e f f a c i n g oneself, seem i m p l i c i t l y in our culture to manifest an impoverished sense of s e l f.

As such they are undesirable behaviors for one to practice oneself. Benjamin has pointed out that when a behavior becomes s o c i a l l y undesirable i t also becomes "abnormal". Consequently, i t may be that because submissiveness i s viewed as an undesirable behavior, i t has also become somewhat "abnormal" behavior. Statement of the Problem In personality research the task of accounting for differences between individuals has been approached from the conviction that the natural language of the culture provides the t o o l s for describing human tendencies Wiggins, However, a d i s t i n c t i v e q u a l i t y of culture i s that unique meanings often acquire general acceptance within the culture.

Here the i n t e r a c t i o n of science and culture can be seen i n the way that development and a l t e r a t i o n i n the meaning of words and concepts are dependent upon the s i g n i f i c a n c e that those concepts hold within the culture, but science may also determine the s i g n i f i c a n c e of c e r t a i n concepts i n the culture. The following section examines the meaning of the concept of submissiveness within psychology and i n western society. The 7 current conceptualization i s analyzed to determine whether i t accounts f o r the complexity of motivations underlying submissive behavior and the d i v e r s i t y of i t s manifestations i n interpersonal behaviors.

According to Webster , submission describes a condition of humility or compliance i n r e l a t i o n to another person; a y i e l d i n g of one's person to the w i l l or authority of another. I t r e f e r s to behavior, both i n conduct and in bearing, that i s humble and deferent. The d e f i n i t i o n suggests that submission may be eith e r self-chosen or imposed.

On t h i s basis, i t may be distinguished from subordination i n that the l a t t e r , defined as an i n f e r i o r or lower rank or p o s i t i o n into which one i s placed Webster, , lacks the condition of personal v o l i t i o n. Consequently, subordination i s determined rather than self-chosen. Secondly, subordination can be distinguished from submission i n that a person cannot at the same time be subordinate and equal in a r e l a t i o n s h i p.

Being subordinate implies some kind of i n f e r i o r i t y. However, one may choose to submit to an equal. Difference i n rank, authority, or power i s a s u f f i c i e n t but not necessary condition 8 for submission. I t i s , of course, true that a person may submit under circumstances i n which one feels a sense of duty, r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , or even expediency. However, t h i s behavior can s t i l l be distinguished from subordination, and even from the maladaptive dimension of submission, i f the element of v o l i t i o n — of choosing to submit, i s a s a l i e n t feature both i n defining the act and i n determining i t s consequences.

In these s i t u a t i o n s a person may submit i n the b e l i e f that doing so i s consistent with held values, or i s conducive to a desired outcome. A number of factors may have contributed to the lack of d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n between the concepts of submissiveness and subordination. F i r s t , the importance of the i n d i v i d u a l i n western society has produced a climate i n which individualism i s c u l t u r a l l y approved Bellah et a l.

Dominance i s considered to be a means by which ind i v i d u a l success can be achieved; consequently, submissiveness i s viewed as deleterious to success and a sign of personal weakness. Humble deference to another i s not a v i r t u e i n such a context. I t i s feared that submissiveness, because i t i s a position of heightened v u l n e r a b i l i t y , may provide an opportunity for dominance, thus 9 creating a r e l a t i o n s h i p i n which one may become subordinate Unger, Secondly, current measures of submissiveness are based on the meaning of submission held by those members of the culture who tend to make up research populations; that i s , college populations.

Their l i s t of submissive acts r e f l e c t s a tendency to y i e l d to pressure with varying degrees of masochism. The meaning of submissiveness that i s held by t h i s rather unique group may not be representative of the general population. I f , as hypothesized i n t h i s study, attitudes toward submissiveness change as i n d i v i d u a l s achieve higher levels of personality development, acts that place the interests or needs of others ahead of one's own may a c t u a l l y r e f l e c t maturity rather than masochism.

If they do, such acts would presumably be consciously chosen to achieve a s p e c i f i c purpose and be accomplished without any sense of personal loss occurring. Thi r d l y , an essential feature i n the present conceptualization of submissiveness, i s that submissiveness has been defined larg e l y on the basis of observer judgements of what 10 comprises submissive behavior. Observers' accounts f a i l to comprehend the meaning that the behavior has for the person who i s acting.

Without consideration for the meaning that the behavior has for the person, the arbitrary l a b e l l i n g of that behavior provides a considerable source of po t e n t i a l error. Her story demonstrates an instance i n which submissive and subordinate behavior may not be d i f f e r e n t i a t e d by an observer but are very d i f f e r e n t for the actor.

Upon the death of both parents and her mistress, Harrie t was bequeathed at age thirteen to her mistress' niece, a c h i l d of f i v e. The c h i l d ' s father became her master. He co n t i n u a l l y enforced her subjection to his w i l l , abusing and molesting her, reminding her that she belonged to him, that he had the r i g h t to do with her as he li k e d , that he could k i l l her i f he pleased, and that he would compel her to submit to him. Without l e g a l recourse to protect her from violence or death, and with not so much as a confidante with whom she could dare to share her su f f e r i n g , H a r r i e t gave the appearance of being compliant because there was no opportunity to do otherwise.

