Archives for June 2010

Finding Competent Help for Your Recovery

By now if you have been trying to heal from a pathological love relationship and can’t find effective and knowledgeable counseling you have probably figured out what we have…that the pathological love relationship is NOT widely understood.

Frustrated women hear unhelpful advice from family, friends and even therapists who label their attachment to pathological men as “codependent” or “mutually addictive” or merely “emotional abuse.” Women jump from counselor to counselor and from group counseling experience-to-group counseling experience looking for someone, ANYONE, who understands this intense attachment to a dangerous and pathological man.

She looks for some understanding at ‘what’ is wrong with him. Labeling him an ‘abuser’ doesn’t quite cover the extensive array of brilliant psychopathic tendencies he has. Why was SHE targeted by him? Why does she feel both intense attachment and loathing for him at the same time? Why do her symptoms more resemble ‘mind control’ than mere ‘abused woman syndrome?’ Why is the bonding with this man more intense and unshakeable than any other man? Is it abuse if he never physically harms you but has the mental infiltration of a CIA operative?

What we are finding out from our research about women who have been in pathological love relationships is that all the normal dynamics of regular relationships DON’T apply to these types. All the normal dynamics of addictive relationships, codependent relationships and dysfunctional relationships DON’T apply to these types either. No wonder women can’t find the help they need…it hasn’t been taught YET! Our research is pointing towards women who DON’T fit into the stereotypes of women we normally see in shelters, counseling centers and in other abuse situations. These are not women who have the kinds of histories we normally associate with abuse nor do they have the kinds of current lives that fit the demographics of most counseling programs and shelters. Their personality traits and behaviors fit no other ‘typologies.’ And their current symptoms don’t match the simply ‘dysfunctional’ love relationship.

Could it be that the dynamics in a pathological love relationships really ARE different than other types of relationships? Could this be why women in these types of relationships aren’t helped by the more prevalent types of intervention offered to other types of abusive relationships? Why does the Power & Control Wheel model seem ineffective with these types of women? Why are these women LESS likely to seek traditional counseling? And if they do, why are they less likely to be helped by it? Why are these women’s personality traits so vastly different then shelter women? Or abused women?

Too many women have been through the ringer of counselors-not-understanding-psychopathology/family-lumping-all-relationship-types-together/ friends-saying-‘just-get-over-it’/ and counseling-programs-telling-she’s-just-codependent. Too many women have stopped seeking help because they are tired of too many people ‘not getting it.’ Psychology has to allow itself to grow beyond a one-size-fits-all approach when dealing with women emerging from pathological love relationships because all relationships are not created equal. Especially when one of them is pathological. Not understanding the effects of pathology on relationships, self concept, and recovery deters a woman’s ability to heal. Understanding the DIFFERENCES in these types of relationships is critical.

The Institute developed programs and materials exactly for this reason. We developed our telephone coaching program for women in immediate need of validation of their experiences, our retreat programs specifically geared to ‘Healing the Aftermath of the Pathological Love Relationship,’ our Therapist Affiliate Program training which provides other therapists nationwide the clinical training to help women heal from these types of relationships, and our 40+ products all developed to teach pathology to others.

Why? Why all the effort in treatment related issues? Because the absence of trained counselors is screamingly evident. Our mailing list writes us week after week asking “Can you recommend someone in Florida, Michigan, the United Kingdom, Canada, California, Oregon…? Why don’t other counselors understand this? Why can’t anyone explain to me what is going on! If one more counselor or family member suggests I am codependent or a relationship addict, I’m going to scream! Why is this so hard to understand?”

Much like the beginning phases of the addiction field, the pathological love relationship field is feeling the same ‘misunderstanding phase’ that other theories of counseling have gone through. When the field is new or the knowledge is groundbreaking, there is an overt lack of trained responders. Unfortunately, those that suffer the new phases are the victims/survivors that wish there were more trained service providers.

