Archives for 2012

Retreats

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The Spiritual Damage in the Aftermath

There is no doubt that the wreckage from the pathological impacts you emotionally, physically, financially, sexually, and also spiritually. Everyone has a spirit—that God-shaped place in your soul that is touched and filled by beauty, awe, and stillness.  It’s the most authentic part of you so it’s also the most vulnerable and the most wounded from pathology.  Our souls were not created to be in the presence of pathology. They were created to be in the presence of love.

We were created for the touch of authentic love and for the connection to what is sacred. Pathology is not sacred. Whether you are ‘religious’ or not you were still created by the Sacred, for the Sacred, and to express the Sacred.  You were not created to express the aftermath of pathology. Aftermath symptoms should not feel ‘at home’ in your soul. They aren’t ‘at home.’

Midway through the aftermath carnage you are probably feeling anything BUT a spiritual connection to anything. It’s no accident that pathology wounds at the soul level—that evil targets those with the most beautiful souls once full of infinite giving and over flowing grace.  Pathology/The Dark Side/Evil knows to dismantle your spirit is to unplug you from what made you the amazing gift you are. And to deflate the once full soul that was sharing love with others—the ultimate power on the planet—is to spiritually deflate our world.

But survivors often lament that recovery feels like a stand-still where you wait for restoration ‘to arrive,’ ‘to ascend or descend,’ ‘to overtake you,’ ‘to fall gently’ upon you.  The death blow to your soul by “The Soul Slayer” is by far the worst damage. An inability to feel that God-shaped part is the worst numbness that a soul can experience. You look Heaven-ward praying for one flicker of a sense that your soul has survived the scourge of pathology.

Why isn’t God restoring me? Why do I still have the ‘monkey-mind’ of cognitive dissonance (He’s Good/He’s Bad)? Why is there no mental stillness—just a rush of adrenaline, the exhaustion of a mind running like an engine?

Sometimes our concept of recovery is replacement. That our feelings of loss will be replaced with joy, our lost pathological partner will be replaced with a healthier partner, our lost income that he stole will be replaced with a provision to get us through, our depression will be replaced with neurotransmitters. ‘Replacement’ recovery concepts are like a McDonald’s drive through. You read a book on pathology and try to simply replace mental concepts that got you in the relationship. You join a chat forum and try to replace loneliness with internet distraction.  It’s no wonder people are often confused about what recovery ‘is’ and when and how they will ‘get there.’

But true authentic recovery that would touch the deepest part of you at a soul level is not about replacement. It’s about restoration—the restoring of the soul that guides your emotions, your choices, your capacity for joy, love and beauty. You can’t ‘replace’ a soul which is ultimately what has been damaged by the soul-less attack of pathology. But you can restore the ‘seat’ or the ‘soul’ of you from the carnage of darkness. In 25 years, we have seen the restoration over and over again.

I want to leave with hope that recovery IS possible. It just may not be how you have been thinking it will be, or how you have approached it, or as quick as you would like. It might not be just about reshaping your belief systems, or working through grief. The work may be deeper after all it’s your soul we are talking about.  The Institute exists to meet you where you are in your own recovery to offer restoration emotionally and spiritually where you need it through our online, tele-support, and face-to-face events. (As a reminder these products and services are listed on the magazine website.)

A few times a year we offer those face-to-face events through retreats.  In 2012 we reduced them to two a year which were in February and March. We have gotten a number of requests for one more retreat this year which we have organized and in which there is ONE remaining slot. The Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships Retreat is Sept 2-7, 2012 in beautiful Brevard, NC the Land of the Waterfalls, 20+ hours of soul-healing group sessions, plus the restorational value of hiking, beauty, the forests, and waterfalls.  Application downloads are on the magazine website.

If you feel the recovery approaches you have been utilizing are not effective, do consider the retreats which have been used by dozens and dozens of women to bring rapid results to their cognitive dissonance, anxiety, and stress disordered symptoms.  I hope you will join us for the soul restoration you are craving.

Women Who Love Psychopaths

****AS SEEN ON ANDERSON COOPER

– Read an excerpt from the book
– Learn about available formats
– Watch the book trailer
– Learn how to share your comments on the book with us

NEW!

Women Who Love Psychopaths tele-book club!
Check upcoming newsletters for details.

Let Go or Be Dragged

‘Let Go or Be Dragged’ – I don’t know who wrote that slogan, but I loved it so much I bought it on a magnet.  My first thought was, ‘Oh, I LOVE that saying for the women!’  But in a flash, I realized it’s a slogan for everyone.  A friend of mine in recovery said she loved it for her ‘A.A.’ recovery slogan.  Another person told me she loved it as a spiritual theme – to hold with an open hand – OR – face the consequences.  But, I do love it for all of you, here’s why….

Pathological attachments are gorilla glue.  The pathological partners have a vibe, a come-hither, bonding vortex that sucks you in and holds you there in a hypnotic-like trance.  It’s a powerful, seductive, subconscious attachment that mirrors the worst addictive feeling you could ever have.  It vibrates throughout your body with a message and sensation that you will literally ‘die’ if you are disconnected from the source.  Letting go never feels like an ‘option,’ it feels like sure death, death by disconnection, death by umbilical severing, death by life-force loss.

Its trance-like hold of your mind, body, and spirit leaves you stupor-fied with an inability to enact your own will or your ability to choose sane-fully the option of getting away from this catatonia.  The same trance-hold that held you in rapture, reverie, and ecstasy, now holds you in a cataleptic coma.  Alive, with your eyes open, but your mind dead and unable to move – you look mildly functional to the world.  They don’t see the transfixion that is keeping you paralyzed beneath your eyes.

You hold on because you are glued.  You hold on because there was rapture, reverie, and ecstasy.  You hold on because to not hold on, is to release your grip on the emotional life support system you think he has been.  You hold on because you believe if you hold on long enough, the dazed and glazed existence you have been living will reverse to rapture.  The nightmare will then become the dream.  The stupor will become the high of the intensity.  You hold on because you believe you can’t let go.

WAIT!  HOLD UP!  Let’s ask, ‘Where are you?’  How did your clothes get torn?  Where is the life you use to have?  Where are the relationships with others you held dear?  Why are your knees skinned?  Why do you have those dark circles under your eyes?  Why are you on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication?  Where is the career you built?  Why are your nails dug into your hands?  Why is your stomach in your throat?  Why are you now somewhere you never wanted to go?  How did you get here?  Why are you bleeding from your soul?  It’s because your belief about letting go kept you being dragged.

Drag: verb.  Related to:  haul, lug, move, pull, schlep, tug, yank, crawl, creep, shuffle.  Your soul is bleeding – it’s your courtesy warning system from your spirit that is telling you to let go.  Even being dragged can be a gift.  It can be the first scraped knee that crosses you over to recovery.  You’ve held on for lots of reasons including your own version of ‘pathological hope’ that he will change, and it will be different.  History has taught you otherwise.  It’s time to accept the wisdom that ‘no change’ brings us.  Your skinned knee is a metaphor for the beginning of your recovery because the word dragged means ‘to haul something to a new place.’