But i n her s p i r i t she never submitted. She despised the man, her soul revolted against him, and she vowed never to give in to him. Eventually, at age 11 twenty-one she succeeded i n running away and remained hidden for seven years u n t i l she was able to escape to the north. Harriet Brent Jacobs' experience demonstrates the d i s p a r i t y between behavior as i t i s observed and behavior as i t has meaning to the actor.

For Harriet, she was xsubordinate' to her master as a means of preventing further abuse or death. This was f o r her the only meaning of her compliance. Yet a person who did not know Harriet's intention and who observed her, may have thought she was submissive. However, because she never yielded her w i l l to him, she could never be said to have submitted to him. In her s p i r i t she refused to submit.

Her r e l a t i o n s h i p to the man seems more l i k e subordination; the position into which she was forced i n a circumstance of domination. Personal choice v o l i t i o n and meaning appear to be s i g n i f i c a n t factors i n d i s t i n g u i s h i n g between submissive and subordinate behavior. Doing so i s consistent with subordination being defined as the antonym of dominance Webster, I t follows that submissiveness, as i t i s perceived to be the personality t r a i t that would predispose an in d i v i d u a l to be subordinate, would be placed opposite the power dimension of dominance.

S e l f giving, y i e l d i n g , and deferring — the postures of submission, are perceived as weakness and are placed opposite the power dimension of dominance. Maslow 0 , for example, suggested on the basis of animal studies that an association existed between dominance and self-esteem. He e x p l i c i t l y linked self-esteem with the term "dominance-feeling" using the terms interchangeably. Maslow believed that dominance-feeling was a manifestation of self-esteem and that lack of self-esteem was c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of xlow-dominance'.

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The "dominance syndrome" was represented for Maslow by such behaviors or attitudes as self-confidence, s o c i a l poise, extroversion, feelings of cap a b i l i t y , and independence; whereas "low-dominance" was characterized by t i m i d i t y , shyness, self-consciousness, i n h i b i t i o n , low self-esteem, and in s e c u r i t y. A l l p o r t i n his studies of "ascendance-submission" noted that there was an obvious s o c i a l preference for ascendance i. His own descriptions of ascendant and submissive behaviors markedly favored the former; at least as behaviors one would prefer for oneself.

This i s perhaps best summarized i n h i s quotation from Herbert Spencer, that individuals must decide whether they w i l l be a boot or a door mat i n our competitive society A l l p o r t , , p. In the next decade, Gough et a l. The c h a r a c t e r i s t i c descriptions of submissiveness that evolved a f t e r Gough's d e f i n i t i v e statement suggest that being dominant i s preferable to being submissiveness, at le a s t i n terms of descriptors one would choose for oneself. Wiggins for example, on h i s circumplex model of interpersonal t r a i t s , placed the l a b e l "lazy-submissive" at the weak pole opposite the power category l a b e l l e d "ambitious-dominant".

The "lazy-submissive" l a b e l describes those interpersonal interactions that involve incompetence, passive resistance, submission or obedience. These diverse a t t r i b u t e s are considered to share i n common the semantic features of denying status to s e l f , denying love to both s e l f and other, and granting status to others" Wiggins, , p.

On the opposite pole, "dominant power " refers to interpersonal actions that are a s s e r t i v e , f o r c e f u l , domineering, firm, self-confident, s e l f -assured and un-self-conscious p. Dominance i s considered to grant love and status to s e l f , and deny status but grant love to others.


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The bipolar adjective clusters for the submissive weakness and dominant power dimensions are highly negatively correlated. Theoretically they are believed to share no features i n common. For example, Wiggins was surprised to f i n d that of the sixteen interpersonal adjective scales that he developed, the smallest psychometric differences occured on the ambitious-dominant and lazy-submissive items. Also, Russell , investigating the b i p o l a r i t y of a f f e c t i v e space, found no evidence for the b i p o l a r i t y of dominance and submissiveness.

His explanation for t h i s "puzzling" f i n d i n g was based on the lack of v a l i d variance i n the submissiveness scales, thus precluding meaningful conclusions. Buss and Craik suggested that the problem may l i e i n conceptualizing submissiveness as the opposite of dominance.

Similar predictions were made with respect to three other t r a i t s : dominance, aloofness, and gregariousness. Subjects' reported performance of submissive acts were correlated with t h e i r score on the submissive sub-scales of the predictor inventories. The hypotheses were confirmed for the three other dispositions dominance, aloofness, gregariousness but not for submissiveness. Buss and Craik state that, although speculative and perhaps c o u n t e r i n t u i t i v e , "dominance and submissiveness may not be properly conceptualized as polar opposites, as i s generally done" p.

They suggest that attention needs to turn to the construction of scales s p e c i f i c to the domain of submissive acts and that the ingredients of masochism, abasement, and deference may provide clues to the nature of the construct. Since personality tests r e f l e c t current understanding of the phenomena being measured, t h i s study proposes that the d i f f i c u l t y with submissiveness may l i e i n the conceptualization of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r t r a i t primarily in maladaptive terms.

