Why It Is Important To Understand The Default Mode (DMN) And The Subconscious In Scam Victims

Understanding the Psychological Processes During Scams

Helping Scam Victims to Recover

•  Vianey Gonzalez B.Sc(Psych) – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

About This Article

Understanding the default mode network (DMN) and its role in psychological processes such as rumination is essential for scam victims navigating recovery.

By learning about the DMN and subconscious mental processes, victims can gain insight into their experiences, normalize their reactions, and identify triggers and patterns that contribute to distress. Armed with this knowledge, victims can develop coping strategies, cultivate self-awareness, and seek professional support to regulate their emotions and reduce rumination. Ultimately, understanding the DMN empowers victims to take an active role in their recovery journey, fostering resilience, self-compassion, and emotional well-being.

SCARS Scam Victim Support & Recovery Program

Few Scam Victims Realize How Complex Their Mind Is and How Deeply it is Affected by Relationship Scams – Some of those areas are the Brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN) and the Subconscious

A. The Brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN)

The default mode network (DMN) is a network of brain regions that are active when the brain is in a resting state or not engaged in any specific task. It’s often referred to as the brain’s “default mode” because it becomes active by default when the mind is not focused on the outside world or performing a specific cognitive task.

The Default Mode Network (DMN) is involved in various functions related to internal thought processes, self-reflection, daydreaming, and autobiographical memory retrieval. It plays a crucial role in:

  • Self-referential Thinking: The Default Mode Network (DMN) is active when individuals engage in self-referential thoughts, introspection, and reflection on one’s own emotions, beliefs, and experiences. It allows individuals to think about themselves, their goals, aspirations, and personal identity.
  • Autobiographical Memory: The DMN is involved in retrieving memories related to personal experiences, events, and autobiographical information. It helps individuals recall past events, episodic memories, and specific details about their own lives.
  • Theory of Mind: The Default Mode Network (DMN) is implicated in the ability to understand and attribute mental states to oneself and others, known as the ‘Theory of Mind’. It enables individuals to infer the thoughts, intentions, and emotions of others based on social cues and contextual information.
  • Prospection and Future Thinking: The DMN is involved in imagining and simulating future scenarios, envisioning possible outcomes, and planning for future events. It allows individuals to engage in mental time travel, projecting themselves into the future and considering potential courses of action.

Overall, the default mode network serves as a hub for internal mental processes, self-referential cognition, and the integration of past experiences with future goals. Its activity reflects the brain’s intrinsic capacity for self-awareness, introspection, and subjective experience, highlighting the importance of internal thought processes in shaping human behavior and consciousness. And it can be deeply affected by a relationship scam in many ways.

B. What Parts of the Brain Participate in the Default Mode (DMN)

The default mode network (DMN) involves a network of brain regions that typically become active when the mind is at rest and not focused on the outside world. The key regions involved in the DMN include:

  • Medial Prefrontal Cortex (mPFC): This region, located in the frontal lobe of the brain, is associated with self-referential processing, social cognition, and introspection. It plays a central role in generating self-referential thoughts and autobiographical memories.
  • Posterior Cingulate Cortex (PCC): Situated in the posterior part of the cingulate cortex, this region is involved in episodic memory retrieval, attentional processes, and self-referential processing. It acts as a hub connecting various regions of the DMN and integrating information related to internal mentation.
  • Precuneus: Located in the medial parietal lobe, the precuneus is involved in a wide range of cognitive functions, including visuospatial processing, episodic memory retrieval, and self-awareness. It plays a critical role in self-referential processing and autobiographical memory retrieval within the DMN.
  • Lateral Parietal Cortex: This region, particularly the angular gyrus, is implicated in attentional processes, spatial cognition, and semantic processing. It interacts with other regions of the DMN to facilitate self-referential processing and episodic memory retrieval.
  • Medial Temporal Lobe: Including structures such as the hippocampus and parahippocampal cortex, the medial temporal lobe is crucial for the formation and retrieval of long-term memories, including autobiographical memories. It contributes to the construction of the self-concept and facilitates self-referential processing within the default mode network (DMN).