Let go or be dragged.

If you are ready to let go, we have scheduled one more retreat for September 2-7 2012 in the Asheville/Brevard area.  Information about it is in the newsletter and magazine.

My Anniversary of the Plunge into Pathology

The month of May marks my fairly ‘official’ date (at least in my mind) in which I was thrust into the field of pathology – totally without consent, without warning, and without return to the normal life I knew before May 13, 1983.  Twenty-nine years ago, my father bled out in a grungy gutter in Cincinnati after a psychopath plunged a knife into his aorta outside of his jazz club.  I was initiated into a victim-hood that would turn my life and career in a direction I hadn’t much interest in before that particular day.

Much like pathology in anyone else’s life, you don’t get to pick how it plays out in your life.  The best you can do is to learn how to ride the rollercoaster that goes along with the serious group of disorders in pathology – as I have done.  Twenty-nine years later I still feel like I am just skimming the surface of what can, and should be done in education, awareness, survivor services, and advocacy in dealing with pathology. Thousands of pages of writing books, newsletters, websites, workbooks, e-books, quizzes, hours and hours of lectures ad nauseam, over a thousand hours in broadcasts, both radio and television, stacks of CDs and DVDs created – and still we are in the infancy of a new understanding about pathology.  It is the virtual edge of just beginning what someday will be a momentum marker that shows ‘when’ the world turned a corner for a better and very public understanding of pathology.

We’re not there yet, but the day IS coming.  Every new blog that goes up, every newsletter, every website, every talk, every social networking post, every private moment of your knowledge shared with another victim, every coaching session, every class taught, every therapy hour, every group gathering, every prayer muttered, every radio show aired, every celebrity living it and bringing it to notice, every TV show featuring it, every newspaper or women’s magazine article taunting it – is another message to another ear that has heard the message.  You learned it because someone cared enough to make sure you learned it.

Every May 13th, for the past 29 years, I have halted my existence to remember that life-altering second when my life went from being a normal everyday life – to a life of being a homicide survivor.  This is when my reality was ripped through by pathology – a disorder so conscienceless that altering history is just another day in the lives of the pathological.  While my pathology story includes a brutal ending, yours no less, includes something similar – all the things lost in a moment of deep betrayal – the kind of betrayal that only pathology can bring.

If I don’t brighten up this newsletter, I’ll get complaints about ‘too much reality’ or ‘too much negativity’ so, I will say this – while none of us ‘choose’ to become survivors at the hands of very disordered pathological individuals, what we ‘do’ with what we were dealt is up to us.  Every so often I like to send a message to you that encourages you to ‘pass it forward.’  Whatever you have learned from the magazine, the newsletters, or the books, is probably more than the woman who is sitting next to you knows.  You don’t need to wait until you ‘understand’ it more by taking a class, getting a degree, reading another one of our books, or taking our coach training – that doesn’t help the women you sit next to at work.  The knowledge in your head is life- saving to her.  Next year ‘when you are better trained’ isn’t the year to share what you know – today is!

If we want to move from living on the virtual edge of changing pathology education in the world, we have to open our mouths and tell what we know.  Every pathological hopes you DON’T do this – they hope you keep what you know to yourself.  So many women that have shed so many tears had said, “If I had only known… I would have left earlier, I wouldn’t have left my children with him, I wouldn’t have _______.”

Every May is a time I renew my commitment to what changed me.  Every May I bother people with my message and prod them and push them to make victim’s rights and survivor education important in the world.  If I don’t, the image of my dad laying in that gutter haunts me.  His death should never have been for nothing – and as long as people have been helped, it hasn’t.   Frankie Brown has touched so many lives with his death through the message of psychopathy.  You’re one of them!  Help me celebrate my father’s death anniversary in a way that brings meaning and hope to many.  Tomorrow, share what you know with just ONE person – someone that you have felt in your gut needs to know about the permanence and the pain of pathological relationships.  Then email me and say ‘I passed it forward’ so I can count up how many people celebrated Frankie!  If this email offended you, I’m sorry.  Pathology offended my entire life.

Thank you for growing in the knowledge of pathology so you are prepared for the day when you can give someone the life-changing information that you’ve come to know!

My sister Linda, my father Frankie Brown, myself a few years before his murder

Is This The New Normal?

The ‘new’ normal (whatever that is) is code jargon for ‘something in your life that changed and for which you just have to suck it up and get use to’.  This clicky kind of phrase has crept in the world of pathology too, and even the recovery movement. So let’s answer some of those questions about ‘the NEW normal.’

‘Is How Crappy I Feel My New Normal?’

In other words, ‘will I ever feel like my old self again?’

Let’s say your girlfriend was driving home late one night, off in thought, and after a glass or two of wine. She was blasting her favorite Adelle song on her ear buds. This condition left her not in her most focused self–tired, distracted, a little buzzed, and drifting off to the groove of a good song when she didn’t even realize the slight bump her car made as she drove over the railroad tracks. Since she had no reason to believe something that could really hurt her was barreling down the tracks towards her, she didn’t even glance to see the oncoming train.  Once she realized, too late, she was going to be harmed–wide eyed and gasping–she wondered what she could do to save herself.  The answer by then, was ‘too late.’ In a nano-second she went from being her old self to being someone entirely new–she became a seriously injured person.

You too were run over by an oncoming train with a big ‘P’ on the front. You too might have been tired, distracted, or out having a good time when you encountered the train that was going to run over you, destroy the framework of your life, and nearly fatally wound your soul.

The oncoming psychopath does not brake for anything on the tracks of his life. Your mangled psyche, broken heart, and your sideswiped joy are the natural conditions of having been run over by a run away psychopath or narcissist.

As your girlfriend lay home recovering from having been in a ‘train wreck’ — her broken bones held together with casts, her head bandaged from a whiplash concussion, and being relegated to resting for the next unforseeable future, she does not yet realize she is lucky to escape with the gift to heal.  Her family and friends recognizing her extensive injuries are not likely to say to her “Very shortly, this will be like it never happened. You’ll be back to your old self in no time at all.’  It’s easy to see the girl was seriously injured and it was a gift from God she’s alive.

While psychological injuries are not as evident to the bystanding eye, they are noteably experienced by the victim.  You were hit by a train! You were injured–emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually, financially and maybe even physically.  If someone has erroneously said to you “Very shortly, this will be like it never happened. You’ll be back to your old self in no time at all’ — they have never been hit by an oncoming pathology train. In fact, the worse thing that probably ever happened to them is they won a Spa Day at a less than luxorious hotel or their highlights in their hair weren’t quite right.  Are you going to measure your recovery from someone who’s only experience of tragedy is a spa-day-gone-wrong?

