Archives for 2013

Living the Gentle Life,Part 3-The Emotional Effects

The Emotional Effects

In the previous newsletter, I have been talking about recovering from a pathological love relationship.  (You can read the previous newsletters on our website under Sandra Says.) The toll it takes on people often leaves them with symptoms of chronic stress.  For extremely bad relationships, often the result is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—a diagnosed anxiety disorder.  The long-term stress from the pathological love relationship (with narcissists, abusive partners, socio/psychopaths) affects people emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually.

I have been talking about what the body ‘does’ when it is under chronic stress and the results of this unrelenting stress.  (The previous newsletters about this are on the magazine site under Sandra’s Current Article).  The last newsletter discussed how to deal with the physical ramifications of stress, and I even created a unique relaxation audio for people with chronic stress or PTSD (which is available on the magazine site under Shopping/CDs, Audios.)  I also talked about changing your physical environment to embrace the needs of a stress disorder.

Today, we are going to discuss emotional effects and how to create the Gentle Life for your emotional needs as well.

PTSD is an emotional disorder that falls in the category of anxiety disorders.  Therefore, someone with chronic stress of any kind needs to learn the types of techniques that help reduce emotional anxiety.  The problem is, by the time people ask for help with chronic stress or PTSD, they have often lived with it for a long time and the symptoms are then extreme.

The emotional effects of untreated PTSD can include tension, panic attacks, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, or hyper-startle reflex.  All of these are distressing, and over time a combination of these symptoms can normally occur at the same time.

The relaxation technique is a way of managing the physical symptoms of PTSD.  Relaxation techniques are not ‘optional’ in the recovery of chronic stress/PTSD.  That’s because these techniques have a dual purpose.  These same relaxation techniques also help manage the emotional symptoms as well as the physical.  Learning correct breathing to ward off anxiety and panic attacks can be done through the relaxation techniques.

Likewise, these same techniques can help with sleep disruptions and tension.  Chronic stress and PTSD are disorders that should be treated by a professional therapist.  Especially with PTSD, the symptoms tend to increase over time if not treated.  People make the mistake of waiting until it is totally unbearable, and then it takes time to ease the symptoms.  People are often ‘hopeful’ it will just go away when the pathological relationship has ended or contact has ceased.  These aren’t the worst relationships in the world for nothing!  They are labeled as such, because they produce horrible side effects!

Unfortunately, PTSD is a chronic disorder meaning you are likely to have symptoms off and on for years, maybe a lifetime.  This is all the more reason to learn how to manage the symptoms when you may need to.  Intrusive thoughts are one of the most complained about symptoms.

This is when unwanted thoughts of the pathological person or relationship keep popping up in your head.  No matter how many times you try ‘not’ to think about it, it keeps coming back.  The problem with the imagery in your mind is that each time it pops in, it has the ability to trigger you.  Your body responds to the trigger with adrenaline and starts the whole stress cycle over again.  So managing the intrusive thoughts and flashbacks is imperative to emotionally regulating yourself and living the gentle life.

Living the gentle life means removing your self from personalities that are similar to the pathological relationship.  We often tend to migrate BACK to the same kind of people and relationships we just left.  These kinds of abusive people can cause an emotional avalanche.  It is important that you understand the kind of traits in people that should be avoided if you have PTSD or high-level stress.  These could be people who remind you of the pathological person, loud or aggressive people, or those who violate your boundaries or bother you in other ways.  Stress and PTSD do mandate that you develop self-protective skills such as setting boundaries—learning to say no or leave environments that increase your symptoms.  Learn to migrate instead, to people who are serene or leave you feeling relaxed and happy.

Creating your gentle physical environment will also help you emotionally.  An environment that is soothing, calm, quiet, soft, and comfortable has the best chance of allowing an over-stimulated body to relax.  Changing your physical environment for your emotional benefits, and adding the relaxation technique can greatly impact the amount of emotional symptoms you experience.  Learning ’emotional regulation skills’ for stress and PTSD is a must.

Living the Gentle Life Part 2-The Physical Effects

In the previous newsletter I had begun talking about the normal after-math of pathological love relationships—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Previous newsletter is on the magazine under Sandra’s Current Articles.)

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is often re-activated by daily ‘triggers.’ These can include people, places, things, or sensory feelings that reconnect you with the trauma of the relationship. In the last newsletter I talked about the gentle life and how an over-taxed and anxious body/mind needs a soothing life. I cannot stress this enough that people MUST remember that their PTSD symptoms CAN BE re-activated if you aren’t taking care of yourself and living a gentle life.
What IS a gentle life? A gentle life is a life lived remembering the sensitivities of your PTSD. It isn’t ignored, or wished away–it is considered and compensated for. Since PTSD affects one physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually–all of those elements need to be considered in a

gentle life. Just as if you had diabetes you would consider what you eat or what medication you need to take, so is it with PTSD.

Interestingly, although PTSD has its description listed in the psychiatric manuals, PTSD has some very real physical effects as well. In fact, they have even discussed listing it in physician’s manuals as well because the untreated on-going effects of acute stress are well known in the medical community. Since PTSD has both components of emotional and physical symptoms, someone recovering from PTSD must take those aspects into account.

Physically, PTSD is often a chronic condition by the time you take yourself for emotional help. That means you have been living with it for a while and it has been wreaking havoc on your physical body during that time. Unbridled anxiety/stress/fear pumps enormous amounts of adrenaline and cortisol into your body. This over stimulates your body and mind and causes insomnia, paranoia, hyperactivity, a racing mind/intrusive thoughts and the inability to ‘let down’ and ‘rest.’
A body that has been living on adrenaline needs the adrenal glands to ‘chill!’ People often complain of chronic insomnia which also leads to depression. Depression can lead to lethargy, over eating, weight gain and hopelessness. It is possible to have both anxiety and depression occurring at the same time. Un-managed stress, anxiety, and adrenaline can lead to longer term medical problems often associated with stress–lower GI problems, migraines, teeth grinding, aggravated periods, chest pain, panic attacks, chronic fatigue and most auto-immune disorders like fibromyalgia, lupus, chronic fatigue, arthritis, and MS.

So, CLEARLY PTSD is something that SHOULD be treated. Physically that means to go to someone who can diagnose you–a therapist or psychiatrist. In the early parts of treatment, it is normal to take anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressants or sleep aides in order to rectify your depleted brain chemistry and to allow the adrenal glands to ‘rest’ and stop pumping out the adrenaline. Your doctor is in the best position to tell you what will help you relieve your physical symptoms.

Additionally, you need to help your body and brain produce the ‘good stuff’ in your brain chemistry which means exercising, eating well, and learning relaxation techniques. Too much adrenaline has been pumping through your body with no way to get utilized. Excessive adrenaline makes your feel jumpy and restless. Exercise (even moderate walking) helps to produce endorphins in your brain that produce those feelings of ‘well-being’ and helps to burn off the adrenaline and any extra weight you might have gathered.

Although during depression you often don’t FEEL like exercising, you will always feel bad if you don’t get your body moving. Stress is even stored at the cellular level of our bodies. You must, must, must get moving in order to feel better.

Eating well means not trying to medicate your depression and low energy with carbs. When you are depressed your body craves carbs as a source of quick energy but the spikes in blood sugar add to the sense of mood highs and lows. You’ve already had enough ‘junk’ in the relationship–think of it as nurturing to give your body good food to replace all the ‘junk’ that it has been through. You can greatly help mood swings by eating well.

Dealing with the negative habits you have picked up as a ‘coping mechanism’ is also necessary. Lots of people with PTSD try to medicate their anxiety and depression. This could be through smoking, relationship hopping, sex, eating/binging/purging, drugs (legal and illegal) and the

increased use of alcohol. In fact, one of the devastating side effects of PTSD is how many alcoholics it produces. Anything you are prone to right now tends to increase when you have PTSD because you begin to do that habit more and more to manage your PTSD symptoms. Finding positive coping skills instead of negative habits is a great step in your recovery.

Physical recovery also means paying attention to not reactivating your symptoms. Your physical environment in which you live, play and work must be conducive to low stimulation. That means low lights, low noise, and low aggravation. Sometimes that means making big changes in how your house is run so that it is not loud, noisy and over active. Sometimes that means making big changes in the PEOPLE you hang out with — getting rid of the loud, noisy, over active, aggressive and pathological. And sometimes it means making big changes in a job where the environment does nothing but trigger you.

Lastly, learning relaxation techniques is not ‘optional’ for people with PTSD. PTSD is a chronic state of hyper-vigilance, agitation, and restlessness. Your body has been over-ridden with adrenaline for a long time and has ‘forgotten’ how to find it’s equilibrium in relaxation. It must be retaught. Re-teaching means doing it daily. Taking 5 – 10 minutes a day to use relaxation breathing and allowing your mind to unwind and giving positive messages to your body to relax will help your tap into this natural relaxation even during times you are not actively trying to relax. The more you use the technique, the quicker your body can relax–even at work or when you are doing something else because it has ‘remembered’ how to.

There are lots of tapes, CDs or videos you can buy on relaxation that walk you thru how to do it (we also have one created for PTSD on the magazine under Shopping/CDs, Audios. Or take Yoga where they teach you these deep breathing techniques that help correct the ’shallow/panting’ breathing that is associated with PTSD and anxiety. This type of breathing can actually trigger panic attacks. Learning to breathe well again is a metaphor for ‘exhaling’ all the junk you’ve been thru and releasing it. If you don’t have a relaxation tape, you are welcome to get our mp3 audio on relaxation techniques on our website. Most importantly is to just become acutely aware that PTSD is physical (and often medical) as it is emotional.

Living the Gentle Life Part 1

“Be gentle with yourself.  The rest of your life deserves it.” (Sandra L. Brown, MAPost Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a trauma-related anxiety disorder. PTSD is often seen as an aftermath symptom of Pathological Love Relationships. Exposure to other people’s pathology can and often does, give other people stress disorders, including PTSD. Our systems are simply not wired for long term exposure to someone else’s abnormal psychology. Often the result is a series of aftermath symptoms that include PTSD which is described as ‘a normal reaction to an abnormal life event.’ Being with a narcissist, socio or psychopath is definitely an ‘abnormal life event.’