Because the maladapative dimension has already been described i n the l i t e r a t u r e , t h i s study w i l l investigate whether interpersonal contexts e x i s t i n which submissiveness has adaptive consequences, and i f so, attempt to discover whether the psychological c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of individuals engaging i n these behaviors are consistent with the current p r o f i l e of a submissive personality. Submissiveness: Psychological Characteristics of the Adaptive Dimension This study proposes that submissiveness, when i t occurs i n the context of a subjective sense of psychological well-being and r e s u l t s i n p o s i t i v e relationship outcomes, i s an adaptive t r a i t not represented by the present descriptors: weak, powerless, passive.

Although presently there i s meagre evidence to support the contention that the current conceptualization i s incomplete or inaccurate e. That i s , they are s e l f - g i v i n g ; they set aside t h e i r own needs or wishes i n order to serve the need of another person; or they defer to the wishes of another i n order to please that person or to achieve some purpose that i s consistent with t h e i r i n t e r n a l i z e d values. In the l i v e s of such people, these behaviors are consistent, appearing as i d e n t i f y i n g features of t h e i r personality.

The acts appear to serve a functional, constructive r o l e i n promoting inter-relatedness. Submissive acts of t h i s nature i n fact appear to derive from personal 17 q u a l i t i e s that are generally indicative of higher l e v e l s of personality development. The following biography provides an i l l u s t r a t i v e example of t h i s hypothesized dimension of submissive behavior and indicates the profound impact that such behavior has i n the world today.

A contemporary example of "adaptive" submissiveness. She was young, only 12 years old, when she decided that her l i f e was not to be one of pleasing herself but was to be given to God. At age eighteen she l e f t her Yugoslavian peasant family and entered the convent. F i f t e e n years l a t e r , with f i v e rupees i n her pocket, she l e f t the c l o i s t e r e d l i f e and made her way to the most wretched part of Calcutta where she found lodging and gathered a few abandoned children together to begin a school.

For over f i f t y years she has, i n her own words, "despoiled [herself] of a l l that i s not God", l i v i n g in poverty and detachment, renouncing her w i l l , her in c l i n a t i o n s , her whims and fancies, to make h e r s e l f "a w i l l i n g slave to the w i l l of God" Muggeridge, , p. S t r i v i n g not only to abase, but to abolish s e l f by being completely submissive to God and the service of others i s an 18 uncommon desire.

With no other knowledge of the person, one might conclude that excessive g u i l t , masochism or low self-esteem must underlie such self-deprecation. She seeks to be nothing and claims no c r e d i t , f e e l i n g undeserving of her t i t l e and s t r i v i n g to f e e l no pride or vanity i n her work Gonzales-Balado, These c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s are, i n the psychological l i t e r a t u r e , associated with low self-esteem and are not generally a t t r i b u t e d to a person of unusual and exemplary personhood.

However, to describe Mother Teresa, a Nobel Prize winner, with adjectives that suggest psychological weakness i s to deny s i g n i f i c a n t aspects of her character. Consider the adjectives that currently describe submissiveness: self-doubting, s e l f -e f f a c i n g , timid, meek, forceless, unbold, unaggressive and unauthoritative Wiggins, They do, by her own admission, describe her, but not i n a weak way. She i s self-doubting and s e l f - e f f a c i n g , claiming no strength, no i n i t i a t i v e , no c r e d i t : " I t comes from Christ and the Sacrament", she says Muggeridge, , p.

She i s meek and s e r v i l e , weak and unpersuasive i n physical stature and manner; but her achievements demonstrate her forcefulness and the impact she has had on the world. She r e f r a i n s from any appearance of personal p u b l i c i t y or praise; yet 19 she i s known and recognized throughout the world. She asks for nothing for herself and personifies humility and poverty; yet her e f f o r t s have resulted i n houses for the dying being established i n many countries, and care being given to thousands of people.

She i s a small, homely woman, who i s neither p a r t i c u l a r l y clever nor a r t i c u l a t e , who acknowledges great personal weakness but claims divine transformation of weakness into strength, boldly abandoning safety and her own physical needs to search for the dying, and f o r c e f u l l y asserting her duty to serve them. Seeing that they are helped i s her mission, regardless of personal cost. Mother Teresa's l i f e i l l u s t r a t e s how extreme submissiveness can be adaptive and how the present conceptualization f a i l s to acknowledge t h i s. Submissiveness manifest i n behaviors of t h i s kind would not usually be recognized as submissiveness because of the tendency to connote submissiveness negatively.

They would l i k e l y be i d e n t i f i e d as unselfishness, love, or altruism. These descriptors obscure the inherent submissiveness: the s e t t i n g aside of oneself for another that i s basic to submissive behavior and that i s perhaps the disp o s i t i o n which enables a person to love, act u n s e l f i s h l y or be a l t r u i s t i c.

If the behavior i s understood to be submissive by the actor's own admission as i t i s i n Mother Teresa's case , or i f i t meets the c r i t e r i a by d e f i n i t i o n , i. For example, the I-Thou relationship described by Buber and enacted i n the counselling relationship, i s one i n which the "adaptive" dimension of submissive behavior may be observed.

The counselor sets aside his or her own needs to attend to the counsellee; the counselor does not seek to be affirmed or to have personal needs met in the therapeutic r e l a t i o n s h i p ; the counselor empathizes, attempting to a c t u a l l y "know" the counsellee's pain. These c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s require that the counselor assume a "submissive" posture i n r e l a t i o n to the counsellee.

