Archives for October 2013

Triggers and Knee-Jerk Reactions During the Holidays

The holidays are stressful under the best of situations. Add to it a dangerous and pathological relationship and you can have a prescription for guaranteed unhappiness.

The pathological relationship never lies dormant during the holidays. It’s an opportunity to recontact you—of course, “just to wish you a Merry Christmas.” If you haven’t already, do read The Institute’s materials regarding our “Starve the Vampire” teaching on No Contact! He has a million hooks he will use to get you back in … here’s one— Christmas!

A text message of Happy Holidays is not good cheer. It’s a hook.  A Christmas card is not a mass card to everyone—it is a targeted approach for you. A gift left on your door step isn’t a thoughtful gift—it’s a manipulation because being the good-mannered girl you are, you’ll call and thank him, and then he’ll have you on the phone … and it all goes downhill from there.

Then there’s the mistletoe, and the date for New Year’s Eve, and the gift he left for your child or your parents … The holidays are one BIG OP-POR-TU-NI-TY for Mr. Opportunistic.

The No Contact rule still applies and he’ll be testing your boundaries to see if it applies during the holidays. If it DOESN’T apply and you responded to him or sent him a text/card/call, you have just taught him where your loophole is. You also said something very LOUD to him. You just screamed in his ear, “I’m lonely! Come snuggle with me.” And you know what he’s thinking—“You don’t have to ask TWICE!”

Ladies, Christmas is ONE day of the year that is laced with a lot of triggering memories. Maybe from childhood where you believe, “miracles happen on Christmas” or “everyone should be together then,” or the sights, smells, and memories of past Christmases with him are rehashing in your mind. Don’t stay stuck in that “airbrushed Christmas memory”—how about you pull out your memory list from the other 363 days of the year and how he behaved then? One night with the twinkle of Christmas tree lights and a ribbon on a gift doesn’t make a pathological man stable!

Get out of the fantasy.  Christmas has a way of hypnotizing women into the fantasy of his positive behavior and his lack of pathology. Nothing changed because we hit Christmas season. It’s just a BIGGER opportunity for him to hook you.

If you’re still with the pathological person, they can be very sabotaging at this time of year, wanting to strip away every little piece of joy you could get from the season. They get drunk, pick fights, say mean things to your family, yell at the kids, and don’t participate.

Don’t react. Have a great Christmas while he wallows around in that puddle of pathology.
You know one of the things we found out in our research? You ladies tested unbelievably high in “sentimentality.” What are the holidays all about? SENTIMENT! If your sentiment is on caffeine, what do you think it will do? Be restrained or have a knee-jerk reaction because all that sentiment is coursing through your veins?

One slip-up now could cost you a year of trying to get rid of him again. Call a support person and tell them you VOW to them not to have contact this season. Then make plans to fill up your time so it’s not even a possibility.

I have “lectured” our readers about loneliness because this four-inch stack on research sitting on my desk that you ladies filled out, tells me that you lapse and lapse and lapse again when you feel lonely. Holidays induce loneliness. Plan ahead and safeguard. “I was lonely” is not an excuse for starting something that will once again destroy your life!
Instead, do something wonderful with your kids. Get outside, take a walk, go to a movie with friends, do some scrapbooking, get some of our books to read, go to a nursing home and visit someone! Sit in a chapel alone and count blessings, walk your dog more, go to the gym! Do anything except have a knee-jerk reaction to your excessive sentimentality gene!!

The Predictability of Pathology

Women say “You are describing my relationship EXACTLY” or “He has said those exact words to me” or “How do you know what my relationship is like–how can you know this?”

Contrary to some beliefs, I’m NOT psychic!

I accurately describe people’s relationships because to a certain extent, parts of pathology and their behavior are predictable. Pathology is related to certain personality and psychological disorders. Each one of these personality disorders has its own set of behaviors, dysfunctions, and for some of the disorders–neuro abnormalities. To know the personality disorder is to know the behavior–either now or in the future. This is why Public Psychopathy Education is information for everyone because anyone can learn to predict, to a certain extent, the kinds of behaviors that are likely from the pathological in their life.

