Archives for 2015

Gentle Healing From Trauma: The Care and Feeding of the Nervous System

By Joan-Marie Lartin, PhD, RN

Imbalances in neurotransmitters are related to many symptoms of PTSD: anxiety, obsessions, irritability and rage responses; cravings for carbohydrates, alcohol, and other compulsions (shopping, gambling, and sex, for example); insomnia, panic attacks and depression.

Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder or, as it sometimes feels, Ongoing Stress Disorder, affects us spiritually, emotionally, cognitively, physically and behaviorally. Of course, since we are whole persons, these aspects overlap to some degree.

Fortunately, recent advances in brain science have created options for helping to heal trauma that are safe, noninvasive, natural and very effective. As a therapist with over 35 years’ experience in general, and with over 20 years’ experience helping traumatized people of all ages, I have found amino acid therapy and neurofeedback training to be powerful tools in healing from trauma.

I have had my own experiences with trauma—the suicide of a family member, marital infidelity and a number of relationships with disordered men. PTSD is not an academic subject for me, and my experiences have shaped my approach to clients who come to me for help with problems related to emotional trauma.

One of the most useful ways I have found of thinking about emotional trauma is that it is a serious threat, or ongoing threat, to well-being that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. Coping mechanisms just can’t do the trick, and so the person’s behavior and emotional, cognitive, and physical states show evidence of being overwhelmed.

The symptoms of PTSD,  even though they are serious and even debilitating, are just that—

symptoms that something is very wrong. It is of course crucial to provide relief for the symptoms such as insomnia, overeating, panic attacks, and depression. It is also crucial to place these symptoms in a larger context so the cause(s) of the problem—being overwhelmed by a Pathological Love Relationship, for example—can also be addressed and changed.

One of the most far-reaching innovations in treating PTSD that I have seen is supplementation with amino acids and related substances. Since PTSD disrupts these fundamental physiological processes, it makes sense to provide a person with PTSD symptoms with these building blocks so her body can recover, and in doing so, reduce or eliminate some of the symptoms that are directly or indirectly related to neurotransmitter imbalances created by being chronically overwhelmed.

In PTSD, the person is physiologically overwhelmed, especially in the nervous system, and often moves into overdrive and then sometimes exhaustion. The stress response—fight, flight, or freeze—can also go into overdrive and become a permanent, rather than a temporary, situation. This makes it particularly difficult to calm the nervous system—it is as though the stress response has taken on a life of its own and is in overdrive.

It’s no wonder traumatized people self-medicate with food, drugs (prescription and street), alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, shopping, and the like. The anxiety level seems to be set on ‘high’ all the time, whether there is an external threat or not. For partners or former partners of disordered persons, of course the stress is often ongoing and severe, making it exceedingly difficult, and perhaps risky, for the person’s physiology to lower the threat response.

But the threat response, the fight/flight/freeze, has its upsides as well as its downsides. From a positive perspective, this response ensures that the person will react quickly to threats to safety and well-being. He or she may also overreact to situations that are not really threatening. But if this response is calmed down and essentially ‘reset’ it will be there when needed. Being on red alert—hypervigilant—is not really healthy. We are not wired to be in overdrive all the time, and when this occurs, the toll is high.

For example, neurotransmitters are chemical messengers which ensure that the person responds to and recovers from all kinds of situations. There are fundamentally two kinds—excitatory, which help us get going, and inhibitory, which help us to calm down. Prolonged stress related to emotional trauma triggers the constant release of both kinds.

Over time, the body cannot sustain this and it becomes depleted and out of balance. Serotonin is one of the key inhibitory neurotransmitters, and it is almost always very low in traumatized individuals. Traditional antidepressants may recycle what little there is but do not help the person to produce any more.

Reduced serotonin levels can lead to insomnia, irritability, headaches, carbohydrate cravings and depression. High levels of excitatory neurotransmitters can lead to increased anxiety (as if there weren’t enough to begin with!) and insomnia.

So we can see how it is that PTSD leads to physical overdrive, which leads to many problems, neurotransmitter imbalances being an important example. The good news is that it is now possible to measure many of the key neurotransmitter levels, directly and indirectly. However, neurotransmitter testing is now often covered by many health insurance companies, and the very specific amino acids that are suggested are usually easily available.

