Archives for 2013


“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – ThichNhatHanh

Your breath is your life.  It is the power that moves you. It is the energy that drives you.  It is the fire that keeps you alive.  Your breath keeps you focused on the task at hand.  Your breath helps you slow down and relax.  Your breath moves through your body like a river, creating life along it’s banks.

In pathological relationship recovery, all of these things are needed.  The things that your breath provides are the things that will help you get better.  You need power, energy, fire, focus, relaxation and to create life again.  So, it makes sense that a big part of recovery is that you learn to breathe again.

It seems odd that you might need to learn to breathe again, but you do.  You lost control of your breath the moment you were first traumatized in the pathological relationship.  That first red flag that rose took your breath away.  The first time he called you a nasty name, or showed up unannounced when you had said you were going to be busy, or anytime his masked slipped enough for you to see his pathology.  These are moments when your breath became off balance for the first time.  Your breath took over in a sense.  You may have not felt it; but you sensed it.

When you experience a trauma your body leaps into survival mode.  In order for you to survive, certain primary functions must lead the way.  Your breath first stops and slows which signals a release of adrenaline.  This process then tells your body to be on alert.  Other physiological symptoms occur like sweating, confusion, a fast heart beat.  Through the event your breath is moving in a pressured way…often making your chest feel heavy.  As the perception of the trauma resolves you come back to yourself.  But what happens in a pathological relationship is that you never really leave the exposure to the trauma.  So, you never really come back to yourself.  Your body and breath is always on alert, off balance, unsure of when the next moment of fear will occur.

After an extended exposure to psychological trauma, your breath is not even on your radar.  When you live “in trauma” you stop being able to sense your breath and often miss the other physiological symptoms too.  You are so busy “thinking” in circles that your body’s warning signs and symptoms are “normalized”.  This is the epitome of losing yourself.  Without this awareness and mindfulness you are not present.  Your mind is taking you on a journey outside of the present moment, “What do I do next?”, “What did I do wrong?”, “What can I do to make this stop?”  With these thoughts come the behavioral options – fight, flight or freeze.

There is another way through trauma and trauma recovery…breathe.  Being able to regain the mindfulness of breathing can change everything.  Whether you are still in the midst of trauma or working hard to recover from it; the focus on breathing is crucial.  It is really the foundation for recovery.

You can begin by learning how to take good, deep breaths.  In through your nose…count to three slowly as you inhale…and out through your mouth…count to three as you exhale.  As you breathe listen to the sound of the breath moving in through your nose, and hear the breath leaving your mouth.  Feel the coolness and the relaxing sensation of each breath.  Stay present and focused with each breath.

After you learn to breathe again, add daily scheduled time to practice.  It is recommended that you spend 15-20 minutes each night before bed practicing relaxation and mindful breathing.  You can start with a shorter time frame and build up to the full 20 minutes.  After you believe you have mastered the breathing, you can begin to add in mindfulness skills like turning your mind to thoughts on your immediate sensations.  Turn your mind to take in the sights around you, the sounds you hear, the sensations you feel or the scents you smell.  When your mind wanders, bring it back to the present and immediate moment. Focus on just what is within your own space.

So, now you can begin to catch your breath.  You can begin the process of calming your body, your mind and your spirit.  When you are breathing in a calm and measured way, you are at your best.  With a steady breath, you will be able to think clearly, respond smartly and behave in a way that is safe.

It all begins with one slow, deep breath.

Verbal Bulimia and the Art of Over-Disclosure

I wrote about Verbal Bulimia in my Dangerous Man book, discussed in Women Who Love Psychopaths, and frequently remind everyone in the newsletters and yet I still see this embarrassing behavior among women that not only sounds inappropriate to anyone else listening but also puts her at tremendous risk amongst pathologicals.

Years ago when I had a few psychopaths in group I asked them how they picked out their ‘targets’ and from the mouth of babes they said,”I just listen. If you get them talking, they rapidly over-disclose. Women tell WAY too much! You pick up everything they just said–what they like, their values. Feed it back to them. Become what they are looking for. And ~ VOILA~ you’re in!”

On my flight back from our Dangerous Man Workshop Cruise to Cozumel several years ago, I had one of those over-disclosing women sitting in front of me. Ladies, this is the kind of person that makes you want to switch genders so not to be associated with the behavior! She was purposefully loud so that others would hear her. In fact, she was so loud, the rows around her couldn’t even have their own private conversations because she was holding ‘court’ in the middle of the plane where it was mostly men.

LOUDLY she announces to a girlfriend (who must have been deaf either before the conversation started which is why she YELLED or afterward from yelling in her ear) that she was going to THE CLIFFS where she OWNED a CONDO so she COULD GOLF on TIGER WOODS’ golf course (am enunciating the way she did with her volume on the important parts of her braggadocios story). And that she FLEW back and forth to her OTHER HOME to THE CLIFFS to enjoy THE COUNTRY CLUB and GOLFING. (Just imagine if you were a psychopath sitting within ear range of this conversation….)

Oh, and THANKSGIVING, she was going to have 35 people over AND HER LARGE DINING ROOM could easily accommodate them. She was going to HAVE A COOK COME IN and help her prepare the meal. And ANYONE WHO NEEDED A PLACE TO BE on Thanksgiving was welcome to come (as she offered with a gesture of her hand to those sitting around her). (The psychopath is totaling up how much her silver and Plasma TVs are worth about now….)

Then it was on to her OTHER VACATION travels she has recently done….while everyone else around her were rolling their eyes and sticking their fingers in their ears (except for the psychopaths on board who were checking to make sure they had packed their sun tan lotion–planning on a trip WITH her).

Glory to God, the plane landed and it seemed like I could get away from her. She stood up, adjusted her breasts, fluffed her hair, and sucked her stomach in as she noticed the guy in my row had a 3 piece suit on (gag!) a gold chain and to her I guess ‘potential’ This highly accomplished multi-home owner who had been loudly touting her own virtues, all of a sudden couldn’t manage to get her bag out of the overhead, turning into Scarlett O’Hara. “Could some big strong man help little ol’ me here?”
She was staring straight at the gold-chain guy, so he felt obliged. Then she inserted something that had nothing to do with her bag being stuck. She stuck her hip out and leaned into his face “You know what I HATE?” “What?” he asks. “There are 3 lanes on a highway–one for 70 miles per hour, one for 80, and the last one for me–which is getting out of my way! The thing that drives me the CRAZIEST in the whole world ….” (I’m wondering Poverty? Abuse?World Hunger?Obviously not psychopaths—what?)…are people who drive too slowly so that I can’t roar my BMW Z4 at 95-100 miles per hour.”

