(Last Updated On: September 7, 2023)

Scam Victims And The Reactivity Loop

By Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

Reactivity Loop – How Your Mind Helps To Destroy Itself

A psychological ‘reactivity loop’ in traumatized scam victims is a pattern of negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can develop after being scammed. It is a vicious internal cycle that can be difficult to let go of and break.

The loop begins with a triggering event, such as something that reminds the victim of the scam. This can lead to negative thoughts, such as “I’m stupid for falling for that,” or “I’ll never be able to trust anyone again.” These thoughts can then lead to negative emotions, such as shame, guilt, or anger. The negative emotions can then lead to behavioral changes, such as isolation, withdrawal, or financial difficulty.

These changes in thoughts, emotions, and behaviors can then reinforce the triggering event, making it more likely that the reactivity loop will start again. For example, if a victim of a romance scam avoids talking to new people, this can make them feel more isolated and alone. This can then make them more likely to have negative thoughts about themselves and the world, which can lead to further isolation.

The psychological reactivity loop can be very difficult to break. Remember, it is important to understand that it is not the victim’s fault. The loop is a result of the scam, and it is something that can be treated with professional counseling or therapy help.

There are a number of things that can be done to break the psychological reactivity loop. These include:

  • Exposure therapy: This involves gradually exposing the victim to the things that trigger their anxiety. This can help them to learn to manage their anxiety and cope with the trauma. This is provided by a psychologist.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This type of therapy helps the victim to identify and challenge their negative thoughts and beliefs. This can help them to change the way they think about the scam and themselves. This is provided by a psychologist.
  • Group therapy: This can be helpful for victims to connect with others who have experienced similar trauma. This can help them to feel less alone and to learn coping strategies from others. This is provided by a psychologist.
  • Support & Recovery Groups: This can have the same effect as Group Therapy without the psychological professional moderating.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be needed to help manage anxiety and depression. This is provided by a psychiatrist.

If you are a traumatized scam victim, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to understand the psychological reactivity loop and develop strategies to break it.

Coping Tips For Controlling A Reactivity Loop

Here are some additional tips for coping with the psychological effects of being scammed – including reactivity loops:

  • Talk to someone you trust about what happened. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or support group.
  • Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Don’t try to bottle them up. Let them flow through you but remain aware of what you are feeling and try to understand why you are feeling it.
  • Be patient with yourself. It takes time to heal from a scam. Much more time than you can imagine,
  • Don’t blame yourself. The scammer is the one who did wrong.
  • Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Eat healthy foods, get enough sleep and exercise.

Learn from the experience. What can you do to avoid being scammed in the future? Start learning at RomanceScamsNOW.com

Remember, you are not alone. There are many people who have been scammed, and there is help available here at SCARS and with your trauma counselor or therapist.

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.

Opinions

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.

Disclaimer:

SCARS IS A DIGITAL PUBLISHER AND DOES NOT OFFER HEALTH OR MEDICAL ADVICE, LEGAL ADVICE, FINANCIAL ADVICE, OR SERVICES THAT SCARS IS NOT LICENSED OR REGISTERED TO PERFORM.

IF YOU’RE FACING A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, CALL YOUR LOCAL EMERGENCY SERVICES IMMEDIATELY, OR VISIT THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM OR URGENT CARE CENTER. YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER BEFORE FOLLOWING ANY MEDICALLY RELATED INFORMATION PRESENTED ON OUR PAGES.

ALWAYS CONSULT A LICENSED ATTORNEY FOR ANY ADVICE REGARDING LEGAL MATTERS.

A LICENSED FINANCIAL OR TAX PROFESSIONAL SHOULD BE CONSULTED BEFORE ACTING ON ANY INFORMATION RELATING TO YOUR PERSONAL FINANCES OR TAX RELATED ISSUES AND INFORMATION.

SCARS IS NOT A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR – WE DO NOT PROVIDE INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS OR BUSINESSES. ANY INVESTIGATIONS THAT SCARS MAY PERFORM IS NOT A SERVICE PROVIDED TO THIRD-PARTIES. INFORMATION REPORTED TO SCARS MAY BE FORWARDED TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AS SCARS SEE FIT AND APPROPRIATE.

This content and other material contained on the website, apps, newsletter, and products (“Content”), is general in nature and for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical, legal, or financial advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for licensed or regulated professional advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider, lawyer, financial, or tax professional with any questions you may have regarding the educational information contained herein. SCARS makes no guarantees about the efficacy of information described on or in SCARS’ Content. The information contained is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible situations or effects. SCARS does not recommend or endorse any specific professional or care provider, product, service, or other information that may be mentioned in SCARS’ websites, apps, and Content unless explicitly identified as such.

The disclaimers herein are provided on this page for ease of reference. These disclaimers supplement and are a part of SCARS’ website’s Terms of Use

Legal Notices: 

All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2023 Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (Registered D.B.A SCARS) All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide. Third-party copyrights acknowledge.

U.S. State of Florida Registration Nonprofit (Not for Profit) #N20000011978 [SCARS DBA Registered #G20000137918] – Learn more at www.AgainstScams.org

SCARS, SCARS|INTERNATIONAL, SCARS, SCARS|SUPPORT, SCARS, RSN, Romance Scams Now, SCARS|INTERNATION, SCARS|WORLDWIDE, SCARS|GLOBAL, SCARS, Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams, Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams, SCARS|ANYSCAM, Project Anyscam, Anyscam, SCARS|GOFCH, GOFCH, SCARS|CHINA, SCARS|CDN, SCARS|UK, SCARS|LATINOAMERICA, SCARS|MEMBER, SCARS|VOLUNTEER, SCARS Cybercriminal Data Network, Cobalt Alert, Scam Victims Support Group, SCARS ANGELS, SCARS RANGERS, SCARS MARSHALLS, SCARS PARTNERS, are all trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc., All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Contact the legal department for the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated by email at legal@AgainstScams.org