Telling Yourself the Truth–You Don’t Have to Tell Me–But At Least Tell it to Yourself…

“People, like all forms of life, only change when something so disturbs them that they are forced to let go of their present beliefs. Nothing changes until we interpret things differently.Change occurs only when we let go of our certainty. “ Dee Hock

Rigorous honesty is the first rule of recovery. Nothing happens until the truth is laid on the table. Well,that ends alot of recoveries right there–the inability or even refusal to be honest, especially with yourself.

Telling yourself the truth means several difficult things:

1. It means you stop covering for him –making excuses for his behavior, quietyly and secretly LOOKING for loopholes he just might fit into (he doesn’t met ALL the criteria for pathology, only 10 out of 12.Psychology COULD be wrong in his case). Instead of looking with the eyes of safety and seeing how many areas he DOES fit in, you scoure every square inch of your memory and his behavior looking for ONE redeeming trait that is suppose to wipe out the 25 absolutely pathological things he does. You aren’t telling yourself the truth about ‘him’ and his pathology OR your own loophole hunt and what your real motives are–to find a reason to stay.

2. You tell yourself the truth about how you need to take responsibility for your choices and your recovery.Telling yourself the truth about your own choices means you are willing to really dig in and look at where your choices in relationships have their origins. You can’t change what you don’t see. While you are not responsible for abuse you incurred, you are responsible for your own recovery and the safety of yourself and children. This can only occur when you begin telling yourself the truth about the level of danger you are in and the level of damage you and your children have already sustained. Taking responsibility for your recovery means that you both acknowledge the victimization AND seek to thrive beyond the mere title of ‘victim.’ I see so many women do part one: acknowledge the victimhood and don’t do part two.They camp out in the victimhood and 10 years later, they are still in the same spot as they were before.

Recovery means movement and progress. We have to even tell ourselves the truth about our own recovery—we kick our own butts if we are stagnate or have stopped growing. Some women find their identities in their victimization because of the severe abuse and loss of self esteem. Years later some of the women have never done anything for their own recovery. They read one book and saw them-selves in it, recognized their victimhood, closed the book, squatted—and stayed there. You already lived THAT—real life is out there on the other side of recovery (even IN recovery). Tell yourself the truth about how invested you are in your recovery or what you need to really do in order to recover. If you’re afraid of success—acknowledge that.

3. Telling yourself the truth also means taking responsibility for relapses. Sometimes women secretly want to relapse. Have you had that feeling? They just want to go back to what feels ‘normal’ — which is often dysfunction. It’s human nature to want what is comfortable even when it’s painful. That makes recovery all the more difficult because when you are tired, lonely, and sick of the pain you are in, it would be great to believe the fantasy again –wouldn’t it? Just ONE night where he pretends it’s gonna be good again (and even though you know it’s not true and for that night you don’t even really care if he’s lying) and both of you know how to fake it to ward off the pain and lonelieness. So there’s that night of passion that has been fueled by fear and abandonment but the next day when everyone is past the fantasy, it all starts again. Then you think since you gave in, and you really don’t have what it takes to end this and leave anyway–so you sigh and resign yourself to just living in the hell. Telling yourself the truth is pointing to the ways you sabotage yourself. When you are tired, lonely and sick of pain and you feel the old feelings of relapse sneaking in and your head is wanting the fantasy back—you don’t pick up the phone and call someone who can remind you what reality is. You don’t plan something for that evening that will help you get thru that night without sabotaging yourself. The video tape is replaying all the fragments that only show ‘the good part’ of the relationship. It’s warm and cozy. You pick up the phone and call him or you answer when he calls. Telling yourself the truth is about how long you had planned to self sabotage.

Those are 3 REALLY HARD THINGS to hear. But they are at the crux of recovery. Trauma, fear,abandonment actually INCREASES people’s feeling of attachment. The more you have been hurt by him,often the more attached intensely you will be. Those trauma bonds are hard to break and even harder to live with. Women say they want MOST to be out of pain, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts about the relationship (good and bad) but they sabotage themselves by not protecting themselves by no contact, by not managing their anxiety, by not developing a support system, by not planning ahead for sabotaging thoughts, etc.