Criminal profiling to a large extent is exactly that–knowing what the behavior is likely to be given their probable diagnosis of anti-social, socio or psychopath. Although your pathological might not be criminal, this approach still applies. His behavior is predictable.

Each personality disorder has its own set of behaviors. Pathology is related to:

a. The inability to sustain positive change

b. The inability to grow to any authentic emotional or spiritual depth

c. The inability to develop deep insight about their negative behavior affects others

So once you understand the behaviors related to the personality disorder then you apply the ‘Absolutes of Pathology’ — the inability to change, grow, or develop insight and you can pretty much take his behavior now and apply it to the future in ANY relationship. His behaviors related to his specific personality disorder are permanent. The neuroscience that now supports abnormalities in Cluster B disorders and psychopathy also highlight the issues that since these are brain region problems (not just brain chemistry/medication problems), their permanence is much more a factor.

If someone can not grow or change then his behaviors aren’t going to change. If his behaviors aren’t going to change he will be the same today as he was 10 years ago in a relationship, career or interaction and will be the same 20 years from now. If he doesn’t have the ability to develop insight about his behavior then I can tell you what it’s like to communicate with someone who can’t ‘see’ his own faults. If his brain regions that effect impulse control, bonding/attachment, and the inability to learn from past mistakes are faulty, we know what the future will be like for him.

Our goal in Public Psychopathy Education is for others to understand that you TOO can learn to loosely predict pathological behavior based on past or current behavior. Once you understand the symptoms of the personality disorder you can expect these behaviors to continue. The more you understand the Absolutes of Pathology the more clearly you can understand what his future is likely to hold for himself and others in his life. It isn’t hard to predict something that doesn’t change!

The exception to that rule is when violence is or has been involved. Pathologicals with violence issues can be erratic and unstable. Predicting their ability to be currently non-violent based on past non-violent episodes is too risky and may not follow the patterns he normally follows. Pathologicals who are addicts are hard to predict because of the instability of the person in an addiction. With violence, sexual offenses or addiction the rule of thumb is that the predictability factor is likely to be too risky to judge. When in doubt–doubt his predictability in violence, addiction or sexual offenses.

Otherwise, pathology is fairly easy to call. When someone doesn’t change, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you’re wondering what you’re pathological was like in the relationship before you or will be like in the one after you, just gauge everything from where he is today. It’s that simple and that sad.

External Locus of Belief

Is it True, is it REALLY True?        

In psychology, we refer to the belief about where control over events in our lives resides as internal and external locus of control. This means we see our behaviors either generated by personal efforts or by destiny. We believe that we make things happen or we believe others do it for us whether we like it or not.

But also related to internal and external locus of control is it’s effect on impulse motivation. This means that a person who has internal locus of control can self regulate their impulses and desires themselves. They find their motivation for behavior, choices, and reactions inside of themselves by themselves. (By the way, pathologicals normally have poor internal locus of control except for brief periods of time when they are conning someone).

Other people who have external locus of control (like the pathologicals) are not self regulated in their behavior, choices, and reactions inside of themselves. Instead, they look outside themselves for motivation and consequently since they don’t regulate themselves well, outside themselves for limits on their behaviors. People with poor internal locus of control often need the external world to regulate themselves for them—unfortunately this is often the legal system, jail, or some kind of negative consequence.

But today, I am talking about internal and external locus of belief systems. Where is your belief system (especially about the pathological) located? Inside you or externally in others? Do you come to understand, see, and accept his pathology within yourself? Do you read materials, go to counseling and then come to believe and hold that belief in you that he is pathological, can’t change, and destructive to your own future? Are you able to pull up inside of yourself the facts of his dangerous or misleading behavior in your relationship? Are you able to point to the ways in which he has been destructive to others? Are you able to latch on to his diagnosis and use it as a life raft for yourself to drift away from him?

OR, are your beliefs externally hinged? “If you say so Sandy–if you say he’s pathological, then I guess he is.” “If he scored high on the P-scan (developed by Dr. Robert Hare) then I suppose that is correct….” Statements like these are related to people who have external locus of belief. They don’t really believe it themselves, they are hinging their belief system to someone else’s belief systems–usually mine or another expert in pathology. Somewhere along the line they haven’t really ‘come to believe’ that the pathology is his.