Other survivors who have been hit by the same-train-different-tracks will tell you that “No, it will not be like it never happened.  No, you will not be back to your old self in no time at all.” I don’t know if you want the truth or you want that girl’s story whose name is Pollyanna.  It is not that you will never heal. It’s that your injuries were serious. You are in the critical care unit of the recovery center.  You WILL heal. But it will not be in ‘no time at all.’  If your girlfriend didn’t rise up off the bed in a few days like Lazarus being raised from the dead, you too should not expect that type of ‘miraclous’ healing.  Train wrecks mangle bodies, minds, and spirits.  Give yourself the gift of recognition that what you have been through is traumatic and life changing. And that you need the time anyone would need that has been run over by a train in which to heal.

The impatient family member who thinks you should be ‘over it’ by now, was not run over by the train.  The girlfriends that want you to go on a cruise and meet someone new were not run over by the train.  The psychopath train that hit you that thinks you should be through the body-repair shop of what he did to you–was not run over by a train his size.

The problem that exists is your level of expectation is not equal to your level of harm.

You are expecting to walk away limping but not seriously injured from a psychopath.  That doesn’t happen often. So infrequently that I don’t even know if I can give one example of that happening with the women I have worked with for 20+ years.

Learning to live with the ‘new normal’ of aftermath symptoms is really a self nurturing act. It means you have taken the time to really access your damage and give yourself the things you need in order to heal.  Time, space, therapy–whatever it takes.  The ‘new normal’ following pathological love relationships is called ‘aftermath damage.’  There is a cure for it. But the first step in curing it is to say it outloud “I was run over by an oncoming train. I was critically wounded.”  Now, healing can begin.

How Pathological Is ‘Too’ Pathological?

Another words, ‘How sick is TOO sick?’

One of the charactersistics 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 toleranting, 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. ‘Liitle-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.)

When Others Don’t Like The ‘P’ Word

I was recently asked to be on a national TV show to discuss the issue of psychopathy in relationships based on my book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths.’
They had looked at the website, read information about the book, discussed what the rest of the show was going to be about, and booked me for the show.
They didn’t invite me based on my other book (although equally as informational) How to Spot a Dangerous Man, they booked me to discuss and showed
the book cover of, Women Who Love Psychopaths.

However, 20 minutes before going on air a producer told me ‘they’ (whoever that is in TV world) was uncomfortable using the ‘p’ word–psychopath. They
found the word to be ‘controversial’ and ‘sensationalistic’ and that my example of probably well known public psychopaths who are not recognized as
psychopathic was too debatable and unproveable to discuss.

This was of course sad for me to hear since so much of what The Institute attempts to provide is public pathology education. Truly the only way for people
to avoid psychopathy is to develop the ability to understand the traits and learn to spot it in others. All which is why our goal for this agency is public education.
This is of course, not our first time to hear that the ‘p’ word is offensive, debatable, controversial, or judgmental, and it will not be the last time, unfortunately.

Several victims of incredible psychopathic abuse were also on the show and I was asked to comment on their cases but also asked to not use the
‘p’ word.  I asked the producer what she thought those perpetrator’s behaviors should be called, or what disorders would motivate their behavior….or
what was she suggesting I ‘should’ call them? I told her I was at a loss to pick another label or motivation behind their lethal behaviors that would
come close to helping others understand ‘who does that?’.  I told her that psychopathy was a diagnosis, not merely a political argument, a theoretical
ideology, or even a criminal judgment of character. I was confused as to why I was there when what I do, what I write about, who I help, and who I help
convict are overtly obvious from my professional background and from our website.

I was reminded again when I heard ‘the p word’ is controversial, that public pathology education is still in it’s infancy. I know that victims face this all
the time when they struggle to figure out what is wrong with the pathological person, only to discover the shocking revelation of the person’s disorder. But
the victim trying to teach others what is wrong with the pathological is counteracted when others find the information to be disputable, distasteful, unproveable, unlikely,
and un-spiritual to even suggest.

The ‘p’ word is now viewed as the new psychlogical slur of the 21st century. It’s correlated with the devastating racial slurs of the 1950’s, the cultural slurs of the
60’s-70’s, and the gay/lesbian slurs of the 80’s-90’s.  Now, we face the ‘p’ word the way we faced the ‘n’ of the 50’s and the ‘f’ or the 60’70’s and the ‘q’
of the 80-90s. But with a huge difference! There is nothing wrong with the ‘p’ word the way it was intensely wrong with the ‘n,’ ‘f,’ and ‘q’ words of
decades gone by.

But it is treated as if we are being racially insensitive, culturally inappropriate, or gender ignorant. We are looked at as the skin-heads of the
Diagnostic Statistical Manual that we would ‘dare’ to ‘call someone’ a psychopath.  We are viewed as the rock throwers at the psychologically-disabled
people with pathology, the Bible thumpers of the poor spiritually disenfranchised psychopath, and the socially clueless that we would spew a
power-packing psychological label like ‘psychopathy’ around that might actually strike and land on a human being.

I know, I know….afterall, it’s daytime TV which we all recognize is about ratings and keeping pace with society’s Attention-Deficit-Disordered need
for topics to be covered in three minutes no matter how riveting the storyline is.  Daytime TV covers tsunamis of natural science as well as the
tsunamis of psychological trauma in the same fast fall swoop of selling hair dye and lipstick in the same 30 minute segment. What did I expect afterall?

…Well, I always hope that a victim’s trauma is recognized and embraced for the emotional and spiritual strength it took to not only survive, but to show up
on that TV stage to tell their story to help others. …Well, I always hope that the need to teach others ‘how to spot’ the devastating disorders that created the
victims trauma is the guiding motivation behind why TV shows exist and supercedes the mere ‘storyline-as-business’ of TV.

Yes, I recognize that daytime TV is not the spokes person for the planet–that there ARE those who really want to hear more of the victims story and learn more
about ‘how to spot’ them in their own lives….but I have to tell you, it IS a ‘cold-water-splash-in-the-face’, like a ‘wake-up-Sandra-we-aren’t-as-far-as-you-think’
call that we are whispering the ‘p’ word behind stage and off camera and are ‘editing it out’ for public viewing. The whole segment of discussion about
low empathy, no conscience and who does that was removed. Not one word that explained the behavior of those lethal people was ‘leaked’ to
the viewing audience for public pathology education. We still have miles and miles to go in educating the public that psychopathy is a disorder
not a verbal tyriad.

You know what….as  offensive, debatable, controversial, judgmental,  OR …. as disputable, distasteful, unproveable, unlikely and un-spiritual
as it felt to those merely producing a nano-second based TV show to say the ‘p’ word, the victims who have lived with the ‘p’ are the true
authorities here.  They would probably beg to disagree with the nay-sayers that the ‘p’ is a profound psychological slur. I am sure the victims
found the ‘p’s behavior to be more offensive than TV-land will ever understand. The victims surely wrestled with their own need to over come the
‘debatable-ness’ of the disorder, or the controversy that swirled around the lethal behaviors of the psychopath and I am sure the victim’s incured
their own judgmental views of outsiders. I doubt today the victim’s find their story to be un proveable or even disputable —after all,
some of these storys ended up in murder or attempted more. All adjectives that are associated with psychopathy.

