Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are divorced. The ‘love of his life’ has left him taking their daughter with her. He gave her a quiet divorce, supposedly to protect his religion from being exposed. According to the magazines, she is seen  smiling again and dressing stylishly. A change apparently from her lost look and uniform jeans and tees in the last few months of her marriage. Katie is blooming again.

A source said: “After five years of this Katie really felt like she was going crazy and that she was actually turning into the robot that the press had always made her out to be. Katie has actually got a great personality and she used to be spunky and feisty. She changed so much when she was with Tom, she became downtrodden and insipid.” –  Irish Central

I don’t know Tom and Katie, but I can believe this to be true.

The Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Syndrome?

I’ve seen many examples of this Tom-Katie syndrome around me: people being controlled and dominated to the point where they can no longer be themselves.

A few years ago, José and I were invited to a wedding anniversary celebration of an older couple. He was a well respected man and his wife seemed much younger. One of their children who spoke at this celebration said: ‘My parents have never said a cross word to each other.’ That seemed unreal to us. When the man passed away, we saw a subtle transformation in his wife. A woman who was always clumsily dressed and had a vacant expression on her face, now seems to be dressing smarter and looking brighter.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another couple who were very withdrawn, to the point of being anti-social, had a grown up daughter living with them. She was educated, but had never worked and led a very sheltered life. When her parents died in quick succession, the extended family was concerned about how this girl would manage. But she surprised them all by taking up a job and  managing her own affairs.

Maya’s single mom lived with Maya and her husband from the early days of their marriage. She interfered with all aspects of Maya’s daughter’s upbringing. Every time Maya’s husband suggested an outing with his wife and child, the mother fell ill and their plans had to be cancelled. Her mother was always making Maya feel guilty about having a happy family life. When the mother passed away, it was interesting to watch the family try to re-establish the dynamics. Maya still won’t admit that her mother controlled her life. Instead if she could build a shrine for her, she would. However, I observe a lot of positive changes in her and their family since the mother died.

When I first saw Ruth, a teacher with two children, she struck me as being very depressed. She dressed dowdily and hardly ever smiled. Her children too looked rather sad. I hardly ever saw her husband. When Ruth’s children finished their education and started working, she left her husband. There was such a transformation in her. She began to dress smartly, smile a lot, joined a women’s movement and just seemed transformed. Recently, she remarried and seems to glow.

All these examples point to how it is possible for us to be controlled and dominated by another to the point that our spirits and personality are completely crushed. Through subtle and direct means, we are told false things about ourselves that we start to believe. Whenever, we try to break free, the ‘controller’ uses guilt make us feel bad.

I recall Scott Peck‘s ‘People of The Lie‘ calling such domination as evil – ‘the use of power to destroy the growth of others for the purpose of defending and preserving the integrity of their sick selves.’ The worst part of this evil is that victims of it are ‘in thrall’ of the parent, spouse or friend who is dominating them. They seem powerless to escape. Most often, they don’t realize the hold the other person has on them. It takes a lot of courage to get out of the clutches of controlling people. In the examples I gave you, only Ruth (and Katie) had the courage to move out. The other three had to wait for the ‘controller/s to die.

“They are men and women of obviously strong will, determined to have their own way. There is a remarkable power in the manner in which they attempt to control others.”  – Scott Peck in People of the Lie

Have you seen any examples of the Tom-Katie syndrome around you?

May you be inspired – every day!

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