PTSD’s profound and long term effects create what I refer to as a ‘cracked vessel.’ The fragmentation caused by the trauma creates a crack in the emotional defense system of the person. While treatment can ‘glue the crack back together’ and the vessel can once again function as a vessel, if pressure is applied to the crack, the vase will split apart again. This means, that the crack is a stress fracture in the vessel—it’s the part of the vessel that is damaged and weakened in that area.

There are numerous types of therapies that can help PTSD. If you have it, or someone you care about has it, you/they should seek treatment because it does not go away by itself and many people don’t realize that if left untreated, it can worsen. People often have missed the opportunity of treating PTSD when it was still relatively ‘treatable’ and responsive to therapy. The sooner PTSD is treated, the better the outcome. But any treatment can still help PTSD.

However, what is often not recognized is the ‘continual’ life that must be lived when living with the after effects of PTSD. Because the cracked vessel can re-crack again, a gentle and balanced life will relieve a lot of the PTSD symptoms that can linger. I have often seen people who have put a lot of effort into their recovery NOT put a lot of effort into the quality of a gentle life following treatment. This is a mistake because going back into a busy and crazy life can re-fragment the PTSD. As much as people want to ‘get back out there’ and think they can return to the life they use to live, often that’s not true. ‘Wanting’ to be able to live or do what you did before does not mean that you will be able to.

Consequently, many people’s anxiety symptoms returned. Much like a 12 Step program, ‘one day at a time’ is necessary and understanding your proclivity for re-activated PTSD must stay foremost in your mind.

Living the gentle life means reducing your exposure to triggers that can re-activate your PTSD. Only you know what these are…if you don’t know, then that’s the first order of therapy–to find your triggers. You can’t avoid (or even treat) what you don’t know exists.

Triggers are exposure to emotional, physical, sexual, visual, auditory, or kinesthetic reminders that set off anxiety symptoms. This could be people, places, objects, sounds, tastes, or smells that reconnect you to your trauma. Once you are reconnected to your trauma, your physical body reacts by pumping out the adrenaline and you become hyper-aroused known as hyper vigilant.

This increases paranoia, insomnia, startle reflex and lots of other over-stimulated and anxiety oriented behaviors.

Other triggers that are not trauma-specific but you should be on the alert for are violent movies, TV, or music, high noise levels, life style/jobs/people who are too fast-paced, ‘busy’ environments, risky or scary jobs, bosses or co-workers who have personality disorders and are abrasive, or any other situation that kick-starts your anxiety.

Women are often surprised that other people’s pathology now sets them off. Once they have been exposed to pathology and gotten PTSD from this exposure, other pathology can trigger PTSD symptoms. Living ‘pathology free’ is nearly mandatory–to the degree that you can ‘un-expose’ yourself to other known pathologies.

The opposite of chronic exposure to craziness and pathology would be the gentle life. Think ‘Zen Retreat Center’ — a subdued environment where your senses can rest…where a body that has been too pumped up with adrenaline can let down…a mind that races can relax, the video flash-backs can go on pause, fast-paced chest panting can turn into long/slow/deep diaphragmatic breathing, where darting eyes can close, where soft scents soothe, and gentle music lulls, where high heels come off and flip flops go on…where long quiet walks give way to tension release…where quieting of the mind chases off the demons of hyperactive thinking….where when you whisper you can hear yourself.

Only, this isn’t a retreat center for once a year…this is your life where your recovery and your need for all things-gentle, are center in your life. It doesn’t mean you need to quit your job or move to a mountain, but it does mean that you attend to your over-stimulated physical body. Those things in your life you can control such as the tranquility of your own environment need to be. Lifestyle adjustments ARE required for those who want to avoid reactivated anxiety. This includes psychological/emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual self care techniques.

The one thing you can count on about PTSD is when you AREN’T taking care of your self your body will SCREAM IT! Your life can not be the crazy-filled life you may watch others live. Your need for exercise, quiet, healthy food, spirituality, tension release, and joy are as necessary as oxygen for someone with PTSD. Walking the gentle path is your best guard against more anxiety and your best advocate for peace.)

 

About Face:Changing the Direction from Which You Seek Happiness

There are times when “internal reflecting” becomes necessary and we are guided to dig in, evaluate, and give thanks. It is a time to ponder ideas and gather insights that might have eluded us during the busyness of everyday life, and slow down to look inward and receive the Light we may not receive at other times during the year. I hope this week’s newsletter is a little piece of Light that you are open to receive.

Several Christmas’ ago, I received a book written by one of my favorite spiritual writers, Thomas Keating. It’s called The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation. Profoundly, he reminds us that we spend much of our lives looking for happiness through avenues that can never produce it. We create our misery by “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the song goes.  Nothing can be truer when it comes to pathology. Pathology is wired to produce misery, not happiness. Everyone has the same response to pathology—they are harmed, miserable, and eventually try to flee. It’s a true indicator of seeking happiness from a source unable to deliver it.

Your idea of happiness was probably initially developed around the relationship, or the fantasy that was painted for you about him, the relationship, or your future. Instead of understanding that happiness had been sought from someone, whom by the nature of their disorder could never deliver happiness, you were held captive in the compulsion of repeating the same scenario with him. You tried to find happiness in the very person who is hard-wired to NOT produce happiness!

Not all of this seeking happiness in the wrong place is the result of his pathology. Some of it is the result of our own unknowing about where happiness is found. It is not found in someone else. Instead, happiness is found inside of our self, rooted in our own spirituality through God. It isn’t about them. It is about us.

Keating says, “What we experience is our desperate search for happiness where it cannot possibly be found.” The key to our happiness is not lost outside of our self. It was lost inside our self when we began looking for it in someone else. We need to look for it were it can actually BE found.

The chief characteristic of the human condition is that everyone is looking for this key, and nobody knows where to find it. The human condition is thus poignant in the extreme. If you want help as you look for the key in the wrong place, you can get plenty of help because everybody is looking for it in the wrong place too! They are looking for it where there is more pleasure, security, power, and acceptance by others. We have a sense of solidarity in the search, yet without any possibility of finding what we are looking for.

The religions of the world have discovered the insight that (non-pathological) human beings are designed for unlimited happiness, the enjoyment of truth, and love without end. This spiritual hunger is part of our nature as beings with a spiritual dimension. Here we are, with an unbounded desire for happiness and not the slightest idea of where to look for it.

While we may certainly recognize that looking for happiness in alcohol or drugs is looking in the wrong place, do we recognize that looking for happiness even in relationships can be the wrong place? Certainly looking for love in pathology would never produce the key you were seeking, because it cannot be found where you were seeking it. But sometimes people even look for happiness in what appears to be the RIGHT places—marriage, children, higher education, careers, and service to others, only again to find that they are still seeking happiness in the wrong direction.

In religious language, the word, repent means to “turn away from.” And I like that concept even from a psychological growth standpoint. As you find your own path of recovery from the aftermath of the pathological love relationship, your recovery calls you to turn away from the very thing that has produced so much pain for you—the relationship, the choices, the person. In essence, in order for you to find happiness in yourself, in God, and in your own (often single) life, you must “change the direction from which you are seeking happiness.” This is especially true when everything in you wants to turn back to him, to the routine, to the perceived comfort—just to get through. Changing the direction from which you seek happiness is embracing the truth that happiness cannot be found in pathology. God did not create you for pathology. He created you for Himself—for peace, love, and joy.  It’s not there and will never be there in pathology.

Over the years, I have become pretty good at picking up on those who will “get it” and move on and never repeat the pathological love relationship dynamic again, and those who WILL, unfortunately, not change direction from which they are seeking happiness. They might change the FACE from whom they seek happiness, but they are still facing the same direction seeking it.

The Institute has been involved in helping hundreds and hundreds of people “change the direction from which they are seeking happiness,” and learn how to find recovery, healing, growth, and to make better choices for themselves. To that end, we are always consciously trying to expand the ways to meet the needs of our growing population of wounded readers and bring a wider comprehensive approach to your own health, wellbeing, and healing from the aftermath of pathological love relationships. We hope that we have touched your recovery in a positive way. We hope that we have helped you change direction on your path. If we haven’t, we’re still here!

Although there is much turmoil in the world right now, be reminded again, that we can always change the direction from which we have been seeking happiness and focus on a brighter future for our self and with our self. We look forward to being a bright part of your future. Thank you for entrusting your care and recovery to us. We do not take that privilege lightly.

Challenge the Thought

By Jennifer Young, LMHC, Director of Survivor Services

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

You own one thing: your mind. That’s it. There are things that you possess, like your books, your shoes, or your jewelry. But the only thing that you own is what goes on between your ears. No one can take it from you, no one can buy it from you, and no one can rent space in it. Now, I know what you are saying: “I’ve been in a relationship with a psychopath—he rented, bought and sold my mind for a nickel.” I get it, and I do agree that if anyone can make you feel that your mind has been rented, bought or sold, it is a psychopath. I might even concede that that he rented your mind. But what neuroscience has taught us is that the brain is resilient and that allows us to constantly get our mind back—even when it feels bought or sold.

When a psychopath takes control, he gets your thoughts. That’s the prize for him. If he can control your thoughts, it’s done. Your thoughts drive your emotions and your behaviors. Your thoughts are his key to getting you to feel crazy, sad, confused, frustrated, angry, elated, or excited. When you feel these feelings, you act in a corresponding way. All of these feelings and behaviorsdocument his control. They are his proof that your thoughts are turning or have turned.
Think about the thoughts that he created in you.

He enjoys my pain—I am worthless—Where is he?—I am not good enough—I deserve to be desired—I’m not stupid

And I am using the word “created” on purpose. The thoughts that were created were a result of his behavior, like water moving through the rocks creating a valley—slow, intentional and inevitable. His behavior of leaving mysteriously created the thought, “Where is he?” His behavior of smirking created the thought, “He enjoys my pain.” His behavior of insulting you created the thought, “I am worthless.”. Even his behavior of gaslighting creates the thought “I’m not stupid!” Now, think about the feelings that those thoughts elicit in you.

