Using the Performing Arts to Prevent Domestic Violence

Excerpt:

The founders of Fix the Hurt, Linda and John King, are dedicated to using the performing arts, education and training to prevent domestic violence. By teaming up with Loren Marsters, a talented writer, and composer, Anne Hinton Pratt, the Kings have created and produced Domestic Violence the Musical? that will not allow the audience to go home and forget. To date, this powerful and interactive performance has been performed for over 20,000 people in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and Japan with requests for Korea, Florida and more.

– Read more at the Fix the Hurt Website

My Anniversary of the Plunge into Pathology

The month of May which we just exited, marks my fairly ‘official’ date (at least in my mind) in which I was thrusted into the field of pathology–totally without consent, without warning and without return to the normal life I knew before May 13, 1983. 27 years ago my father bled out in a grungy gutter in Cincinnati after a psychopath plunged a knife into his aorta outside of his jazz club. I was initiated into a victim-hood that would turn my life and career in a direction I hadn’t much interest in on May 12, 1983.

Much like pathology in anyone else’s life, you don’t get to pick how it plays out. The best you can do is to learn how to ride the rollercoaster that goes along with the serious group of disorders in pathology. And so I did.

27 years later I still feel like I am just skimming the surface of what can and should be done in education, awareness, survivor services, and advocacy. Thousands of pages later of writings (books, newsletters, websites, workbooks, e-books, quizzes), hours and hours of lectures ad nauseum, over a thousand hours in broadcasts (radio and TV), stacks of cds and DVDs created—and still we are in the infancy of a new understanding about pathology–the virtual edge of just starting what one day will be a momentum marker that shows ‘when’ the world turned a corner in a better and very public understanding of pathology.

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

Every May 13 for the past 25 years I have halted my life to remember that life altering second when my life went from normal everyday life -to-a homicide survivor. This is when my reality was ripped through by pathology–a disorder so conscience-less that altering history is just another day in their lives. While my pathology story includes a brutal ending, yours no less includes something similar–all the things lost in the moment of deep betrayal–the kind of betrayal that only pathology can bring.

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

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

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

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

If we can help you with your healing, please join us for our next retreat June 7-11. Healing is possible and we can help lead you there.

The Illusion of Management

A part of how people convince themselves to stay in the pathological love relationship is that they think they are making ‘progress’ by managing the pathological’s behavior. Once there is a glimmer of doubt about the pathological’s behavior, the partner begins to do one of two things: they either change their belief system or they change their behavior. Most of them will change their belief system. That means, they will tell themselves there are ‘ways’ to manage the pathological’s lying, infidelity, addictions, sexual acting out, or whatever negative behavior they bring to the relationship. If they can manage the behavior, they can change the person. If they change what they don’t like in them, they have a shot at ‘being happy.’

That means they will change how they see the pathological. If they are ‘noticing’ too much negative behavior they might look the other way, rename it, minimize it, deny it, justify it, or use any other defense mechanistic way that allows the partner to change how they see the pathological.

When there is the thought that by enforcing strong ‘rules’ for the relationship or by ‘demanding’ their own rights that the pathological will ‘stop’ the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought by enforcing the ‘three strike rule’ for the relationship or by ‘demanding’ the pathological attend church, counseling, or treatment which will ‘stop’ the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought by ‘putting the pathological on a short leash’ and checking on them frequently, calling the cell, sending people out to find them, breaking into the pathological’s phone or computer, that the fear of being caught will ‘stop’ the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought that the pathological is “now working” or staying at home more or being kind, or saying the kinds of things you always wanted to hear and that the previous ‘behavior’ is now gone, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

Pathologicals and/or addicts are not managed. Shortening the leash, making demands, watching closer, hiring a P.I. is not managing a person’s acting out. Pathology is noted for its inability to grow to any emotional or spiritual depth, the inability to sustain the changes that you have demanded, and the inability to develop insight how their behavior harms others. People with pathological disorders are not managed—not by you, jail, prison, or church. The inability to sustain change means that the pathological will APPEAR to do whatever it takes to stay in the relationship, but the disorder itself means they cannot sustain the change that will please you.

People embrace the truth of pathology when they realize that the idea they are ‘managing’ the pathological’s negative behavior or addictions is simply an illusion. Jails and prisons are packed full of personality disordered and pathological individuals because probation ‘management’ or ‘psychological management’ did not work. As they say in 12 steps, ‘When nothing changes–nothing changes.’ Pathology has an inability to change which means nothing consistently changes in the pathological individual except maybe new ‘ideas’ about how to con others.

Managing manipulative behavior, drugs or alcohol, porn or sex addictions, infidelity, lying, and conning are an illusion used by the partner in order to ‘buy a little more time’ to try to figure out how to make the pathological be ‘more normal.’ In the end, it’s your defense mechanisms telling you that by changing your belief system (he can be different, he can do better) that you can ‘help them find the resources they need in order to grow into their full potential.’ If you’re over 30, falling in love with ‘potential’ is a crap game risk. People not living up to their potential in adulthood are called–pathologically disordered. By adulthood, either you ‘have the ability for life skills and success’ or you are ‘life challenged’ by addictions or pathology. In either case, partners need to understand there is no ‘managing’ someone else’s negative and pathological behavior. That is an illusion!

Additionally, playing with the ‘illusion of management’ increases cognitive dissonance in you. It causes a miserable symptom of your thinking ‘ping ponging’ back and forth between “He’s good/he’s bad.” This is simply responding to both sides of his Jekyll/Hyde nature. The longer you play with the illusion, the more cognitive dissonance (C.D.) you overload your mind with.

That’s why The Institute always treats the cognitive dissonance–in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone coaching–the issue of cognitive dissonance is always addressed. We are the leading provider of C.D. treatment for Aftermath Symptoms in Pathological Love Relationships. If you have C.D., make sure you get treated for it. It increases over time and makes the symptoms worse. Getting a handle on the ‘illusion’ is a first step towards managing your C.D.

