Professionals in the Helping Industries and Their Personal Pathological Relationships

Are you a doctor, nurse, therapist, social worker, female clergy, medical personnel, paramedic, teacher, psychiatrist, certified nursing assistant, day care worker, guidance counselor, speech therapist, missionary, physical therapist, psychology grad student, art therapist, writer, artist, musician, or work with at-risk kids? Welcome aboard to the group of people MOST LIKELY to end up in a pathological relationship.

Can your career be a risk factor for finding/staying with a narcissist or psychopath? Unfortunately, YES!

Look at that list again…all the ‘hearts of gold’ kind of people–the salt of the earth women–the ‘Mother Teresa’s’ of the world–AT RISK for attracting and staying with dangerous, dark, and pathological men. Seems unfair doesn’t it? Normally, narcissists and  psychopaths don’t migrate to their own kind. In rare occasions they do and you end up with a sensationalized case of a new Bonnie and Clyde. But in most cases, they migrate to you!

During a recent media interview I said, “I think understanding this represents one of the largest breakthroughs in our understanding of dangerous intimate relationship dynamics. For so long we understood him but we didn’t really understand her. She was wrongly labeled codependent but codependency treatment didn’t help her. She was wrongly labeled a relationship or even sex addict and addiction treatment didn’t help her. She was wrongly labeled as mutually pathological and yet she was never diagnosed with her own personality disorder. Nothing fit and nothing explained her until we found the missing key…her ‘off-the-Richter-scale traits’ that put it all in perspective. Once we can understand her, we can help her.”

What we do understand is that by nature of your own tender and helpful personality traits, you migrated to a career in which you could use your abundant traits of empathy, helpfulness, compassion, resourcefulness, cooperation, and tolerance. Where best do these great humanitarian traits get used? In helping professions like social work, ministry, nursing, other medical professions, psychology, teaching, child workers… all people with big hearts trying to give out of their own abundance. By virtue that you even ENDED up in one of these professions means you are probably more at-risk for these types of relationships than others.

In almost ALL circumstances, the women from these relationships are either IN these types of professions or are trying to get in to them…(they are in school or trying to move out of their job into a more giving field). Many of the women who are in these types of professions ended up with the narcissist or psychopath during the course of their actual jobs. Nurses hooked up with patients, doctors married someone they met in the field, psychologists dated mentally ill men, missionaries dated someone from one of the street missions where she worked. Every once in a while we got stories from very left-brained women like CPA’s, but even then, she’s not a typical left-brainer. She’s still has many humanitarian traits.

This has a lot of implications for possible prevention work. Knowing that women in these professions are more likely to have the high risk personality traits means education can begin within these professions. Women need to know that sometimes even their career selection is indicative of what their relationship selection might be as well. So while women may be ‘out’ of the pathological relationship, it doesn’t reduce their overall risk because temperament traits are innate. While you are out, is a great time to learn more about your abundant traits and how to safe guard yourself next time around. Let us know if we can help you become more alert and sensitized to the parts of you that need guarding.

Genetic and Neuro-Physiological Basis for Hyper-Empathy

I heard a universal SIGH go out around the world when women read the title to this article. Don’t you feel better knowing there really IS some science to the whole issue of too-darn-much-empathy?

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

Do I need to tell you? WAY TOO MUCH!

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

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

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

One of the final chemical effects, delays your reflexes (like getting out of the relationship) and also impacts your short and long term memory (how you easily store good memories that are very strong and how you store bad memories which are easily forgotten).   And since it is genetic, it can run in entire families that produce ‘gullible’ and ‘trusting’ individuals who seem to just keep getting hurt.

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

Over the past few years, we have posted articles on The Institute’s Magazine on various aspects of personality disorders and the brain.  These articles included the issue of brain imaging and what we are finding out about how the brain structure and also how its chemicals can affect personality, empathy, behavior and consequently, the behavior in relationships. As advances are made in the field of neurobiology we are learning more and more what The Institute has always believed which is there is a lot of biology behind the issues of a lack of personality development such as in personality disorders. Genetics and neurobiology are proving that the behavior associated with narcissism, borderline, anti-social personality disorders and psychopathy has as much to do with brain wiring and brain chemistry as it does with behavioral intent.

The Institute has long told survivors that personality disorders are not merely willful behavior, but brain deficits that control how much empathy, compassion, conscience, guilt, insight and change a person is capable of. Autism and personality disorders share a common thread as ’empathy spectrum disorders,’ now being studied extensively within the field of Neuroscience.  But in some opposite ways, the women also share a common thread of an empathy disorder—Hyper-Empathy. We are coming to understand that hyper empathy has much to do with her:

  • innate temperament (you come into the world wired with the personality you have)
  • genetic predispositions to high/low empathy
  • brain chemistry configurations that contribute to high/low empathy

The old assumptions that the women with high empathy were merely ‘doormats’ is not scientifically correct.

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

For a mind blowing book on the genetic and neurobiology of not only personality disorders, but ‘evil’ as well, read Barbara Oakley’s book ‘Evil Genes.’ You’ll find a whole new approach to understanding the biology of the pathological!