It doesn’t matter if the emotions these thoughts elicit are positive or negative. It doesn’t matter if the behaviors that these thoughts elicit are positive or negative. With each of these thoughts you felt something and a behavior followed. He had control of you. You and I know that he did things to you to generate these thoughts. So, he acted and you reacted. What better sense of power than to get a reaction out of someone? And what better sense of power than to get a reaction out of someone who is powerful themselves (that’s YOU)?

Since when do you question if you are stupid? Since when do you believe that you do not deserve to be desired? Since when do you need to spend time wondering where he is? You do this only in the context of a pathological relationship. Because you have always known that you are not stupid, you are not worthless, don’t need to worry about where your man is, know that you are good enough and that NO ONE should enjoy seeing you in pain. Holding these contradictory beliefs is your cognitive dissonance. On one hand you know you are smart and yet, you think you are stupid. You know you are valuable, but when he is around you feel worthless. STOP THE MADNESS!
One important strategy in ending cognitive dissonance and getting your mind back is to follow these three steps:

1.Challenge the thought.
The key here is to get the first thought. Get the thought the moment it comes. Do not let one thought become another, then another. Before you know it you are in it. That is when it becomes a problem. So, grab that first one and work on it. Once you have the thought—challenge it. If it is a question, answer it. “I miss him so much” becomes “I don’t miss the psychopath.” “How did this happen to me?” becomes “It happened because he is sicker than I am smart.” Any challenge or answer will work as long as it is based on facts—verifiable facts. And sometimes the words of another—a trusted friend or a therapist can work.

2.Breathe in the correct thought.
Now breathe in that new, correct and rational thought. Breathe in your belief. Breathe in the thought and allow it to ease your emotional pain just a bit. You control how you feel with your correct thoughts. Take a few long, slow, deep breaths, repeating quietly the new thought. (You can even do this in a crowd with a more normal breath—sometimes even stepping away from the group or off to the bathroom to correct your thoughts).

3.Move to a healthy distraction.
Finally, take that new thought with you. Get up, move and carry the correct thought with you. If you were watching TV, then go wash some dishes. If you were reading, then go watch TV. If you are laying in bed, get up and get a drink of water. As you move, allow the new thought to take hold and move with you. Begin to focus your thought on the next task.
As with any new skill it is important to do it and be successful. It’s not about how many times you can challenge the thoughts, but can you do it successfully. So, start with one thought. Do this on that one thought for several days until you feel a sense of relief. Then try another thought.

Sandra says, “Recovery happens one moment at a time.” And I believe that nothing could be more true. What are you thinking in this moment?

Acceptance

by Jennifer Young, LMHC, Director of Survivor Services

“I’m not wise, but the beginning of wisdom is there; it’s like relaxing into —and an acceptance of—things.” ~Tina Turner

Think about standing under a waterfall. Feel the power of the water hitting your body. Now picture yourself attempting to hold that water back. Stop the water from flowing over the rocks. You fiercely and intensely use all of your power and strength to prevent the water from touching the rock or yourself. You engage yourself in a task that has no payoff. You work to achieve a goal that is unachievable. In that attempt, you create in yourself physical (pain of the attempt), psychological (belief about the attempt) and emotional (feelings of the attempt) exhaustion.

Now picture yourself standing under the same waterfall and allowing the water to do what it does. There is awareness that you are interrupting the flow of the water but not stopping it. You can sense the water, feel the water and know what the water’s intention is. And because you accept it, you do not resist. Ahhh…relief.

At any given moment you can accept what is. It is a choice. It becomes a choice the minute there is conflict and pain. It is then that you have awareness—your mind, your body and/or your spirit is speaking to you. It’s a choice to listen.

So what is it that you need to accept? It could be his pathology, or the pain that it has/is causing. It could be accepting that because he is your child(ren)’s father, the contact will never end (so you’d better learn how to disengage), or accepting that each time you have to see him, or hear about him, it will be a challenge. Maybe you need to accept that you have been negatively impacted by the relationship; that what is happening to you, your changes in behavior, or mood, or thinking, are PTSD and not you being crazy. And it might just be that you accept who he is and accept the consequences of who he is but the gift of acceptance needs to be given to you. Is it in accepting that you are a good, whole person filled with love, compassion and honesty who needs to accept that something bad happened to you and not because of you?

Whatever IT is or wherever the acceptance is needed, I beg you to release yourself from it. In accepting there is freedom. I offer this blessing for acceptance to you:
Turn your face to the sun and accept the warmth.
Release your own resistance to what is.
You are worth the peace that comes.
There is value in you and all that you know.
Blessings to you for freedom through your acceptance.

Pathometry Newsletter, July 6-2013

PATHOMETRY LAB NEWSLETTER

A service of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction

Pathometry, noun, The measure of suffering; The distinction of suffering into different types; The perception, recognition, or diagnosing of different types of suffering (as we apply it to Pathological Love Relationships); The determination of the proportionate number of individuals affected with a certain disorder at any given time, and the conditions leading to an increase or decrease in this number.

The Pathometry Newsletter is designed for better understanding the Cluster B continuum range including sociopathy and psychopathy; for the correlation to other co-morbid conditions especially those with inconsistent treatment outcomes; to address the effects of these disorders on relational harm; and to see the impact on sociological systems.

 

Pathological Love Relationships: Systemic Impact and Its Relevancy for Professionals

Copyrighted© Sandra L. Brown, MA 2013

Issue 2

Background Info on The Institute

The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education has been an early pioneer in the research and treatment approaches for Pathological Love Relationships (referred to as PLRs). For close to 25 years we have been involved in developing model- of- care approaches for survivor treatment. Additionally, we have been promoting public pathology education for prevention and intervention for survivors, awareness for the general public, and as advanced education for victim service providers.

In those 25 years, we have:

* Created and run our own Trauma Disorder Program

* Provided consultations for other programs

* Trained victim service providers in our model-of-care

* Treated hundreds and hundreds of survivors

* Spoken to thousands in the general public

* Reached millions with the message of “inevitable harm” related to Pathological Love Relationships (PLRs), through television and radio, print publications, our extensive product line of books, articles, e-books, CDs, DVDs and guest blogging on websites such as Psychology Today.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pathological-relationships

http://www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Our mission for the new Pathometry Lab Newsletter is simple:

   ~In order to help more survivors, we need to train more professionals.~

The mental health professionals that have been intricately trained by The Institute have lamented that graduate school, face-to-face counseling, and reading about Pathological Love Relationships (PLRs) did not prepare them for the treatment challenges of the survivor of a PLR or +the understanding of the disorders of the partner. Professionals have indicated that by far the most frustrating type of counseling cases have been the Pathological Love Relationship couple, the wounded partner of one of these relationships, and the “identified” problem pathological partner. To help professionals maneuver the challenging “obstacle course” of PLRs, we have dedicated a newsletter solely for you.

Systemic Impact

In our previous newsletter we introduced the concept of Pathological Love Relationships and the clinical relevancy for mental health professionals. We also touched on the issues that make specialized treatment approaches necessary. Over the course of the next 12 months, the newsletter will be talking about the specifics of our model- of-care and approaches that can be used by therapists with their clients.

(A Pathological Love Relationship (PLR) is a relationship in which at least one of the

partners has serious psychopathology which is likely to negatively affect his or her mate. The Institute specializes in the partners who are/were in relationships with those who have pathology of Cluster B Personality Disorders, which include: Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Anti-Social Personality Disorder, and the additional disorders of Sociopathy and Psychopathy . We will focus on these Cluster B Disorders this year in our newsletter, and in the following years we will discuss other disorders that can impact relational harm.)

In this edition of the newsletter, we are going to discuss the impact of PLRs on the major systems within our society and its psychosocial relevancy for professionals in various disciplines. In the upcoming newsletters we will discuss our theoretical framework for our work and our approaches. Today, let’s discuss the high impact of PLRs on all of us.

Our desire to make inroads in PLRs is related to the global necessity to relieve the effects of pathology which is crippling our mental health, criminal justice, social services, and health care systems. In fact, one of the most expensive impacts on our society is pathology and what it costs our national systems.

We have calculated that 60 million people in the U.S. alone are negatively impacted by someone else’s pathology costing billions of dollars a year through our societal systems.

“I consider one of the biggest public health concerns we face is that of pathology,

or more specifically, unidentified pathology.” —–
(Howard D., former Psychiatrist)

Dr. Kent Kiehl of the Mind Research Network (expert in MRIs of psychopaths’ brains http://www.mrn.org/) indicated in a recent interview that, “Psychopathy costs us 10 times what depression costs; in other words, it costs $460 BILLION a year to deal with psychopathy.” Let’s look at some of the systemic impact of not only psychopathy, but other forms of pathology as well.

Criminal Justice and Family Law Systems

How do we see pathology affecting the criminal justice and family law systems? Most assuredly, criminal courts are barraged with the undiagnosed and often unmonitored anti-socials. Jail, Prison, Probation, Court Monitoring systems, according to research, have an inordinately high number of Narcissistic Personality Disorders (NPDs) and Anti-Social Personality Disorders (ASPDs) in their populations. The more violent the crime, and/or the more times in criminal court, the greater the likelihood of the diagnosis of Cluster B is likely to be applicable. With the low treatment outcomes known for NPD and ASPD, we find a revolving door of pathologicals that keeps coming in and out of jail/prison/court programs.

“The results of the current study suggest that those individuals exhibiting high levels of both anti-social and narcissistic personalities are the best predictors of who will commit the majority of offenses. Based on this and other studies, these are the individuals most often incarcerated for violent crimes (Warren et al., 2002; Mamak, 1998). It is also suggested by the data that narcissism is the best overall predictor of crime.”

http://web.sbu.edu/psychology/lavin/abbey.htm

The domestic violence, batterer intervention, anger management, divorce court, and family court systems which all flow into each other, are clogged systems of new and repeat offenders, often of the Cluster B variety cloaked in the term of “high-conflict cases.” High conflict cases are often undiagnosed pathology trying to be “cookie-cutter retrofitted” to existing court programs.

High-conflict cases, as they are referred to, are recognized as “court cloggers”; however, rarely are there actual “diagnoses” connected with the terminology of “high conflict.” What are common aspects of high-conflict/PLR cases that are affecting our Criminal Justice (CJ) and Family Courts?

