Archives for January 2011

When Friends Don’t ‘Get It’ About Him

Remember the line ‘You’re known by the company you keep’? Well, I don’t think that ONLY includes the pathological and dangerous man…it also includes your ‘friends’ and ‘family’ members who are emotional accomplices of his.

Someone wrote me this week and said “Please write about this–when your own friends don’t get how sick he is and think you should go back or they think you’re over exaggerating his faults.”

There’s a couple of things to consider here…first of all, your patterns of selection of dangerous, pathological, or not quite healthy people probably exceed just your intimate relationship selections–it might include your friends, cohorts, buddies, and even bosses. Women who enter recovery for pathological relationships and attend the retreats quickly figure out that their lives are LOADED with other pathological people! Not just him! That’s because those super traits in you I write about are just as active in ALL your relationships as they are in your intimate ones. So don’t be surprised to find these types of people hidden out in all corners of your life. Many women realize they got some house cleaning to do in terms of clearing out all the unhealthy people from their lives once they recognize what pathology is and WHO it’s in…

Secondly, the dangerous and pathological people often attract people to them. If your friends and family members have your emotional characteristics, they are likely to STILL see him how you USE to see him…they haven’t been hurt up close and personal by him to ‘get it’ the way you do. Since these are Jekyll and Hyde guys, they have one face for you and another adorable and charming one for everyone else, including friends and family. Women get confused when they gauge whether they should be with him based on what OTHERS say about him. Intimate relationships are just that—PRIVATE and others don’t see him behind closed doors the way you do/did. Their take on this charming charismatic guy doesn’t include everything your gut has told you about him…

When you are ending the relationship, he’s likely to pour it on to all your family and friends—the tears, the confusion and shoulder shrugging (“What did I do?”) and pleading (“Help me get her back!”). Those family and friends who have those same HIGH traits of empathy, tolerance, and compassion are likely to fall for it. Top it off, that almost all the pathologicals also proclaim to be ‘sick or dying’ when the relationship is ending and you have a cheering squad who has lined up to back up his sad and pleading stories.

Then there’s the ‘finding religion’ guys who go to your pastor/rabbi and blow the dust off their Bible and are sitting in the front row of church week after week telling your pastor how ‘unforgiving’ you are of him.

Yup. Your friends are likely to point to all that pew-sitting and think there’s something to it. But YOU know better…you’ve seen it all before. The core of pathology is they aren’t wired to sustain positive change so this too shall pass…

Getting confused about what ‘other’ people think of him goes back to the central issue of you having ignored your red flags when you met him. Don’t ignore them again when people who haven’t got a clue what true pathology is tells you that you should ‘give it one more shot.’ You know what you know. Tell yourself the truth. Then turn to them…and tell them too. It’s called psychopathy education–teach what you know!

(**Information about pathological love relationships is in our award winning book Women Who Love Psychopaths and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more info.)

Hate and Your Potential For Relapse Part I

When women tell me “That’s IT! I will never, ever, ever talk to him again. I HATE HIM!” I begin looking at my watch to see how long it takes for her to talk to him again. Why do I think her relapse thus contact is imminent? Because ‘HATE’ is passion. Anything that feels that impassioned or has that much energy is usually acted on. If anger is the energy for change, then hate is the energy for hook ups.

I am never hopeful when a woman spends all her coaching time talking about this deep seated ‘hatred’ for him. As you have heard, love/hate share a fine line of emotional attachment.

When women count on her ‘hate’ to keep her away from him…she is setting herself up for a re-contact and a relapse. Feelings aren’t always facts. And your heart already knows you don’t “HATE” him–you may be disgusted, hurt, betrayed, bewildered….or a lot of other emotions–but in the moment of the break up you are probably not sitting in deep-seated ‘hatred.’ Your passionate feelings of ‘love’ for him (and your belief he felt the same way towards you) may not have been any more ‘factual’ then the feelings of hatred. Therefore, it’s not wise to use your emotions as the gauge for your ability to set limits, boundaries, and standards with a pathological. Your feelings are being pulled back and forth and if your boundaries are being determined by your FEELINGS…then they will quickly change with the next email, text, or phone call from him.

Feeling ‘hatred’ for him and counting on that hatred to keep you from picking up the phone the next time he calls is a poor plan for preventing relapse. ‘Hatred’ is fickle and it will turn its back on you in a moment throwing you from disgust into loneliness and fantasy. Before you know it, its make-up sex with all that impassioned hatred turned into hot steaming hormones. Afterwards, there’s only confusion and disgust for yourself. Even the ‘hatred’ you counted on to keep you strong has betrayed you. So, from this stand point, you’re Relapse Prevention Plan needs to be stronger and more elaborate than mere feelings.