These regions, along with additional cortical and subcortical areas, form a functional network that underlies self-referential processing, introspection, autobiographical memory retrieval, and mind-wandering during periods of rest or internal mentation. The coordinated activity within the default mode network (DMN) is thought to support various cognitive functions, including self-awareness, social cognition, and the construction of the sense of self.

C. Do Animals have a Default Mode Network (DMN)?

While research on the default mode network (DMN) primarily focuses on humans due to limitations in studying consciousness and brain activity in animals, there is evidence to suggest that some animals, including dogs and cats, can have brain networks that function similarly to the DMN observed in humans.

Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other neuroimaging techniques have identified brain regions in dogs and cats that exhibit increased activity during rest or passive states, similar to the DMN regions in humans. These regions include areas of the cortex associated with self-awareness, social cognition, memory, and emotional processing. This indicates that their minds are not only self-aware but are also involved in similar mental activities.

For example, in dogs, regions of the prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and precuneus have been implicated in tasks related to social cognition, such as processing human emotions and intentions. Similarly, in cats, brain regions involved in sensory processing, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation show increased connectivity during periods of rest or relaxation.

While the existence of a DMN-like network in dogs and cats suggests that they can experience states of introspection, self-referential processing, and memory consolidation similar to humans, further research is needed to fully understand the functional significance and evolutionary origins of these brain networks in non-human animals. Additionally, differences in brain anatomy, cognitive abilities, and behavioral repertoire across species can influence the organization and functioning of these networks in dogs, cats, and other animals.

D. The difference between the Default Mode (DMN) and the Subconscious

Also, how does it relate to the older concept of the ‘ID”?

The default mode network (DMN) and the concept of the subconscious share some similarities but also have distinct characteristics.

Default Mode Network (DMN):

  • The DMN is a network of brain regions that typically become active when the mind is at rest and not engaged in focused tasks. It is associated with internally directed processes such as self-referential thinking, mind-wandering, autobiographical memory retrieval, and social cognition.
  • The DMN involves specific brain regions, including the medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, precuneus, lateral parietal cortex, and medial temporal lobe, among others.
  • Activity in the DMN is thought to underlie various aspects of self-awareness, introspection, and the construction of the sense of self. It plays a role in generating spontaneous thoughts and mental simulations, which contribute to subjective experiences of the mind.


  • The subconscious mind refers to mental processes that occur below the level of conscious awareness. It encompasses a broad range of cognitive functions, including automatic behaviors, implicit memory, emotional responses, and cognitive biases.
  • Unlike the DMN, which is primarily associated with internally directed cognition during rest, the subconscious operates continuously, influencing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors outside of conscious awareness.
  • Subconscious processes can include automatic responses to stimuli, implicit learning, emotional processing, and the activation of deeply ingrained beliefs or schemas that shape perception and behavior.

Relation to the “ID”:

  • The concept of the subconscious shares similarities with Freud’s notion of the “id,” which is one of the three components of the psyche in early psychoanalytic theory. The id is considered the primitive and instinctual part of the mind, operating according to the pleasure principle and seeking immediate gratification of basic needs and desires.
  • While the DMN and the subconscious both involve mental processes occurring outside of conscious awareness, they differ in terms of their scope and underlying mechanisms. The Default Mode Network (DMN) is a specific and actual neural network involved in self-referential processing and introspection, whereas the subconscious encompasses a broader range of automatic and implicit cognitive processes.
  • Freud’s concept of the id, although influential in shaping early theories of the mind, is now considered outdated and lacking empirical support. However, it contributed to the recognition of the importance of unconscious mental processes in shaping human behavior and subjective experience.