Recovery is a life change. It’s not a quick fix to get out of pain like Ativan or Xanax. Women who take a whopping 6 weeks off of dating or a few months and jump back in are shocked to find themselves right back in it–but usually with someone even WORSE than the last one. The most common factor is each man is more dangerous than the one before. That’s because they think time heals wounds and if it’s been a few months, SURELY it’s time to date again. Recovery heals wounds. Sitting out for 5 years and doing nothing about gathering insight about your weaknesses, relationship patterns, and problems will not magically make you ready for a relationship because you waited 5 years. Time is time.
It just passes. You have to change your life in order to change your choices. Recovery, or changing your life is a new way of seeing yourself, your previous relationships, your past, your choices, your coping skills–and most importantly a future filled with different choices and healthier relationships.

I KNOW that you ladies are up to the challenge. In the 20 years that I have been doing this and kicking butts,(referred to as Sandra’s Bootcamp!) I am always AMAZED at the quiet strength that grows in women as they take the chance to detach, be alone, and heal. It’s your strength that has kept me doing this for this many years in the face of alot of great odds and often danger myself. But ALL of you are worth it!

If we can help you dig down into the truth for you and help you start your recovery, just let us know! We make it easy–phone sessions in the privacy of your own home and in the comfort of your fuzzy slippers! Or gather over coffee in one of our tele-support groups and meet other ladies going through it too. Or jump on a plane or in your car and go to a retreat. Whatever you do….tell yourself the truth so your recovery can start!

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Dissociation Isn’t a Life Skill

“Dissociation Isn’t a Life Skill” (Quote by Sandra L. Brown, M.A. )

Dissociation is described as:
1. The splitting off of a group of mental processes from the main body of
consciousness, as in amnesia.
2. The act of separating or state of being separated.
3. The separation into two or more fragments.

Let’s talk about Dissociation a minute…it’s technically a defense mechanism–we separate out of our memory things that we don’t want/can’t deal with. In trauma (like abuse or rape), that’s helpful at the time. If dissociation becomes your major defense mechanism, it can become a full blown dissociative disorder which are very intense types of disorders. But outside of full blown dissociative disorders, there is still the ability to heavily rely on dissociation even if you don’t have the disorder.

We can get trained to dissociate and use it against ourselves! Dissociation is when we separate from our awareness ‘details’ of an event. I think this happens with dangerous men as early as the first date when we ‘choose’ to not pay attention to our screaming red flags. We are dissociating their messages away from our awareness because if we truly became ‘aware’ we might ditch him early on and we don’t want to.

Dissociation can become a primary defense mechanism if you grew up in a dysfunctional, abusive, addictive, or violent home. That’s because children can easily go on ‘over whelm’ and check out–or dissociate because they can’t handle whats going on. If you never learned adult coping skills then it’s likely you use the ones you do know: which are from childhood. And if your primary ones were dissociation, then you’re probably using that now, and it probably has gotten you into alot of trouble in your patterns of relationship selection.

After a while, you don’t even know you’re dissociating. It’s just automatic. So you can dissociate away alot of IMPORTANT stuff early on: like discrepancies in his stories, his not-so-nice words he says to you, his tonality in his voice, or other behaviors that SHOULD cause you concern, but don’t.

Any time we separate a memory from all it’s components, you are dissociating from the complete or whole memory which is why remembering ALL the relationship issues are important–not just the good times. The bad times are a part of the memory or the memory is merely a fragment of what REALLY was going on. You can also seperate out other parts of the memory like: sensations, words or phrases, physical or sexual pain inherent in the memory, things you tasted/smelled/saw, and various emotions that were prevalent in the relationship. That’s why women get these very skewed ‘snap shots’ of just the good times and long after those times. The whole snap shot would look very different indeed if she incorporated all the senses in the memory.

Sometimes women can dissociate or fragment off the ‘meaning,’ ‘motive,’ or ‘intent’ as well. So he uses all your money and your response is “He meant well, he just doesn’t know how to handle money.” That’s not likely the situation so the motive or meaning of what he was REALLY doing is fragmented away from you so you don’t have to take action. Dissociation can become an unconscious reason to stay “I didn’t notice….” because underneath dissociation was naturally at work and it also ‘worked’ for the ability to stay in the relationship and ‘not notice.’  How long can you live on the reasoning behind dissociation which is “I didn’t know, I didn’t notice….” which is why I say that dissociation is not a life skill. It doesn’t help you move forward, it keeps you frozen in time.

