Archives for 2011

Grieving the Pathological Loss, Part I

Over and over again women are shocked to find out how bad it is and how horrible they feel leaving a pathological partner. As horrendous as the relationships has been, as hurt as they have become at his hands, and the emotional/physical/financial/sexual/spiritual cost it takes to heal and asks, “Why in the world am I so sad and in so much grief?”

‘Loving’ a pathological (not just a psychopath but any person with a pathological disorder) seems to produce a very intense attachment to the relationship. Most women report that loving them is nothing like anything else she ever experienced. They indicate that it’s more intense than other relationships, more mind-games that keep her very confused and unable to detach, and a kind of hypnotic mesmerizing that keeps her in the relationship LONG after she knows she should have left.

Because of this intense bonding, mental confusion, pathological attachment and a hypnotic connection her grief is likely to be huge. This is often confusing to her because there has been so much damage to her by the time she leaves she thinks she should be ‘relieved’ to simply be out of the relationship. But when the paralyzing grief mounts, she is aggravated with herself for being in so much pain and grief over the ending of something so ‘sick.’Lots of women are confused as to ‘whom’ or ‘what’ it is they are actually grieving. Grief can seem so ‘illusive’ and a haunting feeling that is like a gray ghost but can’t be nailed down to actually ‘what’ the loss is. But the ending of any relationship (even a pathological one) is a loss. Within the ending of the relationship is a loss of lots of elements:

  • Loss of the ‘dream’ of partnership or togetherness
  • Loss of a shared future together, as well as the loss that maybe he would someday ‘get it together’ or actually ‘love you’ of the dream of being loved (even if he was technically not capable of truly loving anyone)
  • Loss of your plans for the future-maybe that was buying a home, having children, or taking a big trip
  • Loss of shared parenting (if that occurred)
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of being touched or held
  • Loss of sex

Although a lot of women may actually see a lot of these hopes and dreams as ‘illusions’ it still constitutes a loss and women are often surprised at the kinds of things they find themselves grieving over.

Still more losses:

  • Some women lose their pets in the break up, or their house or career.
  • Some lose their children, their friends, her relatives or his.
  • Some have to relocate to get away from him because of his dangerousness so they lose their community, roots, and home.

No matter what it is you perceived you no longer have-it’s a loss and when you have loss you have grief.

People spend a lot of time trying to stay on the perimeter of grief-trying to avoid it and stay away from the pain. But grief is the natural way to resolve conflict and loss. It’s the body’s way of riding the mind and soul of ongoing pain. It’s an attempt at re-balancing one’s mind and life. Grief is a natural process that is GIVEN to you as a pain management tool. Without grief there would not be a way of moving through pain. You would always just remain stuck in the feelings and would always feel the same.

Here’s a few tips:

  1. Don’t avoid grief. While no one LIKES grief it’s important to allow yourself to feel the feelings and the pain because to suppress it, deny it, or avoid it will mean you will never work through it. I don’t know anyone who WANTS to live in this kind of pain.
  2. There is only one way through the pain of grief and that’s through the middle of it. There are no short cuts, quick routes or other ways ‘around’ the pain and grief. There is only through it—like a wilderness. But on the other side of it is the promise of healing, hope and a future.
  3. Don’t judge your grief. What hurts, hurts. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you (he was horrible, why am I grieving HIM?)-it’s your body’s way of moving through it so let it.
  4. Get help if you need it-counseling, group, medication, a grief group-whatever it is you need.
  5. Don’t set a predetermined ‘time’ that you think you should be ‘over it.’ It probably takes longer than you think it will or you want it to. But that’s how it is-grief takes its time.
  6. Grief can look like depression, anxiety, PTSD or a lot of other types of symptoms and sometimes it’s hard to know where one starts and the other one ends. That’s because often you aren’t having one or the other, you are having some of both. Have a professional assess that for you.
  7. Journal your losses, talk about them, tell others, get help when you need it. (We’re here too!!). Most of all, know that grief is a God-sent natural way of working through so you can move on.

Grieving the Pathological Loss

Over and over again women are shocked to find out how bad it is and how horrible they feel leaving
a pathological partner. As horrendous as the relationships has been, as hurt as they have become at his hands, and the emotional/physical/financial/sexual/spiritual cost it takes to heal…she asks, “Why in the world am I so sad and in so much grief?”