E. Subconscious Processes

Subconscious mental processes refer to the vast array of cognitive activities that occur below the level of conscious awareness. These processes encompass various functions, including perception, memory, emotion regulation, decision-making, and automatic responses to stimuli. While individuals may not consciously perceive or control these processes, they significantly influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

In the context of trauma resulting from a relationship scam, subconscious mental processes can be profoundly affected, contributing to a range of emotional and psychological responses. Here’s how trauma may impact subconscious processes:

  • Memory Encoding and Retrieval: Traumatic experiences can disrupt the encoding and retrieval of memories, particularly when they are emotionally charged. Subconscious processes involved in memory consolidation and retrieval may be altered, leading to fragmented or intrusive memories of the scam experience. These subconscious memories can trigger emotional distress and physiological reactions even when the individual is not consciously thinking about the trauma.
  • Emotional Regulation: Trauma can dysregulate emotional processing at both conscious and subconscious levels. Subconscious processes involved in emotion regulation, such as the amygdala’s response to a perceived threat, may become hypersensitive or overactive following trauma exposure. This heightened emotional reactivity can manifest as intense emotional responses, mood swings, or hypervigilance, even in situations that do not pose a real threat.
  • Cognitive Biases and Perceptual Filters: Trauma can shape subconscious cognitive biases and perceptual filters, influencing how individuals interpret and respond to their environment. For example, someone who has been deceived in a relationship scam may develop subconscious biases or even phobias related to trust, vulnerability, or suspicion. These biases can affect subconscious processes involved in decision-making, social interactions, and threat detection, potentially leading to maladaptive behaviors or interpersonal difficulties.
  • Defense Mechanisms: Following trauma, individuals may employ positive or negative subconscious defense mechanisms to cope with overwhelming emotions and protect their psychological well-being. These defense mechanisms, such as denial, repression, or dissociation, operate below the level of conscious awareness and can temporarily alleviate distress. However, reliance on negative subconscious coping strategies may hinder emotional processing and delay recovery from the trauma.
  • Intrusive Thoughts and Flashbacks: Traumatic experiences can give rise to intrusive thoughts, memories, or flashbacks that intrude into consciousness without conscious control. Subconscious processes associated with these intrusive experiences may be triggered by internal or external cues reminiscent of the trauma, eliciting intense emotional reactions and physiological arousal. These subconscious manifestations of trauma can disrupt daily functioning and exacerbate feelings of distress and anxiety.

Trauma resulting from a relationship scam can profoundly impact subconscious mental processes, affecting memory, emotion regulation, cognition, and coping mechanisms.

Knowing these subconscious dynamics is essential for supporting individuals affected by trauma and facilitating their healing and recovery journey. Professional therapeutic interventions aimed at addressing subconscious processes and promoting adaptive coping strategies can be beneficial in mitigating the long-term effects of trauma.

F. The Amygdala and the Subconscious Processes

The amygdala plays a significant role in processing emotional information and generating emotional responses, which can influence subconscious processes. However, it is not exclusively a part of the subconscious.

The amygdala is involved in various cognitive and emotional functions, including fear conditioning, threat detection, emotional memory consolidation, and the regulation of emotional responses. While these processes can occur outside of conscious awareness, they also interact with conscious cognitive processes and contribute to conscious experiences of emotion.

In the context of subconscious processes, the amygdala’s role includes:

  • Emotional Processing: The amygdala is involved in rapidly detecting and evaluating emotionally salient stimuli, even before conscious awareness occurs. It can trigger emotional responses and physiological reactions without conscious deliberation, such as the fight-or-flight response in the face of a perceived threat.
  • Implicit Memory: The amygdala is implicated in the formation and consolidation of emotional memories, including those acquired through implicit learning or conditioning. These memories can influence behavior and emotional responses without conscious recollection of the initial learning experience.
  • Emotional Regulation: The amygdala interacts with prefrontal regions involved in executive control and emotion regulation. Dysfunction in amygdala-prefrontal circuits can contribute to difficulties in regulating emotions and can underlie certain psychiatric disorders characterized by emotional dysregulation.

While the amygdala contributes to subconscious processes related to emotional processing and memory, it also interacts with conscious cognitive processes and can influence conscious experiences of emotion and behavior. Therefore, it is not exclusively a component of the subconscious but rather participates in a complex interplay between conscious and unconscious mental processes.

G. Default Mode and Relationship Scams – During a Romance scam

During the actual scam, while the scammers are manipulating and controlling their victims – how is the default mode (DMN) affected?