Women describe dissociation as a numbing or a spacy feeling. They either don’t feel something OR they are too spaced out to do much about it. In the middle of a traumatic event, spacing out and numbing is a good thing. Even as adults, I still advocate that there are times for ‘therapeutic dissociation.’ Like in a root canal–who wants to be ‘present’ and ‘aware’ for that? But the problem is that dissociation becomes largely un-managed. Then it becomes downright dangerous to us–robbing us of our ability to be aware, intune, and vigilant.

Look back over your childhood for patterns of dissociation. Look back over your adult relationships and see how influenced your choices were by dissociation. Look at your TODAY LIFE for signs of when you check out, become aware, drift off, or stuff feelings at the speed of light so you don’t have to make a
decision about something. These are all aspects of dissociation. While it might have helped you in a time of trauma, as an adult your recovery is about growing into healthier and stronger coping skills than mere dissociation. All of real life is happening now—are you missing it?

(There is more information about Dissociation in my book ‘Counseling Victims of Violence.’)

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Is it Fear or Is it Anxiety? Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened next stunned Dorothy. “I was out visiting my sister in California, and he was calling me, calling me, and he asked me to marry him over the cell phone,” she says. “I thought, you’re kidding. I’ve always said I would never get married again. And I said,’That’s the last time I’m going to talk about it.'”

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

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

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

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

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

Rather than panicking, Dorothy says she got out of bed, stood up and told Kevan he was leaving. As she walked calmly out the door, he followed her to the parking lot. “So I said, ‘You’re leaving now,'” she says. “He turned, went down the street, and I didn’t see him again.” Dorothy immediately called 911, and police later arrested Kevan. He was convicted and is serving a four-year prison sentence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen. Your body is smarter than your brain.

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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The Gift of Fear/The Curse of Anxiety

Is it Fear Or Is it Anxiety?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ While fear implies a specific object to be feared in the here/now. ~

(Anxiety is: ‘He MIGHT harm me’ where fear is: “He IS harming me with  his fist, words, actions, etc.”)

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

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

“We get a signal prior to violence,” Gavin says. “There are preincident  indicators. Things that happen before violence occurs.” Gavin says that unlike any other living creature, humans will sense
danger, yet still walk right into it.

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

And so human beings will get into a steel soundproof chamber with someone they’re afraid of, and there’s not another animal in nature that would even consider it.”

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

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

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

LADIES– WRONG FEELING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Not All Abusers Are Created Equal

Just as not all victims are the same, not all perpetrators of harm are the same either. There is a temptation to ‘lump’ them all together–making ‘who’ they are that makes them abuse others the same as other abusers and what they ‘do’ as abusers the same as other abusers. Perhaps this is where Domestic Violence theory and pathology theory walk different paths.

Pathology is often the missing piece when looking at the domestic violence or abuse scenario. Pathologicals are part of the continuum of abuse–but usually hover at the upper end of the continuum. They represent those who relapse into abusive behavior (emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, and/or financial)no matter how many batterer intervention groups they are forced into. Their biology and hard wiring is often overlooked by the court system who mandates these groups and over looked by the organizations who offer batterer programs. But it is exactly their pathology that differs them from other abusers.

I have suggested repeatedly that those who run Batterer Intervention Programs need to personality disorder test those entering anger management, batterer groups, and other similar programs. That’s because we need to weed out those who will not only not be helped by the program, but as Robert Hare says, will only learn how to use the information in the groups against the victims, the system, and other organizations
running similar programs.  There’s also no use in wasting tax payers money on treatment for those who don’t benefit from treatment.

Pathologicals (those with the ‘Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorders of Cluster B/Psychopathy) are those most likely to abuse the group by gathering info and becoming a slyer abuser. They are the ones most likely to use the information they learned in group later on the judge, their attorney, court evaluators, child evaluators, etc. If Hare didn’t think pathologicals should be given treatment in prison, why do we think they should be given similar treatment information outside of prison like groups that end up being ‘pre-prison’ routes for many pathologicals?

Pathologicals are also those most likely to get sent to intervention groups over and over again. There is a danger in ‘graduating’ the pathologicals for having ‘successfully’ completed their weeks in batterer intervention and/or anger management. They returns to the victim with a certificate in hand by an organization that says ‘They have completed the program’ when what really occurred was that they did not benefit in a long term way from what they were taught. But the certificate helps the abuser get in the door again. Many victims think they are protecting themselves by mandating the abuser has to go through intervention
to be able to come home again. It’s a mirage that we offer when we give a pathological a certificate of completion. Batterer groups and court ordered anger management need to be offered for those who can truly ‘complete’ the program because they have the capacity to sustain the positive change that the program says they need to change. I have known many a case in which the victim was killed after the batterer intervention program when they let the new ‘graduate’ back into their home.

