Archives for 2009

Women Who Love Psychopaths – 2nd. Ed. – e-book



Women Who Love Psychopaths – 2nd Edition – e-Book

Now Available!

The first book EVER written about the women who have loved psychopathic men! What are your temperament traits that have contributed to being attracted to, and tolerant of, the most dangerous of people?

Sandra has done it again! She has rewritten the Women Who Love Psychopaths Book (an already Award Winning Book) to include some of the newest and most compelling evidence on Neuro-science and what brain differences actually exist in borderlines, narcissists, anti-social, sociopaths, and psychopaths. From brain region mal-formations to brain circuitry and brain chemical differences, these new sections of the book will blow away any theories about this being merely ‘willful behavior’ on his part!

Additionally, lots of new information about recovery and treatment that came right from The Institute’s own Model of Care Approach we designed that is being implemented in psychiatric hospitals. From the last few years of treating survivors, we now have a clear and compelling approach to recovery.

And learn even MORE fascinating aspects of why Sandra believes these relationships are highly connected to trance, hypnotic inductions and your own high suggestibility! Find out what you need to do to protect yourself from entrancem.

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Women Who Love Psychopaths – 2nd. Ed. – Print


Women Who Love Psychopaths – 2nd Edition

The first book EVER written about the women who have loved psychopathic men! What are your temperament traits that have contributed to being attracted to, and tolerant of, the most dangerous of people?

Sandra has done it again! She has rewritten the Women Who Love Psychopaths Book (an already Award Winning Book) to include some of the newest and most compelling evidence on Neuro-science and what brain differences actually exist in borderlines, narcissists, anti-social, sociopaths, and psychopaths. From brain region mal-formations to brain circuitry and brain chemical differences, these new sections of the book will blow away any theories about this being merely ‘willful behavior’ on his part!

Additionally, lots of new information about recovery and treatment that came right from The Institute’s own Model of Care Approach we designed that is being implemented in psychiatric hospitals. From the last few years of treating survivors, we now have a clear and compelling approach to recovery.

And learn even MORE fascinating aspects of why Sandra believes these relationships are highly connected to trance, hypnotic inductions and your own high suggestibility! Find out what you need to do to protect yourself from entrancem.

Price:  $16.49 plus shipping and handling

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“I am an avid reader and I have never come across any better material than what is on your site…it is all unique and in nearly every single issue, I feel like I am reading about myself.

Never before have I read such outstanding material that describes my situation, so much material I have gone through and none of it addresses the issues that The Institute does, such as the physical ramifications of stress, the PTSD, what to actually DO in the case of PTSD and following, most of all how to live your life after PTSD (helped me SO much, the articles about Living the Gentle life, don’t know what I would have done without those articles!). Also helpful are the characteristics of a psychopathic/narcissistic husband or and the need to leave.

I often forward some of the articles to my friends and my daughters because they are so good and SO accurate as to what I have gone through. I want my daughters to be AWARE of what type men to avoid. Thanks so much for The Institute emails!I cant thank you enough!” ~Annie

Phantom Limb Pain

In a session someone says “I really miss what we had. I could get over this if it hadn’t been the most wonderful relationship of my life. I just feel like something has been cut out of me–like I’m missing a big part of myself now.”

Pathology is marked by the issue of illusion. It’s why our logo is a mask because it best represents

the mirage of normalcy that pathologicals can often project…at least for a while. Cleckley, one of the writers about pathology from the 1940’s called it ‘The Mask of Sanity’ which gives all the surface signals of deep connection, the most fun ever, someone really into you—while behind the curtain, you are being used as a distraction, a pay check, grotesquely as a ‘vaginal doormat’ or some other form of ‘feeding’ of the pathological pyrannia. What you are experiencing you are internally labeling as ‘normal’ or ‘wonderful’ or ‘love’ and yet it really isn’t any of those things–it’s just a label of experience you have tagged him with. If someone else was watching your relationship as a movie and had watched the other scenes in which the pathological is exposed for what he is, your scene would be tagged and labeled by the watcher very differently because their experience would be different and they would see all those behaviors and words of his that you experienced in a different context and see them as manipulation. Your labeling of your experience isn’t always accurate. As I often say “Your thinking is what got you into this pathological relationship. Don’t always believe what you think.”

Being invested in being correct is part of the human condition and actually part of the way our brains work. The more important the question “Does he love me? Is this THE one?” — the greater the pleasure will seem from labeling the experience as positive. The more positive the relationship, the more invested you will be to label the experiences and his behavior as positive and to get the reward of your label “him, marriage, the relationship.” Of course none of this is problematic except if you have misread the illusion, believed the mask, and have labeled an experience with a narcissist, anti-social, or socio/psychpath as ‘positive.’

The illusion is that he was normal, he was in love with you, he was what he said he was, and he did what he said he did. In pathology, that’s never the case. Their attachments are surface (which isn’t love), they are mentally disordered (which is not normal), they never present themselves as ‘disordered, sexually promiscious, and incapable of love (so he wasn’t what he said he was) and they harbor hidden lives filled with other sex partners, hook ups, criminality, or illegal/moral behavior (so they don’t disclose what he’s really up to). What you had (that you can’t possibly miss) is a pathological relationship. What you miss, is the ability to wrap yourself up like a blanket in the illusion–to go back to the time before you knew this was all illusion.

Women often say they have the feeling that something is cut out of them–that they are missing a part of themselves. This sensation is similar to what is called phantom limb pain that is a medical mystery of sorts. When a person has an arm that is accidentally amputated, the portion of the brain that use to receive sensory messages about the existing arm goes through a series of changes that causes it to mis-read the brain message and creates the ‘ghostly’ illusion that the arm is still there and in pain. Even though the patient can see that the arm is gone and what they are experiencing is an illusion, they can’t stop the distressing phantom limb sensations of wanting to believe the arm is still there, the arm is in pain, the arm is anything but gone. The amputee must learn to cope differently by beginning with relabeling the experience they are having which is the presense of the arm is a perceptual illusion.

So it is with those leaving the illusional pathological love relationship. The emotional pain experienced is based on the illusion the pathological presented, a perceptual illusion that was mis-labeled, experienced as positive and invested in so keeping that positive illusion is important to her. Learning to adjust the cognitive dissonance (the ping ponging between he was good/he was bad, the relationship was good/the relationship was bad) is the challenge in overcoming the ghostly emotional baggage of phantom relationship pain.

For more information on this, we have added a book to the magazine site under Resources/ExpertsBooks/General which is called ‘On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You Are Wrong.’ The book is about “Despite how certainty feels, it is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process. Certainty and similar states of “knowing what we know” are sensations that feel like thoughts, but arise out of involuntary brain mechanisms that function independently of reason.” By Robert Burton, neurologist and neuro-scientist.