As ‘controversial’ as TV-land felt  the ‘p’ word was, does not even compare to the victim’s overwhelming need to shout from the roof-tops
what the pathological IS….a psychopath.

Using the ‘p’ word of psychopathy is not a slur. It is a education, a prevention, a DIAGNOSIS, and the reality for millions of victims in
the world.

Am I Who He Says I Am?

One of the chief complaints of having been with a pathological is the ‘acquiring’ of his view of you. In previous newsletters I discussed the ‘pathological world view which is the ‘lens’ thru which he sees himself, others, and the world. This view of the world is processed through his own pathological disorder which is why his view of the world is not like normal people’s view. His is negative, self focused, grandiose, paranoid, critical, and self promoting. He sees others as always wrong, out to get him, stupid or inept. He sees himself as right, the victim, or the only one that knows anything at all.

He sees you as the ‘revictimizer’ of him, wonderful and yet horrible, needed and yet hated, smart yet dependent on him, in need of his brilliance, faulty without him, as pathological as he is …and the list goes on.

A lot of the work we do with women is for them to understand that what she is feeling is often the result of HIS pathological world view thrust upon her and used to define her.

Pathology is the inability to change and sustain change, grow in any meaningful way, or develop insight about how one’s behavior effects other. If he can’t change he projects his inability on you and makes it YOUR fault or YOUR inability to change that is the problem in the relationship. He acts as if he should not be asked to change or he has changed when he hasn’t. He makes you ‘think’ that you asked for something huge and wrong for him to change OR that what needs changing is only you and nothing in him.

If he can’t grow in any meaningful way, he projects his non-growth onto the relationship and suggests it’s the relationship stagnation you are really experiencing. If you could only GROW to accept him in all his pathology, then the relationship would thrive.

If he can’t develop insight about how his behavior affects others, he projects his undeveloped insight on you and says these are your traits. And you simply

don’t understand ‘what you are doing to him.’ All his anger is yours, all his deviancy is yours, you are just as sick as he is which is why you are a great match, all his lying is yours, all his manipulations are yours. That’s because in pathology they are MASTER PROJECTORS. It is in fact, one of the ‘symptoms’ of pathology. They take all their pathological attributes and say they are YOURS.

Over a period of time of this intense projection, several things happen:

* She begins to believe that these negative and disturbing attributes really are HER personality

* She normalizes these behaviors of his (and what he says are hers) so they are less disturbing to her

* Her self esteem drops and she no longer looks for ways to disbelieve him about these attributes

* And if her self esteem drops low enough, she no longer seeks to leave

Women who seek coaching through our phone support or retreat programs come in ‘programmed’ to believe HIS pathology is actually hers. Some of our treatment is much like the treatment cult survivors or hostages would receive when they have been ‘brainwashed’ to believe they were bad so they were taken hostage.

Coercion techniques, the Stockholm Syndrome and other psychological hostage-taking maneuvers are common with women who have been in severely pathological relationships.

Would you take someone who was held as a prisoner of war and just send them home and tell them they will be fine? Would you tell them they don’t need specialized help in order to reform their thinking to their former patterns of thought? Would you tell them to just go back to work or find someone else or go get on Match.com and all will be well?

In many cases, I have seen women come to our retreat program in the same ‘shape’ as people suffering from Stockholm Syndrome–they are emotionally, physically, financially, and sexually exhausted. They have tapes playing in their heads that he is normal and she is sick. She has been told for so long by a brilliant pathological that she is mentally ill and should seek treatment. She has been told that everything that is black is really white and that everything that is bad is really good.

The Master Projection he uses causes similar symptoms as people who have been held captive, thrust into cults, or held prisoner in other people’s belief systems. These are intensely programmed beliefs that are not ‘removed’ simply because you break up. Lingering effects means that specialized treatment is required.

But the first step is recognizing these symptoms in your self– that HIS pathological attributes have been assigned to you by him and quite possibly none of them are true.Learning to sustain that belief is where help is often needed. Just for today, allow the possibility that none of what he said is really about you. See if all those attributes aren’t really his…….

Who Does That? Part 2

(Last week we began discussing the ‘who’ of certain behaviors and crimes often perpetrated by Cluster Bs, and how the various systems who come in contact with Cluster Bs have differing names, thus views, of their destructive patterns. You can read last week’s newsletter HERE).

How convenient for pathologicals that each system is only focused on it’s identified behavior which helps the pathological continue to fly under the radar. Instead of seeing the big picture of pathological disorders in action, the systems are focused on the sub-directory of behaviors associated with their system, and one small aspect of the pathologicals destructive nature.

When teaching on Public Pathology, I always teach about the pathological disorders of Cluster B (Borderlines, Narcissists, Anti-socials, Sociopaths, and Psychopaths). No matter who hires me to speak, they all get the training on Cluster B.  I teach this to nurses, the military, to therapists (who seem to have forgotten), to the criminal justice system, to law enforcement, to judges, custody evaluators, prosecutors/lawyers, and mediators.  I teach it to clergy, addiction professionals, and social workers, to victim advocates, and DV programs.  I teach it to every frontline ‘system’ that is likely to be encountering various forms of behaviors that fall under the category of Cluster B, but are referred to within the systems own labeling vernacular.

All these systems have been dealing with the same disorder, with different faces, different statuses in life, different careers and titles, with money or no money, different crimes and different charges against them, different social service requests, different spiritual confessions, different storylines, different excuses, different projections of their behavior onto societal causations. But in the end, it’s the same disorder over and over again.

When I teach about Cluster B, I see the moment of ‘aha’ that comes across their faces when they recognize their own clients within this cluster of disorders. Learning the emotional, physical, psychological, behavioral, financial, sexual, and spiritual behaviors of these disorders quickly helps them to affirm ‘who’ does that. Looking across the room and seeing law enforcement, judges, therapists, and mediators all nodding in agreement rushes them into the center of reality that we are all dealing with the same disorder in our offices, court rooms, therapy offices, and pews. That, whether they are a defamer, cyber stalker, repeat domestic violence offender, a financial con artist, or a killer, we are still talking about the Cluster B of disorders.

•    When asking my audience of sexual offender therapists if any of the pedophiles AREN’T within Cluster B, no one disagrees.

•    When asking Batterer Intervention programs if the chronic repeaters aren’t Cluster B, no one balks.

•    When asking Forensic Computer professionals if trolls, cyber stalkers, defamers or bullies aren’t Cluster B, they readily affirm it.

•    Sexual Assault counselors don’t argue that rapists are largely Cluster B.

•    Judges don’t rush to defend that high conflict cases (those people who file case after case, as many as 60 times to court) aren’t Cluster B.