Hatred also keeps you embroiled in the story-telling to justify your hatred. The more you tell others the story, the more traumatically bonded you are to him and the pathology dynamics. That simmering hatred is causing anxiety and ongoing stress to your body through the releasing of adrenaline. He’s already cost you enough in your emotional health–the hatred just insures he will also cost you in physical health.

Hatred increases intrusive thoughts, obsessive thinking and the inability to concentrate–not really what you need about now.

It also causes you to neglect your own self care when you are so consumed with negative feelings that you forget what YOU need right now.

And lastly and most importantly, hating him only disconnects you from your own spiritual connections. Any true recovery is a spiritual experience and you need spiritual connections right now.

The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference. Indifference holds the key to your healing and to the issue of emotional detachment which we will discuss more next week.

(**Information about pathological love relationships is in our award winning book Women Who Love Psychopaths and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more info.)

Hate and Your Potential For Relapse Part II-Moving Towards Detachment

Last week we discussed ‘Hate’ as an impassioned feeling that has high connection to relapse. Anything we feel that embroiled about we are likely to act on. Relapse prevention has to be more detailed than utilizing mere feelings such as using ‘hatred’ as a tool for distancing yourself from the pathological. This usually doesn’t work because hate is passionate and increases your sense of attachment to him.

Instead, let’s consider emotional detachment and it’s powerful abilities to change the course of your thinking and actions. Almost all religious traditions use some form of emotional detachment. Christianity, Zen, Hinduism, and other religions all have techniques for detachment. These religious ‘interventions’ are referred to as ‘detachment,’ ‘holy indifference,’ ‘non-attachment’ and ‘asceticism’ of which detachment is one practice. I particularly like the word ‘holy indifference’ because it reminds me that the practice can be holy if I approach it with the right motive and heart.

The strength of detachment is that it gives you back the power over your emotions and the actions that come from your emotions. Women complain that they feel ‘powerless’ over knee-jerk reactions in their emotions (hatred), their thinking (intrusive thoughts, obsessions) and their behaviors (impulsively contacting him). Detachment is a way of ‘creating a spacer’ between a feeling/thought/or desire and the action that follows. A spacer is the point of control and of choice.

In emotional detachment you step outside of the situation as if you were the third person watching what is occurring. I tell people to pretend they are ME! So, you are now Sandra standing over here watching how YOU are going to handle this highly emotionally charged moment.  Taking a moment to say ‘What would Sandra tell me to do?’ or ‘What would my spiritual beliefs tell me to do?’ gives you back the opportunity to act in your best interest. Your best interest is always non-reactivity–the ability to not have a huge reaction to what he has said or done (except in the case of physical violence in which you should immediately escape). This emotional detachment is also what I teach in my ‘Starve the Vampire’ technique–the stepping OUT of an emotional reaction and starving him with your non-reactions.

That’s because pathologicals live for this kind of drama. Every highly charged interaction reminds him of how much control he DOES have over you and your emotions. If he can get you emotionally cranked up then he has your complete attention, he can crank you up further, and he can control you through what he does with your emotions. This makes him feel powerful and will increase his contact with you.

Emotional detachment reminds you that you don’t have to respond to the same old cycles of baiting from him. For your own sanity and dignity you can choose the path of peace which is ‘holy indifference’ or in the 12 Step traditions “turning him, the situation, and his behaviors over to God.” The old cycles of baiting you with taunts of ‘you’re crazy,’ ‘you don’t love me,’ ‘you’re a witch and I’m with someone else’ can be the ending of torment instead of the fuel for the fire of torment. When you practice non-attachment to these kinds of acts or words, there is nothing to fuel the fire to keep this taunting alive.

Additionally, when you practice the ability to hold your emotions in-check, you are stopping the flow of adrenaline into your body. In the past I have talked quite a bit about anxiety, fear and aggravation and how these emotions release adrenaline in your body that then sets off even MORE emotional agitation, sleeplessness, hyper-vigilant reactions, and anxiety. Learning to not respond by stepping back from his words and thinking like I would think about that (Oh, Sandra would say he’s just being a pathological–look how he uses those feelings to try to make me react. The disorder is just being what it is. Wow, he really IS sick)–helps your body to not react and not create an avalanche of adrenaline crashing throughout your body.

The cycle of baiting, in the past, would have instead created thoughts in you like “I HATE him–I could just kill him—He’s an ass! He’s doing this on purpose to hurt me so I’m going to hurt him!” Then you would say something or go home and do something that would continue this cycle. Sometimes, you would recontact him just so you wouldn’t feel your own hate for him–contact him to make you stop feeling so intensely.

Now, practicing emotional detachment or holy indifference, you can view it like you are watching a Lifetime for Women movie. You see this woman who looks remarkably like you being taunted by this extremely sick man. You
notice her body language (relaxed and not tense), her facial features (flat and indifferent) and what she says (tonality of her voice is monotone and not angry). She simply walks away or hangs up the phone or does not
respond to her cell that is ringing with him on the other line. You see the shocked face of the sick man as ‘nothing happens’ in the interaction. The screen fades to black…the scene is over.