* Parental alienation

* Failed mediation

* 60+ appearances (on average) in Family Court, with custody battles raging for years

* Abductions

* Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in court cases

* Abuse of partners and children

* Stalking

* Violation of protective orders

* Hidden lives

* Forensic accountants

* Private investigators

All of these are common issues for PLRs in court and relationally. Some of these are the actual behaviors, which helps courts identify them as “high-conflict cases” (but unfortunately, without the diagnosis).

But long before the identification of a “high-conflict case” was the reality of a PLR. And herein lays the “pathology-in-the-courtroom” problem: When the criminal justice system does not recognize the PLR dynamics or the disorders often associated with PLRs, we get profoundly pathological people included in legal or intervention approaches that are not designed to work for them. Not only do they fail, but they put the other partner/victim at risk and clog systems because the approaches are not working.

High-conflict cases, without the diagnosis, are being referred to what is called “Diversion Programs,” which is another legal “program-ese” for a type of case management within the legal system. Diversion programs are trying various psychological approaches with the “high-conflict population,” again, without recognizing the pathology and assessing whether that even works with these types of disorders. As clinicians we recognize “we can’t treat what we don’t identify.” But that is not always true in the CJ system.

In mental health disciplines, we recognize the need for treatment to be disorder-specific, that is, what we are offering as resources fit the disorder, thus the need. The CJ field is not that specific and tends to offer broader, more generalized, approaches to Family Court problems. These approaches may fit well for non-PLRs but do nothing but frustrate the courts when applied to PLRs. This is why we are seeing the rise of grassroots organizations that are made up of survivors who are now demanding Family Court reform because the approaches not only don’t work, but enflame the pathological.

These cases that are unrecognized for their pathology go nowhere as they are shuffled from one program to the next, one referral to the next, who passes them along because they are sick of the “go-nowhere-ness” of the cases. And each case bounces from one docket to the next as the judge hopes a program/any program will help, while yet another PLR clogs the system for years.

These are the couples that are sent everywhere—to mediation (failed), to co-parenting (failed), then parallel parenting, to court psychologists (what the heck is wrong with them?), to child evaluators (what is this doing to the child?), to anger management, to batterer intervention (if applicable), to divorce approach to a complex case then passes it on to the next program, while years tick off the calendar.

If we asked ourselves clinically, “Who does that?” and if we dropped these kinds of specific behaviors into an imaginary “DSM-IV analyzer,” while they clinked and clunked, aligning behaviors with possible disorders, it would produce a diagnosis often dealing with a Cluster B disorder in the mix, which means for the therapist:
* The client has a Pathological Love Relationship

* The end of the relationship is going to be full of risk and drama (stalking, 50B violations, repeat offending, custody problems, unending court and divorce court, higher risk of physical injury and intimate partner homicide)

* Our client has a pathological court case

* We have the nightmare of watching our client try to parallel parent or co-parent with a pathological

* The programs that are being referred for the pathological partner to attend and that normally work well for non-pathologicals, are not likely to work well with PLRs

* For treatment and support we will need a different approach when dealing with PLR survivors

Mental Health and Domestic Violence Systems

What about mental health systems and DV-oriented programs? How are they affected by PLRs? Donald Dutton, a Domestic Violence Researcher, indicates that the highest percentage of repeat abusers fall into the Cluster B disorders. According to Dutton, the more times they repeat as DV offenders, the more likely they are Cluster B. He indicates that as many as 85% of repeat offenders fall into Cluster B. http://www.drdondutton.com/

With this high a percentage, this IS who is likely to be the face of the repeat offender of DV, indicating that most repeat DV cases actually involve PLRs. Thus, we should expect to see PLR survivors in DV-based services whether public or private mental health services.

What about the victims? Survivors spend time in DV agencies, private counselors, support groups and online forums, never getting close to understanding the relational dynamics they have experienced with a pathological partner whose disorder is never accounted for, but whose behaviors are often labeled generically, as “abusive.”

Many survivors of pathological relationships skip the treatment altogether and suffer silently instead of trying to withstand explanations and one-size-fits-all ideologies about their experiences and the behaviors associated with the pathological perpetrator. Survivors of PLRs do not find the Power and Control Wheel comprehensive or specific enough for what they experienced with Cluster Bs. And if their partner has had repeat violence and are Cluster B, they are not likely to have gotten specific information about PLRs from shelter care, group or individual therapy. They are no further ahead in understanding the low treatment outcome likelihood of their partner.

Having seen the profound ‘failures’ of DV treatment which often end up in intimate partner homicides there aren’t any of us who would ever advise a client that their violent partner was conclusively ‘treated’ for their problems. And yet, unidentified Cluster Bs similar to OJ or Mike Tyson fly through Batterer Intervention Programs unrecognized repeatedly. Many partners will go back after ‘treatment’ has ended believing that what was wrong with them was corrected through ‘psycho education.’

What about the offenders? Perpetrators are referred to Batterer Intervention or Anger Management programs which do not always pre-assess for pathological disorders, especially since these services are court-mandated and the offender has no choice in the decision to attend. All perps are approached with the same material that was largely designed for perps without pathology. Much of the material that is used in Batterer Intervention (BI) is designed for those who have a propensity for the ability to sustain positive and consistent change, a known deficiency within the Cluster B population. Additional chronic risk factors of low impulse control, reduced empathy, and neurological abnormalities that impact aggression, are not considered when deciding who will be most successful with the mandated treatment offered.

Instead, pathologically disordered perps are those most likely to repeat offend or repeat in other chronic ways, thus ending up back in these same programs or other programs, clogging the systems they are funneled through, undiagnosed. The low treatment outcomes for batterers then become risk factors for victims as they believe the batterers were “treated” because they attended a program (albeit, one that was not designed for their unique disorder).

A factor that is not always known about Anger Management (and sometimes BI) programs is that they are not necessarily run by mental health professionals. In a recent workshop given for CJ personnel by us, Anger Management facilitators discussed their backgrounds for performing these high pathologically- oriented community services. Many were simply 501c3s who wrote a grant and went to a few weeks of training, but had no mental health training, assessment training or tools. Many were survivors of PLRs (contributing to this writer’s concern about transference of over- and under-identification of offender status, during group facilitation).

Considering that some of the most dangerous people in the DSM-IV are likely to be attending these community mental health programs, shouldn’t the community expect that a mental health professional would be pre-assessing for whether inclusion is recommended and post-assessing for low treatment, thus a continuing risk for the victim?

Health Care Systems

It is now well understood the impact of mental health on physical health. Survivors of PLRs have a significant history of stress-related health problems, including prolific autoimmune disorders. Given the survivor’s often long history of unrelenting stress with the emotionally dys-regulated Cluster B, it is not a far stretch that these survivors have unusually high numbers of health related problems. A high percentage of untreated PLR survivors are so impacted by both poor mental and physical health that they are removed from their jobs, take voluntary time off, are hospitalized, put on Disability, or are negatively affected for years, causing them to lapse into not only the health care system, but also the social service system once their health is impacted. When Dr. Kent Kiehl quoted psychopathy costing our systems $460 BILLION, it most assuredly reflected the impact on our health care system.

Social Service Systems

The survivors of PLRs often emerge with C-PTSD (even without experiencing physical violence—the reason for this will be discussed over the course of the ongoing Pathometry Newsletter), removing them from functional life and plunging them into the social service systems. Even the survivors who were formally white collar workers and previously economically stable (not the usual service user of social services) are significantly impacted, introducing their entrance into social service support. We have had female attorneys, doctors, CPAs, CEOs, judges, all reduced to disability following a PLR.

The children are of course impacted as well, often requiring assistance and services for their own recovery. Family Courts that do not recognize the impact of pathology on children will often mandate shared custody, causing untold damage to children filtering them into child social service systems. (See our chapter on the impact of pathology on children in our book Women Who Love Psychopaths). PLRs’ impact on our social service system is incalculable.

Helping Our Society Understand and Recover From Pathological Impact

This has been a simplified overview of a complex issue of the systemic impact that pathology makes on our world. To fully discuss it would require a book regarding something like, “The Sociological Impact of Pathology on Societal Resources.” The far reaching effects of pathology are impacting our country in many of ours societal systems.

Of course, the most impact is felt on the personal, or relational, levels where individuals are most harmed. It is in the close proximity to pathology where others are so gravely impacted by another’s lack of empathy, poor impulse control, and lack of insight. Those wounded by pathology are then driven into our systems—into our social services, health care, mental health and criminal justice systems seeking restitution, recuperation, or restoration from pathology.

We believe this is where we can be of most help in our society by bringing our level of understanding to your workplace, whether it is as a school counselor, private practitioner, forensic psychologist, jail counselor, pastoral counselor, marriage and family therapist, DV agency worker, addictions counselor or legal advocate. The newsletter exists to bring specialized awareness and training to those dealing with survivors of pathological love relationships. The impact of pathology has left its thumbprint in our minds, lives, and world, requiring knowledge of PLRs to help others recover.

During our next newsletter we will look at the variety of systemic language regarding pathology and why it has hindered our ability in multi-disciplinary fields to get on ‘the same page’ with ‘Who Does That?’ Following a few introductory newsletters about the issues of pathology, we will begin discussing our research findings about the survivors, and our Model-of-Care approach. We hope you will stay tuned.

Please take a moment to check out the related research and resources regarding pathology and PLRs for your practice listed below.

To read earlier Pathometry Lab articles click HERE

Interested In This Topic?

Our Therapist Training for Treating the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships Model of Care Approach (next training November 2013) includes further elaboration on items related to this topic:

  •  Relationship Dynamics of Pathological Love Relationships
  •  Bonding and Attachment Differentials
  •  Drama and Communication Triangle
  •  Event Cycles of PLRS
  •  What Doesn’t Work in PLR’s
  •  The Institute’s Model of Care Approach

    Next Newsletter

    Join us for our next newsletter when we will discuss more pathocentric ideas related to PLRs.