‘Loving’ a pathological (not just a psychopath but any person with a pathological disorder) seems to produce a very intense attachment to the relationship. Most women report that ‘loving’ them is nothing like anything else she ever experienced. They indicate that it’s more intense than other relationships, more mind-games that keep her very confused and unable to detach, and a kind of hypnotic mesmerizing that keeps her in the relationship LONG after she knows she should have left.

Because of this intense bonding, mental confusion, pathological attachment and a hypnotic connection
her grief is likely to be huge. This is often confusing to her because there has been so much damage to
her by the time she leaves she thinks she should be ‘relieved’ to simply be out of the relationship. But
when the paralyzing grief mounts, she is aggravated with herself for being in so much pain and grief over the ending of something so ‘sick.’

Lots of women are confused as to ‘whom’ or ‘what’ it is they are actually grieving. Grief can seem so
‘illusive’ – a haunting feeling that is like a grey ghost but can’t be nailed down to actually ‘what’ the loss is. But the ending of any relationship (even a pathological one) is a loss. Within the ending of the relationship is a loss of lots of elements.

  • There is a loss of the ‘dream’ of partnership or togetherness.
  • The loss of a shared future together
  • As well as the loss that maybe he would some day ‘get it together’ or actually ‘love you.’
  • When the relationship ends, so does the dream of being loved (even if he was technically not capable
    of truly loving anyone).
  • There is a loss of your plans for the future—maybe that was buying a home, having
    children, or taking a big trip.
  • There is the loss of shared parenting (if that occurred).
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of being touched or held
  • Loss of sex

Although a lot of women may actually see a lot of these hopes and dreams as ‘illusions’ it still constitutes
a loss and women are often surprised at the kinds of things they find themselves grieving over.

Still more losses:

  • Some women lose their pets in the break up, or their house or career.
  • Some lose their children, their friends, her relatives or his.
  • Some have to relocate to get away from him because of his dangerousness so they lose their community, roots, and home.

No matter what it is you perceived you no longer have…it’s a loss and when you have loss you have grief. People spend a lot of time trying to stay on the perimeter of grief—trying to avoid it and stay away from the pain. But grief is the natural way to resolve conflict and loss. It’s the body’s way of riding the mind and soul of ongoing pain. It’s an attempt at rebalancing one’s mind and life. Grief is a natural process that is GIVEN to you as a pain management tool. Without grief there would not be a way of moving through pain. You would always just remain stuck in the feelings and would always feel the same.

Here’s a few tips:

1. Therefore, don’t avoid grief. While no one LIKES grief it’s important to allow yourself to feel the feelings and the pain because to suppress it, deny it, or avoid it will mean you will never work through it. I don’t know anyone who WANTS to live in this kind of pain.

2. There is only one way through the pain of grief and that’s through the middle of it. There are no short cuts, quick routes or other ways ‘around’ the pain and grief. There is only through it—like a wilderness. But on the other side of it is the promise of healing, hope and a future.

3. Don’t judge your grief. What hurts, hurts. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you (he was horrible, why am I grieving HIM?)—it’s your body’s way of moving through it so let it.

4. Get help if you need it—counseling, group, medication, a grief group—whatever it is you need.

5. Don’t set a predetermined ‘time’ that you think you should be ‘over it.’ It probably takes longer than you think it will or you want it to. But that’s how it is—grief takes it’s time.

6. Grief can look like depression, anxiety, PTSD or a lot of other types of symptoms and sometimes it’s
hard to know where one starts and the other one ends. That’s because often you aren’t having one or the other, you are having some of both. Have a professional assess that for you.

7. Journal your losses, talk about them, tell others, get help when you need it. (We’re here too!!). Most of all, know that grief is a God-send natural way of working through so you can move on.

(**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.)

How Pathological Is ‘Too’ Pathological?

In other words, ‘How sick is TOO sick?’

One of the characteristics of women who have been in pathological relationships is that they are very ‘forgiving’ and ‘tolerant’ of less than stellar mental health qualities in their intimate relationships. That’s because the women have very elevated traits of compassion, empathy, tolerance, and acceptance according to our research and to name but a few. These are excellent and humanitarian traits to have….except in a relationship with a pathological person in which these traits create ‘super glue’ that keeps you in a relationship you should NOT be tolerating, accepting, or being empathetic about. The problem is women often don’t realize that someone can simply have ‘narcissistic traits’ or ‘psychopathic traits’ and still be a danger to her in a relationship.