•    Mediators don’t disagree that those most likely to fail mediation are Cluster B.

•    Custody Evaluators affirm that those most likely to tamper with evidence, perpetrate parental alienation, and require supervised visitation are Cluster Bs.

•    Programs that deal with stalking can easily see that stalking is primarily a Cluster B occurrence.

•    Repeat criminals clogging up jail, probation, parole, and prison programs are often diagnosed within jail as having a Cluster B disorder.

•    Terrorists, school shooters, and bombers are easily identified as Cluster B.

•    Those who stay for years and years in counseling using up mental health resources without ever being able to sustain positive change are Cluster Bs (excluding here the chronic mental illness of schizophrenia or developmental disabilities).

•    Those prematurely discharged from military service are often Cluster B.

•    The over use and misuse of most major societal services and systems are related to Cluster B.

•    Some of the most brilliantly contrived inside trading crimes of the century has been planned and executed by Cluster Bs.

•    Are there many murderers that aren’t Cluster B?

WHO does that? If we take all the behaviors listed above (and often crimes from those behaviors), put them in an analyzer funnel, and watch the behaviors clink and clunk down the spiral DSM Identifier, it would spit them out in an Axis II file with Cluster B printed on the front.

Cluster B’s behaviors are generated out of a complex interweaving of emotional, developmental, neuro, biochemical, and even genetic abnormalities. Obviously, this is not a ‘simple’ disorder or there would be less ‘inevitable harm’ associated with everyone and everything they touch, and they would be cured or even managed consistently and well.

This complicated group of disorders single-handedly sets society on edge. It keeps us in court, in therapy, in prayer, in the lawyer’s office, in depression, in anxiety, on edge, on the offense, ready to off ourselves to simply be away from such menacing (yet often normal appearing) deviancy.

Who wreaks more emotional havoc than Cluster B’s?  Sixty million persons in the US alone are negatively impacted by someone else’s pathology. It drives people to therapy, to commit their own petty acts of revenge to avenge their own powerlessness, drives people to drink, to run away, to take their children and run, and sadly leads to uncountable amounts of suicides every year.

They single-handedly cause financial disruptions to the working class who are demoted, or go on disability because of scrambed-eggs for brains they now have due to too much Cluster B exposure.

It drives the legal market by keeping attorneys in business through never-ending court cases, child custody, and restraining orders.

It employs judges and prison systems. And keeps forensic computer and forensic accountants frantically busy.

It funds domestic violence shelters, rape centers, and children’s therapy programs.

Pathology is big business. It is what our large service systems in almost every field are driven by…the need to protect, defend, prosecute, or treat the effects of Cluster Bs.

It employs threat assessment professionals to ward off stalkers and reputation defenders online programs to repair cyber attacks on people that Cluster B’s rarely even know.

It employs social workers and halfway houses trying to get Cluster B’s ‘the help they need to turn their lives around.’

It drives the media of TV, radio, and talk shows. Who DO we think are often the persons on daytime TV and reality shows? Cluster B’s. WHO do the media often want to talk about in the celebrity world? The Cluster B’s. What kinds of crimes does the media flock to? The crimes often perpetrated by Cluster B’s.

It drives the medical field due to stress related disorders and diseases normal people develop as a reaction to the abnormal pathology of Cluster B.

Surely pharmacology is partially driven by medications for depression and anxiety perpetrated by the no-conscience disorders of Cluster B.

It generates new products every year to track, expose and identify Cluster B’s who are hacking computers, sending viruses, or putting chips on phones and cars to invade others lives.

While clearly pathology generates jobs for many, it is still the single most destructive group of disorders that exist.  And until all the major systems: judicial, legal, and mental health get on the same page about ‘Who’ does that, we will be stuck in this maze of pathologicals flying under the radar, undiagnosed, unrealized and wreaking havoc in millions of people’s lives.

Wake up Law Enforcement, Positive Psychology Therapists, Judges, Custody Evaluators, Mediators, DV Batterer Intervention, and Lawyers!  Who Does That?

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 then hide the sexual offenders 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 easy to figure that severe pathology is behind the motivation of that type of hate.

* 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 inflict 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.

* 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.

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

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

* Chronic re-offending domestic violence abusers like O.J. Simpson 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.

* 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 it’s sadistic behind closed doors, or as 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 B’s?  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.

Emotional Phantom Limb Pain

In a session someone says, “I really miss what we had.  I could get over this if it hadn’t been the most wonderful relationship of my life.  I just feel like something has been cut out of me – like I’m missing a big part of myself now.”

Illusion is the mark of pathology.  It’s why our logo is a mask, because it best represents the mirage of normalcy that pathological individuals can often project…. at least for a while.

Dr. Hervey Checkley, a psychiatrist and writer of pathology from the 1940’s entitled his famous book The Mask of Sanity, and tells of pathology giving all the surface signals such as:  having a deep connection, having the most fun ever experienced with a person, of someone who is really into you – while behind the scenes you are being used as a distraction, a pay check, grotesquely, as a ‘vaginal doormat,’ or some other form of ‘feeding’ of the pathological piranha.  What you are experiencing, you are internally labeling as ‘normal,’ ‘wonderful,’ or ‘love,’ and yet it really isn’t any of those things.  It’s just a label of experience you have tagged with him.

If someone was watching your relationship as a movie, and watched scenes in which the pathological individual is exposed for his true self, your scene would be tagged and labeled very differently by the viewer, than what is labeled in your own experience.  That’s because the viewer would see the pathological individual’s behaviors and words as manipulative, and would have a distinctly different view of the storyline.  Your labeling of your experience isn’t always accurate.  As I often say, “Your thinking is what got you into this pathological relationship.   Don’t always believe what you think.”

Being invested in being correct is part of the human condition, and is in part, the way our brains work.  The more important the questions are such as, “Does he love me, is this the one?” – the greater the pleasure will seem from labeling the experience as positive.   The more positive the relationship is perceived, the more invested you will be to label the experiences, and his behavior as positive, and to get the reward of your label whether it is of ‘him, the marriage, or the relationship.’  Of course, none of this is problematic, except if you have misread the illusion, believed the presented mask, and labeled an experience with a narcissist, anti-social, or socio/psychopath as ‘positive.’

The illusion:

•    He was normal
•    He was in love with you
•    He was what he said he was
•    He did what he said he did

In pathology, that’s never the case, because:

•    Their attachments are surface (which isn’t love)
•    They are mentally disordered (which isn’t normal)
•    They never present themselves as disordered, sexually promiscuous, and incapable of love (so he isn’t what he said he is)
•    They harbor hidden lives filled with other sex partners, hook ups, criminality, or illegal and immoral behavior (so he doesn’t disclose what he’s really up to)

What you had (that you can’t possibly miss) is a pathological relationship.  What you want, and miss, is the ability to wrap yourself up like a blanket in the illusion – to go back to the time before you knew this was all illusion.