Talent -VS- Personality Disorders

The world has been rocked by the death of Michael Jackson who is likely to be remembered equally for not only his talent/creativity, his bizarre behavior, appearance, and practices and the abuse allegations he has gone thru more than once. It seems at ‘odds’ that someone so talented could also be fairly disordered.

Michael appears to meet the critieria for Schizotypal Personality Disorder. There has been many other articles written about Michael’s possible link to Schizotypal Personality Disorder (just google).

This disorder is:

  • acute discomort with, and reduced capacity for close relationships
  • Odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with cultural norms
  • Unusual perceptual experiences
  • Odd thinking and speech
  • Suspiciousness or paranoid ideas
  • Inappropriate or constricted emotions
  • Behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar
  • Lack of close friends or confidants other than first degree relatives
  • Excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self.

Through the years we have watched a mega-talent and child prodigy slowly turn into a reclusive and eccentric man-boy. Exemplifying the oddities of schizotypals, he has continued to alter his appearance past the point of ‘normal’ appearing cosmetic surgery–often implying that the weirder it gets, the better. He used other behaviors as ways of accentuating his ‘eccentricity’ and uniqueness–often seen wearing a germ mask (long before the flu fears), claimed that Bubbles his chimpanzee was his closest companion (not humans), created his property into Neverland, storybook based on the Peter Pan story of ‘never wanting to grow up’ and remained highly reclusive from that point on–drawing mostly children to Neverland. The stories about sleeping in the ‘anti-aging chamber’

along with his growing oddity of appearance, dress, and behavior, sadly attracted the title ‘Wacko Jacko.’

His two sexual child abuse cases, while dismissed, did expose some of his bizarre thinking, stating “It’s the most loving thing to share your bed with a child.” The inability to see the inappropriateness of some of his comments especially while under investigation established much of his thinking as ‘disordered’ and out of touch with reality and what is ‘normal’ in other people’s eyes.

While bizarre children’s names are not out of the norm with celebrities and many every day people name their children after themselves or a family name, his reflected a glaring narcissism. First child was Prince Michael I, second child Paris Michael (a girl), third child Prince Michael II.

The last child produced more examples of his bizarre behavior by him dangling the infant over a hotel balcony. Today, the child is referred to as ‘Blanket.’ While celebrities all try to shield their children from the negative effects of the media and possible kidnapping, Michael’s was the most extreme–given his schizotypal approach to life. His children, when they were rarely seen in public, had elaborate masks or towels hanging from their heads. While other huge celebrities face the same threats (John Lennon, McCartney, Elvis, JF Kennedy)– none responded by dressing their children bizarrely in masks or towels and prohibiting any known information about them.

Michael stands as probably THE most talented person to date changing the racial divide in music, changing MTV, and pressing excellence in music far beyond what anyone had done to that point. But talent does not mean that it is not co-mingled and intertwined around rather severe disorder. We see that over and over again in pathology–that people’s pathology is often dismissed when it is compared to their achievements. Various forms of pathology SEEKS careers in which they receive a lot of status, attention, money, or exposure. Many forms of pathology are laced with excitement seeking, risk taking, and high achieving traits that will ‘help’ pathology over the bar and up the career ladder. We shouldn’t be looking for pathology working at the grocery store or the car wash. While there are blue collar pathologicals, many (and those most undetected) are successful–even mega-successfully. Certain disorders migrate to certain fields such as medicine, the legal field, criminal justice, law enforcement, banking, psychology/theology, and even the entertainment field. While it is tempting to take our eyes off of ‘who’ they are underneath the talent, it is just as important for us to remember that talent and disorder aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s as if the Creator gives greatly on one side, and takes greatly from the other side–there are talented excesses and devastating deficits. Michael’s talent exemplifies what it means to be a prodigy. His personal life and deteriorating behavioral life also shines a light on how pathology is not a respecter or persons–any talented person can be harboring the life-altering effects of pathology.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw him moon walk and the goose bumps I had when he sang Thriller. Yet I’ll also never forget the first time I saw his face being so altered from surgery and thinking this was the revelation of a bigger problem or the mortification I felt when he was fighting sexual abuse allegations. In either extreme, we will all remember something “BIGGER” than life about Michael. Much healing to those who loved him–which were many.

Bait and Switch

Psychopaths are somewhat paradoxical. On the one hand they are known to experts as extremely impulsive, with a seeming inability to plan ahead or to be affected by the threat of future punishments. Their behavior is mainly directed in the service of fulfilling their immediate impulses and whims. However, on the other hand, they can be perfect predators, stalking their kill with the patience and precision of a cougar, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. It’s a marvel to watch the steady, subtle maneuverings of a psychopath climbing his way up the hierarchy of power, influence, and control.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure how to reconcile the two. Perhaps intelligence is a factor that contributes towards the making of a “successful” psychopath who manages to avoid detection, or who operates within the law. For the successful psychopath, a good intellect is a useful tool in fulfilling the impulses that often are the Achilles’ heel of less intelligent psychopaths. And when good intelligence combines with utter ruthlessness in the pursuit of an impulse for power and subjection, disaster results for everyone caught in the maelstrom of the psychopaths influence.

Paul Babiak’s and Robert Hare’s book, Snakes in Suits, contains an entertaining case study of a corporate psychopath manipulating his way to the top. He does this by cultivating a series of relationships with those he feels can be used as stepping stones on his rise to success. He establishes a hierarchy of those he sees as occupying important positions of influence, and those he sees as below him. Babiak and Hare divide these relationships into “pawns, patrons, and patsies.” Those he feels have nothing to offer are treated as worthless, while those with something to offer are conned. By developing relationships with important people, convincing them of his goodness and skills, he shelters himself from the criticisms of those who see through his game. These patrons become patsies as he orchestrates situations geared towards usurping their power.

This cold, calculated behavior is entirely geared towards getting what the psychopath wants, and is definitely at odds with the petty and inept criminal psychopaths who populate our prisons and psychiatric wards. It is these successful psychopaths who can do the most damage to individuals and even entire countries. On the interpersonal level they masterfully gain the influence of men and women in romantic relationships, establishing a strong emotional bond in their partner, who they then use as sources of emotional feeding and exploitation. They entrench themselves in our lives and suck us dry, moving from one victim to the next, in the manner described so well in Sandra L. Brown, M.A.’s book, Women Who Love Psychopaths.

