Learn How to Starve the Vampire

Pathological people are energy and emotional vampires. They live off of your emotional content. Part of their personality deficit is the lack of a stable and consistent inner core of a self-concept, so they need constant attention, distraction, and identity management from which they draw their identity.

Most of their identity is acquired from their relationships since internally there is so little core self to draw from. This is part of the reason they are so exhausting. In order to get their emotional ‘blood supply’ from you, they hook you into conversations or arguments or any kind of response they can get from you. They live vicariously through your own emotional expressions of love, frustration, confusion, etc. It doesn’t always matter what emotion is fed to the vampire (although narcissists like adoration) but just that there is SOME content is enough for them—even your tears, or your screams, or your insults. It doesn’t matter… they just need something—anything—from you in the way of content. If they don’t get the blood supply/emotional content from you, they will seek it elsewhere. (Remember Dracula? He just moved from town to town taking it where he could get it.)

When you begin to break up (read my e-book, How to Break Up From a Pathological Relationship), he will fear the loss of emotional supply. He won’t fear losing you so much as losing getting his identity and his sense of self from you and/or the relationship. He fears the loss of self or, ‘who am I without her?’ This is a very fragmented ego state—one which only exists through relationships with others.

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

First contact, he’s angry, blaming, shaming.

 

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

…he’ll contact you again and he’ll be sweet, loving; he’ll buy you things.

 

When you don’t respond…

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

 

When you don’t respond…

…he will get angry again—say you aren’t working on the relationship, which is why it’s going to fail.

 

When you don’t respond…

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

When you don’t respond…

…he will indicate he’s found someone else or had sex with someone else.
When you don’t respond…
(Are you enjoying the popcorn and movie about now??)

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

When you don’t respond…
…he will just go back to drinking/drugging/dealing/driving too fast, etc.

When you don’t respond…
…he will threaten to kill himself or to leave the area and never see you again.

When you don’t respond…

…he will take the kids, drag you through court, threaten to physically harm you.

When you don’t respond…

…he will tell you he’s dating someone you hate or his previous girlfriend/wife.

When you don’t respond…

…it will come full circle and will begin again, at the top of this list.

When I talk with survivors, it’s the same story, over and over. I know that women think their experiences are unique. But pathology is all the same—these people aren’t very creative and don’t deviate much from the strict internal structure that is associated with pathology. They ONLY react in certain ways, so for me, it’s pretty easy to predict. Once you are able to understand this, you can predict his sad/silly/stupid reactions to a breakup.

Since they live off of your emotion and NEED it, you need to starve him by having no contact. If you have to be in contact because of your kids, make sure no words are exchanged and no emotions show on your face, and then the vampire will flee to the next available source to be fed.

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

As soon as you are ready to really make the break, buy the Break Up e-book and then STARVE THE VAMPIRE. Make a fridge magnet with that on it so you remember daily to not feed the vampire who is lurking nearby.

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

The Predictability of Pathology

“You are describing my relationship EXACTLY!”

 “He has said those exact words to me.”

 “How do you know what my relationship is like—how can you know this?”

I accurately describe people’s relationships because, to a certain extent, parts of pathology and their behavior is predictable. Pathology is related to certain personality and psychological disorders. Each one of these personality disorders has its own set of behaviors, dysfunctions and, for some of the disorders, neurological abnormalities.

To know the personality disorder is to know the behavior—either now or in the future. This is why Public Pathology Education is information for everyone because anyone can learn to predict, to a certain extent, the kinds of behaviors that are likely to manifest in the pathological in their life.

Criminal profiling, to a large extent, is exactly that—knowing what the behavior is likely to be given their probable diagnosis of antisocial, sociopath or psychopath. Although your pathological might not be criminal, this approach still applies. His behavior is predictable.

Each personality disorder has its own set of behaviors. Pathology is related to:

  • The inability to sustain consistent positive change
  • The inability to grow to any authentic emotional or spiritual depth
  • The inability to develop deep insight about how their negative behavior affects others

Once you understand the behaviors related to what Otto Kernberg calls the ‘dangerous and severe personality disorders,’ and you apply the Absolutes of Pathology—the inability to sustain change, grow, or develop insight—then you can pretty much take the behaviors now and apply them to the future in ANY relationship. His behaviors related to his specific personality disorder are permanent. The neuroscience that now supports abnormalities in Cluster B disorders and psychopathy also highlights the issues that, since these are brain-region problems (not just brain chemistry/medication problems), their permanence is much more a factor.

If someone cannot grow or change, their behaviors aren’t going to change. If the behaviors aren’t going to consistently change and stay changed, they will be the same today as they were 10 years ago — in a relationship, career or interaction — and they will be the same 20 years from now.

If they don’t have the ability to develop true insight about their behavior, then I can tell you what it’s like to communicate with someone who can’t see their own faults. If their brain regions that affect impulse control, bonding/attachment, and the inability to learn from past mistakes are faulty, we know what the future will be like for them.

Our goal in Public Pathology Education is for others to understand that you, too, can learn to loosely predict pathological behavior based on past or current behavior. Once you understand the symptoms of the personality disorder, you can expect these behaviors to continue. The more you understand the Absolutes of Pathology, the more clearly you can understand what their future is likely to hold for them and others in their life. It isn’t hard to predict something that doesn’t change!

The exception to that rule is when violence is, or has been, involved. Pathologicals with violence issues can be erratic and unstable. Predicting their ability to be currently non-violent based on past nonviolent episodes is too risky and may not follow the patterns they normally follow. Pathologicals who are addicts are hard to predict because of the instability of the person in an addiction. With violence, sexual offenses or addiction the rule of thumb is that the predictability factor is likely to be too risky to judge. When in doubt, doubt his predictability in violence, addiction or sexual offenses.

Otherwise, pathology is fairly easy to call. When someone doesn’t change, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you’re wondering what your pathological was like in the relationship before you or will be like in the one after you, just gauge from where they are today.