Am I Under His “Spell?” – Part III

The past two weeks we have been talking about trance states, dissociation, hypnotic suggestion, and mind control…all ways the pathological controls your mind, thoughts, feelings, and ultimately your behavior.

This is not hocus pocus stuff. Trance states, dissociation and hypnosis are all normal parts of the way our body and minds respond to certain conditions. The only argument is if these pathologicals KNOW they are doing it to others! My answer would be yes: they are masters at noticing what works on other people. So to that degree, they tweak what works.

Additionally, many of you may be aware of the seminars, books, websites and now TV shows about ‘seduction’ and the techniques that are taught men about coming in under the radar in seducing women through hypnotic methods. My guess is that the pathologicals are teaching their findings to others…passing on the horrid knowledge of their own disorders and how to covertly attract women subconsciously into sexual relationships. Appalling? You bet. Just one more big WAKE UP CALL to women–pay attention and guard your minds.

Trance, mind control and hypnotic suggestion also are based on one’s own level of ‘suggestibility’. This is related to how responsive you are to the suggestions and opinions of others. The more responsive you are the more suggestible and more easily you are mind controlled or hypnotizable.

A women’s suggestibility is often influenced by her biology. Women who are highly cooperative and value how others perceive them are likely to be more suggestible.

Also, women’s fatigability highly influences her suggestibility.

Almost all women report high levels of emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and spiritual fatigue with pathological relationships. They take a toll on her–wearing her down until her emotional reserves that would normally not give in, are repressed. At that time when her fatigue level is high, her suggestibility is also high. Tired and spaced out, it’s easy to get controlled by him.

Messages that are told to her during tired and spaced out times are recorded deeply and yet often subconsciously. “Can’t get him out of your head?” is very real.

The women who participated in our research survey on ‘women who love psychopaths’ showed us just how susceptible you group of women really are to suggestibility, fatigability, and the resulting mind control. Almost all of the women experienced some form of trance, hypnosis, mind control of ‘spell bound’ symptoms.

Women must understand that ‘staying in the relationship to figure it out’ or ‘see what happens’ or ‘wait until he works on himself and gets better’ is absolutely risky for you. Your ability to be controlled covertly by him is significantly higher than other females.

Until women really understand their ‘at risk’ temperament traits and how they affect her choices in relationships and TOLERANCE in relationships, she remains significantly likely to either not leave or pick the same way the next time around…

Ladies, hope and healing are available. We really UNDERSTAND the dynamics involved in what you have lived through. Our research has opened up incredible insights into your temperament and your relationship dynamics. Now specific and uniquely targeted treatment can begin! Please, let The Institute be part of your recovery.

Am I Under His “Spell?” – Part II

Last week we started to talk about the very REAL issue of trance in relationship with pathologicals.

Women feel ‘under his spell,’ ‘spell bound,’ ‘ mesmerized,’ ‘hypnotized,’ ‘spaced out,’ ‘not in control of their own thoughts….’ All of these are ways of saying that various levels of covert and subtle mind-control have been happening with the pathological. And why wouldn’t it be happening? These are power-hungry people who live to exert their dominance over others.

That includes your body, mind or spirit. Mind Control techniques are used on prisoners of war, in cults, and in hostage taking. It obviously works or there wouldn’t be ‘techniques’ and bad people wouldn’t use it.

Mind control, brain washing, coercion…are all words for the same principles that are used to produce the results of reducing your own effectiveness and being emotionally overtaken by someone intent on doing so. Here are the conditions of mind control:

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

Mind control then produces dissociation which is a form of trance states. It’s when your mind becomes overloaded and you need to ‘step outside of yourself’ to relieve the stress. Dissociation and trance happens during abuse in childhood as well or adult rape. Prolonged mind control in adults will even produce trance states where adults begin to feel like they are being controlled. And they are…

Treatment and recovery for mind control includes:

  • Breaking the Isolation – Help the client identify sources of supportive intervention; Self-help groups or group therapy (group needs to be homogeneous to needs), also hotlines, crisis centers, shelters and friends.
  • Identifying Violence – As victims in abusive relationships minimize the abuse, or are in so much denial it may be necessary to ask directly about the different types of violent behavior. Many woman (and children) are confused about what is acceptable male (parental / authority) behavior. Journal keeping, autobiographical writing, reading of first hand accounts or seeing films that deal with abuse may be helpful to clients.
  • Perceived Kindness – Encourage the client to develop alternative sources of nurturance and caring other than the captor/perpetrator.
  • Validating both Love and Terror – Helping the client integrate both disassociated ‘sides’ of the abuser, will assist her in giving up her dream-like state in how she sees him.

Next week, we’ll continue our discussion on other forms of trance states and spellbound conditions.

Am I Under His “Spell?” – Part I

Time and again women allude to the mystical aspects of the pathological they are involved with. They describe it as “being under his spell,” “entranced with him” or “hypnotized by him” even “spellbound” or “mind controlled.”

Women aren’t exactly able to define what they are ‘experiencing’ or even accurately describe what they think is occurring but they do unanimously conclude that ‘something’ is happening that feels like it’s hypnotic’.

Beyond the ‘hocus pocus’ of hypnosis lies real truth about what IS probably happening in those relationships.

Trance happens to every person every day. It is a natural lull in the body when many of the systems are resting or a state we enter when tired. Blood sugar, metabolism and other natural body functions can affect the sleepy states of trance that we enter all day long.

You’ve probably heard of ‘Highway Hypnosis.’ This occurs when you have been driving and are so concentrated on the driving (or when you are getting sleepy while driving and watching those yellow lines) that you forgot about the last few miles and all of a sudden you’re aware you’re almost at your destination. Highway Hypnosis is trance or light forms of self-hypnosis. No one put you in that state or hypnosis — you went in it on your own.