Just as a woman who is having heavy periods may take iron tablets for a time until the cause of the excessive bleeding is determined, so we can take supplements that will help balance our neurotransmitters. Most of these supplements are amino acids—naturally occurring substances that the body uses as building blocks for most neurotransmitters.

While there is currently some controversy about this in the traditional medical community, it may well be related to the recent nature of these discoveries as well as the limitations and blind spots of the existing medical paradigms. Time will tell.

Another naturally occurring substance in our bodies is cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands in response to the fight/flight/freeze response. A discussion of cortisol imbalances will be presented in a forthcoming column; suffice it to say that if a cortisol imbalance exists and is not corrected, just as is true for neurotransmitter imbalances, recovery from emotional trauma will take much longer to occur.

In my practice, I combine neurotransmitter testing with psychotherapy as well as neurofeedback training. Using the amino acid supplements alone, which I am frequently asked to do outside of the client-therapist relationship, is not advisable for many reasons.

For starters, these supplements are not a magic bullet and the use of them alone can reinforce the belief among Americans that if we just take the right pill, everything will be OK. As Sandra L. Brown’s research and clinical work have demonstrated, there are many, many other aspects of healing from life with a disordered person and the predicable emotional trauma that is a part of the picture.

But the very good news is that amino acid supplements, after a specific test or tests to determine if and where imbalances lie, as well as neurofeedback training in conjunction with psychotherapy and other modalities such as yoga, massage, EMDR, offer a very gentle and extremely effective path for getting your life back on track. What a blessing.

 

(**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

 

Grieving the Pathological Loss, Part 2: The Personal Side

In last week’s article, we began talking about the grief process as it pertains to ending the relationship with your dangerous (and often, pathological) person. Even though the relationship was damaging, and maybe you even initiated the breakup, you cannot sidestep the necessary grieving. Women are shocked to find themselves grieving at all, given how abusive, damaging, or horrible the relationship was. They tell themselves they should be grateful to be out and this negates their own feelings of loss. The end of a relationship always constitutes a loss, whether he died or whether the relationship merely ended—the heart recognizes it as the same—a loss.

I also mentioned in the last article that grief is natural. It’s an organic way the body and mind tries to rid themselves of the pain. That’s why it’s so necessary, because if you did not grieve, you would have no way to eventually be out of pain. Grief is the way a person moves through the loss and to the other side of health and healing.

Without grief there wouldn’t even be a POTENTIAL for healing because grief must occur in order for healing to follow. To stuff your grief or try to avoid it is to sabotage your own ability to heal. So for every person trying to work through the ending of a relationship, grief is the healthiest response.

Some of the losses associated with the end of the relationship were discussed in the previous article. The ‘personal side’ of grief—the other aspects that were lost because of the pathological relationship and must be grieved include the loss of:

  • your own self-respect
  • your own dignity
  • your self-identity
  • your self-confidence
  • your self-esteem
  • your ability to trust your own instincts
  • respect of others
  • trust of others
  • hope
  • joy
  • the belief that you can ever be different or better

These significant personal losses may not always be recognized as ‘grief’ but more as all the deficits that have been left behind because of the pathological relationship. Although he is gone, this is his mark upon your life and your soul. These losses reflect the loss of your self and your own internal personal resources.

Stripped away is your ability to recognize your former self, the ability to tap into what was once the strength that helped you in life, and to respect your self and your life choices.

Of all the things that need grieving, women indicate these personal losses are the most devastating. Because in the end, you are all that you have left—when he is gone, you must fall back on your self for your healing. But what is left has been described by survivors as “an empty shell of a former life”… “a garden that is overgrown with weeds and in disrepair”… “a once-stately estate that has been vandalized and abandoned.”

To begin the arduous task of healing and repair requires that you turn inward and draw on your resources. But what was there feels like it is gone. You may want to begin the healing from the pathological relationship, but you are stopped short in your tracks by the necessary grieving of all things internal that are now gone or damaged.

Clearly, the first step is to grieve. Let us know if we can help you take that first step.

(**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

Grieving the Pathological Loss, Part 1

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

One of the things we have discovered from our research project (Women Who Love Psychopaths) is that ‘loving’ a pathological (not just a psychopath, but any person with a pathological disorder), seems to involve having a very intense attachment to the relationship. Most women report that ‘loving’ them is nothing like anything else they ever experienced. They indicate that it’s more intense than other relationships, there are more mind games that keep them very confused and unable to detach, and a kind of hypnotic mesmerizing that keeps them in the relationship LONG after they know they should have left.