If her mind is trying to allow adrenaline to be released, she steps back and reminds herself “I am not responsible for this man’s disorder. He is being who he is–pathological. I don’t need to respond to a disorder.”

Emotional detachment and holy indifference remind us that we are not responsible for a disorder that is incurable and untreatable. This man’s needs and fate are in hands much larger than ours which is exactly where his needs
should be. Removing your hands and your interventions in his life, allows God to do whatever He feels is necessary in this person’s life. You can’t influence the outcome, you can only influence how your react.

(**Information about pathological love relationships is in our award winning book Women Who Love Psychopaths
and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more info.)

Neurofeedback Training and PTSD – Part I

So far this column has taken a look at the biochemical impact of PTSD and sustained stress. We’ve considered neurotransmitters and cortisol, two interrelated responses to the threat of (or actual) physical and or emotional harm.

As we’ve seen, when a person lives under constant stress, his or her biochemical’s almost always become unbalanced, leading to a host of emotional and physical symptoms. This stress response often takes on a life of its own and in doing so creates further problems such as cortisol and or serotonin depletion.

Neurologically, the same kind of thing happens in the nervous system-the brain’s frequencies get stuck in the “red alert mode.“

The nervous system, composed of bundles of brain cells, is an amazing communication system, more complex than just about any system known. Brain cells communicate with lightning speed using neurotransmitters and electrical signals. Particular grouping of signals or frequencies are more active under certain conditions such as sleep, relaxation, or being on red alert.

Neurofeedback training, based on the early success of fingertip based biofeedback, uses a number of aspects about the brain’s ability to self-correct,or retrain,  under specific circumstances: The person/client doing the training has sensors placed on the head and ears, to pick up information from the scalp-brainwaves. A computer program is designed to both read and interpret these signals, and to determine to what degree things are out of balance.

Meanwhile, the computer’s music file is opened and a recorded piece of music or a CD is played. The music is stopped by the computer program when it detects a pattern that is essentially out of balance. This interruption is perceived by the brain as a signal to interrupt what is was doing-in the case of PTSD, being on red alert.

When the brain is given this information many times for many weeks, it gradually stops the pattern of overreacting to things that are not particularly threatening.  For example, many partners of disordered persons have an overly sensitive startle reflex. A relatively  harmless situation can trigger an extreme reaction, especially if the person is used to walking on eggshells with a disordered partner.

Neurofeedback training, a non-invasive, proven method,

  • helps  the client regain the ability to relax, which can
  • reduce hypertension, promote healthy sleep patterns and
  • reduce dependency on chemical (medications, drugs)and behavioral (overeating, overspending) self-soothing patterns, and
  • can promote constructive problem solving as the brain is less controlled by anxiety and fear.

There are many, many benefits to neurofeedback training. Next month’s column will provide a more thorough description of the process and the results.

In the meantime, here are a couple of links to sites that will provide further information:

For more information about Joan-Marie, visit her website:

When Am I Ready to Help Others?

At the heart of any grass roots efforts or organizations is the concept of the wounded healer. There wouldn’t be a women’s movement without those who have been victims of something or other helping newer victims. It’s not only the heart of grass roots organizations (like ours) but the victims rights movement and many other strong and healing national movements in general. I think of Alcoholics Anonymous or any other 12 Step Program–drug addicts helping other addicts, rape survivors helping new victims,  domestic violence victims volunteering at shelters, Hurricane Katrina victims helping at Habitat for Humanity. And the list goes on. It’s the genesis of any giving organization—someone gets hurt, healed, and then helps. That’s how it all works. The trick is to know when you are well enough to help.

In 1983 my father was murdered. I was in my 20’s and happily working in the field of marketing–far far away from psychology or the self help field. But after seeing the murder scene, acquiring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), finding no help and getting worse, I decided if I EVER got better I’d help others with PTSD too. Luckily, a national pilot project for homicide survivors was forming to see if we responded to group counseling. I was fortunate to be in the first test group–I was helped and I did keep my word. I stayed on at the group…helped open an office, developed training programs to teach others how to treat surviving family members of a murder, did court advocacy with family members of murder victims, was a media spokes person on large public murder trials, spoke at conferences, lobbied for new laws and went back to school to get my degree so I could do even more. As I began to heal, I slowly became more involved in the field of victimology.

That was 25 years ago. Since then, I have worked not only in homicide, but incest, cult survivors, domestic violence, rape, and every kind of trauma disorder imagniable. I have started non profit mental health centers, started the country’s first long term residential treatment program for women with multiple personalities (now called Dissociative Identity Disorder), started hospital trauma programs, outpatient programs, church programs. I have worked in domestic violence shelters, women’s programs, and court ordered battering programs for men. I have worked with the sexually addicted and the sexually traumatized.

