Archives for 2010

When a Pathological Dies

If you have been reading our magazine site, then you probably have read why and how I got started in pathology. Like you, so many years are initially spent not knowing what is wrong with the pathological. Since part of pathology is the ultimate in projection (taking their traits/behaviors and saying they are your traits/behaviors), most people walk around believing they ARE the problem. Sometimes the pathological is charismatic, successful and well liked by others so others also look at you as if you ARE the problem. Eventually, you believe it too! Cognitive dissonance sets in (they’re good/they’re bad, I’m good/I’m bad), obsessions about proving they really ARE the problem, and constant intrusive thoughts replaying their statements to you and your mental health begins to tank! It makes you feel vulnerable and crazy. It only proves to you that what they pathological said about you is true. You and your mental health are the problem.

Somewhere down the line, you eventually stumble on some miraculous gift–something that makes you rethink your own mental health in light of their pathology. Maybe you found our site or books and you begin to recognize the problem is not you, or even the relationship—it’s the disorder in them. Much like a medical disease process, pathology is just being/doing what it is—hurting things in its path. Although it sounds personal to you, it isn’t. Pathology does this to everyone, eventually. So you get a clue that maybe what has been occurring in the relationship has something to do with something bigger than you, bigger than them, bigger than what counseling can do for your relationship. The spark has been lit in you to find out more. However, “the best time to see the light is as soon as you can” might be years down the road. You might have had a lifetime with this person as the pathology continued to damage you. Seeing the light, recognizing and even being able to ‘name/diagnosis’ them, isn’t always initially enough to emotionally help someone out of the pit of pathology. You stay and watch, and confirm in your mind, and find resources, and plan, and eventually you get the hell out of hell.

You’re out of hell–now what? Why don’t I feel better? Why are my symptoms even worse now. Why isn’t getting away and cutting off exposure to them enough to kick-start my recovery? When you peek inside yourself you find fragility & fractured-ness, distraction & dissociation, dissonance & disgust, obsession & objectification, Post Traumatic Stress & Preoccupation. Good Lord, I AM SCREWED UP you think. Assessing your inner damage, you calculate you have at least 25 years of therapy ahead of you and you’re 42 years old! I won’t live long enough to feel well is your biggest fear. So you dive in–self help books, group, Ala-non, self esteem programs, Boundaries books, therapists, coaches, retreats, inpatient care, medication….

The damage is huge and the path to recovery seems long. You tally up everything a few years with a narcissist or psychopath has cost you: Friends, family, health, career, promotions, mental health, spirituality, sexuality, finances, your home….and the list goes on. Thousands of dollars later, you sort of feel less depressed. On good days you can actually take hold of your own obsessional thinking and control it for 5 minutes. That’s progress you think.

You have fought tooth and nail to understand pathology, save yourself, and then heal. You feel justified in your feelings of loathing for someone so harmful, dangerous and disordered. You see the years it has taken from your life and your children’s lives. You see the countless ways others and even society is harmed by their disorder. No one would ever blame you for loathing them or their disorder. You finally feel some power in your ability to be rightfully angered, even indignant to the damage done.

And then they die.

Relief? Yes. Safety? Yes. Justification? Yes. Restitution? Yes. God finally answered? Yes. The playing field has somehow shifted–just exactly how, we are often unsure. Their death feels like a flood–waves of discordant feelings. Shouldn’t you rent the Hyatt and have a party? Why are you so sensitive when people tell you ‘You should be glad they are gone now.’

Last week, one of the pathologicals in my life died. I watched her horrendous death from the sidelines of a hospital chair. I coordinated her care with hospice, spent hours on the phone with doctors, advocated for her care without insurance, sat commode-side in a urine soaked nursing home, and held a yellow-green hepatitis-infected hand as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

After all, she was my sister. It took me years to get to the place of recognizing her pathology and accepting her disorders. I have spent enormous time in research and in therapy ‘coming to accept’ this insidious pathological disorder. (How else do you think I became so skilled at recognizing pathology and running a clinic based on it?)

There I sat staring at death-dulled eyes watching her slip from this world into the next and hating pathology again, for the millionth time in my life. I hate what it did to me, to others. I hate what it took from her life. She never, ever had a normal life or felt normally about others. She missed real love, real joy–a whole spectrum of feeling she could never experience because of her own pathological neurology.

Can you miss what you never had? I asked myself as I watched her die.

Inevitable flashes of our lives together—a bedroom shared but no conversations, her never-ending problems with drugs/alcohol, men/violence, homelessness/mental illness, her empathy-less smirk when others were hurt or when she hurt others, her parasitic lifestyle milking my mothers money and energies, her narcissistic investment that her chronic drama was always first place in everyone’s lives, the Jekyll/Hyde of a manipulator and yet a child.

