Archives for August 2011

Who Does That? Part 1

Part of our goal at The Institute is not only to help survivors heal from the aftermath of a PLR (Pathological Love Relationship), but it is also to help prevent future relationships with pathologicals. In prevention, The Institute helps survivors to spot overt glaring pathology. The overt pathology is easy to identify.

* Few would argue that mothers who drown their children like Susan Smith or Andrea Yates aren’t terribly disordered.

* Those that shoot people they don’t know or commit a drive by shooting like the Beltway Snipers Muhammad and Malvo in the Washington D.C. and Virginia areas clearly have pathological motives.

* Those that sexually abuse children and hide the sexual offender like the Catholic Church are the face of evil.

* Horrendous hate crimes that torture hundreds, thousands, or millions of people like war crimes or the Holocaust are pretty easy to figure that severe pathology is behind the motivation of hate like that.

* Or the deranged that break into homes to beat the elderly for money like Phillip Garrett who terrorized those in assisted living facilities have a notable bent of sheer brutality.

* Terrorists who commit the taking of hostages and psychological torture like the infamous Stockholm Bank Robbery (resulting in the term Stockholm Syndrome) are identifiable as probable psychopaths.

* The rapist who preys on the vulnerable or the type of rapist who rapes a wife in front of her own husband is overtly vile.

* Or the violent anti-socials that are frequent gang members or thugs like James Manley who murdered my father.

* Serial killers like Ted Bundy who raped and killed at least 36 women leave no doubt that he was the worst of the worst psychopaths.

* Or the ordering of killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child like schizophrenic/psychopathic Charlie Manson makes our blood run cold.

* Cult leaders who lead hundreds to death like Jim Jones remind us of the power and persuasion of pathology.

* Chronic re-offending domestic violence abusers like O.J. and Mike Tyson convince us that all DV is not treatable and some abuser brutality increases with each crime and are obviously disordered.

* The babbling grandiosity of narcissism as seen in Charlie Sheen reminds us that even the rich and famous carry and display their pack of pathology for all to see.

* Or the robbing of millions of dollars from thousands of people like Bernie Madoff reminds us that not all pathology is physically violent, some do it with panache and a tie on.

These forms of pathology are recognizable by most of society and many would agree that these people are horribly disordered and probably dangerous for life.

But being able to spot pathology in less overt and even frequently hid, yet equally as damaging acts, is where most of us fall short—even professionals in the criminal justice and mental health systems. It’s also where survivors of PLR’s are likely to trip up yet again since the ‘types’ of behaviors pathologicals perpetrate can vary causing confusion to the unsuspecting, highly tolerant and emotionally understanding survivor.

Low empathy is at the core of a cluster of pathological disorders that correlates to ‘inevitable harm’ when it crosses the paths of others.  Low empathy has its roots in reduced conscience, remorse, and guilt. Without empathy pathologicals find pleasure in harming others. While they might not cackle aloud in public when a dog is hit by a car, they no less live in the shadows of enjoying the physical or emotional destruction of others.

Sadistic, absolutely. But often sadistic behind closed doors, or sheltered reputations, behind factitious names, or online identities.

Why aren’t these pathological disorders better identified? That is the million dollar question since the main judicial, social, and mental systems of our society deal with this particular cluster of pathological disorders day in and day out. Why are they actively dealing with cluster bs? Because these disorders represent the majority of white and blue collar crimes that cataclysmically smash in our lives even if they are never identified as crimes.  The reason society has not cohesively named this cluster of disorders as the center of their focus, is each system has their own view of the ‘behavior’ associated with the pathological’s disorders.

  • Law enforcement calls them the bad guys (if they are even caught)
  • Mental health systems call them patients
  • Domestic violence organizations call them abusers
  • Batterer intervention programs call them perpetrators
  • Criminal defense attorneys call them clients
  • Sexual Assault centers call them rapists or sexual offenders
  • Financial structures call them swindlers
  • The online world calls them trolls
  • Victims call them predators
  • Children and adolescents call them cyber bullies
  • The swindled call them con artists
  • The judicial system calls them criminals (or not, if they are never identified)
  • The church calls them evil or unredeemed
  • The website owner calls them hackers
  • The defamed call them cyber stalkers
  • Parents call them pedophiles
  • Jails calls them inmates
  • Prison calls them high security risks
  • FBI calls them targets and terrorists

As each system deals with their own view of a specific act the person has done, we miss the wide broad category that these people fall under. We miss the bigger implication of what goes with that category. We miss the fact that those who fall under these pathological disorders have largely low, or no, positive treatment outcomes. Each system dealing with a behavior, only sees the person through their own behavioral specialty. Yet we are all talking about the same disorders in action.