She glances around to see who MIGHT have heard her. I have my therapy gaze on her now–like “Girl, GET a therapist!!” The guy winces at that statement and stares at his shoes. However, several other guys in line shift their position to move closer to her. Instead of heading out of the front of the plane they are turning around and heading DOWN the plane not out! What psychopath doesn’t want to con her out of a BMW Z4?? Or her Country Club membership? Or the dining room table that seats 35? Or those boobs she just pushed up?

Ok, ok….not ALL women who over-disclose do it so garishly and obnoxiously as this woman. But they DO, DO IT! There isn’t a pathological that isn’t wired to ‘hear’ the hints and hone in on it. They don’t have to remember to ‘listen’ — it’s a natural as breathing to them.

Maybe your disclosure is more subtle like at church: “Pray for me, I’m going through a divorce.”
Or in personal ads: “Recently divorced attractive woman looking for her soul mate.”

Or on a chat forum “Yeah, I was really hurt when he ran around on me. I’m just looking for a nice guy to settle down with–someone who likes children and animals, a churchgoer—someone who shares my love of art and hiking.”

TMI! TMI! Too Much Information!!

It’s hard to remember that all the ears and eyes that are exposed to you are not ‘normal’ ones. That pathologicals are listening for the ‘signs’ which are a green light to them to move on you. That includes, any hint of what you’re looking for (Fine, I can be that! he says) or loneliness (I’ll solve that!) or pain (Oh, baby, you’ve gotta let me redeem the male species! We aren’t ALL like that!).

Some are listening for your financial info (many are parasitic so are looking for ways of living with others so they can conveniently lose their jobs while with you) or to just bilk you out of your money quickly and be gone.

Others are listening for your need of a partner, companion, ‘just friends’ status, a step father for your children, a spiritual mentor, a shoulder to cry on…..

Others are listening to your unrealized dreams that they can ‘support’ you in your journey to being….a writer, a painter, a therapist, going back to college, starting your own business….

Still others are listening for your needs: Sexually hungry? Emotionally needy? Bored? Not listened to? Abused? Abandoned? Lonely? Tired? Angry?

Remember the church song when you were little “Be careful little eyes what you see….Be careful little ears what you hear…Be careful little mouth what you say…” Remember that? It reminded us that our eyes, ears, and MOUTH needed to be careful. The song went on, “For the Father up above is looking down with love so be careful little mouth what you speak.” If we ONLY had the Father to worry about, this wouldn’t be an issue.

1 in 25 people have no conscience thus are pathological. There are ears and eyes watching and listening to you to make you their target.

So, you’re probably wondering what I did about the obnoxious, verbally bulimic woman on the plane? I flipped my business card at her with my finger and as ‘coincidence’ would have it, it landed in her cleavage and I kept on walking…..Imagine her thoughts as she read my card “The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education Psychotherapist & Author of How to Spot a Dangerous Man and Women Who Love Psychopaths.”

Too bad the plane was too crowded to turn around and watch!!

Little Red Riding Hood Revisited

This is part of a series of articles with a focus on issues related to dating after a pathological relationship; this is one of the specific areas that The Institute is asked about all the time. It is a complicated issue, as are most of the recovery issues related to pathological relationships. I will explore and focus on strategies to that will help ensure that your most recent pathological relationship is your LAST pathological relationship.

Little Red Riding Hood walks through the forest on her way to grandma’s house. A wolf stalks and follows her, hungry to eat her. He moves more quickly than her and finds his place in grandmas home, devours grandma, dons grandma’s clothes and waits patiently for Little Red to arrive. I think we know what happens next. Or do we?

Little Red Riding Hood has been down this road before. She’s a little older now and wiser. What the wolf does not know is that she remembers who he is and he is pretty freaking predictable. He is a carnivore with a one track mind. She knows he hunts and stalks, she knows that he is sly and cunning and she knows that he hides in places to make her think that he is safe to be around. She did not always know this but because she is smart, she remembers. And, because she remembers, she is not so afraid.

I know that you can relate to Little Red Riding Hood. You were stalked and followed. He moved quicker than you, he was more powerful from the start (you really did not stand a chance) and he was a master of making you feel safe. In fact, much like the wolf hid in grandmas clothes, your cluster b hid in society – pretending to be what you thought was safe. But once you are out of your pathological relationship you cannot hide at home, never venturing into the forest again. And, you cannot go back into the forest, pretending that wolves are out there.

When you are ready, you have to get back out there. But you have to do it differently. The key to dating again is spotting it and/or getting out quickly if danger presents itself. If we revisit Little Red Riding Hood the second time around she still takes the forest route because it is the most beautiful and provides the most excitement. But as she moves through the forest, she looks up and sees what is in front of her. She notices the trees, the small sweet animals and the dangerous wolves. And when she is quiet and peaceful, safely moving in the world she can really sense danger. This peacefulness allows her to do something different when danger is afoot and she does it.

You may have never been taught that there were wolves in the world. You may have grown up surrounded by wolves so that when a wolf arrived, you thought it normal. But, once you know the story of the wolves you have a new power. You can learn how people like this work, how they come with an intensity that is overwhelming, how they seek to control and violate boundaries, how they hide in society with titles and stories that have no facts behind them, and how they talk like us and pretend to love like us but are NOTHING like us.

You can learn to spot it – the wolf in granny’s clothing. Once you see it, you have to choose to do something different. This is other part of the story that Little Red Riding Hood does different. See, all of her life and throughout time, she might have been told how to spot a wolf but she was never really told that it was ok to dump the wolf. You might have learned a similar lesson. Women are often told to “make it work” or “just give him another chance”. Women have been taught to believe that if they change, their situation will change. That’s just not always true. Whenit comes to wolves, he’s a wolf and there is no amount of love that is going to make him not be a wolf. If he’s a wolf then your only option is to run.