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Evil-Genes-Hitler-Mothers-Boyfriend/dp/1591026652/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300742709&sr=1-1″ style=”text-decoration: underline;”>http://www.amazon.com/Evil-Genes-Hitler-Mothers-Boyfriend/dp/1591026652/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300742709&sr=1-1</a>

Nothing Bothers Him–I Wish I Were MORE Like Him!

At the heart of pathology is a lack of empathy, conscience, and remorse. Sounds horrible on paper (and it is) but it looks different in action. Sometimes women wish they were more like THAT–less empathic as a way of getting less hurt.

She doesn’t really mean that (unless she too has a pathology bent). She is exhausted by her own mental activity of intrusive thoughts, heart break, hypervigilance and hurting. She just wants the pain to go away and if that means she becomes callous and doesn’t give a ‘rip’– then so be it–she’ll opt for his pathological character traits.

Cluster B Personality Disorders (Borderline, Narcisistic, Anti-Social Socio/Psychopaths have at the center of the disorder a complete lack of, or at least a reduced capacity for, empathy, conscience and remorse. (We will use the Acronym REC for a lack of these traits–Remorse, Empathy Conscience). To a certain extent, only the degree of a lack of REC distinguishes one disorder from the other. Psychopaths/Sociopaths are at the high end of the spectrum with the highest amount of these traits. But all four disorders have some of these traits in them because these disorders overlap with each other.

So what does a lack of empathy, conscience and remorse look like? On the surface from the women’s perspective it looks like in him either carefree-ness or a lack of concern what others think of him or his behavior. It looks like confidence in his choices and his behavior. It looks like enjoyment of his choices and behaviors even if they are negative. It looks like an unwaivering commitment to his own thoughts (even when it hurts someone else). On the surface, it looks healthy to not be harmed by the thoughts of others because he gets to do his own thing and then be unaffected by how it effects others. He coasts along in cloud of impenetrable numbness from any negative consequence–socially, emotionally, sexually, financially, or physically from his behaviors.

However, a lack of REC is the only thing that differentiates us from some animal species. (Ever try to guilt a cat?) Our ability to feel appropriate guilt is a reflection of our humanity. That various levels of psychopathlogy LACK these elements point to their own diminished ability to act ‘humane’ in certain situations. Why are we surprised that people who have impaired REC go on to abduct children, hurt pets, steal, lie, cheat, and are unfaithful? Conscience is related to consequences and the emotion guilt. Guilt is the RED LIGHT of our behavior–we don’t do something because we don’t want to feel guilt. In the end, guilt saves us from hurting others and ourselves and living with that awful feeling of regret.

But a pathological who doesn’t have that hardwiring to feel remorse or guilt, hurts others (and himself although he may not have the insight to recognize it as self harm), hurts society, and leaves a trail of wounded women and children as he goes golfing, picking up other women, or goes to the tanning bed–all the while humming a little song to himself.

Admiring his ability to hurt others and go on is NOT something you should admire in him. In a recent retreat someone kept bringing up they thought this was GOOD–that a pathological remained unscathed by his own belief system and therefore if we were more like him, we would be happier because we would react less to what we did.

That’s a sad thought. It’s the only line in the sand that separates us as caring human beings from a pathological. Our ability to have insight about our behavior is what makes us somewhat unpathological. Even though we are hurt and would welcome a bit of numbing to get away from the pain, you will never be able to throw yourself into the pit of pathological REC to escape your pain, intrusive thoughts, and other symptoms you wish would go away.

For those women who are not mutually pathological, the only way to get OUT of pain it to go THROUGH the pain. Embracing that you can still tell the difference between right and wrong and you don’t covet his pathology as something to be admired, means you are not pathological yourself! Others who have now embraced his worldview of hurting others, seeing it as good and wanting to a live a life of power/dominance/status, need therapy surrounding her ‘consumption’ of his pathological worldview.

A healthy REC is one of the differentiating aspects that separate us as the fabric of humanity versus the pathological alien. Embrace that about yourself.

Soul Slayer– Psychological ‘Evil,’ Spiritual ‘Evil’ or Both?

The one adjective I hear repeatedly connected to pathology is the word ‘evil.’ Spiritual, unspiritual, heathens, pagans, Christians, Jews, Buddists–it doesn’t matter. The word ‘evil’ is the chosen adjective-of-choice to describe pathology. But what IS evil? Is it more psychological than it is spiritual? Or is it a spiritual issue that has been picked up and defined psychologically? Are they the same thing?

I am not going to translate the lists for you below. They are self explanatory. I have taken the right list from Old Testament (of the Jewish faith) and New Testament (of the Christian faith) as examples of the definition of ‘evil.’ You could most likely find similar definitions of evil in other religious texts.

Draw your own conclusions.