During a romance scam, the default mode network (DMN) of the victim’s brain can be significantly affected as they experience the manipulation and control exerted by the scammers.

Here’s how the default mode network (DMN) appears to be impacted during the course of a romance scam:

  • Increased Rumination: Victims of romance scams can experience heightened rumination within the DMN, characterized by repetitive and intrusive thoughts about the relationship partner, the relationship, and the authenticity of the connection. As the scam progresses, the victim can find themselves preoccupied with thoughts of the fake lover, the promises made, and the potential outcomes of the relationship, leading to persistent rumination and worry.
  • Enhanced Self-Referential Processing: Scammers often employ tactics that exploit the victim’s sense of self and identity, triggering increased self-referential processing within the DMN. Victims can become fixated on their role within the relationship, their perceived shortcomings or vulnerabilities (often pointed out by the scammer as a manipulation technique,) and the emotional significance of the connection with the relationship partner. This heightened self-focus can make it challenging for victims to disengage from the scammer’s influence and regain perspective.
  • Disrupted Reality Monitoring: Romance scams often involve the manipulation of reality and the presentation of false narratives by the scammer (such as ‘Gaslighting‘). This manipulation can disrupt the victim’s ability to accurately monitor and evaluate their experiences, leading to confusion, cognitive dissonance, and uncertainty. The DMN can become engaged as the victim attempts to reconcile conflicting information and make sense of their circumstances, further reinforcing the scammer’s control over their perceptions.
  • Emotional Dysregulation: Scammers exploit the victim’s emotions to establish rapport, elicit trust, and maintain control over the relationship. This emotional manipulation can trigger dysregulation within the DMN, leading to fluctuations in mood, heightened emotional arousal, and difficulty in emotion regulation (in combination with other brain functions such as the Amygdala.) Victims can experience periods of intense emotional distress, followed by moments of euphoria or hopefulness, as they navigate the highs and lows of the scam relationship.
  • Impaired Decision-Making: The DMN plays a crucial role in decision-making processes, including weighing pros and cons, evaluating risks, and considering long-term consequences. However, during a romance scam, the victim’s decision-making abilities can be compromised as a result of the scammer’s manipulation tactics (this is not the same as the ‘Scam Fog‘ victims experience as a result of trauma.) Victims can struggle to objectively assess the validity of the relationship, prioritize their own well-being, and make informed choices about their actions (this typically happens as a result of the amygdala becoming hyper-activated.)
  • Social Isolation: As the scam progresses, victims can become increasingly isolated from their social support networks, further exacerbating the impact on their DMN (typically initiated by the scammer’s use of ‘gaslighting‘.) Social isolation can contribute to feelings of loneliness, alienation, and dependency on the fake relationship partner (scammer) for emotional connection and validation. The default mode network (DMN) can become engaged as the victim reflects on their social relationships, experiences feelings of longing or nostalgia, and grapples with the consequences of their isolation.

Overall, the default mode network of a scam victim’s brain can be profoundly affected during a romance scam, as they contend with increased rumination, self-referential processing, disrupted reality monitoring, emotional dysregulation, impaired decision-making, and social isolation.

Recognizing these neurobiological mechanisms can inform efforts to support victims, promote resilience, and mitigate the long-term impact of romance scams on their psychological well-being.

H. Default Mode and Relationship Scams – After a Romance Scam

After a romance scam, when the victim has discovered the deception and is struggling to cope with the aftermath and during the recovery process, the default mode network (DMN) of their brain can undergo significant changes.