When this dynamic plays out in political organizations, the results are tremendous and catastrophic, as demonstrated by Andrew Lobaczewski in Political Ponerology. Just as a psychopath distorts reality, and demands his partner adopt this distorted perception, psychopaths seeking political power strive to achieve the same ends. They seek to create an environment in which their behavior is not only permitted, but accepted. Lobaczewski calls this process by which psychopaths gain prominence, distorting the minds of their pawns and patrons, ponerization. Not only do they infect groups with their presence, they infect the minds of those under their influence.

One method by which they achieve this is by setting up patsies. On the micro level this can be as simple as convincing a partner that her family and friends are evil, cutting her off from a support base that could otherwise help her. On the macro level, this is achieved by creating or exploiting external or internal enemies. Hitler did it with communists and the Jews, and American leaders have continued this process with the demonization of “traitors” and “terrorists”. By convincing the people that this easily identifiable group is evil and worthy of destruction, psychopaths corrupt the minds of their subjects, forming them into just the kind of bloodthirsty monsters they accuse their enemies of being.

In such an environment, psychopathic thinking becomes widespread. The minds of ordinary people are ponerized towards viewing other humans as less than animals, and the destructive wishes of psychopaths are normalized. In this way, psychopaths exploit our natural tendency to abhor the very behavior they are guilty of. They manage to convince us that it is not them that is to blame, but a convenient scapegoat, the result being a kind of Orwellian doublethink. On the one hand we condemn violent behavior, and on the other we condone it in ourselves, because, “They deserve it.” It is this “bait and switch” operation that is used most often, and most expertly, by psychopathic politicians, not only in their character assassinations of political rivals, but also in their creation of a controlled opposition. The Nazis used it, in their false-flag burning of the Reichstag in 1933, falsely blamed on a communist named Marinus van der Lubbe. Orwell described it, in 1984’s Party-orchestrated “terrorist” bombings, blamed on political dissidents. And it’s up to us to see it when the snakes in suits currently occupying important positions of political influence use the same tricks.

Taking the Bait

I already observed that we often spot pathological dynamics in other people’s lives. After the horror of discovering on our own that our partners are not who they say they are, parents, siblings, and friends will often say, “I knew he was trouble from the start!” So why couldn’t we see it?

There are several reasons, and they boil down to this: when a psychopath picks his mark, whether in a personal or business relationship, he focuses all his resources on making his victim think he is something he is not. He specially tailors his manufactured persona to your specific traits, behaviors, and anxieties. In other words, he makes it personal, projecting the image of your fantasy partner, perfect in every way. The problem is, it’s all an act. Once he has used you up he will throw you to the side and move on to his next victim, leaving you traumatized and clueless as to what hit you.

But how does he begin to do this? How does he convince us of his perfection, even if others can see he’s dangerous? This is where his special ability to exploit emotional weaknesses begins: the initial con. The psychopath is aware of certain things about so-called normal people. He observes their strange rituals of “loyalty” and “friendship”, their meaningless fantasies, their desperation for something so lacking in their lives. To him these things don’t make sense. They’re like the dance and music of a foreign culture. But he observes these strange “rules” of behavior and quickly understands that they can be put to use to give him what he wants. He learns to use people as instruments, as machine parts. “Put in a coin and push this button. Out comes food. When nothing else comes out, move on to the next.” He pushes the buttons but has no understanding, like a deaf man who plays piano by rote, amused by the goofy smiles of enjoyment on the faces of people who hear the music he never will.

But the psychopath can’t simply play random notes. He needs to learn the correct technique and melodies otherwise he’ll be exposed for what he is. He needs to identify what it is we want and need and then give it to us. It’s only when we trust, respect, and love him that we become his slave. In this stage of his con, he exploits our positive emotions. He gives us the pleasure of telling us everything we’ve always wanted to hear, giving us what we want, and fulfilling our long-held fantasies. The psychopath can be the perfect friend, the perfect lover. He likes the things we like, reads the same books, has the same views on the world, and he accepts us completely and with no conditions. He is always there for us and is considerate to our every need. The psychopath protects us from the dangers of the world and lets us bask in his perfection.

It is this process that makes the psychopath go from just being some guy whose opinion we could care less about, to someone we trust and look to for love and guidance; from an outsider, to a member of our family. He conditions us to need him. He “hooks” us via our emotions so that it hurts not to have him. As mentioned last month, our basic emotions serve our survival. We come to enjoy good meals because they give us energy and keep us alive; our homes which provide shelter from the elements. The positive feelings of the social bonds with our families and close friends gives us a network of support and trust to survive in the world. And when those habitual and emotional bonds are broken, it hurts.

The psychopath knows we prefer pleasure over pain, so he deliberately makes us feel great and sets it up so that we feel miserable without him. When we have a job, we tend to want to keep it; a house, to stay in it; a meal, to eat it. We don’t willingly just give these things away. We need them, and we often fight to keep these things. When the psychopath insinuates himself into a position of being the provider of the things we need, we can’t leave him. We NEED him. And he knows it.

Let’s look how pathology creeps into other areas of our lives. For instance, our political and religious systems follow the same psychopathic dynamic. Just look at the position of President of
the United States and the manner in which he is presented to the public (the “image” of President Obama being a case in point).  He is a myth, a god, a superhero. He loves us, understands us, praises us, and does everything he can to help us and give us what we want and need. He is a good father, one who knows best and in whom we place our respect and trust. If he tells us something, we believe him. After all, we are emotionally invested in believing because government is set up in a such a way, and marketed in such a way, that we NEED it. This has provided the perfect feeding ground for inordinate number of psychopaths who seek politics and government as a career.

After all, they are experts in telling us what we want to hear, presenting themselves as our country-saviors and protectors. They are charming, hope-inspiring, and charismatic. But again, it’s all the well-known ‘mask of sanity’ of the psychopath.  These  politicians could care less about us and what we need. They lie to gain our support, and later use our own support to dominate us. Of course, just as in relationships, we usually don’t realize we’ve been duped until it’s too late and the life has been drained out of us.

What the politician does on the national and global level, the charismatic pathological preacher does in his church. The news is often packed with the latest pathological preacher and what he’s doing within his church. He plays on our desire for meaning and transcendence. He tells us we are “special” and “chosen”, and presents himself as the interpreter of God’s will instead of allowing each person to know that for themselves. He convinces us that we can only continue to be “special” children of God if we follow his will and ideology. In this way, he makes it so that we rely on him alone. Without him, as God’s middleman and mouth-piece of truth, we cannot be saved. Once he has his flock, he keeps it, and feeds at will.

Here we can see how pathology implies into our mind the issue of ‘needing’ this person for our own relational needs, governmental protection, or spiritual service. It’s no wonder that psychopaths can easily enter our lives under the guise of need.

The Pathological Relationship: Here, There, Everywhere!