I have traveled to Brazil and helped start victim organizations there to help the millions of abandoned street children. I have trained workers for Australia in cult deprogramming. I developed and hosted my own TV show called ‘A Voice for Victims’ and do regular radio shows with several stations. I have written 7 books, numerous e-books, CDs/DVS and write for others women’s on-line websites and programs.

Now I direct The Institute, do research, phone coaching, writing, and therapeutic retreats/coaching. To tell you the truth, I can’t even REMEMBER everything I have done to date! LOL~(Maybe that’s a GOOD thing!). The point is, 28 years ago my life was altered by a murder. For 25 years I have given my life’s work, to reaching out. I don’t want to make it seem like it’s all been easy or even financially supportive work. It’s been a financially ‘barren’ field of work–I”ll never make retirement. Whatever I make, I just dole back out to other women’s organizations. BUT it’s at the heart of my own recovery and belief system–that when we are ready enough and healthy enough, giving back strengthens our own recovery.

A famous person said “You never help someone else without first helping yourself.” Every time I help someone else with PTSD, it helps mine too. Every time I help someone recognize pathology in others, it helps me remember it too. At the core of recovery is the need and almost spiritual mandate to reach back out and give others the hope that you now have. It’s only hope that keeps others going and not ‘end it all’ or want to give up and go back to him. We don’t really have the answers for another person’s life, we only have information and hope. That’s what we give. But like Mother Teresa said “Give what you got.”

But the title ‘Wounded Healer’ is a little misleading. It sounds like anyone wounded can be a healer. That any trauma leads to triumph, that any hurt can help others. Over the years of running coaching programs and centers and teaching coaching classes, I heard new fresh interns come in and say, “I was raped so I want to help the raped.” It’s a great grassroot philosophy and when it works, it works great. And when it doesn’t work, it hurts other people. I would try to explain to interns ‘when’ they would really be able to EFFECTIVELY give back but many didn’t want to hear me….if they wanted to do it, it must be time to do it. When it matters more that you just do it than if you do it safely and effectively, then it’s probably not about the victim and more about your own woundedness that still needs healing.

They would volunteer to run an abuse group and the first story that hit too close to home or sounded like their own trauma, they ended up in a melt down–crying in the group they were suppose to lead. They would go home and have night mares or flash backs or become so preoccupied they could no
longer function well.

We call this Vicarious Trauma or Secondary PTSD–when PTSD becomes reactivated from working or helping too soon after their own trauma OR (like in 9/11) when so much over exposure to other people’s pain causes symptoms of PTSD they didn’t previously have. (For more info on reactivated PTSD, see my chapter on PTSD in my book Counseling Victims of Violence.)

Jumping in too early leads to reactivation of PTSD, career burn out (such as being in and out of the coaching field in only a couple of years), or the helper becoming so re-engrossed in their own trauma that they end up acting more like the people they are trying to help…they tell their own stories in too much detail in group, they go home re-traumatized as if they told their own story but didn’t, they become reactivated emotionally, physically, spiritually and sexually,  their startle reflex is increased, their sleep is disrupted, their irritability is high, they are TOO invested in helping other people change their lives, they believe they can ‘ save or fix’ someone else, they invest too much of their personal or family time in other people’s problems, they feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of helping others, they neglect their own self care, family, and their own emotional and spiritual needs amd  they become encased in a Messiah-Complex.

If this was happening to a professional mental health counselor, we would call this an “impaired practioner” and they might be put on a hiatus for R&R. If you are a volunteer and you act this way, you get the  Volunteer of The Year Award and are rewarded for burning yourself out. In too many self help areas, vicarious trauma is applauded and held as a standard of devotion to a cause instead of an unbalanced act of self neglect.

We need people in our organizations who WANT to give back. We need them to be healed enough that they actually HAVE something to give back (which is why I leary of online forums run by survivors who might not be in the greatest emotional shape themselves). Gauging your own self health may be subjective…Am I ready? is a great self exploratory question. Because at the heart of all of us who want to give back robustly, we want to do it with a right motive (giving not expecting to get anything back from extremely wounded people) AND with a healthy mental health that allows us to listen with out triggers and to help without burn out.

If you feel you are ready, there are lots of great places to help.  Go work at a women’s organization–answer the office phones, help with a fund raiser, work in the office, pick up donations. Get your feet wet and stay around the issue you want to work in and see how you do. Don’t offer to answer the crisis phone line if  you are only a few months out of your own crisis relationship. That isn’t realistic.

