A Natural at Reading Faces

We were watching Lie to Me the other day and the end of this episode really jumped out at me. I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

Lie To Me  Season 1 Episode 5 “Unchained”

Lightman: When someone bashes you around who’s twice your size just whenever he feels like it, you learn to read emotions pretty fast. We adapt to survive. Your abuse made you a natural. He made you what you are.

Torres: Well, I’ll be sure to thank him.

This case in this episode was difficult for Torres because they were dealing with a violent criminal to see if he had changed from his violent ways. Torres had a history of violent abuse so this was especially a tough one for her. I liked what Lightman says to her in the end of the episode.

Lightman: When someone bashes you around who’s twice your size just whenever he feels like it, you learn to read emotions pretty fast. We adapt to survive. Your abuse made you a natural. He made you what you are.”

She is referred to as a natural at reading faces and expressions. I have always believed that those of us who have been through traumas as those with DID have, we learn very early on how to anticipate our abusers next move based on facial expressions among other things. We also learn to “predict” what is going on based on the energy in the room or surrounding an individual. Imagine going to a concert or to a dance club. Upon entering you can feel all that upbeat energy and you know people (most people) are having a really good time. Now imagine entering a home of someone who just lost a loved one. Still feel energy, just this time it is one of sadness and grief. Those of us who have gone through traumatic childhoods especially from a very early age are that much more in tune to the energies surrounding someone.

My best friend used to get annoyed because I could tell what was going on with her even without her saying anything about it to me. I could see it in her face and if she was hiding it well enough, I could still FEEL it in the air around her. It kind of makes me smile when on the show Lie to Me people get irritated at being read so well because I remember my friend and how much it annoyed her. I didn’t do it on purpose, it was just a naturally acquired gift on my part. It was important for our survival living in a family where you didn’t know when or where the next blow or advance was going to come. The need to be hyper-vigilant and hypersensitive to our surroundings was imperative.


4 responses to “A Natural at Reading Faces

  1. I’m also very adept at reading other’s expressions and body language. I never did get the hang of it with my abuser, though, and so I never knew when the next episode of abuse was about to take place.

    I’m not sure if this was a good or bad thing. Had I seen the abuse coming I would have probably lived in a constant state of terror, and knowing what was coming wouldn’t have helped me prevent it. As it was I seemed to erase each episode as it occurred, with the result that each new one took me totally by surprise. I did live with terror, but it was submerged in my subconscious; all that I was aware of was that I didn’t want to be alone with my step-dad.

  2. Makes perfect sense. To be able to read another facial and body language in order to predict their next move was a survival mode and protection. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Beauty, that makes sense. When I think about it, I realize that there are parts of my system that are better at this than I am. The “erasing” of the episode that you wrote about happened with us, too, as others would take the memory and hide it away so that we could continue functioning in day-to-day life. I get what you mean about if you knew what was coming, it would be impossible to live without constant terror. With the perps, it was tough becuz our tendency was to never “be there” and be dissociated away. Still, I know we also would feel when something was amiss with the perps and try to steer clear of them in hopes that they would pick a different target and leave us alone. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time it didn’t. Thanks for commenting. You have given us more to ponder. As usual, it’s never as simple as it may seem.

  4. Thanks, JBR. It’s like we have always felt like we had the gift of empathy because we can sense when someone is struggling even if they are hiding it. We wonder if this is a result of learning this skill of sensing energies as a child or if the empathy gift was there first and then the skill added on top of it.

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