The Institute operates as a public psychopathy education project which means we try to train anyone and everyone in the issues of pathology–that includes the women in the relationships AND those who are likely to be emotional supports to women recovering from these relationships. Please bear with an entirely new emerging field of psychology that is trying to race to catch up to the knowledge of what is needed for this population of people. After all, until us no one had even bothered to STUDY the female partners of psychopaths and partners of other pathological types. No one created research projects to study the personality traits, histories and chronic vulnerabilities of women who have been in these relationships. So to that degree, we are virginal in our exploration of these issues.

As an Institute, we try to be immediately responsive to needs. In the last year we have exploded in growth in our outreach–our weekly newsletter continues to reach more and more people, our blogs we write for other websites such as Psychology Today and Times Up! helps us to reach an even larger audience with the educational value of our expertise, our list of books, CDs and DVDs that are in every country of the world, our expanded retreat format, private 1:1’s with Sandra, our telephone assessments and coaching which doubled in size this year, our weekly teleconferencing support groups, and our Therapist Training Program–all are born out of our desire to reach YOU! As needs are repeatedly identified by our mailing list, we try to quickly ascertain how to develop a program to meet the need. That’s because we recognize that the services available out there are slim. We provide what we can knowing that we are a drop in the bucket to the need that exists. So unless we duplicate ourselves through products and services many women will go untreated.

I know for many women who are struggling to recover from the diabolical aftermath of a pathological relationship that it seems that too few services exist. Please remain hopeful that not only this Institute but other therapists and agencies hear your cry and are reaching out for training so they can help you. We too are always looking at how we can expand our scope and reach.

Over the past year or two there has been a proliferation of survivor-based websites, blogs, newsletters, blog radio shows, and chat forums that have jumped in to fill the need between what you need and what ‘is’ out there for support or assistance. (We appreciate that every new blog is pathology information reaching new victims!) Lately we have been asked what constitutes effective help for the aftermath symptoms. Those suffering with stress related disorders, intrusive thoughts/obsessional thinking as well as PTSD and other anxiety-based disorders are often surprised to find that chat forums INCREASE their symptoms. It seems counter-intuitive that the thing you want most to do (process it, talk about it, and roll it around in your head) may be the very thing that increases intrusive thoughts and autonomic adrenaline response in your body. “But it’s the first time someone has understood” or “I feel so at home with others like me” is a common feeling associated with the huge relief after finding a forum that you resonate with. And I am sure lots of people will disagree with me about the use of chat forums. Unfortunately, we have spent a great deal of time ‘cleaning up’ symptoms that have increased in survivors while surfing the net, chatting in forums or finding survivor-support blogs that don’t clinically understand PTSD or what helps/hinders it.

While survivor blogs and websites may have the ‘right heart’ when it comes to offering a ‘place for survivors’ please be aware that these sites are not professional clinicians. They may have lived through a pathological relationship, but it is questionable if they are competent to offer guidance on your array of mental health problems. In fact, if what they do offer triggers you, they are not likely to know what to do or be able to provide it.

While we exist to help all survivors, it is increasing difficult for us to clean up the emotional meltdowns caused from too much exposure to things that trigger your autonomic response of adrenaline, depression or anxiety generated from non-clinical websites. It’s also a reason we only used master degreed professionals for our phone support.

Here are our recommendations:

We suggest that you find a trauma therapist skilled in PTSD. We are happy to provide a training DVD to her that helps her get up to speed on Pathological Love Relationships so she can understand why your aftermath is so severe.

Finding an EMDR or Hypnosis Therapist are considered ‘gentle therapies’ and easiest on your own biological system as you can work through your symptoms.

When your symptoms have minimized, consider finding a support program (phone group or in person group).

STOP group whenever/if ever your are re-triggered (recovery is about pacing your level of exposure to things that are triggering).

Limit your exposure to triggering events such as chat forums or too much ‘other victim-oriented’ story sharing.

Practice a stress relieving lifestyle (you have a stress disorder!)

Find beauty in things that instill hope for a future.

Most of all, don’t give up hope. We are an emerging new psychology field! We are where Domestic Violence was in the 1970’s and 80’s–we are blazing a new frontier!