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Fantasy and Its Effect on Your Reality

In a previous article, “Denial and Its Power,” we talked about the power of denial, which is a defense mechanism. Here, we look at one of the most commonly used defense mechanisms that are employed by women who actually enhance their own emotional suffering. You’ve suffered enough from the Pathological Love Relationship, and the last thing you need is for your own psychology to work against you. Today we’re going to talk about fantasy and how that, too, can play with your mind and cause emotional suffering. Eckhart Tolle said, “Emotional suffering is created in the moment we don’t accept what is.”

Women who are in relationships with pathologicals have a very strong trait of fantasy. Fantasy is not just merely wishful thinking. Fantasy has other components in it that affect your here-and-now life. Fantasy is often associated with the future and, in some ways, the past.

A woman will often stay in a Pathological Love Relationship because she feels panic or fear of abandonment when she or the pathological tries to end the relationship. She ends up re-contacting, or allowing him to re-contact her, because of these feelings of fear, panic and abandonment.

Abandonment is an early childhood feeling. As adults, we don’t technically feel ‘abandoned’, nor are we really capable of being abandoned (unless you are, for instance, medically dependent). The reason we aren’t capable of being abandoned as adults is that, as mentally healthy adults, we really can’t be abandoned in the ‘childhood sense’. That feeling is an early-childhood feeling usually associated with a time of adult or parental abandonment. It is an age-regression feeling—something that pulls you back to your childhood or to a very young emotional state.

The feeling of ending an opposite-sex relationship often subconsciously sets off childhood feelings of abandonment. These are past associations and they tap into the fantasy that the abandonment is happening all over again when it really isn’t. The childhood abandonment by a previous male in your life is not the same thing as a pathological leaving your adult life.

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

Fantasy is also future-oriented. Fairytales are fantasy and are based on “Once upon a time…” and “…happily ever after,” which is all the good stuff that might happen in the future. Nothing evokes stronger fantasy thinking than the holidays, which bring up either good memories of holidays past or the total fantasy that THIS year will be the “Once Upon a Time” holiday.

Women stay in relationships with pathologicals based on a lot of ‘fantasy future betting’ —that is, “he might stop acting pathological”, “he might marry me”, “he might stop cheating”, “he might tell the truth”. Fantasy betting is a lot like gambling… betting on a future that is not likely to happen with a pathological.

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

But women also stay in Pathological Love Relationships based on ‘projected fantasies’. They fantasize that he will be happy with the NEXT woman and SHE will get all his good traits and none of his bad. This too is fantasy… that his pathology somehow will not affect HER the way it affects you. (Pathology can’t be turned on and off like a light switch!)

Here are the facts:

Pathology affects EVERYONE the SAME!! (Unless the woman is pathological as well— then who cares if he goes on to have a relationship worthy of a Jerry Springer Show?)

  • Women fantasize that this ‘abandonment’ feeling will affect them the way the childhood abandonment did. But, FYI: it will not!
  • Women fantasize that he will be different with them. But if he is truly pathological he is hardwired; this IS his DNA.
  • Women fantasize that he will be happy in the future and they are missing out on something. But if he is truly pathological, his patterns don’t change.

Fantasy is not the here and now. It’s not being present in the real life that is happening around you in this moment. It’s ‘out there, somewhere’ kind of thinking. Come back to what’s real right now. List the 5 most real points about him here:

 

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

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

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

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

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

 

Beyond Power and Control

By Jennifer Young, LMHC

Intimate partner violence is not just about power and control. As valuable as the Duluth Model has been in helping us to make a turn in the right direction towards saving women’s lives, we must allow our work to evolve. The good news is that it has evolved – we now know much more about how people work, the brain and neuroscience and the delicate intricacies of intimate partner violence today than ever before. And if we expand our understanding to meet the science, we can make real changes in our world and improve on our efforts to build a safe society for all of us.

In the 1980’s the Duluth Model explained domestic violence based on what the perpetrator was doing. It helped make the shift away from blaming the victim and towards holding the perpetrators responsible (What is the Duluth Model?, 2011).  For decades women had carried the full burden of accountability.

The belief that has driven the Duluth Model is that societal power is what drives batterers to use violence. The innate idea of power within our society for hundreds of years, that men are more powerful than women, is at the source of the violence perpetrated against women. This power differential that continues has been handed down and sanctioned generation after generation. There is no denying that this power exists and is certainly a piece of the problem – a large piece. But, what we know now is far beyond society’s power structure. We now know, because of neuroscience, that there are human pieces of society’s structure that are broken and unfixable. We can no longer turn away from this fact.

Neuroscience and our efforts in understanding the human brain have taken us towards a deeper understanding of the human experience. For hundreds of years we have done the dance between nature and nurture. And for most of our time, we have struggled to validate the nature part and as a result, defaulted to nurture. This argument has not left us, even with neuroscience closing many of the gaps. However, the argument for the causes of human experiences related to nature are much, much clearer today.

What we know today, as it relates to perpetration of intimate partner violence, is that there are disorders of the brain that limit a person’s ability to have empathy and to have a conscience. Without these things one would have:

  • The inability to sustain positive change
  • The inability to have insight about how their negative behavior impacts others
  • The inability to develop any emotional or spiritual depth

There are specific areas of the brain that are responsible for these functions and brain research has now been able to identify that these areas of the brain are different. The differences could be in size, shape or volume. This is not an issue of brain chemistry or circuitry, but an issue with the organ itself – a problem for which we have no treatment. To date, we do not have treatments that change the size, shape or volume of a part of the brain. It is a permanent mal-formation (Fallon, 2006).