Check in with most people around 2 p.m. in the afternoon and you’ll see lots of people in sleepy trances.

But pathology can cause people to enter trance states frequently. Pathological love relationships are exhausting and take their toll on your body through stress, diet, loss of sleep, and worry. While you are worn down and fatigued you are more suggestible to the kinds of things that are said to you in that state of mind. These words, feelings and concepts sink in at a deeper level than other ideas and statements that are said to you when you are not in a trance state.

If he is telling you that you are crazy, or gaslighting you by telling you that you really didn’t see him do what you think he did, or that the problems of the relationship are because of you…those statements said to you when you are suggestible stay filed in your subconscious and are replayed over and over again creating intrusive thoughts and obsessive thinking.

If he tells you positives when you are in trance states such as “He needs you and please don’t ever leave him” – those phrases too are stored in a subconscious location working you over without your knowledge. When it’s time to redirect your beliefs about him, disengage, or break up women feel like ‘old tapes’ are running in their heads. It’s very hard for them to get these messages to stop activating their thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Women who are have strong personality traits in suggestibility and fatigability are more at risk of trance-like states in which words, meanings, and symbols are more concretely stored in the subconscious.

Women feel relieved to find out that they really aren’t crazy—it really DOES feel like she is under his spell because in many ways, she is.

Next week, we’ll talk about other ways that trance states can be effected in the pathological relationship.

Last Week Was ‘Will It Ever End?’ This Week is “Why Won’t It Ever End?’

We began talking about the ongoing battles with pathologicals-whether it is a break up, move out, divorce, property settlement, mediation, child custody, or the ever-revolving door of litigious events with law enforcement or the legal system. By nature of the pathology, they are MORE likely to allege falsified abuse, stalk the other parent, sue, to continue to sue, to not settle, to refuse mediation services, to go to court over things like “his shoes are dirty therefore this is parental neglect,” to reject every child evaluator, reject every child therapist, reject every child pediatrician, reject every child’s school choice. They gaslight situations suggesting things have happened that didn’t, nor can they be proved they did or did not happen. (Classic gaslighting is associated with NPDs, ASPDs, socio/psychopaths). They are MORE likely to need court monitored visits after exchange antics which now require ‘a babysitter’ for their behavior and yet reject every monitor chosen, every center selected, or will find centers that are the farthest away in the most dangerous areas to ask the other parent to bring the child to. They also do not follow through on child support payments; other medical needs the children may have, does not pay their share of attorney and court fees. They use up enormous legal resources which has given them their own title within the legal system known as ‘High Conflict Person’ which eventually becomes a ‘High Conflict Case’ for you and for them. A ‘typical’ legal scenario (provided by Bill Eddy www.billeddy.com) is:

A Petition is filed, and then there are countless emergency court hearings, restraining orders, restricted visitation, and/or residence exclusion, many filing for temporary hearings on custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. Then there is the unending filing for many declarations for hearing, getting an evaluator appointed, preparing documentation for evaluators/court (often done multiple times), serving numerous subpoenas, taking lists and lists of depositions, going thru the demand for documentations, attending multiple temporary hearings. Now they have received the trial only to have delays that can go on for years, disputes over evaluators’ reports and other unending other objections. Then begins the continuous disputes over trial court orders, motions for reconsideration, etc. Sprinkled through out are the constant allegations to child services of abuse and neglect, the rallying of others to support the allegations, and the utter exhaustion of the child services departments with the constant threats of suing them, etc. Once/if after all these enormous amount of time, money, energy is and the divorce is granted, then there is the ongoing post divorce hearings with the constant modification requests, custody battles, alleging new relationships which are bad for the children, failed relationships wit others bringing in new conflicts, drama and trauma.

It’s easy to see that this kind of behavior is what is shutting down our court systems and why it’s hard to get simple things done. 90% of the problems are being produced by a small % of the people who have the largest % of mental health and pathology disorders. In fact, it is cases like THESE that indicate to professionals working on these cases that there is in fact, pathology present. They have already been named ‘High Conflict Persons’ to help identify the partner who is likely to keep producing litigious insanity. It has taken a while for all the professional systems involved in cases like these to come to understand what behavior like this IS attached to: chronic and unrelenting pathology. For many years euphemisms have been used for these people “difficult cases” “pain in the butt cases” “problematic” instead of understanding these ARE the behaviors associated with pathological conditions. Pathology is simply being what it is—in the relationship, in the parenting, in the courts. It holds its mask in place for a while but then it always slips where other professionals are able to identify the behaviors and recognize the pathology. This is the unification of how Public Pathology Awareness is beginning to allow systems involved with pathologicals to more easily identify them by their universal and consistent behaviors, in and out of court.

The Institute’s goal is to bring training about these consistent and universal behaviors to therapists, coaches, the legal system, child evaluators, monitors, child therapists, Minor’s Counsel, and social service workers. ‘Why’ high conflict persons act this way has everything to do with the disorder itself. When we understand pathology and its neuro-implications as well, we can not only know what behaviors go with which disorders but why. We can learn to predict the kinds of known behaviors and antics that go with pathological disorders– in child rearing, in court proceedings, and in relationship endings. Those behaviors include imperative impulsivity, loophole lying, gaming gaslighting, reliable revenge, the prevalent projecting, and legendary legal litany of cases. Normal people don’t do this in court, in relationship, in life. It is the glaring opposites that almost always give us the best indicator that what is happening is not what other people do, behave, or believe. So, ours shouldn’t be to ask ‘why’ pathologicals do this. It’s to say ‘why not?’ After all, that’s how they are wired.

When Will This Ever End?

Lots of clients lately want to know ‘when will this ever end?’ — ‘this’ being the aggravation from a pathological.