Dating after a pathological love relationship requires that you have the skills to spot a pathological. You have experienced it first hand and often times the only gift that comes from that relationship is that you know what it looks like. So use it. As you begin to date, watch for patterns of pathological behavior. Lies, boundary violations, intensity, stories that don’t match, history of destroyed relationships or intense blaming of past partners, lack of genuine social connections, history of legal violations or violation of social norms are just some of things you might see. And remember, that not all cluster b’s look the same but the underlying patterns are the same. So one may not do exactly what the last one did but a lie is a lie and a boundary violation is a boundary violation.

Be prepared to move on. You must be prepared to not have a second date, break up after a month or leave even after 6 months in, if that is when you see it. Any relationship requires that you hold on to you and at any moment, you must be Ok with leaving and not be an emotional puddle on the floor. You holding on to you means that you saw who he is, you know it’s not you and you leave.
Little Red Riding Hood spends a lot of time with grandma now. The wolves move in the forest the same way they always did and often a wolf stalks Red. But she doesn’t spend time in fear or worry about the wolf. She moves smartly, peacefully and quickly on her path to grandma’s house. Head up, eyes open. She saves the fear for when she needs it, to sense danger and run. The rest of her days she works hard, cares for her kids, visits with friends and travels the world. The End.

Controlled Contact

“The most dangerous thing is illusion”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

It really is.  Illusion is dangerous.  As much as you want to be rid of the horror of a pathological relationship; as much as you want the chaos to end; as much as you try to make the quiet moments a sign of peace, it is all really an illusion.  Just because it’s over does not mean that it’s done.  In fact, the relationship being over can often mean the beginning of a new phase; wash, rinse, repeat.

In many cases you may be facing parallel parenting or endless court battles.  The problem is, you are different.  You know what you are up against.  The truth is, he is not different.  You can’t forget that.  So how do you manage what is in front of you?

When “no contact” is not possible because of kids or court, you can institute a policy for yourself called “Controlled Contact”. Controlled contact as in you are in control.  You set the rules; you create and hold on to the boundaries.  There is no denying that this will be like walking on a tightrope…with gators in the pond below…this is going to be hard.  But when you have control your path will be less challenging, easier to manage.  Most importantly, without illusion you will decrease the psychological impact that he has on you.

Controlled contact begins with evaluating how you communicate.  You must look at email, text, phone and in person.  The first step is to completely eliminate contact in the most ways possible.  So, ask yourself “Do I need to see him?”, “Do I need to call or talk on the phone with him?”, “Can I limit my contact to email only?”  Make a choice to eliminate at least two methods of contact.  This means that you will no longer have ANY communication with him via those methods.  You will not respond nor will you reach out via those methods.

The second step in controlled contact is to follow some simple communication rules.  Begin with limiting the words you use.  This means that instead of a lengthy email or text you limit your words to 3 or 4.  You can respond with “OK.” or “Yes.” or “No.” Those are complete sentences by the way.  Next, if you must use more than a couple of words eliminate all emotional language.  You can do this by not using phrases like “That’s not fair.”, “You keep hurting me.”, “You just don’t get it.” etc.  All of these phrases and phrases like them convey emotion.   This emotional language is just the thing that he needs to hook you…just the thing that he will know has you still hooked.

The third step is to be an observer during contact.  Stay alert by using linking and labeling.  Linking and labeling is a technique to link the behavior of the cluster b with the label of the behavior – identifying it as projection, gaslighting, crazy-making triangle, etc.  For example, pay attention and identify when you see the crazy making triangle.  Listen to his words and the position he speaks from, is it victim, persecutor or rescuer?  When you know which role he is speaking from it will help you to remember that you do not want to be in any of those positions with him…so be the wall.  Give him nothing back.  You have to stay outside of the crazy-making triangle because he never will.

The fourth step is to track your success.  Write down what works and what doesn’t-when you make a mistake, write it down and don’t do it again.  When you do this you are paying attention to patternsof his reaction to things.  This allows you to get your feet back underneath you and actually be able to predict his responses.

Finally, write down rules for yourself.  For example, when I talk I am only going to talk on the phone to him for more than 15 minutes.  Another rule might be when you talk stay on a certain topic-like the kid’s school issues.  When you set rules for yourself you are taking back your power.  Throughout the relationship he controlled the conversations, content and all.  Now, you decide.

For you to preserve your mental health you must stay in control when you can.  The aftermath of a pathological relationship is not perfect and it can often leave you feeling like you will never get control back again.  But, the truth is, once you rid yourself of the illusion that he will ever be any different, you gain some power back.

Genetic and Neuro-Physiological Basis for Hyper-Empathy

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

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

Do I need to tell you?  WAY TOO MUCH!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy and Its’ Effect on Your Reality

by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

Women who are in relationships with pathologicals test very high in the trait of ‘fantasy.’ Fantasy is not just merely wishful thinking. Fantasy has other components in it that affects your here and now life.

Fantasy is often associated with the future and in some ways the past. Here’s how… women often stay in pathological relationships because they feel panic or fear of abandonment when she or the pathological tries to end the relationship. She ends up re-contacting or allowing re-contact because of these feelings of fear/panic/abandonment.

Abandonment is an early childhood feeling. As adults we are not technically capable of being abandoned (unless you are for instance medically dependent.) The reason we aren’t capable of being abandoned as adults is that as mentally healthy adults, we really can’t be abandoned in the childhood sense. That feeling is an early childhood feeling usually associated with a time of adult or parental abandonment. It is an age-regression feeling–something that pulls you back to your childhood or a very young emotional state.

The feeling of ‘ending’ a male relationship often subconsciously sets off childhood feelings of abandonment. These are past associations and it taps into fantasy that it is happening all over again when it really isn’t. The previous male in your life who did abandon you as a child (for instance) is not the same thing as a pathological leaving your adult life.

But inside, internally, the child feeling is so strong that it feels like a ‘hole in the soul.’ The fantasy of THIS being the same as THAT takes hold and your panic makes you go back or allow him back in.

Fantasy is also future oriented. Fairy tales are fantasy and are based on “Once upon a time….and happily ever after” which is all the good stuff that ‘might’ happen in the future. Women stay in relationships with pathologicals based on a lot of ‘fantasy future betting’ — that is:
•    he might stop acting pathological
•    he might marry me
•    he might stop cheating
•    he might tell the truth
Fantasy betting is a lot like gambling…betting on a future that is not likely to happen with a pathological.