When we ask ‘WHO does that?’ we immediately become brothers and sisters in the same battle against pathology. We begin to see the ‘who’ within the act, the disorder that perpetrates these same acts, behaviors, or crimes. It’s the same sub-set of disorders that have different focuses but the same outcome: inevitable harm.

Health Care – Beyond the Quick Fix

Health care professionals and researchers report that traumatized women have more than their share of a variety of chronic diseases and health problems.  Sadly, it is all too common that many of these health issues are either not addressed and/or focused on symptom relief. I think that there are at least two reasons for this.

For starters, there is a woefully limited perception and understanding in this country about the extent and impact of people with personality disorders. In the UK and Canada, there seems to be more awareness, perhaps due to the work of Robert Hare, who is based in British Columbia and has done a great deal of training in Canada and the UK. Therefore, most primary health care providers in the US do not have a clue about a) the existence and prevalence of successful psychopaths and therefore b) the impact of these relationships on a woman’s health. Understandably, these providers attribute stress and or genetics as causes for the women’s physical symptoms.

The second problem, IMO, is that the current paradigm of health care is symptom focused. Diagnostic tests, medications and other treatments are primarily “targeted” at symptom relief. All you have to do is watch TV for a few minutes and there it is: Advertisements for medications-prescriptions and over the counter drugs for colds and the flu, hypertension, allergies, headaches, insomnia, fatigue and low energy, acne, constipation, muscle aches and pains, it is endless.

Yes, we all want a quick fix. But all too often the fix itself is either ineffective and or laden with serious side effects. The alternative health industry sometimes falls into this category, and many of these options are heaven-sent. We now know about the use of Arnica for bruises, Valerian for sleep, and echinacea and high does of Vitamin D for building up the immune system. These alternatives are frequently more effective and less toxic than artificial chemicals, but the focus can remain on treating the symptom, not the underlying causes.

Why is there such an emphasis on symptom reduction? Perhaps because, coming from inside the current medical paradigm, there are very few answers to questions like “Why is my blood pressure so high?” or “Why do I have such bad heart disease?” While there are obviously genetic components, most genetic predispositions require the presence of certain environmental factors before a disease process is triggered.

Readers of this column know the real answer to these questions-because the woman with the symptoms is or has been in a relationship with a disordered person. And that her neurotransmitters, immune and endocrine systems are probably way out of balance. We know that when one or more of these systems is out of balance-(due to stress, diet, environmental factors such as metal allergies, and or genetics) that there is a very high likelihood that one, the other or both are also out of balance. These imbalances are now being considered the primary causes of everything from insomnia to autoimmune disease. Look for further discussion of this topic in my next column.

Most practitioners think inside, and there are exceptions-the current educational, diagnostic and treatment systems which are locked into the old paradigm. It is very, very difficult to find a way out or around that from the inside out. One cannot see what one does not see.

Additionally, to make matters worse, often one treatment leads to another so that the side effects of a surgery, radiation treatment, or a pharmacological intervention snowball. The cycle perpetuates itself. Rarely do you hear the question-what is driving this arthritis? The hypertension?

I think that we are experiencing the beginning of the end of the power of traditional medicine to improve our health. For women who are healing from disordered relationships the need for answers and solutions to health care problems, some of which are very serious-

  • self-doubt about the reasons for health problems
  • feelings of unworthiness rated to seeking care, and/or
  • child-like dependency on health care providers

no longer serve your best interests.

What then? Knowledge is power. Read. Ask questions. The incredible rise in the last decade of alternative healthcare-integrative medicine, holistic care, demonstrates both the waning utility of the old paradigm and willingness to take responsibility for one’s own health care. I can think of no greater empowerment for women formally in disordered relationships than their taking charge of their emotional and physical health.