Revenge fantasies and Vicky Pryce: how to satisfy your desire to hit back without actually hurting anyone

Posted on: March 8, 2013

I was interviewed on the Vanessa Feltz show today about the Vicky Pryce case (you can catch it on iPlayer at at 9.18 am) to explain how would I have handled this conflict as a mediator.  How else could Vicky Pryce have dealt with her intense feelings of hurt and anger when Chris Huhne left her for another woman?  Was there a way to release these painful feelings that did not involve hurting herself and her children in the process?

Too often, when in the grip of overpowering emotions we move into action automatically without considering what the consequences may be. In this case Vicky Pryce moved from anger (an emotion) to “shopping” her ex in order to take revenge (a behaviour).  My suggestion is that she could have satisfied her feelings by using a revenge fantasy – e.g. fantasising about what she would like to do to him and then finding some way to act it out such as writing a letter she does not send, describing her fantasy to a friend or simulating beating him up.  Our unconscious mind does not know the difference between fantasy and reality and can be satisfied by a symbolic acting out which does not have damaging consequences in the real world.

Mediators have the opportunity to interrupt the escalation of hostilities and get people to consider the consequences of their choices.  I wonder what the outcome would have been if Vicky Pryce had talked it through with a mediator before she acted?