Description from the DSM IV About Socio/Psychopathy & Narcissism Descriptions of Evil (Lucifer, Satan, etc.)
Grandiose, self important and pre-occupied with self Wants people to worship him
Fantasizes about power, brilliance, success, and money Says to God “I WILL ascend, I Will Rise…” Showing power fantasies
Requires excessive admiration Says “You WILL bow down to me”
Is entitled Wants the same power as God, feels he’s as powerful as God
Exploits all relationships Tries to lure others to do his dirty work in the world
Lacks empathy Envious of others
Arrogant Fails to follow laws or rules/uses unethical, unlawful and immoral behavior
Deceitful, lies, cons for fun or profit Impulsive, wants it/takes it, sees it/does it
Aggression Disregard for the safety of others, puts others at risk
Irresponsible–bad with supporting others Lack of remorse, rationalizes stealing, lying, etc.

Other Characteristics (also mentioned in the Women Who Love Psychopaths book)

Description from the DSM IV About Socio/Psychopathy & Narcissism Descriptions of Evil (Lucifer, Satan, etc.)
Pretends to be wonderful, helpful, supportive Masquerades as the ‘Angel of Light’
Powerful Often beautiful or handsome; Lucifer called ‘the most beautiful’, name means ‘the shining one’
Superior attitude towards others Is superior to other angels in power and authority
Contempt for others especially authority figures Fights against God and wants His power
Use power and authority over others Called the Prince of Power
Prideful Heart is filled with pride and contempt
Splits people against each other Turned 1/3 of the angels against God and took them
Often rejected, expelled, dismissed, broken up with because of behavior God expelled him from Heaven
Places are created to contain them: jail, prison, mental institutions, probation God created a place to contain him in the future–Lake of Fire
Fights against any rules and others who try to make him conform Fights against God to ruin and hinder His plans
Destroy and deceive others (and enjoy doing it) Called ‘The Destroyer’ and “Deceiver”
Masquerades as anything you want him to be Masquerades as the ‘Angel of Light’
Likes to scare others and show power so others fear him Prowls like a roaring lion
Looks for someone to overpower and control Prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour
Bold, cunning, self ambitious Boldness, subtlety in his cunning
Self willed and strong prideful self will
Narcissistic wanting to be better than everyone else Said “I will be like the Most High”
Fakes being wonderful, helpful, virtuous Many false prophets have gone in the world (like him), performs lying ‘signs and wonders’
Accuses others Called ‘The Accuser’
Adversary, enemy to any who turn against him Called the Serpent or ‘Adversary’
Liar, tempter, thief Referred to as a liar, thief and tempter
Motives are destructive to others Motives are to deceive and afflict

It is clear in some spiritual texts that spiritual evil has almost no separation from psychological evil, or vice verse. There are some things we don’t totally understand such as how the spirit realm can effect the psychological realm or how one’s pathology may taint their spirit. But it has been clear to me, and hundreds of survivors, that ‘evil’ straddles vocabularies of both psychological definitions and spiritual ones as well. The spiritual union of souls when united to a psychopath, is like none other. Those who have united in the spiritual realm can attest to the evil witnessed in that sharing. There is still much to learn about how psychology and theology meld.

A large portion of one of the chapters in Women Who Love Psychopaths as been devoted to this issue. Please check the chart in the book for a better grasp of this concept.

(**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 info.)

Testing the Edge

Women who end up in dangerous and pathological relationships often end up there because they like (or find interesting) ‘living on the edge.’ They don’t like their lives boring and that extends to liking men who are ‘edgey’ as well. No boring normal ‘geek’ men–Nope! The more the edge/bad boy/outlaw/rebel (or the more you perceive they need some support to keep an honest life afloat) the more you like them.

This ‘edge-walking’ landed you right in the lap of a dangerous and pathological man. In the beginning edgey seems ‘neutral’ — it’s too early to know that his edgey-ness is going to cost you. All you know is he’s a long way from boring and that’s ok with you.

It’s before you knew that:

  • His ‘edge’ is emotionally addicting for you
  • That his edge is narcissism (or worse!)
  • That his edge is about rejecting authority
  • That his edge isn’t the cool ‘James Dean’ type of edge
  • That this edge is all about him
  • That his edge consumes your self esteem for lunch
  • That his edge doesn’t make YOU cool for being with him
  • That his edge doesn’t mean you an ‘in’ girl to love someone like him
  • That’s before your realized his edge isn’t about you or your own enjoyment of everything edgey
  • It’s before you realized his edge wasn’t something for you to ‘tame’ a bad boy or ‘heal’ a wounded one

That’s before you knew that his ‘edge’ can’t be fixed, counseled, medicated, or churched.

His edge can’t be loved into something less savage and more soothing.

That’s before you realized his edge isn’t artsy, educational, intellectual, musical, poetic or religious. His edge isn’t about riding his convertible fast, or having daring sex or risky financial investments. His edge isn’t about his party lifestyle or his command presence when others are around.

That’s before you realized that his edge isn’t about the sad stories he told about his life to use as emotional bonding with you, before you realized that his edge was really just a trail of wounded women behind him. That’s before you realized that his edge was unrelenting lying, broken promises, and changes he could never make no matter how long he promised or how hard he tried.

That’s before your realized his edge really wasn’t brilliance unrecognized, charm unspoiled, or love unrequited.

That’s before you realized that his edge was one thing…and one thing only.