Pathologicals are those most likely to convince others that they are not the problem–that she is, or the world, their job, their childhoods, their attorneys, etc.

Pathologicals are those most likely to stalk. They don’t take no or go away as answers–they take it as a challenge. When programs like DV are helping women with stalking, they need to understand that by nature of what causes most stalkers to behave the way they do they are either personality disorders/pathology or they are chronically mentally ill as in schizophrenia and often unmedicated bi-polars. Your run-of-the-mill unhappy husband who has been dumped doesn’t stalk.

Pathologicals are those most likely to abscond children and bolt. Giving partial custody or unsupervised visitation is to invite the natural outcomes of a pathological with poor impulse control.

Pathologicals are those most likely to expose children to abuse, neglect, and their pathological lifestyles. They are those most likely to program children against the protective and non-pathological parent.

And last but certainly not least, pathologicals are those most likely to kill or attempt to kill. Without conscience, empathy, guilt, remorse or insight—someone so ‘inconvenient’ like an ‘abuse tattler’ is likely to be seen as a swarming gnat and killed with the same amount of forethought.

Clearly, not all abusers are pathological. I have seen many people go through batterer intervention and ‘get it,’ go home, change their behaviors, positively impact their marriages and families and never do it again. But in pathology, there’s ‘nothing wrong with them’ so why change? In pathology, it’s always someone else’s problem–it’s never about their behavior. In pathology, it’s not merely about the Power & Control Wheel that explains their abuse of power. In narcissism and psychopathy, power is food. It’s not ‘a way of looking at relationship dynamics’ — it just ‘is.’ It’s biological not dynamic. The new information out on the Neuroscience of chronic batterers and other pathological types show us the parts of the brain that are impacted and prevent them from change. This is not merely willful behavior, this is his hard wiring.

All abuse is an abuse of power. But not all abuse of power is treatable or curable. It’s not that there aren’t similarities in the abuse or even the abuser–but in pathology the abuse of power has no cure. Abuse, addiction, mental health issues all have the hope of treatment when there is insight and the ability to sustain change. But in pathology, the inability to grow, sustain consistent positive change, or develop insight about how their behavior negatively effects others precludes them from the benefit of treatment.

That IS what pathology is–the inability to be helped by medication, counseling, spiritually, or even love. Abusers who are not pathological have the ability to grow, change, and develop insight about how their abuse of power and control harms others. Pathologicals can never do that.

That’s why all abusers are not created equal.

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Trait Examination OR Character Assassination?

Part of the problem we face in trying to get to the nitty-gritty of pathological love relationships is that ‘how we do it’ or ‘what we call it’ is judged so severely that it impairs sharing the valuable outcomes that are learned.

There are groups of professionals, women’s orgs, and service agencies that tip toe around what we ‘call’ patterns of selection in relationships. There are unspoken rules and heavily weighted opinions about ‘what’ we can discuss and ‘how’ we discuss the outcomes.

What am I talking about? Since the 1970’s and the women’s movement, discussing the specifics about women’s choices in relationships, patterns of selection, personality traits, mental health, sexual addiction/deviancy has been largely discouraged and ‘semanti-sized’ as ‘labeling the victim’ or ‘victim blaming.’ It has put the victim off limits for any in-depth understanding other than a victimology theory that was developed in the 1970’s.

It is hard to get around the billboard image of ‘victim’ to talk about any kind of relationship dynamics or other psychological aspects (including biology or temperament engrained traits) that is happening in the pathological love relationship. We may study him but we already have a ‘theory’ for her which is not to be disturbed.

Compare this to any other field of mental health and it’s absurd that we would say ‘We already understand depression, no more theories, no more studying! Don’t call it depression or you are blaming the patient for their own depression.’

To study her is to blame her. To measure her traits to see if there are vulnerabilities or pattern typing is to suggest she is flawed.

* The victim assuredly has been through trauma.
* Studying the victim in no way says they have not been through trauma.
* The victim is not to blame for what happened to them.
* Studying the victim in no way says they are responsible for what happened to them.
* The victim did not ‘choose’ the victimization, but in relational dysfunction, she did pick the victimizer.