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

Lots of women are confused as to ‘who’ or ‘what’ it is they are actually grieving over. Grief can seem so ‘elusive’—a haunting feeling that is like a grey ghost but can’t be nailed down to actually ‘what’ the loss is.

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

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

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

No matter what it is you perceive you no longer have… it’s a loss—and when you have loss you have grief. People spend a lot of time trying to stay on the perimeter of grief—trying to avoid it and stay away from the pain. But grief is the natural way to resolve conflict and loss. It’s the body’s way of ridding the mind and soul of ongoing pain. It’s an attempt at rebalancing one’s mind and life. Grief is a natural process that is given to you as a pain management tool. Without grief there would never be a way of moving through pain. You would always just remain stuck in the feelings and you would always feel the same.

Don’t avoid grief. While no one likes grief it’s important to allow yourself to feel the feelings and the pain. To suppress it, deny it, or avoid it will mean you will never work through it. I don’t know anyone who wants to live in this kind of pain.  There is only one way through the pain of grief and that’s through the middle of it. There are no shortcuts, quick routes or other ways ‘around’ the pain and grief. There is only through it—like a wilderness. But on the other side of it is the promise of healing, hope and a future.

Don’t judge your grief. What hurts, hurts. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you (he was horrible, why am I grieving HIM?)—it’s your body’s way of moving through it, so let it. Get help if you need it—counseling, group, medication, a grief group—whatever it is you need.

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

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

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

 

(**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

Recovering Without Validation

Many of you have indeed had the experience of facing getting over the aftermath of a Pathological Love Relationship with very little legal justice. It doesn’t mean that you don’t pursue your own rights. You should always stand up for what you believe in. It’s just that if the universe tilts in his favor yet again, or the courts continue to not support you, you still have to heal—for your own recovery and your own future, you MUST still heal.

It is the same as today’s message—Recovering Without Validation. Sometimes NO ONE believes he was a pathological monster and did the things you said he did. He continues on in his job looking normal and is even successful while you wind up looking hysterical, unstable, and out of your mind. Mr. Pathological schmoozes with your friends, family, or bosses, convincing all those around us he never did what you said he did, doesn’t have the traits you accuse him of, and is just trying to be a good guy to a freaked-out woman.

Mr. Pathological turns friends against you. Your attorney starts to believe HIS version of the story. Cops withhold restraining orders because “he seems like such a nice guy,” and even your children may take his side.

This is the ‘conning’ side of his personality. Most pathologicals are octagons—they have eight sides!—his charming side, intellectual side, friendly side, professional side, rageful side, addiction side, mentally ill side and lying/conning side.  But most people don’t see his negative sides of rage, addiction, mental illness, lying and conning. His positive sides that face outwardly to the general public are charming, intellectual, friendly, and professional. It is no wonder women have to go through the recovery process with very little validation.

Find your validation from others who have also experienced a pathological love relationship. There is a lot of research, countless books, numerous forums, and more and more organizations designed to respond to pathological love relationships. You will find that you are not alone and there are others who have gone through the same experience. Just be sure to exercise due diligence for your safety and security when using on-line resources!

**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

 

PTSD as Trauma Disorder—Not Psychiatric Illness

This week we talk about how women can level the playing field in court with a pathological. This could be related to a divorce, separation, restraining order, or child custody. If you have PTSD, the courts are mandated to offer you special accommodations while in court to protect you, and to help your level of functioning due to the PTSD.

In order to do that, you must legitimately have PTSD, be diagnosed and have an Accommodations Report prepared by a professional that is presented to your state’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Coordinator’s Office. From there, special accommodations are granted. The range and what the accommodations are, are listed in the column, “Helping Women Find Effective Strategies for Court.

First of all, PTSD is a trauma disorder. If you are given the diagnosis, it already implies you have been traumatized. You are going to court regarding your traumatized relationship, so it fits and supports your argument in court, as well as the symptoms that have arisen because of this relationship. If he produced trauma, this needs to be said. If we want the court to understand pathology, we need to teach through our own experiences and relationships if we want the court system to change.