    Do Your Part

    Public pathology education is everyone’s issue, and if you are learning about pathology, please do your part and teach others what you know.  One way is to share our survivor support-oriented newsletters with your clients. They can sign up on the front page of the main magazine site–there is no cost and it comes out every week. www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

    You can also further public pathology education by sending your colleagues and others who might be working with PLRs to our monthly newsletter. They too can sign up on the front page of the main magazine site and it is complimentary.  www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

    Here’s how we can help professionals…

    How The Pathometry Lab Can Help You

    This program is designed for professionals who are most likely to encounter the survivors, or the Cluster B partners, in your line of work.  Our Pathometry Lab will offer you:

  •  Articles on issues of clinical relevancy regarding treating the aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships (no charge)
  •  Information on pathology and personality disorders as it relates to survivor’s recovery, marital counseling, addictions perspectives, pastoral views, and other mental health disciplines (no charge)
  •  Recommended reading on pathology (no charge)
  •  Handouts and other pathocentric tools (no charge)
  •  Personalized Institute services for your survivor clients (fee for services)
  •  Products for Professionals related to Pathology (fee for products)
  •  Case Consultations (fee)
  •  Yearly Training Conference (fee)
  •  Tele-Events (fee)
  •  Personalized services for Professionals Wounded by Pathology (fee for services).

    Our goal is to better equip you to be able to spot, intervene, and help the recovery of survivors of PLRs. We hope you will join us monthly for our Pathometry Lab Newsletter.  Most of all let us know if we provide support or education to you in the field of Pathological Love Relationships.

    Next Institute Event

    Treating the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships November 2013 Hilton Head Island, SC.

    http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com/services-for-professionals/training

    Relational Harm Reduction Radio

    www.blogtalkradio.com/relational-harm-reduction

    Every Thursday at 8:30 pm starting March 7, 2013

    Call in questions taken.

    RHR University: Coming soon Online Training for Professionals

    JUST FOR FUN!

    Patho-Lingo  Word of the Month:

    Pathognomonic–distinctive characteristics in a disorder

    Narcissus Gazing?

    Sincerely,

    Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

    The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education

    Director of Advanced Professional Education Services

    Cathy Backlund

    Pathometry Lab Newsletter Coordinator

    Nancy Bathe

    Technical Editor

    www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Resources

 

Clinically Relevant Articles

Personality Disorders in Relationships

The Burden of Personality Disorders

Barriers to Effective Management

Neuropsychopharmacology for Cluster Bs

Reading Suggestions

Love Relations–Normality and Pathology, Otto Kernberg, M.D.

Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal & Violent Behavior by Millon, Simonsen, Davis & Birket-Smith

The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality by Elsa F. Ronningstan

Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age by George K. Simon, Ph.D.

Evil Genes by Barbara Oakley

Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

Pathocentric Tools

Wise Counsel Interview Transcript: An Interview with Otto Kernberg M.D. on Transference Focused Therapy (The Dangerous And Severe Personality Disorders–Cluster B)

Partner Related Assessment and His Cluster B Traits Checklist (Survivor Oriented)

30- Minute Lesson: Personality Disorders (Overview of All PDs)

Pathocentric Videos

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Video (Relational)

Video on Borderline Personality Disorder

Video on Anti-Social Personality Disorder

Assessments 

For Anxiety (Survivor Oriented)

Hamilton Anxiety Scale (Survivor Oriented)

Assessment and Medical Case Management in Personality Disorders (Pathological Oriented)

Partner Related Assessment and His Cluster B Traits Checklist (Survivor Oriented)

Websites

Safe Relationships Magazine (The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education) : http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Dr. George Simon : http://drgeorgesimon.com/

Psychology Tools : www.psychologytools.org

Dr. Don Dutton : www.drdondutton.com

Professional Journals

 

Journal of Forensic Psychology

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice & Policy Journal

Survivor Centered Help Aides

The Institute’s Partner Related Assessment and His Cluster B Traits Checklist

Intrusive Thoughts

Stress Management for Survivors

The Institute’s Resources

Pathological Love Relationships Archive of Articles

DVD Training Set on Cluster B and PLRs 

1. Understanding Destructive and Pathological Relationships

2.  Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships: Help for Wounded Women

3.  Treating the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationship: Understanding Pathology and Its Effects on Relational Harm

How to Spot a Dangerous Man Book

How to Spot a Dangerous Man Workbook

Women Who Love Psychopaths

Counseling Victims of Violence 

Maintaining Mindfulness in the Midst of Obsession 2CDs

Healing the Aftermath Relaxation CD

Trainings

Treating the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships: TBA, Hilton Head Island, SC

Contact us for more information

Help For Wounded Healers

Therapist Care

Are you a professional whose own personal Pathological Love Relationship is impacting your ability to help your clientele, function, or work? Do you need discrete and effective support? Long called ‘the therapist’s therapist’ The Institute provides our same Model-of-Care approach to wounded healers. Let us help you recover and come back stronger so you too can bring Pathological Love Relationship assistance to your own clientele.

_____________________________________________________________________

GENDER DISCLAIMER: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we refer to in our articles. Both male and female can be either the disordered, the partner of the disordered, or both. Our clients, readership and user of our services are approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials or services.  Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders. Our wording merely reflects our market.

COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT: Please be advised The Institute utilizes Intellectual Property Management Services that tracks, detects, and prosecutes the misuse of our copyrighted materials and property.

 

 

The Successful Pathological’s Evil Twin: The Parasite

In last week’s newsletter we looked at the Successful Pathological and how he flies in under the radar, while women are looking at his success and missing the red flags concerning his character or behaviors. Women can get sidetracked by his degree or noble career, or blinded by his business bling. The Italian-made shoes aren’t the only loafer—LOL!

Another way pathology manifests is what we call “parasitic” behavior—which means, like a tick, they live off of others. Some pathologically disordered people are underachievers and require much financial assistance, some are not employed at all, and in fact, some are successful AND parasitic.

Wealthy and parasitic pathologicals have all the radar-busting combinations to come gliding in under a woman’s relationship radar. Wealthy pathologicals may be as parasitic as the poor ones, but are usually less identified. It’s not that wealthy ones need the housing assistance by living with you—it’s that they are able to get you to let them. It’s a power game and when you say “yes,” he wins. It’s a ridiculous game that most women don’t even pay attention to in the beginning, until it begins to happen over and over again. Most women don’t care about power struggles; not so with him, because it’s his source of entertainment.

Parasites can latch on for the ride, the entertainment, or to drain you dry. The “financially challenged” ones try to hide that they are broke and underemployed until they are already living off of you. Or they get in by playing the pity trump card—needing a “little time to get on his feet.” Many of them appear to have “the worst luck” when it comes to getting or keeping a good job or somehow manage (according to him) to always find horrible bosses. In any case, it’s never his fault, and a new potential turn of events is “just around the corner,” if you will just “wait it out” with him.

The interesting thing about the parasitic life is that it has more to do with conning than it has to do with any legitimate need. The proof is that even the wealthy ones play the same game.

For the overt parasite, a red flag for women would be men who always are living with someone else, including family. Of course they have a good reason usually associated with what appears to be “helping others” (older parents, helping with rent for a single mother, sister, etc.).

What is suspicious is that you never see where he lives or how he lives. Why? That “great condo with the roof deck” is really a room in someone’s mobile home. Or there’s a wife and three kids at the house, which are his. Or his house is really a meth lab. Pick a reason … the bottom line is there is a reason why you don’t see it. And it normally has to do with living a different life, perhaps living off of others, that he hasn’t quite disclosed to you.

A huge red flag would be that he wants to move in or marry quickly. Is it because he is so into you? Nope. It’s because he wants to betroth your checkbook before you can verify his income, his job status, his debt load, or anything else. In a blink of an eye you are sipping rum drinks with umbrellas in glasses in the Bahamas (oh, and did I mention, on your credit card?).

A flashing billboard would be when he asks you to invest in his potential business (with your love bundle!) so that you can help finance the “rest of your lives together” business.  Here’s a clue: If he’s over 28 years old and not living up to any part of his potential, there’s a reason and it’s usually pathology or addiction or both. If you are over 30, don’t fall in love with anyone’s potential. Either they’ve got the goods or they don’t. And if they don’t, there’s a reason bigger than the sad, empathy-producing story they have.

The more covert parasite, if wealthy, may give a storyline that he is “giving you an opportunity to invest in his business,” so you can make some of that return capital that you see him living on. He’s successful—so he must be doing something right. Right? Do you remember Bernie Madoff?

Pete the Parasite sometimes needs money to send his ailing mother out of the country to see relatives. Or he may need money to cover the costs of his children’s needs because his “psycho ex-wife” is not using the child support she receives. (Uh-huh …)

If these tactics and lines didn’t work, he wouldn’t use them and I wouldn’t know them. Parasites need hosts. The body where a parasite lands (like a tick on a dog) is called the “host.” Here’s a time where being a BAD HOST is a good thing!

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

The Successful Pathological

The Successful Pathological

Pathology Education teaches that pathological partners come
in all levels of social and economic success.

Survivors say, “He’s a doctor” to which I respond “SO?” So what.
Doctors, attorneys, clergy, law enforcement—it’s not
the job that’s pathological— it’s the character
and personality disorders underneath.

Pathologicals flock to all types of careers. Those with high
levels of narcissism and psychopathy flock to areas
where they are experts, heros, or are able to climb high up the career
ladder. These disorders ‘want’ adoration. You don’t get alot of that on
the back end of garbage truck as a worker.

Paul Babiak and Robert Hare wrote about this in their book
‘Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work.’ The book
examines the rise of white collar psychopathy in our country and in
the work place.  Some forms of pathology hide very well within
their careers and success. A subconscious belief system
is “If they are successful, they must be ok.”

A degree from Yale means he’s smart. It doesn’t mean he’s safe.
A doctor that saves ‘others lives’ doesn’t mean he won’t take yours.
Clergy who will pray for others souls doesn’t mean he isn’t soul-deadening in
a personal relationship.

We only have to look at the nightly news to see examples in our culture of
those within the ‘helping profession’ who were really predators. Pediatricians
who sexually abused children, religious leaders who led the sheep
astray, psychologists who had sex with their clients, trusted financial advisors who
stole people blind, loving partners who murdered their wives and children.
People who appeared ‘normal’ or ‘successful’ to others were disguised dangerous
and disordered persons.