And these brain disorders are not new. In fact, we have known about them for decades. It is simply the addition of the neuroscience that creates a new layer of understanding. These disorders – personality disorders (specifically cluster b disorders which include antisocial, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders along with sociopath and psychopath) – highlight the idea of what it means to be a perpetrator of violence. They also teach us that there are many layers to how these disordered people do what they do. And although being motivated by power over others is a piece, there is so much more.

What survivors of cluster b disordered people will tell you is that the explanation of “power and control” as a cause or framework for understanding what happened to them is simplistic at best. Further, continuing with the idea of power and control as a cause does not offer a solution or a way out. For many survivors, hearing that the violence is about power and control implies that change is possible. Just finding the right mix of giving them what they need will lead to a solution. And for those who have heard “he will not change”, there is no follow up. Domestic violence professionals are not sharing the details of why they won’t change. In fact, often perpetrators are sent to Batterer Intervention Program and survivors are told that he can change – if he attends the group.

The evolution of the information about perpetrators requires that we share all of what we know as clinical professionals. What we have known for decades is that there is a group of people – approximately 4-6% of the US population (Hare, 1998) (Stinson, et al, 2008) (Grant, et al, 2008) – who have no empathy and no conscience. This group of cluster b disordered individuals cannot change and there is no treatment for their disorder. As clinical professionals, we have available to us a breadth of information about the patterns and a categorical list of behaviors that we can share with survivors to help them identify if their partner is a cluster b. Finally, we can share the permanent nature of these disorders to inform survivors, once and for all and with certainty, that their partner will not change.

This information is being used for risk assessments related to intimate partner homicide but it must also be used by every domestic violence professional from the moment a survivor walks through the door. This information can help determine what type of safety planning is needed and ultimately the path of recovery. Over and over again, survivors share with us the first time they were told that their partner had a cluster b disorder. Having been given this information by a clinical professional shifted everything for them. Today, survivors head to the internet and see for themselves that their disordered partner meets every one of the items on the checklist. Then they leave – for good.

The history of the domestic violence movement is a solid foundation on which all of us stand. It provided a way forward and a way out for uncounted millions. But there is more – more information and more work to be done. We cannot stop and rest on one piece of the puzzle when survivors know there is more to the story. We must not be afraid to share what we know – say what we see – and give every survivor a chance.

Sources:

Fallon, James H. (2006) Neuroanatomical Background to Understanding the Brain of Young Psychopath. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. Vol 3:341.

What is the Duluth Model? (2011). Retrieved August 19, 2015 from www.theduluthmodel.org.

Robert D. Hare. (1998). Psychopaths and Their Nature: Implications for the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Systems in Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior. ed. Theodore Millon, Erik Simonsen, Morten Birket-Smith, and Roger D. Davis. New York, NY: Guilford Press. 188-212.

Stinson FS, Dawson DA, et al. (2008). Prevalence, correlates, disability, and comorbidity of DSM-IV narcissistic personality disorder: results from the wave 2 national epidemiological survey on alcohol and related condition. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Jul; 69(7): 1033-45.

Grant, B. F., Chou, S. P., Goldstein, R. B., Huang, B., Stinson, F. S., Saha, T. D., et al. (2008).

Prevalence, correlates, disability, and comorbidity of DSM-IV borderline personality disorder:

Results from the wave 2 national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions.

Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 69, 533-545.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Recovery Without Justice

At the heart of the victims’ rights movement I was involved in, during the 1980s 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 custody situations, cheated on you, spiritually abused you, etc.), he would be held accountable in the courts for his behavior and, more importantly, he would be forced into victim restitution in which he would have to repay you for your pain or do something to acknowledge his guilt and assuage your pain.

Of course, restitution in and of itself really doesn’t heal anything. It’s just that the victim or person who was harmed feels like the scales of justice, which were so grossly leaning in the abuser’s direction, got balanced in their direction for once. For a moment in court, and for however long it takes the abuser to pay or make 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 or she 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’ve often attended, the family could obviously not be compensated in any true way that relieved 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 repay 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’s not what happens. Restraining orders are not granted, arrests are not made for stalking or violence, children are given over to the pathological who is an overtly violent, sick, drug-addicted, or an otherwise 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 never 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 gaping, and wonder, “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 25+ 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 of justice are dashed as it is connected to part of their psychological healing. The scales of justice will never be balanced—they are not vindicated in the way that helps them 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.

Victims’ rights and their connection to judicial and psychological justice will not often get played out in Pathological Love 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 victims heal, now what?

Sternly, I tell victims of Pathological Love 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 just might 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, or waiting for their day in court, or “when he gets what’s coming to him,” will never recover. Your own recovery must be a daring adventure in the face of a lack of victims’ rights. Sometimes the only personal justice IS recovering and living a great life. What he has 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 victimization and are unable to move past that view, you won’t recover. If you see it as horrible things that happened to you but those things 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 Love 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.

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Remembering Our Roots: Joyce’s Brown’s Influence on the Pathological Love Relationship Recovery Process

October 16 marks the anniversary of the death of an extraordinary visionary. Many of The Institute’s highly acclaimed purposes, products, and processes came from what Joyce lived through, talked about, and modeled for others.

Joyce, like other leaders, did not set out to do anything extraordinary. She simply set out to heal after two back-to-back pathological relationships. First, a 25-year relationship with a narcissist, and then an upgrade to a sociopath for 10 years, left Joyce in the typical emotional fetal position that is common in the aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships.

She went through the normal stages of pathology recovery, asking:

“What just happened?”

“Did I do that?”

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Why am I so obsessed with this?”

“What’s wrong with me? Why am I attracted to men like that, and what does it say about my life that I would end up in a relationship like that?”

Without the benefit of mental health therapy and with only the support of a few close friends (who were quickly becoming weary of the ongoing saga of ‘why her/why him, why he moved on quickly, and why he picked the new woman), Joyce managed to piece together not only a recovery, but some profound insights that changed the quality of her life forever.