Doing so could not be thought to s i g n i f y poor psychological health but rather i s interpreted as the counselor providing a model of psychologically healthy behavior. The personality and behavioral c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s that are expected to be associated with the adaptive dimension of submissiveness w i l l now be presented along with the r a t i o n a l e for p r e d i c t i n g them. Personality Correlates of the Adaptive Dimension of Submissiveness T h e o r e t i c a l l y , i f a dimension of adaptive submissiveness i s to be i d e n t i f i e d , one would expect to f i n d i t within a context of other personal c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s that are related to psychological well-being.

Although the individual's appraisal of personal w e l l -being may not be consistent with the views of society or the professional, i t i s believed to have v a l i d i t y. During the past decade, some of the personality factors that have been associated with a subjective sense of well-being are self-esteem Anderson, ; Coopersmith, , internal locus of control, Baker, ; Brandt, ; Duttweiller, ; Rotter, , and perceived personal e f f i c a c y Campbell, ; Sherer, Maddux, Mercandante, Prentice-Dunn, Jacobs, Rogers, Therefore, i t w i l l be important to discover whether the adaptive dimension of submissiveness i s associated with any of these variables.

I t i s hypothesized that the following personality and behavioral attributes w i l l be correlated with the adaptive dimension of submissiveness. Self-esteem Self-esteem i s generally understood to r e f e r to a subjective appraisal of one's worth Coopersmith, I t has been i d e n t i f i e d repeatedly as a s i g n i f i c a n t determinant of personal s a t i s f a c t i o n , emotional well-being, and mental health. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , p o s i t i v e or high self-esteem has been associated with dominance and assertiveness; negative or low self-esteem with submissiveness A l l p o r t , ; Maslow, , The l a t t e r i s of course defined as the tendency to be passive, weak, or unassertive i n interpersonal r e l a t i o n s.

However, low self-esteem has not been demonstrated emp i r i c a l l y to characterize submissive actions i n which the i n d i v i d u a l has chosen to place the other's needs ahead of h i s or her own f o r a p a r t i c u l a r reason. Choosing to submit i n order to achieve a purpose that the individual considers worthy of s e l f -g i v i n g would appear to be a q u a l i t a t i v e l y d i f f e r e n t behavior than submission motivated by low self-esteem.

Clark's d i s t i n c t i o n between self-esteem based on feelings of "worthfulness" rather than f e e l i n g s of "worthiness" i d e n t i f i e s the c r i t i c a l element that i s being suggested here. Self-esteem i n a s e l f - g i v i n g person l i k e Mother Teresa would not l i k e l y be based on the b e l i e f that one i s deserving, e n t i t l e d , or worthy, but upon a recognition that one has worth by vi r t u e of being human.

Assurance of worth frees an in d i v i d u a l from the pre-occupation with s e l f that plagues persons low i n t h e i r esteem of s e l f , who are beset with thoughts of personal d i f f i c u l t i e s , inadequacies and powerlessness Coopersmith, Thus energy and intere s t can be directed outside oneself to other persons and pursuits. This i s consistent with Maslow's description of secure i n d i v i d u a l s as people i n whom high self-esteem re s u l t s i n strength and cooperation. In secure people as Maslow saw them, personal power i s not thought of primarily i n terms of enhancing one's own po s i t i o n but rather i n cooperating to achieve a common good.

Locus of Control The locus of control construct has been developed to r e f e r to an in d i v i d u a l ' s perception of the relevance of t h e i r behavior to an outcome. The construct derives from the proposition of s o c i a l learning theory that human behavior i s determined by the perceived value of reinforcements and that persons d i f f e r i n the degree to which they believe the reinforcement i s either dependent upon, or independent of his or her actions Duttweiller, Locus of control i d e n t i f i e s the person's expectancy for reinforcement as being either i n t e r n a l l y or externally located.

A person who i s i n t e r n a l l y oriented believes that outcome i s contingent upon behavior; whereas, the externally oriented person considers luck, chance or powerful others to determine what happens Rotter, A s i g n i f i c a n t factor i n the locus of control construct r e l a t e s to f e l t mastery over the course of one's l i f e Mirels, I t would seem l o g i c a l to expect that submissive persons, as the t r a i t i s currently defined i n the l i t e r a t u r e , tend to be externally oriented, responding to pressures from without rather than convictions from within.

Conversely, persons who are i n t e r n a l l y oriented tend to f e e l more i n control of t h e i r environment and are more attuned to relevant information that can be u t i l i z e d to influence the s i t u a t i o n. They tend to respond a c t i v e l y with the expectation that what they do determines what w i l l happen.

This investigation suggests that persons who choose to place the need of others ahead of t h e i r own or to v o l i t i o n a l l y submit, are l i k e l y to be i n t e r n a l l y oriented. Having considered various a l t e r n a t i v e actions and the p o t e n t i a l consequences, they choose to submit i n the b e l i e f that doing so i s most conducive to achieving the desired e f f e c t.

They then submit without f e e l i n g that personal control has been given up. Rotter's studies of conformity are applicable to t h i s deduction. He found that i n d i v i d u a l s who are i n t e r n a l l y oriented may perceive an advantage i n conforming and thus choose to conform, f e e l i n g that they r e t a i n control since the option to r e s i s t manipulation or unwelcome influence i s always maintained.