Second, PTSD does not necessarily have the type of stigma you may fear. Our vets that come home from war more often than not have PTSD. Fighting for our country is honorable—they were doing a good thing, and yet were damaged from their experience. The same is true for you.

One of our previous presidential candidates has PTSD. Firefighters and law enforcement that bravely saved many on 9/11 have PTSD. Missionaries helping the poor in other countries have PTSD. Social workers working in dangerous situations have PTSD.

I have PTSD. I have lived over 25 years with it. I openly discuss having the disorder—through no fault of my own. I acquired PTSD from seeing my father’s murder scene. I have worked with others that have had PTSD now for 20+ years. And because I am a survivor, I live with the effects of chronic PTSD daily. I know how it has changed me and my life, my abilities, my health, and my endurance. I have seen in hundreds of others how it has affected their lives—sometimes long-term.

If you have it, say it. Nothing starts healing until we acknowledge it. It is what it is.  Some worry that they will be labeled with mental illness if the court acknowledges their PTSD. Well, let’s think about that… do you think a pathological is going to go into court and NOT say you are crazy? You don’t think he will argue every point of your illness, behavior, or symptoms (whether they are true or not) in order to win? You don’t think he’s GOING to use some kind of emotional disorder argument? OF COURSE HE IS—that’s what pathologicals DO!! So, in order to prevent being labeled something far worse than PTSD, if you have PTSD, let IT be the label instead of something else that can greatly impair your ability to get rehabilitative alimony, custody of your children, etc.

Having a PTSD diagnosis before court can greatly help HOW FAR the pathological can go in trying to make you look mentally ill. PTSD is NOT a mental illness. Having a PTSD diagnosis may help prevent them from labeling you mentally ill with other more debilitating types of mental illness.

So don’t shun the PTSD diagnosis if you have it. It may prevent you from being labeled something far worse.

 

(**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

When Your Symptoms Look Like Something Else

Women tell me their therapists have diagnosed them with a variety of diagnoses, which has made them not only confused, but often ANGRY! They have been diagnosed, for instance, with disorders like bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, paranoia, and other not-so-fun labels.

Most therapists are undertrained in recognizing and treating the aftermath symptoms in victims of Pathological Love Relationships. The reason you are being diagnosed with various disorders is because your symptoms are similar to those various disorders—they are mimicking true mental-health symptoms.

For instance, when your moods are swinging all over the place and you are depressed and anxious, you look bipolar. When you are cranky, highly reactive and want vengeance you look borderline. When you are scared about what he will do next, fear you’re being  followed, or afraid he is spying on you so he can accuse you of something, you look paranoid. When you think things are happening that you can’t prove to other people, you look delusional.

The issue is, these are ALL normal reactions to coercion and Stockholm Syndrome, similar to those found in prisoners of war—in other words, aftermath of a Pathological

Love Relationship. In THAT context, your symptoms make perfect sense! You were coerced, your mind was played with, you felt stuck and held in a pathological relationship against your own spiritual will. You feared that your emotional and physical existence were in jeopardy. And the pathological DOES do things he never gets caught for but that you can’t prove.

In Pathological Love Relationships, women emerge with signs of PTSD, Stockholm Syndrome, and coercion. Unfortunately, not all therapists understand the overlap between PTSD, Stockholm Syndrome and coercion—which is why you are often misdiagnosed. A lot of this is discussed in my book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, in which I talk about the pathological worldview and how women acquire the pathological’s view of the world and how that entraps them in the relationship.

The symptoms of coercion are:

  • Isolation: The individual is deprived of social support, effectively rendering her unable to resist. This makes the individual become dependent upon her interrogator/captor. The victim then develops an intense concern with self.
  • Monopolization of Perception: The captor fixes his attention upon immediate predicament; fosters introspection in the victim; eliminates outside competing stimuli with the captor, so the victim can only focus on him, and frustrates all actions not consistent with her compliance to him.

(In the mid-relationship dynamics in the book, all of this is discussed. Your Super Traits are very high in what we call relationship investment and cooperation which means you are highly cooperative because you get so much enjoyment out of your relationships that you will ‘bend over backwards’ to make things work. The book discusses when the mid-relationships ‘shift’ and what happens to the women’s perspective.)

