Strategies for High Conflict Cases Column – Safety Director and Violence Expert

Susan Murphy-Milano is often praised as one of the most dynamic and engaging speakers of our day in the domestic violence prevention field.

As an expert in the area of intimate partner violence and the prevention of homicide, Susan has created specific tools and procedures which the abused need to safely leave a violent relationship.

To read the past column from Susan, click HERE

Her books, “Defending Our Lives,” “Moving Out, Moving On: When a Relationship Goes Wrong–A Step-By-Step Approach For Organizing Your Leave Ahead of Time” and “Time’s Up! A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abusive & Stalking Relationships,” are considered the “bibles” of how to make the move away from abuse and deal with the many confusing situations surrounding violence prevention, stalking, break-up or divorce.

Susan witnessed her father, a decorated Chicago Violent Crimes Detective, brutally and violently attack her mother repeatedly. The threat “If you leave, I will kill you” turned into reality one awful night. Susan walked into her childhood home and found her mother murdered and her father dead in the next room. He had killed her mother, then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. That day, Susan vowed to change the way the world looks at violence, both inside and outside the home. In the years since, she has delivered on that vow.

Her books and strategies are taught world-wide and used by law enforcement, domestic abuse advocates, social workers, attorneys, health care workers, human resource departments and domestic violence agencies. The comprehensive strategies and escape plans utilized by Susan have been successful and tested by time for over 20 years.

Susan uses humor, passion, and all her years of experience to motivate her audience to become more effective first responders, advocates and professionals in their work to stop family violence.

Susan’s quest for justice was instrumental in the passage of the Illinois Stalking Law and the Lauternberg Act. She has been prominently featured in newspapers, magazines, radio and television including: The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Radio, ABC’S 20/20, Justice Files, E! True Hollywood Story, CNN, Sunday Today Show Profile, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, U.S. News and World Report to name only a few. She has frequently participated in guest media commentary panels on major news programs. She is a contributor to the online blogs Women and Crime Ink and the crime survivors blog Time’s Up.

Susan Murphy-Milano is with The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Psychopathy Education. She is an expert on intimate partner violence and homicide crimes. Susan is the author of “Time’s Up: A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abusive and Stalking Relationships,” available for purchase at The Institute and Amazon.com.

Susan is the host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show, “Time’s Up” on Here Women Talk:
http://www.hearwomentalk.com/
and the syndicated The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth:
http://www.therothshow.com/

The Institute’s Susan Murphy Milano now writing for ‘Crime, She Writes’ blog in Forbes.com!

http://murphymilanojournal.blogspot.com/2011/10/introducing-crime-she-writes-on-forbes.html

To read the latest column from Susan, click HERE

 

 

What We Believe About Pathology and Relational Health

“Some of the most disturbing realities are not that pathology exists, but that so little public pathology education for the general public exists.”
                  -Sandra L. Brown, M.A., The Institute

The Problem of the Unrecognized Face of Pathology

We live in an age where ‘Positive Psychology’ has ingrained a mantra into society’s psyche – which is:

If you think it

(i.e., the narcissist/psychopath needs to change his behavior)

Then you can make it happen

(i.e., your relationship will be successful when he changes)

That may be true when you are with a person who has normal psychology.  But it’s a long way from being true for those who have pathology.

For many years, people have thought that if they focused hard enough, loved long enough, tolerated more, and carried a positive attitude, their partner would somehow become unaffected by the personality disorder – even the psychopathy they bore. People believed this because they were often told this by professionals – all under the guises of different therapy approaches and theories.

For years, people who had gone through traditional forms of couples counseling came to us bearing the scars from not only the pathology in their partner who abused them, but by the wrong application of couples counseling therapy.  When there was the pathology of having no conscience, no lack of remorse, impaired insight, or low impulse control in a partner – traditional forms of counseling proved unsuccessful.  What occurred were often techniques in Mirroring, Love Languages, Communication Building, Intimacy, or Spiritual Reflecting for a partner who had no insight and lacked empathy for what his partner had experienced.  Equally prevalent, were ideologies that ‘the pathological came into my life to heal me,’ or ‘this is a spiritual manifestation for me to grow by,’ or ‘he is in my life to heal my issues from early childhood.’

Equally damaging, lack of public information often occurs through women’s organizations that lumps problem behavior in one category (abuser) and leave the impairment of pathology out of the equation.  People are then forced to conform to theories that do not fit their dynamics in order to get help, and miss the crucial ability to understand which disorders hold hope for change, and which do not.