I t may be that Bender's early observation that a r e l a t i o n s h i p e x i s t s between higher scholarship and submissiveness i s r e l a t e d to t h i s aspect of locus of control. Five factors have been i d e n t i f i e d as being pertinent to i n t e r n a l locus of control Duttweiller, ; Lefcourt, The factors consist of cognitive processing, autonomy, resistance to influence attempts, delay of g r a t i f i c a t i o n , and s e l f -confidence.

These factors are expected to be c e n t r a l to adaptive manifestations of submissiveness: the act i s chosen on the basis of being the most e f f e c t i v e way to achieve a desired purpose; the i n d i v i d u a l i s capable of autonomous action as an i n d i c a t i o n of ego development; the i n d i v i d u a l acts independently of external influence; and by v i r t u e of possessing a higher l e v e l of personality development i s able to delay g r a t i f i c a t i o n and a n t i c i p a t e long-term s a t i s f a c t i o n.

Because submitting to another putting another person ahead of oneself, deferring to another i s d i f f i c u l t behavior for most people, i t would appear that a person who submits in a manner that would be considered adaptive would need to be strongly motivated to engage i n the behavior and then carry i t out, often at considerable personal cost. The motivation f o r t h i s kind of behavior may derive from concern for an i n d i v i d u a l , commitment to a relationship, desire to care f o r or help another, or a b e l i e f that one i s acting morally.

Regardless of motivation, the individual must believe that the behavior w i l l produce the desired outcome. Ego Development Ego development has been defined i n numerous and somewhat ambiguous ways Hauser, ; Loevinger, and n o n c l i n i c a l assessments of i t have been d i f f i c u l t to achieve. Loevinger conceives of ego development as a continuum along which people proceed, each i n customary patterns that r e f l e c t t h e i r o r i e n t a t i o n to 27 themselves and to the world.

Seven stages plus three t r a n s i t i o n a l stages are defined, each representing greater complexity than the preceeding one and each being pre-requisite to the one following. B r i e f l y , the stages are i d e n t i f i e d as the Pre s o c i a l and Symbiotic 1 -1 stage of the infant characterized by g r a t i f i c a t i o n of immediate needs; the Impulsive stage , of early childhood i n which egocentricity, demandingness and conceptual s i m p l i c i t y are common and impulse control and a preoccupation with the s a t i s f a c t i o n of physical needs i s c e n t r a l ; and the Se l f - P r o t e c t i v e stage, a normal phase i n childhood characterized by greater impulse control, more s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y , and conformity to rules for reasons of s e l f - i n t e r e s t and short-term advantage.

The Conformist stage, i s the stage c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of adolescence i n which disapproval and shame for the transgression of rules are important issues, as are concerns for material things, status, reputation, and appearance. A number of studies Hauser, have found more people to be at t h i s stage of ego development than any other.

The f i f t h stage, termed 28 Conscientious , i s marked by morality which has become i n t e r n a l i z e d and inner rules take precedence over those of peers or a u t h o r i t i e s ; obligations, ideals, t r a i t s , and achievements are evaluated by i n t e r n a l standards.

Submissiveness : a re-conceptualized view - UBC Library Open Collections

The highest or f i n a l stage, the Integrated , sees the i n d i v i d u a l beyond the stage of coping with c o n f l i c t to r e c o n c i l i a t i o n and where necessary, renunciation of the unattainable Loevinger, The person who demonstrates the capacity to consistently submit i n a way that i s adaptive would be expected to have developed higher lev e l s of ego development, perhaps stage Conscientious or beyond. The influence of conscious thought, i n t e r n a l i z e d ideals, awareness of s o c i a l obligations, autonomous attitudes, and greater valuing of interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s that i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the higher lev e l s could be expected to motivate acts of v o l i t i o n a l submission.

As well, the greater tolerance for paradox that i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of a higher l e v e l of ego development may dispose the individual to submissive acts that have an adaptive outcome. Four basic psychological processes are thought to precede moral behavior: the a b i l i t y to i n t e r p r e t a s i t u a t i o n as to possible actions; the a b i l i t y to judge which action i s morally r i g h t ; the a b i l i t y to give p r i o r i t y to moral rather than personal values; and the a b i l i t y to follow through with the intention to behave morally.

On the basis of Rest's model of moral development, t r a d i t i o n a l submissiveness would seem to manifest lower l e v e l s of moral development: obedience stage 1 ; simple exchange stage 2 ; interpersonal concordance stage 3 ; duty to the s o c i a l order stage 4 ; or s o c i e t a l consensus stage 5. For example, when 30 i n d i v i d u a l s whose moral development i s characterized as stage one are faced with a moral dilemma, they may submit i n simple obedience to an order even i f doing so c o n f l i c t e d with personal b e l i e f s or values.