Hopefully these tips will help you select competent services for your own recovery. Let us know how if we can be of help.

Intense Attachments

Women in these relationships and their family members who watch her relationship dynamics all wonder about **why** this dangerous guy is so hard to leave. While all the people around her have the easy and rational answers of how and why she should leave, the disengagement and detachment is harder with pathological persons than anyone else.

No one knows this better than her. At the heart of the attachment is the intensity of bonding produced in a relationship that has an ’emotional vortex’ pull. Much like magnets pointed towards each other, the draw and pull and staying power of pathologicals is not like other relationship dynamics. As we study these particular attachments we see that there are unusual qualities to the relationships that even the women can’t define or adequately describe. This includes the dichotomous thinking often seen in ‘mind control,’ the hypnotic engagement often seen in trauma, and the betrayal bonding often seen in sexual addiction. Combined, this power cocktail renders her not only entranced by paralyzed from action.

Normal motivations do not motivate her. Not her current roller-coaster mental health, her other family relationships, her declining health, her children, her

job or any other force that would usually rally her to her own self care. No wonder people who care about her are baffled that a high functioning, bright, proactive woman has been reduced to a catatonic/hypnotized/brain washed version of her former self.

An hour a week at the counselor’s office has done little to unwedge her from this super-glued relationship. It hasn’t recognized the hypnotic en-trancement, the growing PTSD symptoms, the cognitive loops and entrenched dichotomous thinking. It hasn’t unveiled the death grip that pathologicals can have on a squirming victim. Or the mind control that sucks the willpower and brain function from her.

Physically and emotionally exhausted from the too-many-go-rounds with him, there isn’t enough left of her to fight her way out or even think her way out. Many women now suffer from Chronic Fatigue from the wearing process with the pathological. Without the emotional resources and physical strength, her lethargy just ‘allows’ the relationship to roll like waves over the top of her. Without help or intervention, she is likely to have a complete physical break down including severe medical problems, sleep disruptions, mental confusion, panic attacks, anxiety, depression and more. Women have developed auto immune disease and cardiac problems in the middle of these acutely stressful relationships.

With all of their resources sapped and their concentration at a near record low, many have had to quit their jobs, have been fired, been in car accidents or sporting injuries because of the inability to concentrate. Taking an inventory of just ‘what it has cost her’ to be in a relationship with a pathological is often the first step towards education.

The disengagement process is a supported function often by counselors or The Institute in which education, acceptance of his diagnosis, self care re-initiation, symptom management and then the full recovery process is necessary. Some need short term programs that help them kick start their own recovery such as our retreats or intensives with Sandra.

Many of the women have PTSD now from the exposure to the pathological. PTSD worsens without treatment, with added stress, and with time. Some where she has to find the counseling resources in order to return her to a life she use to know before the pathological. This includes finding support people, support groups, coaching, specific focused books and audios on the subject, and if needed, retreat or residential programs. If this describes your current situation, get what you need to heal now–to minimize the effects of intrusive and ping ponging thoughts. Most of all, the intensity of attachment in order to be broken must first be understood. Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships is a great tool for loosening the pathological’s emotional death grip.

Using the Performing Arts to Prevent Domestic Violence


The founders of Fix the Hurt, Linda and John King, are dedicated to using the performing arts, education and training to prevent domestic violence. By teaming up with Loren Marsters, a talented writer, and composer, Anne Hinton Pratt, the Kings have created and produced Domestic Violence the Musical? that will not allow the audience to go home and forget. To date, this powerful and interactive performance has been performed for over 20,000 people in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and Japan with requests for Korea, Florida and more.

– Read more at the Fix the Hurt Website

My Anniversary of the Plunge into Pathology

The month of May which we just exited, marks my fairly ‘official’ date (at least in my mind) in which I was thrusted into the field of pathology–totally without consent, without warning and without return to the normal life I knew before May 13, 1983. 27 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 to learn how to ride the rollercoaster that goes along with the serious group of disorders in pathology. And so I did.

