Blind Loyalty, Betrayal and Self Preservation: The Silencing of Dissent

August 23, 2009

A person can’t be expected to be loyal to something or someone who is hurting or destroying them, that causes them pain or asks them to go against their personal morals, values or integrity.  It also requires the person from whom this blind loyalty is demanded to overlook, ignore or set aside their own ethics and beliefs and replace them with those of the person or group from whom the demand emanates. Such expectation of blind loyalty runs contrary to our fundamental human instinct of self-preservation and results in a loss of self.  Indeed, a high price to pay.

Expecting someone to chose another over themselves is akin to demanding an abused spouse stay in a dysfunctional marriage or risk being labeled disloyal or a betrayer. It puts all the blame on the person who has the courage to preserve themselves and end or leave the relationship. Speaking up as a way to defend oneself is simply not a viable option because to those who demand blind loyalty, objecting, or voicing dissent is, in itself, an act of disloyalty. And, it will nearly always be punished.

When one human being treats another badly, abuses them either physically, mentally, psychologically or emotionally, or asks or expects them to engage in behavior that goes against their personal values and/or morals, in essence, they force them to make a choice. Either choose to continue the relationship and suffer in silence in the dysfunctional environment; or, save yourself and preserve your integrity. Sometimes in life we must, for our own well being, choose ourselves or risk loosing our mental health and/or our integrity. This is true whether the dysfunction comes at the hands of a single person or through participation in a group.

When problems arise in groups, effective leaders focus on problem solving strategies in order to explore various ways to make things better. They are willing to open the lines of communication and hear all voices, whether they be concurring or dissenting ones. When this opportunity is not provided or such a mechanism is not in place, it forces a dichotomous decision on the part of the group’s members – me or them; self or the group.

The narcissistic leaders of dysfunctional groups never take responsibility for problems within the group, are not willing to hear the voices of dissent but rather, scapegoat or blame others, and in particular, those who chose to speak up or leave the group to preserve themselves. In this way, these so-called leaders maintain the myth of loyalty on their part and force the label of betrayer on those who chose themselves over the group. It is a convenient way to silence dissent and to vilify those who depart for their own reasons. And, in the twisted mind of these narcissistic leaders, they believe it builds greater loyalty on the part of those who remain. If they can successfully label someone a betrayer, those who remain will focus on that person rather than on the dysfunction of the group. It also sends a strong message to the members of the group; give us blind loyalty or be punished.

Betrayal is a loaded word, especially when ones only choice is to betray another or to betray yourself. How can a person be expected to maintain their loyalty when doing so is injurious to them, their integrity, mental, psychological, emotional, and in certain circumstances, physical well being?  Either way, the person who is forced to make this choice looses.
Some people like to use the phrase “The magic mirror is always at work” to describe the relationships between people. E.g., if I am feeling distant from my friend, they must be feeling distant from me. If I am not feeling heard by my friend, they must not be feeling heard by me. If indeed there is such a “magic mirror,” then it necessarily follows that when one person labels another “betrayer,” the one being so labeled also feels betrayed by the person labeling them.

Fundamental fairness dictates, at the very least, that the people being accused be given the opportunity to defend themselves; to speak their truth. Aren’t all of us innocent until proven guilty? Doesn’t justice, truth, honesty and love, yes love, demand that the accused betrayer be given a chance to tell their story? And as we all know, no story is one sided. If you love someone, or profess to love them, shouldn’t you treat them with respect and dignity? Shouldn’t you care about what they are feeling or have to say? Or do you act as judge, jury and executioner and condemn the person you allegedly love and demand their voice, which may be one of dissent, remain silent?  Do you threaten punishment in the absence of blind loyalty? If speaking up and telling the truth is considered an act of disloyalty, that speaks volumes about the person or group who requires silence as an act of loyalty. This is, at the very least, hypocrisy, and at most tyranny.

The bottom line is that it isn’t right, fair or just to expect any of us to give blind loyalty to someone or something that is toxic, dishonest or unethical, or not what it purports to be. Moreover, it is even more dishonest to silence the voices of dissent. The “magic mirror” is a myth, a convenient excuse used to justify bad behavior. A person who refuses to give blind loyalty to another or to an organization is not a betrayer but simply a person who made a choice that was best for them, to preserve themselves, their well being and in some cases their integrity. We all have freedom of choice and in the end, we are the only ones who can protect and preserve ourselves. We can’t, and shouldn’t, expect others to do it for us. Nor should we be punished for exercising our free will, or, our freedom of speech.

Felix Frankfurter, the Supreme Court Justice, perhaps said it best: “Those who begin cohersive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.”


  1. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution impossible.” JFK

  2. Sorry, that’s supposed to be “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” JFK

  3. Excellent site, keep up the good work

  4. I cannot believe this was published on my birthday. It was truly a gift to read. It was like reading about myself. I have dealt with having to make the choice of self-preservation over love. It’s been two and one half years now and I still bare pain from the things that were said and done to me. Of course I wear the blame while my narcissist continues his abusive course with anyone in his path. I stay strong one day at a time knowing that my happiness is slowly returning.

    • Thank you Nicci for reading my blog. Hang in there. Healing takes time but it does get better every day!

  5. I’m a victim of something called “organized stalking and electronic harassment.” This has been ongoing for some time, but the overt extreme harassment began in 2009. Believe it or not, your essay has helped me some. I’m dealing with social isolation imposed by constant phone and internet surveillance and interference, intellectual property theft, death threats, lack of justice, brutality, car vandalism and tampering, and many other horrors.

    It’s as though the OS/EH system is this narcissism you speak of. (My overt harassment began with their using a patsy to make it look like he was the one behind the stalking… so it took on a “personal” face for a while.) The problem is that with the lack of resources to protect oneself, the destruction of relationships and in my case having my career put in limbo, the need to take care of others (including my child) makes it easier to fall into some “learned helplessness” or Stockholm Syndrome. I have to cope with the situation, but I will never accept it and if I can’t escape this physically (until I can get to a neutral country) at least I can escape it mentally.

    Thanks for the blog.

  6. Great blog. Can you point to any resources on narcissistic sexual deviance outside of a “committed loving relationship”? For both the narcissist and the victim?

  7. I posted before – I now don’t believe I’m a victim of organized stalking etc. It turns out this is an internet “meme” of some kind. What I really appear to be a victim of is involuntary human experimentation – victims are pushed toward these groups that then give disinformation as to what the problem is. That being said, I have been cyberstalked, hacked and harassed. And even with a case number, no justice yet. Thanks again for your article.

  8. I wasn’t able to explain it, but this article has done so perfectly. Thank you for the heads up.

  9. I found your blog after journalling and then googling ‘I feel so angry that I betrayed myself to be loyal to them’. Thank you for your post. I now just have to forgive myself for all the time I’ve punished myself, stayed outside and separate, to make them right. And then I have to forgive them so I can really move on to the life of unconditional love we all deserve.

  10. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz answer back as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. thank you

  11. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out
    and tell you I really enjoy reading through your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same
    subjects? Appreciate it!

  12. Who wrote this article so that I may cite it for my project?

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