Pathologicals with a lot of success and money are often the hardest ones to leave
according to their partners. They have more connections, can pay off more bribes,
get better outcomes in court, skip on retraining orders, talk their way out
of all sorts of legal issues because of who they are, what they have, or who they know.
Partners are at a disadvantage when leaving the wealthy pathological.

‘They are sicker than we are smart’ is a logo we have long taught in Pathology Education.
Leaving a successful pathological is often difficult because non-pathological partners can
never be as deceitful, conning, or manipulative to fight on their turf. Non-
pathologicals don’t think in those terms so their sickness ends up as gain for them–
up the career ladder, out of the marriage, or anywhere else they want to go.

In the end, success, career, or wealth has NOTHING to do with mental health or
your safety. Career is just that. It’s what they do for a living or the vehicle in which
they hunt their prey.

What Do You Tell Them?

By Jennifer Young, LMHC

“Staring at the blank page before you, open up the dirty window,
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find.” ~ Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

“I was in a relationship with a psychopath.” What an opener, right? Starting with the harsh truth isn’t always the best way to begin a conversation. One of the most difficult parts of moving on with your life is figuring out how you are going to tell your story. The truth doesn’t always come easy. And let’s face it, the vast majority of people in your life will never understand. But their lack of understanding does not prevent them from asking what happened to you. So, you might as well figure out what you are going to tell them.

There are a couple things to consider when deciding what you are going to tell others. You might be tempted to tell everyone the severity of the manipulation, or the details of every gaslighting incident, or the shame he made you feel for HIS affair. But this temptation is often driven by your need for validation. You can temper this desire by validating yourself. You have to come to accept that he is what he is. When you fully understand Cluster B, you will know that it is a complicated disorder. You will know that, really, it is a disorder of social hiding. Cluster Bs, by nature, do not make themselves known. The disorder is marked by a perfectly placed mask. This is what they want others to see. They have worked their whole lives creating that mask. It was created through a process of learning what works, what can be believed and what is socially acceptable for their environment. It is pure survival for them—life or death. It is not intended that someone outside of their intimate partnership will see who they are. And it certainly is not intended that someone outside of their intimate partnership will understand the two sides. If they don’t show it, how are others expected to understand it? Because of this mask, only you might know. You will know the good and the bad, the sweet and the sour, the lies and the truth. You saw the behaviors, you heard the contradictions, you felt the fear. Essentially, you don’t need anyone to tell you that. And if you believe yourself, the need for validation ends.

Once you have established a pattern of self-validation, you can begin to determine who needs to know what. First, consider your audience. Everyone does not need to know everything. You might want to evaluate who needs to know what. Your co-worker might not need to know as many details as your sister. Your boss may not need to know as much as your co-worker. Your acquaintances may not need to know what your neighbor needs to know. Again, each of these groups may have very different experiences of your Cluster B; therefore, proving to them who he is may put you in a defensive position. That’s the last place you need to be in the recovery process. So, be honest with yourself about what your Cluster B gave to the people in his life and the people in your life.

Think about telling some people nothing. What a novel idea—not talking about your trauma. This strategy can be helpful in keeping your mind in a place of validation and away from defensiveness. You can maintain recovery thinking by not looking outside of yourself for answers once a traumatic memory has been resolved. You have done the work; you know what you know, so now use it to validate yourself. To say nothing can also protect your recovery. The co-worker who questions,

“Why didn’t you leave sooner?” might not need to know all the horrible things that he did that prevented you from leaving. But worse than that, the co-worker may not need to know that you did not leave because he continued to build a fantasy for you. That every time you finally decided to leave, he pulled you back in with roses, a romantic getaway or a sentimental recounting of your first Christmas together. If you decide to launch into positive memories with your co-workers … you are re-traumatizing yourself. You have now taken the leap back into cognitive dissonance just to explain to someone else what you already understand. What if you just said to your co-worker, “I left when I was ready to leave and I’m glad he’s gone. How was your weekend?”

Once you’ve determined who to tell what, you can then begin to craft the language that you will use. Some people can understand the clinical words and explanation. These are the people who can understand what it means to be with a psychopath—someone who might read some of the books you’ve read or read an article about pathological relationships. Other people may need more common phrases like, “I was in a dangerous relationship,” or “I was psychologically manipulated.” Still others may respond to the use of a metaphor. Sometimes it helps just to say, “He’s like a little child,” or “He’s like a bad case of the flu … I just can’t shake him.”

There is never really a script that can convey what you should say or even could say to help those around you understand. Truth be told … most won’t ever understand. They can’t validate you. Sometimes it’s best to just find one person who might get it or at the very least is willing to listen when you need to talk. The rest of the time, the focus doesn’t have to be on telling your story, but rather, living your life.

As singer Natasha Bedingfield says—your story is “unwritten.” In every moment you decide what to say and what NOT to say. There are so many layers and intricacies to a pathological relationship. And each moment, each experience that you had, was traumatic. It is crucial that you manage the story that you tell. With a blank page before you at each new opportunity to speak about what happened, remind yourself that speaking the words represents your power. That should not be considered lightly, and with each word that leaves your mouth, you are risking your power.

Just Because You Believe It, DOESN’T Make It True

I am reminded frequently that this statement is so true when it comes to denial in pathological love relationships. There’s something about a narcissist and psychopath that can make you forget all about their pathology and return to your previous ‘fog’ of beliefs.  F.O.G.–Fear, Obligation and Guilt.

Entrenched in the partner is the dire desire to have a normal partner. Couple that with the NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and PP’s (Psychopath’s) ability to convince you of their, at least, fleeting normalcy and you have a woman who has dug her finger nails into the nano-second of his normal behavior and she’s not gonna let it go! Otherwise highly educated, bright, and successful women can be reduced to blank-stared-hypnotized-believers when it comes to believing he is normal, can be normal, or that it’s her that is really the messed up one.

Many therapists miss this process in working with the partners–they feel they have made substantial headway in helping her (or him) understand the nature of the unchangeable-ness of the disorder and then what appears to be out of nowhere, she’s blank-staring and hypnotized yet again.

The only thing that has changed is her belief system. Obviously an NPD and/or PP is not capable of true sustainable change. He didn’t change. But her desire to believe his normalcy and to deny his pathology is the only thing that has changed.  It’s not so much a ‘change’ per se, as it is a return to straddling the fence about the belief system.

Most partners live a life of cognitive dissonance–this conflict between ‘He’s good/He’s bad’ that is so distracting they never resolve the internal conflict of whether he is MORE good than bad, or MORE bad than good. They live in a fog of circulating remembrances that support both view points–remembering the good, but still feeling the bad. This circulating remembrance keep them straddling the fence with the inability to resolve a consistent belief system about him.

This inability to hold a consistent belief system is what causes cognitive dissonance, it’s also what increases it and causes intrusive thoughts. Dissonance is caused by thought inconsistency which leads eventually to her behavioral inconsistency–she breaks up and makes up constantly.  Thought and behavioral inconsistency increase Dissonance which increases Intrusive Thoughts. No wonder she can’t get symptom relief!

Her desire to ‘believe it’ doesn’t make it true. It doesn’t make him normal. It doesn’t cure his NPD or Psychopathy. It only keeps her stuck straddling a belief system that has caused her emotional paralysis.  In a crude way of understanding this–the only thing that happens when you’re straddling a fence is you get a fence post up your butt! Try moving when your paralyzed by a fence post!

Just because you believe it, doesn’t mean he’s ok, he’s going to stop doing the thing he said he’d stop, that counseling is going to work, that there never was anything wrong with him, that it’s probably you….or any of  the other items you tell yourself in order to stay in a relationship of pathological disaster.

Even Benjamin Franklin said “We hold these truths to be self evident…”  For us in the field of psychopathology, these self evident truths are that pathology is permanent whether you believe it or not.

Learn How to Starve The Vampire

STARVE THE VAMPIRE–WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT….Pathological persons are energy and emotional vampires. They live off of your emotional content. Part of their personality deficit is the lack of a stable and consistent inner core of a self concept so they need constant attention, distraction, and identity management from which they draw their identity.   Lots of their identity is acquired from their relationships since internally there is so little core self to draw from. This is part of the reason they are so exhausting. In order to get their emotional ‘blood supply’ from you, they ‘hook you’ into conversations or arguments or any kind of response they can get from you. They live vicariously thru your own emotional expressions of love, frustration, confusion, etc. It doesn’t always matter ‘what’ emotion is fed to the vampire (although narcissists like adoration) but just that there is SOME content is enough for them–even your tears, or your screams, or your insults. It doesn’t matter…they just ‘need’ something, anythingfrom you in the way of content. If they don’t get the blood supply/emotional content from you, they will seek elsewhere. (Remember Dracula? He just moved from town to town taking it where he could get it?)When you begin to break up (read my How to Break Up with a Dangerous Man E-book) he will fear the loss of emotional supply.

He won’t fear losing you so much as he will miss getting his identity and his sense of self from you and/or the relationship. He fears the loss of self or ‘who am I without her?’ This is a very fragmented ego state –one which only exists thru relationships with others.

So when you try to break up, he will continue to contact you, which is why they are hard to break up with. They are predictable in their approaches to get you to respond to them (you are feeding the vampire his emotional blood supply every time you talk to him). These are some of his approaches and if you can get a bag of popcorn and just watch it like it was a LifeTime for Women movie and detach from it, you will see a whole movie pan out like this:

  • One contact he’s angry, blaming, shaming

When you don’t respond to that verbally or emotionally (think like you are lobotomized with no facial expression…that’s what I want women to do with these men)

  • Then one contact will be sweet, loving, buy you things

When you don’t respond

  • He will promise to do what you’ve asked for years…go to counseling, church, take meds, be nice, go to anger management

When you don’t respond

  • He will get angry again–say you aren’t working on the relationship which is why it’s gonna fail

When you don’t respond

  • He will quit calling for a while to make it look like he’s moved on (They are boomerangs, they ALWAYS come back a few times.)

When you don’t respond

  • He will indicate he found someone else or had sex with someone else

When you don’t respond
(Are you enjoying the popcorn and movie about now??)