Recovery from abuse is sslllooowwww…it takes longer than you think it does. But you probably have skills you CAN use now–in other ways. When I was too burned out to be of help to anyone, I knew I could plate food at a homeless shelter and offer a smile. I could do that much at that time. Do what you can, stay healthy yourself, continue to work on your own recovery–recovery isn’t an event it’s a life style and the opportunity to help others will continue to present itself. It’s just what happens when the hurt heals and the hurt helps others.

If you know you are ready give the best of your self to a women’s organization in your own community.  Don’t volunteer to distract yourself from your necessary healing. Volunteer when you’ve achieved a healthy, strong recovery and can maintain it.  If we can help you in your recovery, we’re here to help you strengthen so you too can pass it forward.

(**Information on your recovery is in the award winning Women Who Love Psychopaths, also taught during retreats in the months of Feb and August, in 1:1 sessions during January, March, May and September or in phone sessions.)

Ponerology 101: Psychopathy at Nuremberg – Part III

Be sure to check the article index page for this column to read other parts of this article.

As a German-speaking officer and psychologist responsible for interrogating prisoners of war, Gilbert was given unprecedented and unlimited access to the defendants; as he put it, “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove the fascist mind”.8 Facing trial were top-position Nazis such as Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess; Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg; Reichsminister for armaments and munitions, Albert Speer; SS-Colonel and commander of Auschwitz Rudolf Höss; and Reichsfeldmarschall, head of the Luftwaffe, and president of the Reichstag, Hermann Göring. The Nazi war criminals held in Nuremburg provided the first opportunity for psychologists and psychiatrists to study key members of a corrupt and criminal political regime. Unfortunately, as we’ve already seen, it was a short-lived opportunity.

So what were Gilbert’s conclusions, and what was so dangerous about them that they had to be marginalized, destroyed and misrepresented? Before I quote some of the most important ones, it helps to see what others were saying about the Nazis at the time.

Prior to Gilbert’s arrival, chief of psychiatry for the European Theatre of Operations Douglas M. Kelley had access to the prisoners for a brief period of five months and wrote of his experiences and conclusions in his book 22 Cells in Nuremberg, published in 1947. Like Hannah Arendt, who later covered the trial of Adolph Eichmann in Israel and coined the term “the banality of evil” to describe Eichmann’s seeming normality, nonchalance and apathy, Kelley saw the Nazis as basically ordinary people caught up in the machinery of military orders and bureaucracy. Unable to find any signs of obvious pathology in the defendants, he labeled them “sane” and deemed Nazism a strictly “socio-cultural disease”.9 The psychopaths, occupying that nebulous middle ground between sanity and madness, thus flew under the radar of Kelley’s inquiring eye. In short, Kelley was duped by a collective mask of sanity, the mendacity of which he could not fathom.

While Kelley missed the diagnosis of psychopathy (in his view, common now, everyone is just a different degree of “normal”), he did make some prescient observations:

Strong, dominant, aggressive, egocentric personalities like Göring, differing from the normal chiefly in their lack of conscience, are not rare. They can be found anywhere in the country [i.e. the United States] – behind big desks deciding big affairs as businessmen, politicians, racketeers.10

Significantly, he also wrote that such personalities “could be duplicated in any country of the world today” and that “there are undoubtedly certain individuals who would willingly climb over the corpses of one half of the people of the United States, if by so doing, they could thereby be given control over the other half”.11 Today, we’re seeing just how true this statement is.

Gilbert was more descriptive:

… by inculcating fear and hostility toward enemy groups and by encouraging the persecution of scapegoats it helps to constrict human empathy and ultimately “desensitizes” an increasing number of individuals to extreme aggression. This constriction of affect, combined with the militaristic “categorical imperative” and the ideological restriction of reality-testing, produces organized irrational hostility which is not only unlimited in its destructive potential but precipitates a self-destructive reaction. … the tendency of such a system is clear: the crippling of human [conscience] and reality-testing, which allow the irrational and psychopathic to become the norm, and the normal individual to become an unthinking member of a society regimented for irrational aggression. 12

Interestingly, Kelley established a strong rapport with Göring, the creator of the Gestapo and concentration camps, taken by his intelligence, charm, “courage”, and image as a family man, in other words, some of the very qualities mistaken by many corporate employers as good “leadership qualities”. Kelley even committed suicide in 1958 using the same method Göring used the day before his scheduled execution – by swallowing a cyanide capsule.13 Cleckley once remarked that his secretaries could always tell which of his patients were psychopaths – they were the only ones who could convince him to lend them money – and it seems that Kelley, too, fell under the sway of a smooth manipulator. This is not to suggest that either Cleckley or Kelley were not insightful enough, but rather sharply emphasizes the abilities of a “good” psychopath!

Gilbert, on the other hand, called a spade a spade. He diagnosed Göring as an “amiable” and “narcissistic” psychopath.14 In his many conversations with Göring, Gilbert was able to make several insightful and often entertaining – although equally disturbing – observations about him, which are recounted in his book. Because the book is rare, I have compiled some of the most telling anecdotes and direct quotes illustrating Göring’s psychopathy.

