Differentiation vs. Annihilation

Differentiation vs. Annihilation 
Fourth in a four part series.

According to the New Milan Dictionary:

Differentiation:  “To distinguish oneself as different from another.”

Annihilation:  “To make something go away as though it didn’t exist.”

Last week we talked about how the pleasers, avoiders and vacillators were shaped into their broken attachment or love styles.

What about the controllers and victims?

Controllers and victims, who came from disorganized and dangerous homes, never learned how to differentiate from their families of origin in a healthy way.


Because they were themselves annihilated…stepped on…abused or marginally tolerated at best.

They never were allowed to fully differentiate toward a healthy secure adult.

Held tightly by the dysfunctional gravitational field of their families, controllers and victims as well as the other injured styles physically mature into adulthood while on the inside they remain as little children who are weak, insecure and frightened by adult relationships and challenges that a big person’s world brings.

Before we look at the predictable differentiation and annihilation struggles for each of the injured love styles, let’s first look at someone who is healthy and secure.

The Secure Connector:  The Christ like person we’re all trying to become.


  • They can freely allow themselves and others to be different and unique.
  • They tolerate other’s opinions and are ok with conflict and disagreement.
  • They are not jealous or easily threatened because their security allows them to value the successes and accomplishments of others.
  • They celebrate achievement in others and encourage independence and exploration of spouses and children because they know that they will return and fill them up again with successful bonding as well as satisfactory conflict resolution.
  • They resist enmeshment or the intrusion of others with good boundaries and can remain distinct and whole.
  • They don’t loose themselves in a crowd and can keep their heads clear because their acceptance by others isn’t paramount.
  • They can tolerate the rejection and shunning of others and even get angry if others push them too far.


  • Because of their strong sense of security leading to differentiation, they have no need to annihilate themselves or others.
  • They don’t need to make other’s opinions or thoughts go away.  They can feel free to be themselves and blossom even further.

The Insecure Avoider:


  • They require that you be like them.  “Emotion averse.”   That is…  unless it is entertaining, funny, intellectually stimulating or sexual in nature.
  • They are too insecure to invite emotional differences to come in close.  It scares them.


  • They make themselves go away by controlling, limiting, restricting or denying their emotions and soulish needs.
  • They make others go away by insisting that they control, limit, restrict, deny or stifle their emotions and needs of the soul.
  • “And, by the way, have sex with me whenever I want… it is my only way of feeling ‘kind of close’ … it doesn’t matter if you are emotionally present or not… just perform.”

The Insecure Pleaser: 

  • “Stay close, don’t leave me.  I feel better when you are near by.
  • “Let’s not venture too far… it scares me.
  • “Stop having those wild ideas that will never happen. Let’s just stay as we are.”


  • “Where do I want to go to dinner?  Wherever you want! If you like it I’ll like it.”
  • “I sense you are mad at me, you’re right, you’re right.   We’ll do it your way.”

The Insecure Vacillator:


  • “Don’t be different!  You are not allowed to.  If you do, you are slighting me and that hurts.
  • Zero degrees of separation are allowed on all matters at all times.
  • Read my mind, figure out what I want. Anticipate me! If you loved me, you would be ever present in thoughts, attentiveness and behaviors.
  • If you don’t I’ll become extremely angry.  Hopefully, after I have punished you, you will finally get it.”


  • Others cease to exist. They can’t! …Their not allowed to!  For, to be different themselves in any way is threatening and produces high anxiety in the vacillator.
  • All children, husbands and wives that are related to Vacillators only breathe a sigh of relief when Momma or Pappa is happy. They live for that, so they lie, pretend, ignore and say no to their own desires to make the Vacillator happy.  If that is one’s only existence, then child or spouse is only a worker ant or bee serving the Queen or King.

The Insecure Controller:


  • They get anxious and then angry when anyone does something out of their control.  They do not appreciate difference and tolerate little variation from what is within their comfort zone.  Their goal is to allow no one to really be different from how they wish it to be.


  • As a result, no one else in the home really exists as a whole person.  Others cower in fear and are forced to hide behind a toxic compliance that erases or eclipses their mind, heart and will.  They are not allowed to become all that God wanted them to be…they have become all that the controller wants them to be.

The Insecure Victim: 


  • They too get anxious around others and find themselves thinking and behaving as human chameleons.  They become what others want them to be.  While this isn’t always a conscious thought process, all they know, is that if everyone is smiling and no empty beer cans are flying at their head, life is good.


  • As a person, they do not exist.  They do not know who they are or what they think.  They don’t have well developed thought processes and critical thinking skills because they never have enough independent moments to reflect and analyze.  After all, how could these skills be developed since they have been fearfully dodging the assaults of others much of their lives.  Survival obscures development.

Your reactions? 

Undoubtedly, you are mad, sad, glad or scared at what I said.

  • You might be  mad if I exposed you too robustly.
  • You might be sad as you come to realize the severity of these problems.
  • You might be glad if I busted your spouse.
  • You might be scared if you don’t know what to do to escape these insidious cancers.

But wait… there is hope!   (As a recovering pleaser, I feel compelled to make you all feel good right now and make it all better.

Yet if I soften the blow, you might relax and never change.

So, I will resist a relapse into “pleaserism” and tolerate the possibility of you thinking ill of me.

I will pull my punches slightly and try to blend grace and truth just as Jesus did.)

What each attachment style needs to learn to do so they can grow up toward healthiness?

Read I Peter 5:6-10  From there we all learn that we must do the following:

  1. Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
  1. Put aside pride and arrogance.
  1. Cast our anxiety upon God because He cares for us.
  1. Realize we have an enemy in Satan who would love to destroy our marriages, relationships and churches with these immaturities.
  1. Resist the enemy and strive to bring our brokenness before the Lord for His divine transformation. Yet, taking responsibility to learn new behaviors that bring harmony.
  1. Anticipate that there will be a season of suffering as we seek to become the healthy secure connector.
  1. Hope in the fact that God will not loose track of us and with His watchful eye and skillful hand, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us.

Remember, you can’t do it alone.

Join a growth group, confess your struggle and ask them to pray for you and hold you accountable.

Praying for your growth with our love,

Milan and Kay