Such behavior could be interpreted as r e f l e c t i n g low self-esteem, self-doubt, weakness, forcelessness, and so f o r t h. People i n the successive stages of development may submit because they stand to gain a r e c i p r o c a l benefit; because they want to keep peace; because i t i s t h e i r duty or the accepted thing to do. P r i n c i p l e d moral reasoning i s hypothesized i n t h i s study to be related to submissive behavior that i s s e l f -chosen and adaptive i n nature. Behavioral Correlates of the Adaptive Dimension of Submissiveness I t i s predicted that the following behavioral a t t r i b u t e s w i l l characterize the l i v e s of people i n which submissive behavior i s chosen v o l u n t a r i l y and has an adaptive e f f e c t i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s : intimacy, communality, marital s a t i s f a c t i o n , well-being, and s a t i s f y i n g s o c i a l t i e s.

The ra t i o n a l e underlying these predictions i s as follows. Intimacy has been conceptualized by Reis and Shaver as a dynamic interpersonal transactional process that i s influenced by the pa r t i c i p a n t s ' goals and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p h i s t o r i e s. In r e c i p r o c a l interactions, intimacy tends to 31 strengthen and deepen the relationship and to make the partners f e e l v alidated and supported. However, intense f e e l i n g s of intimacy may also be engendered i n non-reciprocal r e l a t i o n s h i p s such as c l i e n t - t h e r a p i s t or parent-child dyads.


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Reis and Shaver postulate that caring i s an e s s e n t i a l component of intimacy, and assert that i t i s u n l i k e l y that intimacy can occur i n the absence of caring. In a s i m i l a r vein, M i l l s and Clark contend that intimacy i s established, i n t e n s i f i e d and maintained by the way that i n t e r a c t i n g participants attend to each other's needs. Partners i n a r e l a t i o n s h i p therefore determine or control the l e v e l of intimacy achieved i n t h e i r interactions by t h e i r responsiveness to each other's needs.

I f caring and v a l i d a t i o n i s demonstrated through responsiveness to the other's needs - e x p l i c i t or i n f e r r e d , responding adequately often requires that a person be able to put aside personal needs i n order to attend to the other person. I t 32 i s at t h i s point, when s e l f - g i v i n g i s required, that submissiveness may be a c r i t i c a l personality variable i n promoting the development of intimacy, because submissiveness i s a t r a i t that orients a person toward recognizing the v a l i d i t y of another person's need and responding to i t.

A submissive o r i e n t a t i o n may allow a person to be more consistent i n demonstrating caring behavior because, when i t i s c a l l e d f o r , he or she can put another person's needs or wishes f i r s t. The p r o v i s i o n of care for a c h i l d also often requires that the caregiver's own needs be secondary to the needs of the c h i l d , and that the adult, therefore, must submit to the c h i l d i n order to provide adequate and necessary care.

Acts of submission of t h i s nature, occurring i n healthy relationships, are comparable to what Murstein, Cerreto, and MacDonald have c a l l e d nonexchange-oriented interactions.

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In these interactions, persons tend not to be aware of inequities of exchange, e i t h e r because they are simply unaware of what they do for others, or i f they are aware that an exchange i s unfavorable toward themselves they are undisturbed, because t h e i r action i s consistent with i n t e r n a l i z e d i d e a l s. Acts which place the needs of another ahead of one's own needs as a gesture of caring, v a l i d a t i o n or understanding, would be expected to promote intimacy i n the re l a t i o n s h i p. I f t h i s i s so, a posit i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p would be expected between adaptive submissiveness and intimacy.

Following a sim i l a r rationale, recent research has indicated that intimacy i s a central determinant of c e r t a i n kinds of s o c i a l support Reis, S o c i a l support and relationship s a t i s f a c t i o n have i n turn been demonstrated to benefit health s u b s t a n t i a l l y and to contribute to a sense of well-being Reis, I f , as i t has been suggested here, the adaptive expressions of submissiveness are re l a t e d to the achievement of intimacy and the r e l a t i o n a l provisions of marriage, i t should follow that a person's submission i n p o s i t i v e adaptive ways to his or her marriage partner should be rel a t e d to m a r i t a l s a t i s f a c t i o n.

Objectives of the Study This study addresses the concern that the conceptualization of t r a i t submissiveness has arisen primarily as a by-product of dominance research, and as such the concept i s presently viewed uni-dimensionally as a weak dimension i n interpersonal i n t e r a c t i o n s. I t has been suggested that the early work on dominance and submission have influenced t h i s view, as well as the tendency that has been noted see for example, Goldberg, f o r some constructs i. The objectives of t h i s study are to a examine the present conceptualization of submissiveness, b present a t h e o r e t i c a l conceptualization of an adaptive dimension of submissiveness, hereafter r e f e r r e d to as v o l i t i o n a l submissiveness, c develop a measure of v o l i t i o n a l submissiveness and d t e s t i t s hypothesized correlates.

Each question i s addressed by some aspect of the research; however, the hypotheses pertain only to research questions 3, 5 and 6. Can behavioral acts that characterize the v o l i t i o n a l submissiveness construct be e l i c i t e d and i d e n t i f i e d by using the c r i t i c a l incident interview method? Is there an adaptive dimension of the submissiveness t r a i t that can be distinguished by behaviors that are q u a l i t a t i v e l y d i f f e r e n t from the behaviors that currently comprise the domain of submissive acts, i n that they are correlated with psychological well-being and have the e f f e c t of enhancing interpersonal relationships?

