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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn How to Starve The Vampire

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

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

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

  • One contact he’s angry, blaming, shaming

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

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

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

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

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

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

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

Pathometry Newsletter, June 1-2013



A service of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction

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

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

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

Copyrighted© Sandra L. Brown, MA 2013
Issue 1



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

Our mission for the new Pathometry Lab Newsletter is simple:

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

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

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

What Is a PLR?

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

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

Why a Closer Look?

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

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

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

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

Attempted Approaches

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

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

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

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

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

Traditional Approaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interested In This Topic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Institute Event

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

Relational Harm Reduction Radio

Every Thursday at 8:30 pm starting March 7, 2013
Call in questions taken.

RHR University: Coming soon Online Training for Professionals

Patho-Lingo  Word of the Month:
Pathognomonic—distinctive characteristics in a disorder

Narcissus Gazing?

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


Clinically Relevant Articles

Personality Disorders in Relationships

The Burden of Personality Disorders

Barriers to Effective Management

Neuropsychopharmacology for Cluster Bs

Reading Suggestions

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

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

The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality by Elsa F. Ronningstan

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

Evil Genes by Barbara Oakley

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

Pathocentric Tools

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

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

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

Pathocentric Videos

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


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


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

Professional Journals

Journal of Forensic Psychology

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice & Policy Journal

Survivor Centered Help Aides

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

Intrusive Thoughts

Stress Management for Survivors

The Institute’s Resources

Pathological Love Relationships Archive of Articles

DVD Training Set on Cluster B and PLRs 

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

How to Spot a Dangerous Man Book

How to Spot a Dangerous Man Workbook

Women Who Love Psychopaths

Counseling Victims of Violence 


Maintaining Mindfulness in the Midst of Obsession 2CDs

Healing the Aftermath Relaxation CD


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

Help For Wounded Healers

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

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

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











My Anniversary of the Plunge into Pathology

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

Much like pathology in anyone else’s life, you don’t get to pick how it plays out in your life.  The best you can do is to learn how to ride the rollercoaster that goes along with the serious group of disorders in pathology – as I have done.  Thirty years later I still feel like I am just skimming the surface of what can, and should be done in education, awareness, survivor services, and advocacy in dealing with pathology. Thousands of pages of writing books, newsletters, websites, workbooks, e-books, quizzes, hours and hours of lectures ad nauseam, over a thousand hours in broadcasts, both radio and television, stacks of CDs and DVDs created – and still we are in the infancy of a new understanding about pathology.  It is the virtual edge of just beginning what someday will be a momentum marker that shows ‘when’ the world turned a corner for a better and very public understanding of pathology.

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

Every May 13th, for the past 30 years, I have halted my existence to remember that life-altering second when my life went from being a normal everyday life – to a life of being a homicide survivor.  This is when my reality was ripped through by pathology – a disorder so conscienceless that altering history is just another day in the lives of the pathological.  While my pathology story includes a brutal ending, yours no less, includes something similar – all the things lost in a moment of deep betrayal – the kind of betrayal that only pathology can bring.

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

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

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

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

Verbal Bulimia and the Art of Over-Disclosure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMI! TMI! Too Much Information!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genetic and Neuro-Physiological Basis for Hyper-Empathy

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

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

Do I need to tell you?  WAY TOO MUCH!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy and Its’ Effect on Your Reality

by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Women Who Love Psychopaths E-book

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Who Does That? Part One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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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!

Copyright Notice:All articles, newsletters, hand outs, websites, books, e-books, power points, or other written information as well as digital information on our radio shows, MP3s, CDs, and DVDs are copyrighted by The Institute. We take plagiarism very seriously and utilize computer scanning software to prosecute for the theft of intellectual property. If you have questions about the use of our information, please read our copyright page on the magazine or contact our Intellectual Property Management team.
Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.


by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Why a Focused Recovery is Necessary-Beginning with a Completely Different Mind Set

Beginning 2013 in a Completely Different Mindset


Last week I began the New Year by talking about the issue of healing, recovery, and moving forward. In fact, all of January we are going to look at why starting 2013 ‘differently’ can help you move forward in recovering from the aftermath of a pathological love relationship.


