, a form of deception
or dismissal of prior presumptions, is the breaking or violation of a presumptive social contract
, or confidence
) that produces moral
and psychological conflict within a relationship amongst individuals, between organizations or between individuals and organizations. Often betrayal is the act of supporting a rival group, or it is a complete break from previously decided upon or presumed norms by one party from the others. Someone who betrays others is commonly called a traitor or betrayer. Betrayal is also a commonly used literary element and is often associated with or used as a plot twist
Rodger L. Jackson
, author of the article, The Sense and Sensibility of Betrayal: Discovering the Meaning of Treachery Through Jane Austen
, writes that "there has been surprisingly little written about what we even mean by the term". In psychology
, practitioners describe betrayal as the breaking of a social contract; however, critics of this approach claim that the term social contract
does not accurately reflect the conditions and motivations for, and effects of, betrayal. Philosophers Judith Shklar
and Peter Johnson
, authors of The Ambiguities of Betrayal
and Frames of Deceit
respectively, contend that while no clear definition of betrayal is available, betrayal is more effectively understood through literature
researcher Selmer Bringsjord
made betrayal the core of a storytelling program BRUTUS
. In Artificial Intelligence and Literary Creativity: Inside the Mind of BRUTUS, a Storytelling Machine
, betrayal is defined operationally in computer language as basically as knowingly thwarting another out of something that ought to occur.
Theoretical and practical needs
Jackson explains why a clear definition is needed:
- Betrayal is both a "people" problem and a philosopher's problem. Philosophers should be able to clarify the concept of betrayal, compare and contrast it with other moral concepts, and critically assess betrayal situations. At the practical level people should be able to make honest sense of betrayal and also to temper its consequences: to handle it, not be assaulted by it. What we need is a conceptually clear account of betrayal that differentiates between genuine and merely perceived betrayal, and which also provides systematic guidance for the assessment of alleged betrayal in real life.
Ben-Yehuda's 2001 work ("Betrayals and Treason Violations of Trust and Loyalty" Westview Press) framed all forms of betrayals and treason under a unifying analytical framework using loyalty, trust and moral boundaries as explanatory tools.
occurs when people or institutions that are depended on for survival violate human trust
. An example of betrayal trauma is childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
The term was first used by Professor J.J. Freyd in 1991, and today most mental health professionals accept betrayal trauma as a possible alternative diagnosis to traditional post traumatic stress disorder, particularly in cases of Complex post-traumatic stress disorder where the trauma consists of longterm trauma rather than a single traumatic event.
Betrayal can occur between two (adult) persons as well as between single persons and a whole group. The story of Gangaji and Eli Jaxon-Bear (two spiritual teachers married to each other) has been defined by them as betrayal of the teacher-disciple-relationship, too. .
Most adults living in democracies
place trust in the state
of which they are a citizen. If this trust is betrayed, at its worst, the individual can suffer psychological betrayal trauma. Betrayal trauma has symptoms similar to post traumatic stress disorder, although the element of amnesia and dissociation is likely to be greater.
The key difference between traditional post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and betrayal trauma is that the former is historically seen as being caused primarily by fear, whereas betrayal trauma is a response to extreme anger. Fear and anger are the two sides to the fight-flight response, and as such are our strongest and most basic psychological emotions.
Pure political betrayal trauma can be caused by situations such as wrongful arrest and/or conviction; or by discrimination, bullying or other serious mistreatment by a state institution or powerful figure within the state.
In practice, however, it is likely that most people with symptoms of psychological trauma have elements of both fear based PTSD and anger based betrayal trauma, not one or the other. Certainly in the most serious cases of PTSD there is an element of both. For instance, the fact that a soldier is sent to war by the state is an important element in the reasons for war being a major cause of PTSD. In cases where soldiers are horrified by the actions or orders of their commanding officers, or where they are victims of friendly fire, their PTSD is likely to be worse because of the element of betrayal will be that much greater. Similarly, one of the most psychologically traumatising events in history, the Holocaust, is almost certainly so serious a case because the element of state betrayal is as great as the element of fear trauma.
If you deceive someone, you lose one of life's greatest treasures, you lose the capacity to trust. Because without trust, love is not possible. Osho