In the last column of Petty Tyrants I made the observation that the pathological relationship is a well-known dynamic. Either we’ve experienced it ourselves, or if we haven’t, we know someone who has. We see them in TV shows and movies, and hear news reports on domestic violence and husbands and wives with “secret lives”, and so on. But often that’s where our knowledge ends. We know it happens, and that’s pretty much it. We’re still left in the dark when it comes to why and how, and the explanations we do have are often dangerously wrong. Without this knowledge of the real nature of pathology and the reasons we get involved, we cannot possibly prevent ourselves from future danger.

Our complete lack of education in this area is difficult to comprehend. Imagine a mother who teaches her child she’ll be safe around dogs as long as she is friendly and approaches them with care. Eventually, the child will approach an aggressive dog, and perhaps be seriously harmed by the resulting attack. Now imagine that this is how an entire society approaches the topic. The children in such a world would have no ability to tell the difference between friendly dogs and dangerous ones; no knowledge of those dogs bred specifically for aggressive traits; no ability to detect an overly fearful, territorial, or possessive dog; no knowledge on the effects of previous abuse on a dog’s behavior. The child may even mistake a predatory animal like a coyote or even a hyena for a normal canine.

Not only would the children be at risk, the adults who pass on such naïve beliefs would lack the knowledge necessary to come to a correct conclusion about WHY their children keep getting mauled. After all, dogs are inherently good and friendly, especially if they’re approached in a loving manner, so it must be the children’s fault. They must be doing something wrong. In other words, they’d use all sorts of mental gymnastics to force reality to conform to their worldview. Belief systems tend to do that—distort reality.

Unfortunately, the state of public education about psychopathy (not to mention relationships in general) is that bad, if not worse. We not only neglect to teach our children about its existence and the cautionary clues to help us avoid interactions with psychopaths, we blame the victims for the harm they unwittingly experience. To many, still, the rape victim “had it coming.” And victims eventually adopt such excuses for themselves: “I know deep down, some part of him really loves me. He just had a really rough childhood.” And just like the in the dog analogy, we end up blaming ourselves when our love doesn’t change them. It must be something we’re doing wrong.

The situation is made even more difficult because psychopathy is like a swift punch in the back of the head—you never see it coming until it’s too late! We tend to only hear about their crimes after they’ve been caught. To all appearances, they look and act just like we do. They learn very early in life to present a near-perfect image of normality. So on the surface of reality, everything looks in order.

While in reality psychopaths feel nothing, they learn how to fake emotion, for example, crying in situations where one is supposed to be sad. And most importantly, they become experts at manipulating the very real emotions of others. They are so successful because, strangely, they seem to have a better grasp on our emotional lives than we do. They instantly spot all those weaknesses and blind spots that we try so desperately to ignore, and they exploit them ruthlessly. If our emotions were keys on a piano, psychopaths would be virtuosos! And when you can manipulate a person’s emotions, you can manipulate their actions, even to their own destruction.

Although it is certainly a difficult skill to learn, it is possible to recognize such individuals, before we get involved. The first step is to understand the nature of our own emotions. Only then will we be able to understand how psychopaths use these emotions to manipulate us and how to prevent it. But before we get into some specific emotions, like happiness, fear, and anger, and the techniques psychopaths use to take advantage of them, we need to talk a little about emotions in general.

Not only are basic emotions like fear, anger, joy, disgust, and contempt common to members of the human species, we also share them with most other mammals. They serve a specific purpose to us as part of our body’s natural survival mechanism. For example, materials and substances that are toxic to our bodies, like rotten food, feces, and vomit, disgust us, so we stay away from them as much as possible. We feel fearful when threatened, freezing or fleeing in order to avoid the pain we may experience. In contrast, we are drawn towards things that sustain us, like good food, good people, and physical comfort. In other words, these basic emotions are the body’s way of telling us what to do if we’re going to stay alive.

Emotions are automatic reactions to our experience of the world, and they’re like that for a reason. For example, when the emotional systems in our nervous system first recognize a threat in the outside world, they essentially take over control of our body and mind in order to deal with the threat. They focus our attention on the situation at hand and push everything else out of mind. When we’re walking alone at night on a dark street and a man appears out of an alleyway in front of us, we may feel fear. If that’s the case, our heart rate increases, blood flows to our legs preparing us to run, and our mind filters out all unnecessary information, interpreting whatever DOES enter strictly in terms of the fear. If he puts his hand in his pocket, we expect him to pull out a weapon.

These emotions are common to people of all cultures, and they are all triggered in similar scenarios. However—and this is the most important part of this discussion—while the emotional “themes” of these emotions are universal, the specific situations in which we feel them are not necessarily so. We can be socialized, trained, and manipulated to feel emotions in situations where they are not only unnecessary; they are even harmful to our wellbeing.

This subject will be the focus of this column for the next several installments. Psychopaths, whether in our personal lives, or in the halls of political, religious, or corporate power, have an almost innate understanding of the emotional themes that run our lives. They see how situations trigger an emotion, and they see that this emotion causes us to act in very specific ways. And they use us as pawns in their games of power. Luckily, if we can learn to differentiate between real emotion and manipulated emotion—to become free from those parts of ourselves which control us—we can then become free from the rule of those external tyrants which control us. We can cease to be pawns in someone else’s game.

Petty Tyrants – An Introduction

Psycho girlfriends. Toxic boyfriends. The pathological relationship. We’ve all heard about it or experienced it for ourselves. Even if we’re not familiar with its various names or the psychological explanations behind it, we’re not surprised when we hear that a friend or family member is in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship. Whether it’s a girl insulted and humiliated by her boyfriend, or a man whose wife leaves him, takes his money, their kids, and his reputation after a painful divorce, these pathological relationships still seem to be a natural part of our daily experience. The pain and hopeless cycles of these relationships remind us that pathology in relationships is all too common.

Luckily there is a growing body of research on these all-too-familiar dynamics, and therapists trained in dealing with them. Sandra L. Brown, M.A.’s How To Spot a Dangerous Man and Women Who Love Psychopaths; Martha Stout’s The Myth of Sanity and The Sociopath Next Door; and Robin Stern’s The Gaslight Effect. These and other essential materials bring an important body of knowledge to those who need it most. Because without such knowledge, we are like Goldilocks entering a dark and unknown forest, blind to the dangers of charming yet cunning predators.

Upon meeting and interacting with such a predator, many men and women ignore the warning signs, rationalizing the odd behavior that doesn’t quite add up. Unfortunately, that inability to recognize the warning signs—the ever-so-slight intuition that something is wrong—is the first step in a downward spiral of deceitfulness, manipulation, and suffering. And unfortunately, a clever psychopath is an expert at taking advantage of this gap in our knowledge. Like a hyena picking out the weakest of the herd, they spot our weaknesses and exploit them ruthlessly.