By then, at age 60, it would have been easy to say she would not likely find love or heal. It would have been even easier to get bitter, get revenge, get hyperfocused on him and his latest antics, or get into a fetal position and stay there.

But remarkably, Joyce rose from the dirt which she had been ground down into. Like the symbol of the Rising Phoenix, she not only rose, she dug out every particle of dirt that could be transformed from crusted pain and milled it for life-changing insight.

She didn’t keep these golden gems to herself! She talked to women about relationships wherever she was. Some of her approaches have trickled down to help other therapists work with women leaving Pathological Love Relationships.

Joyce believed women tended to drift sideways into Pathological Love Relationships looking for fun and excitement, which actually pointed at what these women needed in their lives that would prevent them from taking on just any old relationship.

“If you aren’t living a big enough life that is as big as your heart, or as big as your personality, or as big as your dreams, then any old psychopath will do.”

She poignantly asked herself, “What is or is not going on in my own life that I would end up with a sociopath? Sure, I didn’t know he was one—he said all the right things… but what could this possibly be pointing out to me about me, the condition of my own life, and what needs to happen so I don’t choose like this again?”

 16 years later she had answered her own question:

In her 60s she went to college for the first time and became a short-term missionary. She started her life in the arts of painting, sculpting, and pottery. She moved to a one-room beach house so she could “make up for lost time and play hard.” She drove a convertible Miata to feel the rush of adrenaline she no longer had because the sociopath was gone.

In her 70s she took up bellydancing to prove to herself she was still attractive, went to Paris to meet handsome men so she knew she could still flirt, and got a motorcycle so she always had something “hot to ride!” (Hey, I’m just using Joyce’s words here.) She became a hospital chaplain to comfort the sick and fed the poor every week to give some of that hyper-empathy away, lest it go to another psychopath. Then she sailed a catamaran to the Bahamas to challenge her fear of drowning because she could not swim.

“A relationship is the icing on the cake. It is NOT the cake. Don’t confuse the necessity of living life to be the icing. Living life IS the cake. Anything else, including relationships, is just the icing.

The Institute’s own Jennifer Young, who does phone coaching and our tele-support group, had this to say about Joyce’s impact on her and the women she helps, “Joyce Brown carries a big impact on my work with women.  On her own she developed the innate ability to care for herself.  That care translated into real solutions for disengagement from a Pathological Love Relationship. I believe the biggest specific idea that has come from Joyce is the idea of ‘Not One More Minute.’ I have shared this concept with many women who instantly feel the ability to disengage… ‘not one more minute’ means, “I will not allow you to take one more minute of my energy, my love, my care, my compassion.” It provides an end point… a point to say “I’m done.” This change in thinking, that I stop it, is crucial. It means, “I have come to know and understand that he will not change, but I still can… and I will.” So thank you, Joyce Brown, for showing us the way to the end!”

At her death at age 76, she laid in a hospice bed only hours from death. I told her I wanted to toast her life. She said “Crank this bed up!” She fluffed her hair and with a glass of Jack Daniels in her hand, she said, “I have had a great life. I lived, I learned how to have a great life, and I was loved. Who could ask for more?”

Her life lived well is what has impacted thousands of women worldwide and is the main thing women come away with who attend our retreats. Sadly, in this day and age, living a great life seems to be an extraordinary accomplishment. Her lecture on ‘Get a Great Life’ is what has spurred women on to not merely limp into recovery dragging their souls behind them, but to burst into recovery and fill their lives to the rim with all the things that their big personalities need in order to live fully. Lifeless living is what causes many women to seek the psychopath who’s so full of energy that it makes their lives seem so exciting and vibrant. Joyce said, “The problem is pointing to the solution. I loved the energy of those men! But what was that energy, and why couldn’t I have it another way? Was a psychopath the only way for me to feel life?”

Joyce learned that vibrancy came from a life that was full of the things that interested, motivated, supported, and challenged HER. If she wasn’t living a big enough, interesting enough, motivational enough, supported enough, and challenged enough life… she would drift again into the arms of pathology to fill that space.

Feel how big YOU are and fill your own life with a great life!

One of our readers memorialized Joyce on our Facebook page:

Thank you, dear lady, for your continued inspiration—a legacy you’ve left to many you never knew, but who have come to love you [posthumously] for your feistiness, tenacity, grit and that wonderful sense of humor!”

Feel how big YOU are and, as Joyce did, fill your own life with greatness. As she would say, “Get a great life,” and stop the cycle of pathology!

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

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 a lot 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—stop making excuses for his behavior, quietly 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 ways he DOES fit in, you scour every square inch of your memory and his behavior looking for ONE redeeming trait that is supposed 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. It means telling 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 the abuse you incurred, you are responsible for your own recovery and the safety of you (and your 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.’ We see so many women do part one: acknowledge the victimhood, but then 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 tell ourselves the truth

about our own recovery—we have to kick our own butts if we stagnate or stop growing. Some women find their identities in their victimization because of the severe abuse and loss of self-esteem. Years later, some women have never done anything for their own recovery. They read one book, saw themselves 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. It 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 is 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 really even care if he’s lying), and both of you know how to fake it to ward off the pain and loneliness. 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—you sigh and resign yourself to just living in 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 through that night without sabotaging yourself. The video is replaying all the fragments that only show the ‘good parts’ 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, and abandonment actually INCREASE people’s feeling of attachment. The more you have been hurt by him, the more intensely attached 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 with a No Contact strategy, 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 or a few months off from dating and jump right back in are shocked to find themselves back in the same thing again—but it’s 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 women 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 you ladies are up to the challenge. In the 25+ 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 so many years in the face of great odds (and often danger) to myself. But ALL of you are worth it!

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (and for The Institute, Pathology Awareness Month!), so I am starting the kickoff with this article on “Telling Yourself The Truth.” 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 support group and meet other ladies going through it too. Or jump on a plane or get in your car and go to the beautiful Carolinas, and begin your healing journey directly with Sandra. Whatever you do… tell yourself the truth so your recovery can start!