His edge was pathology.

(**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 info.)

The Dangers of Pit Bulls and Climate Control – Part I

So, I think you all are getting the point of this series so far: psychopaths are a big problem in our world! But it’s not that simple. Take an analogy. Timmy is sick. He caught a bug at school the other week and is down for the count. Thankfully for his parents, they’re somewhat eccentrically obsessed with health and cleanliness and had immediately placed Timmy in a microbiologically sterile bubble in their guest bedroom, before proceeding to decontaminate the entire house and its occupants. The pathogen that threatens the health of those he might come in contact with is successfully locked in. (Unfortunately for Timmy, so is he!) However, Timmy’s parents didn’t factor Sunshine, the family’s pet pit-bull, into their anti-infection equation.

So, one afternoon, while Timmy is reminiscing about his former life outside the bubble, along comes Sunshine who pokes a hole in the bubble’s protective layer with his favorite stick. The highly contagious, airborne infection is now free to surf the air waves of 21st century climate control, and through a series of highly improbable events, Timmy’s sister, parents, dog and goldfish all come down with the nasty bug. The infection then spreads throughout the neighborhood, city, and eventually, the world, as local businessmen who don’t mind an aggressive pat down from the TSA and exposing their genitals to puerile airport security personnel via Peeping-Tom-Technology travel to very serious and important business meetings. So, what’s the point of this? Simply put, psychopaths need a number of things to have their effect in lieu of the direct interaction of personal relationships. Among a psychopath’s best tools to spread his malevolence are fanatic bulldogs and the cold theories of human nature that determine the intellectual climate of a society. It’s through these intermediaries that our bodies and minds are systematically infected – ponerized.

In this article I’ll focus on the latter of these tools. For now, all that needs to be said of the fanatics is that the tenacity of true believers (whether paranoid or just lacking important functionality of the prefrontal lobes) is what keeps pathological social systems in action. Just think of Internet trolls with religion and guns, seeing a Communist or terrorist behind every even slightly ‘liberal’ blogger, and you’ll get the picture. As for the second type of psycho-puppet, they’re a bit trickier to spot. Often intelligent, and highly influential in society, the pervasiveness of their theories in modern Western culture offers them some degree of camouflage. But when those theories are put to the test, they don’t fare too well. Unfortunately for us, very few actually question them, and they’re the cause of many of the world’s biggest problems.

In his book, Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life (New York: Norton, 2009), professor of psychology at the University of California, Dacher Keltner lists some depressing figures. In the last fifteen years, levels of trust among Americans have dropped 15%; feelings of social anomie, loneliness, and unhappy marriages are on the rise; people have fewer close friends, babies have less physical contact with their parents, and American children’s well-being ranks twentieth in a list of 21 nations. Keltner traces this overall decline in social well-being to what he calls the Homo economicus ideology of human nature. He writes:

This ideology has influential advocates from Sigmund Freud to evolutionary theorists. The strongest proponents of this view are found in the halls of economics departments. Their characterization of human nature [is] known widely as rational choice theory … First and foremost, Homo economicus is selfish. Every action of Homo economicus is designed to maximize self-interest, in the form of experienced pleasure, advances in material wealth, or, in evolutionist thought, the propagation of genes. … Competition is a natural and normative state of affairs. … Cooperation and kindness are, by implication, cultural conventions or deceptive acts masking deeper self-interest. … The conclusion: These generous acts are evolutionary “misfires” or “strategic errors” … (pp. 8 – 9)

Keltner mentions just a few such theorizers: the already-mentioned Freud, Ayn Rand, Machiavelli (“in general [mankind] are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain”), and George C. Williams (Natural selection “can honestly be described as a process for maximizing short-sighted selfishness”). To this list we may add Karl Marx (for whom material conditions shape consciousness) and Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679), who thought that so long as there were no strong authority to keep them in line, humans were naturally “in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man” (quoted in Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Penguin, 2002), p. 7). In other words, human nature is so wretched (i.e. self-serving, distrustful, malicious) that a strong authority (i.e. church or state) is needed to keep society from descending into social chaos. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. As Keltner describes it, such a view of human nature offers only part of the picture. Without the very real qualities of equality, compassion, cooperation, gratitude, love, laughter and nurture, our families and societies would fall apart. These emotions and values are what bring, and keep, people together, and coincidentally (or not), they are the very qualities lacking in psychopaths.

In fact, some big clues to this can be found in Adam Curtis’ 2007 documentary The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom . In it, Curtis shows the influence of “simplistic model[s] of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures” on modern economics and politics (are we seeing a pattern here?). One such model is the “Game Theory” of mathematician and Nobel Prize winner in Economics John Nash, whose life was whitewashed in the Hollywood film A Beautiful Mind. Importantly, Nash was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, although in my opinion “schizoidal psychopathy” is a better fit. His arrogant, cold-hearted, and disturbed mind is dealt with at length in Sylvia Nasar’s biography of the same name. Nash’s view of human nature influenced the development of his “game” scenarios, which in turn greatly influenced official Cold War policies.

