Mutism or Manipulation?

When I was a teen, I’d often go mute whenever certain personal topics of discussion came up. My mental health was such a topic. Much as I wanted to speak, my mouth wouldn’t form the words I wanted to tell my teachers or other people who intended to help me.

Even though I felt intensely anxious, my silence was commonly viewed as an act of rebellion. A way of manipulating those around me into, well, I honestly don’t know what.

When my parents and high school tutor had finally agreed that I needed professional counseling – or rather, my tutor had convinced my parents of the need, I assume -, my tutor informed me that the counselor had to meet certain very specific requirements. He or she needed to know blindness, because, well, I’m blind. The second requirement, I can’t remember, but the third was that he or she had to be exceptionally intelligent. The reason for that one was the fact that I, too, was supposedly extremely intelligent. If the counselor wasn’t smart enough, my tutor explained up front, I’d outsmart them with my manipulation. By this, he meant my so-called refusal to speak.

To this day, I am still unsure as to what made him think my silence was an act of willful defiance. Of course, everyone manipulates others at times, but I am pretty sure my mutism wasn’t – still isn’t – part of it.


This post was written for today’s Word of the Day Challenge, for which the prompt is “silence”, as well as E.M.’s RWP, which is “rebellion”.

11 thoughts on “Mutism or Manipulation?

  1. I don’t think you were manipulating anyone. I know sometimes my teenage girls just can’t find the words to express how they are feeling so just don’t say anything. I think that’s part and parcel of being a teenager. x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If it wasn’t so sad and difficult, it would be quite hilarious to think how grown up, educated people could let their lack of intelligence, or at least open-mindedness and flexibility inn thinking, show so much by quite helplessly assuming that a child (even a very intelligent one) can manipulate them so much that she’d need an uber-smart counsellor/therapist. I’m no expert on children, but just logically it seems like a pretty bad tactic to let a child know that their intelligence is viewed as a sort of threat by adults and makes them feel out of control, because if you were actually manipulative you could make great use of this knowledge. 😀 I’m really sorry this happened to you. And generally I find it quite funny if super annoying at the same time how people think that if you’re intelligent, you’re magically skilled at absolutely everything and should have everything together, even though that is too often not true and obviously there are so many kinds of intelligence and verbal intelligence has little to do with expressing your emotions or asking for help.
    I’d never experienced the same thing as you, but I’ve also had people assuming that, since I’m intelligent and apparently know a lot of things or make such impression, have an extensive vocabulary and all that, I should, among other things, be able to express my emotions well and explain my difficulties to people clearly, so I guess I have some idea of what it might have felt like for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for validating my experience. I agree, it’s so easy to assume that just because I’m intelligent, I should have all my shit together and the fact that I don’t means I’m manipulating. Of course, I was an older teen, not a child, but then again my parents said I’d been manipulating them in quite elaborate ways ever since I was as young as seven-years-old, and they’d probably gotten my t utor convinced of this.

      Liked by 1 person

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