Women often say when they try to break off the relationship they have the feeling that something is being cut out of them.  They feel like they are missing a part of themselves.  This sensation is similar to what is called phantom limb pain, which is a medical mystery of sorts.  When a person has an arm that is amputated, the portion of the brain that used to receive sensory messages about the existing arm goes through a series of changes.  This causes it to misread the brain message, and creates the ‘ghostly’ illusion that the arm is still there and in pain.  Even though the patient can see that the arm is gone, and what they are experiencing is an illusion, they can’t stop the distressing phantom limb sensations of wanting to believe the arm is still there.  The arm is in pain, but the arm is gone.  The amputee must learn to cope differently, and begin to re-label the experience they are having, that the presence of the arm is a perceptual illusion.

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

Genetic and Neuro-Physiological Basis for Hyper-Empathy

I heard a universal ‘sigh of relief’ go out around the world as women read the title of this article.  Don’t you feel better knowing there really IS some science backing the whole issue of having way too much empathy?

When we began writing about women who love psychopaths, anti-socials, sociopaths and narcissists, we already ‘assumed’ that maybe you did have too much empathy (as well as other elevated temperament traits).  We just didn’t know how much, or why.  When we began the actual testing for the research of the book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’, we learned just ‘how much’ empathy you had.

Do I need to tell you?  WAY TOO MUCH!

By now you have probably already suspected that your super-high empathy is what got you in trouble in this pathological relationship.  But, did you know there is hard science behind what we suspected about what is going on in your relationship with your super-trait of high empathy?  It really IS all in your head – and your genes.

In fact, these genes influence the production of various brain chemicals that can influence just ‘how much’ empathy you have.  These brain chemicals include those that influence orgasm, and it’s effect on how bonded you feel, while also influencing some aspects of mental health (No, no!  That is not a good mix!).

Other brain chemicals influence how much innate and learned fear you have.  However, females don’t seem to assess threats well, and the chemicals then increase her social interactions while at the same time she is not assessing fear and threats well (This is not a good thing!!).

One of the final chemical effects delays your reflexes (like not getting out of the relationship), and also impacts your short and long term memory (how you easily store good memories that are very strong, and how you store bad memories which are easily forgotten).  And, since it is genetic, it can run in entire families that produce ‘gullible’ and ‘trusting’ individuals who seem to just keep getting hurt.

Of course, the reverse is also true.  Genes can influence the absence of various brain chemicals that influence ‘how little’ empathy a person has.  We already know in great detail how this affects those with personality disorders.  Personality disordered people (especially Cluster B disorders) struggle with not experiencing, or not having any empathy.

Over the past few years, the magazine has been writing about various aspects of personality disorder and the brain.  This has included the issue of brain imaging.  What we are finding out is how brain structure and chemicals can affect personality, empathy, behavior, and consequently, the behavior in relationships.  As advances are made in the field of neurobiology, we are learning more and more of what The Institute has always believed – that there is a lot of biology behind personality development issues such as personality disorders.  Genetics and neurobiology are proving that behavior associated with narcissism, borderline, anti-social personality disorders, along with psychopathy has as much to do with brain wiring and chemistry as it does with behavioral intent.

The Institute has long said to survivors that personality disorders are not merely willful behavior, but brain deficits that control how much empathy, compassion, conscience, guilt, insight, and change a person is capable.  Autism and personality disorders share a common thread as ’empathy spectrum disorders’ now being studied extensively within the field of neuroscience.  But, in some opposite ways, the women also share a common thread of an empathy disorder – hyper-empathy.  We are coming to understand that hyper-empathy has much to do with her innate temperament (you come into the world wired with the personality you have), genetic predispositions to high or low empathy, and brain chemistry configurations that contribute to levels of empathy. The old thinking which assumes women with high empathy are merely ‘door mats’ is not scientifically correct when looking at current studies.

Neuroscience, with all its awesome information, has the dynamic power to blow us all out of the murky waters of assuming that our behavior is merely a reflection of our will.  As neuroscience graces our minds with new understanding of how our brains work, it brings with it incredible freedom to understand our own traits, and the pathological traits of others.

For a mind blowing book on the genetic and neurobiology of not only personality disorders, but ‘evil’ as well, read Barbara Oakley’s book, Evil Genes, or her latest book on hyper-empathy entitled, Cold-Blooded Kindness.

(**Information on your super-traits is in the award-winning Women Who Love Psychopaths, which is also taught during retreats, in phone sessions, and to mental health professionals.  Please go to www.saferelationshipmagazine.com for more information)

All Memory is Not Created Equal – Positive Memory Seepage

Intrusive thoughts are associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as other emotional trauma disorders.  Many survivors say that the most painful memories are not the intrusive thoughts of all the bad ‘stuff,’ or even the violence – what is most painful is the intrusive thoughts of good memories.

Intrusive thoughts are not just bad thoughts or flashbacks.  They can be intrusive from positive memories as well.  Positive memories are embedded with deep emotional and psychological ‘meaning.’  The meaning of the relationship, various happy moments, the deep feelings of attachment, fantastic sex – can all be power packed into positive memories.  Positive memories are also embedded with all the sights, sounds, smells, sensations, feelings, and the associated meaning of the events and remembrances of a happier time.  The positive memories can also be tied up with a ribbon of fantasy and romanticized feelings.  That’s a lot of ‘power’ packed into a few positive memories, and has the TNT emotional factor that overrides your ‘stay-away-from-him’ resolve.

All memories are not stored the same way.  I’ve talked about this before in our books.  Positive memory is stored differently in the brain, and is more easily accessible than some of the bad memories.  Many traumatic memories are stored in another part of the brain that makes them harder to access.  Sometimes the more traumatic they are, the harder it is to remember.

Unfortunately, what you might want to remember most is the bad part of the relationship, so it motivates you to stay away from it.  But instead, you are murky, and are not always fresh in your mind about ‘why’ you should be avoiding the pathological relationship. What IS easy to remember is all the positive memories.  In fact, what has become intrusive is positive memory seepage.  This is when all the good times and the associated ‘senses’ (taste, touch, smell, etc.) are flooding your mind.  You easily remember the good times and easily forget the bad times – all based on how, and where these types of memories are stored in the brain.  You may NEED the bad memories for emotional reinforcement, however all you REMEMBER are the good ones.

That which is held internally is amplified.  Almost like putting it under a magnifying glass – the feelings, memories, senses – are all BIGGER and STRONGER when the memory simply rolls around in your head.  It’s a lot like a pinball machine – memories pinging and ponging off of the internal elements.  The more it pings and pongs, the stronger the memory moves around the mind.