  • Induced Debility and Exhaustion: People subjected to this type of abuse become worn out by tension, fear and continual rushing about in an effort to meet their abuser’s standards. They must often avoid displays of fear, sorrow or rage, since these may result in ridicule or punishment. Rigid demands and requirements make the exhaustion and ability to resist even worse.
  • Occasional Indulgences: Serve to provide motivation to her for compliance.
  • Devaluing the Individual: Creates in her a fear of freedom and dependence upon him, creates feelings of helplessness, develops lack of faith in her individual capabilities.

The symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome are:

  • Perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival, and the belief that the captor would carry out the threat.
  • Perceived small kindnesses from the captor to the captive.
  • Perceived inability to escape.
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor.

When you look at it as a mixture of PTSD, Stockholm Syndrome and coercion, your symptoms make perfect sense… at least to me! While that doesn’t mean you can’t also have bipolar or other disorders—it’s too early to know. Very often many of the symptoms of other disorders fall by the wayside when effective and appropriate treatment is begun. Many of the women do, however, meet the criteria for PTSD. PTSD is most associated with war vets (and yes, you too lived through a war!) and trauma victims (yes, you were traumatized!). To that end, you probably do have a disorder, but it is related to PTSD or other acute stress disorders.

Be hopeful that the symptoms you live with may not always be as problematic as they are in your life today. There is hope and healing available!

 

(**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

External Locus of Belief

Is it True, is it REALLY True?

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

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

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

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

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

This makes accepting it, reallllyyyyyy accepting it, hard for her because she then needs to be reminded every 30 seconds that he is, in fact, permanently pathological. Once she is out of ear shot of a therapist or some other external validating system (books, dvds, cds, etc.) will she still accept his pathology?

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

Most people need a time of ‘coming to believe’ — it’s like building faith in anything else–we study and come to believe.

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

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

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

If your locus of belief is still external and it doesn’t shift and become internal–just know this is a risk factor for you.

Holding the belief system steady is the challenge of overcoming cognitive dissonance. When it doesn’t get over come eventually, either you learn to do what the 12 Steppers call ‘Fake It Til You Make It’ (do it til you believe it) or face the rising statistics that you’re likely to believe the internal chatter and make a bee line back.

 

(**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

Who Does That? Part 2

(Last week we began discussing the WHO of certain behaviors and crimes often perpetrated by Cluster Bs, and how the various systems who come in contact with Cluster Bs have differing names, thus views, of their destructive patterns. How convenient for pathologicals that each system is only focused on its identified behavior, which helps pathologicals 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 only their system and one small aspect of each pathological’s destructive nature.

When teaching about Public Pathology, I always provide education 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, therapists (who seem to have forgotten), the criminal justice system, law enforcement, judges, custody evaluators, prosecutors/lawyers, and mediators. I teach it to clergy, addiction professionals, and social workers, victim advocates, and DV programs.  I teach it to every frontline ‘system’ that is likely to encounter various forms of behaviors that fall under the category of Cluster B, but are referred to within each system’s own labeling vernacular.

All these systems deal with the same disorder, with different faces, different statuses in life, different careers and titles, with money or without, different crimes and different charges against them, different social services requests, different spiritual confessions, different story lines, 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, courtrooms, therapy offices, and pews. That whether they are a defamer, cyberstalker, repeat domestic violence offender, financial con artist, or 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, cyberstalkers, defamers and bullies are 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 those with the chronic mental illness of schizophrenia or developmental disabilities).
  • Those prematurely discharged from military service are often Cluster B.
  • The overuse and misuse of most major societal services and systems are related to Cluster B.
  • Some of the most brilliantly contrived insider trading crimes of the century have been planned and executed by Cluster Bs.
  • Are there many murderers who 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.

The Cluster B’s behaviors are generated out of a complex interweaving of emotional, developmental, neurological, 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 Bs? Sixty million people in the U.S. 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. It drives people to drink, to run away, to take their children and run and, sadly, leads to uncountable numbers of suicides every year.

They single-handedly cause financial disruptions to the working class, who are demoted, or go on disability because of the ‘scrambled 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 analysts 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 Bs rarely even know.

It employs social workers and halfway houses trying to get Cluster Bs “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 people on daytime TV and reality shows? Cluster Bs. Who do the media often want to talk about in the celebrity world? The Cluster Bs. What kinds of crimes do the media flock to? The crimes often perpetrated by Cluster Bs.

