Archives for April 2010

When Will This Ever End?

Lots of clients lately want to know ‘when will this ever end?’ — ‘this’ being the aggravation from a pathological.

  • Constantly harassing you
  • Stalking
  • Stirring the pot
  • Making up allegations against you
  • Not paying what they are suppose to
  • Going back to court for the 1,000th time
  • Turning others against you
  • Turning you in to Social Services for child abuse
  • Lying to the judge
  • Paying others off to lie for him in court
  • Gaslighting you or others
  • Making others dread him, you, or your situation

The truth is, this IS what pathology does. If court evaluators, child monitors, judges, attorneys, batterer intervention counselors, anger management therapists—those working in the field knew that this IS what pathology does, it would heighten everyone’s awareness about pathology. Instead, euphemisms are used for this kind of behavior–

  • Drama cases
  • Trauma cases
  • Dead beat dads
  • High conflict divorces
  • Jerks
  • Snakes in Suits
  • Con artists
  • Custody Battles
  • No resolution cases

Behavior related to making allegations, lying in court, hiring others to lie, hiring others to stalk you, spy on you, put spy ware in your house/car/computer, harass social services/child services workers, eat up enormous amount of court hours–are all behaviors ASSOCIATED with pathology—not drama, not trauma, not dead beats, not conflict, not jerks, not snakes and not cons—but Cluster B personality disorders such as Borderline, Narcissistic, Anti-Social and the other Low/No Conscienced disorders such as Socio/Psychopaths.

Our office has been flooded with calls lately about ‘how to’ survive until ‘this all stops.’ Women aren’t finding help with ‘how to’ survive, ‘how to’ appropriately communicate with him to have the least ‘aftermath,’ what to do when he alleges things to child services, judges, and courts, how to document well for court now and in the future, what dissuades them, how to angle the situation so he exposes his true self/disorder/motives, how to take care of yourself until some of this slows down, stops, or a miracle occurs.

Pathology is exhausting. This isn’t something ‘unique’ to your case. It’s standard in cases with pathologicals. You didn’t cause it; it’s the disorder just being what it is. But maybe some of the things you are doing aren’t in the best interest of your case, simply because using what ‘works’ with normal people, NEVER works in pathology. I think it’s time we do something to help the women out there get a grip on some of the problems inherent in pathological break ups, legal situations, and child custody.

Why you Only Remember the Good Stuff of a Relationship – Part II

Last week I began discussing the reasons why women have a difficult time ‘remembering the bad aspects of the relationship.’ Women describe the sensation of only remembering the good times, the good feelings and being ‘fuzzy’ or sort of forgetting all the bad things he has done when they think of him. This process seems to be triggered by an emotional feeling (such as longing or loneliness) AND/OR by a memory or hearing his voice, seeing an email, etc.

Last week we discussed how good and bad memories are stored in the brain differently. Good memories are stored upfront and easily accessed. Bad memories are stored and compartmentalized in the mind and are harder to access (think of, for instance, child abuse memories and how people so often repress or forget these memories). This week we are going to talk about ANOTHER reason why you only remember the good stuff of a bad relationship. (This is also covered in detail in ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths.’)

The second reason is based on our own biological hardwiring. We are wired with a pleasure base that is called our Reward System. We associate pleasure with being rewarded or something ‘good.’ We are naturally attracted to pleasure. The pathological (at least in the beginning) stimulates the pleasure base and we associate that with a ‘reward’– that is, we ‘enjoy his presence.’ Pathologicals are also often excessively dominant and strong in their presence, something we have gone on to call ‘Command Presence.’ What we enjoy in him is all the good feelings + his strong dominate command presence. Being rewarded by his presence AND experiencing the strength of that presence registers as pleasure/reward.

Although he later goes on to inflict pain, pleasure or good memories, as we saw last week are stored differently in the brain. Our brains tend to focus on one or the other and we have a natural internal ‘default’ to lean towards remembering and responding to our Reward System and pleasure.

On the other hand, memories associated with punishment or pain are short lived and stored differently in the brain. They can be harder to access and ‘remember.’ When you experience pleasure with him (whether it’s attention, sex, or a good feeling) it stimulates the reward pathway in the brain. This helps to facilitate ‘extinction’ of fear.

Fear is extinugished when fear is hooked up with pleasant thoughts, feelings, and experiences (such as the early ‘honeymoon’ phase of the relationship). When fear + pleasant feelings are paired together, the negative emotion of the fear gives way to the pleasant feelings and the fear goes away.

Your Reward System then squelches your anxiety associated with repeating the same negative thing with the pathological. The memories associated with the fear/anxiety/punishment are quickly extinguished.

For most people, the unconscious pursuit of reward/pleasure is more important than the avoidance of punishment/pain. This is especially true if you were raised with pathological parents in which you became hyper-focused on reward/pleasure because you were chronically in so much pain.

Given that our natural hardwired state of being is tilted towards pleasure and our Reward System, it makes sense as to why women have an easier time accessing the positive memories. Once these positive memories become ‘intrusive’ and the only thing you can think about is now the good feelings associated with the pathological, the positive memories have stepped up the game to obsession and often a compulsion to be with him despite the punishment/pain associated with him.