That’s because it doesn’t take much pathology to dramatically and negatively effect her and the relationship. It only takes a ‘drop’ of abnormal psychology to really screw up the relationship and the others around him. This is why even ‘just traits’ are important to identify. ‘Just traits’ means he has SOME of the criteria for, lets say narcissism or psychopathy, but not enough to fully qualify for the full diagnosis. But let’s not split hairs here…a few traits are enough to qualify for ‘too’ pathological. It DOES matter that he is a ‘tad bit’ pathological because any of the traits of pathology are negative and harmful.

Would it matter that he had a little or a lot of ‘low empathy?’ No–the end result is the same–low empathy and the pain he causes others. ‘Little-to-None’ is almost none–it doesn’t matter if he is a little unempathetic or a lot. Not being able to have empathy is the bottom line.

Would it matter if he had a little or a lot of poor impulse control? I doubt it if his poor impulse control effected his sexual acting out, his drug use, or his wild spending habits. A little goes a long way in poor impulse control.

Would it matter if he had a little or a lot of rebellion against laws, rules, or authority? Probably not…even just a little bit of rebellion has the propensity of getting him arrested or fired, ignoring a restraining order or refusing to pay child support. How about ‘just pathological enough’ to really screw up your children with his distorted and warped world view, his chronic inconsistency, his wavering devotion to you or them, his role modeling of his addictions, or his display of ‘the rules aren’t for me’ attitude?

I watch women ‘look’ for loopholes to minimize the pathology he DOES have instead of looking for ways he does meet criteria for the pathology he does have and find reasons to get out. Instead, they find reasons ‘it’s not THAT bad.’ But just a little bit of a ‘bad boy’ is probably too pathological…too sick for a normal relationship. Since pathology is the ‘inability to sustain positive change, grow to any meaningful depth, or develop insight about how one’s behavior effects others’ even just ‘some’ pathology is too much. Because if he can’t sustain change (you know…all those things he promises to change about himself) or grow or have insight about how and why he hurts you…he’s TOO pathological–TOO sick–TOO disordered to have anything that resembles a normal relationship. Why would you ‘want’ a relationship that has NO capacity to grow, change, or meet your needs?

Bad boy enticement is very real…that edginess he has makes many women highly attracted to him. But beyond the edginess can be anything from ‘just traits’ to ‘full blown pathology.’ Nonetheless, women must learn to draw a line in the sand that even ‘just’ traits is enough to guarantee their unhappiness and harm in the hands of a guy who is ‘too pathological’ for her!

(**Information about pathology and 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.)

Neurofeedback Training and PTSD – Part II

In January’s column, we looked at neurofeedback training as a method to calm the brain and reduce a wide-ranging variety of symptoms associated with PTSD.

A person with PTSD has the unfortunate challenge of living with constant hormonal and neurotransmitter disruption. Why is this the case, even when the trauma is in the past? We know from Sandra’s work and that of others in the field of personality disorders, that the trauma does not necessarily stop once the “relationship” is over.

There are many legitimate source s of ongoing re-traumatization for the person formally involved with a disordered individual. For example, legal matters, shared custody of children, the process of rebuilding a life, all contain unique triggers.

But how can we understand the extent to which the person’s body continues to be in overdrive, even when these triggers are reduced? One answer lies in an understanding of what happens physically to a person under constant stress and or trauma:

Because the cell membranes in various parts of the nervous system become literally worn over time and unresponsive, which means the normal shut off process in those experiencing constant stress is not working. Thus , we have a biochemical and nervous system on overload, spinning down into further and further dis-regulation in the absence of effective interventions.

This is one reason why we see neurotransmitter and cortisol imbalances, and imbalances in brain functioning in PTSD. The brainwaves of persons with PTSD are often characterized by a great deal of activity in the zones related to anxiety, intense emotions, overthinking (obsessing)  and hypervigilance. There is usually reduced activity, and therefore reduced functioning, in areas associated with memory, focus, analytic capability, and the ability to relax.