The playing field of her death felt like standing on the vault line of an earthquake.

FLASH: She cracked my head open throwing me down the stairs at age 5.

FLASH: She never belly laughed.

FLASH: She pushed me down a big hill into traffic the first time on my roller-skates.

FLASH: She was scared of the dark.

FLASH: Drugs, alcohol, arrests, legal problems that never ended.

FLASH: Her empty heart and life and lifeless eyes.

FLASH: Me coming to know her pathology after years of studying to find out what was wrong with her.

FLASH: Her huge bloated cirrhosis-filled belly — unrecognizable to me.

FINAL FLASH: She’s gone.

Even when the pathological crosses over out of our personal space of potential harm, they leave behind their own legacy. Nothing really changes when they cross. The cognitive dissonance of their pain caused/pain received lingers on. It doesn’t change because that’s what pathology is—a heaving vault line of the uneven feelings about the good and the bad in those with the disorder.

I am reminded I don’t have to choose one side or the other in how I remember her. She was after all, Jekyll & Hyde. And those uneven feelings and memories reflect her disorder and the relationship I had to establish to have a relationship with someone who was split in two halves of harm and need.

I have come to accept pathology in all its ugly forms and with all its hard wiring that I realize she never asked to be born with. I always thought I would feel differently when she died. But I recognize now that I SHOULD feel conflicting feelings reflecting her own nature as Jekyll & Hyde. Rest in peace my sister. There was no peace for you on this side.

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.

Am I Under His “Spell?” – Part III

The past two weeks we have been talking about trance states, dissociation, hypnotic suggestion, and mind control…all ways the pathological controls your mind, thoughts, feelings, and ultimately your behavior.

This is not hocus pocus stuff. Trance states, dissociation and hypnosis are all normal parts of the way our body and minds respond to certain conditions. The only argument is if these pathologicals KNOW they are doing it to others! My answer would be yes: they are masters at noticing what works on other people. So to that degree, they tweak what works.

Additionally, many of you may be aware of the seminars, books, websites and now TV shows about ‘seduction’ and the techniques that are taught men about coming in under the radar in seducing women through hypnotic methods. My guess is that the pathologicals are teaching their findings to others…passing on the horrid knowledge of their own disorders and how to covertly attract women subconsciously into sexual relationships. Appalling? You bet. Just one more big WAKE UP CALL to women–pay attention and guard your minds.

Trance, mind control and hypnotic suggestion also are based on one’s own level of ‘suggestibility’. This is related to how responsive you are to the suggestions and opinions of others. The more responsive you are the more suggestible and more easily you are mind controlled or hypnotizable.

A women’s suggestibility is often influenced by her biology. Women who are highly cooperative and value how others perceive them are likely to be more suggestible.

Also, women’s fatigability highly influences her suggestibility.

Almost all women report high levels of emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and spiritual fatigue with pathological relationships. They take a toll on her–wearing her down until her emotional reserves that would normally not give in, are repressed. At that time when her fatigue level is high, her suggestibility is also high. Tired and spaced out, it’s easy to get controlled by him.

Messages that are told to her during tired and spaced out times are recorded deeply and yet often subconsciously. “Can’t get him out of your head?” is very real.

The women who participated in our research survey on ‘women who love psychopaths’ showed us just how susceptible you group of women really are to suggestibility, fatigability, and the resulting mind control. Almost all of the women experienced some form of trance, hypnosis, mind control of ‘spell bound’ symptoms.

Women must understand that ‘staying in the relationship to figure it out’ or ‘see what happens’ or ‘wait until he works on himself and gets better’ is absolutely risky for you. Your ability to be controlled covertly by him is significantly higher than other females.

Until women really understand their ‘at risk’ temperament traits and how they affect her choices in relationships and TOLERANCE in relationships, she remains significantly likely to either not leave or pick the same way the next time around…

Ladies, hope and healing are available. We really UNDERSTAND the dynamics involved in what you have lived through. Our research has opened up incredible insights into your temperament and your relationship dynamics. Now specific and uniquely targeted treatment can begin! Please, let The Institute be part of your recovery.

Am I Under His “Spell?” – Part II

Last week we started to talk about the very REAL issue of trance in relationship with pathologicals.

Women feel ‘under his spell,’ ‘spell bound,’ ‘ mesmerized,’ ‘hypnotized,’ ‘spaced out,’ ‘not in control of their own thoughts….’ All of these are ways of saying that various levels of covert and subtle mind-control have been happening with the pathological. And why wouldn’t it be happening? These are power-hungry people who live to exert their dominance over others.