The purpose of the materials listed above, and this magazine, is twofold. On the one hand, the information helps to educate those of us who have not been in a pathological relationship. By learning the signs, we can avoid such a relationship before it happens. On the other hand, it provides the information necessary to help those of us within such a relationship to recognize what is really going on, and that there is a solution.

The simple act of learning that one’s partner, or parent, or sibling, is pathological can be therapeutic in itself. Then we know that we’re not crazy—there is an explanation for their incomprehensible and often inconceivable behavior, and there are others who have gone through the exact same thing. Simply learning that language brings relief, comfort, and the strength to continue healing.

But let’s step back for a moment here and look at the bigger picture. Surely the partners of these individuals are not the only ones affected by their pathology. They have jobs, and because of their own ruthless drive for power and control, they often achieve influential positions in corporations, churches, and politics.

The purpose of this column is to analyze the pathological “dictators” in our lives, both on the interpersonal level—the dirty tricks and subtle manipulations we encounter in our everyday interactions—and on the wider, societal/political level—from our bosses, political leaders, and church authorities. We know the havoc one psychopath can bring down upon just one individual. When in a position of great power and influence, that havoc is vastly increased, as their pathology affects the lives of entire nations.

Just as the books listed above are essential tools in bringing an understanding of the pathological relationship to the general population, several recently published books expand this approach to the broader, social dynamics I’ll be exploring in this column. They have all influenced me greatly, and I’ll refer to them frequently. They are Andrew Lobaczewski’s Political Ponerology; Martha Stout’s The Paranoia Switch; and Paul Babiak and Robert Hare’s Snakes in Suits. Their work provides a solid foundation for understanding how the pathological relationship applies to every facet of our lives.

In this column I will not only analyze historical and contemporary examples of such pathology in high places, but also the similarities between the interpersonal dynamics and the sociopolitical dynamics. Whether in your own home or in the Whitehouse, pathological individuals use the same tricks. And, luckily, when their tricks are revealed, when they’re exposed for the petty tyrants they really are, they’re powerless.

Determination in the Life of a Survivor

I’ve seen the look many times–hundreds of times over the past 20 years working with (mostly) women who are surviving a pathological love relationship. There ‘is’ a look. Initially, it’s a timid look—before she grasps that she really CAN survive and thrive. Then the look begins to change, morph into real belief and real power.

Ironically, I saw the look this past week in an unlikely but stunning face. I saw her gentle-ness—as did the pathological who is in your life. Your ‘super’ traits of empathy, tolerance, caring and compassion are what make you the wonderful girl you are. It has also been target traits for pathologicals. You can see the gentle-ness even in the face.

Then I saw her powerlessness.

The look like you don’t know if you will ever get out, ever survive, ever find your power back again. It feels as if you are being held there against your will–when you remember once that you were so different–so self assured, confident, and capable.

And many people have seen the face of unbelievable stress and worry—when you no longer trust your own judgment, ping pong back and forth between loving and loathing him. When you can’t concentrate, focus, sleep, or even want to get up each day.

But the greatest thing about doing this work is when women really ‘get it’ about pathology–when they understand that what’s wrong with him has nothing to do with her, what she did or didn’t do–when she gets that ‘wild eyed look’ that says her reality has shifted–she realizes that what has happened to her is simply she’s been knee deep in pathology and she is powerful enough to walk away.

I love that part–the paradim shift when women turn the corner in understanding and her whole future opens up like a flower blooming.

Over the years I have watched hundreds of women storm off into their future having recaptured their lives, their dignity, their ability to function well, their self belief. It’s a beautiful and strong presence when you get to witness that.

(Link for Powerful Look)

Why all the horse photos? This is Rachel Alexandra–I love her expressive face. She is a reminder to me of all of the women I have worked with. She is the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness. It awed me to see her many faces of gentile-ness, powerlessness, worriedness, thriver-hood and powerfulness. It reminded me that even though so much is often against you in your race to recovery from pathology, that you too, like Rachel Alexandra, can defy the odds even when they have been stacked that way for 85 years! There really is something to be said for the power of belief, destiny and desire. I believe in you!

Tips for Getting Started

Tips for Getting Started

by Carol A. Lee Mooney, M.S., ICCJP

I had the pleasure of attending The Institute’s first therapist training in September 2007. I thought, finally, I met a program and professional who had in-depth knowledge, experience and training on the subject of pathology.

Sandra’s fiery passion for creating public awareness on the topic sparked a burning desire in me to teach about pathology in my own community. Capturing as much knowledge as I could on the topic of pathology was the first step to becoming a healer and a voice in what has become coined as the ‘number one public health issue’ in this country.

My passion was generated because I am a survivor of a pathological relationship myself. So I was eager to learn all I could and while at The Institute’s Retreat Center I read and absorbed all the books, CD’s, DVD’s, E-Courses, books, and workbooks Sandra made available. She also encouraged her students to read the work of other specialists in related areas.

With a certification in the Aftermath of Pathological Relationships from The Institute I shaped my private practice and community presentations around the topic of prevention and healing from pathological relationships. I enhanced my qualifications by becoming a Certified Life Coach through the Professional Woman Network in Louisville, KY. This helped develop a program structure for my clients. (Since that time The Institute now offers their own Certification in Life Coaching through Change Points Coaching so you can get all the training you need through The Institute.)

Sandra’s “How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before you get Involved provided an explosive basis for coaching clients across the United States who were involved with men or women who damaged them physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually or sexually. My clients were either involved in pathological relationships, in the process of leaving, or in the aftermath of the relationship.

It was my job to meet each individual where they were and help lead and guide, educate and support them, while helping to provide local referrals for assistance. To date, I have had many clients across the United States: California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, New Mexico, Mexico, North Carolina, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia and New York. I’m always amazed that no matter where the client is located, the dynamics of the pathological relationship experience seems to be the same in the area of intensity of attachment and associated psychic injuries.

There are a number of ways you can get involved in Teaching Pathology to Your Community: Public education, small groups or one-on-ones.

Since my training with The Institute, I have been involved in all three avenues. I began giving Pathology Workshops at the community level. For most of my community events, I use The Institute’s PowerPoint presentation specifically designed to educate the general population. This simple to use outreach tool has opened up many opportunities for community discussions.

Facilitating small groups is another avenue to create public awareness in a more personalized way. My most treasured experience is with my weekly group of teenage girls which is always a fun experience. It’s a great feeling to see them be able to identify different pathological relationship types from movies, pop culture, music, and their daily lives.
My one-on-ones are personal coaching sessions with women who help them not only learn to identify pathology in future relationships, but help them with their day to day symptoms of the aftermath.