There is emotional, physical, and relational danger in applying pop psychology principles to something as aberrant as pathology.  Trying to ‘attract’ the ‘positive’ to the relationship so the pathology is transformed leaves people ignoring the traits of pathology that can seriously harm them.  It is no wonder we are not further ahead in being able to spot abnormal psychology in others and avoid it.

The truth is, nothing impacts non-pathological people as much as being in a relationship with someone who is pathological.  Add to that the lack of understanding of how pathology manifests in relationships, and the manipulative behavior of those with pathology – and  you have partners, families, and children who are devastated almost as much by the lack of information, as by the destruction that happens at the hands of the pathological.  Without the education of ‘what’ the disorder is, ‘how’ it came to be, ‘whom’ it effects, and ‘why’ it harms others – partners, families, and children live in the shadows of unspoken confusion and pain.  This also bleeds over to family court, mediators, social workers, and judges who also do not recognize pathology, or care to understand it, leaving cases in limbo and in danger labeled as ‘contentious’ or ‘high conflict.’

Many who have found The Institute’s programs and products have said, ‘This is the first time anyone has ever explained this to me in a way I could understand.’  I have seen that when people finally found information that described their partner’s pathology, the awareness often gave way to crying, and then to anger.  It was the information they wanted that was out there all along, but was not easy to find, or was sometimes not easy to understand or explained in layman’s terms.  Equally as frustrating is such poor and inaccurate training generated out of generic approaches to pathology in graduate schools which leaves professionals with the inability to spot pathology in others, and a total loss about how to treat the survivors.  Consequently, the mental health field has done little to train the public about what pathology is, the limitation of wellness it implies, and what it looks and acts like in relationships, because they themselves do not know.

The efforts of The Institute are to bridge the gap in public pathology education to both survivors and treatment providers.  One of our bridges in public pathology education is for survivors and is achieved by providing the best and most up-to-date recovery options for their unique aftermath symptoms.  The second bridge is our approaches for victim service providers in the fields of mental health, criminal justice, nursing/medical, pastoral, addiction, and law enforcement.  Our products for service providers, as well as our face-to-face trainings, have equipped professionals in many fields from many countries with the tools they need to help heal the aftermath of pathological love relationships.

An M.D. said to me recently, ‘I consider pathology and it’s untaught concepts to be the number one health crisis in this country.’

We couldn’t agree more.  We hope that the work of the many professionals who are involved with The Institute will be the part of the solution to the unrecognized face of pathology and it’s victims.

Default Settings in Patterns of Partner Selection

If you use a computer you are probably aware of the ‘default settings’ that come on your computer or in various software programs on your machine.  A default settings is

“The controls of a computer hardware, software, device, equipment or machine which was preset by its manufacturer.”

Items on your computer that are preset are often the country you are in, the time zone, etc. There are also types of ‘presets’ you can choose yourself such as what company ISP is your home page, which printer you assign to your computer, and so on.  These selections become ‘default’ settings once you have selected them.  Your machine is now set to automatically defer to those choices every time the machine needs to.

But our computers are not the only things that are set on default. Just like a computer ‘hardware’ or ‘software’ can come ‘preset’ by its manufacturer, so can our own internal computer—our body and psyche.

Our hardware is our genetics that come hardwired into the development of our brain (and body for that matter). This can include propensities and proclivities to certain traits such as high or low serotonin in our brains, high or low empathy, and other genetic DNA that ‘presets’ our internalized computer.  Just as we have seen the impact of the pathologicals own hardwired symptoms, we too come hardwired with our defaults that want to ‘lean’ us to these preset settings. Our default settings could be set to attraction to stocky dark haired men, or blonde and blue eyed, or black men or maybe your physical default is not all that particular about the physicality of your partners. Maybe your default is set to other parameters such as humor, charisma, or spirituality.

While we don’t ask why we have blue eyes or why we are attracted to tall dark and handsome, we often ask ‘why’ we have too much empathy or too much relationship investment not understanding that these settings come hardwired with us when we are born. A fact not often understood is that some emotional traits are as hardwired as other genetic DNA.

Our software is the programs that have been added into and onto our machine that tell the machine what to do. These software programs also impact our default settings but in a different way.  Software are the messages you learned growing up as a child. These messages about relationships, men and women’s roles in relationships, what power you do or do not have, the impact of choices, violence in the home, addictions in parents are all data and information that is stored on your computer in the software ‘programs’ that run your computer.  From your software the machine (your body, your external life) is run from the programs of your software.  So messages about how ‘all relationships are’ or about what you ‘can and cannot succeed in’, tell your machine what choices to make from the software you have.