According to Nash, human beings are selfish and distrustful by nature, and the only way to create social stability is through the cultivation of suspicion and self-interest. In one of his games, players must choose to trust or betray their gaming partner in order to either lose or gain benefits. Trust only works if both sides choose to do so. If your opponent “screws you”, however, you lose more than you would if you screwed him as well. The choice with the greatest payoff is thus to betray your partner, who in turn betrays you. According to Nash, as well as other economic theorists like Friedrich von Hayek and James M. Buchanan, this is how humans actually operate: motivated entirely by self-interest and constantly calculating and anticipating the malicious intentions of all others. Homo economicus. Life is one big game of screwing others over, and coming out on top.

That’s great in theory, I suppose. However, in practice, the only individuals who consistently played the games in such a manner were psychopaths and economists (!). When the games were played by the experimenters’ secretaries, they always chose the mutually beneficial trust scenario, that is, the normal, human response. And while these theories of economic and political “freedom” were embraced by politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and continue to determine economic and government policies in Western societies, as Curtis concludes, when they are put into practice they actually lead to “corruption, rigidity, inequality.” See how far Timmy’s bug can spread?

As can be seen by the names mentioned above (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Marx, etc.), the view of humanity as nothing but selfish imps has long held sway. Religious traditions have taught their believers to view themselves as “special” and set apart from the rest of humanity, which is seen as wretched, brutish, amoral, and Godless. (In other words, Homo economicus-lite; only the others are evil.) It is so universal that it seems to be a rule among religious sects, whether in the Talmudic view of goyim, the Christian view of the “un-saved”, or the Muslim view of the kafir. So, too, in political theories. As the game theory tests showed in The Trap, normal people tend trust one another. It is “intra-species predators” such as psychopaths who are themselves distrustful by nature, and who then inspire distrust in others; who are selfish, and inspire selfishness in others; and who wish to be the ones controlling the rabble of humanity.

Adult Children of Narcissistic, Psychopathic, and Borderline Parents

Nothing is sadder or more destructive than not getting your needs met as a child because your parents were pathologically disordered. Narcissism, socio/psychopathic, antisocial or borderline are just four ways that your parents could have been pathologically disordered. There are a number of other ways and diagnosis as well.

But the fact remains that so many children raised by pathological parents (whom are often also addicts) grow up seeing the world through the eyes of the pathological. We call that ‘the pathological world view.’ No matter how you cut it, children are influenced, for the good or the bad, by the parents who raise them. That’s because we largely come to see the world, ourselves and others through their eyes. If they are healthy and normal people–that view of others and ourselves is a good thing. If they are dangerous and pathological, the view of others and ourselves could be a bad thing.

There are a number of aftermath effects of pathological parenting that you may have recognized in your own life–choices, patterns, feelings, behaviors that have negatively influenced your life.

  • You may be plagued with self-doubt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic caregiving of others
  • A total disregard for your own needs or self care
  • You could battle depression or chronic anxiety
  • Or fight nagging pessimism about your future or the world around you
  • You might be dangerously naive never trusting your own instincts and being constantly taken advantage of
  • You could have eating disorders, sexual addictions/other sexual disorders
  • Or obsessive compulsive behaviors
  • You could medicate your feelings with drugs or alcohol
  • Or find abusive religious affiliations to take up where your pathological parents fell away
  • You may have emotional intimacy problems or jump from relationship to relationship fearing abandonment or being alone
  • Or you may engage in what they now call ‘sexual anorexia’ — the forbidding of yourself to ever be intimate or loving with someone else

While you may ‘understand why’ your parents behaved like they did or you are engulfed in compassion and pity for their illness, the rubber meets the road at the point where your needs went so chronically unmet that you now have your own emotional problems because of what you didn’t get at those crucial developmental points of your life. Compassion, pity, forgiveness and understanding about their disorder only goes so far as it doesn’t help you get what you never got from the most important people in your life.

Today, your choices in relationships can be largely influenced from pathological parenting. Picking dangerous and/or pathological men for relationships is often a devastating side effect of pathological parenting. Growing up learning how to normalize abnormal behavior is a set up for accepting pathology into all areas of your life—your boss, your friends, your partners. Becoming aware of your relationship choices is a good first start but may NOT be the only intervention you need in order to grieve your childhood losses and stop trying to fix pathologicals by having intimate or parenting-type relationships with them. You can’t fix your own pathological parenting deficits through a relationship with someone else. That can only be done one-on-one with yourself.

If you are sick of self sabotaging your own life, relationships, career, success and future because of what you might not have gotten in your childhood, there is help and hope. You don’t have to be a slave forever to your past.

Join us for the ‘Adult Children of Narcissistic, Psychopathic and Borderline Parents’ support group. If you are ready to make healthy choices you didn’t have the skills for before, then contact us for jump start on your recovery.

(**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 info.)

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Should I React This Way?

Partners of pathologicals face chronic confusion about their reactions to his pathology. She feels the incongruency in the Jekyll and Hyde personalities, reacts to it, and then gets labeled by him as being hysterical.