Working in the field of Pathological Love Relationships has been a fascinating and fulfilling experience and one that many people could be doing in their own communities. You can make a difference right where you’re at! If you are interested in teaching about pathology to your community here are some tips:

1. Get as much training on the topic as possible through The Institute’s products (Books, DVD’s, etc.)

2. Get certified in The Institute’s Coaching or Therapist Programs

3. Set up a weekly Pathological Love Relationship Support Group—The Institute can train you how to run Support Groups.

4. Get connected with large groups or associations so you can network with others and build your coaching program through these affiliations.

5. Get and utilize The Institute’s PowerPoint presentation in your community.

6. Set up speaking engagements with woman’s groups and shelters

7. Become an expert on your own niche of clients, i.e. the legal field, church congregations, PTA groups and/or government agencies.
Know what the impact of pathology is in these areas.

8. Write magazine or newspaper stories that position you as an expert in your field. Start your own website or blog about the issue of pathology. Write for your own local community when pathology is in the news. Make public awareness your first goal!

Every new generation needs to understand the permanence and the damage of Pathological Love Relationships. There is an open market in every community for someone to provide public speaking and awareness, support groups, or coaching. If we can help you become a resource in your community, please let us know how! Email us at saferelationships (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Writing for Happiness and Healing


Part II

By Lynn Ellyn Robinson

Ira Progoff, the original journal guru from the 1960s, recommended journaling on notebook paper. His method recommends that you insert your writing into a 3-ring binder behind one of a couple dozen of pre-made category tabs. That’s great for some kinds of journaling, especially if you’re working your way through historical events or figure out complex relationships. It also allows for cross-referencing (useful if you plan to write a memoir). For theme-based journaling (gratitude, prayer/meditation, health, travel, pets, food, etc.), I usually prefer a real book of some sort, with nice, heavy paper.

  • Check out the bound journals at a book store, which can run from $2 to $150. The look and feel of each volume is different. Handle them.
  • A writer pal uses bright 79¢ spiral notebooks from the drugstore; they fold back and lie flat. She uses them as a “parking lot” for random thoughts that crowd her mind when she is starting her day and needs to clear the decks so she can focus.
  • Consider the composition books so many of us used in school. Their pages are still stitched in place, but the price has gone up to about $2.00. They are a nice size and easy to carry.
  • I prefer the “college rule” line width, but most of the journalers I know like wider lines. I also do a lot of creative and developmental writing on graph paper. The grid lines help me segment different ideas and sort out materials, lists and sequencing.
  • If you are creative and artsy or just hate being limited by margins, check out the art supplies. Nicely bound sketchbooks with unlined pages are available in a wide range of sizes and are often made with acid-free paper that lasts for a long, long time.
  • Use some leftover wallpaper, wrapping paper or fabric to make a cover for your journal. Customize it to suit yourself.

Grab a pen and start your own, personal, custom-made, one-of-a-kind journal. Use the power of ink to unearth old longings and make new discoveries. Writing offers a way out of the darkness and into the sunshine. Ink is your voice. When writing to meet your own needs, something wonderful happens: YOU emerge.

It’s never too late to live a life you love.
Part I

In this new column, Journal to Joy, we will be talking about the many aspects of using pen and ink to write your way toward glowing good health. Using your pen to ink thoughts and feelings on the pages of a private journal can promote healing from past hurts and write yourself into a brighter future – no matter where you start. Over the coming months this column will address ways to use writing to deal with topics such as depression, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts.  Journal to Joy will offer tips and techniques for handling tough issues as well as the fun of delving into your own Internal Archaeology and designing a Dream Life for yourself.

Journal to Joy is the preamble to an Online Therapeutic Journaling Group. The kick-off will be a tele-seminar followed by an intensive Journaling Retreat later on, so be sure to check here for the details. You won’t want to miss the interactive sessions or the opportunity to take a break from your everyday life and do some focused, internal work.

Many who have come through a long, dark tunnel have often asked for instruction and support in telling their own, unique stories. In response, Journal to Joy will address ways to get started on your Personal Life History or Memoir. There are many different approaches, so we will look at several of the main formats and offer suggestions about tailoring the approach to suit your needs and ideas.

Journal to Joy will investigate different types of writing and journals. Many years ago a friend proudly showed me the “diary” his pioneer great-great-grandmother had kept while homesteading out west in the 1800s. Her daily entries faithfully recorded weather conditions and who was born, died, or married, but very little else. By contrast, structured journaling is a powerful tool that is much more than just a list or diary of activities. Disciplined writing is highly effective when sifting through a barrage of thoughts which threaten to overwhelm.

Many people have never thought of themselves as writers. Far too many among us endured humiliating experiences in school or had our early efforts critiqued by well-meaning family members. Even more of us agonized silently over spelling, grammar and punctuation. My own grandmother, a teacher, sent my childhood letters back to me all marked up with blue pencil corrections. Believe me; I know whereof I speak. Despite all that unpleasantness, there is good news. Fast forward to this very day – right where you are at this very moment.

Here’s the good news: Your journal does not care how you write.

It makes no difference to the page whether you know the rules. Handwriting and spelling are never graded. You can doodle if it suits your mood; use colored markers or crayons. Draw pictures and glue in cut-outs from magazines. Pen words around the pictures and ink in pretty loops and spiky angles. Scribe your feelings in words using colors and shapes. Decorate your pages. Your journal is yours and yours alone. In it, like nowhere else in your life, you can express yourself ANY WAY YOU WANT! Say anything you like – laugh, cry, scream, swear, or whisper. It is YOUR voice – the voice always inside of you, but maybe rarely used. Now is the time for YOUR voice to be heard and your journal is the place for it to speak.

It’s never too late to live a life you love.

Today–My Anniversary of the Plunge into Pathology

Today marks my fairly ‘official’ date (at least in my mind) in which I was thrust into the field of pathology–totally without consent, without warning and without return to the normal life I knew before May 13, 1983. 26 years ago my father bled out in a grungy gutter in Cincinnati after a psychopath plunged a knife into his aorta outside of his jazz club. I was initiated into a victim-hood that would turn my life and career in a direction I hadn’t much interest in on May 12, 1983.

Much like pathology in anyone else’s life, you don’t get to pick how it plays out. The best you can do is learn how to ride the roller coaster that goes along with the serious group of disorders in pathology. And so I did.