The past few years at The Institute has been a tremendous time of development. (Don’t mind me as I wander down memory lane of all that has happened this year at The Institute….)


A mere two years ago the newsletter started. We now have nearly 35,000 subscribers each week. That created a snowball effect and the phone coaching began. More e-books were written. Then the CDs, mp3s, DVDs, and tele-seminars were created.


Research commenced and the Women Who Love Psychopaths book was written. The book is now in its 2nd edition. The retreat program started, we trained therapists and coaches, and started the Inpatient Treatment Center. Sandra began to do more keynote speaking at other organizations conferences including law schools and victim organizations.


All this development because of realizing how uniquely damaged you became at the hands of a pathological. All this research because of realizing there was really something to ‘the temperament’ of women who end up in pathological relationships. All this phone coaching, therapist training and retreat/treatment center creation because so few people ‘get it’ about you, him, and the mind-blowing relationship dynamics. For the FIRST time there really is a concrete program designed about you and in some ways, by you, and definitely for you.


The one thing that does stand out in the research and what I have been eye-balling closely about healing and recovery is that this level of damage by him is profound. If there were lots of ‘hims’ then it’s even more profound. What this does to you over the long haul is take some strong, fabulous women out of the game of life by destroying you.


Untreated symptoms, get worse. Symptoms that get worse effect your life functioning and your children. Worsened effects then contaminate your partner selection. And if you do get a healthy one, you don’t like him or you’re too messed up from the pathological relationship to be in a healthy relationship so he leaves.


Untreated symptoms make intrusive thoughts worse so obsessions increase. Friends abandon you because they are tired of hearing about the obsessions so you isolate.


Isolation makes you at risk of recontacting him and recontacting him lowers your coping skills.


As your coping skills drop your bad habits increase (drinking, medication over use, eating, hibernating).


As your coping skills lower your fantasizing increases ‘Maybe he ISN’T pathological’ “Maybe he WILL stop cheating, etc.’ and your minimizing begins ‘At least he …..’


More contact with him increases your Post Traumatic Stress symptoms of flashbacks, fear of the future, unbridled worry, depression,and insomnia.


Is any of this sounding familiar? There is a typical decompensation pattern that most of the women go through. Recovery can stop that decompensation and begin rebuilding your life.


By December 31 of this year (2013) how many of you will be in the same situation, with the same man, having the same symptoms?


On the other hand, how many of you will be ‘pathology free?’ — symptoms reduced,a new vigor for life, insight about how this happened and how to avoid it in the future?


How many of you will be less depressed and anxious, more active, lost weight, have more friends,have a better job, have happier children, got more self esteem so a better job or gone back to school, and have potential to have a healthy relationship…?


I’m not a resolution type person so I don’t make them but I AM an advocate for complete life changes. Not tiny habits, big overhauls. Let’s face it, if you have dated a narcissist or a psychopath, you NEED a big life overhaul. Something malfunctioned in your life that created this huge blind spot under which really sick people flew into your life, camped there, and overtly destroyed you. That’s not a little issue—take a look at the condition of your life and see if you think it was ‘little.’ Ask others if they think it was little.


2013 is going to be a great year here at The Institute–I can just feel it. We spent the last three years laying a solid ground work for super programming next year.


For the first time ever, everything is in place to heal for the women who have loved pathologicals. I believe we have covered all the bases with phone support (coaching and weekly support groups), in person coaching (retreats, 1:1s, and inpatient treatment), portable products (ebooks, books, DVDs, CDS) and community outreach through workshops in your area. We have removed the barriers to assistance by creating our program in as many formats as possible. I recently found out that the Dangerous Man book is now in almost every country of the world!