Here’s how the DMN can be affected during this period:

  • Heightened Rumination: Following the revelation of the scam, victims can experience persistent rumination (uncontrollable thoughts) within the DMN as they process the betrayal, deception, grief, and emotional trauma associated with the experience. They can find themselves dwelling on the details of the scam, replaying interactions with the scammer(s) (fake lover,) and questioning their own judgment and decisions. This heightened rumination can prolong feelings of distress and hinder the recovery process.
  • Increased Self-Reflection: Discovering that they have been deceived in a romance scam can trigger intense self-reflection within the default mode network (DMN) as victims grapple with feelings of shame, guilt, and self-blame. They engage in self-critical thoughts, questioning their trust in others, their ability to discern deception, and their worthiness of love and companionship. This heightened self-focus can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and undermine their self-esteem – which is so necessary for recovery.
  • Enhanced Reality Monitoring: As victims come to terms with the reality of the scam, their ability to accurately monitor and evaluate their experiences can improve. The DMN can become engaged as they reflect on the warning signs and red flags they overlooked (even though some or all of that can be cognitive biases,) gain insight into the tactics used by the scammers, and reassess their perceptions of the fake relationship. This enhanced reality monitoring can facilitate a more objective understanding of the situation and promote cognitive clarity.
  • Emotional Regulation Challenges: Coping with the aftermath of a romance scam can pose significant challenges to emotional regulation, impacting the functioning of the DMN. Victims can experience intense emotional distress, including feelings of anger, betrayal, grief, and vulnerability, as they process the loss of trust and the rupture of the relationship. The DMN can become activated during emotional processing, contributing to fluctuations in mood and difficulty in regulating emotions effectively.
  • Impaired Decision-Making: The aftermath of a romance scam can leave victims feeling vulnerable, mistrustful, and uncertain about their future. The DMN can be engaged as they weigh their options, consider their next steps, and contemplate the implications of their decisions. However, emotional distress and cognitive biases stemming from the trauma of the scam can impair their decision-making abilities, leading to hesitancy, indecision, and avoidance of risks.
  • Social Reintegration Challenges: Recovering from a romance scam often involves rebuilding trust in oneself and others and reintegrating into social networks. The DMN can be involved as victims reflect on their social relationships, seek support from trusted individuals and support providers such as SCARS, and navigate feelings of shame or embarrassment. Social reintegration is a long gradual process, marked by periods of isolation, withdrawal, and uncertainty about who to trust.

The aftermath of a romance scam can profoundly impact the default mode network of the victim’s brain as they contend with heightened rumination, self-reflection, reality monitoring, emotional regulation challenges, impaired decision-making, and social reintegration challenges.

Recognizing these neurobiological mechanisms can inform efforts to support victims during their recovery journey and promote resilience in the face of adversity.

I. Rumination and the Default Mode Network (DMN)

In the above sections of this article we mention Rumination frequently, but what is it?

Rumination is a repetitive and intrusive focus on negative thoughts and emotions and is closely linked to the default mode network (DMN) of the brain.

The DMN is a network of brain regions that becomes active when individuals are engaged in internally focused tasks, such as self-reflection, autobiographical memory retrieval, and envisioning the future. Rumination involves persistent self-referential processing, which is a key function of the DMN.

In non-traumatized individuals, rumination typically manifests as a normal cognitive process, albeit one that can contribute to stress and psychological distress if left unchecked. The DMN gets involved in generating and perpetuating rumination by facilitating the retrieval of autobiographical memories related to negative experiences, promoting self-referential processing, and maintaining a continuous stream of negative thoughts and emotions.

In contrast, for individuals who have experienced trauma or grief, the relationship between rumination and the DMN can be more pronounced and dysregulated. Trauma and grief can amplify the activation of the DMN, leading to heightened rumination and exacerbating the negative impact of intrusive thoughts and emotions. The DMN can become hyperactive, making it difficult for individuals to disengage from rumination and redirect their attention to external stimuli.

Moreover, trauma and grief can disrupt the normal functioning of the DMN, leading to alterations in connectivity patterns and neural activity within the network. Dysregulation of the DMN has been associated with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and other trauma-related disorders, highlighting the role of the DMN in perpetuating maladaptive rumination and psychological distress.

While rumination and the DMN are closely intertwined in both non-traumatized individuals and those who have experienced trauma or grief, the relationship can be more pronounced and dysregulated in scam victims after the scam has ended.

Understanding this can inform interventions aimed at reducing rumination and promoting adaptive coping strategies in individuals affected by trauma or grief.