Software programs other than childhood messages can also come from religious impact, education, and your own experience within relationships—each compounding the existing software message or conflicting with existing software messages. These messages are also loaded onto your software as programs that impact choices which impact your life.

Hardware (hardwiring) preset defaults such as hyper empathy combined with software loaded defaults such as super trust or high tolerance messages (such as ‘don’t get divorced no matter what’) combine in unique yet entrapping ways that cause some people to be more ‘at risk’ of Pathological Love Relationships than others.

We have had heard the arguments of ‘nature versus nurture’ especially regarding pathology. We know some of the Cluster Bs are born that way, some are made that way from their social environments and some are both—born that way and then bent that way further.  The same is true for you, the Super-Traited partner of Cluster Bs.

You come into the world with a proclivity towards certain hardwired traits within your temperament that are so strong as to make your ‘bent’ towards attraction to, and tolerance of, pathology extremely high.  Into your world with your ‘bent’ you are exposed to lifelong messages that either encourage your bent or try to bend you away from your existing proclivities.

Families with healthy boundaries and healthy relationships model the exact programming that sets a child’s default on a different setting for partner selection. But families who themselves have selected pathological partners, who have the same hardwiring propensity for tolerating pathology, flip the child’s software default switch to tolerance, minimizing, renaming, and accepting pathological behavior.  This is largely done through role modeling these behaviors or what we call learned conditioning.

A genetic hard-wired proclivity with a software default program that supports pathological partner selection starts the process of the continued pattern of having pathological partners well into adulthood.

In computers, default settings serve the purpose of ‘minimal user interaction required’ which puts the setting defaults to the most commonly selected options. This is exactly what it does for you as well. “Why do I keep picking these kinds of guys over and over again?”  Your default was set early in life and has not been changed. When left to your own programming, your default will automatically select the most pathological partner. Your hard-wiring is already ‘bent’ in that direction and is supported by your software programs to do so.  It is so automatic, so autonomic, that just like the computer ‘minimal user interaction is required.’

By the time women contact The Institute, they are so exhausted by the lifetime of the pathological energy-sucking relationships that they are ready to do what it takes to stop this.  Simply stating “I am NEVER going to do this again. I am going to pick differently in the future” doesn’t register to your software program. It’s still set on the default pattern of selection it has been set on for years.  If you could look at the software settings internally it would look like this:

x  Narcissistic
x  Cheater
x  Pathological Lying
x  Charming and deceitful
x  Helps me ignore my red flags
x  Induces fantasy thinking of how my future MIGHT be
x  Honeymoon cycle followed by D&D (Devalue & Discard)
x Intense, intensely pursued
x Hypnotic, I can’t think or choose differently while with them

These might be some of the traits you are repeatedly selecting through your software default program.

In software programs, it’s noted that ‘Using defaults will tend to increase errors, as users may leave incorrect default settings selected.’

Hmmmmm… yeah. Can we agree that’s true? The difficulty in Pathological Love Relationship recovery is that women read a book or go to a counselor and talk about the pain of the relationship but never get down to the reprogramming of the software.  Hardware comes as it is and will always be there and you will always be ‘bent’ in a direction or proclivity for these relationships. BUT you can put in different software programming that will let you pick from a NEWSET of default choices and not automatically ‘defaulting back’ to what you have always chosen. You have to choose differently in order to get a different outcome.

Only a few times a year do we offer these ‘software reprogramming’ events that we call retreats.  By popular demand we have added one more for all of 2012 which is Sept 2-7 in beautiful Brevard, NC – The Land of Waterfalls.  2013 retreats (if offered) have not been set yet.  Please avail yourself to this opportunity. We have filled the first house and had so many other requests we have added a second house and only have ONE slot remaining in it.  Information about the retreat is on the website and an application. Fill it out and email it to us at saferelationships (at) yahoo. We will review and contact you to let you know if it was accepted into the program. We cannot comment on your placement without an application. Cost is $625 for accommodations, group sessions, and nature outings.

Controls of a computer hardware or software (or of a device, equipment, or machine) as preset by its manufacturer. Some types of default settings may be altered or customized by the user.
Ads by Google

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/default-setting.html#ixzz1y96c3FZm

———————————————————————————-
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.
———————————————————————————

An American Tragedy: A Serious Diagnosis And No Health Insurance

http://www.forbes.com/sites/crime/2012/06/21/an-american-tragedy-a-serious-diagnosis-and-no-health-insurance/

What Will You Do?