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 Bs 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 exists. 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?

 

(**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

Who Does That? Part 1

Part of our goal at The Institute is not only to help survivors heal from the aftermath of a PLR (Pathological Love Relationship), but 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 who shoot people they don’t know, or commit a drive-by shooting clearly have pathological motives.
  • Those who sexually abuse children and then hide the sexual offenders, like the Catholic Church has done, are the face of evil.
  • Horrendous hate crimes that torture hundreds, thousands, or millions of people— like war crimes or the Holocaust—illustrate 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 (which resulted in the term Stockholm Syndrome), are identifiable as probable psychopaths.
  • The rapist who preys on the vulnerable, or the rapist who rapes a woman 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 psychopath Charlie Manson did, 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.
  • White-collar scam artists, like Bernie Madoff, who rob millions of dollars from thousands of people, remind 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. 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 hidden acts, yet equally as damaging, is where most of us fall short—including professionals in the criminal justice and mental health systems. It’s also where survivors of PLRs 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 nonetheless 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 fictitious 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 Bs?  Because these disorders represent the majority of white- and blue-collar crimes that cataclysmically smash into 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 because each system has its own view of the behaviors 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 institutions call them swindlers.
  • The online world calls them trolls.
  • Victims call them predators.
  • Children and adolescents call them cyberbullies.
  • The swindled call them con artists.
  • The judicial system calls them criminals (or not, if they are never identified).
  • Churches call them evil or unredeemed.
  • Website owners call them hackers.
  • The defamed call them cyberstalkers.
  • Parents call them pedophiles.
  • Jails call them inmates.
  • Prisons call them high-security risks.
  • The FBI calls them targets and terrorists.

As each system deals with its own view of a specific act the person has done, we miss the wider category that these people fall under. We miss the bigger implication of what goes with that category. We miss the fact that those with 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 subset of disorders that have different focuses, but the same outcome: inevitable harm.

(**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

Neurofeedback Training and PTSD – Part 2

By Joan-Marie Lartin, PhD, RN

Last week we looked at neurofeedback training as a method to calm the brain and reduce a wide-ranging variety of symptoms associated with PTSD. A person with PTSD has the unfortunate challenge of living with constant hormonal and neurotransmitter disruption. Why is this the case, even when the trauma is in the past? We know from Sandra’s work and that of others in the field of personality disorders, that the trauma does not necessarily stop once the relationship is over.

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

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

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

This is one reason why we see neurotransmitter and cortisol imbalances, and imbalances in brain functioning in PTSD. The brainwaves of persons with PTSD are often characterized by a great deal of activity in the zones related to anxiety, intense emotions, overthinking (obsessing) and hypervigilance. There is usually reduced activity, and therefore reduced functioning, in areas associated with memory, focus, analytic capability, and the ability to relax. The regions associated with sleep are usually disrupted, as is the ability to ‘be in the body.’ The implications for ongoing emotional, physical and interpersonal problems are clear.

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

This site will help you find a practitioner, using your geographic location: http://directory.eeginfo.com.

(**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

Neurofeedback Training and PTSD – Part 1

joanmarielartin

By Joan-Marie Lartin, PhD, RN

 

This week we take a look at the biochemical impact of PTSD and sustained stress. Neurotransmitters and cortisol are two interrelated responses to the threat of—or actual—physical and emotional harm. When a person lives under constant stress (of a pathological love relationship, for instance), his or her biochemistry almost always becomes unbalanced, leading to a host of emotional and physical symptoms. This stress response often takes on a life of its own and in doing so creates further problems such as cortisol and/or serotonin depletion. Neurologically, the same kind of thing happens in the nervous system and the brain’s frequencies get stuck in the ‘red alert mode.’

The nervous system, composed of bundles of brain cells, is an amazing communications system more complex than just about any system known. Brain cells communicate with lightning speed using neurotransmitters and electrical signals. Particular groupings of signals or frequencies are more active under certain conditions such as sleep, relaxation, or being on red alert.

Neurofeedback training, based on the early success of fingertip-based biofeedback, uses a number of aspects about the brain’s ability to self-correct, or retrain, under specific circumstances: The person/client doing the training has sensors placed on the head and ears to pick up information from the scalp-brainwaves. A computer program is designed to both read and interpret these signals and to determine to what degree things are out of balance.