J. Trauma Grief and the Default Mode Network (DMN)

Trauma and grief can significantly impact the default mode network (DMN) in several ways, altering its activity, connectivity, and structure.

Here are some ways in which trauma and grief affect the DMN:

  • Hyperactivity and Hypervigilance: Individuals who have experienced trauma can exhibit hyperactivity in the DMN, characterized by persistent rumination, intrusive thoughts, and heightened self-referential processing. This hyperactivity can lead to hypervigilance, where individuals remain in a state of heightened alertness and anticipation of potential threats, even in safe environments. Remember that the brain responds to imagined or perceived threats the same way that it does to real threats – it cannot tell the difference without higher-order thought processes.
  • Disrupted Connectivity: Trauma can disrupt the functional connectivity within the DMN and between the DMN and other brain networks. This disruption can manifest as impaired communication between brain regions involved in self-referential processing, autobiographical memory retrieval, and emotion regulation. As a result, individuals can struggle with integrating past experiences, regulating emotions, and maintaining a coherent sense of self.
  • Enhanced Emotional Reactivity: Trauma and grief can amplify emotional reactivity within the DMN, leading to heightened emotional responses to internal and external stimuli. Individuals can experience intense feelings of sadness, anger, fear, or guilt, which can further exacerbate rumination and emotional distress.
  • Impaired Executive Functioning: Chronic stress and trauma can impair executive functioning, including cognitive processes such as attention, working memory, and decision-making. This impairment can disrupt the top-down regulation of the DMN, making it difficult for individuals to shift their focus away from distressing thoughts or memories and engage in goal-directed behavior.
  • Altered Sense of Self: Trauma can profoundly affect an individual’s sense of self, identity, and worldview. Disruptions in the DMN can contribute to a fragmented or unstable sense of self, characterized by feelings of detachment, dissociation, or depersonalization. Individuals can struggle to reconcile their pre-trauma identity with their post-trauma experiences, leading to existential questions and existential angst.
  • Impaired Social Functioning: Grief and trauma can impact social cognition and interpersonal relationships, which are mediated by brain regions within the DMN. Individuals can experience difficulties in empathizing with others, interpreting social cues, and forming secure attachments. This can lead to feelings of isolation, alienation, and interpersonal conflicts.

Trauma and grief can have profound effects on the default mode network, disrupting its activity and connectivity and altering cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. Knowing this can inform therapeutic interventions aimed at addressing trauma-related symptoms and promoting recovery and resilience.

K. DMN & Mindfulness

Mindfulness training offers a way to examine and potentially modulate the default mode network (DMN).

The DMN is known to be involved in mind-wandering, self-referential thinking, and rumination, which are often associated with negative thought patterns and increased activity in regions such as the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex (see above.)

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, cultivate present-moment awareness and nonjudgmental attention to one’s thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. By intentionally directing attention away from habitual thought patterns and towards immediate sensory experiences, mindfulness can disrupt the activity of the DMN and reduce rumination.

Studies using neuroimaging techniques have shown that individuals with mindfulness training exhibit alterations in DMN activity, including decreased connectivity between DMN regions and increased connectivity between regions associated with attentional control and emotion regulation. These changes are thought to underlie the beneficial effects of mindfulness on reducing stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.

Through regular practice, individuals can learn to recognize and disengage from automatic thought patterns associated with the DMN, leading to greater cognitive flexibility, emotional regulation, and resilience in the face of adversity. Mindfulness training may thus provide a valuable tool for examining and potentially modulating the activity of the default mode network, promoting psychological well-being and enhancing adaptive functioning.