27 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. This is 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 newsletter 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 until 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 is a time I renew my commitment to what changed me. Every May 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!

If we can help you with your healing, please join us for our next retreat June 7-11. Healing is possible and we can help lead you there.

The Illusion of Management

A part of how people convince themselves to stay in the pathological love relationship is that they think they are making ‘progress’ by managing the pathological’s behavior. Once there is a glimmer of doubt about the pathological’s behavior, the partner begins to do one of two things: they either change their belief system or they change their behavior. Most of them will change their belief system. That means, they will tell themselves there are ‘ways’ to manage the pathological’s lying, infidelity, addictions, sexual acting out, or whatever negative behavior they bring to the relationship. If they can manage the behavior, they can change the person. If they change what they don’t like in them, they have a shot at ‘being happy.’

That means they will change how they see the pathological. If they are ‘noticing’ too much negative behavior they might look the other way, rename it, minimize it, deny it, justify it, or use any other defense mechanistic way that allows the partner to change how they see the pathological.

When there is the thought that by enforcing strong ‘rules’ for the relationship or by ‘demanding’ their own rights that the pathological will ‘stop’ the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought by enforcing the ‘three strike rule’ for the relationship or by ‘demanding’ the pathological attend church, counseling, or treatment which will ‘stop’ the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought by ‘putting the pathological on a short leash’ and checking on them frequently, calling the cell, sending people out to find them, breaking into the pathological’s phone or computer, that the fear of being caught will ‘stop’ the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought that the pathological is “now working” or staying at home more or being kind, or saying the kinds of things you always wanted to hear and that the previous ‘behavior’ is now gone, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

Pathologicals and/or addicts are not managed. Shortening the leash, making demands, watching closer, hiring a P.I. is not managing a person’s acting out. Pathology is noted for its inability to grow to any emotional or spiritual depth, the inability to sustain the changes that you have demanded, and the inability to develop insight how their behavior harms others. People with pathological disorders are not managed—not by you, jail, prison, or church. The inability to sustain change means that the pathological will APPEAR to do whatever it takes to stay in the relationship, but the disorder itself means they cannot sustain the change that will please you.

People embrace the truth of pathology when they realize that the idea they are ‘managing’ the pathological’s negative behavior or addictions is simply an illusion. Jails and prisons are packed full of personality disordered and pathological individuals because probation ‘management’ or ‘psychological management’ did not work. As they say in 12 steps, ‘When nothing changes–nothing changes.’ Pathology has an inability to change which means nothing consistently changes in the pathological individual except maybe new ‘ideas’ about how to con others.

Managing manipulative behavior, drugs or alcohol, porn or sex addictions, infidelity, lying, and conning are an illusion used by the partner in order to ‘buy a little more time’ to try to figure out how to make the pathological be ‘more normal.’ In the end, it’s your defense mechanisms telling you that by changing your belief system (he can be different, he can do better) that you can ‘help them find the resources they need in order to grow into their full potential.’ If you’re over 30, falling in love with ‘potential’ is a crap game risk. People not living up to their potential in adulthood are called–pathologically disordered. By adulthood, either you ‘have the ability for life skills and success’ or you are ‘life challenged’ by addictions or pathology. In either case, partners need to understand there is no ‘managing’ someone else’s negative and pathological behavior. That is an illusion!

Additionally, playing with the ‘illusion of management’ increases cognitive dissonance in you. It causes a miserable symptom of your thinking ‘ping ponging’ back and forth between “He’s good/he’s bad.” This is simply responding to both sides of his Jekyll/Hyde nature. The longer you play with the illusion, the more cognitive dissonance (C.D.) you overload your mind with.

That’s why The Institute always treats the cognitive dissonance–in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone coaching–the issue of cognitive dissonance is always addressed. We are the leading provider of C.D. treatment for Aftermath Symptoms in Pathological Love Relationships. If you have C.D., make sure you get treated for it. It increases over time and makes the symptoms worse. Getting a handle on the ‘illusion’ is a first step towards managing your C.D.