  • Constantly harassing you
  • Stalking
  • Stirring the pot
  • Making up allegations against you
  • Not paying what they are suppose to
  • Going back to court for the 1,000th time
  • Turning others against you
  • Turning you in to Social Services for child abuse
  • Lying to the judge
  • Paying others off to lie for him in court
  • Gaslighting you or others
  • Making others dread him, you, or your situation

The truth is, this IS what pathology does. If court evaluators, child monitors, judges, attorneys, batterer intervention counselors, anger management therapists—those working in the field knew that this IS what pathology does, it would heighten everyone’s awareness about pathology. Instead, euphemisms are used for this kind of behavior–

  • Drama cases
  • Trauma cases
  • Dead beat dads
  • High conflict divorces
  • Jerks
  • Snakes in Suits
  • Con artists
  • Custody Battles
  • No resolution cases

Behavior related to making allegations, lying in court, hiring others to lie, hiring others to stalk you, spy on you, put spy ware in your house/car/computer, harass social services/child services workers, eat up enormous amount of court hours–are all behaviors ASSOCIATED with pathology—not drama, not trauma, not dead beats, not conflict, not jerks, not snakes and not cons—but Cluster B personality disorders such as Borderline, Narcissistic, Anti-Social and the other Low/No Conscienced disorders such as Socio/Psychopaths.

Our office has been flooded with calls lately about ‘how to’ survive until ‘this all stops.’ Women aren’t finding help with ‘how to’ survive, ‘how to’ appropriately communicate with him to have the least ‘aftermath,’ what to do when he alleges things to child services, judges, and courts, how to document well for court now and in the future, what dissuades them, how to angle the situation so he exposes his true self/disorder/motives, how to take care of yourself until some of this slows down, stops, or a miracle occurs.

Pathology is exhausting. This isn’t something ‘unique’ to your case. It’s standard in cases with pathologicals. You didn’t cause it; it’s the disorder just being what it is. But maybe some of the things you are doing aren’t in the best interest of your case, simply because using what ‘works’ with normal people, NEVER works in pathology. I think it’s time we do something to help the women out there get a grip on some of the problems inherent in pathological break ups, legal situations, and child custody.

Why you Only Remember the Good Stuff of a Relationship – Part II

Last week I began discussing the reasons why women have a difficult time ‘remembering the bad aspects of the relationship.’ Women describe the sensation of only remembering the good times, the good feelings and being ‘fuzzy’ or sort of forgetting all the bad things he has done when they think of him. This process seems to be triggered by an emotional feeling (such as longing or loneliness) AND/OR by a memory or hearing his voice, seeing an email, etc.

Last week we discussed how good and bad memories are stored in the brain differently. Good memories are stored upfront and easily accessed. Bad memories are stored and compartmentalized in the mind and are harder to access (think of, for instance, child abuse memories and how people so often repress or forget these memories). This week we are going to talk about ANOTHER reason why you only remember the good stuff of a bad relationship. (This is also covered in detail in ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths.’)

The second reason is based on our own biological hardwiring. We are wired with a pleasure base that is called our Reward System. We associate pleasure with being rewarded or something ‘good.’ We are naturally attracted to pleasure. The pathological (at least in the beginning) stimulates the pleasure base and we associate that with a ‘reward’– that is, we ‘enjoy his presence.’ Pathologicals are also often excessively dominant and strong in their presence, something we have gone on to call ‘Command Presence.’ What we enjoy in him is all the good feelings + his strong dominate command presence. Being rewarded by his presence AND experiencing the strength of that presence registers as pleasure/reward.

Although he later goes on to inflict pain, pleasure or good memories, as we saw last week are stored differently in the brain. Our brains tend to focus on one or the other and we have a natural internal ‘default’ to lean towards remembering and responding to our Reward System and pleasure.

On the other hand, memories associated with punishment or pain are short lived and stored differently in the brain. They can be harder to access and ‘remember.’ When you experience pleasure with him (whether it’s attention, sex, or a good feeling) it stimulates the reward pathway in the brain. This helps to facilitate ‘extinction’ of fear.

Fear is extinugished when fear is hooked up with pleasant thoughts, feelings, and experiences (such as the early ‘honeymoon’ phase of the relationship). When fear + pleasant feelings are paired together, the negative emotion of the fear gives way to the pleasant feelings and the fear goes away.

Your Reward System then squelches your anxiety associated with repeating the same negative thing with the pathological. The memories associated with the fear/anxiety/punishment are quickly extinguished.

For most people, the unconscious pursuit of reward/pleasure is more important than the avoidance of punishment/pain. This is especially true if you were raised with pathological parents in which you became hyper-focused on reward/pleasure because you were chronically in so much pain.

Given that our natural hardwired state of being is tilted towards pleasure and our Reward System, it makes sense as to why women have an easier time accessing the positive memories. Once these positive memories become ‘intrusive’ and the only thing you can think about is now the good feelings associated with the pathological, the positive memories have stepped up the game to obsession and often a compulsion to be with him despite the punishment/pain associated with him.

These two reasons why bad memories are hard to access have helped us understand and develop intervention based on the memory storage of bad memories and the reward/punishment system of the brain. If you struggle with the continued issue of intrusive thoughts and feel ‘compelled’ to be with him or pursue a destructive relationship…you are not alone. Understanding his pathology, your response to it, and how to combat these overwhelming sensations and thoughts are part of our retreat/psycho-educational program.

Human nature procrastinates…after every single retreat I always get emails of people ‘regretting’ they didn’t come and thinking their symptoms would ‘just get better on their own’ only to find they have worsened. For those who NEED help, I am advising that you do it in our retreats.

Please don’t live your whole life with symptoms that CAN BE treated and helped. We have made our retreats as cheap as we possibly can so that each of you can receive help and healing.

