Archives for 2010

Reality Bytes: A Survivor’s Journey – Part 2

Part 2

My friends so many things have happened since my first column.  The wreckage of the aftermath has gained some height and momentum.  I had a “my life flashed in front of my eyes” kind of experience that I will share with you.

It was around 3AM and I was in a very light sleep semi-aware of my surroundings.  It was because I felt somewhat paranoid when I went to bed because I had spent part of my day educating a new professional about our family law/ custody case.

Perhaps it is his anti-government extremist group affiliations that make me a little restless at night.  Or it could be something about my ex’s involvement with people who have two names.

Or, maybe it is the token diploma I found in the bedroom drawer that honored his completion of an extensive paramilitary training program.  Or it could just be that he must win at any cost.

So as I lay there, I saw an indication there was a flashlight in the back yard.  Its reflection flirted with my bedroom curtains.  He finally went over the edge I thought.  Then there was a loud banging on my glass door. A surge of fear went though my chest and limbs.

With the toughest, grumpiest, voice I could muster, I yelled “Who is it?” into the darkness.   A man’s voice responded in kind:  “it is ABC Finance Company.  We have come to take your car.”

At first I felt relief that it was not “him.”   But, the feeling of relief quickly melted away when I went outside to remove my personal items from my car.

This turned into a very sobering experience. Again I was forced to feel the impact of my daughter’s father coming into my life.

As I emptied out the car, it was like my life started flashing before my eyes, I started reliving the experience of signing the documentation when I lost my home.

I relived all of garage sales getting rid of my belongings. I cringed again about how those people scavenged through my stuff reminding me how little worth I had. They seemed compelled to beat up my perception of value on every single item.

I then flashed to an evening when I woke up in the middle of the night realizing the excellent credit I worked so hard for was going away– that began its spiral downward with a judgment for thousands of dollars placed on my report because “he” sued me for the diamond ring in small claims court.

Then I remembered the dream that night after that trial, his face was in my face laughing and laughing.  I woke up just as frightened that night.

It seemed with every item I pulled out of the car, a new painful memory surrounded my consciousness.

When I drifted back in to the present moment, with the “repo” man it felt like I was back in line at the supermarket with those government checks to get free milk and eggs.

The cashier made an assumption that I was trying to get more than what was on the check, in an instant his voice bellowed over the store’s intercom summoning a manager there to further pick apart the transaction.

The line was building behind me and heavy sighs were coming out of the customers while my child, with an urgent and untamed desire to leave, sat on the floor screaming in protest.

That chilly early morning, as I turned away from the car to leave I realized I forgot something.  I reached in and pulled my CD out of the car stereo. The irony is that it was Sandra L. Brown, M.A.’s Dangerous Man CD.

How fitting it was in that instant to have the Sandra’s CD in my hand while my car was chained to a tow truck.

As I walked away with the CD in hand, fighting back the tears, I looked at the man and said, you know, a few short years ago I had a 150,000 thousand dollar job, a nice home, great credit and money in the bank.  He just looked at me.


(All articles are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced, however feel free to put a link to this page.)

 

* All content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Institute.

Vulnerability and Other Prey of Psychopaths

Help protect yourself from victimization by psychopaths.

by Marisa Mauro, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Certain personality traits may create better perpetrators and, unfortunately certain cues may create better victims. In a study by Wheeler, Book and Costello of Brock University, individuals who self reported more traits associated with psychopathy were more apt to correctly identify individuals with a history of victimization. In the study, male student participants examined video tapes of twelve individuals walking from behind and rated the ease at which each could be mugged.

Read more at Psychology Today…

Suffering Souls: The Search for the Roots of Psychopathy.

Excerpt from The New Yorker website:

The Western New Mexico Correctional Facility sits in high-desert country about seventy miles west of Albuquerque. Grants, a former uranium boomtown that depends heavily on prison work, is a few miles down the road. There’s a glassed-in room at the top of the prison tower, with louvered windows and, on the ceiling, a big crank that operates a searchlight. In a box on the floor are some tear-gas shells that can be fired down into the yard should there be a riot. Below is the prison complex—a series of low six-sided buildings, divided by high hurricane fences topped with razor wire that glitters fiercely in the desert sun. To the east is the snow-covered peak of Mt. Taylor, the highest in the region; to the west, the Zuni Mountains are visible in the blue distance.

Read more…

The Invisible Epidemic: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Memory and the Brain

Excerpt from The Doctor Will See You Now website:

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is something of an invisible epidemic. The events underlying it are often mysterious and always unpleasant.

Read more…

Some People Really Feel Your Pain

Excerpt from Telegraph.co.uk:

Researchers found that around one in three people actually feel physical discomfort when they see someone else in agony.

The findings could explain why some people are more empathetic to other people’s misery.

Read more…

Brain Activity Exposes Those Who Break Promises

Excerpt from Science Daily:

Scientists from the University of Zurich have discovered the physiological mechanisms in the brain that underlie broken promises. Patterns of brain activity even enable predicting whether someone will break a promise.

Read more…

Suffering Souls – The Search for the Roots of Psychopathy

Excerpt from The New Yorker:

The Western New Mexico Correctional Facility sits in high-desert country about seventy miles west of Albuquerque. Grants, a former uranium boomtown that depends heavily on prison work, is a few miles down the road. There’s a glassed-in room at the top of the prison tower, with louvred windows and, on the ceiling, a big crank that operates a searchlight. In a box on the floor are some tear-gas shells that can be fired down into the yard should there be a riot. Below is the prison complex—a series of low six-sided buildings, divided by high hurricane fences topped with razor wire that glitters fiercely in the desert sun. To the east is the snow-covered peak of Mt. Taylor, the highest in the region; to the west, the Zuni Mountains are visible in the blue distance.