What motivations underlie v o l i t i o n a l l y submissive behavior? Is the hypothesized t r a i t , v o l i t i o n a l submissiveness, capable of p r e d i c t i n g behavioral response? Research Hypotheses The following hypotheses w i l l be tested: 1. There i s a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t negative r e l a t i o n s h i p or c o r r e l a t i o n between submissiveness as measured by the CPI Gough, and self-esteem as measured by the Eagly Revision of the Janis F i e l d Self-Esteem Scale.

There i s no re l a t i o n s h i p or cor r e l a t i o n between v o l i t i o n a l submissiveness as measured by the VSS and submissiveness as measured by the CPI. The mean VSS score of the targeted therapist group w i l l be s i g n i f i c a n t l y higher than the mean VSS score of the c l i e n t group.

S e l f - g i v i n g behavior giving up the "Z" i n a behavioral experiment w i l l be p o s i t i v e l y correlated with VSS score. Significance Submissiveness as i t i s presently defined i s not a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c that one i s l i k e l y to claim for oneself. I t i s assumed to r e f l e c t low self-esteem and a component of psychological maladjustment. This conception of submissiveness accounts for the tendency of some people to respond to dominance with p a s s i v i t y , and i n these instances i t appears to r e f l e c t psychological weakness.

But i t may be that t h i s view f a i l s to consider some important aspects of interaction behavior, such as the meaning that behavior has for the actor. As has been noted by Carlson , the most "human" of our endowments i s our capacity for d i f f e r e n t i a t e d thoughts and feeli n g s. This should be the s t a r t i n g point for personological enquiry.

F a i l u r e to recognize differences i n the underlying i n d i v i d u a l psychological structures that give r i s e to submissive behavior, and to i d e n t i f y the meaning and the consequence of the behavior, may lead to misconceptions. Secondly, submissiveness has t r a d i t i o n a l l y been sterotyped as a "feminine" c h a r a c t e r i s t i c which, along with some other feminine q u a l i t i e s that contribute to interpersonal effectiveness, have been thought to make women better " f i t " than men for r e l a t i o n a l roles and for family and child-care r o l e s.

The e f f e c t of stereotyping submissiveness as a feminine t r a i t i s twofold. F i r s t , as Lewis observed, relegating interpersonal and r e l a t i o n a l roles to women has resulted i n women carrying the burden of our culture's devaluation of s o c i a b i l i t y. Stereotyping interpersonal t r a i t s that promote i n t e r -connectedness as "feminine" has robbed them of the s o c i a l d e s i r a b i l i t y factor that i s necessary to make them more androgenous.

As with other stereotyped behaviors, the need i s not to eliminate the behavior but to expand i t s u t i l i t y to appropriate interpersonal relationships for both genders. Stereotyping has, by virtue of placing submissiveness within the domain of the feminine and therefore of the r e l a t i o n a l t r a i t s , served at least to point to the rol e that submissiveness plays i n human re l a t i o n s h i p s. The negative consequences of maladaptive submissiveness are very apparent, but the p o s i t i v e consequences of the adaptive dimension have not been described or explored.

For example, being dominated by another i s obviously unpleasant and negatively r e l a t e d to one's sense of well-being. However, putting the needs of one's c h i l d ahead of one's own needs i n the process of e f f e c t i v e parenting and l a b e l l i n g t h i s behavior as a manifestation of self-chosen, adaptive submissiveness i d e n t i f i e s an interpersonal context i n which submissiveness i s desirable. This study seeks to i d e n t i f y the adaptive dimension of t h i s t r a i t , to investigate the relationship of the adaptive dimension to other factors that have been shown to be indicators of psychological adjustment, and to suggest conditions which must be met i n order for submissiveness to be adaptive and to promote or enhance r e l a t i o n s h i p s.

Delimitations The i n v e s t i g a t i o n was limited i n that the r e s u l t s may not be generalized to a l l populations. The data for the study were c o l l e c t e d from men and women between 19 and 68 years of age. The r e s u l t s cannot be generalized outside t h i s age group. An attempt was made to randomly sample an adult population but the sample w i l l not be representative of the general population because the 42 majority of subjects consist of passengers on B. F e r r i e s t r a v e l l i n g between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay harbours. This population was chosen because i t provided a somewhat randomized sampling of B r i t i s h Columbians l i v i n g i n an area accessible to the University of B.

Subjects were not offered payment as an incentive to complete and return the questionnaire even though i t required a considerable time investment because no funds were available for t h i s purpose. In addition, subjects were recruited for various other parts of the study from the University of B.

The subjects were primarily Caucasian, lower-mainland residents representative of the middle range of the socio-economic structure, so generalizations are l i m i t e d to a s i m i l a r sample. F i n a l l y , the res u l t s are limited to adults who are voluntary participants, and who are i n that sense, s e l f -selected for the study.

Levy summarized the role of personality research and theory as that of "learning the best way to describe what kind of a person a man [sic] i s , how he [sic] got that way, what keeps him [sic] that way, what might make him [sic] change, and how we might use a l l t h i s to explain why he [sic] behaves as he [sic] does and pre d i c t how he [sic] w i l l behave i n the future" p.