Why? Because pathology is the inability to change and sustain change, grow in any meaningful way, and the inability to for him to see how his behavior negatively affects others.

But women also stay in pathological relationships based on ‘projected fantasies’ that is, she fantasizes he will be happy with the NEXT woman and she will get all his good traits and none of his bad. This too is fantasy….that his pathology somehow will not affect HER the way it affects you. (You can’t turn pathology on and off like a light switch!)

Here’s some info: Pathology Affects EVERYONE the SAME!! (Unless she’s pathological as well–then who cares if he goes on to have a relationship worthy of a Jerry Springer Show?).
•    Women fantasize that this ‘abandonment’ feeling will affect her the way the childhood abandonment did. (And it will not–just as an FYI for you).
•    Women fantasize that he will be different with them. If he is truly pathological he is hard-wired. This IS his DNA.
•    Women fantasize that he will be happy in the future and she is missing out on something. If he is truly pathological, his patterns don’t change.
Fantasy is not the here and now. It’s not being present in the real life that is happening around you in this moment. It’s ‘out there somewhere’ kind of thinking. Come back to what’s real right now. List the 5 most real points about him right here:

Now stand back, step out of the childhood feelings, and look at the list with adult eyes. You can’t be abandoned as an adult because where ever you go, there you are and you are all you need as an adult. You don’t have dependency needs as an adult like you did as a child. To be abandoned is to be dependent on the one who is abandoning. Adults are not dependent.

Your real life is going on right NOW while you are in your head about his drama and the pathological intrigue. You are MISSING your real life that is happening right now! Drama, obsession and intrusive thoughts are usually about fantasy–the past or the future. It sure isn’t about this present moment and what’s happening right now. Such as, you might be ignoring:
•    your own health
•    your own self-care and happiness
•    maybe that of your children and friends
…because of how much time you spend in fantasy. Fantasy is telling you ‘just a little longer and he’ll get it and then I’ll have the life I really want.’

Your life is right now–not back there and not up there in the future.


Women Who Love Psychopaths E-book

The award winning book as an E-Book is normally $14.00, now $11.00.



Counseling Victims of Violence Print Book

This desk top reference book is a must for any professional working with victims. One of Sandra’s best books! Normally $19.95, now $16.95


Who Does That? Part One

Part of our goal at The Institute is not only to help survivors heal from the aftermath of a PLR (Pathological Love Relationship), but it is also to help prevent future relationships with pathologicals. In prevention, The Institute helps survivors to spot overt, glaring pathology. The overt pathology is easy to identify.
•    Few would argue that mothers who drown their children like Susan Smith or Andrea Yates aren’t terribly disordered.
•    Those that shoot people they don’t know, or commit a drive by shooting like the Beltway Snipers Muhammad and Malvo in the Washington D.C. and Virginia areas, clearly have pathological motives.
•    Those that sexually abuse children and then hide the sexual offenders like the Catholic Church, are the face of evil.
•    Horrendous hate crimes that torture hundreds, thousands, or millions of people – like war crimes or the Holocaust – are easy to figure that severe pathology is behind the motivation of that type of hate.
•    The deranged that break into homes to beat the elderly for money like Phillip Garrett, who terrorized those in assisted living facilities, have a notable bent of sheer brutality.
•    Terrorists who commit the taking of hostages and inflict psychological torture like the infamous Stockholm Bank Robbery (resulting in the term Stockholm Syndrome) are identifiable as probable psychopaths.
•    The rapist who preys on the vulnerable, or the type of rapist who rapes a wife in front of her own husband is overtly vile.
•    The violent anti-socials that are frequent gang members or thugs like James Manley, who murdered my father.
•    Serial killers like Ted Bundy who raped and killed at least 36 women, leave no doubt that he was the worst of the worst psychopaths.
•    The ordering of killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child like schizophrenic/psychopathic Charlie Manson makes our blood run cold.
•    Cult leaders who usher hundreds to death like Jim Jones, remind us of the power and persuasion of pathology.
•    Chronic re-offending domestic violence abusers like O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson convince us that all DV is not treatable, and some abuser brutality increases with each crime and are obviously disordered.
•    The babbling grandiosity of narcissism, as seen in Charlie Sheen, reminds us that even the rich and famous carry and display their pack of pathology for all to see.
•    The robbing of millions of dollars from thousands of people like Bernie Madoff, reminds us that not all pathology is physically violent – some do it with panache, and a tie on.

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

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

Low empathy is at the core of a cluster of pathological disorders that correlates to ‘inevitable harm’ when it crosses the paths of others.  Low empathy has its roots in reduced conscience, remorse, and guilt. Without empathy, pathologicals find pleasure in harming others. While they might not cackle aloud in public when a dog is hit by a car, they no less live in the shadows of enjoying the physical or emotional destruction of others.Sadistic – absolutely, but often it’s sadistic behind closed doors, or as sheltered reputations behind factitious names, or online identities.

Why aren’t these pathological disorders better identified? That is the million dollar question since the main judicial, social, and mental systems of our society deal with this particular cluster of pathological disorders day in and day out. Why are they actively dealing with Cluster B’s?  Because these disorders represent the majority of white and blue-collar crimes that cataclysmically smash in our lives even if they are never identified as crimes.  The reason society has not cohesively named this cluster of disorders as the center of their focus, is each system has their own view of the ‘behavior’ associated with the pathological’s disorders.
•    Law enforcement calls them the bad guys (if they are even caught)
•    Mental health systems call them patients
•    Domestic violence organizations call them abusers
•    Batterer intervention programs call them perpetrators
•    Criminal defense attorneys call them clients
•    Sexual Assault centers call them rapists or sexual offenders
•    Financial structures call them swindlers
•    The online world calls them trolls
•    Victims call them predators
•    Children and adolescents call them cyber bullies
•    The swindled call them con artists
•    The judicial system calls them criminals (or not, if they are never identified)
•    The church calls them evil or unredeemed
•    The website owner calls them hackers
•    The defamed call them cyber stalkers
•    Parents call them pedophiles
•    Jails calls them inmates
•    Prison calls them high security risks
•    FBI calls them targets and terrorists
As each system deals with their own view of a specific act the person has done, we miss the wide broad category that these people fall under. We miss the bigger implication of what goes with that category. We miss the fact that those who fall under these pathological disorders have largely low, or no, positive treatment outcomes. Each system dealing with a behavior, only sees the person through their own behavioral specialty. Yet, we are all talking about the same disorders in action.