Why you Only Remember the Good Stuff of a Relationship – Part I

Over and over again women are puzzled by their own process in trying to recover from a pathological relationship. What is puzzling is that despite the treatment they received by him, despite the absolute mind-screwing he did to her emotions, not only is the attraction still VERY INTENSE but also the POSITIVE memories still remain strong.

Woman after woman says the same thing–that when it comes to remaining strong in not contacting him (what we call ‘Starving the Vampire’) she struggles to pull up (and maintain the pulled up) negative memories of him and his behavior that could help her keep strong and detached.

But why? Why are the positive memories floating around in her head freely and strongly and yet the bad memories are stuffed in a ‘mind closet’ full of fuzzy cobwebs that prevent her from actively

reacting to those memories?

There are a couple of reasons–of which we will discuss today only the first one. Let’s think of your mind like a computer. Memories are ‘stored’ much like they are stored on a computer. When there is pain and trauma, memories are stored differently then when it’s a positive memory. Pulling up the negative memories from your hard drive is different than pulling up a memory that is on your desk top as an icon emblem.

Traumatic memories get fragmented on their way to being stored on the hard drive. They get divided up into more than one file. In one file is the emotional feelings, another file is the sights, another file the sounds, another file the physical sensations.

But a WHOLE and complete memory is made up of ALL those files TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME– what you emotionally felt, saw, heard, and physically experienced. Not just one piece of it—and not just

the positive memory of it. A memory is good + bad = complete.

But when things are traumatic, (or stressful) the mind separates the whole experience into smaller bits and pieces and then stores them separately in the mind because it’s less painful that way.

When women try to ‘remind themselves’ why they shouldn’t be with him, they might get flashes of the bad memory but strangely, the emotional feelings are NOT attached to it. They wonder ‘where did

the feelings go?’ They can see the bad event but they don’t feel much about what they remember.

If you are playing a movie without the sound, how do you know what the actors are passionately feeling? It’s the same thing with this traumatic recall of memories. You might see the video but not hear the pain in the voices. The negative or traumatic memory is divided up into several files and you are only accessing one of the files—a place where you have stored the positive aspects of the relationship.

To complicate things further, positive memories are not stored like negative memories. They are not divided up into other files. They don’t need to be—they aren’t traumatic.

So when you remember a time when the relationship was good or cuddly or the early parts of the relationships which are notoriously honeymoon-ish, the whole memory comes up–the emotional feelings, the visual, the auditory, the sensations. You have a WHOLE and STRONG memory with that. Of course that is WAY MORE appealing to have–a memory that is

not only GOOD but one in which you feel all the powerful aspects of it as well.

Now, close your eyes and pull up a negative memory…can you feel the difference? You might see it but not feel it. Or hear it and not see much of it. Or feel a physical sensation of it but not the emotional piece that SHOULD go with the physical sensation. No matter what your experience is of the negative emotion, it is probably fragmented in some way.

Negative and traumatic memories are often incomplete memories–they are memory fragments floating all over your computer/mind. They are small files holding tiny bits of info that have fragmented your sense of the whole complete memory. These distorted and broken memory fragments are easily lost in your mind.

If you have grown up in an abusive or alcoholic home, you were already subconsciously trained how to separate out memories like this. If your abuse was severe enough early on, your mind just automatically does this anyway–if you get scared, or someone raises their voice, or you feel fear in anyway—your

brain starts breaking down the painful experience so it’s easier for you to cope with.

Next week we will talk about one other way your mind handles positive and negative memories and why you are flooded with positive recall and blocked from remembering and feeling those negative things he’s done to you.

I hope by now with these newsletters you can see the unique aspects of what you have lived through in the pathological relationship and why this is a whole different thing to heal from then other relationships. This is why regular counseling often doesn’t work and forget about reading regular relationship books! They are NOT written for pathologically based dynamics! ‘Imago therapy’ isn’t gonna help this. Dr. Phil’s books aren’t gonna touch this. The pathological relationship dynamics are UNIQUE and require a combination of several approaches to help you heal. If your parents were pathological as well, you have the double-whammy to heal from.

Please don’t live your whole life with symptoms that CAN BE treated and helped. We have made our retreats as cheap as we possibly can so that each of you can receive help and healing.

Emotional Phantom Limb Pain

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

Pathology is marked by the issue of illusion. It’s why our logo is a mask because it best represents the mirage of normalcy that pathologicals can often project…at least for a while. Cleckley, a writer about pathology from the 1940’s called it ‘The Mask of Sanity’ and states that pathology gives all the surface signals of deep connection, the most fun ever experienced with someone else, someone who is really into you—while behind the curtain, you are being used as a distraction, a pay check, grotesquely as a ‘vaginal doormat’ or some other form of ‘feeding’ of the pathological piranha. What you are experiencing you are internally labeling as ‘normal’ or ‘wonderful’ or ‘love’ and yet it really isn’t any of those things. It’s just a label of experience you have tagged him with. If someone else was watching your relationship as a movie and watched the other scenes in which the pathological is exposed for what he is, your scene would be tagged and labeled by the watcher very differently than how you thought of your own experience. That’s because the watchers would see the pathological’s behaviors and words as manipulative and the watcher would under go a distinctly different view of the storyline. Your labeling of your experience isn’t always accurate. As I often say, “Your thinking is what got you into this pathological relationship. Don’t always believe what you think.”

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

The illusion is that:

* He was normal

* He was in love with you

* He was what he said he was

* And he did what he said he did.

In pathology, that’s never the case.

* Their attachments are surface (which isn’t love)

* They are mentally disordered (which is not normal)

* They never present themselves as disordered/sexually promiscuous/and incapable of love (so he wasn’t what he said he was)

* And they harbor hidden lives filled with other sex partners, hook ups, criminality, or illegal/moral behavior (so they don’t disclose what he’s really up to).