The fact is, pathologicals project their traits and behaviors on everyone else and say it’s ‘them’ instead of ‘him.’ That IS part of pathology. In fact, several different personality disorders DO that in relationships because it is a feature and a trait of pathology. So just maybe those are HIS traits and not yours! Maybe what you are seeing is a glimmer of his pathological self view and world view and how he thrusts that upon others and labels them with his own disorder.

Many of you wonder if what you DO feel in the relationship is the ‘correct’ or ‘normal’ way to react. SHOULD you have certain reactions to certain disorders or behaviors? The answer is a resounding ‘YES.’

Normal people have very strong reactions when exposed short OR long term to pathological persons. In fact, it is normal to have these kinds of reactions and non-pathological persons SHOULD have strong reactions to abnormal behavior. I have the same types of reactions to pathologicals–I have just had to learn over the years to contain my reactions for professional reasons.

These types of reactions in you can be: confusion, frustration, anxiety, wanting to hurt them (slap them, verbally assault them and fantasies of REALLY hurting them). Some women have reactions of ‘trying to help him understand himself better so she can alter his behaviors.’ Others believe what he says about her and start to judge her own behavior, character, and history. She truly begins to think SHE is the one who is sick and not him. She begins to doubt her own perceptions (well I guess black IS white and bad IS good). Her whole world view becomes distorted like looking into a carnival mirror where the world becomes wavy and crazy looking.

Others shut down completely and stop communicating because every word is turned back on her by the pathological. Some become paranoid knowing he is doing something and not able to prove it.

Long term effects are a complete emotional shut down, physical exhaustion with resulting medical issues, chronic depression and/or anxiety, and an altered sense of self worth. Much like the elephant who only needs to be chained for a short time before it thinks it can never escape and it never tries to—women do the same thing. The emotional operant conditioning by pathologicals renders normally strong and independent women into lobotimized rag dolls that don’t move or respond as they have been trained ‘not to.’

Outsiders who are around the pathological also have their own normal reactions to his abnormal behavior. If he has children, they too have adversive reactions as does his boss, any normal family members he might have, the neighbors or anyone he has to deal with. It is normal to have BIG reactions to pathologicals. Even animals often don’t like them! Come on now—if a dog avoids him—we should too!

Then there are those of you who not only have had your training at the hands of intimate pathological relationships, but you have been trained in your youth by pathological parents. By now abnormal behavior must look and feel totally normal to you. The effects of pathological parenting are huge and set up reactions, behaviors and world views that need intense treatment in order to set straight.

Reactions to pathology are expected and to a large degree, normal.

We will be offering an Adult Children of Pathological Parenting Support Group exactly for this issue. Contact us for more information.

(**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 info.)

Reality and Suffering

Oh boy, have I learned a lot lately. What is becoming evident is that much of your intrusive thoughts, your obsession with him/relationship, your cognitive conflict known as dissonance, and many other symptoms as well are stemming from one major issue:

The inability to accept what he is, how he is, and what this means about your relationship.

This level of resistance isn’t always conscious. Some of it may seep out and drift up into your awareness where you notice yourself fluctuating between “He is pathological, I don’t want him to be pathological, He isn’t pathological.”

This cognitive conflict between your three different beliefs about whether he is pathological takes the form of:

  • How you think you SHOULD feel about him/this situation and
  • How you react/behave with this situation.

Each one of these beliefs:

  • He is Pathological
  • I don’t want him to be Pathological
  • He isn’t Pathological

have their own individual lives in your brain. We sometimes call this ‘Monkey Mind’ — each belief jumping around and back and forth and swinging from the branches of your brain until you can no longer concentrate. You are not entertaining just one thought/conflict–you are entertaining at least three and each of these have subpoints below each one producing MANY thoughts.

These 3 conflicting beliefs, thoughts, and wishes fill up probably 95% of your thinking patterns which leaves almost no time to:

  • Resolve it
  • Work on it
  • Rest
  • Work
  • or Find Peace

In the past, I had the great privilege of working with a woman who came here from the Netherlands. Her intrusive thoughts had so disabled her ability to work and enjoy her child. Within the four days she was here, we were able to harness her mind and free her from much of the distress of this invasive life-stealing mechanism.

At the heart of almost all major religions is the teaching (in different terms and lingo) about suffering. Intrusive thoughts and cognitive dissonance is the # 1 and # 2 distressing symptoms you complain about most. This level of ‘suffering’ as is many other types and reasons for suffering, stem from the inability to let our defense systems down (this is why they are called defense) and accept life as life is and stop defending against it.

Our defense mechanisms are designed to shield us from pain. But at some point, defense mechanisms can be over used and end up harming us by keeping too much of the pain (which could teach us) away from us. Pain 101 is often a good, and sometimes the only, motivator for change.

When our defense systems have become so elaborate, the pain that could help us face reality–can’t even get to us to teach us and show us the way. Suffering then continues because we have not found a way to help ourselves embrace reality so that the reality can bring acceptance and the acceptance can stop the intrusive thoughts.

Our elaborate defense mechanism is very invested in proving he is not pathological and keeping the relationship going. That way, you are not alone, you get what you want, your prove others wrong, and you can fulfill the fantasy in your head about how the relationship ‘should’ or ‘could’ be.