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

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

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

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

When I teach about Cluster B, I see the moment of ‘aha’ that comes across their faces when they recognize their own clients within this cluster of disorders. Learning the emotional, physical, psychological, behavioral, financial, sexual, and spiritual behaviors of these disorders quickly helps them to affirm ‘who’ does that. Looking across the room and seeing law enforcement, judges, therapists, and mediators all nodding in agreement rushes them into the center of reality that we are all dealing with the same disorder in our offices, court rooms, therapy offices, and pews. That, whether they are a defamer, cyber stalker, repeat domestic violence offender, a financial con artist, or a killer, we are still talking about the Cluster B of disorders.
•    When asking my audience of sexual offender therapists if any of the pedophiles AREN’T within Cluster B, no one disagrees.
•    When asking Batterer Intervention programs if the chronic repeaters aren’t Cluster B, no one balks.
•    When asking Forensic Computer professionals if trolls, cyber stalkers, defamers or bullies aren’t Cluster B, they readily affirm it.
•    Sexual Assault counselors don’t argue that rapists are largely Cluster B.
•    Judges don’t rush to defend that high conflict cases (those people who file case after case, as many as 60 times to court) aren’t Cluster B.
•    Mediators don’t disagree that those most likely to fail mediation are Cluster B.
•    Custody Evaluators affirm that those most likely to tamper with evidence, perpetrate parental alienation, and require supervised visitation are Cluster Bs.
•    Programs that deal with stalking can easily see that stalking is primarily a Cluster B occurrence.
•    Repeat criminals clogging up jail, probation, parole, and prison programs are often diagnosed within jail as having a Cluster B disorder.
•    Terrorists, school shooters, and bombers are easily identified as Cluster B.
•    Those who stay for years and years in counseling using up mental health resources without ever being able to sustain positive change are Cluster Bs (excluding here the chronic mental illness of schizophrenia or developmental disabilities).
•    Those prematurely discharged from military service are often Cluster B.
•    The over use and misuse of most major societal services and systems are related to Cluster B.
•    Some of the most brilliantly contrived inside trading crimes of the century has been planned and executed by Cluster Bs.
•    Are there many murderers that aren’t Cluster B?

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

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

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

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

They single-handedly cause financial disruptions to the working class who are demoted, or go on disability because of scrambed-eggs for brains they now have due to too much Cluster B exposure.
It drives the legal market by keeping attorneys in business through never-ending court cases, child custody, and restraining orders.

It employs judges and prison systems. And keeps forensic computer and forensic accountants frantically busy.It funds domestic violence shelters, rape centers, and children’s therapy programs.Pathology is big business. It is what our large service systems in almost every field are driven by…the need to protect, defend, prosecute, or treat the effects of Cluster Bs.It employs threat assessment professionals to ward off stalkers and reputation defenders online programs to repair cyber attacks on people that Cluster B’s rarely even know.It employs social workers and halfway houses trying to get Cluster B’s ‘the help they need to turn their lives around.’

It drives the media of TV, radio, and talk shows. Who DO we think are often the persons on daytime TV and reality shows? Cluster B’s. WHO do the media often want to talk about in the celebrity world? The Cluster B’s. What kinds of crimes does the media flock to? The crimes often perpetrated by Cluster B’s.
It drives the medical field due to stress related disorders and diseases normal people develop as a reaction to the abnormal pathology of Cluster B.

Surely pharmacology is partially driven by medications for depression and anxiety perpetrated by the no-conscience disorders of Cluster B.It generates new products every year to track, expose and identify Cluster B’s who are hacking computers, sending viruses, or putting chips on phones and cars to invade others lives.

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

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


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l spent a decade co-parenting with a person who shows many symptoms of  a pathologically disordered person.

It took me long years before I came across Sandra’s book “Women Who Love Psychopaths”, which, as the first book to specifically focus on the needs of the victims with disordered partners, I believe, literally saved my life and became the basis of my search for further information. Surprisingly, in academia l found no well researched psychological work on the cognitive, social and biological processes in connection with the victims of psychopaths. I feel that because of my own experience and background in psychology, it is my privilege and opportunity to help others by taking part in academic research on this neglected but important subject. I will be working closely with the Institute, as l believe Sandra’s 25 years of therapeutic work with victims of psychopaths is an excellent base from which to do academic research on this subject.

For the benefit of victims and researchers it is important that academic psychological research be carried out on victims of psychopaths. It is from research that Sandra believes the focused treatment model of care is further developed for survivors.

I have been accepted as a postgraduate psychology student to investigate the effects of having a close relationship with disordered partners.  This research which will support The Institute’s research initiatives can only be done with financial support. We can do it together, please donate to make it happen! Thank you.

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Feeling Sentimental?

By Jennifer Young, MS
Director of Survivor Services for The Institute

Valentines Day, Easter, Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas; Your birthday, your anniversary, the birth of a baby, a promotion, a graduation. Feeling sentimental? I bet you are! You might be feeling a bit of tenderness, compassion, joy, sadness or anger. It doesn’t take much. Just the idea of these holidays or events can elicit a wave of emotion.

Sentimentality is a feeling. That’s it. It is you, responding to a memory. Feeling sentimental is not the memory but the feeling that it elicits. That is important to understand. Pathologicals want you to feel. When you feel, they are in control.

Herein lies the risk:He used your sentimentality against you. Think about how many times you were in a disagreement and he brought you roses. In that moment your emotion instantly shifted away from his offense and on to the first time he brought you roses. He might have manipulated your sentimentality when he talked about your children-their birth, their accomplishments, their struggles. In those moments your attention turned away from his betrayal or lack of parenting and towards the idea of “family” and the bond that was crafted. He would send loving cards to you as he’s wooing someone else. He used your sentimentality as a distraction. When you were overwhelmed with the feeling of sentimentality, you certainly struggle with staying angry or confused or disgusted.