Could we learn something about that?

How will Cancer be won or a cure for AIDS be found if we don’t study the problem from all angles? If we conclude that studying the victim blames them, then we have cut off one entire segment of research that can help us in prevention, intervention and treatment–whether it’s a medical disorder or a pathological relationship.

Studying victimology, including aspects of the victim, is not victim character asassination. It might be trait examination or pattern of selection analysis. It might be a lot of things that have nothing to do with blame and shame and everything to do with understanding or creating new paradigms in which to see these relationships. It might piggyback
off of theories developed in the 1970’s…surely we have learned SOMETHING new about relationship dynamics, pathology in relationships, personality disorders as intimate partners, violence and addiction and their part in these relationships…surely we can UPDATE a theory without our own assassination or that of the victim?

In some ways, I envy the Scientific and Research communities that look at the data and pass all the d*@amn political correctness and emotional politics of ‘labeling’ it something that certain groups find offensive. They test and crunch numbers and put it in a journal without all the rig-a-ma-roy. But in our case, where we are a notch below the researchers, what we study, how we describe what we found, is subject to so much scrutiny that many clinicians and writers hesitate to publish what they found.

So it has been with many of the things that The Institute has studied, found, reported, and written. In many organizations the first book ‘How to Spot a Dangerous Man’ was rejected for looking at family role modeling, patterns of selection, and other aspects that women themselves said contributed to their pathological relationship. (On the other hand, it has been hailed by many domestic violence agencies and used widely in shelters, treatment centers and women’s prisons.)

We stepped it up a huge notch in the ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ in which we used testing instruments to test women’s traits to see if there were temerament patterns in women who ended up in the most dangerous and disordered of relationships. This caught huge attention from some groups as the ground-breaking trait identification that it was and yet still; the victim groups saw it as labeling. How can we help women if we don’t understand their own biology?

Ironically, what we found was significant–super-traits so perfectly and symmetrically seen in 80 cases. Did we hurt a victim by studying that? Or have we helped now thousands of women who have read the books, been counseled by our trained therapists, come to our treatment programs? How would we have gotten here today without daring to look deeper…to even risk looking at her! Not to blame her, but to understand her.

Some of the biggest break throughs that have been happening are in understanding the biology of our own brains and the consequences of our biology on our behavior, choices, and futures. We know that MRI’s are being done on psychopath’s brains–revealing areas of brains that work differently. Some day, I think that may cross over and other personality disorders and chronic mental illnesses will be MRI’d as well so we understand how those disorder effect biology and brain function.

But what about victims?

* If we put the word ‘damaged’ away and instead used the word and looked at how ‘different’ brain regions in victims function, over function, under function, are influenced by stress, PTSD, adrenaline, cortisol, and early childhood abuse–could we come to understand how their brain might function in their patterns of selection in dangerous relationships?
* Could we come to understand that even temperament traits might give proclivity to how the brain ‘chooses’ or how the brain categorizes (or ignores) red flags, danger, or is highly reactive to traumatized attraction?

* Could we understand brains that have higher tolerance levels because of certain brain areas that operate differently than other people?
* Could we understand traumatic memory storage and why good memories of him (even as awful as he might be) are so much stronger than the abuse memories?
* If we know what part of the brain distorts memory storage, can we work with that?
* Could we come to understand trait temperaments as risk factors or certain brain functions as possible victim vulnerabilities?
* Then would we know who is at risk?
* Would we understand better, how to TREAT the victim in counseling?
* How to develop prevention and intervention?
* Or how intensity of attachment could be either a temperament trait or a brain function instead of merely ‘victim labeling.’

I am not only interested in the psycho-biology of the victim but how the psycho-biology affects patterns of selection and reactions in the most pathological of relationships. When we start really dealing with an open dialogue about these survivors, looking past ridiculous theories that asking questions is victim blaming, then maybe we can really offer some new theories into victimology that by passes band aid approaches to complex psycho-bio-social understandings. This is what The Institute intends to do….

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Recovering Without Validation

Last week we talked about the difficulties, and yet the real possibilities of having to recover without justice. Many of you wrote me because you have indeed had the experience of facing getting over the aftermath of a pathological with very little legal justice. It doesn’t mean that you don’t pursue your own rights. You should always stand up for what you believe in. It’s just that if the universe tilts in his favor yet again, or the courts continue to not support you, you still have to heal–for your own recovery and your own future—you must still heal.

