Do No Harm


Rebecca C. Mandeville, MA
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A therapist friend shared this meme with me today and I thought my readers here would appreciate it.

It got me to thinking: It is always a curious thing when I set limits and boundaries with someone and they are surprised or resentful because I am a therapist. They act hurt, even angry at times, as if it is somehow my job to molly coddle people when they harm me. Heck, I don’t even molly coddle my therapy clients (as anyone who has worked with me well knows)!

Sometimes when this happens I will (rhetorically) ask them, “What do you think I help abuse and trauma survivors learn to do? Why, I help them learn how to protect themselves by setting appropriate limits and boundaries with others, of course.”

Without boundaries, there is no freedom.

– Carl Jung

And as long as we’re on the subject of boundaries: Setting limits with those who persist in behaving in a less than humane manner toward you will sometimes result in that relationship coming to an end. Don’t ever let yourself fall into shame or guilt if this happens. The shame and guilt is on them. If someone cannot treat you respectfully, ask yourself, is the relationship really worth the price you are paying? And what IS the price you are paying? Something to think about…


About Rebecca C. Mandeville, MA

Rebecca C. Mandeville coined the research-supported terms 'family scapegoating abuse' (FSA) and 'family scapegoat trauma' (FST) and is a recognized thought leader in understanding the consequences of being in the family 'identified patient' or 'scapegoat' role. Her best-selling book, 'Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed', is the first book ever written on FSA. Rebecca is now working on a book of reflections with affirmations to support adult survivors in their FSA recovery. Rebecca serves as a YouTube Health Partner via her channel Beyond Family Scapegoating Abuse and is also active on Instagram and Facebook.

9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Great meme highlighting some things simply are black and white!

    I’m a nurse and often feel like you do, albeit I’m guilty of having literally done way too much molly coddling for my own good, It would seem the expectation is that we should unconditionally care for everyone else, first and foremost, without a care for ourselves. However while its taken me half a century to understand, now as a no contact scapegoat, who’s narcissistic neglectful, psychologically abusive and alcohol dependent mother (deceased) was also a nurse and flying monkey golden child brothers bar one are nurses too, including one a dual nurse and qualified therapist, I’ve concluded that having qualifications doesn’t ensure theory into practice and job descriptions don’t apply unpaid off duty not even within family relationships!

    I have learnt the hard way that the old adage about being in an aeroplane and putting your own face mask on first really does help focus priorities, In order to help others you have to help yourself first (eg. boundaries, no contact). Proving boundaries can be life saving, save yourself first and then you can then help save others, no guilt in that right?!

    My boundary now is to apply a zero tolerance to abuse approach in all areas of life. Interestingly I’ve barely ever been subject to any abuse from any patients in 25 years. I believe it’s all about approach and treating people with respect, empathy and acknowledgement for distress and ill health and discomfort. I adjust my tolerances in accordance with the situation, ie if I’m dealing with a patient I apply empathy, if I’m dealing with a well, abusive family member off duty I’m inclined to put my face mask on (apply boundaries), give them a wide birth and go to work, guiltlessly!

    If reading this helps somebody that’s even better! We’re evolving together!

    love Jane x

    1. Thank you, Jane. You add so much to our conversations here, and I am sure many will learn much from you. Appreciate your contributions. By the way, I am also the daughter of a registered nurse (RN). In regard to having a zero tolerance policy for abuse: Coincidentally, a former grad student of mine just released a series on dealing with toxic people, including on going no contact, including with family members. I helped her edit it (but chose not to take credit) as English is her second language. If I remember correctly, one of the chapters is on having a “zero tolerance policy” for abuse. The series compilation is here, if you are interested:

  2. Rebecca, I appreciate your blog posts. I’ve started reading Kindle version of Rejected Shamed and Blamed for the second time. Your writing and experience shed light on a lifetime of experiences and provides excellent tools for recovery. I’m grateful for the help you’ve provided within those pages. <3

    1. Thank you for letting me know, Marylou. I’m so glad you have found my book to be helpful. I’ve heard from quite a few people who have read it several times, getting more out of it each time as they gain more clarity. I always appreciate reviews on Amazon, if you haven’t done so already – what you share in a review can help others!

  3. Thank You very much Rebecca, I really appreciate and feel very touched and honored to receive your reply. Also Thank You for the recommendation, I have requested the purchase of Neela Arnaud’s set of three books, part of Adult Survivors of Toxic Families, for my birthday for which I’m now very excited!

    One last last thing, I’d just like to take the opportunity to offer some reassurance to both yourself and another respondent Dan P on my references to nurses, that the vast majority of nurses I have met have born no similarity to the familial type of toxicity I’ve personally experienced and I apologize to both yourself and others reading this on behalf of myself and all the fantastic hard workng members of my profession that wouldn’t dream of behaving in such hurtful trauma inducing toxic behaviors. Thankfully I can assure you all take heart I’m/ we’re not all the same! Sending love to you all x Jane x

  4. I’m so sorry Dan, as a fellow scapegoat I thoroughly empathize with how hurtfully painfully upsetting it can be, I just wanted to let you know as a nurse myself were not all the same in the nursing profession, please be reassured and don’t lose faith in nurses, the vast majority wouldn’t dream of causing you toxic harm or upset. Big love x Jane x

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