Additionally, when the cognitive dissonance of “he’s good/he’s bad” is in full swing, this strategy of sentimentality manipulation is one of the things that pulls you back to his side. It’s the part of the relationship that you buy into with so much intensity. You have 5, 10, even 20 years of memories that he can draw on to pull you back to him. Each one of those memories is a point of manipulation on their own…but then he uses them over and over again to reinforce his mask. And you thought it was just another Christmas!!!

Herein lies the benefit: Let’s face it-it is healthy to feel sentimental. Your sentimentality is a reminder that you can bond, in a healthy, emotional and equally connected way. That’s good news. You also have the ability to rationally reflect on the reality of those dates. If you can step back and be an observer of those days you can see the pathology. Being an observer means that you look past how you felt to see what you saw. When you look back at the facts, the pieces come together. You see the flowers he brought with the shifty smile as if he gotten one over on you. You see the pretty birthday jewelry followed by the night he didn’t come home. You see the holiday dinner that included insults, projection and persecution. By the time the relationship ended, your sentimentality had been drained. He kept you spinning with the emotions of sentimentality so much that now…when it’s over you probably want to run and hide as these dates approach. It’s this disdain and disgust that contributed to you leaving. Again, it’s a good thing-that is the benefit. It was part of your awareness process that leads to a full awaking. As hard as it is to look back at those dates, it is powerful to know that SEEING the pathology is what freed you from it. And as usual, once you saw it you left.

Ultimately, if sentimentality is just a feeling then the dates are just the dates. He doesn’t own them. You do. They are just days in the past, events in time in which you were manipulated into believing the picture he painted. Once you begin to separate out those days from the new dates head, healing can be enhanced. Easter of 2009 will look nothing like Easter 2013. Your birthday in 2002 will look nothing like your birthday in 2013. This year, this date, this event you will be in control. You will be in the place you want to be, with the people you want to be around, accepting and giving gifts of your choosing in a fully present and genuine way. No manipulation, no gaslighting, no devaluing, no cognitive dissonance.

Don’t ever run away from your emotions. They are powerful tools-you need them and must treasure them. They do help us give meaning to every moment, every event, every day. They are a part of a very valuable human experience. Together with rational thoughts, reflection and perspective, emotions can create strength in you like you have never known. This year, be strong. Take on each event with a new sense of vigor and excitement. Take your days back-make new memories-feel new feelings. The further you get from pathology, the more your mind will become filled with the genuine feeling of sentimentality. Each year that passes you can look back at the events of 2013 with tenderness and joy-it was the year you ROCKED IT!

7 Ways to Reduce Relationship Stress

Do you feel like there is a huge brick wall between you and your significant other? You’re screaming at each other trying to make yourself understood but this wall keeps making your message come through garbled on the other side?

You’re not alone. This is one of the biggest problems with relationships. So many so called experts say there is a lack of communication. I disagree, I believe most couples communicate quite a bit (at least until the frustration becomes too much). The problem I’ve seen and felt from couples is a lack of effective communication.

Here are some specific ways you can reduce the relationship stress at home (and reduce stress breathing):

1. Get clear on your wants and needs. Everyone has specific wants and needs that they have to have fulfilled to feel loved, significant, and worthy. Countless problems occur because couples expect their significant other to intuit or “just know” what makes them happy.

2. Communicate in the same “language.” People experience the world differently. Many couples experience struggles simply because they don’t understand how the other person experiences the world. Most people experience the world mainly through vision or mainly through feelings. A wife may struggle to explain how she feels about a situation while a husband will tell her what it looks like to him.

3. Spend time together. Yes this is a simple idea but it is essential. Spending time with your spouse is important in so many ways. For instance, sleeping in the same bed results in a couples hearts beating in sync.

4. Have fun together. You don’t have to like all the same activities, just make sure you go to the same places together. Perhaps you may like to read on the beach while your significant other plays in waves. You’ve now both experienced joy at the beach, this is a shared experience which helps reduce tension together.

5. Stop being so judgmental. Life doesn’t ever go 100% right. Cut your spouse some slack. It’s a team effort. If they need help, jump in and help rather than nagging and demeaning them.

*Children and parents alike need to know that, when they make mistakes, they have a loving family that will back them up.

6. Have clear rules. Women especially like to have a clear set of rules or behaviors that as a couple you have decided is acceptable. Remember to be fair. If you’re allowed to look at other women realize that she can do the same. Having clear rules from the outset helps avoid stress later in a relationship.

7. Introvert or extrovert. This one is important! How do you “recharge” your batteries? Do you like to be alone with your thoughts, read a book, go for a walk or do you like to talk the problems out, go to a party, or have a barbecue. Is your spouse the opposite? This can lead to a endless problems if you don’t respect the other persons needs.

A happy and stress free relationship is one built on understanding and communication.


  1. Negative Memories
  2. Diet and Stress Levels
  3. How to Sleep Well

Signs of Relationship Stress

We are all searching for the perfect relationship. We have ideals of what the perfect relationship should be like. In a perfect world we would all have that. It is unrealistic to expect that all of your relationships will be perfect. Many relationships will contain signs of relationship stress that we may choose to ignore simply because we want the perfect relationship. Some relationships will naturally be better than others. Some we have to work harder at. Knowing how to identify the signs of relationship stress will help you handle your relationship problems.

Most of us would like to be in a relationship that consists of friendship, trust, understanding, caring and clear communication. It doesn’t always work that way. Often times our relationships are full of problems in all of these areas. We may not address the problems right away or we choose to ignore them hoping they will go away and instead they just get worse. Sooner or later those signs of relationship stress that we chose to ignore are so overwhelming that we feel there is now way out.

If you are in a relationship that is less than perfect then you may be experiencing some of the following: feeling sick, inability to concentrate, depressed, anxious, fighting about the same things repeatedly, ignoring problem situations, distance from your partner, not talking to each other, sleeplessness, mistrust, decreased sense of loyalty, decreased sense of caring, unwillingness to try, irritability, anger and resentment.

These are all signs of relationship stress. You might experience one, some or all of them. If you are at the point where you are experiencing the majority of these symptoms then your relationship is likely in a lot of trouble. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship will end. You do need to address these issues quickly in order to restore your relationship to the way it was before the problems began. You have to change things and you can make a difference.