  • He becomes ’sick’ — he doesn’t know what this mysterious illness is, or he has prostate cancer, MS, some other lethal disease

When you don’t respond

  • He will just go back to drinking/drugging/dealing/driving too fast/etc.

When you don’t respond

  • He will threaten to kill himself, leave the area, never see you again

When you don’t respond

  • He will take the kids, drag your a*ss thru court, threaten to physically harm you

When you don’t respond

  • He will tell you he’s dating someone you hate or his previous girlfriend/wife

When you don’t respond

  • It will come full circle and will begin again, at the top of this list.

It’s always the same stories. I know that women think that their experiences are unique. But pathology is all the same–these people aren’t very creative and don’t deviate much from the strict internal structure that is associated with pathology. They ONLY react in certain ways so, it’s prettyeasy to predict. Once you are able to understand this, you can predict his sad/silly/stupid reactions to a break up.

Since they live off of your emotion and NEED it, the sooner you starve him out by having no contact and if you have to because of your kids, no words exchanged and no emotional content on your face, the vampire will flee to the next available source to be fed.

When women don’t disconnect once they understand the feeding and maintenance of pathologicals, they are doing it because SHE wants to remain. The ball is then in your court to figure out where you are still hung up so you can disconnect. This is not a judgment about women not being able to leave. It is a POINTER to a place where the dis-engagement has hit a snag. Simply notice where the snag IS so that something can be done.

Pathometry Newsletter, June 1-2013

 


PATHOMETRY LAB NEWSLETTER

A service of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction

Pathometry, noun, The measure of suffering; The distinction of suffering into different types; The perception, recognition, or diagnosing of different types of suffering (as we apply it to Pathological Love Relationships); The determination of the proportionate number of individuals affected with a certain disorder at any given time, and the conditions leading to an increase or decrease in this number.

The Pathometry Newsletter is designed for better understanding the Cluster B continuum range including sociopathy and psychopathy; for the correlation to other co-morbid conditions especially those with inconsistent treatment outcomes; to address the effects of these disorders on relational harm; and to see the impact on sociological systems.


Pathological Love Relationships: Why Specialized Treatment for Survivors and Training for Professionals Is Necessary

Copyrighted© Sandra L. Brown, MA 2013
Issue 1

 

 

Background Info on The Institute
The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education has been an early pioneer in the research and treatment approaches for Pathological Love Relationships (referred to as PLRs). For close to 25 years we have been involved in developing model- of- care approaches for survivor treatment. Additionally, we have been promoting public pathology education for prevention and intervention for survivors, awareness for the general public, and as advanced education for victim service providers.
In those 25 years, we have:
* Created and run our own Trauma Disorder Program
* Provided consultations for other programs
* Trained victim service providers in our model-of-care
* Treated hundreds and hundreds of survivors
* Spoken to thousands in the general public
* Reached millions with the message of “inevitable harm” related to Pathological Love Relationships (PLRs), through television and radio, print publications, our extensive product line of books, articles, e-books, CDs, DVDs and guest blogging on websites such as Psychology Today.
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pathological-relationships
http://www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Our mission for the new Pathometry Lab Newsletter is simple:

   ~In order to help more survivors, we need to train more professionals.~

The mental health professionals that have been intricately trained by The Institute have lamented that graduate school, face-to-face counseling, and reading about Pathological Love Relationships (PLRs) did not prepare them for the treatment challenges of the survivor of a PLR or +the understanding of the disorders of the partner. Professionals have indicated that by far the most frustrating type of counseling cases have been the Pathological Love Relationship couple, the wounded partner of one of these relationships, and the “identified” problem pathological partner. To help professionals maneuver the challenging “obstacle course” of PLRs, we have dedicated a newsletter solely for you.

This is our kickoff newsletter, so we welcome you to The Pathometry Lab, and are glad you are considering becoming part of the educated solution for these perplexing counseling cases of inevitable harm. So let’s get started–

What Is a PLR?

A Pathological Love Relationship (PLR) is a relationship in which at least one of the partners has serious psychopathology which is likely to negatively affect his or her mate. The Institute specializes in support and treatment of the partners who are/were in relationships with those who have pathology of Axis II, Cluster B Personality Disorders, which include:
•  Borderline Personality Disorder
•  Narcissistic Personality Disorder
•  Anti-Social Personality Disorder
•  And the additional disorders of Sociopathy and Psychopathy

This year we will focus on these Cluster B disorders in our newsletter, and then in the following years we will discuss other pathologies that also can impact relational harm.
(The changes in the upcoming DSM will not derail our discussion of these trait disorders and their effect on others. While diagnostic criteria may change, their behaviors do not consequently their impact on others does not change.)

Why a Closer Look?

In the recent past, PLRs were undifferentiated as the “unique” treatment challenge they have always been.  They typically were often lumped together with other:
* Relationship counseling issues
* Domestic Violence (DV) problems (if that was applicable)
* Other forms of trauma
* Anger Management/Batterer Intervention Mandates
* Addictions.

Over the past 25 years, and hundreds and hundreds of survivors later, we have found PLR’s were continually being treated unsuccessfully with conventional associated theories and treatments. Some PLRs flew completely under the radar depending on how convincing, charming, or deceptive the pathological was. Or the PLR was missed because of the hand wringing paranoia the partner appeared to have, which lead to the belief that there was mutual pathology in the relationship.

Regardless, there has been little relationship theory, or even differentiating trauma theory to understand these complex dynamics within PLR couples and the aftermath experienced by those closest to the disordered partner.

Our research supports that pathology impacts the relational dynamics, victim injury, and future risk, resulting in the need for different treatment modalities. Simply put:
• The relationship dynamics are different
• The (pathological) partner is different
• The victim’s aftermath is different.

Attempted Approaches

What has consistently been at the forefront of problems in treatment for the couple, the survivor of PLR, or the partner, is the missed factor of the existing “pathology.” This simple fact of existing pathology can drastically change what needs to be done differently, and will greatly impact treatment outcomes and client safety.

Historically, when pathology is unrecognized, professionals tend to utilize the theories and approaches most known for their general effectiveness but which do not work with the survivor, the couple, or the pathological partner. In fact, some of the more popular “approaches” are damaging, or even place the survivor at risk of future harm.

The problem is of course, that few of us received training on how to identify and work with partners of the personality disordered while in graduate school. I don’t know about your training on personality disorders, but mine was combined into a Psychopathology class with all the other types of psychopathological disorders. Personality Disorders was given one lecture period to discuss all ten disorders, and of course nothing about their impact on others was even brought up. The lack of applied information in the classroom certainly contributes to the problems mental health professionals find once they are in the field.

To add to that issue, personality disorders are not rare so each of us is likely to have clients, couples, or others, affected by the disorder.  The latest numbers from the NIMH indicated “1 in 5” in a college setting have a personality disorder. This is not “1 in 5 has a Cluster B Disorder’” but 1 in 5 for any of the clusters.  However, this should alert us to the high probability that as mental health professionals we will be dealing with this issue.

During these Pathometry Lab Newsletters, we will be going into more depth about the actual model- of- care approach for survivors but for now, let’s look at what has been traditionally attempted with these high- risk couples, survivors and partners.

Traditional Approaches

Please follow along, and think of one of your cases you suspect as a ‘PLR’ and see if the list below outlines some of the treatment issues you were initially targeting with more traditional theories. Perhaps you were approaching it as a couples counseling issue, a victim of DV (if applicable), a batterer intervention issue (if applicable), an addiction, a divorce, a co-parenting issue, depression from a break- up, or other counseling focus.

• The issue of violence was lumped together with general domestic violence theories and intervention approaches as the primary consideration (not the Cluster B Disorder as the primary consideration).
• The victims of these types of relationships were assessed using existing Victimology theories for both victim etiology and victim treatment approaches. Traditional forms of DV explanation about the perpetrator’s behaviors were given to the partner/victim.
• The unusual relationship dynamics of PLRs were explained with the Power and Control Wheel and the victim response was thought to be related to “codependency” or “Dependent Personality Disorder.” Victim personality traits were often associated with levels of dependent disorders, collapsed boundaries, enmeshment, or assumed to be primarily associated with trauma reactions.
• The couples were treated with traditional forms of relationship counseling.
• Relationship and/or sexual addiction were also often a common view of the dynamics of “intensity of attachment” by the partner/victim. Relationship/sexual addiction were also a possible reason for the cheating/sexual acting out of the partner.
• State dependent learning was sometimes assumed to be dissociation or Stockholm Syndrome.
• Anger management and/or batterer intervention was therapist- recommended or court referred as an accountability approach and an education for the perpetrator on the power dynamics.
• Criminal behavior was mostly equated with familial environments, or sociological and economic factors.
• Drug and alcohol addictions and their impact on relational harm factored in heavily towards understanding the relational dynamics.
• For some, the spiritual abusiveness of relational leadership was also identified and considered as both an individual and marriage problem.
• Traumatology of early childhood, or previous adult unprocessed traumas was searched for.
• Shoring up boundaries, straightening out cognitive distortions, equalizing power distribution, and medication, when applicable, were also considered.
• Communication techniques were used for the struggling couple or approaches like Imago Therapy.
• Co-parenting techniques were attempted with divorcing/divorced couples.

I’d like to say, all of these could be good practices EXCEPT when you are dealing with Pathological Love Relationships. Why is that? How can the pathology of one (or more) partners in the relationship so drastically change the risk factors, treatment approaches, and outcomes?

The reasons behind relational harm in PLRs and solutions for approaches are what we will be systematically approaching through our newsletters.

But intimate partner relational harm is not the only “harm” that happens from this group of disorders. In our next newsletter we will continue our introduction into the topic of PLRs and why we feel specialized training is necessary, by looking at the systemic impact pathology makes to all major societal systems such as the mental health system, the criminal justice system, social service systems, and health care systems.

To find out more about these issues, please take a moment to check out the related research and resources regarding pathology and PLRs for your practice listed below. Our Pathometry Lab will be an accumulative library of resources for you on pathology beginning with the links listed below. The accumulated library will be housed on our main website www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com.  It is the research and resources that are added to each newsletter that will help you educate yourself more fully regarding PLRs.

Interested In This Topic?