I hope in 2013 instead of being a mere name on our email list, you’ll be a very active part of The Institute beginning by working on your own healing. Then we hope you will run support groups in your community, give powerpoint presentations for other women in your area, or start an advocacy group. Instead of emailing me and telling me what ELSE I should be doing (I’m tired enough!), how about you step out and be the powerhouse in your own community?


How about you take it to the streets and pass it forward? How about you turn your life around so you can be a role model to other women?


All of this begins when you start healing yourself…and moving forward.


The truth is, there is only us to educate others. You don’t see a multi-million dollar ad campaign with billboards on the highways that announce how to spot pathological relationships do you? That’s because it doesn’t exist. Sadly, no one has funded a national campaign to warn and educate others. However, what exists is The Institute + You = Education For Others.


It’s you and me, babe!


As Gandhi said ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’


Join us in 2013 for Healing Your Heart! We’re here.


Finding Effective Help in 2013!

By now, if you have been trying to heal from a pathological love relationship and can’t find effective and knowledgeable counseling, you have probably figured out what we have…that the pathological love relationship is NOT widely understood.

Frustrated women hear unhelpful advice from family, friends, and even therapists who label their attachment to pathological men as ‘codependent’ or ‘mutually addictive’ or merely ’emotional abuse.’ Women jump from counselor to counselor, and from one group counseling experience to another group counseling experience looking for someone, ANYONE, who understands this intense attachment to a dangerous and pathological man.

She looks for some understanding at ‘what’ is wrong with him.  Giving him the label of ‘abuser’ doesn’t quite cover the extensive array of the brilliant psychopathic tendencies he possesses.  Why did he target HER?  Why does she feel both intense attachment and loathing for him at the same time?  Why do her symptoms resemble ‘mind control’ more than mere abused woman syndrome? Why is the bonding with this man more intense and unshakable than any other man?  Is it abuse if he never physically harms her but has the mental infiltration of a CIA operative?

What we are finding out from our research with those who have been in pathological love relationships is that all of the usual dynamics in regular relationships, both functional and the occasional dysfunctional DON’T apply to pathological relationships.  All of the usual dynamics of addictive relationships, codependent relationships and dysfunctional relationships DON’T apply to the pathological relationship, either.  No wonder women can’t find the help they need…it hasn’t been taught YET! Our research is pointing towards women who DON’T fit into the stereotypes of women we normally see in shelters, counseling centers, and in other abusive situations. These are not women who have the kinds of histories we normally associate with abuse, nor do they have the kinds of current lives that fit the demographics of most counseling programs and shelters.  Their personality traits and behaviors fit no other ‘typologies.’  And, their current symptoms don’t match the simply ‘dysfunctional-type’ love relationship.

Could it be that the dynamics in pathological love relationships really ARE different than other types of relationships?  Could this be why women in these types of relationships aren’t helped by more prevalent types of intervention offered to other types of abusive relationships?  Why does the Power & Control Wheel model seem ineffective with these types of women? Why are these women LESS likely to seek traditional counseling?  And if they do, why are they less likely to be helped by it?  Why are these women’s personality traits so vastly different than shelter women, or abused women?

Too many women have been through the ringer of counselors ‘not-understanding-psychopathology,’ family ‘lumping-all-relationship-types-together,’ friends saying-‘just-get-over-it’ and counseling-programs ‘telling-her-she’s-just-codependent’.  Too many women have stopped seeking help because they are tired of too many people ‘not getting it.’  Psychology has to allow itself to grow beyond a one-size-fits-all approach when dealing with women emerging from pathological love relationships, because all relationships are not created equal – especially when one of them is pathological. Not understanding the effects of pathology on relationships, self-concept, and recovery deters a woman’s ability to heal.  Understanding the DIFFERENCES in these types of relationships is critical.

The Institute has developed programs and materials exactly for this reason. We developed our telephone coaching program for women in immediate need of validation of their experiences, our retreat programs are specifically geared to ‘Healing the Aftermath of the Pathological Love Relationship,’ our Therapist Affiliate Program training which provides other therapists nationwide the clinical training to help women heal from these types of relationships, and our 40 plus products all developed to teach pathology and its related issues to others.