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

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

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

It is pathology websites, books and programs that help women heal when they find their validation in other stories, research, books, forums, and organizations designed to respond to pathological love relationships.  The validation you are seeking comes from others who have been through it not from the pathologicals who are hard wired to have no insight about their disorder. And validation often does not come from those who have not personally seen the dichotomies of his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sides. That could include not receiving the much needed validation from your family or friends. Examine where it is you are trying to receive validation and adjust it to a realistic group who has experienced what you have. THAT’S where your validation will come from.

The Institute’s phone coaching, tele-support groups, and retreats are created to give the pathological education and validation for what you have experienced. Let us know if we can help bring healing to your pathological love relationship trauma.

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Special Notice from The Institute–Colleagues latest survivors book

Special Notice from The Institute–Colleagues latest survivors book

Dear Institute Reader;

Rarely do we send an extra email besides our weekly newsletter but it isn’t often that one of our colleagues writes an extraordinary book that can help millions of domestic violence and pathological love relationship survivors.  It is also unusual that the author is not available to do her own promotion of her latest autobiography of pathological torture.Our colleague Susan Murphy Milano has Stage IV cancer so we are part of a ‘virtual’ online book tour that will help bring her book in front of millions of other survivors.

Susan’s father a decorated Chicago police officer was a child abuser, wife beater and ultimately a murderer. Holding My Hand Through Hell is a personal autobiography, a true crime memoir of a life of service to survivors.  Below is a book review I wrote about the book. I hope you will consider reading this book–not only to understand the woman behind the work but The Institute has consistently encouraged our survivors to find their place in public pathology education and to serve and educate others. Susan’s life is a testament to how a survivor can change an entire field. What Susan did is unusual but it’s not impossible and I am challenging all our readers to follow in her foot steps to shed light on pathology.

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Book Review of ‘Holding My Hand Through Hell’
Author Susan Murphy Milano
Review by Sandra L. Brown, MA
The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education

What does an early childhood of alcoholism, sexual abuse, and the witnessing of violence in the home produce?  For decades psychology has been studying the effects on victims of these impactful early beginnings. What psychology discovered was for some victims they would succumb to addiction, repeated patterns of victim/abuser relationships, or crippling mental illness. These early impressionable  years in children’s lives often marred their adult futures with the scars of abuse.

 

And while childhood is the fragile soil from which traumatic imprints can sink deeply into the emotional roots of a victim, what about trauma in adulthood? What happens to adults when unthinkable traumas invade? Or worse—when both a victim’s childhood AND adulthood are contaminated with overwhelming pain? What does the trauma tonics of childhood abuse and the added experiences of a murdered mother and a suicided father do to a victim?

 

From the surface, psychology would ‘predict’ the victim of these combined traumas would likely develop the emotional catatonia produced from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Early childhood coping mechanisms that were not fully developed because of trauma, gets a double dose as an adult forcing an adult to call on coping mechanisms that were never produced in childhood.  This is often the kiss of dysfunction for a victim.

 

But for the resilient, these trauma tonics produce pioneers.

 

In the unusual cases of hyper-resiliency, too many traumas often create a metamorphic response turning terror into a piercing intensity of determination. Where the cruel hand of victimization normally would turn an adult into a fetal-positioned ball of anxiety, the resilient phoenix rises out of the ashes riding the horse of advocacy out of the apocalypse.

 

In this victimology- trilogy Susan Murphy Milano morphed from abused child to adult survivor to victim advocate before her super hero cape ever unfurled. What would scorch most adults psyches merely ignited a flame of indomitably in Susan’s mind to somehow prevent further intimate partner homicides.

 

That is a simple analogy for a complex career spanning decades of saving people’s lives in the most unorthodox of ways.  Seeing your parents blood splattered across a house has a way of changing the playing field…and the rules. So there were few rules for Susan in saving people’s lives.  And there weren’t any she wouldn’t consider breaking if it meant keeping one more woman alive. When you aren’t playing by anyone else’ rules the possibilities are endless and thinking outside the box for answers becomes the norm which is why her extraordinary thinking produced extraordinary results and why years from now much of her work will still be considered revolutionary.