So many people confuse the feeling of ‘attraction’ with the emotion of love. For some who are in chronic dangerous and pathological relationships, it’s obvious that you have gotten these two elements ‘mixed up.’ Not being able to untangle these understandings can keep people on the same path of unsafe relationship selection because they keep choosing the same way and getting the same people!

Attraction is largely not only unconscious but also physical.  There is actually something called an ‘erotic imprint’ which is the unconscious part that guides our attraction. (I talked about this in the Dangerous Man book). Our erotic imprint is literally ‘imprinted’ in our psyches when we are young–at that age when you begin to notice and be attracted to the opposite sex. As I mentioned, this is largely an unconscious drive. For instance, I like stocky dark-haired men. When ever I see that type of image, I immediately find that man ‘attractive.’ I can ‘vary’ slightly on my attraction but I’m not going to find Brad Pitt attractive. I might forego the full ‘stocky’ appearance but I’m not going to let go of some of the other traits that make men appealing to me. We like what we like. For instance, I am attracted to Johnny Depp or George Clooney. I don’t like any of the blondes or overly tall and lanky body types.

If you think back to what your ‘attraction’ basis is, you may find some patterns there as well. Attraction, however, can also be behavioral or based on emotional characteristics. For instance, some women are attracted to guys with a great sense of humor. The attraction is based on that characteristic. Other women may be attracted to athletic guys–not because of what sports do to their bodies, but because of the behavioral qualities of athletes.  Attraction can be subtle–like the unconscious erotic imprinting that makes us select men based on physical attributes OR attraction may lead us to choose relationships based on behaviors or emotional characteristics like displays of empathy, helpfulness or friendliness. (I discussed your own high traits of empathy, helpfulness and friendliness in Women Who Love Psychopaths.)

Although these traits might guide our relationships selection, this is not the foundation of love. It’s the foundation of selection.

Often, our relationship selection comes more from attraction than it does anything else. So knowing ‘who’ and ‘what types’ you are attracted to will help you understand your patterns of selection. Some people choose characteristics–helpfulness, humor, gentleness or another quality that they seem to be drawn to. Other people are more physical in their attraction and find the physicality of someone either a ‘go’ or a ‘no.’ Maybe you like blondes or blue eyes. This may also drive your pattern of selection.

Also in the area of attraction–sometimes it’s Traumatic Attraction that seems to drive our patterns of selection. People, who have been abused, especially as children, can have unusual and destructive patterns of selection. While this may seem the opposite of what you would expect, these patterns are largely driven by unresolved trauma. People who were raised in alcoholic, dysfunctional, or abusive homes are likely to repeat those exact patterns in their selection of a partner. They often select individuals who have similar ‘characteristics’ to the abusive/neglectful/addicted adult they grew up with or were exposed to. The characteristics could be physical (how they look) or behavioral (how they act) or emotional (how they abuse/neglect).  In any event, the unresolved abuse issues drive them to keep selecting abusers for relationships. Today, they are mystified as to why they keep picking abusive/neglectful/addicted people for relationship partners. That which remains unresolved, revolves–around and around thru our lives until it is resolved.

So, when you have no idea that attraction (good, bad, or dysfunctional) is guiding your selections, you just keep picking the same way and getting the same thing. But because the world keeps using the word ‘love’ you use it, too. And you label your attraction-based-choices (that are largely dysfunctional) as ‘love’ and then become confused about the nature of this thing called ‘love.’ Your attraction is NOT love. It is merely attraction. What DOES or DOES NOT happen IN the relationship may be more reflective of ‘love’ than anything else.

Remember the Bible verse, “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not seek it’s own…”? it helps to reflect how love is ‘other centered’ not in a codependent and frantic needy way but in a way that helps others be interdependent in relationships. Love is often attributed to positive ‘attributes’ such as:

Joy – love smiling

Peace – love resting

Patience – love waiting

Kindness – love showing itself sensitive to others’ feelings

Goodness – love making allowances

Faithfulness – love proving constant

Gentleness – love yielding

Self-control – love triumphing over selfish inclinations

–Source Unknown

(Now, think about if ANY of those traits described the Pathological Love Relationship? I didn’t think so….)

“As long as we believe that someone else has the power to make us happy then we are setting ourselves up to be victims” (From: Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls).

This Valentine’s Day be very clear with yourself about love and attraction. This is a time when you might be likely to want to recontact him. Let me remind you, NOTHING has changed. His pathology is still the same. And on February 15th you could hate yourself for recontacting him for one weak illusionary moment on Feb 14th–in which the world is focused on love but he is focused on manipulation, control or anything OTHER than love. If you open that door, then you will have weeks or months of trying to get him out and disconnect again.

Instead, plan ahead for your potential relapse by setting up an accountability partner AND something to do! Go to a movie with a friend; go out to dinner, so SOMETHING that takes responsibility and action for your own loneliness at this time of year. Whatever you do, don’t have a knee jerk reaction and contact him. One day on the calendar about love is just an ILLUSION!

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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 often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.


by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

Since Valentine’s Day was upon us, I thought it would be a great discussion about what happens in Pathological Love Relationships— that attraction is on over-drive while love (from a pathological) is lingo-bling.

But what about real love, healthy love? People write all the time and say ‘When are you going to write How to Spot a Healthy Partner because with as many bad relationships that I’ve been in, I can hardly tell the difference between what should be obviously toxic and what should be obviously healthy.’

The opposite of healthy love is what we often call ‘toxic’ love. Sometimes understanding what toxic ‘looks like’ helps us to see what real ‘love’ should look like too.

Here is a short list of the characteristics of Love vs. Toxic Love (compiled with the help of the work of Melody Beattie & Terence Gorski).