In May 2012, Vicki Bolling lay dying in her front yard, shot three times by her husband.  The local news reports say that the death of Ms. Bolling was no surprise to her sons.  According to news accounts, her sons report that she suffered years of physical and emotional abuse that included threats, manipulation and intimidation.  She was married for 30 years.  Her son, John Stevenson, is quoted as saying “She is the only one in the world who could love a monster.” (Tampa Bay Times, May 10, 2012)
We know that she is not the only one…we know that loving a “monster” is possible.  For women that love psychopaths, love and monster often exist in the same thought.  The problem is, someone who has never been in the midst of this level of psychological trauma may not understand…they don’t understand why women stay…why women don’t see how bad he is.  This lack of understanding of the power of pathology is killing women.

Domestic homicide is preventable.  The mission of the Fatality Review Committee in Pinellas County, Florida is to convey that message.  It is the responsibility of the Pinellas County Fatality Review Committee to bring to the table members of the community who share a vested interest in uncovering patterns related to local domestic homicides.  In the last twelve years, the team has reviewed 103 cases.  Cases are reviewed only after they have been finalized in the criminal justice system.
Domestic homicide, both locally and nationally, does not occur in a vacuum…there are warning signs and in a community, there are trends.  Our report, published in May 2012, outlines the seven trends in our community for domestic homicides.

1-In 89% of cases there had been no contact with the local domestic violence center.  Domestic homicide is preventable when victims reach out to domestic violence centers for safety and resources.
2-In 89% of the cases there had been no referral to a batterer’s intervention program.  Domestic homicide is preventable when perpetrators connect with batterer’s intervention programs and their underlying behaviors and beliefs are addressed.

3-In 88% of cases there was a male perpetrator and female victim.  Domestic homicide is preventable when our society shifts to the belief that all people are of equal value and control over others is no longer the standard.

4-In 85% of cases there was no injunction for protection filed.  Domestic homicide is preventable when victims are encouraged to file injunctions for protection and have access to information and safety planning to assist in the process of leaving.

5-In 76% of cases substance abuse was a contributing factor.  Domestic homicide is preventable when those who have a substance abuse problem are assessed for issues related to violence, both perpetrators and victims.

6-In 68% of the cases the perpetrator had a prior criminal history.  Domestic homicide is preventable when criminal history is identified as a pattern of behavior and the information is made openly available to victims and during domestic violence court hearings.

7-In 69% of the cases friends, family, coworkers and/or neighbors were aware of previous violence. Domestic homicide is preventable when everyone in the community takes a stand against violence; stop asking why she doesn’t leave and start asking what you can do to help her leave.

These trends mean something.  A “trend” refers to the idea or awareness of repeated, connected events.  It’s not a black and white predictor but rather a clue to a potential.  Trends are used in many areas of our lives.  Many follow financial trends or housing market trends; some look at trends related to medical issues and even trends in our environment.  Those that use trends take advantage of facts and information found in the reality of our lives…trends don’t rely on the maybe’s of the past, but rather the truth that exists in the past.
What is powerful about trends is their ability to provide safeguards as well as hope.  Trends help us connect missing pieces to prevent poor choices, and they help us highlight information that will lead to improved choices.  If we are open to it, they translate into the framework for prevention.

Prevention in the area of domestic homicide is risky.  The risk comes because of the severity of getting it right or getting it wrong…human life is at stake.  But I believe we must move through the risk.  By “move through” I mean acknowledge it…learn from it, and then see what follows.  So, beyond acknowledging the risk exists a focus on prevention.
The trends that have come from our local review of domestic homicide highlight many areas that need more focus.  The realities of these trends are not unlike acknowledging the realities of pathology.  Identifying patterns of behavior in one person and accepting the reality of who they are can help prevent continued pain.  We have to begin to call it as it is…we have to pay attention to the facts and the patterns of behavior.

So, what will you do?  I invite you to be an observer – begin to pay attention to the people around you.  As you observe the behavior of others, do so without judgment…without including your “opinion” about who they are…leave out the morals that might have been handed to you or the input of society that doesn’t fit for you.  Observe the behavior as it is…look for patterns… and when you uncover a pattern that violates who you are…or violates the boundaries of someone you love….do something.

As part of the mission of The Institute we ask you to spread the word about the power and impact of pathology. Share this report with those in your community that are invested in saving lives.  Talk to them about the trends and patterns, and about pathology.  Domestic Homicide Fatality Review Teams are active in many states and communities…what can you contribute to the conversation?  If your community is not talking about dangerous relationships, then you can be the start…do something.