L. More Ways to Control the Default Mode Network

Traumatized relationship scam victims can employ various strategies to moderate and control their default mode network (DMN) and other subconscious processes to aid in their recovery from these crimes:

  • Mindfulness Practices (see above): Engage in mindfulness meditation or other mindfulness-based activities to cultivate present-moment awareness and reduce rumination. Mindfulness can help individuals recognize and disengage from automatic thought patterns associated with the DMN, promoting emotional regulation and stress reduction.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Work with a therapist trained in CBT techniques to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and beliefs related to the scam experience. CBT can help individuals reframe their perceptions of themselves and the world, fostering greater resilience and adaptive coping strategies.
  • Emotional Regulation Techniques: Learn and practice techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to regulate emotions and reduce physiological arousal/hyperactivation. These techniques can help individuals manage anxiety, fear, and other distressing emotions associated with the scam experience.
  • Establishing Boundaries: Set clear boundaries with oneself and others to protect against future victimization and promote self-care. Establishing boundaries can help individuals assert their needs and priorities, fostering a sense of empowerment and agency in their recovery process. Just remember, that it is also important to recognize and understand that the same scam that victimized you affected others as well.
  • Seeking Social Support: Connect with friends, family members, and SCARS support groups for emotional validation, encouragement, and practical assistance. Social support can provide a sense of belonging and validation, buffering against feelings of isolation and loneliness often experienced after a scam.
  • Engaging in Meaningful Activities: Pursue hobbies, interests, or activities that bring joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose, such as volunteering. Engaging in meaningful activities can help individuals regain a sense of identity and agency outside of the scam experience, promoting psychological well-being and resilience.
  • Professional Counseling: Consider seeking support from a licensed therapist or counselor specializing in trauma recovery and relationship scams (see SCARS resources below.) Professional counseling can provide a safe and supportive space to process emotions, gain insights into one’s experiences, and develop coping strategies for moving forward.

By incorporating these strategies into their recovery journey, traumatized relationship scam victims can learn to moderate and control their default mode network and other subconscious processes, ultimately promoting healing, resilience, and a sense of empowerment in their lives.

M. Learning and Moderating the Default Mode Network

Learning about the processes of the mind can be empowering for scam victims in several ways, aiding them in regaining resiliency and gaining knowledge to moderate their default mode network (DMN) and reduce rumination:

  • Understanding Psychological Mechanisms: By learning about the psychological mechanisms underlying trauma, grief, and cognitive processes such as rumination, victims can gain insight into their own experiences and reactions. Understanding that rumination is a natural response to distressing events and that the DMN plays a role in generating repetitive and intrusive thoughts, can help victims recognize that their reactions are not abnormal or indicative of personal weakness.
  • Normalizing Experiences: Learning that their experiences are shared by many others who have gone through similar traumas can help victims feel less isolated and alone. Knowing that rumination and other subconscious processes are common responses to adversity can reduce feelings of shame or self-blame, allowing victims to approach their recovery with greater self-compassion and understanding.
  • Identifying Triggers and Patterns: Education about the mind can help victims identify triggers and patterns that contribute to rumination and distress. By recognizing the situations, thoughts, or emotions that activate their DMN and lead to rumination, victims can develop strategies to interrupt these patterns and redirect their attention toward more adaptive coping mechanisms.
  • Developing Coping Strategies: Armed with knowledge about the mind’s processes, victims can learn and practice coping strategies to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and reduce rumination. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation, cognitive restructuring, and relaxation exercises can help victims modulate their DMN activity and cultivate a greater sense of emotional balance and resilience.
  • Building Self-Awareness: Learning about the mind fosters self-awareness, enabling victims to become more attuned to their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. By cultivating mindfulness and self-observation, victims can become better equipped to recognize when their DMN is activated and intervene before rumination spirals out of control.
  • Seeking Professional Support: Armed with knowledge about the mind and its processes, victims may feel more empowered to seek professional support from therapists or counselors trained in trauma recovery. With a basic understanding of psychological principles, victims can actively participate in their treatment, collaborate with their therapist, and advocate for their needs effectively.
  • Helping to Eliminate Shame, Guilt, and Self-Blame: By understanding how our minds function we can see more clearly how the scammer’s manipulation techniques control scam victims to harvest their money. By seeing that these things happened beyond their control, it allows victims to truly understand that it was not their fault.

Learning about the processes of the mind can empower scam victims to regain resiliency by providing them with the knowledge and tools necessary to understand and modulate their default mode network, reduce rumination, and navigate their recovery journey with greater insight and self-awareness.

SCARS Resources:

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Rleationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.







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