Submit to One Another

Recently, i t has been argued see for example, Lamiell, that the assessment of differences between i n d i v i d u a l s , the paradigm which has dominated personality research during t h i s century, has f a i l e d to describe the personality of any given i n d i v i d u a l. Carlson's query: "Where i s the person i n personality research? The present study seeks to investigate "the person" who i s submissive. This section begins with a review of the 44 early studies of submissiveness, providing the h i s t o r i c a l or t r a d i t i o n a l basis for the current conceptualization.

The influence of the early work on the conceptualization of the -t r a i t , p a r t i c u l a r i l y i n r e l a t i o n to dominance, i s then discussed i n terms of conceptual b l u r r i n g between the two constructs, submissiveness and subordination. The rather extensive l i t e r a t u r e that portrays submissiveness as the opposite of dominance w i l l then be reviewed, as w i l l the l i t e r a t u r e describing the psychological context which submissiveness i s presently considered to manifest.

The H i s t o r i c a l Basis of the Current Conceptualization Submissiveness: A T r a i t of Personality Early i n the h i s t o r y of personality research, A l l p o r t emphasized the r o l e of the researcher and the s c i e n t i f i c process i n defining such personality variables as t r a i t s. The person, apart from being the object of study, was not otherwise very s a l i e n t to the understanding of the t r a i t i n terms of providing personal information about the meaning of behavior within the context i n which i t was enacted.

A t r a i t was defined by A l l p o r t as "a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c form of behavior more generalized than the s i n g l e reaction or simple habit" and rather l i k e a generalized habit or a "prominent determining tendency" p. Two "trends i n behavior" that A l l p o r t i n i t i a l l y described and established as t r a i t s were ascendance and submission. He provided the following r a t i o n a l e : In most s o c i a l situations comprising only two people there i s psychologically a dominant personality and a submissive personality.

Occasionally the rol e s of the persons may be reversed, when for instance, the conversation turns to a subject i n which the experience of the submissive person i s superior. Taking the aggregate of the responses over a period of time, however, i t i s often possible to detect an enduring di s p o s i t i o n on the part of one of the p a i r to assume a role of supremacy, the other a r o l e of subordination, p.

As i s currently the case, A l l p o r t believed that ascendance and submission are cor r e c t l y conceptualized as two separate 46 t r a i t s rather than submission being merely the absence of ascendance. However, he considered each i n d i v i d u a l to have an ascendant and submissive integration; that i s , each person possessed both t r a i t s.

In some he thought the t r a i t s may be expressed about equally, but in most persons one of the two tendencies i s s u f f i c i e n t l y pronounced to i d e n t i f y them as eithe r an ascendent or a submissive personality Allport, This i s the predominant view expressed in the l i t e r a t u r e today.

Elders, Leadership, and Authority

As f o r personal c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , A l l p o r t defined submissiveness as the "strongly marked tendency to be passive i n contacts;" whereas, ascendence was described as the "strongly marked tendency to take the active role, to dominate, lead, and organize, i n dealing with [one's] fellows" p.

The extent to which A l l p o r t considered submissiveness to be a passive or weak response i s i l l u s t r a t e d in the comparison of behaviors that he suggested were manifestations of ascendance and submission. For A l l p o r t , ascendance was demonstrated by seeking out useful contacts with important people, whereas submissive behavior consisted of not seeking such contacts or f e e l i n g reluctant to make them.

Ascendance, he believed, was revealed by acting i n accordance with one's own desires, while submissiveness was indicated by y i e l d i n g to the desires of others. Perhaps he did not perceive t h i s a l t e r n a t i v e because he viewed submission primarily i n terms of taking "a r o l e of subordination" Allport, , p.

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A l l p o r t further described ascendant behavior as that which placed oneself i n a position of advantage i f i t did not inconvenience others and sometimes i f i t did , whereas submissive behavior consisted of not seeking the p o s i t i o n of advantage i f i n so doing one would be conspicuous. A l l p o r t believed that ascendance permits a person to speak one's mind or p a r t i c i p a t e i n a discussion without f e e l i n g unduly s e l f -conscious; the submissive person i s l i k e l y to r a r e l y or never speak under such circumstances and to f e e l very self-conscious.

Ascendance, he thought, may be manifest by open q u a r r e l l i n g , the ascendant person r e s i s t i n g v i o l a t i o n of righ t s even when t r i v i a l , whereas, the submissive person i s disturbed by quarrels and avoids them at any price, refusing to object to transgressions against personal rig h t s even though inwardly provoked. Avoiding r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , being found r a r e l y i n executive positions, and being suggestible, i n his opinion exemplified submissiveness.

A l l p o r t ' s description i s f a i r l y consistent with the view of dominance and submissiveness that i s 48 c u r r e n t l y found i n psychological l i t e r a t u r e. The portrayal of submissiveness as a more weak, passive interpersonal stance i s re f l e c t e d in the occupations that A l l p o r t suggested were suitable choices for the submissive person. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.

Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her?

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the Lord , before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the Lord. Seek the Lord , all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. Unless otherwise indicated, all content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Contact me: openbibleinfo at gmail. Cite this page : Editor: Stephen Smith.

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My wifes Compulsion and Submissiveness My wifes Compulsion and Submissiveness
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My wifes Compulsion and Submissiveness My wifes Compulsion and Submissiveness
My wifes Compulsion and Submissiveness My wifes Compulsion and Submissiveness
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