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

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

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

If we can help you with the ghostly emotional phantom limb pain in your relationship, please plan on attending our April retreat in Clearwater or our May retreat (or private intensive with Sandra) in NC.

The Gift of Fear/The Curse of Anxiety – Part II

Is it Fear Or Is it Anxiety?

Last week we began talking about the difference between fear and anxiety. Real fear draws on your animalistic instincts and causes a sincere fight/flight reaction. Anxiety causes you to worry about the situation but you aren’t likely to bolt.

Anxiety can develop as a counterfeit trait to the true fear you never reacted to.

Gavin DeBecker in the classic book ‘The Gift of Fear’ is a Danger Analyst and has much to say about the preventability of most bad outcomes. He says there is Always Always Always a Pre-incident Indicator (a PIN) that women ignore. In my book, I call them Red Flags–the wisdom of your body that recognizes primitive fear and sends a signal to your body to react. In that split second, you can run or you can rename it. Renaming it causes your body to react less and less to the messages it does send. Not one woman in the 20+ years I’ve been doing this said there wasn’t an initial red flag that she CONSCIOUSLY ignored. Almost 100% of the time, the early red flags end up being exactly why the relationship ended. You could have saved yourself 3, 5, 15, 20 years of a dangerous relationship by listening to your body instead of your head!

Let’s go back to more stories by Gavin….

Dorothy says her ex-boyfriend Kevan was a fun guy with a Master’s degree and a CPA. “He was charming, and it never let up,” Dorothy says. “He was willing to do whatever I wanted to do.”

Eventually, Dorothy began to feel that something wasn’t right. “He would buy me a present or buy me a beautiful bouquet of roses and have it sitting on the table–and that was very nice, but that night or the next day he wanted me to be with him all the time.”

As Dorothy shares her story, Gavin points out some of the warning signs–starting with Kevan’s charm. “A great thing is to think of charm as a verb. It’s something you do. ‘I will charm [Dorothy] now.’ It’s not a feature of [one’s] personality,” Gavin says.

What happened next stunned Dorothy. “I was out visiting my sister in California, and he was calling me, calling me, and he asked me to marry him over the cell phone,” she says.

“I thought, you’re kidding. I’ve always said I would never get married again. And I said,

‘That’s the last time I’m going to talk about it.'”

After rejecting Kevan and coming home, Dorothy says he remained persistent. He showed Dorothy the picture of a diamond ring he wanted to buy and told her he wanted to buy a house. “And he had it all mapped out, how it was going to work for us,” she says.

When Kevan refused to listen when Dorothy repeatedly told him no, Gavin says it should have raised serious red flags. “Anytime someone doesn’t hear no, it means they’re trying to control you,” Gavin says. “When a man says no in this culture, it’s the end of the discussion. When a woman says no, it’s the beginning of a negotiation.”

After four and a half years and many red flags, Dorothy finally broke off her relationship with Kevan. But that wasn’t the end. “He kept calling me, calling me with repeated questions. What am I doing now? ‘What are you going to do tonight?'” Dorothy says.

“And that’s when I realized I am in trouble here.”

On the urging of her son, Dorothy got a restraining order on Kevan, which she says gave her peace of mind. “And that was a huge mistake,” she says.

One night, Dorothy was asleep in her bed when she woke up to the sound of her name being shouted. “I turned to my left shoulder, and I saw a knife about [10 inches long]. I could see the reflection of my TV in the blade. Then I saw that he had cut off surgical gloves, and that was scary,” Dorothy says. “I put the covers right over my head and curled into a fetal position and started praying. He said to me, ‘Are you scared?'”

Rather than panicking, Dorothy says she got out of bed, stood up and told Kevan he was leaving. As she walked calmly out the door, he followed her to the parking lot.

“So I said, ‘You’re leaving now,'” she says. “He turned, went down the street, and I didn’t see him again.” Dorothy immediately called 911, and police later arrested Kevan. He was convicted and is serving a four-year prison sentence.

Gavin says when Dorothy stood up, spoke firmly to Kevan and walked out; she was accepting a gift of power by acting on her instincts. “Fetal position is not a position of power, but you came out of it with a great position of power. And the pure power to say to him, ‘You’re leaving now,’ is fantastic,” he says. “Of all the details in that story, the one that stayed with me the most is that you saw the reflection of your little television set on the bedside table in the knife. And what that told me was you are on–you are in the on position…. You were seeing every single detail and acting on it.”

Just like ignoring your intuition, Gavin says the way women are conditioned to be nice all the time can lead them into dangerous situations. “The fact is that men, at core, are afraid that women will laugh at them. And women, at core, are afraid that men will kill them.”

This conditioning and fear, Gavin says, lead many women to try to be nice to people whose very presence makes them fearful and uncomfortable. They often believe that being mean increases risk, he says, when in fact the opposite is true.

“It’s when you’re nice that you open up and give information, that you engage with someone you don’t want to talk to,” he says. “I have not heard of one case in my entire career where someone was raped or murdered because they weren’t nice. In other words, that’s not the thing that motivates rape and murder. But I’ve heard of many, many cases where someone was victimized because they were open to the continued conversation with someone they didn’t feel good about talking to.”

In my own book ‘How to Spot a Dangerous Man’ I talked about cultural conditioning and how women feel they should be polite and at least go out with them once. If you’re saying yes to a psychopath, once is all he needs. Women also have HORRID and NON-EXISTANT break up skills. What in the world is more important than having good break up skills? You are likely to date a dozen men in your life time and not likely to marry but one of them. What are you going to do with the rest of them?

In this culture with all the books on ‘How to Attract Men’ very little is written about how to break up. Women spend more time on a Glamour Shots picture of themselves for a dating site then learning how strong boundaries can protect them. Women who are attracted to the bad boys don’t need the book ‘How to Attract’ — she’s already doing it. But how can she get rid of the predator she DID attract? (See our new book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths).