To end suffering, we must accept what we are keeping away from our heart–which is the Truth, Reality, or whatever you want to call it. All major religions have a cure for suffering–but it’s all the same–accepting who, what, where, when, why. Some religions call it Light, Truth, Enlightenment…the words that are all related to accepting reality.

That would mean our first belief system listed above:

* He is Pathological—might have to be accepted and the other two belief systems after that, would have to be dropped. Everything in your being would have to embrace the pain and the reality that he is in fact, now and forever, pathological.

Acceptance is so critical to accepting reality, truth, and what is…And the opposite ‘non-acceptance’ is so dangerous that every 12 Step group ends their meeting with a prayer about acceptance–knowing it’s importance in the ability to recover and heal. The 12 Steps remind us that in order to heal we must ‘Take life on life’s terms.’ That means, we must accept what is really happening in our lives, to our lives, and through our lives. In your case, that means accepting what his pathology is doing to you.

Maybe we need our own 12 Step Prayer to remind us about accepting who and what he is, and stopping the intrusive thought that is nothing but trying to bury the truth under some new image you come up with.

Serenity Prayer for Pathological Relationships

Lord, help me to accept the pathology and the things in him and this relationship that I cannot change
To change the things I can in my own life that will help me leave, heal, and recover since he cannot change
And the wisdom to know the difference between who can change and who can never change and what I can do now for myself.

AMEN

Remember, our retreats are focused on helping you reduce and eliminate cognitive dissonance. If we can help you, let us know. Also our product Maintaining Mindfulness in the Midst of Obsession is an e-book plus two CD’s that help neutralize the internal cognitive dissonance produced by Pathological Love Relationships. You can find it on the website.

(**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 info.)

Grieving The Pathological Loss–The Personal Side Part II

Last week 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 break up, it doesn’t stop the necessary grieving. Women are then shocked to find themselves grieving at all given how abusive, damaging, or horrible the relationship was. She tells her self she should be grateful to be out and negates her 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–which is “loss.”

I also mentioned last week that grief is natural. It’s an organic way the body and mind tries to rid itself of 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 for healing to later occur. 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 last week (and you can read any of our previous Sandra Says articles). Many of you wrote me to talk about the ‘personal side’ of grief–the other aspects that were lost because of the dangerous relationship and must be grieved.

These include the loss of:

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

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 indicated these personal losses are the most devastating. Because in the end, she is all that she has –when he is gone, she must fall back on her self for her healing. But what is left, is an empty shell of a former life. A garden that is over grown 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 she turn inward and draw on her resources. But what was there is now gone. She may want to begin the healing from the pathological relationship but is stopped short in her 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 begin the first step.

(**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 info.)

Grieving the Pathological Loss, Part I

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

‘Loving’ a pathological (not just a psychopath but any person with a pathological disorder) seems to produce a very intense attachment to the relationship. Most women report that loving them is nothing like anything else she ever experienced. They indicate that it’s more intense than other relationships, more mind-games that keep her very confused and unable to detach, and a kind of hypnotic mesmerizing that keeps her in the relationship LONG after she knows she should have left.

Because of this intense bonding, mental confusion, pathological attachment and a hypnotic connection her grief is likely to be huge. This is often confusing to her because there has been so much damage to her by the time she leaves 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.’Lots of women are confused as to ‘whom’ or ‘what’ it is they are actually grieving. Grief can seem so ‘illusive’ and a haunting feeling that is like a gray ghost but can’t be nailed down to actually ‘what’ the loss is. But the ending of any relationship (even a pathological one) is a loss. Within the ending of the relationship is a loss of lots of elements:

  • Loss of the ‘dream’ of partnership or togetherness
  • Loss of a shared future together, as well as the loss that maybe he would someday ‘get it together’ or actually ‘love you’ of the dream of being loved (even if he was technically not capable of truly loving anyone)
  • Loss of your plans for the future-maybe that was buying a home, having children, or taking a big trip
  • 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.

Still more losses:

  • Some women lose their pets in the break up, 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 perceived 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 riding the mind and soul of ongoing pain. It’s an attempt at re-balancing one’s mind and life. Grief is a natural process that is GIVEN to you as a pain management tool. Without grief there would not be a way of moving through pain. You would always just remain stuck in the feelings and would always feel the same.

Here’s a few tips:

  1. Don’t avoid grief. While no one LIKES grief it’s important to allow yourself to feel the feelings and the pain because 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.
  2. There is only one way through the pain of grief and that’s through the middle of it. There are no short cuts, 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Get help if you need it-counseling, group, medication, a grief group-whatever it is you need.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 often you aren’t having one or the other, you are having some of both. Have a professional assess that for you.
  7. 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 so you can move on.

Grieving the Pathological Loss

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

‘Loving’ a pathological (not just a psychopath but any person with a pathological disorder) seems to produce a very intense attachment to the relationship. Most women report that ‘loving’ them is nothing like anything else she ever experienced. They indicate that it’s more intense than other relationships, more mind-games that keep her very confused and unable to detach, and a kind of hypnotic mesmerizing that keeps her in the relationship LONG after she knows she should have left.