Finally, if you are experiencing physical and psychological abuse, please consider creating an Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit.  To learn more, visit www.documenttheabuse.com
To read the full report “Preventable: A Review of Domestic Fatalities in Pinellas County, Florida”, click here:   http://www.largo.com/egov/docs/1337974149_814671.pdf

———————————————————————————-
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.
———————————————————————————

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/crime/2012/06/21/an-american-tragedy-a-serious-diagnosis-and-no-health-insurance/

Determination in the Life of the Survivor

I’ve seen the look many times – hundreds of times over the past 20 years, working with (mostly) women who are surviving a pathological love relationship.  There is a ‘look.’  Initially it’s a timid look – before she grasps that she really CAN survive and thrive. The look then begins to change, morphing into real belief and real power.

Ironically, I saw the look this past week in an unlikely, but stunning face.  I saw her gentleness – as did the pathological that was in her life.  Your ‘super traits’ of empathy, tolerance, caring and compassion are what make you the wonderful girl you are.  It has also been target traits for pathological individuals.  You can just see the gentleness in the face.

Then I saw her powerlessness.

The look like you don’t know if you will ever get out, ever survive, ever find your power again.  It feels as if you are being held against your will – when you remember once that you were so different – so self-assured, confident, and capable.

Many people have seen the face of unbelievable stress and worry – when you no longer trust your own judgment, ping-pong back and forth between loving and loathing him.  When you can’t concentrate, focus, sleep, or even want to get up each day.

But, the greatest thing about doing this work is when women really ‘get it’ about pathology.  When they understand that what’s wrong with him has nothing to do with her, and what she did or didn’t do.  When she gets that ‘wild-eyed look’ that says her reality has shifted, and she realizes that what has happened to her is simply that she’s been knee-deep in pathology, and she is powerful enough to walk away.

I love that part – the paradigm shift – when women turn the corner in understanding, and her whole future opens up like a flower blooming.

Over the years, I have watched hundreds of women storm off into their future having recaptured their lives, their dignity, their ability to function well, and their self-belief.  It’s a beautiful and strong presence when you get to witness that happen.

Why all of the horse photos?  This is Rachel Alexandra – I love her expressive face.  She is a reminder to me of all the women I have worked with.  She was the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness.  It awed me to see her many faces of gentleness, powerlessness, worry, thriving, and power.  It reminded me that even though so much is often against you in your race to recovery from pathology, that you too like Rachel Alexandra, can defy the odds even when they have been stacked that way for 85 years!  There really is something to be said for the power of belief, destiny, and desire.  I believe in you!

A few times a year we offer those face-to-face events through retreats.  In 2012 we reduced them to two a year which were in February and March. We have gotten a number of requests for one more retreat this year which we have organized and in which there is ONE remaining slot. The Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships Retreat is Sept 2-7, 2012 in beautiful Brevard, NC the Land of the Waterfalls, 20+ hours of soul-healing group sessions, plus the restorational value of hiking, beauty, the forests, and waterfalls.  Application downloads are on the magazine website.

If you feel the recovery approaches you have been utilizing are not effective, do consider the retreats which have been used by dozens and dozens of women to bring rapid results to their cognitive dissonance, anxiety, and stress disordered symptoms.  I hope you will join us for the soul restoration you are craving.

 

The Spiritual Damage in the Aftermath

There is no doubt that the wreckage from the pathological impacts you emotionally, physically, financially, sexually, and also spiritually. Everyone has a spirit—that God-shaped place in your soul that is touched and filled by beauty, awe, and stillness.  It’s the most authentic part of you so it’s also the most vulnerable and the most wounded from pathology.  Our souls were not created to be in the presence of pathology. They were created to be in the presence of love.

We were created for the touch of authentic love and for the connection to what is sacred. Pathology is not sacred. Whether you are ‘religious’ or not you were still created by the Sacred, for the Sacred, and to express the Sacred.  You were not created to express the aftermath of pathology. Aftermath symptoms should not feel ‘at home’ in your soul. They aren’t ‘at home.’

Midway through the aftermath carnage you are probably feeling anything BUT a spiritual connection to anything. It’s no accident that pathology wounds at the soul level—that evil targets those with the most beautiful souls once full of infinite giving and over flowing grace.  Pathology/The Dark Side/Evil knows to dismantle your spirit is to unplug you from what made you the amazing gift you are. And to deflate the once full soul that was sharing love with others—the ultimate power on the planet—is to spiritually deflate our world.