The regions associated with sleep are usually disrupted, as is the ability to “be in the body.” The implications for ongoing emotional, physical and interpersonal problems are clear.

Neurofeedback training, which takes about 30-40 minutes a session, can help the nervous system to get back into balance. Most clients find some relief  after 2-3 sessions, and may do as many as 30 or 40 sessions over the course of a year. Many find that about 20 sessions makes a big difference in their ability to get on with their lives.

The cost varies from region to region, as does the availability of insurance coverage. The site below will help you find a practitioner using  geographic locations.

http://www.adnf.org/neurofeedback_directory.htm

He Seems Happy Now, Will I EVER Be Happy Too?

There are a lot of distortions that go on about the pathological man’s ability to ‘be happy.’ One of the issues of permanent personality disorders and pathology is that at the core of them is unhappiness. That is why they have so many angry outbursts, attitude problems, and failed relationships.

Some of them ‘fake’ the external appearance of ‘happy-go-lucky’ or act as if their lives are fine. Partners need to look below the ‘presentation’ and question what he’s showing at face value. Survivors fall for it the first time by getting in the relationship with him and then fall for it a second time when believing his external presentation of his ‘life without you in it.’

I chanted it like a mantra so I’ll continue to say it,

“Nothing changes in pathology because it’s hard-wired to not change.”

So if he was horrible with you, he’ll be horrible with her (eventually). If he was at the core of himself, miserable/unhappy/unsuccessful NOTHING will change. Go deeper than looking at this flash-in-the-pan faux presentation that he WANTS you to see and then feel bad about because you are not with him. Psychopathology does not change and neuroscience continues to teach us why his hardwired brain doesn’t allow for change. If you don’t believe me, at least believe science. His change is not going to happen now and not simply because he is with someone else. Pathology is not a light switch you turn off and on at will.

The real question is will YOU ever be happy again? Survivors misread their own ability to be happy in the future because they are all wrapped up in STILL watching him, rating him, gauging his happiness against hers.

A recovery question is: Why are you STILL watching him? What in the world does he have to do with YOUR future happiness?

You know why watching him effects your own ability to recover and find happiness? Because the longer you watch him the more intrusive the thoughts become, the more ping-pong brain of cognitive dissonance you keep, the more miserable you stay, and the longer you postpone your own recovery and joy.

When survivors are being honest about what they fear most, it is that he will go on and have this fabulous life and ‘be good to another woman’ and you will never meet anyone. Since you do want to eventually meet someone healthy to love…what healthy guy wants to be with a woman who is obsessed with a pathological man? Whose eyes are not on THEIR new emerging relationship but on what he’s doing next? Instead of your eyes being focused forward on the future, you have your neck turned backwards looking at her past and what he’s doing. What does new Mr. Healthy see–you filled with regret and revenge–not really good material for a new relationship, eh?

It IS understandable why you are angry that he ‘appears’ to be happy with someone else and you are not. It is also understandable after what you have lived through that you ‘wonder’ if you’ll always pick
pathologicals, if you’re too damaged to ever have a healthy relationship, if you are even capable of feeling anything other than intrusive thoughts moreless, joy….These are totally normal questions considering what you’ve been through. But finding those answers for yourself is not found in the glancing over your shoulder at him. There’s no going back.

‘Drag an ax and clear a path’ into your future. Work on yourself (let us help you!) so you understand ‘why’ you choose someone like that, ‘how’ you ignored so many red flags, and ‘understand’ your own personality traits that leave you vulnerable for relationships like that. There is plenty to heal from! Then, when you’ve done all the work, LIVE. Don’t search it out on internet dating sites where PREDATORS live. Just live a joyful life and allow that health, vibrance, and joy to direct you. It’s when you aren’t seeking that you find that which you have been waiting for. Joyce Brown, my mentor for this work said, “A man is not the ‘cake’ — a relationship is only the icing on the cake of a good life.”

Heal you, get a great life…and the rest will fall into place. My mother when she was dying said “I’m not afraid to die because I’ve lived a great life. I’ve had so much fun and I’ve been so loved. Who could ask for more?”

Let us know if our phone counselors or our retreats can help you heal so you can reclaim your joy!

(**Information on pathology and how to recover 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.)