Why?  Why all the effort in treatment related issues? Because the absence of trained counselors is screamingly evident.  Our mailing list asks the question week after week, ‘Can you recommend someone in Florida, Michigan, the United Kingdom, Canada, California, Oregon…who can help…? Why don’t counselors understand this? Why can’t anyone explain to me what is going on? If one more counselor or family member suggests I am codependent or a relationship addict, I’m going to scream!’ Why is this so hard to understand?

Much like the beginning phases of the addiction field, the pathological love relationship field is feeling the same phase of misunderstanding that other theories of counseling have encountered.  When the field is new or the knowledge is groundbreaking, there is an overt lack of trained responders.  Unfortunately, those who suffer the new phases are the victims/survivors that wish there were more trained service providers.

The Institute operates as a public education project on psychopathological issues, which means we try to train anyone and everyone in the issues of pathology.  This includes the women in the relationships AND those who are likely to be emotional supports to women recovering from these relationships.  Please bear with what entails, as an entirely new and emerging field of psychology is trying to race to catch up to the knowledge of what is needed for this particular population of people.  After all, until we began our research and writings, no one had even bothered to study the female partners of psychopaths and partners of other pathological types.  No one created research projects to study the personality traits, histories, and chronic vulnerabilities of women who have been in these relationships.  So, to that degree, we are virginal in our exploration of these issues.

At The Institute, we try to be immediately responsive to the needs of individuals.  In the last year we have exploded in growth in our outreach:
•    Our weekly newsletter continues to reach more and more people
•    The blogs we write for websites such as Psychology Today and Times Up! help to reach an even larger audience with the educational value of our expertise
•    Our books, CDs, DVDs are international
•    Expanded retreat format, and private1:1’s with Sandra and Jennifer
•    Telephone coaching has doubled in size
•    Weekly teleconferencing support groups
•    Therapist Training Programs

All are born out of our desire to reach YOU!  As needs are repeatedly identified by our mailing list, we try to quickly ascertain how to develop a program to meet the needs presented.  That’s because we recognize that the services available out there are slim.  We provide what we can, knowing that we are a drop in the bucket to the needs that exist–but an ever needed drop to a thirsty population.  So unless we duplicate ourselves through products and services, many women will go untreated.

I know for many women who are struggling to recover from the diabolical aftermath of a pathological relationship that it seems that too few services exist.  Please remain hopeful that along with The Institute there are other therapists and agencies that hear your cry and are reaching out for training so they can help you recover.  We too, are always looking at how we can expand our scope and reach.  If you have ideas about how we can help you further, please let us know your thoughts.

In the meantime, if our coaching programs can be of assistance please use them.  Or if you are a therapist, please come to our trainings. If you are a survivor, we would love for you to bring healing to yourself through our phone coaching, support groups, or retreats.  The fact is, the more we learn, the more we can teach.  But we can only do so much.  One agency like ours can’t heal the world.  But we can teach what we know and assist in healing those who come for help, which is why we are always encouraging therapists to get trained.  Don’t lose heart that there are few services that understand your unique situation with a pathological.  Remain hopeful that in a new field of psychology, we are growing as fast as we can!

Watch with us vigilantly, as we see this new field of psychology emerge and expand!  Please let 2013 be the year of healing for you. We’ve worked hard so that you have many of our resources that can help you move forward.

Much healing to you in 2013!


Copyright Notice:All articles, newsletters, hand outs, websites, books, e-books, power points, or other written information as well as digital information on our radio shows, MP3s, CDs, and DVDs are copyrighted by The Institute. We take plagiarism very seriously and utilize computer scanning software to prosecute for the theft of intellectual property. If you have questions about the use of our information, please read our copyright page on the magazine or contact our Intellectual Property Management team.
Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue
applicable to both genders.

Webinar-What Everyone Needs To Know About Pathology

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