That includes your body, mind or spirit. Mind Control techniques are used on prisoners of war, in cults, and in hostage taking. It obviously works or there wouldn’t be ‘techniques’ and bad people wouldn’t use it.

Mind control, brain washing, coercion…are all words for the same principles that are used to produce the results of reducing your own effectiveness and being emotionally overtaken by someone intent on doing so. Here are the conditions of mind control:

  • Perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the captor/perpetrator would carry out the threat.
  • Perceived small kindness from the captor/perpetrator to the captive.
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor/perpetrator.
  • Perceived inability to escape.

Mind control then produces dissociation which is a form of trance states. It’s when your mind becomes overloaded and you need to ‘step outside of yourself’ to relieve the stress. Dissociation and trance happens during abuse in childhood as well or adult rape. Prolonged mind control in adults will even produce trance states where adults begin to feel like they are being controlled. And they are…

Treatment and recovery for mind control includes:

  • Breaking the Isolation – Help the client identify sources of supportive intervention; Self-help groups or group therapy (group needs to be homogeneous to needs), also hotlines, crisis centers, shelters and friends.
  • Identifying Violence – As victims in abusive relationships minimize the abuse, or are in so much denial it may be necessary to ask directly about the different types of violent behavior. Many woman (and children) are confused about what is acceptable male (parental / authority) behavior. Journal keeping, autobiographical writing, reading of first hand accounts or seeing films that deal with abuse may be helpful to clients.
  • Perceived Kindness – Encourage the client to develop alternative sources of nurturance and caring other than the captor/perpetrator.
  • Validating both Love and Terror – Helping the client integrate both disassociated ‘sides’ of the abuser, will assist her in giving up her dream-like state in how she sees him.

Next week, we’ll continue our discussion on other forms of trance states and spellbound conditions.

Am I Under His “Spell?” – Part I

Time and again women allude to the mystical aspects of the pathological they are involved with. They describe it as “being under his spell,” “entranced with him” or “hypnotized by him” even “spellbound” or “mind controlled.”

Women aren’t exactly able to define what they are ‘experiencing’ or even accurately describe what they think is occurring but they do unanimously conclude that ‘something’ is happening that feels like it’s hypnotic’.

Beyond the ‘hocus pocus’ of hypnosis lies real truth about what IS probably happening in those relationships.

Trance happens to every person every day. It is a natural lull in the body when many of the systems are resting or a state we enter when tired. Blood sugar, metabolism and other natural body functions can affect the sleepy states of trance that we enter all day long.

You’ve probably heard of ‘Highway Hypnosis.’ This occurs when you have been driving and are so concentrated on the driving (or when you are getting sleepy while driving and watching those yellow lines) that you forgot about the last few miles and all of a sudden you’re aware you’re almost at your destination. Highway Hypnosis is trance or light forms of self-hypnosis. No one put you in that state or hypnosis — you went in it on your own.

Check in with most people around 2 p.m. in the afternoon and you’ll see lots of people in sleepy trances.

But pathology can cause people to enter trance states frequently. Pathological love relationships are exhausting and take their toll on your body through stress, diet, loss of sleep, and worry. While you are worn down and fatigued you are more suggestible to the kinds of things that are said to you in that state of mind. These words, feelings and concepts sink in at a deeper level than other ideas and statements that are said to you when you are not in a trance state.

If he is telling you that you are crazy, or gaslighting you by telling you that you really didn’t see him do what you think he did, or that the problems of the relationship are because of you…those statements said to you when you are suggestible stay filed in your subconscious and are replayed over and over again creating intrusive thoughts and obsessive thinking.

If he tells you positives when you are in trance states such as “He needs you and please don’t ever leave him” – those phrases too are stored in a subconscious location working you over without your knowledge. When it’s time to redirect your beliefs about him, disengage, or break up women feel like ‘old tapes’ are running in their heads. It’s very hard for them to get these messages to stop activating their thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Women who are have strong personality traits in suggestibility and fatigability are more at risk of trance-like states in which words, meanings, and symbols are more concretely stored in the subconscious.

Women feel relieved to find out that they really aren’t crazy—it really DOES feel like she is under his spell because in many ways, she is.