Understanding the Benefits of Mediation in Divorce – Part II

A mediator does not represent either party. Rather, a mediator creates a cooperative environment when both you and your spouse can work together to reach an agreement on the terms of your divorce. Both you and your spouse have the right to also consult individually with an attorney during this process. Once the agreement is reached, the mediator will write up the agreement into a document where both you and your spouse will then be able to file the document with additional court papers to obtain a divorce.

This process only works if both you and your spouse are willing to make a full financial disclosure, and if you both are willing to make a good faith effort to reach an agreement.

The benefits of mediation are:

Lower cost because this process is less time consuming. The amount of time involved to reach an agreement varies based on the level of conflict, the number of issues and the complexity of both your finances. A typical mediation where both you and your spouse agree typically takes approximately 10 hours.

Less painful for your children because you avoid the long court process and litigation involved with ending your marriage.

Mediated settlements can be prepared by a lawyer or a certified divorce mediator.

The benefit to a mediator is when you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all issues, and you simply are looking for the most inexpensive and yet professional completing the necessary paperwork to finalize your divorce.

Hiring a Qualified Mediator:

  • Call your local County Clerk’s Office and ask for a list of mediators in your area.
  • Check the yellow pages under “Divorce Mediation”
  • Make sure whomever you choose has been mediating for at least 3 years.
  • Ask for a list of references.
  • Ask for a fee agreement in writing once you have selected someone.
  • Consult with a lawyer before an agreement is finalized to have them review and make any changes to the document.

Ending a Relationship is not an easy road to travel. It is survivable only when you are able to do the work necessary to move on with your life. You will make it.

Ponerology 101: Psychopathy at Nuremberg – Part IV

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

In short, Göring exploited the ideology and structure of Nazism for his own personal ambition, greed, and sadistic need for power. And yet, he still gave seemingly blind support to Hitler. Why? This is a question that puzzles many psychopathy researchers and even causes them to doubt the possibility that psychopaths could ever maintain a stable position in any political or corporate system. After all, psychopaths are notoriously self-serving and impulsive. They are loyal to no one and quick to turn on their so-called “associates” and “friends”. But for intelligent psychopaths like Göring, subservience to superiors is not loyalty per se. It is mere lip service that allows them to reap the benefits of their environment. Think of Karl Rove and George Bush – Rove played his part of cunning underling because that’s where he gained the most benefits. Just as psychopaths will often abide by prison rules to secure parole or lighter sentences, even feigning religious conversion, they will work within a political structure like Nazism because they have an interest in doing so. Whereas in a normal society psychopaths are persecuted by non-psychopaths because of their antisocial attitudes and behaviors, in a system like the Nazi dictatorship, the rules change. In a society with no higher authority than themselves, they have an interest in maintaining it, even if that means sucking up to a delusional fanatic.

However, while alliances are created and maintained in such a system, there is another motivation at work. Self-promotion and the resulting backstabbing is just as much a part of the game. And Göring was an expert. At Nuremburg, he repeatedly showed a typical ease of yarn spinning and shirking of responsibility to others, demonstrating the real nature of his so-called “loyalties”. He was caught in several obvious contradictions and lies during his testimony and was quick to denounce his fellow Nazis, shouting frequent outbursts such as the following:

“Roehm! Don’t talk to me about that dirty homosexual swine! That was the real clique of perverted bloody revolutionists! They are the ones who made the Party look like a pack of hoodlums, with their wild orgies and beating up Jews on the street and smashing windows! … What a gang of perverted bandits that SA was! It is a damn good thing I wiped them out or they would have wiped us out!”

As Gilbert points out, however, “These were, of course, the very same hoodlums whom Göring had trained in street-fighting”.19 Sounds a bit like the American pundits who lambaste the very “Islamic terrorists” they funded and trained in the ’70s and ’80s, doesn’t it? Alliances are only alliances when they’re convenient. As soon as they’re not, all bets are off. Gilbert was able to observe Göring’s manipulative “divide and conquer” modus operandi in operation:

It was interesting to compare notes with some of the other officers who were seeing him at this time, to see how he was maligning the psychologist to the psychiatrist, and vice versa, both chaplains to the psychologist and psychiatrist, and vice versa, while fawning on each in turn. In the prisoners’ dock, which was the only place he could meet the others now, he repeated the same process with militarists against civilians, Prussians against Bavarians, Protestants against Catholics, and always vice versa, smiling to each in turn, but soliciting sympathy by scorning him behind his back to members of opposed groups. … Finally, when Speer made his spectacular denunciation of Hitler and Göring, Göring reacted in typical gangster fashion, threatening to have Speer murdered if he ever got out of the jail alive.20

After seeing film evidence of the atrocities of the regime, many of the defendants broke down crying in shame, but Göring had a different reaction.