© USHMM Photo Archives
Herman Göring.
Portrait of a Political Psychopath

Göring presented himself as impulsive, egocentric, aggressive, sensation seeking, unable to tolerate frustration, superficially charming, glib, remorseless, and callous – all the hallmarks of psychopathy. He showed insensitivity to danger, admitting “he just never believed that any harm could really befall him”; and sadistic aggression for which “[his] father’s punishments proved to be of no avail.” His mother allegedly stated, “Hermann will either be a great man or a great criminal!” Göring’s first memory, related to Gilbert, was that of “bashing his mother in the face with both fists when she came to embrace him after a prolonged absence, at the age of three.” As a child playing soldiers with his peers, he would similarly bash the heads of anyone questioning his leadership to “let them know damn quick who was boss.”15

As Gilbert described, Göring had “a ruthlessly aggressive personality”, “an emotional insensitivity and perverted humor which were at once the seeds of outward physical boldness and of moral depravity”.16 However, he “presented a front of utter amiability and good-humored bravado”, i.e. a charming “mask of sanity” which he used whenever it suited his purpose. He received a very high IQ score of 138 and “Being led to believe that he had the highest I.Q. among the Nazi war criminals [at Nuremberg] he praised the excellent discrimination of American psychometric methods. When he [later] heard that Schacht and Seyss-Inquart had outdone him on the I.Q. exam, he scorned the unreliability of the test.” However, Gilbert observed that his intelligence was more characterized by “superficial and pedestrian realism, rather than brilliantly creative intelligence.”17

As a young man, he naturally joined the military, as it provided an outlet for his aggression, tendency to domination, and showmanship. Aware of the nature of the military hierarchy, he was rigidly subservient to his superiors, knowing that “he would some day be able to demand the same from his inferiors.” Just like a modern corporate psychopath, Göring identified those with whom he needed to ingratiate himself (e.g. officer-instructors at the academy) and those he could get away with treating disdainfully (e.g. civilian teachers). “Göring explained quite simply … that the officers could punish you, while the civilians could only threaten you or, what was even sillier, appeal to your moral sense.” The model of a corrupt politician, Göring took bribes for tax-exemption and successfully managed his “business interests” (e.g. arms dealing). Gilbert observed, “during World War I Göring made the dangerous and fateful discovery that war could bring both glory and profit to one who was sufficiently reckless, unscrupulous and amiable.” As Göring himself said to Gilbert, “The idea of democracy was absolutely repulsive to me … I joined the party precisely because it was revolutionary, not because of the ideological stuff. Other parties had made revolutions, so I figured I could get in on one too!”18


  1. Ibid., xii.
  2. D. Kelley, 22 Cells in Nuremberg: A Psychiatrist Examines the Nazi War Criminals (New York: Greenberg, 1947), 12.
  3. Ibid., 171.
  4. Quoted in Brunner, op cit., 240.
  5. Gilbert, op cit., 309.
  6. Brunner, op cit., 242.
  7. McCord and McCord, The Psychopath (New York: D. Van Nostrand., 1964), 34-35.
  8. Gilbert, op cit., 84 – 88.
  9. Ibid., 109, 88.
  10. Ibid., 107-8.
  11. Ibid., 89-93.

We will continue the discussion of psychopathy in our next article in this series!

Understanding the Benefits of Mediation in Divorce – Part I

It is the New Year and you are weighing your options to file for a divorce.  I suggest a less costly and time consuming alternative is to hire a mediator.

What is a mediator? It is a neutral person. They do not take sides and they are not there to be your marriage therapist. Their goal is to assist you by removing the drama and tension often associated with a long drawn out court battle. In fact, they are not even allowed to give you legal advice. The mediator begins, by meeting each party separately. You fill out questions and provide financial information. In addition, you list concerns over custody and parenting issues.

After the initial meeting, you will then meet with the mediator together and work out issues so that you can come up with an agreement that serves you both. That agreement is then submitted to the courts for final review usually by a judge. (States vary on this, so please check your local statues.)

The goal of mediation is to not place any blame in the marriage, but rather promote and plan for a healthy future for you, your spouse, and your children. You create the divorce agreement between the two of you with the assistance of the mediator not the courts.

Before you say, “I am not interested in doing that, I want to hire a lawyer,” you should seek consultation with a lawyer to understand your options. A lawyer can review the documents drawn up by a mediator and make changes and suggestions before it is submitted to the courts.
Have you ever sat in on a divorce trial? The answer most likely is no. Before you make that all important-life changing decision, why don’t you go your local courthouse to family court or domestic relations (whatever it may be called in your area) and sit through a morning or afternoon of court calls and/or hearings of others going through a divorce.