It’s still some distant reality ‘labeled’ by a therapist but she doesn’t own it inside herself. This makes accepting it, reallllyyyyyy accepting it, hard for her because she then needs to be reminded every 30 seconds that he is in fact, permanently pathological. Once she is out of ear range of a therapist or some other external validating system (books, dvds, cds, etc.) will she still accept his pathology?

‘Coming to believe’ pathology is a hard thing. It’s a shock to learn that someone you thought was the most wonderful person in the world is secretly very, very (did I say very?) sick. NOT only do you have to believe that the person is very, very (did I say very?) sick, but that sickness has no cure. Not only are they sick and have no cure, but staying around them is detrimental to your own (and your children’s) mental health. Not only that they are sick, have no cure, staying around them is detrimental to your own mental health but they have all the capacities of breaking both your knee caps–either financially or even physically given no conscience. This is a big wad to swallow all at once with no chaser of hope.

Most people need a time of ‘coming to believe’ — it’s like building faith in anything else–we study and come to believe. Pathology is the same way–you need some education, some time to digest this big wad of bad news, and some time to work a plan of ‘accepting the things I cannot change.’ Almost everyone who faces the fact of pathology in someone else has this same ‘coming to terms’ process. We expect it.

But, there is also the problem of when you don’t ever come to truly accept it and then hinge your belief system about his pathology on some external person, organization, or book. The Institute can not be your belief system (He’s pathological because Sandy says so). If after a few months, that belief system doesn’t become internal for you (I know this to be self evident, that he is pathological and for all of these reasons….) then you’re in trouble of relapse.

Just like in external locus of control explained above, external locus of belief stands in the same jeopardy–that someone else can’t be responsible for what you do with what you know (or what you don’t come to accept). That your pathology destiny is not in The Institute’s hands–it’s in yours. That whether you ignore the info and go back is entirely up to you—not a support group, not a book, not a program or a retreat–just your destiny in your hands.

If your locus of belief is still external and it doesn’t shift and become internal–just know this is a risk factor for you. Holding the belief system steady is the challenge of overcoming cognitive dissonance. When it doesn’t get over come eventually, either you learn to do what the 12 Steppers call ‘Fake It Til You Make It’ (do it til you believe it) or face the rising statistics that you’re likely to believe the internal chatter and make a Bee line back.

Remembering Our Roots

Joyce’s Brown’s Influence on The Pathological Love Relationship Recovery Process

This weekend marked the 6th death anniversary of an extraordinary visionary. Many of The Institute’s highly acclaimed purposes, products, and processes came from what Joyce lived through, talked about, and role modeled for others.

Joyce, like other leaders, did not set out to do anything extraordinary. She simply set out to heal after two back-to-back pathological relationships. First a 25 year relationship with a narcissist and then an upgrade to a sociopath for 10 years left Joyce in the typical emotional fetal position that is common of the aftermath of pathological relationships.

She went through the normal stages of pathology recovery asking,

“What just happened?”

“Did I do that?’

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Why am I so obsessed with this?”

“What’s wrong with me? Why am I attracted to men like that and what does it say about my life that I would end up in a relationship like that?”

Without the benefit of mental health therapy and with only the support of a few close friends (who were quickly becoming weary of the ongoing saga of ‘why’ her, why him, why he moved on quickly, and why he picked the new woman), Joyce managed to piece together not only a recovery, but some profound insights that changed the quality of her life forever.

By then, at age 60, it would have been easy to say she would not likely find love, or heal. It would have been even easier to get bitter, get revenge, get hyper focused on him and his latest antics, or get in a fetal position and stay there.

But remarkably, Joyce rose from the dirt she had been ground down into. Like the symbol of the Rising Phoenix she not only rose, she dug out every particle of dirt that could be transformed from crusted pain and milled it for life changing insight.

She didn’t keep these golden gems to herself—she talked to women about relationships wherever she was. Some of her approaches have trickled down to help other therapists work with women leaving pathological relationships.