Our Therapist Training for Treating the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships Model of Care Approach (next training November 2013) includes further elaboration on items related to this topic:
• Relationship Dynamics of Pathological Love Relationships
• Bonding and Attachment Differentials
• Drama and Communication Triangle
• Event Cycles of PLRS
• What Doesn’t Work in PLR’s
• The Institute’s Model of Care Approach

Next Newsletter
Join us for our next newsletter when we will discuss more pathocentric ideas related to PLRs.

Do Your Part
Public pathology education is everyone’s issue, and if you are learning about pathology, please do your part and teach others what you know.  One way is to share our survivor support-oriented newsletters with your clients. They can sign up on the front page of the main magazine site—there is no cost and it comes out every week. www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

You can also further public pathology education by sending your colleagues and others who might be working with PLRs to our monthly newsletter. They too can sign up on the front page of the main magazine site and it is complimentary.  www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com
Here’s how we can help professionals…

How The Pathometry Lab Can Help You
This program is designed for professionals who are most likely to encounter the survivors, or the Cluster B partners, in your line of work.  Our Pathometry Lab will offer you:

• Articles on issues of clinical relevancy regarding treating the aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships (no charge)
• Information on pathology and personality disorders as it relates to survivor’s recovery, marital counseling, addictions perspectives, pastoral views, and other mental health disciplines (no charge)
• Recommended reading on pathology (no charge)
• Handouts and other pathocentric tools (no charge)
• Personalized Institute services for your survivor clients (fee for services)
• Products for Professionals related to Pathology (fee for products)
• Case Consultations (fee)
• Yearly Training Conference (fee)
• Tele-Events (fee)
• Personalized services for Professionals Wounded by Pathology (fee for services).

Our goal is to better equip you to be able to spot, intervene, and help the recovery of survivors of PLRs. We hope you will join us monthly for our Pathometry Lab Newsletter.  Most of all let us know if we provide support or education to you in the field of Pathological Love Relationships.

Next Institute Event

Treating the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships November 2013 Hilton Head Island, SC.
http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com/services-for-professionals/training

Relational Harm Reduction Radio

www.blogtalkradio.com/relational-harm-reduction
Every Thursday at 8:30 pm starting March 7, 2013
Call in questions taken.

RHR University: Coming soon Online Training for Professionals

JUST FOR FUN!
Patho-Lingo  Word of the Month:
Pathognomonic—distinctive characteristics in a disorder


Narcissus Gazing?

Sincerely,
Sandra L. Brown, M.A.
The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education
Director of Advanced Professional Education Services
Cathy Backlund
Pathometry Lab Newsletter Coordinator
Nancy Bathe
Technical Editor
www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Resources

Clinically Relevant Articles

Personality Disorders in Relationships

The Burden of Personality Disorders

Barriers to Effective Management

Neuropsychopharmacology for Cluster Bs

Reading Suggestions

Love Relations—Normality and Pathology, Otto Kernberg, M.D.

Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal & Violent Behavior by Millon, Simonsen, Davis & Birket-Smith

The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality by Elsa F. Ronningstan

Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age by George K. Simon, Ph.D.

Evil Genes by Barbara Oakley

Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

Pathocentric Tools

Wise Counsel Interview Transcript: An Interview with Otto Kernberg M.D. on Transference Focused Therapy (The Dangerous And Severe Personality Disorders—Cluster B)

Partner Related Assessment and His Cluster B Traits Checklist (Survivor Oriented)

30- Minute Lesson: Personality Disorders (Overview of All PDs)

Pathocentric Videos

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Video (Relational)
Video on Borderline Personality Disorder
Video on Anti-Social Personality Disorder

Assessments 

For Anxiety (Survivor Oriented)
Hamilton Anxiety Scale (Survivor Oriented)
Assessment and Medical Case Management in Personality Disorders (Pathological Oriented)
Partner Related Assessment and His Cluster B Traits Checklist (Survivor Oriented)

Websites

Safe Relationships Magazine (The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education) : http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com
Dr. George Simon : http://drgeorgesimon.com/
Psychology Tools : www.psychologytools.org
Dr. Don Dutton : www.drdondutton.com

Professional Journals

Journal of Forensic Psychology

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice & Policy Journal

Survivor Centered Help Aides

The Institute’s Partner Related Assessment and His Cluster B Traits Checklist

Intrusive Thoughts

Stress Management for Survivors

The Institute’s Resources

Pathological Love Relationships Archive of Articles

DVD Training Set on Cluster B and PLRs 


1. Understanding Destructive and Pathological Relationships
2.  Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships: Help for Wounded Women
3.  Treating the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationship: Understanding Pathology and Its Effects on Relational Harm

How to Spot a Dangerous Man Book

How to Spot a Dangerous Man Workbook

Women Who Love Psychopaths

Counseling Victims of Violence 

 

Maintaining Mindfulness in the Midst of Obsession 2CDs

Healing the Aftermath Relaxation CD

Trainings

Treating the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships: TBA, Hilton Head Island, SC
Contact us for more information

Help For Wounded Healers

Therapist Care
Are you a professional whose own personal Pathological Love Relationship is impacting your ability to help your clientele, function, or work? Do you need discrete and effective support? Long called ‘the therapist’s therapist’ The Institute provides our same Model-of-Care approach to wounded healers. Let us help you recover and come back stronger so you too can bring Pathological Love Relationship assistance to your own clientele.
_____________________________________________________________________

GENDER DISCLAIMER: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we refer to in our articles. Both male and female can be either the disordered, the partner of the disordered, or both. Our clients, readership and user of our services are approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials or services.  Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders. Our wording merely reflects our market.

COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT: Please be advised The Institute utilizes Intellectual Property Management Services that tracks, detects, and prosecutes the misuse of our copyrighted materials and property.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to Buy Me Dinner?

By Jennifer Young, LMHC

If you owe me dinner—raise your hand. For the last several years I’ve been making bets with women all over the country. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: “So, we know that once you are in the speed dial, you’ll always be in the speed dial. Cluster B’s don’t know how to do closure and he will contact you again. Not because of who you are but because of who he is.”

Survivor: “But, you don’t understand. He’s really pissed. I humiliated him in court. He hates me, calls me all kind of names to the kids. Really.”

Me: “Ok…so,wanna buy me dinner in (enter your city here) when I come to town if he contacts you?”
Survivor: “Sure, because it will never happen.”

And, about two months later, or six weeks later, or eight months later, the text comes from him.

Survivor: “OMG, he texted me and called me ‘baby’ and said he missed being at home.”

Me: “I know.”

What I know is that Cluster B’s don’t/can’t do closure. They don’t/can’t end a “relationship” because they are not emotionally intelligent enough. They lack the skills needed to end a “relationship”.

Closure is what we typically hope for at the end of a healthy relationship. The elements of closure for a healthy relationship require two people to agree the relationship as it is should end, there should be a mutual understanding of the reason (this could come in the form of a nice talk or argument ending in resolution), and there is an expressing of emotion that matches the behavior of ending a relationship. You might see a range of emotions, an expression of hurt and empathy and an end to the behaviors related to being a couple. Doesn’t this seem like the complete opposite of what you see when a pathological love relationship is over?

Closure is a foreign concept to a Cluster B. It represents everything they are unable to do. They cannot behave in a way that matches what they say. So, when they say it’s over—they don’t leave. They cannot understand your emotions or the impact of their behavior on you, so when they say,“I’m sorry,” they repeat the same bad behavior again because they haven’t done anything wrong in their mind. They can use the words of emotion but don’t feel it like you and I do. All of the elements of relationship closure require an understanding of the abstract nature of emotional words like “love”, “sorry”, “remorse”, “frustration”, “hope”, “trust”, “intimate”, “appreciated”, etc. …They do not have the ability to read past the word to its deeper interpersonal meaning. They can’t see how the word moves us or how the word is not just one word, but often made up of many concepts that are represented by one word. This lack of understanding of the abstract nature of our emotional language is part of the neurology of Cluster B disorders.

Without the ability to give closure, they don’t leave. What remains is your need to get closure. And it is that mismatched ending that tortures you—your expectation of closure and his inability to give it. The circle is set in motion when he never goes away and you keep seeking closure. Round and round it goes until you accept his inabilities. Only then can you end some of the pain of the break-up. When you begin to accept his inabilities, you can then begin to give yourself the gift of closure, because—as we have already established—he cannot give it to you.

He will continue to reach out for many reasons. This is part of the disorder—an underlying neurological part of the disorder. He can’t do endings. But on the surface those reasons can be varied. He might get bored down the road. In between relationships he often seeks excitement (game playing) so he pulls out the Rolodex. You are in it because he knows that he has controlled you before and that you have “played”. Remember, he is not a good learner of “failure”, he just knows you played. Another reason is primary needs. He gets his needs met through control, so if he needs sex, shelter, or a cover, he will turn to those who have provided it in the past. Finally, it may be “just for fun”…he wants what he wants when he wants it. He is impulsive and cunning at the same time; he has poor behavioral controls and a need for stimulation. This means that he is coming for anyone who can offer what he needs—without regard for their safety or wellbeing.

Coming to know what he can’t do, what he is incapable of and truly believing it, is the way out. It means that each time your mind brings a thought like, “he said he loves me,” or “he keeps coming back, so he must be sorry,” or “if I just love him more, he will do better”—you must challenge with knowing he is a Cluster B. You really have no impact on WHO he is. And the key to challenging these thoughts is not having a conversation with yourself about the “why”. You’ve read over and over again the answer to the why. The researchers, neuroscientists and The Institutehas answered that “why” question so you don’t have to anymore. It is what it is. When the thought comes via question—answer it. When the thought comes as a statement— respond to it—“Because he’s a Cluster B.”

You don’t have to make that dinner bet with me or anyone else. You can accept that he will come to hook you again. Knowing that he will re-contact allows you to remain clear-minded. It allows you to “predict” his behavior. His disorder is marked by certain patterns that are predictable and this is one of them.

However, if you live in a really cool town, somewhere that has a great restaurant, let me know—I’m thinking about trekking cross country to collect my bets.

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.  Thirty 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.  Thirty 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 30 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 therapist 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!