It is not a pretty site, especially if there is a lot of tension between the divorcing parties, the lawyers, and the judge. As you view the court process, try and picture yourself sitting there with your lawyer and your spouse sitting with their lawyer. Observe the fact that these two intelligent people have hired complete strangers to argue what can become “unimportant stuff” and a court reporter is taking down every word said for the court that will then become public record. Do you really want to participate in ending your marriage that way? Some of those people in court have been there for years or more and still are not divorced.

EMDR and The Metaphor of Transformation

What the butterfly knows is transformation and the metaphor they provide is one that survivors can use to see their own transforming recovery.

The beginning of the year is a liminal time and like the butterfly in a cocoon, you are out of one life experience but not yet in another.  You are betwixt and between not knowing what the new year will bring. This is a time of possibilities and can be, your time of transformation!

If you can identify with any experience described in The Institute’s newsletters or magazine, then you have been called to the adventure of recovery.  This year EMDR can help you release the burden of pain so you can embark on your own recovery.

Survivors are curious ‘what’ EMDR  ‘does,’ what is incorporated in a normal EMDR session, and why it claims to be able to help with trauma, intrusive thoughts, and other aftermath effects of Pathological Love Relationships. Let’s see what is involved in EMDR…

EMDR helps you through a process called Desensitization. The call to recovery is usually signaled by the appearance of enormous emotion and can be a mixture of sadness, hope and fascination or it can be grief, fear or anger about betrayal. Most certainly the Pathological Love Relationships has left its mark upon your emotions.  How these painful feelings and symptoms get processed is through what is called Desensitization.  The technique used in Desensitization is called BLS or Bi-Lateral Stimulation.

The process in Bilateral Stimulation (BLS) is that a therapist uses one or more of the following techniques. They have you

  • Follow a light with your eyes
  • Follow the therapist’s finger movements with your eyes
  • Feel the therapist tapping rhythms on your hands
  • Or by listening to auditory tones that the therapist plays on a headset

During these sessions, you are encouraged to let whatever imagery, feelings, sensations or memories rise to the surface without trying to repress them.

When these images, feelings, sensations or memories come up in session, you are asked to focus on three things:

  • The image of the incident
  • The negative belief that goes with it
  • And where you feel these emotions or sensations in your body

Focusing on those three elements coupled with which ever BLS technique that is being used, intensifies the level of response and stimulates the natural tendency of the brain’s information processing system to move toward mental health. In other words, it helps the mind ‘digest’ unprocessed information that was causing emotional (or physical) symptoms. EMDR removes the pain of the trauma that has been blocking your ability to move forward in life (or in Pathological Love Relationships, move forward with releasing the pathological).

At the end of each BLS set, the therapist asks, “What do you get now?”  You are encouraged to report any feelings, images or thoughts you are aware of at that point.  The therapist encourages you to continue to report whatever comes to you without discarding anything as ‘unimportant’.

Each target memory that is focused on is like the head of an octopus.  The tentacles are memory channels containing other related experiences.  Sets of BLS are applied to each new awareness or related experience until each channel is cleared out.

If there are new sensations, awarenesses or insights accessed, the therapist will usually say “Go with that” and will go through another BLS set.  In this way the clinician encourages further processing of the material until the S.U.D. (Subjective Unit of Disturbance) level is “0” or “1” (on a scale of 0-10 with 10 being the highest level of disturbance). This is continued until there are no new awarenesses.

At the end of each BLS set, the therapist says, “Let it go and take a deep breath.”  It is important that you are aware that whatever memories, thoughts or sensations come up during EMDR they are old stuff, it is not happening in the present moment. You are safe in the present

Information processing in EMDR is like getting on a train and watching the scenery of thoughts, images or emotions pass by the train window of your awareness.  Each stop of the train is a new plateau of information where dysfunctional material can link up with appropriate, useful and self-enhancing information.  Your view isn’t completely functional until the train reaches the “last stop” of fully adaptive information and there are no new awarenesses.

Unburdened and desensitized from the pain of the past, you can emerge from the cocoon with new beliefs and new awareness, empowered to take flight! You will have experienced the transforming power of EMDR!

So, this new year, what will it be ?  The pain of the past or the beginning of a new life?  The choice is yours. Contact The Institute for more information about our EMDR Retreat in 2011. Space is limited so reserve your healing time now.

For more information on EMDR

  • Go to, click on “Find an EMDR Clinician,” put in your city and state.
  • Read the list and make an appointment with an EMDR trained psychotherapist today or make plans to attend the EMDR Retreat in 2011.


Change is redemptive. It’s transformational and it’s healing. No wonder not any of those things happen to pathologicals–they don’t change so they don’t redeem, or transform or heal. But for those negatively effected by the pathological, change is your only hope. Without the transformation of change you are hopelessly stuck on what feels like the karmic treadmill of relational bad choices that just gets worse with each selection.