Joyce believed women tended to drift sideways into pathological relationships looking for fun and excitement which actually pointed at what that woman needed in her life that would prevent her from taking just any old relationship.

“If you aren’t living a big enough life that is as big as your heart, or as big as your personality, or as big as your dreams, then any old psychopath will do.”

She poignantly asked herself “What is or is not going on in my own life that I would end up with a sociopath? Sure I didn’t know he was one, he said all the right things…but what could this possibly be pointing out to me about me, the condition of my own life, and what needs to happen so I don’t choose like this again?”

16 years later she had answered her own question:

In her 60’s she went to college for the first time, became a short term missionary, she started her life in the arts of painting, sculpting, and pottery, she moved to a one room beach house so she could ‘make up for lost time and play hard,’ drove a convertible Miata to feel the rush of adrenaline she no longer had because the sociopath was gone. In her 70’s she took up belly dancing to prove to herself she was still attractive, went to Paris to see handsome men so she knew she could still flirt, and got a motorcycle so she always had something hot to ride (!)—hey, I’m just quoting Joyce here. She became a hospital Chaplin to comfort the sick and fed the poor every week to give some of that hyper empathy away least it go to another psychopath. She sailed a Catamaran to the Bahamas to challenge her fear because she could not swim.

“A relationship is the icing on the cake. It is NOT the cake. Don’t confuse the necessity of living life to be the icing. Living life IS the cake. Anything else, including relationships, is just the icing.”

The Institute’s own Jennifer Young who does phone coaching and our tele-support group had this to say about Joyce’s impact on her and the women she helps, “Joyce Brown carries a big impact on my work with women. On her own she developed the innate ability to care for herself. That care translated into real solutions for disengagement from a pathological relationship. I believe the biggest, specific idea that has come from Joyce is the idea of ‘Not One More Minute”. I have shared this concept with many women who instantly feel the ability to disengage….not one more minute means I will not allow you to take one more minute of my energy, my love, my care, my compassion. It provides an end point…a point to say I’m done. This change in thinking, that I stop it, is crucial. It means that she has come to know and understand that he will not change, but I still can…and I will. So thanks to Joyce Brown for showing us the way to the end!”

At her death at age 76, she laid in a hospice bed only hours from death. I told her I wanted to toast her life. She said “Crank this bed up!” She fluffed her hair and with a glass of Jack Daniels in her hand, she said “I have had a great life. I lived, I learned how to have a great life, and I was loved. Who could ask for more?”

Her life lived well is what has impacted thousands of women worldwide and is the main thing women come away with who attended our retreats. Sadly, in this day and age, living a great life seems to be an extraordinary accomplishment. Her lecture on ‘Get a Great Life’ is what has spurred women on to not merely limp into recovery dragging their soul behind them. But to burst into recovery and fill their lives to the rim with all the things that her big personality needs in order to live fully. Lifeless living is what caused many women to seek the psychopath so full of energy that it seemed exciting and vibrant. Joyce said, “The problem is pointing to the solution. I loved the energy of those men! But what was that energy and why couldn’t I have it another way? Was a psychopath the only way for me to feel life?”

Joyce learned that vibrancy comes from a life that is full of the things that interest, motivate, support, and challenge HER. If she wasn’t living a big enough, interesting enough, motivational enough, supported enough, and challenged enough life….she would drift again into the arms of pathology to fill that space.

Feel how big YOU are and fill your own life with a great life!

From one of our readers, she wrote on Joyce’s Facebook Memorial:

“Thank you, dear lady, for your continued inspiration – a legacy you’ve left to many you never knew but who have come to love you for your feistiness, tenacity, grit and that wonderful sense of humor!”

Get a great life and stop the cycle of pathology!

Recovery Without Justice

At the heart of the victims rights movement I was involved in during the 1980s after my father’s murder, was the concept of judicial justice that would lead to psychological justice.  It’s a great concept, and in a perfect world it would work in all situations.  If the pathological person wronged you (physically hurt you, conned you out of money, screwed up custody situations, cheated on you, spiritually abused you, etc.), he would be held accountable in the courts for his behavior, and more importantly, he would be forced into victim restitution in which he would have to repay or do something as a sign of his guilt and your pain.