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

 

Deciding to Not Stay Where You Are

~ “The first step towards getting somewhere is to DECIDE that you are not going to stay where you are.” ~ (Anny Jacoby)

 

I just loved this quote when I read it. It reminds me of what we have been talking about now for quite some time and especially the “Living the Gentle Life” series of articles.

 

I get emails that say, “I can’t leave him because_________.” There are lots of reasons that people, both men and women, feel trapped in pathological love relationships for various reasons. It could be finances, children, poor health, lack of employment or education, religious beliefs, family, attitude, fear of harm, or their own damage from PTSD. But the first step toward an internal shift, where something else might be a possibility, is beginning with knowing that you are not going to stay where you are.

 

The external reasons of why you are still there are just that—external. The paradigm shift starts internally—the decision you make that you are not going to stay where you are, whether emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, or sexually. Externally, things begin to happen when you simply make the decision that at some time in the near future, you are not going to stay where you are. What happens outside of us in recovery starts with the shift internally, before it is ever manifested in our lives. We won’t follow a path that isn’t first developed internally. We’ll end up only seeing roadblocks of the external, which doesn’t help us. The first thing that has to happen is the decision for internal movement.

 

Over the 25+ years of working with pathology and its victims, I have heard every kind of story about pathological relationships. Anything from the most deviant kind of mind control to attempted murder to actual murder. I’ve heard of financial hostage taking, rape, assaults, stalking, women put into comas, people alienated from their children, people being medically harmed, reputations and careers ruined, and people locked in their homes or psyches for decades. I’ve heard it all. The emails start with, “But, I can’t”—and then they give the reason for their inability to leave.

 

But there is movement happening in them that they might not see. They have read articles on our website, our newsletters, or are emailing us so obviously something inside is shifting. Somewhere, they are deciding they are not going to stay where they are! Even mentally they are moving and changing. Their “yes, but” might be a reason to them, but they are already deciding to not stay where they are.

 

Yes, there are safety and housing barriers. Remember, every community has domestic violence (DV) servicesor DV housing which most likely exists in your area.

 

Yes, there are emotional barriers—you have PTSD. Remember most communities have DV counseling services that are free – churches have support groups, and community mental health counseling for you or your children is free or very low in cost.

 

Yes, there are starting-over barriers when you leave with only what’s in your suitcase. Remember, DV services and other nonprofit organizations offer furniture, clothing and household items to those starting over.

 

Yes, there are legal barriers—you don’t have an attorney. Remember self-help, nonprofit and women’s organizations. DV agencies have information on legal aid and OTHER types of pro bono services if you don’t qualify for legal aid.

 

Yes, there are other case-specific barriers—there are so many issues to manage at once. Remember women’s organizations, DV agencies and other nonprofit organizations have case workers assigned to you so you don’t have to do it all yourself.

 

You need only first decide that you are not going to stay where you are. That’s the first step to the rest of your life. That doesn’t mean you leave tomorrow—that means you shift internally—that you open the emotional door of possibility that you will not always be where you are today.

 

Right around the corner is October – Domestic Violence Awareness month when I stop and give tribute and memory to those patients of mine who have died because they believed they couldn’t do anything about their situation or they underestimated his (or her) pathology. In honor of all those who have been harmed, alive or not, we remember you and send possibility to those living in a pathological situation that your life can and will be different. I don’t say that flippantly—I too have experienced a lot of pain when I see patients further harmed, so I say it from my own experience.

 

The Institute has helped thousands of people make that paradigm shift internally so they could eventually make it externally.

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Breathe

by Jennifer Young, LMHC

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Your breath is your life. It is the power that moves you. It is the energy that drives you. It is the fire that keeps you alive. Your breath keeps you focused on the task at hand. Your breath helps you slow down and relax. Your breath moves through your body like a river, creating life along its banks.

In pathological relationship recovery, all of these things are needed. The things that your breath provides are the things that will help you get better. You need power, energy, fire, focus, and relaxation to create life again. So it makes sense that a big part of recovery is that you learn to breathe again.

It seems odd that you might need to learn to breathe again, but you do. You lost control of your breath the moment you were first traumatized in the pathological relationship. That first red flag that rose took your breath away. The first time he called you a nasty name, or showed up unannounced when you had said you were going to be busy, or anytime his masked slipped enough for you to see his pathology. These are moments when your breath became off balance for the first time. Your breath took over in a sense. You may not have felt it; but you sensed it.

When you experience a trauma, your body leaps into survival mode. In order for you to survive, certain primary functions must lead the way. Your breath first stops and slows which signals a release of adrenaline. This process then tells your body to be on alert. Other physiological symptoms occur like sweating, confusion, a fast heart beat. Through the event your breath is moving in a pressured way…often making your chest feel heavy. As the perception of the trauma resolves you come back to yourself. But what happens in a pathological relationship is that you never really leave the exposure to the trauma so you never really come back to yourself. Your body and breath is always on alert, off balance, unsure of when the next moment of fear will occur.

After an extended exposure to psychological trauma, your breath is not even on your radar. When you live “in trauma” you stop being able to sense your breath and often miss the other physiological symptoms too. You are so busy “thinking” in circles that your body’s warning signs and symptoms are “normalized”. This is the epitome of losing yourself. Without this awareness and mindfulness, you are not present. Your mind is taking you on a journey outside of the present moment, “What do I do next?”, “What did I do wrong?”, “What can I do to make this stop?” With these thoughts come the behavioral options – fight, flight or freeze.

There is another way through trauma and trauma recovery…breathe. Being able to regain the mindfulness of breathing can change everything. Whether you are still in the midst of trauma or working hard to recover from it, the focus on breathing is crucial. It is really the foundation for recovery.

