The “Bait ‘N Switch” Maneuver - The Scapegoating Pandemic Series
From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that He will not hear.  For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.”  (Isaiah 59:2-3).

When I was a young mom, I had answered an ad for a used sewing machine for $25.00.  A man showed up at my front door with the used machine, in working order, which he would have sold me for the advertised price.  But, Oh!  He said he had a new machine that I could buy for only $88.00.  His sales technique included the old bait and switch.  Well, I fell for it.  I bought the new Remington machine for $88.00, with all metal parts, the best deal I ever made!   My daughter and I used it to sew countless items throughout many years.  I still have the machine, which is upstairs, gathering dust now that I don’t sew anymore. 

The above bait and switch story had a very happy ending, but so many don’t.  The first incredibly good deal the salesman offers is just to get the potential customer mentally and emotionally hooked and ready for the much more expensive deal coming up.  The BAIT hooks, in readiness for the SWITCH.

We are all so used to those kinds of deft, devious maneuvers from sales people. But, do we think of bait and switch as showing up in ordinary interpersonal relationships, such as interactions between family members and friends?   Do we recognize such nefarious maneuvers as serious scapegoating abuse?  Bait and switch can be another scapegoating technique and can appear ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME.  Here are two real life examples. 

I was looking for a horse rescue place to take my two horses in the event that we couldn’t take care of them anymore, due to some unforeseen calamity.  A friend and I drove way out to a dog and horse rescue.  After talking and looking around, we gave the lady $50.00 for her rescue.  Later, on e-mail she said she wanted to come and take pictures of my animals.  She said all she would want was lunch.  That’s all.  Well, I thought, “That’s nice.  Maybe she’s trying to be friendly.”  I did fix as nice a lunch as I could, and she came and we had a good time taking many pictures. But, then came the switch.  She showed me several of the pictures on the computer, and oh boy, was she asking for big money for prints of them!  There had been absolutely no mention of money before that, or that she was photographing as a business.  I told her I didn’t want to buy any prints (I can take plenty of my own pictures, and have no wall space left for more).  She was not nice anymore, and I finally accused her of bait and switch.  She told me she was going to ruin my reputation with horse people all over Spokane, which did not bother me excessively as few of them know me anyway.  In this episode, it seemed so obvious that the bait was the supposedly well-planned-out set-up for the switch.  I have not seen this lady since. 

This next example involves an ordinary phone call on an ordinary day, with a relative I will simply call “X.”  The phone rang.  I picked it up.  I said “Hello.”  There was silence on the other end.  I knew who it was because I could see X’s phone number on my phone.  Because of the silence, I said “Hello” again.  X responded by saying intensely, very gruffly, obviously very irritated with me, “Why do you just keep saying “Hello.”  You just keep saying “Hello.”  What was the bait here?  The silence, maneuvering me into place so I would say “Hello” again.  What was the switch? Blaming me for causing a problem, when X had obviously planned the maneuver.  Most all of us will say “Hello” again, thinking maybe we lost connection or something.  Because I have known X for many years, I knew that he undoubtedly had another plan in mind, and that was to hook me into a very stressful, hurtful, nonsensical argument that could go on for literally hours, and be very traumatizing.  I did not take the bait for the long, ridiculous argument, and instead carefully changed the topic. 

While some bait and switch maneuvers are easy to see through, such scapegoaters can be very good at what they plan and hook victims into.  They must spend a lot of time and mental effort dreaming up their crafty, abusive plots.  Healthy personalities can be caught unawares because they don’t think that way, so can be very surprised at having been “had.”  In this world today, being trusting and naïve can be dangerous.  In any interaction, as much as possible, it is more safe to try to figure out, “Just what is going on here?  What’s really happening?”  If everything seems above-board and straightforward, well, great!  Enjoy!  If not, keep safe by setting up your boundary. 

COPYRIGHT 2015 Dr. Joyce The Caring Heart

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