But change is not only OUR hope, it’s God’s hope too. Why? Because God is the God of Ecology–He recycles everything we live through to make something out of the ‘dung’ of our nasty experiences. He’s invested in what happens to us, in us, and through us. As the original ‘Ecologist’ He always has an eye towards what can be recycled in us for better use because that which is used is not wasted. So our experiences with the pathological that are used to help ourselves first and OTHERS second is not a wasted experience of pain and suffering–it has been transformed into a healing gift for us and others.

This is Psycho-Ecology at it’s best…the good use of our bad psychological experiences. The recycling of our pain and bad choices into insight and help for others.

It recycles:

  • Naivety into prevention
  • Experience into intervention
  • It takes your story and makes it into a book, a support group, a website, or a speech
  • It takes your intrusive thoughts and turns it into a meditation on tape
  • It takes your tears and turns it into a poem
  • It takes lethargy and manifests exercise
  • It takes pain and creates a prayer
  • It creates hope out of hopelessness

Psycho-Ecology is the path of recovery which is why I am discussing this at the beginning of the year when our hopes are always high for what the newness of the new year will bring. The fact is, that which is NOT transformed is stuck. Stuck inside of you, stuck in your life, stuck in your path–stuck in your heart. TRANSFORM IT! That which isn’t redeemed is toxic. Pain that is not redeemed into the gift of hope and life for others is just pain, crammed in your body converting your health into something sick and bad. REDEEM IT! That which isn’t healed by passing it forward is an emotional cancer cell metastisizing in your heart—eating your hope, your future, and your potential healthy relationships. Pass healing forward. HEAL IT!

You have the largest most magnificent Force behind your healing–The God of Economy who will take one bad thing and have it help and bless THOUSANDS. Did you read that–THOUSANDS! He wants your healing so it can be broken, blessed, transformed, and released to others. He multiplies in His economy–so your ONE bad pathological can help many many more women than just you. His plan includes economically using your experience by releasing it to multitudes and includes recycling it from bad to good. That which we don’t use gets wasted. That which is wasted is not transformed and that which isn’t transformed WE ARE VICTIMIZED BY.

I can always tell those women who are going to be recycled and used in Psycho-Ecology in other’s lives. They are searchers–examining every thing they have been through for the opportunity to heal it and use it. They are not lethargically ‘waiting’ for healing to come to them while hyper-focusing on and memorizing every horrid thing the pathological did this week…their eyes are on herself, today, what needs to heal in her, where she will transform this train-wreck of a life into something worth living. These are the women who willing read the books, do coaching, come to a retreat…find every resource and use it to beat out the feeling of victimization that wants to swallow their lives. (Or these women find alternative community resources to help them heal right where they live. When money is a challenge, they use their community resources to help bring healing. They use what they got right where they’re at!) These women are silent powerhouses of potential that when healed are going to ROCK the women’s issues field! I grin to myself and can’t WAIT to see what they allow God to recycle in them.

I’m already seeing it…those that WILL go on to redeem their experiences in their lives and others, those that JUMP on anything that can move their healing forward as they eagerly wait to “pass it forward.” These women are the face of Psycho-Ecology. Their horrible pain is being recycled into something positive. They are the FACES of HOPE in Public Psychopathy Education. They are or will be single-handedly responsible for saving women’s lives. The lives they save through recycling their pain will only be known by The Great Recycler in the end because we never know who we have saved. We only believe we HAVE saved some.

Every single week I get emails from people thanking The Institute for saving their physical, emotional, financial, sexual and/or spiritual lives. The book, the website, the newsletter–something touched them and got them out of the relationship. It’s the most satisfying life mission there is: SAVING A LIFE!

The question is: will you be the next face of Psycho-Ecology? Will your pain teach other women? Will it speak to them? Will it speak to a community through a presentation? Will your pain teach others how to help these women? Will it go into schools, churches, women’s organizations, prisons, jails, and hearts?

Or will it stagnate inside of you producing the most insidious bitterness and paranoia? Change and growth for us is always a choice–a choice that allows the transformation of recycling so nothing is wasted.

The Institute’s mission is Public Psychopathy Education which means every single one of us does SOMETHING for the cause. Each week people contact me asking how to: start a group, come to a retreat, get phone coaching, how to get a workshop in their community, how to be a speaker in their community. The Institute is here to help you heal first so you can help others heal. There is no short cut (here let me tell others how to heal when I haven’t done it myself!). Nope.

There is only one letter differentiation between Nope and Hope. To not only heal but be recycled. Please let us know how we can help you in the new year meet the healing goals you have set for yourself.

(**Information on your recovery is in the award winning Women Who Love Psychopaths, also taught during retreats in the months of Feb and August, in 1:1 sessions during January, March, May and September or in phone sessions.)