You can begin by learning how to take good, deep breaths. In through your nose…count to three slowly as you inhale…and out through your mouth…count to three as you exhale. As you breathe listen to the sound of the breath moving in through your nose and hear the breath leaving your mouth. Feel the coolness and the relaxing sensation of each breath. Stay present and focused with each breath.

After you learn to breathe again, add daily scheduled time to practice. It is recommended that you spend 15-20 minutes each night before bed practicing relaxation and mindful breathing. You can start with a shorter time frame and build up to the full 20 minutes.

 

After you believe you have mastered the breathing, you can begin to add in mindfulness skills like turning your mind to thoughts of your immediate sensations. Turn your mind to take in the sights around you, the sounds you hear, the sensations you feel or the scents you smell. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the present and immediate moment. Focus on just what is within your own space.

So now you can begin to catch your breath. You can begin the process of calming your body, your mind and your spirit. When you are breathing in a calm and measured way, you are at your best. With a steady breath, you will be able to think clearly, respond smartly, and behave in a way that is safe.

But it all begins with one slow, deep breath.

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation – Part 4

billeddy1

Lying in Family Court

by Bill Eddy, Esquire, L.C.S.W.

When I became a family law attorney/mediator after a dozen years as a therapist, one of the biggest surprises was the extent of lying in Family Court – lies about income, assets and even complete fabrications of child abuse and domestic violence. Why would people lie so much, I wondered? How did they get away with it? The following is my psychosocial analysis of what I believe has become an epidemic:

Men Lie

It was a sad phone call from a relatively new client. He informed me his father had just died. He had quit his job and was moving back east to wrap up his father’s affairs. He asked me to tell his wife’s attorney that he would not be able to pay child support for their three young children for a long time. (There was no support order yet.)

The next day, his wife’s attorney called me back and described how upset she was to learn of her father-in-law’s death. So upset that she had called his father- — and had a nice chat!

Women Lie

A mother involved in a custody battle told the court in dramatic detail about physical abuse at the hands of her husband. She even submitted reports of visits to doctors and emergency rooms for her bruises. However, a court-ordered psychological evaluation determined the allegations were false. The court agreed and awarded custody to the father. A few weeks later the mother picked up the children from school and disappeared for a year. She was caught, sent to jail for parental kidnapping, and the children were returned to the father.

Societal Increase in Lying

Surveys show that lying has increased over the past decade. In 1999 alone, the President was tried in Congress for perjury; a popular journalist in Boston was publicly fired for fabricating heart-rending stories; and a scientist was exposed for falsifying research on a high-profile safety issue.

We have become a society of individuals where personal gain is more important than community values. In this mobile “information age,” we rely on strangers and are easily fooled. In business, politics, and the movies, winning is everything. Successful manipulation and deceit are admired. In court, lying is often rewarded and rarely punished.

No Penalty for Perjury

Divorce Courts rely heavily on “he said, she said” declarations, signed “under penalty of perjury.” However, a computer search of family law cases published by the appellate courts shows only one appellate case in California involving a penalty for perjury: People v. Berry (1991) 230 Cal. App. 3d 1449. The penalty? Probation.

Perjury is a criminal offense, punishable by fine or jail time, but it must be prosecuted by the District Attorney -who does not have the time. Family Court judges have the ability to sanction (fine) parties, but no time to truly determine that one party is lying. Instead, they may assume both parties are lying or just weigh their credibility. With no specific consequence, the risks of lying are low.

Personality Disorders and Patterns of Lying

Family Courts see everything – from small deceptions about income to the complete fabrication of abuse. The increase in lying seems to correspond with the rising number of people with personality disorders. They often have internal distress, less empathy for others, a highly adversarial world view, an intense and manipulative nature, and a sense of victimization which they use to justify harming others. Studies show they have identifiable and predictable patterns of lying:

  • A party with a Borderline Personality Disorder may lie out of anger or even self-deception in an effort to maintain a bond with their child or spouse- or to retaliate for abandonment. Battles over custody and visitation are common.
  • One with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder may lie to boost themselves or to put other people down. They enjoy manipulating the truth and other people’s lives. They may experience excitement and a sense of power by successfully fooling the court and dominating the other party.
  • An Antisocial Personality Disorder is characterized by deception, manipulation, and disrespect for authority. Commonly known as “con artists,” they are skilled at breaking the rules. They fabricate detailed events and use the courts to get revenge or money. Their lack of empathy makes them constant liars – and often violent.
  • A Histrionic Personality Disorder is often highly dramatic and demanding, with superficial charm and seductiveness. They are skilled at lying and self-deception. Fabrication is also common.

 

(All articles are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced; however, feel free to put a link to this page.)

Purchase Bill Eddy’s books:

High Conflict People in Legal Disputes

* All content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Institute.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation – Part 3

billeddy1

How Family Court Fits Personality Disorders

by Bill Eddy, Esquire, L.C.S.W.

Family Court is perfectly suited to the fantasies of someone with a personality disorder: There is an all-powerful person (the judge) who will punish or control the other spouse. The focus of the court process is perceived as fixing blame — and many with personality disorders are experts at blame. There is a professional ally who will champion their cause (their attorney — or if no attorney, the judge).

A case is properly prepared by gathering statements from allies — family, friends, and professionals. (Seeking to gain the allegiance of the children is automatic — they too are seen as either allies or enemies. A simple admonition will not stop this.) Generally, those with personality disorders are highly skilled at — and invested in — the adversarial process.

Those with personality disorders often have an intensity that convinces inexperienced professionals — counselors and attorneys — that what they say is true. Their charm, desperation, and drive can reach a high level in this very emotional, bonding process with the professional. Yet this intensity is a characteristic of a personality disorder, and is completely independent from the accuracy of their claims.

What Can Be Done

Judges, attorneys, and family court counselors need to be trained in identifying personality disorders and how to treat them. Mostly, a corrective on-going relationship is needed — preferably with a counselor. However, they usually must be ordered into this because their belief systems include a life-time of denial and avoidance of self- reflection.