But survivors often lament that recovery feels like a stand-still where you wait for restoration ‘to arrive,’ ‘to ascend or descend,’ ‘to overtake you,’ ‘to fall gently’ upon you.  The death blow to your soul by “The Soul Slayer” is by far the worst damage. An inability to feel that God-shaped part is the worst numbness that a soul can experience. You look Heaven-ward praying for one flicker of a sense that your soul has survived the scourge of pathology.

Why isn’t God restoring me? Why do I still have the ‘monkey-mind’ of cognitive dissonance (He’s Good/He’s Bad)? Why is there no mental stillness—just a rush of adrenaline, the exhaustion of a mind running like an engine?

Sometimes our concept of recovery is replacement. That our feelings of loss will be replaced with joy, our lost pathological partner will be replaced with a healthier partner, our lost income that he stole will be replaced with a provision to get us through, our depression will be replaced with neurotransmitters. ‘Replacement’ recovery concepts are like a McDonald’s drive through. You read a book on pathology and try to simply replace mental concepts that got you in the relationship. You join a chat forum and try to replace loneliness with internet distraction.  It’s no wonder people are often confused about what recovery ‘is’ and when and how they will ‘get there.’

But true authentic recovery that would touch the deepest part of you at a soul level is not about replacement. It’s about restoration—the restoring of the soul that guides your emotions, your choices, your capacity for joy, love and beauty. You can’t ‘replace’ a soul which is ultimately what has been damaged by the soul-less attack of pathology. But you can restore the ‘seat’ or the ‘soul’ of you from the carnage of darkness. In 25 years, we have seen the restoration over and over again.

I want to leave with hope that recovery IS possible. It just may not be how you have been thinking it will be, or how you have approached it, or as quick as you would like. It might not be just about reshaping your belief systems, or working through grief. The work may be deeper after all it’s your soul we are talking about.  The Institute exists to meet you where you are in your own recovery to offer restoration emotionally and spiritually where you need it through our online, tele-support, and face-to-face events. (As a reminder these products and services are listed on the magazine website.)

A few times a year we offer those face-to-face events through retreats.  In 2012 we reduced them to two a year which were in February and March. We have gotten a number of requests for one more retreat this year which we have organized and in which there is ONE remaining slot. The Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships Retreat is Sept 2-7, 2012 in beautiful Brevard, NC the Land of the Waterfalls, 20+ hours of soul-healing group sessions, plus the restorational value of hiking, beauty, the forests, and waterfalls.  Application downloads are on the magazine website.

If you feel the recovery approaches you have been utilizing are not effective, do consider the retreats which have been used by dozens and dozens of women to bring rapid results to their cognitive dissonance, anxiety, and stress disordered symptoms.  I hope you will join us for the soul restoration you are craving.

Let Go or Be Dragged

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

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

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

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

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

Drag: verb.  Related to:  haul, lug, move, pull, schlep, tug, yank, crawl, creep, shuffle.  Your soul is bleeding – it’s your courtesy warning system from your spirit that is telling you to let go.  Even being dragged can be a gift.  It can be the first scraped knee that crosses you over to recovery.  You’ve held on for lots of reasons including your own version of ‘pathological hope’ that he will change, and it will be different.  History has taught you otherwise.  It’s time to accept the wisdom that ‘no change’ brings us.  Your skinned knee is a metaphor for the beginning of your recovery because the word dragged means ‘to haul something to a new place.’

Let go or be dragged.

If you are ready to let go, we have scheduled one more retreat for September 2-7 2012 in the Asheville/Brevard area.  Information about it is in the newsletter and magazine.

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.  Twenty-nine 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.  Twenty-nine 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 29 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 coach 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!

My sister Linda, my father Frankie Brown, myself a few years before his murder

Is This The New Normal?

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

‘Is How Crappy I Feel My New Normal?’

In other words, ‘will I ever feel like my old self again?’

Let’s say your girlfriend was driving home late one night, off in thought, and after a glass or two of wine. She was blasting her favorite Adelle song on her ear buds. This condition left her not in her most focused self–tired, distracted, a little buzzed, and drifting off to the groove of a good song when she didn’t even realize the slight bump her car made as she drove over the railroad tracks. Since she had no reason to believe something that could really hurt her was barreling down the tracks towards her, she didn’t even glance to see the oncoming train.  Once she realized, too late, she was going to be harmed–wide eyed and gasping–she wondered what she could do to save herself.  The answer by then, was ‘too late.’ In a nano-second she went from being her old self to being someone entirely new–she became a seriously injured person.