Read more…

Psychopaths’ Brains Wired to Seek Rewards

Excerpt from Science Daily:

The brains of psychopaths appear to be wired to keep seeking a reward at any cost, new research from Vanderbilt University finds. The research uncovers the role of the brain’s reward system in psychopathy and opens a new area of study for understanding what drives these individuals.

“This study underscores the importance of neurological research as it relates to behavior,” Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said. “The findings may help us find new ways to intervene before a personality trait becomes antisocial behavior.”

Read more…

A Neuroscientist Uncovers a Dark Secret

Excerpt from NPR:

The criminal brain has always held a fascination for James Fallon. For nearly 20 years, the neuroscientist at the University of California Irvine has studied the brains of psychopaths. He studies the biological basis for behavior, and one of his specialties is to try to figure out how a killer’s brain differs from yours and mine.

About four years ago, Fallon made a startling discovery. It happened during a conversation with his then 88-year-old mother, Jenny at a family barbecue.

“And I said, ‘Jim, why don’t you find out about your father’s relatives?'” Jenny Fallon recalls. “I think there were some cuckoos back there.”

Read more…

The Lasting Effects of Psychological Trauma on Memory and the Hippocampus

Excerpt from a research paper written by J. Douglas Bremner, M.D.:

The invisible epidemic of childhood abuse and other psychological traumas and stressors represents a major public health problem in our society today. Childhood sexual abuse alone affects 16% of women (about 40 million) in the U.S.A. (including rape, attempted rape, or molestation) at some time before their 18th birthday.

Childhood abuse is the most common cause of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in women, which affects 8% of the population at some time in their lives, although there are a range of other types of psychological trauma that can also lead to symptoms of chronic PTSD, including car accidents, combat, rape and assault. Some of the symptoms of PTSD, which include intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, increased startle and vigilance, social impairment and problems with memory and concentration, may be related to the effects of extreme stress on the brain.

Read more…

Opportunities to deal with sociopaths in American politics

by Gene Messick

December 11, 2008 at 14:51:24

Frequent arrest of Senators and Congressmen, and now arrest of the Illinois Governor, forces a question that has been far too long ignored: How do we
deal with sociopaths in our government?

Most Americans have a mistaken belief that sociopaths in America are a rare breed, that they are wild eyed, murderous lunatics who are regularly
recognized, put away or executed. Most unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

What’s a sociopath? Why do we not recognize them for what they are? How do we protect ourselves from them?

– Read more at OpEdNews.com

Illinois gov unanimously convicted

‘He failed the test of character,’ Illinois state senator says

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS, Associated Press Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. Rod Blagojevich was bounced from office Thursday without a single lawmaker rising in his defense, ending a nearly two-month crisis that erupted with his arrest on charges he tried to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

Blagojevich becomes the first U.S. governor in more than 20 years to be removed by impeachment.

After a four-day trial, the Illinois Senate voted 59-0 to convict him of abuse of power, automatically ousting the second-term Democrat. In a second, identical vote, lawmakers further barred Blagojevich from ever holding public office in the state again.

– Read more at U.S. News and World Reports

The Case for Giving Eli Lilly the Corporate Death Penalty

By Bruce E. Levine

Excerpt:

At this point, the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly is basically a public
menace.

Eli Lilly & Company’s rap sheet as a public menace is so long that for Lilly
watchers to overcome the “banality-of- Lilly-sleaziness ” phenomenon, the drug
company must break some type of record measuring egregiousness. Lilly
obliged earlier this year, receiving the largest criminal fine ever imposed
on a corporation.

– Read more at AlterNet

Madoff pleads guilty and goes to jail in handcuffs

By LARRY NEUMEISTER and TOM HAYS, Associated Press Writers

Excerpt:

Saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed,” Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty Thursday to pulling off perhaps the biggest swindle in Wall Street history and was immediately led off to jail in handcuffs to the applause of his seething victims in the courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin denied bail for Madoff, 70, and ordered him to jail, noting that he had the means to flee and an incentive to do so because of his age.

Madoff earlier spoke softly but firmly to the judge as he pleaded guilty to 11 charges in his first public comments about his crimes since the scandal broke in early December.

“I am actually grateful for this opportunity to publicly comment about my crimes, for which I am deeply sorry and ashamed,” he said.

– Read more at Daily Markets

But Enough About You…

But Enough About You …What is narcissistic personality disorder,
and why does everyone seem to have it?

By Emily Yoffe Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009, at 7:05 AM ET

Excerpt:

The narcissists did it. Some commentators are fingering them as the culprits of the financial meltdown. A Bloomberg columnist blamed the conceited for our financial troubles in a piece titled “Harvard Narcissists With MBAs Killed Wall Street.” A Wall Street Journal op-ed on California’s economy suggested that Gov. Schwarzenegger’s desire for voter’s love (“It’s classic narcissism”) helped cause the state’s budget debacle. A forthcoming book, The Narcissism Epidemic, says we went on a national binge of I-deserve-it consumption that’s now resulting in our economic purging.

– Read more at Slate