26 years later I still feel like I am just skimming the surface of what can and should be done in education, awareness, survivor services, and advocacy. Thousands of pages later of writings (books, newsletters, websites, workbooks, e-books, quizzes), hours and hours of lectures ad nauseum, over a thousand hours in broadcasts (radio and TV), stacks of cds and dvds created—and still we are in the infancy of a new understanding about pathology–the virtual edge of just starting what one day will be a momentum marker that shows ‘when’ the world turned a corner in a better and very public understanding of pathology.

We’re not there yet, but the day IS coming. Every new blog that goes up, every newsletter, every website, every talk, every social networking post, every private moment of your knowledge shared with another victim, every coaching session, every class taught, every therapy hour, every group gathering, every prayer muttered, every radio show aired, every celebrity living it and bringing notice, every TV show about it, every newspaper or women’s magazine article taunting it, —is another message to another ear that has heard the message.

You learned it because someone cared enough to make sure you learned it.

Every May 13 for the past 25 years I have halted my life to remember that life altering second when my life went from normal everyday life -to-a homicide survivor. When my reality was ripped through by pathology–a disorder so conscience-less that altering history is just another day in their lives. While my pathology story includes a brutal ending, yours no less includes something similar–all the things lost in the moment of deep betrayal–the kind of betrayal that only pathology can bring.

(If I don’t brighten this article up, I’ll get complaints about ‘too much reality’ or ‘too much negativity’) So, I will say this–while none of us ‘choose’ to become survivors at the hands of very disordered pathologicals, what we ‘do’ with what we were dealt is up to us. Every so often I like to send a message to you that encourages you to ‘pass it forward.’ Whatever you have learned from the magazine, the newsletters, or the books is probably more than the woman who is sitting next to you knows. You don’t need to wait til you ‘understand it more, take a class, get a degree, read one more of our books, take the coaching training.) That doesn’t help the woman you sit next to at work. The knowledge in your head is life saving to her. Next year ‘when you get better trained’ isn’t the year to share what you know. Today is!

If we want to move from living on the virtual edge of changing pathology education in the world, we have to open our mouths and tell what we know. Every pathological out there hopes you DON’T do this–they hope you keep what you know to yourself. So many women with so many tears had said “If I had only known….I would have left earlier, I wouldn’t have left my children with him, I wouldn’t have _______.”

Every May 13 is a time I renew my commitment to what changed me. Every May 13 I bother people with my message and prod them and push them to make victim’s rights and survivor education important in the world. If I don’t, the image of my dad laying in that gutter haunts me. His death should never have been for nothing–and as long as people have been helped, it hasn’t. Frankie Brown has touched so many lives with his death through the message of psychopathy. You’re one of them! Help me celebrate my father’s death anniversary in a way that brings meaning and hope to many. Tomorrow, share what you know with just ONE person–someone that you have felt in your gut needs to know about the permanence and the pain of pathological relationships. Then email me and say ‘I passed it forward’ so I can count up how many people celebrated Frankie! If this email offended you, I’m sorry. Pathology offended my entire life.

Thank you for growing in the knowledge of pathology so you are prepared for the day when you can give someone the life changing information that you’ve come to know!

Genetic and Neuro-Physiological Basis For Hyper-Empathy

I heard a universal go out around the world when women read the title to this article. Don’t you feel better knowing there really is some science to the whole issue of too-darn-much-empathy? When we began writing about ‘women who love psychopaths, anti socials, sociopaths and narcissists’ we already ‘assumed’ that maybe you did have too much empathy (as well as other elevated temperament traits). We just didn’t know how much or why.

When we began the actual testing for the research on the book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ we learned just ‘how much’ empathy you had. Do I need to tell you? WAY TOO MUCH! But by now you have probably already suspected that your super high empathy is what got you in trouble in this pathological relationships (and maybe others as well). But did you know there is hard science behind what we suspected (and you too) about what is going on in your relationships with your super-trait of high empathy? It really IS all in your head (and your genes).

In fact, these genes influence the production of various brain chemicals which can influence just ‘how much’ empathy you have. These brain chemicals include those that influence orgasm and it’s effect on how bonded you feel while also influencing some aspects of mental health (no, no! That’s NOT a good mix!). Other brain chemicals influence how much innate and learned fear you have. However, females don’t seem to assess threats well and in females, these chemicals increase her social interactions at the same time she is not assessing fear and threats well (This is not a good thing!!). One of the final chemicals effects delaying reflexes (like getting out of the relationship) and impacts short and long term memory (remember when I talked about how you store good and bad memory–here’s the culprit!).

And since it is genetic, these kinds of genes can run in entire families that produce ‘gullible’ and ‘trusting’ individuals who seem to just keep getting hurt.

Of course, the reverse is also true. Genes can influence the absence of various brain chemicals which influence ‘how little’ empathy a person has. We already know in great detail how this affects those with personality disorders. Personality disordered people (especially Cluster B disorders) struggle with not enough (or not any!) empathy.

Over the past few months, the magazine has been writing about various aspects of personality disorders and the brain. This has included the issue of brain imaging and what we are finding out about how the brain structure and also how it’s chemicals can affect personality, empathy, and consequently behavior and the behavior in relationships. As advances are made in the field of neuro-biology we are learning more and more what The Institute has always believed, which is there is a lot of biology behind the issues of personality development and the lack of personality development such as personality disorders. Genetics and neuro-biology is proving that the behavior associated with narcissism, borderline, anti-social personality disorders and psychopathy has as much to do with brain wiring and brain chemistry as it does with behavioral intent.

The Institute has long said to the survivors that personality disorders are not merely willful behavior but brain deficits that control how much empathy, compassion, conscience, guilt, insight and change a person is capable of. Autism and personality disorders share a common thread as ’empathy spectrum disorders’ now being studied extensively within the field of Neuro-science. But in some opposite ways, so the women also share a common thread of an empathy disorder—Hyper-Empathy which we are coming to understand has just as much to do with innate temperament (you come into the world wired with the personality you have), genetic predispositions to high or low empathy, and brain chemistry configurations that contribute to high/low empathy as it does with the old assumptions that the women with high empathy were merely ‘door mats.’

Neuro-science with all it’s rocking information has the dynamic power to blow us all out of the murky waters of assuming that our behavior is merely a reflection of our will. As Neuro-science graces our minds with new understanding of how our brains work, it brings with it incredible freedom to understand our own traits and the pathological traits of others.

For a mind blowing book on the genetic and neuro biology of not only personality disorders, but ‘evil’ as well, read Barbara Oakley’s book ‘Evil Genes’. You’ll find a whole new approach to understanding the biology of the pathological!

Just Because You Believe It, DOESN’T Make It True

I am reminded frequently that this statement is so true when it comes to denial in pathological love relationships. There’s something about a narcissist and psychopath that can make you forget all about their pathology and return to your previous ‘fog’ of beliefs. F.O.G.–Fear, Obligation and Guilt.