Family Code Section 3190 allows the court to order up to one year of counseling for parents, if:

  • “(1) The dispute between the parents or between a parent and the child poses a substantial danger to the best interest of the child.

[or]

  • (2)The counseling is in the best interest of the child.”

Therapists, in addition to being supportive, need to help clients challenge their own thinking: about their role in the dispute; about the accuracy of their view of the other party; and about their high expectations of the court. Further, therapists should never form clinical opinions or write declarations about parties they haven’t interviewed. Likewise, attorneys need to also challenge their clients’ thinking and not accept their declarations at face value.

More time should be spent educating them to focus on negotiating solutions, rather than escalating blame. The court should make greater use of sanctions under Family Code Section 271 for parties and attorneys who refuse to negotiate and unnecessarily escalate the conflict and costs of litigation.

The court must realize that the parties are often not equally at fault. One or both parties may have a personality disorder, but that does not necessarily mean both are offenders (violent, manipulative, or lying). A non-offending, dependent spouse may truly need the court’s assistance in dealing with the offender. The court should not be neutralized by mutual allegations without looking deeper. Otherwise, because of their personality style, the most offending party is often able to continue their offender behavior — either by matching the other’s true allegations for a neutral outcome, or by being the most skilled at briefly looking good and thereby receiving the court’s endorsement.

The court is in a unique position to motivate needed change in personal behavior. In highly contested cases, counseling or consequences should be ordered. Professionals and parties must work together to fully diagnose and treat each person’s underlying problems, rather than allowing the parties (and their advocates) to become absorbed in an endless adversarial process. Because their largest issues are internal, they will never be resolved in court.

In next week’s article, we will cover lying in family court.

(All articles are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced; however, feel free to put a link to this page.)

Purchase Bill Eddy’s books:

High Conflict People in Legal Disputes

* All content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Institute.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation – Part 2

billeddy1Personality Disorders Appearing in Family Court

by Bill Eddy, Esquire, L.C.S.W.

Probably the most prevalent personality disorder in family court is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) –more commonly seen in women. BPD may be characterized by wide mood swings, intense anger even at benign events, idealization (such as of their spouse — or attorney) followed by devaluation (such as of their spouse — or attorney).

Also common is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) — more often seen in men. There is a great preoccupation with the self to the exclusion of others. This may be the vulnerable type, which can appear similar to BPD, causing distorted perceptions of victimization followed by intense anger (such as in domestic violence or murder, for example the San Diego case of Betty Broderick). Or this can be the invulnerable type, who is detached, believes he is very superior and feels automatically entitled to special treatment.

Histrionic Personality Disorder also appears in family court, and may have similarities to BPD but with less anger and more chaos.

Anti-social Personality Disorder includes an extreme disregard for the rules of society and very little empathy. (A large part of the prison population may have Anti-social Personality Disorder.

Dependent Personality Disorder is common, but usually is preoccupied with helplessness and passivity, and is rarely the aggressor in court — but often marries a more aggressive spouse, sometimes with a personality disorder.

Cognitive Distortions and False Statement

Because of their history of distress, those with personality disorders perceive the world as a much more threatening place than most people do. Therefore, their perceptions of other people’s behavior is often distorted — and in some cases delusional. Their world view is generally adversarial, so they often see all people as either allies or enemies in it. Their thinking is often dominated by cognitive distortions, such as: all-or-nothing thinking, emotional reasoning, personalization of benign events, minimization of the positive and maximization of the negative. They may form very inaccurate beliefs about the other person, but cling rigidly to those beliefs when they are challenged — because being challenged is usually perceived as a threat.

People with personality disorders also appear more likely to make false statements. Because of the thought process of a personality disorder, the person experiences interpersonal rejection or confrontation much more deeply than most people. Therefore the person has great difficulty healing and may remain stuck in the denial stage, the depression stage, or the anger stage of grief — avoiding acceptance by trying to change or control the other person. Lying may be justified in their eyes — possibly to bring a reconciliation. (This can be quite convoluted, like the former wife who alleged child sexual abuse so that her ex-husband’s new wife would divorce him and he would return to her — or so she seemed to believe.) Or lying may be justified as a punishment in their eyes. Just as we have seen that an angry spouse may kill the other spouse, it is not surprising that many angry spouses lie under oath.

There is rarely any consequence for this, as family court judges often believe the truth cannot be known — or that both are lying.

Projection

Just as an active alcoholic or addict blames others for their substance abuse, those with personality disorders are often preoccupied with other people’s behavior while avoiding any examination of their own behavior. Just as a movie projector throws a large image on a screen from a hidden booth, those with personality disorders project their internal conflicts onto their daily interactions — usually without knowing it. All the world is a stage — including court.

It is not uncommon in family court declarations for one with a personality disorder to claim the other party has characteristics which are really their own (“he’s manipulative and falsely charming” or “she’s hiding information and delaying the process”), and do not fit the other party. Spousal abusers claim the other is being abusive. Liars claim the other is lying. (One man who knew he was diagnosed with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder claimed his wife also had an NPD simply because she liked to shop.)

In next week’s article, we will discuss how family court fits Personality Disorders.

(All articles are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced; however, feel free to put a link to this page.)

Purchase Bill Eddy’s books:

High Conflict People in Legal Disputes

 

* All content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Institute.

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation – Part 1

billeddy1William A. (”Bill”) Eddy is co-founder and president of High Conflict Institute, LLC, in Scottsdale, Arizona and Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego, California. He is a Certified Family Law Specialist in California with more than fifteen years’ experience representing clients in family court. Prior to becoming an attorney in 1992, he was a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with twelve years’ experience providing therapy to children, adults, couples and families in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics.