Women buy our books, do phone coaching, and come to NC for 1:1’s, come to retreats all with a primary motive “Help me to never do this again.” While you definitely need insight about your own super-traits that have positioned you in the line of fire with a psychopath, you also need most the ability to reconnect with your internal safety signal. Everything in the world we can teach you will not keep you safe if you ignore your body. Our cognitive information can not save you the way your body can. That’s the bottom line. This is something you have to do for yourself.

This issue of real fear -vs.- mere anxiety is of utmost importance. It has really struck me this week that we may have missed something in our discussion about PTSD and its relationship to fight/flight reactions. Gavin helps us to see that fear happens in the moment–it’s an entire body sensation–the flash of fear followed by the intense adrenaline and fight or flight. The intensity of the body reactions usually COMPELS people into fight/flight.

With PTSD, I see how we have lumped more minor reactive reactions like ‘PTSD induced fight/flight’ with the real in-the-moment reactions of fear. I see them as different now. If women are THAT afraid of him and compelled by real fear (as opposed to worry ‘He might harm me in the future but he isn’t mad right now and not going to hurt me this second) she wouldn’t be with him because her animalistic reaction would be to flee.

Real fear IN THE MOMENT demands action. Our own ability to tolerate what he is doing suggests it’s not TRUE survival fear. This is the difference between animalistic/survival fear and our common day PTSD-reactionary fear.

Sometimes our body has reactions to evil, or pathology. Normal psychology should ALWAYS have a negative reaction to abnormal psychology. So your first meeting with him should have produced SOMETHING in you. It may not have been the true fear reaction that COMPELLED you to run away but you may have gotten other kinds of thoughts or bodily reactions to be in the presence of significant abnormality and sometimes, pure evil.

Listen. Your body is smarter than your brain.

The Gift of Fear/The Curse of Anxiety – Part I

Is it Fear Or Is it Anxiety?

Women who have been in pathological relationships come away from the relationships with problems associated with fear, worry, and anxiety. This is often related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or what we call ‘High Harm Avoidance’– being on high alert looking for ways she might get harmed now or in the future.

PTSD, by its own nature as a disorder, is an anxiety disorder that is preoccupied by both the past (flashbacks and intrusive thoughts of him or events) and by the future (worry about future events, trying to anticipate his behaviors, etc.). With long term exposure to PTSD, this anxiety and worry begins to mask itself, at least in her mind, as ‘fear.’ In fact, most women lump together the sensations of anxiety, worry, and fear into one feeling and don’t differientiate them.

Fear is helpful and safety-oriented whereas worry and anxiety are not helpful and related to phantom ‘possible’ events that often don’t happen. To that degree, worry and anxiety are distracting away from real fear signals that could help her.

In the book which is now a classic on predicting harmful behavior in others, Gavin deBecker in ‘The Gift of Fear’ delineates the difference between what we need fear FOR and what we DONT need anxiety and worry for. In some ways, the ability to use fear correctly while stopping the use of anxiety and worry may do much to curtail PTSD symptoms.

deBecker who is not a therapist but a Danger Anaylst has done what other therapists haven’t even done–nix PTSD symptoms of anxiety and worry by focusing on true fear and it’s necessity versus anxiety and it’s faux meaning to us.

The term fear was used by Freud (in contrast to anxiety), to refer to the reaction to real danger. Freud emphasized the difference between fear and anxiety in terms of their relation to danger:

~ Anxiety is a state characterized by the expectation and preparation for a danger–even if it’s unknown ~

~ While fear implies a specific object to be feared in the here/now. ~ (Anxiety is: ‘He MIGHT harm me’ where fear is: “He IS harming me with his fist, words, actions, etc.”)

If you heard there was a weapon proven to prevent most crimes (including picking a dangerous partner) before it happened, would you run out and buy it? World-renowned security expert Gavin deBecker says this weapon exists, but you already have it. He calls it “the gift of fear.”

The story of a woman named Kelly begins with a simple warning sign. A man offers to help carry her groceries into her apartment—and instantly, Kelly doesn’t like the sound of his voice. Kelly goes against her gut and lets him help her—and in doing so, she lets a rapist into her home.

“We get a signal prior to violence,” Gavin says. “There are preincident

indicators. Things that happen before violence occurs.”

Gavin says that unlike any other living creature, humans will sense

danger, yet still walk right into it.

“You’re in a hallway waiting for an elevator late at night. The elevator door opens, and there’s a guy inside, and he makes you afraid. You don’t know why, you don’t know what it is. And many women will stand there and look at that guy and say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to think like that. I don’t want to be the kind of person who lets the door close in his face. I’ve got to be nice. I don’t want him to think I’m not nice.’

And so human beings will get into a steel soundproof chamber with

someone they’re afraid of, and there’s not another animal in nature that would even consider it.”

Gavin says that “eerie feelings” is exactly what he wants women to pay attention to. “We’re trying to analyze the warning signs,” he says. “And what I really want to teach today and forever is the feeling of the warning sign. All the other stuff is our explanation for the feeling. Why it was this, why it was that. The feeling itself IS the warning sign.”

What happens over and over again is that women dismantle their OWN internal safety system by ignoring it. The longer she ignores it, the more ‘over rides’ it receives and retrains the brain to ignore the fear signal. Once rewired women are at tremendous risks of all kinds…risks of picking the wrong men, of squelching fear signals of impending violence, shutting off alarms about potential sexual assaults, shutting down red flags about financial rip offs, squeeking out hints about poor character in other people…and the list goes on. What is left after your whole entire safety system is dismantled? Not much….

Women, subconsciously sensing they need to have ‘something’ to fall back on, swap out true and profoundly accurate fear signals with the miserly counterfeit and highly unproductive feeling of worry/anxiety.