Meanwhile, the computer’s music file is opened and a recorded piece of music or a CD is played. The music is stopped by the computer program when it detects a pattern that is essentially out of balance. This interruption is perceived by the brain as a signal to interrupt what it was doing—in the case of PTSD, being on red alert.

When the brain is given this information many times for many weeks, it gradually stops the pattern of overreacting to things that are not particularly threatening. For example, many partners of disordered persons have an overly sensitive startle reflex. A relatively harmless situation can trigger an extreme reaction, especially if the person is used to walking on eggshells with a disordered partner.

Neurofeedback training—a proven noninvasive method—helps the client regain the ability to relax, which can:

  • reduce hypertension
  • reduce dependency on chemical self-soothing patterns (medications, drugs)
  • reduce dependency on behavioral self-soothing patterns (overeating, overspending)
  • promote healthy sleep patterns
  • promote constructive problem-solving as the brain is less controlled by anxiety and fear

There are many, many benefits to neurofeedback training. Next week’s column will provide a more thorough description of the process and the results.

In the meantime, here are a couple of links to sites that will provide further information:

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

 

www.aboutneurofeedback.com/conditions/ptsd/

For more information about Joan-Marie, visit www.joanmarielartin.com/

(**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

 

Let Go or Be Dragged

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

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

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

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

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

Drag: verb. Related to: haul, lug, move, pull, schlep, tug, yank, crawl, creep, shuffle.  Your soul is bleeding—it’s your courtesy warning system from your spirit that is telling you to let go.

Even being dragged can be a gift. It can be the first scraped knee that crosses you over to recovery. You’ve held on for lots of reasons including your own version of ‘pathological hope’ that he will change and it will be different. History has taught you otherwise. It’s time to accept the wisdom that ‘no change’ brings to us. Your skinned knee is a metaphor for the beginning of your recovery because the word dragged means “to haul something to a new place.”

                                           Let go or be dragged.

 

Is This the New Normal?

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

“Is ‘How Crappy I Feel’ my new normal?”

In other words, “Will I ever feel like my old self again?”

Let’s say your girlfriend was driving home late one night, off in thought, and after a glass or two of wine. She was blasting her favorite song on her ear buds. This condition left her not in her most focused self—tired, distracted, a little buzzed, and drifting off to the groove of a good song, when she didn’t even realize the slight bump her car made as she drove over the railroad tracks. Since she had no reason to believe something that could really hurt her was barreling down the tracks toward her, she didn’t even glance to see the oncoming train. Once she realized too late that she was going to be harmed—wide-eyed and gasping—she wondered what she could do to save herself. The answer by then was, ‘nothing.’ In a nanosecond she went from being her old self to being someone entirely new—she became a seriously injured person.

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

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

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

While psychological injuries are not as evident to the bystander’s eye, they are notably experienced by the victim. You were hit by a train! You were injured—emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually, financially, and maybe even physically.

If someone has erroneously said to you, “Very shortly, this will be like it never happened. You’ll be back to your old self in no time at all”… remember—other survivors who have been hit by the same-train-different-tracks will tell you: “No, it will not be like it never happened. No, you will not be back to your old self in no time at all.”

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

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

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

You are expecting to walk away limping but not seriously injured from a psychopath. That doesn’t happen often—so infrequently, in fact, that I don’t even know if I can give one example of that happening with the women I have worked with for 25+ years.

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

(**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

 

About Face: Changing the Direction From Which You Seek Happiness

“Internal reflecting” guides us to dig in, evaluate, and give thanks. We need to take the time to ponder ideas, gather insights that might have eluded us during the busyness of our lives and slow down to look inward and receive the Light. I hope this week’s newsletter is a little piece of Light that you are open to receive.

Awhile back I got 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 who, 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 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 but 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 because everybody else 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 there. 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.” 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 the tough times. 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, and never will 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 the 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.

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.

 

(**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, on-on-ones, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

HEALTHY LOVE – WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT?

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

But what about real love – healthy love? People ask all the time ‘When are you going to write How to Spot a Healthy Partner because with as many bad relationships as 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

Self­care 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. The end result of these relationships is ‘Inevitable Harm.’ Let’s be clear – 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.

(**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, on-on-ones, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).

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