Memories kept in the mind also take on surreal-like qualities.  Certain parts are like a movie – fantasy based and romanticized.  The positive memories are dipped in crystallized sugar and become tantalizing treats, instead of toxic treats!  While engaged in this positive memory seepage – it doesn’t feel like you are indulging your self in toxic memories.  It feels like you are trying to ‘process’ the relationship – ‘Why did we do this?’ ‘Did he say that?’ ‘Why was it like that then, but it’s like this now?’  It feels like what you are trying to do is to sort out the relationship.  But all the sorting of this dirty laundry still leaves the same amount of clothing piled in your head. You are just moving the same shirt from pile to pile – but it’s all the same dirty laundry.  Nothing is getting cleaned up.

Positive memory seepage, as intrusive thought, is a big contributor to the cognitive dissonance women feel in the aftermath of these relationships.  Cognitive Dissonance (or C.D. as we refer to it) is the difficulty of trying to hold two opposing thoughts or beliefs at the same time – it’s usually something like, ‘He’s good” AND “He’s bad’ –’How can he be good AND bad?   Just trying to resolve that particular thought can leave women’s minds tangled up for years.  C.D. can single handedly take women down – it can cause her to be unable to concentrate, work, sleep, eat, or function overall.  It’s like the image of the devil sitting on one shoulder, and the angel sitting on the other shoulder, and they are both whispering in your ear.  That’s exactly what C.D. is like – trying to decide which thing you are going to believe – that he’s bad for you, or that he’s good for you.

Positive memory seepage produces intrusive thoughts.  Intrusive thoughts, especially about positive memories, produce cognitive dissonance.  These emotional processes feed each other like a blood-induced shark fest.  It’s one of the single reasons women don’t disengage from the relationship, heal, or return to a higher level of functioning.  Now that we’ve identified ‘what’ is really at the heart of the aftermath of symptoms, we know that treating C.D. is really the most important recovery factor in pathological love relationships.  It’s why we have developed various tools to manage it – Maintaining Mindfulness in the Midst of Obsession, e-book and two CD’s, as well as our retreats, 1:1s, etc.  The quickest way to recover is by learning to manage the intrusive thoughts and cognitive dissonance.  A managed mind makes life feel much more manageable too!

The Attraction Cocktail

THIS WEEKS ARTICLE IS BY: Jennifer Young, MS

“People can be induced to swallow anything, provided it is sufficiently seasoned with praise” – Molière

You might be asking yourself “Why me?”  Why did you get to be the one to end up in this crazy relationship?  What did you do wrong to land THIS guy?  The answer begins with what could be called the “Attraction Cocktail”.  There is this powerful potion that has brought the two of you together.  This potion consists of the first three SuperTraits identified in Sandra’s research: Excitement Seeking-Extraversion-Dominance.   These are a few of the rare traits that you both posses in high amounts.  In your cup and in his cup these traits are spilling over.  Remember you both posses these at the high end of the trait cut off at 85-95%. Most average people would not test that high in these traits.  So, what we have are two high excitement seekers who are both extraverts, looking for a win…sounds like a recipe for inevitable harm to me.

But not immediate harm.  First and almost within minutes there is fire and passion, understanding and power, lust and energy.  There is electricity…maybe in a way that you have never felt before.  While some people might see in him as “fake” and “overkill” you see him as passionate and understanding.  In the very early stages of a relationship these traits lead you from one “fun” experience to another…for him its about building your trust and testing your boundaries.

Let’s look at each trait on its own because each ingredient offers its own unique characteristics that contribute to the potion.  I am guessing that some of you may be saying, “I’m not an Excitement-Seeker.  I do not like to jump out of planes!”  But being an excitement seeker is a little more (or less) than that.  It can mean that you like to take risks…personal risks, financial risks, professional risks.  It can be that thing that creates in you the desire to go out on a limb…maybe go to the nightclub on your own or sign up on a dating sight or go on a blind date.  These are not the things that someone who desires boredom would do.  It is the excitement you seek in your hobbies..maybe cycling, hiking or traveling.  It is the excitement that you get from going to a great job every day-a career that drives you to go for it!  You’re the person who says “Yes!” to new experiences and “Sure!” to risky (yet really cool and innovative) opportunities.  It’s that little something inside of you…think about it…that thing that says “I’ll give it a try, why not?”

So, let’s mix the cocktail.  Here you are…with all this desire to “seek excitement” and here he comes…looking for some excitement too!  Pow!  It’s on!  He loves to go…get out there…take risks with no regard for others.  His risks are more about feeding his energy…this energy is part of his pathology.  You know that feeling you get when you meet someone who just overwhelms you…they chat you up…with frenetic energy that just doesn’t stop-that’s the energy of a psychopathy that must be fed with exciting things.  He’s game for anything…in fact you may have noticed that if you mention a hobby it probably is his hobby too! (Later, you find out that he never really like to do that-it was just part of his hook).  He probably loves to travel, if you do; he loves to bike, if you do; he loves to go out with friends, if you do; he loves art, if you do; he loves to go camping, if you do; he loves to go boating, if you do.  Whatever he can do that you do-he’ll do it. Isn’t that exciting?   And herein lies the risk: When two excitement-seekers meet it is a chance to join.   For you it is a chance to build trust; for him a chance to take trust.  For you it is a chance to create a bond; for him a chance to build an attachment.  For you a chance to feel a connection-someone finally understands you; for him a chance to make you think that he is just like you and that he understands.  Your need for excitement means that you take risky chances…sometimes those risks do not pay off.  You (and everyone else in the world) is also more likely to go along with others when you are in a heightened state of excitement.  And herein lies the benefit: Because you are an excitement seeker you will be able to see quickly that he is not “all that and a bag of chips”.  Because inevitably, once the relationship progresses it will become clear that his excitement-seeking fades and the façade he built to trap you will fall to pieces.  He bores easily and not because you are boring but because he cannot sustain the emotional energy that it takes to remain in the relationship.  He bores because he cannot do the emotional work to remain committed and he does not have the depth to go where you can go.  You can turn your wonderful, exciting experiences into real emotional energy-building bonds and forging strength and character for yourself.  He has used the opportunity to manipulate you into being under his control.  When he is done with that task…he must find someone else to fuel his need for excitement.

What about the ingredient of Extraversion?  You might see in yourself a person who openly engages in conversation, someone who is curious about others and often is impulsive in social situations.  You might be the person who leads in a group or offers to help out more often than others.  You are willing to tell your story, share your thoughts, and contribute.  Your extraversion wrapped up with excitement-seeking makes for a pretty great package…life of the party even.  So, mixing it up in the room is another extravert…he has no problem going up to complete strangers (how exciting) and introducing himself and then telling you his life story (or whatever story he thinks you want to hear).  He is “owning” the room with so much confidence and bravado it’s almost sexy.  He displays expertise in to the point he is grandiose…a lot grandiose.  His extraversion is the mask…the mask that makes you think it’s safe.  It’s the mask that convinces you he is what you want him to be.  And they are really good at this part-creating that mask of normality.