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

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

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

While psychological injuries are not as evident to the bystanding eye, they are noteably experienced by the victim.  You were hit by a train! You were injured–emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually, financially and maybe even physically.  If someone has erroneously said to you “Very shortly, this will be like it never happened. You’ll be back to your old self in no time at all’ — they have never been hit by an oncoming pathology train. In fact, the worse thing that probably ever happened to them is they won a Spa Day at a less than luxorious hotel or their highlights in their hair weren’t quite right.  Are you going to measure your recovery from someone who’s only experience of tragedy is a spa-day-gone-wrong?

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

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

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

You are expecting to walk away limping but not seriously injured from a psychopath.  That doesn’t happen often. So infrequently that I don’t even know if I can give one example of that happening with the women I have worked with for 20+ years.

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

How Pathological Is ‘Too’ Pathological?

Another words, ‘How sick is TOO sick?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(**Information about pathology and your recovery is in the award winning Women Who Love Psychopaths.)

When Others Don’t Like The ‘P’ Word

I was recently asked to be on a national TV show to discuss the issue of psychopathy in relationships based on my book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths.’
They had looked at the website, read information about the book, discussed what the rest of the show was going to be about, and booked me for the show.
They didn’t invite me based on my other book (although equally as informational) How to Spot a Dangerous Man, they booked me to discuss and showed
the book cover of, Women Who Love Psychopaths.

However, 20 minutes before going on air a producer told me ‘they’ (whoever that is in TV world) was uncomfortable using the ‘p’ word–psychopath. They
found the word to be ‘controversial’ and ‘sensationalistic’ and that my example of probably well known public psychopaths who are not recognized as
psychopathic was too debatable and unproveable to discuss.

This was of course sad for me to hear since so much of what The Institute attempts to provide is public pathology education. Truly the only way for people
to avoid psychopathy is to develop the ability to understand the traits and learn to spot it in others. All which is why our goal for this agency is public education.
This is of course, not our first time to hear that the ‘p’ word is offensive, debatable, controversial, or judgmental, and it will not be the last time, unfortunately.

Several victims of incredible psychopathic abuse were also on the show and I was asked to comment on their cases but also asked to not use the
‘p’ word.  I asked the producer what she thought those perpetrator’s behaviors should be called, or what disorders would motivate their behavior….or
what was she suggesting I ‘should’ call them? I told her I was at a loss to pick another label or motivation behind their lethal behaviors that would
come close to helping others understand ‘who does that?’.  I told her that psychopathy was a diagnosis, not merely a political argument, a theoretical
ideology, or even a criminal judgment of character. I was confused as to why I was there when what I do, what I write about, who I help, and who I help
convict are overtly obvious from my professional background and from our website.

I was reminded again when I heard ‘the p word’ is controversial, that public pathology education is still in it’s infancy. I know that victims face this all
the time when they struggle to figure out what is wrong with the pathological person, only to discover the shocking revelation of the person’s disorder. But
the victim trying to teach others what is wrong with the pathological is counteracted when others find the information to be disputable, distasteful, unproveable, unlikely,
and un-spiritual to even suggest.

The ‘p’ word is now viewed as the new psychlogical slur of the 21st century. It’s correlated with the devastating racial slurs of the 1950’s, the cultural slurs of the
60’s-70’s, and the gay/lesbian slurs of the 80’s-90’s.  Now, we face the ‘p’ word the way we faced the ‘n’ of the 50’s and the ‘f’ or the 60’70’s and the ‘q’
of the 80-90s. But with a huge difference! There is nothing wrong with the ‘p’ word the way it was intensely wrong with the ‘n,’ ‘f,’ and ‘q’ words of
decades gone by.

But it is treated as if we are being racially insensitive, culturally inappropriate, or gender ignorant. We are looked at as the skin-heads of the
Diagnostic Statistical Manual that we would ‘dare’ to ‘call someone’ a psychopath.  We are viewed as the rock throwers at the psychologically-disabled
people with pathology, the Bible thumpers of the poor spiritually disenfranchised psychopath, and the socially clueless that we would spew a
power-packing psychological label like ‘psychopathy’ around that might actually strike and land on a human being.

I know, I know….afterall, it’s daytime TV which we all recognize is about ratings and keeping pace with society’s Attention-Deficit-Disordered need
for topics to be covered in three minutes no matter how riveting the storyline is.  Daytime TV covers tsunamis of natural science as well as the
tsunamis of psychological trauma in the same fast fall swoop of selling hair dye and lipstick in the same 30 minute segment. What did I expect afterall?