These two reasons why bad memories are hard to access have helped us understand and develop intervention based on the memory storage of bad memories and the reward/punishment system of the brain. If you struggle with the continued issue of intrusive thoughts and feel ‘compelled’ to be with him or pursue a destructive relationship…you are not alone. Understanding his pathology, your response to it, and how to combat these overwhelming sensations and thoughts are part of our retreat/psycho-educational program.

Human nature procrastinates…after every single retreat I always get emails of people ‘regretting’ they didn’t come and thinking their symptoms would ‘just get better on their own’ only to find they have worsened. For those who NEED help, I am advising that you do it in our retreats.

Please don’t live your whole life with symptoms that CAN BE treated and helped. We have made our retreats as cheap as we possibly can so that each of you can receive help and healing.

Why you Only Remember the Good Stuff of a Relationship – Part I

Over and over again women are puzzled by their own process in trying to recover from a pathological relationship. What is puzzling is that despite the treatment they received by him, despite the absolute mind-screwing he did to her emotions, not only is the attraction still VERY INTENSE but also the POSITIVE memories still remain strong.

Woman after woman says the same thing–that when it comes to remaining strong in not contacting him (what we call ‘Starving the Vampire’) she struggles to pull up (and maintain the pulled up) negative memories of him and his behavior that could help her keep strong and detached.

But why? Why are the positive memories floating around in her head freely and strongly and yet the bad memories are stuffed in a ‘mind closet’ full of fuzzy cobwebs that prevent her from actively

reacting to those memories?

There are a couple of reasons–of which we will discuss today only the first one. Let’s think of your mind like a computer. Memories are ‘stored’ much like they are stored on a computer. When there is pain and trauma, memories are stored differently then when it’s a positive memory. Pulling up the negative memories from your hard drive is different than pulling up a memory that is on your desk top as an icon emblem.

Traumatic memories get fragmented on their way to being stored on the hard drive. They get divided up into more than one file. In one file is the emotional feelings, another file is the sights, another file the sounds, another file the physical sensations.

But a WHOLE and complete memory is made up of ALL those files TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME– what you emotionally felt, saw, heard, and physically experienced. Not just one piece of it—and not just

the positive memory of it. A memory is good + bad = complete.

But when things are traumatic, (or stressful) the mind separates the whole experience into smaller bits and pieces and then stores them separately in the mind because it’s less painful that way.

When women try to ‘remind themselves’ why they shouldn’t be with him, they might get flashes of the bad memory but strangely, the emotional feelings are NOT attached to it. They wonder ‘where did

the feelings go?’ They can see the bad event but they don’t feel much about what they remember.

If you are playing a movie without the sound, how do you know what the actors are passionately feeling? It’s the same thing with this traumatic recall of memories. You might see the video but not hear the pain in the voices. The negative or traumatic memory is divided up into several files and you are only accessing one of the files—a place where you have stored the positive aspects of the relationship.

To complicate things further, positive memories are not stored like negative memories. They are not divided up into other files. They don’t need to be—they aren’t traumatic.

So when you remember a time when the relationship was good or cuddly or the early parts of the relationships which are notoriously honeymoon-ish, the whole memory comes up–the emotional feelings, the visual, the auditory, the sensations. You have a WHOLE and STRONG memory with that. Of course that is WAY MORE appealing to have–a memory that is

not only GOOD but one in which you feel all the powerful aspects of it as well.

Now, close your eyes and pull up a negative memory…can you feel the difference? You might see it but not feel it. Or hear it and not see much of it. Or feel a physical sensation of it but not the emotional piece that SHOULD go with the physical sensation. No matter what your experience is of the negative emotion, it is probably fragmented in some way.

Negative and traumatic memories are often incomplete memories–they are memory fragments floating all over your computer/mind. They are small files holding tiny bits of info that have fragmented your sense of the whole complete memory. These distorted and broken memory fragments are easily lost in your mind.

If you have grown up in an abusive or alcoholic home, you were already subconsciously trained how to separate out memories like this. If your abuse was severe enough early on, your mind just automatically does this anyway–if you get scared, or someone raises their voice, or you feel fear in anyway—your

brain starts breaking down the painful experience so it’s easier for you to cope with.

Next week we will talk about one other way your mind handles positive and negative memories and why you are flooded with positive recall and blocked from remembering and feeling those negative things he’s done to you.

I hope by now with these newsletters you can see the unique aspects of what you have lived through in the pathological relationship and why this is a whole different thing to heal from then other relationships. This is why regular counseling often doesn’t work and forget about reading regular relationship books! They are NOT written for pathologically based dynamics! ‘Imago therapy’ isn’t gonna help this. Dr. Phil’s books aren’t gonna touch this. The pathological relationship dynamics are UNIQUE and require a combination of several approaches to help you heal. If your parents were pathological as well, you have the double-whammy to heal from.

Please don’t live your whole life with symptoms that CAN BE treated and helped. We have made our retreats as cheap as we possibly can so that each of you can receive help and healing.