“It was such a good afternoon too, until they showed that film. They were reading my telephone conversations on the Austrian affair, and everybody was laughing with me. And then they showed that awful film, and it just spoiled everything.”21

On April 18, 1946, Göring offered his infamous glimpse behind the psychopathic mask of fascism to Gilbert, quoted in the last installment of this series. (“All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”) And on an another occasion, he said:

“What do you mean, morality… word-of-honor?” Göring snorted. “Sure, you can talk about word-of-honor when you promise to deliver goods in business. – But when it is the question of the interests of the nation!? – Phooey! Then morality stops. That is what England has done for centuries; America has done it; and Russia is still doing it! … When a state has a chance to improve its position because of the weakness of a neighbor, do you think it will stop at any squeamish consideration of keeping a promise? It is a statesman’s duty to take advantage of such a situation for the good of his country!”22

Göring wholly embraced the psychopathic “dog-eat-dog” worldview. For him, as for the psychopaths dictating “war on terror”-inspired foreign policy today, “preventive war, aggressive war, politics, and peace were all just different aspects of the same struggle for supremacy which was in the very nature of things, with the rewards going to the strongest nation and the cleverest leaders.”23 This is the stark reality behind the political propaganda of “national interests” dished out for public consumption in the world. Gilbert’s most dangerous conclusion was equally blunt:

“Psychopathic personalities undoubtedly play an important part in major manifestations of social pathology, particularly when they achieve positions of leadership in social groups and movements. It is all too clear that they played a decisive role in the revolutionary nucleus of the Nazi movement, and thus determined the complexion of the government of Nazi Germany.”24

That’s what he concluded and he wrote it in his book. That is why no one has heard of him, why none of his research or conclusions have been implemented in the practice of politics the world over, and why the Nuremberg defendants had to die. It’s why political psychologists are still focused on testing for “political biases among voters” and other interesting tidbits that miss the mark when it comes to the truly important issues. And it’s why the only thing anyone remembers about the Nazis at Nuremburg were their Rorschach protocols!

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Pretty much every current pet theory that attempts to explain the source of evil – the “enemy” in our midst – is wrong. There is no singular “Nazi mind”, just as there isn’t an “Islamic mind” or even a “Western or American mind” that is the source of all evil. Fighting “Islam” or even “American imperialism” will get us nowhere. The fact is, psychopaths exist in all human groups and they play an essential role in the politics of corruption, gaining support from individuals – normal and disordered. In short, the very qualities we often identify as those of a typical politician are those of a psychopath. They are present in all governments, and, given the right conditions, they create and maintain systems of oppression that know many labels: fascism, dictatorship, authoritarianism, communism, theocracy, and even democracy. As long as we focus on the name, we ignore the cause, and we play right into their hands.

  1. Ibid., 96.
  2. Ibid., 115.
  3. Ibid., 110.
  4. Ibid., 116.
  5. Ibid., 116.
  6. Ibid., 286.

The Other Woman–Now He’s HAPPY With HER!

Nothing cranks a woman up more than going through a drama-filled ending of her dysfunctional, pathological, abusive, addicted and/or sick relationship ONLY to find he rapidly moved on and now seems ‘so happy.’ Women tend to conclude it must have been ‘her’ and if he can be happy with someone else and not her, well then….it was some shortcoming in her and she needs to study up to figure out just what ‘went wrong.’

Ladies, ladies ladies….by now you have been reading enough of these newsletters to be able to ‘chant’ the ABC’s of Pathology I have been teaching you—pathology is:

The inability to:
– consistently sustain positive change
– grow to any emotional/spiritual depth
and
– develop meaningful insight about how his behavior negatively effects others

THE BEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE BEHAVIOR IS PAST BEHAVIOR when it comes to a pathological.