 

For every survivor who wondered if she could ever take the pain of violence and put it through the grist mill of experience and help others because of it–you won’t want to miss reading Holding My Hand Through Hell by Susan Murphy Milano who will do more than convince you that God recycles pain–it will show you a magnificent life lived in the service of others, that we may all heal.
Sandra L. Brown, The Institute

You can purchase the book at :
SusanMurphy-Milano.Com
HoldingMyHandThroughHell.Com
IceCubePress.Com

Recovery With Out Justice

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

At the heart of the victims rights movement I was involved in during the 1980’s after my father’s murder, was the concept of judicial justice that would lead to psychological justice.  It’s a great concept and in a perfect world it would work in all situations.  If the pathological person wronged you (physically hurt you, conned you out of money, screwed up your custody situation, bouts of infidelity, or spiritually abused you, etc.), he would be held accountable in the courts for his behavior, and more importantly, would be forced into victim restitution in which he would have to repay or do something as a sign of his guilt and your pain.

Of course, restitution in and of itself really doesn’t heal anything.  It’s just the victim or person who was harmed feels like the scales of justice, that were so grossly leaning in his direction, got balanced into their direction.  For a moment in court, and however long it takes him to pay or do the restitution, he is officially ‘guilty’ and everyone knows he was charged as such.  He is ‘paying his price to his victim’ for his actions.  For a moment in court, a judge believes you!  He believes the monster really did what you say he did.  That in and of itself is often the psychological justice that victims really look for and it helps them to heal.

In murder trials that I often attended, obviously the family cannot be compensated in any true way that relieves their pain and suffering.  Their loved one was murdered.  No amount of restitution touches a human life.  The best the family can hope for is physical payment, prison, the death sentence, or some other act that the court assigns for the monster to the victim’s family.

The judicial system acts as the conscience of this country.  Victims seek solace in the courtroom and chambers hoping that justice will alleviate the pain, horror, and stigmatization of being a victim of the monster.  But we know that in many cases, and I dare say, in most cases, that is not what happens.  Restraining orders are not granted, arrests are not performed for stalking or violence, children are given over to the pathological who is overtly violent, sick, drug addicted, or otherwise an inept parent.  When the pathological doesn’t pay child support, nothing is done and the child is still sent to him. The thousands of dollars he conned out of you or stole from you is not returned.  When alimony isn’t paid, he gets away with it.  Repeated visits to the courts do nothing to convince them, or to open their eyes to the true nature of his behaviors. Anything that is court ordered he defies and laughs at.  You stand, mouth gapping and wondering, “Where is the justice?  HOW does he get away with this?”

I have repeatedly said that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological.  If ANYONE will get away with a con or a criminal act, it will be the pathological.  The universal scales of justice are tilted in their favor and ironically, somehow influence the judicial scales of justice.  In the 20 years of doing this work, I have seen them literally get away with murder, rape, embezzlement, breaking and entering, stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, and more.  This ranks as the Eighth Wonder of the World—how pathological people can con their way out of the most vicious deeds and often never pay in any way for their behavior.

In these cases, women’s hopes for justice are dashed and it negatively impacts their psychological healing.  The scales of justice will never be balanced—she is not vindicated in the way that helps her to heal.  Even if he is found guilty of something, he is rarely ever held to the standard of the law it’s connected to.  If he is supposed to pay a fine, he doesn’t.  If he is supposed to go to jail or prison, it’s postponed or overturned.  If custody is denied, he receives it by another judge. If he embezzled, it’s forgiven in exchange for an admission of guilt.

Victim’s rights and its connection to judicial and psychological justice will not get played out often in pathological relationships.  The psychological justice that the victim is counting on in order to validate her—her moment in which the conscience of this country believes her– doesn’t happen.  Since we understand that psychological justice is what is most likely to help victim’s heal, now what?

Sternly, I tell victims of pathological relationships that they sometimes must recover without justice.  We are not discussing ‘what is fair’, because the pathological has already skirted the issue of ‘fairness.’  He doesn’t live with the concept of fairness and the law doesn’t use it as a concept with him.  If you desire to recover, heal and move forward with your life, it will require that you might just have to recover without judicial justice, without victim restitution, and without the conscience of this country validating your story.

You have to recover without a second of judicial support.  Women who hinge recovery on judicial justice, waiting for her day in court or ‘when he gets what’s coming to him’, will never recover.  The universe is tilted in his favor and your own recovery must be a daring adventure in the face of a lack of victim’s rights.  Sometimes the only personal justice is recovering and living a great life.  What he had done to you doesn’t define you, hold you down, or stop you from succeeding in your own spiritual outlook.