Because of this intense bonding, mental confusion, pathological attachment and a hypnotic connection
her grief is likely to be huge. This is often confusing to her because there has been so much damage to
her by the time she leaves 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.’

Lots of women are confused as to ‘whom’ or ‘what’ it is they are actually grieving. Grief can seem so
‘illusive’ – a haunting feeling that is like a grey ghost but can’t be nailed down to actually ‘what’ the loss is. But the ending of any relationship (even a pathological one) is a loss. Within the ending of the relationship is a loss of lots of 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 some day ‘get it together’ or actually ‘love you.’
  • When the relationship ends, so does the dream of being loved (even if he was 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.

Still more losses:

  • Some women lose their pets in the break up, 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 perceived 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 riding 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 not be a way of moving through pain. You would always just remain stuck in the feelings and would always feel the same.

Here’s a few tips:

1. Therefore, don’t avoid grief. While no one LIKES grief it’s important to allow yourself to feel the feelings and the pain because 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.

2. There is only one way through the pain of grief and that’s through the middle of it. There are no short cuts, 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.

3. 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.

4. Get help if you need it—counseling, group, medication, a grief group—whatever it is you need.

5. 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 it’s time.

6. 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 often you aren’t having one or the other, you are having some of both. Have a professional assess that for you.

7. 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-send natural way of working through so you can move on.

(**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 info.)

How Pathological Is ‘Too’ Pathological?

In other words, ‘How sick is TOO sick?’

One of the characteristics of women who have been in pathological relationships is that they are very ‘forgiving’ and ‘tolerant’ of less than stellar mental health qualities in their intimate relationships. That’s because the women have very elevated traits of compassion, empathy, tolerance, and acceptance according to our research and to name but a few. These are excellent and humanitarian traits to have….except in a relationship with a pathological person in which these traits create ‘super glue’ that keeps you in a relationship you should NOT be tolerating, accepting, or being empathetic about. The problem is women often don’t realize that someone can simply have ‘narcissistic traits’ or ‘psychopathic traits’ and still be a danger to her in a relationship.

That’s because it doesn’t take much pathology to dramatically and negatively effect her and the relationship. It only takes a ‘drop’ of abnormal psychology to really screw up the relationship and the others around him. This is why even ‘just traits’ are important to identify. ‘Just traits’ means he has SOME of the criteria for, lets say narcissism or psychopathy, but not enough to fully qualify for the full diagnosis. But let’s not split hairs here…a few traits are enough to qualify for ‘too’ pathological. It DOES matter that he is a ‘tad bit’ pathological because any of the traits of pathology are negative and harmful.

Would it matter that he had a little or a lot of ‘low empathy?’ No–the end result is the same–low empathy and the pain he causes others. ‘Little-to-None’ is almost none–it doesn’t matter if he is a little unempathetic or a lot. Not being able to have empathy is the bottom line.

Would it matter if he had a little or a lot of poor impulse control? I doubt it if his poor impulse control effected his sexual acting out, his drug use, or his wild spending habits. A little goes a long way in poor impulse control.

Would it matter if he had a little or a lot of rebellion against laws, rules, or authority? Probably not…even just a little bit of rebellion has the propensity of getting him arrested or fired, ignoring a restraining order or refusing to pay child support. How about ‘just pathological enough’ to really screw up your children with his distorted and warped world view, his chronic inconsistency, his wavering devotion to you or them, his role modeling of his addictions, or his display of ‘the rules aren’t for me’ attitude?

I watch women ‘look’ for loopholes to minimize the pathology he DOES have instead of looking for ways he does meet criteria for the pathology he does have and find reasons to get out. Instead, they find reasons ‘it’s not THAT bad.’ But just a little bit of a ‘bad boy’ is probably too pathological…too sick for a normal relationship. Since pathology is the ‘inability to sustain positive change, grow to any meaningful depth, or develop insight about how one’s behavior effects others’ even just ‘some’ pathology is too much. Because if he can’t sustain change (you know…all those things he promises to change about himself) or grow or have insight about how and why he hurts you…he’s TOO pathological–TOO sick–TOO disordered to have anything that resembles a normal relationship. Why would you ‘want’ a relationship that has NO capacity to grow, change, or meet your needs?

Bad boy enticement is very real…that edginess he has makes many women highly attracted to him. But beyond the edginess can be anything from ‘just traits’ to ‘full blown pathology.’ Nonetheless, women must learn to draw a line in the sand that even ‘just’ traits is enough to guarantee their unhappiness and harm in the hands of a guy who is ‘too pathological’ for her!

(**Information about pathology and your recovery is in the award winning Women Who Love Psychopaths, also taught during retreats in the months of Feb and August, in 1:1 sessions during January, March, May and September or in phone sessions.)

Neurofeedback Training and PTSD – Part II

In January’s column, 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 source s 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:

Because the cell membranes in various parts of the nervous system become literally worn 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 a 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. The site below will help you find a practitioner using  geographic locations.

http://www.adnf.org/neurofeedback_directory.htm