So what you have to ask yourself is how were his previous relationships? I don’t mean what he TOLD you they were (all her fault, she was a psycho, sleaze, or whacked) but what really happened in them.

If you developed a Relationship Time Line and wrote out all his relationships from his teen years forward AND the ‘quality’ of them and why they ended, what would you conclude? How successful IS this man in maintaining healthy relationships? Yup…that’s what I thought.

How was his relationship with you? No, I’m not talking about the honeymoon cycle when both of you are living off of endorphins. I’m talking about the guts of the thing….the meat and bones of it.

So, he has a history of his own ‘Trail of Tears’ — a path littered with the lives of wounded women and children? Your relationship has left you as one more statistic of his pathological heart breaks.

Now, there’s ‘HER’ — appearing all happy, snuggley and ‘in love’! You see her as getting all the good parts of him you always loved and none of the bad parts! After all, the reason
you left him was all that bad stuff!

Doesn’t it make you want to call her up and tell her what’s just around the corner in the relationship?

Doesn’t it make you want to curl up in a fetal position and cry that he has ‘found happiness in the arms of another?’

Doesn’t it make you sick in the pit of your stomach or consume you with intrusive and obsessive thoughts about how wonderfully ‘in love’ he is? STOP THE DRAMA!

Repeat after me….”Pathology is the inability to sustain positive change” “the best predictor of HIS future behavior is his past behavior” — so just what does that mean? There are honeymoon phases of every relationship. Lovers live on the high of the ‘falling in love stage.’ We already know that pathologicals don’t ‘technically’ fall in love but they do hang around and experience some level of attachment. But YOU experienced the whole endorphin falling in love sensation. Well, so is SHE.

How long did yours last? A few weeks, months or maybe a year or two of ok-ness? What happened next? Oh yeah, you found out his lies or noticed his inconsistency, or asked him to work, or caught him cheating….once you confronted him then you got the narcissistic rage, then maybe the aloofness, or maybe he even packed up and left.

Guess what’s gonna happen AGAIN? There will be the honeymoon for her, then she will notice his lies, inconsistency, ask him to work or catch him cheating, then she’ll eventually confront him (or live forever with the miserableness of knowing what he’s doing and not having the ovaries to confront him) and then he’ll rage, punish her, reject her, ignore her or leave.

~OUILA~ she is now on his ‘Stepford Wives List of Rejects’. She’s one more tear on his ‘Trail of Tears.’ You haven’t seen behind their closed doors to know what SHE’s dealing with….he hasn’t changed—he’s hardwired so she’s going to be dealing with the same thing you did. It’s just a matter of WHEN.

If I were a gambling girl, I’d put my money every stinking time on the consistency of pathology and his inability to ever change in ANY relationship–the previous one, yours, or the future ones. She’s not getting the best of ANYTHING. She’s you. And in a short time, she’ll be another statistic. If pathology doesn’t change, this relationship is wired for destruction.

There are NO happy endings in relationships with pathologicals. There are no pumpkin-drawn carriages, no sweet little house with three children…scratch that record! Stop attributing normal characteristics to a profoundly abnormal person.

Women spend all their precious emotional energy on obsessing about the quality of his relationship with the next victim instead of working on themselves–using that energy for their own healing. They live in a fantasy world where they are deprived of this wonderful relationship and he is off living the life of a normal person. This fantasy does not end with “And they lived happily ever after.”

Your positive fantasy thoughts of him being happy with someone are the memories that are
pulling all of your focus while you totally forget how this horror flick is going to end. If you need a reminder, read all of our archived Sandra Says columns.

Take a deep breath and come back…she hasn’t got anything you haven’t already gotten from him–MISERY. If she doesn’t have it right now, she will have it shortly. Once you really ‘get it’ about the permanence of pathology you’ll understand that his ability to be different in the relationship doesn’t exist. If he was capable, he would have done the changing with you. But he didn’t–and he won’t. Whatever exists right now is that short honeymoon cycle until she realizes what he is and ISN’T–and what he can NEVER be. Don’t bother picking up the phone and telling her what he is and isn’t. Just worry about your own recovery….from this
moment on, it’s all about you!

(**Information on pathology and how to recover 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.)

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ-wX7kLBr4

http://aboutneurofeedback.com/ptsd.htm

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

http://joanmarielartin.com/?page_id=21

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

Notes:

  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.