LADIES– WRONG FEELING!

Then they end up in coaching for their 4th dangerous relationship and wonder if they have a target sign on their forehead. No they don’t. They have learned to dismantle, rename, minimize, justify, or deny the fear signals they get or got in the relationship. As if their ability to ‘take it’ or ‘not be afraid’ of very dangerous behavior is some sort of win for them. As if their ability to look danger in the face and STAY means they are as tough or competitive as he is…

No–it means they have a fear signal that no longer saves them. Their barely stuttering signal means it’s been over-ridden by her. She felt it, labeled it, and released it all the while staring eye-to-eye with what she should fear most.

Then later, or another day or week passes and she has mounting anxiety–over what she wonders? She has a chronic low grade worry, whisps of anxiety that waife thru her life. She can’t put 2+2 together to figure out that ignoring true fear will demand to be recognized by her subconscious in some way—an illegitimate way through worry and anxiety that does nothing to save her from real danger. Her real ally (her true fear) has been squelched and banished.

When coming to us for coaching she wants us to help her ‘feel safe’ again when actually, we can’t do any of that. It’s all in her internal system as it’s always been. Her safety is inside her and her future healing is too.

She will sit in the counselor’s office denying true fear and begging for relief from the mounting anxiety she is experiencing. She doesn’t trust herself, her intuition, her judgments–all she can feel is anxiety. And with good reason! True fear is her true intuition…not anxiety. But she’s already canned what can save her and now on some level she must know she has nothing left that can help her feel and react.

Animals instinctively react to the danger signal–the adrenaline, flash of fear, and flood of cortisol. They don’t have internal dialogue with themselves like “What did that mean? Why did he say that? I don’t like that behavior—I wonder if he was abused as a child.”

An animal is trained to have a natural reaction to the fear signal–they run. You don’t see animals ‘stuck’ in abusive mating environments! In nature, as in us, we are wired with the King of Comments which is the danger signal. When we respond to the flash of true fear, we aren’t left having a commentary with ourselves.

“The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination.” – John Schaar

Are Feelings Facts?

Women don’t know whether to trust what they feel or not. Are you confused over whether feelings are factual or if they are fiction? You’re not alone. Women struggle where to draw the line between believing what they think and questioning it.

On one hand, feelings can be red flags in the beginning or in the midst of the relationship. Red flags can be emotional, physical, or spiritual warnings of what is happening or what is yet to be.

Emotional red flags are feelings you get while in the relationship–constant worry, dread, wondering, suspicion, anxiety, depression, or obsession. Often the emotional red flags are quickly noticed by other people in your lives who point out that you have changed since the relationship–and not for the good. Lots of times women don’t want to ‘hear’ about their emotional changes since being in the relationship. Other times, women already KNOW they are having emotional red flags about him or aspects of the relationship. In either case, it’s important to know that emotional red flags can be GOOD PREDICTORS OF THE POTENTIAL LONGEVITY OF THE RELATIONSHIP. Many women notice that the red flags they had at the beginning of the relationship ARE the reasons the relationship eventually end. Emotional red flags can be great tools and often accurate.

Waiting for feelings to become ‘facts’ before you act on them can be very dangerous. In the case of emotional red flags (and your intuition), responding NOW instead of later can help you exit the relationship quickly. By the time a feeling IS A FACT, many things could have happened. (For more info on red flags, see the first few chapters of the Dangerous Man book).

ON THE OTHER HAND (there’s always ‘another hand’ isn’t there?)–women wonder if the intense feelings they are having are an indicator of ‘true love’ or why would they be having them? Women often experience confusing emotions when trouble starts in the relationship. She either becomes confused when the relationship turns bad or she becomes confused when she has ended the relationship. This confusion takes the form of “if he was so mean to me, why do I still have feelings for him? I must still love him if I can’t stop thinking about him even if he did bad things. Do my feelings mean I should go back with him?”

In these cases ‘feelings’ are not facts. It is human nature to seek attachment and bonding. When that is ripped away there is an emptiness that happens. Women often think that ‘means’ that they were in love if they experience the aftermath of ‘loss.’ It just means you are feeling the loss.

Women often think that since they ‘miss the good times of the relationship’ they must miss him. What women actually often are missing is the ‘feelings’ that were generated in the relationship when it was good. Women miss feeling of being ‘in love’ or ‘attached’ or ‘wanted and desired’ or ‘safe and secure.’ When women can separate out what they really ‘miss’ they often can see that ‘he’ represented those feelings she was having. She misses the feelings of the illusion of being in a good relationship. Missing ‘him’ might not really be ‘missing him.’ Who is ‘him’ – the dangerous man/cheater/liar/or pathological? You miss that ‘him’? No. You miss the feelings of being in love.

Tell yourself — “What I am missing are the ‘feelings’ of being in a good relationship.” Remind yourself of that when you misinterpret those feelings as meaning you ‘want him back.’ Often that isn’t the case. Recognize that this very ‘feeling’ thing is what propels women right back out there seeking to ‘feel loved’ again and attach to those missing feelings. It places women very ‘at-risk’ of repeating the same mistake.

Here—try this. Draw a line down the middle of the page. On one side, list the feelings you miss having. On the other side, list the dangerous man traits/behaviors/incidents.

Now take a look. Which do you really miss?

Feelings can be accurate when we are getting red flags in the relationship. Feelings can be inaccurate when we are gauging whether to return to relationship because we think we ‘miss’ him when in fact, what we miss are the feelings that were generated in the relationship. Feelings can be inaccurate when we are gauging the intensity and equate that with love or something healthy in the relationship. Understanding the importance of ‘feelings’ in all stages of a relationship can help you recognize just ‘what’ your feelings are telling you and when to heed them and when to be a little suspicious of their messages to you!

Real Love Not Just Real Attraction

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!