Of course, restitution in and of itself really doesn’t heal anything.  It’s just the victim or person who was harmed feels like the scales of justice, that were so grossly leaning in his direction, got balanced into their direction.  For a moment in court, and however long it takes him to pay or do the restitution, he is officially “guilty” and everyone knows he was charged as such.  He is “paying his price to his victim” for his actions.  For a moment in court, a judge believes you!  He believes the monster really did what you say he did.  That, in and of itself, is often the psychological justice that victims really look for and it helps them to heal.

In murder trials that I often attended, obviously the family could not be compensated in any true way that relieved their pain and suffering.  Their loved one was murdered.  No amount of restitution touches a human life.  The best the family can hope for is physical payment, prison, the death sentence, or some other act that the court assigns for the monster to repay the victim’s family.

The judicial system acts as the conscience of this country.  Victims seek solace in the courtroom and chambers hoping that justice will alleviate the pain, horror, and stigmatization of being a victim of the monster.  But we know that in many cases, and I dare say, in most cases, that’snot what happens.  Restraining orders are not granted, arrests are not performed for stalking or violence, children are given over to the pathological who is overtly violent, sick, drug addicted, or otherwise an inept parent.  When the pathological doesn’t pay child support, nothing is done and the child is still sent to him. The thousands of dollars he conned out of you or stole from you is not returned.  When alimony isn’t paid, he gets away with it.  Repeated visits to the courts do nothing to convince them, or to open their eyes to the true nature of his behaviors. Anything that is court ordered he defies and laughs at.  You stand, mouth gaping and wondering, “Where is the justice?  HOW does he get away with this?”

I have repeatedly said that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological.  If ANYONE will get away with a con or a criminal act, it will be the pathological.  The universal scales of justice are tilted in their favor and, ironically, somehow influence the judicial scales of justice.  In the 20 years of doing this work, I have seen them literally get away with murder, rape, embezzlement, breaking and entering, stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, and more.  This ranks as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”—how pathological people can con their way out of the most vicious deeds and often never pay in any way for their behavior.

In these cases, women’s hopes of justice are dashed as it is connected to part of their psychological healing.  The scales of justice will never be balanced—she is not vindicated in the way that helps her to heal.  Even if he is found guilty of something, he is rarely ever held to the standard of the law it’s connected to.  If he is supposed to pay a fine, he doesn’t.  If he is supposed to go to jail or prison, it’s postponed or overturned.  If custody is denied, he receives it by another judge. If he embezzled, it’s forgiven in exchange for an admission of guilt.

Victims’ rights and their connection to judicial and psychological justice will not get played out often in pathological relationships.  The psychological justice that the victim is counting on in order to validate her—her moment in which the conscience of this country believes her—doesn’t happen.  Since we understand that psychological justice is what is most likely to help victims heal, now what?

Sternly, I tell victims of pathological relationships that they sometimes must recover without justice.  We are not discussing “what is fair,” because the pathological has already skirted the issue of “fairness.”  He doesn’t live with the concept of fairness and the law doesn’t use it as a concept with him.  If you desire to recover, heal and move forward with your life, it will require that you might just have to recover without judicial justice, without victim restitution, and without the conscience of this country validating your story.

You have to recover without a second of judicial support.  Women who hinge recovery on judicial justice, or waiting for their day in court, or “when he gets what’s coming to him,” will never recover.  The universe is tilted in his favor, and your own recovery must be a daring adventure in the face of a lack of victims’ rights.  Sometimes the only personal justice is recovering and living a great life.  What he had done to you doesn’t define you, hold you down, or stop you from succeeding in your own spiritual outlook.

In the end, the only thing you really have control over is how you choose to see your situation.  If you see it as a victim and are unable to move past that view, you won’t recover.  If you see it as horrible things that happened to you but don’t define or restrain you, you will move forward—with or without justice.

The unfair situation is what you have lived through and the aftermath of the effects of the pathological relationship.  In the face of this grossly dehumanizing experience is the indomitable ability to recover that can guide you, not only to survive, but also to thrive in the face of great pain.  I have every confidence you can heal, even without justice.  Let us know if we can help you do that.