In the end, the only thing you really have control over is how you choose to see your situation.  If you see it as a victim and are unable to move past that view, you won’t recover.  If you see it as horrible things that happened to you but don’t define or restrain you, you will move forward—with or without justice.

The unfair situation is what you have lived through and the ‘aftermath’ of the effects of the pathological relationship.  In the face of this grossly dehumanizing experience is the indomitable ability to recover that can guide you not only to survive, but also to thrive in the face of great pain.  I have every confidence you can heal, even without justice.  Let us know if we can help you do that.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Am I Under His Spell? Part III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.

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Am I Under His Spell Part II

In my previous column, we started talking about the very REAL issue of trance in relationship with pathologicals.

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

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

Mind control, brain washing, coercion…are all words for the same principles that are used to produce the results of reducing your own effectiveness and being emotionally overtaken by someone intent on doing so. The result is the victim’s intense attachment to her perpetrator. This is often referred to as Betrayal Bonding or Trauma Bonding.

This is created by:

•Perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the captor/perpetrator would carry out the threat.

•Perceived small kindness from the captor/perpetrator to the captive.

•Isolation from perspectives other than  those of the captor/perpetrator.

•Perceived inability to escape.

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

If you have experienced mind control in your relationships, treatment and recovery for it includes:

* Breaking the Isolation – Helping you identify sources of supportive intervention; Self-help groups or group therapy also hot lines, crisis centers, shelters and friends.

* Identifiying Violence – As a victim in an abusive relationship, minimization of the abuse can occur, or denial about the different types of violent behavior that you encountered. Confusion about what is acceptable male (parental / authority) behavior is often common. Journal keeping, autobiographical writing, reading of first hand accounts or seeing films that deal with abuse may be helpful for you to understand the types of abuse you experienced.

* Renaming Perceived Kindness – Since abuse confuses the boundaries between kindness and manipulation, you may need to develop alternative sources of nurturance and caring other than the captor/perpetrator.

* Your Ability to Validate both Love and Terror – Because pathological often are dichotomous or have polar opposite behaviors such as kind and sadistic, there is often a split by the victim in
how they see the abuser. Treatment may need to help you integrate both disassociated ‘sides’ of the abuser, and will assist you in moving through the dream-like state in how you view and remember him.

In my next column, we’ll continue our discussion on other forms of trance states and spell bound conditions.

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Am I Under His Spell?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information on trance states in pathological love relationships is covered in detail in our book Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists.

www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

In my next column, we’ll talk about other ways that trance states can be effected in the pathological relationship.

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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EAA Life Preserver

The E.A.A. as Interactive PDF Download

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EAA Life Preserver

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Healing the Aftermath Column, Jennifer Young, LMHC, Director of Survivor Services

Jennifer Young Bio Pic 2015Jennifer Young, LMHC, Director of Survivor Services

Provides phone sessions, tele-conferencing groups, and retreats. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling from Troy University-Tampa Bay. Her focus of study has been trauma and gentle healing techniques with a focus on women’s issues and disengagement from pathological love relationships.

To read Jennifer’s latest column, click HERE

 

Jennifer Young began her career over nineteen years ago working with single parents, helping them to achieve employment and education goals through the exploration of self-direction. During that time Jennifer dedicated herself to the prevention of domestic violence. This focus allowed for the development of a philosophy that included building strength through knowledge and personal power. Jennifer believes that there are four areas to examine which will lead to development of inner strength-security, empowerment, love and freedom or S.E.L.F. Through a deep examination and development of these areas she believes we can be our true and strong selves.

In 2009 Jennifer began her private practice and that same year took a position as a coach for the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education. Jennifer spent three months training daily with Sandra on the concepts related to pathological love relationships and the model of care developed by The Institute. Following this intense mentorship, Jennifer has worked with over 200 clients through one-to-one coaching and leading support groups for The Institute. Through her work with clients, mentorship with Sandra Brown and continued learning in the area of personality disorders and their impact on others, Jennifer strives to assist The Institute clients with obtaining compassionate disengagement from their pathological partner.

Jennifer’s belief about healing and change can be summarized in the words of Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Jennifer has worked as a social worker, foster parent and as a volunteer legal advocate for victims of violence. She is currently a member of the Pinellas County Fatality Review Team and member of the Suncoast Mental Health Counseling Association.

To read Jennifer’s latest column, click HERE