Next week, we’ll talk about other ways that trance states can be effected in the pathological relationship.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)


Reduce and Eliminate Intrusive Thoughts with EMDR

Have you ever had Intrusive Thoughts such as when you can’t stop thinking about the abuser or when a thought about him pops into your head for no apparent reason? Have you ever had a trigger (a person, place, thing, scent or event) that reminds you of a good memory of the abuser which is then immediately followed by a bad memory of him? The good and bad memories together are called Cognitive Dissonance and can be very distressful for the person experiencing it. Have you ever wondered why would you have two belief systems at the same time? It’s because you’ve been in a relationship with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Most of all, would you like all those symptoms to stop?

EMDR which is now being offered by The Institute during selected retreats which is a phased treatment approach (developed in 1989 by psychologist Francine Shapiro), that has been extensively researched and proven to be effective for the treatment of trauma-based disorders. (See

The most common trauma disorder is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder develops after a person experiences an event (or multiple events) so disturbing that they are unable to process what happened to heal from it.

The kinds of “Big T” traumas that can sometimes lead to PTSD include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Childhood or adult abuse (physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual)
  • Rape
  • Combat
  • Extreme illness or sudden death of a loved one
  • Assault (experiencing or witnessing)
  • Natural Disasters
  • Dog bites
  • Auto Accidents
  • And we now know, Pathological Love Relationships

Not everyone experiences the full spectrum of symptoms listed below, but if you are experiencing several or all of these, you may be experiencing a “trauma-based” disorder:

  • Heightened sense of danger
  • Exaggerated startle response (Hyper-vigilance)
  • Anger/irritability
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Flashbacks (as if it’s happening again, right now)
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep Difficulties
  • Numbing
  • Substance Abuse
  • Difficulty focusing, making decisions, poor judgment
  • Guilt
  • Grief
  • Obsessing about the Abuser or an incident
  • Decline in work performance
  • Feelings of insanity or loss of control
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Distress at exposure to events that resemble or symbolize an incident
  • Avoidance of activities or situations that arouse memories of an incident.

Sometimes we suffer from “small t” traumas. While they are more common, they too are extremely painful:

  • Divorce of parents
  • Bullying
  • Teasing
  • Shaming
  • Humiliation or constant criticism.

These kinds of experiences can pile up during childhood and affect our behavior in adulthood. As an adult, you may not consider them traumatic, but to a child they can be. The belief systems that are established during small or large traumas can set the stage for problematic intrusive or obsessional thinking. EMDR is found to be one of the most effective methods for reducing and/or eliminating those problematic symptoms.

Why did I get involved in EMDR and How Can It Help You?

My name is Bill Brennan L.M.H.C., C.A.P. I am a psychotherapist in private practice in Ormond Beach, FL and began using EMDR in a dual diagnosis hospital treating addicts who had additional psychiatric diagnoses. Patients reported (and continue to report) positive resolution of traumatic memories in at least 98% of the sessions. EMDR helps clients to heal more fully and deeply than with just ‘talk therapy’. That’s because the desensitization and reprocessing removes the pain of the memory while empowering you to choose and install new positive beliefs to cancel out the lies and emotional contradictions the abuser gave you. Intrusive thoughts are one of the top three symptom complaints in the recovery of Pathological Love Relationships. The good news is that EMDR is highly effective in reducing and/or eliminating the intrusive imagery.

The Institute will be offering a powerful combination of their Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships Retreat + several days of my EMDR treatment. Stay tuned for when this retreat will be offered to be part of the Power Practices to get your recovery back on track!

Join me in the next issue when we’ll talk more about PTSD and other types of trauma and what an EMDR session consists of.

Last Week Was ‘Will It Ever End?’ This Week is “Why Won’t It Ever End?’

We began talking about the ongoing battles with pathologicals-whether it is a break up, move out, divorce, property settlement, mediation, child custody, or the ever-revolving door of litigious events with law enforcement or the legal system. By nature of the pathology, they are MORE likely to allege falsified abuse, stalk the other parent, sue, to continue to sue, to not settle, to refuse mediation services, to go to court over things like “his shoes are dirty therefore this is parental neglect,” to reject every child evaluator, reject every child therapist, reject every child pediatrician, reject every child’s school choice. They gaslight situations suggesting things have happened that didn’t, nor can they be proved they did or did not happen. (Classic gaslighting is associated with NPDs, ASPDs, socio/psychopaths). They are MORE likely to need court monitored visits after exchange antics which now require ‘a babysitter’ for their behavior and yet reject every monitor chosen, every center selected, or will find centers that are the farthest away in the most dangerous areas to ask the other parent to bring the child to. They also do not follow through on child support payments; other medical needs the children may have, does not pay their share of attorney and court fees. They use up enormous legal resources which has given them their own title within the legal system known as ‘High Conflict Person’ which eventually becomes a ‘High Conflict Case’ for you and for them. A ‘typical’ legal scenario (provided by Bill Eddy is:

A Petition is filed, and then there are countless emergency court hearings, restraining orders, restricted visitation, and/or residence exclusion, many filing for temporary hearings on custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. Then there is the unending filing for many declarations for hearing, getting an evaluator appointed, preparing documentation for evaluators/court (often done multiple times), serving numerous subpoenas, taking lists and lists of depositions, going thru the demand for documentations, attending multiple temporary hearings. Now they have received the trial only to have delays that can go on for years, disputes over evaluators’ reports and other unending other objections. Then begins the continuous disputes over trial court orders, motions for reconsideration, etc. Sprinkled through out are the constant allegations to child services of abuse and neglect, the rallying of others to support the allegations, and the utter exhaustion of the child services departments with the constant threats of suing them, etc. Once/if after all these enormous amount of time, money, energy is and the divorce is granted, then there is the ongoing post divorce hearings with the constant modification requests, custody battles, alleging new relationships which are bad for the children, failed relationships wit others bringing in new conflicts, drama and trauma.

It’s easy to see that this kind of behavior is what is shutting down our court systems and why it’s hard to get simple things done. 90% of the problems are being produced by a small % of the people who have the largest % of mental health and pathology disorders. In fact, it is cases like THESE that indicate to professionals working on these cases that there is in fact, pathology present. They have already been named ‘High Conflict Persons’ to help identify the partner who is likely to keep producing litigious insanity. It has taken a while for all the professional systems involved in cases like these to come to understand what behavior like this IS attached to: chronic and unrelenting pathology. For many years euphemisms have been used for these people “difficult cases” “pain in the butt cases” “problematic” instead of understanding these ARE the behaviors associated with pathological conditions. Pathology is simply being what it is—in the relationship, in the parenting, in the courts. It holds its mask in place for a while but then it always slips where other professionals are able to identify the behaviors and recognize the pathology. This is the unification of how Public Pathology Awareness is beginning to allow systems involved with pathologicals to more easily identify them by their universal and consistent behaviors, in and out of court.

The Institute’s goal is to bring training about these consistent and universal behaviors to therapists, coaches, the legal system, child evaluators, monitors, child therapists, Minor’s Counsel, and social service workers. ‘Why’ high conflict persons act this way has everything to do with the disorder itself. When we understand pathology and its neuro-implications as well, we can not only know what behaviors go with which disorders but why. We can learn to predict the kinds of known behaviors and antics that go with pathological disorders– in child rearing, in court proceedings, and in relationship endings. Those behaviors include imperative impulsivity, loophole lying, gaming gaslighting, reliable revenge, the prevalent projecting, and legendary legal litany of cases. Normal people don’t do this in court, in relationship, in life. It is the glaring opposites that almost always give us the best indicator that what is happening is not what other people do, behave, or believe. So, ours shouldn’t be to ask ‘why’ pathologicals do this. It’s to say ‘why not?’ After all, that’s how they are wired.

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.

Emotional Phantom Limb Pain

In a session someone says “I really miss what we had. I could get over this if it hadn’t been in 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, a writer about pathology from the 1940’s called it ‘The Mask of Sanity’ and states that pathology gives all the surface signals of deep connection, the most fun ever experienced with someone else, someone who is 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 piranha. 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 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 than how you thought of your own experience. That’s because the watchers would see the pathological’s behaviors and words as manipulative and the watcher would under go a distinctly different view of the storyline. 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 is in part, the way our brains work. The more important the question such as “Does he love me? Is this THEE one?” — The greater the pleasure will seem from labeling the experience as positive. The more positive the relationship is perceived, the more invested you will be to label the experiences and his behavior as positive and to get the reward of your label such as “him, marriage, or the relationship.” Of course none of this is problematic except if you have misread the illusion, believed the mask, and labeled an experience with a narcissist, anti-social, or socio/psychopath 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 promiscuous/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 when they try to break up they have the feeling that something is cut out of them. They feel like 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 misread 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 pretense of the arm is a perceptual illusion.

So it is with those leaving the illusionary pathological love relationship. The emotional pain you experience is based on the illusion the pathological presented, a perceptual illusion that was mislabeled, experienced as positive and invested in. Keeping that positive illusion is initially important to you. Learning to adjust the cognitive dissonance which is the ping ponging between he was good/he was bad) is the challenge in overcoming the ghostly emotional baggage of phantom relationship pain.

If we can help you with the ghostly emotional phantom limb pain in your relationship, please plan on attending our April retreat in Clearwater or our May retreat (or private intensive with Sandra) in NC.

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