…Well, I always hope that a victim’s trauma is recognized and embraced for the emotional and spiritual strength it took to not only survive, but to show up
on that TV stage to tell their story to help others. …Well, I always hope that the need to teach others ‘how to spot’ the devastating disorders that created the
victims trauma is the guiding motivation behind why TV shows exist and supercedes the mere ‘storyline-as-business’ of TV.

Yes, I recognize that daytime TV is not the spokes person for the planet–that there ARE those who really want to hear more of the victims story and learn more
about ‘how to spot’ them in their own lives….but I have to tell you, it IS a ‘cold-water-splash-in-the-face’, like a ‘wake-up-Sandra-we-aren’t-as-far-as-you-think’
call that we are whispering the ‘p’ word behind stage and off camera and are ‘editing it out’ for public viewing. The whole segment of discussion about
low empathy, no conscience and who does that was removed. Not one word that explained the behavior of those lethal people was ‘leaked’ to
the viewing audience for public pathology education. We still have miles and miles to go in educating the public that psychopathy is a disorder
not a verbal tyriad.

You know what….as  offensive, debatable, controversial, judgmental,  OR …. as disputable, distasteful, unproveable, unlikely and un-spiritual
as it felt to those merely producing a nano-second based TV show to say the ‘p’ word, the victims who have lived with the ‘p’ are the true
authorities here.  They would probably beg to disagree with the nay-sayers that the ‘p’ is a profound psychological slur. I am sure the victims
found the ‘p’s behavior to be more offensive than TV-land will ever understand. The victims surely wrestled with their own need to over come the
‘debatable-ness’ of the disorder, or the controversy that swirled around the lethal behaviors of the psychopath and I am sure the victim’s incured
their own judgmental views of outsiders. I doubt today the victim’s find their story to be un proveable or even disputable —after all,
some of these storys ended up in murder or attempted more. All adjectives that are associated with psychopathy.

As ‘controversial’ as TV-land felt  the ‘p’ word was, does not even compare to the victim’s overwhelming need to shout from the roof-tops
what the pathological IS….a psychopath.

Using the ‘p’ word of psychopathy is not a slur. It is a education, a prevention, a DIAGNOSIS, and the reality for millions of victims in
the world.

Who Does That? Part 2

(Last week we began discussing the ‘who’ of certain behaviors and crimes often perpetrated by Cluster Bs, and how the various systems who come in contact with Cluster Bs have differing names, thus views, of their destructive patterns. You can read last week’s newsletter HERE).

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?

Who Does That? Part 1

Part of our goal at The Institute is not only to help survivors heal from the aftermath of a PLR (Pathological Love Relationship), but 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.

Emotional Phantom Limb Pain

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

Illusion is the mark of pathology.  It’s why our logo is a mask, because it best represents the mirage of normalcy that pathological individuals can often project…. at least for a while.

Dr. Hervey Checkley, a psychiatrist and writer of pathology from the 1940’s entitled his famous book The Mask of Sanity, and tells of pathology giving all the surface signals such as:  having a deep connection, having the most fun ever experienced with a person, of someone who is really into you – while behind the scenes you are being used as a distraction, a pay check, grotesquely, as a ‘vaginal doormat,’ or some other form of ‘feeding’ of the pathological piranha.  What you are experiencing, you are internally labeling as ‘normal,’ ‘wonderful,’ or ‘love,’ and yet it really isn’t any of those things.  It’s just a label of experience you have tagged with him.

If someone was watching your relationship as a movie, and watched scenes in which the pathological individual is exposed for his true self, your scene would be tagged and labeled very differently by the viewer, than what is labeled in your own experience.  That’s because the viewer would see the pathological individual’s behaviors and words as manipulative, and would have a distinctly different view of the storyline.  Your labeling of your experience isn’t always accurate.  As I often say, “Your thinking is what got you into this pathological relationship.   Don’t always believe what you think.”

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

The illusion:

•    He was normal
•    He was in love with you
•    He was what he said he was
•    He did what he said he did

In pathology, that’s never the case, because:

•    Their attachments are surface (which isn’t love)
•    They are mentally disordered (which isn’t normal)
•    They never present themselves as disordered, sexually promiscuous, and incapable of love (so he isn’t what he said he is)
•    They harbor hidden lives filled with other sex partners, hook ups, criminality, or illegal and immoral behavior (so he doesn’t disclose what he’s really up to)

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

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

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