Extraversion is a great trait to have but herein lies the risk: your extraversion lets him know that you might play his game.  Your extraversion means you will do the exciting things he likes to do.  It also means that you are curious and probably would not turn down an offer for fun or the offer to try something new…and he might be just that, in the beginning.  You are someone who likes to get out and meet people and the guy who is “owning” the room is just the guy for you.  But there is one thing about extraversion that makes you different from him-your ability to truly bond with others.  And herein lies the benefit: you must become truly bonded with someone to maintain a relationship.  Extraversion may bring you two together but you need mutual understanding, respect and unconditional love…this is not what he provides in the long run.  It will become clear at some point that his extraversion was a rue to hook you…because his mask will fall and you will see that he is really a lonely, empty person who transforms to meet the needs of those around him.  You will begin to use your extraversion as a way to break free of him.  When the dynamics of the relationship become clear you will seek out help…you will find people around you who can support you.  Your curiosity will lead you to answers and help.  You will not fear talking to others…even if they don’t really understand.  You will keep trying until you find what you need.

 

The final main component of the “Attraction Cocktail” is dominance.  Now, this is another one that at first thought you might say, “What, who me?  I am surely not dominant!”  But with a closer look you will see that your dominance looks like leadership…it looks like a woman in charge.  It’s not the kind of dominance that over powers…it is the kind that takes charge.  Your dominance does put you in control without being controlling.  It tells others that you know what you want and will do what you need to do to get it….even if it means you want a relationship with a certain exciting man.  So, there he is…the guy with the magnetic personality who appears as if he “owns” the room…you decide to go for it.  He says, “Bring it on!”  His dominance means that you are a challenge…two “powerful” people means there is energy.  This energy is ultimately moving in different directions but nonetheless energy.  His dominance means he wants to have power over you.  His power is the kind that is controlling but when you first get together it may look like “a man who knows what he wants”…and knows how to get it.  He will use his dominance to appear as if he is your equal…he will move in your circles and appear to be everything you need…and he will do it with swagger.  But soon his dominance and need to control will become “power over”.  And herein lies the risk: Your dominance is not the same as his and when that difference becomes undeniably different you may already be hooked…You may spend the middle to late part of the relationship fighting for your own power and realize that you are completely powerless to his control of you.  You may have seen his dominance as “sameness” and felt comforted (thinking that you are always in control and it is finally nice to have someone match you) but that feeling soon fades.  By the time it does, you can’t break free.  And herein lies the benefit: your dominance will be the power that in the end does free you.  You will learn how he controls you, you will learn his patterns and with that information you will gain control and dominance…the kind of control and dominance that will set you free.

So if this cocktail isn’t strong enough to convince you of the power of his pathology, your risk to it and the benefit it offers you…I want to add one splash of competiveness.  It is one of the final traits that you both have in common and that you both have in high amounts…so it makes sense that it adds to the power of the initial attraction.  Let’s get real…you probably like a good fight.  Not one with someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about or with someone who is not equally matched to your intelligence but a fight that helps you gain an edge…a smarter outlook…a challenge to build your depth of knowledge.  You would not back down if someone came at you with inaccurate information…you have a need to make things right, to get the facts and share facts.    Additionally, you will not tolerate being accused of untruths or called inappropriate names.  If you think you are not competitive…ask yourself how you would react if someone called you a name or lied about you…I bet you would not back down to that.  Well, guess what-he does not like to back down either.  He likes a challenge so he is looking for someone who will tangle with him.  This type of emotional tangle is just what he loves.  He loves to engage in emotional wrangling-it feeds his need for power.  When he can control you emotionally he knows that you are invested in the relationship.  And herein lies the risk: this relationship is going to feel like a challenge to both of you in the beginning.  To you a less passive man probably seems boring.  Furthermore, you are not afraid to battle it out and you surely do not want him to “get one over” on you.  So this is a great reason to stay and fight.  You also might find it a challenge to stay in the relationship and “bust” him doing something…staying until you find the evidence or staying until you find out he’s NOT doing what you think he is.  Your competiveness means that you are willing and able to battle it out in court.  You will go head to head with him…and that is just what he wants.  And herein lies the benefit-once you know who he isyou will fight like hell to get out.  You will realize that you have won because he no longer has the power that comes from your lack of awareness.  More importantly, being competitive helped you build a great life.  You fought for things that were important to you-an education, a great career.  It helped you to challenge others and yourself to always be the best and find the best in others.  It helped you make good decisions and take a pro-active approach to almost everything. The best thing about being competitive is that you are often successful. The reason you are successful is because part of competition is knowing when you have been beat-knowing when to cut your losses and move on to a challenge you can win.  It is not about being so headstrong that you stay and fight just to be able to say “I win”.  Your competitiveness, combined with all the other traits you possess lead to more than a need to win…they lead to success.

Because he is sicker than you are smart you will never “win” with him.  So all of your book smarts and street smarts and relationship smarts will not out smart his ability to psychologically damage you.  Prolonged exposure leads to inevitable harm.  Once you know this the battle is over.

By the end of the relationship you may not even feel competitive anymore…he has taken it from you.  The energy, fire and gusto that you once had may seem gone.  But spend some time away…talk with your girlfriends or family about it…your fire will return.  Your brain will tell you to put down the sword and walk away from the emotional vampire; walk away from the battle that you cannot win.

 

Ultimately and in the end this is where the similarity stops and the pathology begins.  Someone who is pathological does not want someone like themselves…ultimately they know that they lack certain things that other people have and they are on a never ending search to get those things…and because they will never get those things or be those things they will use your emotions to control you…so they can fill their empty cup.

So when you ask yourself “Why me?” the answer is clear-because you have what he wants.  And when you ask yourself “Why did I stay?” the answer is because you posses traits that meet his needs and he used them to control you.  And when you ask yourself “How do I begin to heal?” the answer is by using all of your traits as powerful healing tools, tools that have helped you create a big, full life in every other area of your life.

When it comes to the traits contained in the Attraction Cocktail you may be asking “How do I make sure I never get caught up by another psychopath again?”  My suggestion is to use these traits and take the Joyce Brown approach to life.  Once you begin to accept that you are an extraverted, excitement-seeking, dominant, competitive woman…once you own that and claim (or re-claim) the benefits…you will find new ways to feed that part of you.  Remember, these are NOT deficits, they are overflowing traits you posses so you must use them.  You must do it carefully and cautiously, but your must use them.  You can do a couple of things:

  • Find a hobby-learn to do something you’ve always wanted to learn.
  • Take up a political cause or join a social action group.
  • Work with a non-profit agency on an issue close to your heart.
  • Start a club or group focused on a topic, issue, or hobby you enjoy.
  • Learn to ride a motorcycle or take up waterskiing (go big or go home, right?)

Think outside of the box…these are just a few suggestions that will feed your need to be extraverted, do exciting things, be a leader and engage with others.  Most importantly you are using your traits in a way that YOU can control.  If you are carefully and thoughtfully aware of who you are and what you need…no one can come along and take that away from you.

Peace to you,

Jennifer Young, MS