Entrenched in the partner is the dire desire to have a normal partner. Couple that with the NPD (Narcissitic Personality Disorder) and PP’s (Psychopath’s) ability to convince you of their, at least, fleeting normalcy and you have a woman who has dug her finger nails into the nano-second of his normal behavior and she’s not gonna let it go! Otherwise highly educated, bright, and successful women can be reduced to blank-stared-hypnotized-believers when it comes to believing he is normal, can be normal, or that it’s her that is really the messed up one.

Many therapists miss this process in working with the partners–they feel they have made substantial headway in helping her (or him) understand the nature of the unchangeable-ness of the disorder and then what appears to be out of nowhere, she’s blank-staring and hypnotized yet again.

The only thing that has changed is her belief system. Obviously an NPD and/or PP is not capable of true sustainable change. He didn’t change. But her desire to believe his normalcy and to deny his pathology is the only thing that has changed. It’s not so much a ‘change’ per se, as it is a return to straddling the fence about the belief system.

Most partners live a life of cognitive dissonance–this conflict between ‘He’s good/He’s bad’ that is so distracting they never resolve the internal conflict of whether he is MORE good than bad, or MORE bad than good. They live in a fog of circulating remembrances that support both view points–remembering the good, but still feeling the bad. This circulating remembrance keep them straddling the fence with the inability to resolve a consistent belief system about him.

This inability to hold a consistent belief system is what causes cognitive dissonance, it’s also what increases it and causes intrusive thoughts (join us this week for a tele-seminar on How to Manage Dissonance and Intrusive Thoughts). Dissonance is caused by thought inconsistency which leads eventually to her behavioral inconsistency–she breaks up and makes up constantly. Thought and behavioral inconsistency increase Dissonance which increases Intrusive Thoughts. No wonder she can’t get symptom relief!

Her desire to ‘believe it’ doesn’t make it true. It doesn’t make him normal. It doesn’t cure his NPD or Psychopathy. It only keeps her stuck straddling a belief system that has caused her emotional paralysis. In a crude way of understanding this–the only thing that happens when you’re straddling a fence is you get a fence post up your butt! Try moving when your paralyzed by a fence post!

Just because you believe it, doesn’t mean he’s ok, he’s going to stop doing the thing he said he’d stop, that counseling is going to work, that there never was anything wrong with him, that it’s probably you….or any of the other items you tell yourself in order to stay in a relationship of pathological disaster.

Even Benjamin Franklin said “We hold these truths to be self evident…” For us in the field of psychopathology, these self evident truths are that pathology is permanent whether you believe it or not.

All Memory is Not Created Equal–Positive Memory Seepage

We already know that intrusive thought is associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as other emotional trauma disorders. However, many of the survivors say what is most painful is not necessarily the intrusive thoughts of the bad stuff or even the violence. It’s the intrusive thoughts of all the good times that are really hard to deal with.

Intrusive thoughts are not just bad thoughts or flashbacks. They can be intrusive from positive memories as well. Positive memories are embued with deep emotional and psychological ‘meaning.’ The meaning of the relationship, various happy moments, the deep feeling of attachments, the fantastic sex–can all be power packed into positive memories. Positive memories are also embedded with all the sights, sounds, smells, sensations, feelings, the associated meaning of the events, and the remembrances of a happier time. The positive memories can also be tied up with a ribbon of fantasy and romanticized feelings. That’s a lot of power packed into a few positive memories that has the TNT emotional factor to blow your ‘stay-away-from-him’ resolve, sky high.

All memories are not stored the same. I’ve talked about this before….positive memory is stored differently in the brain and is more easily accessible than some bad memories. Many traumatic memories are stored in another part of the brain that make them harder to access. Sometimes the more traumatic they are, the harder it is to remember.

Unfortunately, what you might want to remember most is the bad part of the relationships so it motivates you to stay away from it. But instead, it’s murky and not always fresh in your mind about ‘why’ you should be avoiding the pathological relationship. But what IS easy to remember is all the positive memory. In fact, what has become obtrusive and intrusive, is positive memory seepage–where all the good times and the associated ‘senses’ (taste, touch, smell,etc.) are flooding your mind. You easily remember the good times and easily forget the bad times–all based on how and where these types of memories are stored in the brain. You NEED the bad memories but you REMEMBER the good ones—constantly.

In addition, that which is held internally is amplified. Almost like putting it under a magnifying glass–the feelings, memories, taste/touch/smell, are all BIGGER and STRONGER when the memory simply rolls around in your head. It’s a lot like a pin ball machine–memories pinging and ponging off of internal elements. The more it pings and pongs, the stronger the memory moves around the mind.

Memories kept in the mind also take on ‘surreal like qualities’ — certain parts are like a movie–fantasy based, romanticized. The positive memories are dipped in crystalized sugar and become tantalizing treats instead of dreaded dead beats! While engaged in this positive memory seepage–it doesn’t feel like you are indulging your self in toxic memories—it feels like you are trying to ‘process’ the relationship–why did we do this, did he say that, why was it like that then but it’s like this now…. It feels like what you are trying to do is sort out the relationship. But all the sorting of this dirty laundry still leaves the same amount of piles of clothes in your head. You’re just moving the same shirt from pile to pile–but it’s all the same dirty laundry. Nothing is getting cleaned up.

Positive memory seepage as intrusive thought is a big contributor to the cognitive dissonance women feel in the aftermath of these relationships. Cognitive Dissonance (or C.D. as we refer to it as) is the difficulty of trying to hold two opposing thoughts or beliefs at the same time. That’s usually “he’s good” AND “he’s bad” = “How can he be good AND bad?” Just trying to resolve that one thought can leave women’s minds tangled up for years.

C.D. can single-handedly take women down—it can cause her to be unable to concentrate, work, sleep, eat, or function. It’s like the little image of the devil sitting on one of your shoulders and the angel sitting on your other shoulder and they are both whispering in your ear. That’s exactly like C.D.—trying to decide which thing you are going to believe….that he’s bad for you, or that he’s good for you.

Positive memory seepage produces intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts, especially about positive memories, produces cognitive dissonance. These emotional processes feed each other like a blood-induced shark fest. It’s one of the single reasons women don’t disengage from the relationship, heal, or return to a higher level of functioning. Now that we’ve identified ‘what’ is really at the heart of the aftermath of symptoms—we know that treating CD is really the most important recovery factor in pathological love relationships. It’s why we have developed various tools to manage it (Maintaining Mindfulness in the Midst of Obsession E-book and 2 CDs).