Love Toxic Love
Development of self is first priority Obsession with relationship
Room to grow, expand, desire for other to grow Security and comfort in sameness;
insensitivity of need seen as proof of love
(may really be fear, insecurity, loneliness)
Separate interests; other friends; maintain other meaningful relationships Total involvement; limited social life; neglect old friends, interests
Encouragement of each other’s expanding; secure in own worth Preoccupation with other’s behavior; fear of other changing
Appropriate Trust (i.e. trusting partner to behave according to fundamental nature) Jealousy; possessiveness; fear of competition; protects “supply”
Compromise, negotiation or taking turns at leading. Problem solving together Power plays for control; blaming; passive or aggressive manipulation
Embracing of each other’s individuality Trying to change other to own image
Relationship deals with all aspects of reality Relationship is based on delusion and avoidance of the unpleasant
Self-care by both partners; emotional state not dependent on other’s mood Expectation that one partner will fix and rescue the other
Loving detachment (healthy concern about partner, while letting go) Fusion (being obsessed with each other’s problems and feelings)
Sex is free choice growing out of caring & friendship Pressure around sex due to insecurity, fear & need for immediate gratification
Ability to enjoy being alone Unable to endure separation; clinging
Cycle of comfort and contentment Cycle of pain and despair


Love is not supposed to be painful. There is pain involved in any relationship but if it is painful most of the time then you are probably in a Pathological Love Relationship because the end result of these relationships is ‘Inevitable Harm.’  Let’s be clear that there is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship – it is natural and healthy. If we can start seeing relationships not as the goal but as opportunities for growth then we can start having more functional relationships. A relationship that ends is not a failure or a punishment – it is a lesson. And these lessons are mostly about pathology, its permanence, and the lives it affects without discrimination.

The Gift of Time-Managing the Pace of a New Relationship

This year I will begin a series of articles with a focus on issues related to dating after a pathological relationship; this is one of the specific areas that The Institute is asked about all the time. It is a complicated issue, as are most of the recovery issues related to pathological relationships. I will explore and focus on strategies to that will help ensure that your most recent pathological relationship is your LAST pathological relationship.

“Time ripens all things; with time all things are revealed; time is the father of truth.” ~Francois Rabelais

There is one task in dating after a pathological relationship: to discern pathology from non-pathology before you are hurt. In order to achieve this task, you must be prepared to buy yourself some time. Pathology is not decided by one event– not one lie, not one affair, or not one nasty fight. Pathology is discerned over time by watching for a pattern of behaviors. Your experience with one pathological will help you know the behaviors and pattern however, if you do not give yourself time you will NOT see it.

The very first thing that happens in a pathological relationship is that you are overwhelmed. A pathological often moves fast and hard. They love-bomb, they challenge your “no’s,” they show up unannounced, they come along just because, or after you tell them that you have plans with friends they send text after text. When you tell them that you’d like to see them Sunday, instead of Saturday they send flowers on Saturday letting your know you are missed. While you are at work they send emails, call, or even show up. They are beginning the process of control. Each one of these events is part of a pattern that serves to overwhelm and manipulate you. You perceive the attention as loving, sensitive and compassionate or it maybe even something you have not felt before. You hear the talk in your head that says “he must really care about me because he wants to share every moment with me.”

The problem with pathology is this intensity in the early phase takes away your ability to “feel” the danger. The intensity blinds you making it nearly impossible to see the boundary violations, see the tests that you are being put through, see that the acts of “love” are really fantasy development. What I hear most about this early phase is feeling fear and excitement at the same time. But what inevitably happens is that the fear is squashed by excitement. He pulls you in with flowers and scares you with a boundary violation. As you begin to question the violation, he sends a sweet text message so the fear fades quickly.

The solution is giving yourself the gift of time. Slowing down in a relationship allows both the fear and excitement to be sensed.If the relationship is built on fear, you need to know that. If the relationship is built on excitement, you need to know that too. Our feelings are a tool…a warning sign. They let us know when something good is happening and when we are in danger. You need to feel the fear so that you can decide how to act. But, if you are moving so fast that you cannot feel these emotions, you will miss the warning signs.

Time will reveal the truth. Not only will going slow help you to feel the danger if it is there,time will allow the patterns of behavior to reveal themselves. For pathologicals with good masks this may take a while for them to slip. Your task is to put the pieces together and when you see who he is, believe it and do something about it. It might not be one lie, but two or three is a pattern. It might not be one boundary violation, but two or three is a pattern.

In this day and age, slowing down is not really part of our lives. We move fast today. Technology makes things so easy and allows for quick, direct (sometimes even intense) communication. We are often under pressure to move fast in relationships,having put off “love” for career. So the task of slowing down requires that you look at how we date today.

  • Technology: Focus on limiting the amount of texts and emails that you send while in early stage dating. Limit texts or emails to once a day or less and limit content to setting up dates or quick check in. Leave real conversation for the face to face meetings. Take a look at your facebook friends and consider not adding a new friend until they are an actual friend. Adding a person that you have not even met in person or who you have had one dinner date with might not be the best choice. When using online dating sites keep emails simple, straight forward and of a non-intimate nature.
  • Contact: Consider dating once a week. Leave Friday and Saturdays for a traditional date night and hold firm to your boundary. Even if you are not mutually free on those days for two or three weeks,you just bought yourself some time. Hold firm to boundaries regarding when you are available. If you have plans with friends or family, do not cave when the pressure comes for him to participate.
  • Time: Be vigilant about how long you spend with one person in early stage dating. Allow yourself two or maybe three hours for first, second and third dates. This would include a dinner date, an outdoor activity date, or a group date. Keep phone calls short and pleasant. Again, leave real conversation for face to face meetings.
  • Relationships: You can slow things down by keeping your early stage date just that, a date. He does not need to meet the kids, the parents or any other close family. The process of bringing a new person into your intimate circle only intensifies the relationship in your eyes and puts you at risk. The person you should introduce him to is the non-tolerant best friend. The friend that warned you about the last one!

And a word about sex and slowing down: think about it. That’s it. Just think it through. Whatever you choose, make sure you have taken the TIME to think it through. Sex means that your neurochemistry will shift and you will sense a deeper attraction, a deeper sense of relationship investment, and even craving. Those are all neurochemistry shifts you cannot control. Sex means that your mind and your beliefs about the relationship will change. Sex means that you could be triggered or struggle with the intimacy involved…are you ready?

The task of pacing and slowing down gives you control. When it comes to discerning if your potential date is pathological you will only be able to do that if you remain in control and you control the pace.Give yourself a chance. You knew the first time around too but he was better at being a pathological. You knew the first time around but he moved faster and moved with an intensity that was meant to overwhelm you. This time you will know, you will see and you will be able to choose differently if you give yourself the gift of time.