 He is the author of several books, including “High Conflict People in Legal Disputes” (Janis Publications, 2006), and “Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist (Eggshells Press, 2004). Bill has become an international speaker on the subject of high-conflict personalities, providing seminars to attorneys, mediators, collaborative law professionals, judges, ombudspersons and others.

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation – Part 1

By Bill Eddy, Esquire, L.C.S.W.

I was first exposed to the concept of personality disorders in 1980 when I was in training as a therapist at the San Diego Child Guidance Clinic at Childrens Hospital. The DSM-III had just come out and Axis II of the five diagnostic categories required the therapist to diagnose the presence or absence of a personality disorder. (The DSM-IV used the same approach.)

I quickly learned (often the hard way) that the presenting problems on Axis I (e.g. depression, substance abuse) were simply replaced by new ones, if an underlying personality disorder was not addressed in therapy.

Now that I have completed several years as a family law attorney, I have frequently witnessed the same underlying issues in hotly contested family court litigation — yet these remain undiagnosed and, therefore, misunderstood. As those with personality disorders generally view relationships from a rigid and adversarial perspective, it is inevitable that a large number end up in the adversarial process of court.

Since more flexible and cost-conscious people nowadays are resolving their divorces in mediation, attorney-assisted negotiation, or just by themselves, those cases remaining in litigation may be increasingly driven by personality disorders.

The Nature of a Personality Disorder

Someone with a personality disorder is usually a person experiencing chronic inner distress (for example fear of abandonment), which causes self-sabotaging behavior (such as seeking others who fear abandonment), which causes significant problems (such as rage at any perceived hint of abandonment) — in their work lives and/or their personal lives. They may function quite well in one setting, but experience chaos and repeated problems in others. They look no different from anyone else, and often present as very attractive and intelligent people. However, it is usually after you spend some time together — or observe them in a crisis — that the underlying distress reaches the surface.

As interpersonal distress, fear of abandonment, and an excessive need for control are predominant symptoms of personality disorders, they place a tremendous burden on a marriage. Therefore, intense conflicts will eventually arise in their marriages and the divorce process will also be a very conflictual process.

In contrast to people who are simply distressed from going through a divorce (over 80% are recovering significantly after 2 years), people with personality disorders grew up very distressed. It is the long duration of their dysfunction (since adolescence or early adulthood) which meets the criteria of a personality disorder.

Usually they developed their personality style as a way of coping with childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment, an emotionally lacking household, or simply their biological predisposition. While this personality style may have been an effective adaptation in their “family of origin,” in adulthood it is counter-productive. The person remains stuck repeating a narrow range of interpersonal behaviors to attempt to avoid this distress.

In the next segment we will discuss the different types of personality disorders and what it’s like to be in court with them.

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Purchase Bill Eddy’s books:

High Conflict People in Legal Disputes

* All content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Institute.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Helping Women Find Effective Strategies for Court

By Sandra L. Brown, MA

Leaving a pathological is never easy—they aren’t wired to allow for easy separation and disengagement.  What they value most is drama, trauma, and the perpetuation of misery at any cost.  High on their entertainment list is any legal activity—especially divorces, separations, and custody battles. Pathologicals get bored easily and have a high need for entertainment. They are high-excitement seekers and have low impulse control.  This all equals great legal combativeness coupled with great enjoyment of the process.

Pathologicals are highly litigious, meaning they LOVE to sue and go to court.  They are entertained by the drama of the court scene and love anything associated with being the victim in a legal process. Therefore, they are different than normal people in that they will keep this process going as long as necessary. They will even spend more money than they will ever recover JUST to be in court, JUST to be heard, and JUST so you won’t win.

There is no rationale when it comes to why they find court so enthralling. It’s almost like “legal malingering.” Malingering is a psychological disorder that means a person remains symptomatic because they get something out of it that we refer to as a “secondary gain.”  So it is true with the pathological in court—67 times to court for one case is not unheard of.

But the bottom line for you is that court is often traumatizing. Facing him can bring on flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares and anxiety. The faces he makes, his posturing and his stares can often leave you highly ineffective on the witness stand. Or you are unable to think in the courtroom in order to give your attorney correct input.

Some women are followed by the pathological after court. He may stalk her in his car or call her cell phone, belittling her about the court proceedings. Taunting her before the court date can bring a woman’s functioning level to an all-time low. She may miss work and, as a result, lose pay. She may have to pay and repay court fees as he switches dates around just to make a show of power.

Women who already have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), other chronic stress conditions, or autoimmune disorders like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or lupus, can end up bed-bound from the stress of the court drama and him. Since pathologicals love your debilitation, they are likely to stretch out the process by asking for more depositions, postponing court dates, adding more needed appearances, or even refusing a settled offer that is everything they asked for—anything to create more stress and havoc for you. Women will often do ANYTHING to avoid this kind of exposure to further abuse.

Since the pathological is rarely acknowledged for what he is, the court is not likely to identify his manipulative behaviors and so his requests are granted. You are tormented with more and more unproductive court appearances as he acts like the perpetual victim.

A woman can get PTSD-like symptoms just from how she’s treated in court or in depositions. The criminal court is known for favoring criminals, so anyone who is not criminal often finds the process abusive and traumatizing. A woman will often give away her rights, property, and money just to avoid him and court all together. She and her children are then exposed to poverty, marginal employment and a reduced quality of life ALL because she wants to avoid being traumatized by him and an unbalanced court system.

I have said for many years that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological. They get away with more dirty deeds, especially in court, than any normal person would ever get away with. For this reason, women come to know that their chances in court with a pathological, who is so dramatic, convincing, and unnerved by the process, is nil.

Women have had very ineffective means for balancing the scales of Her-vs-The Psychopath in family court. That’s because few women know about one VERY effective strategy that helps her regain her court composure—using a PTSD diagnosis to receive special accommodations during court proceedings.

As we have constantly mentioned, many of the women who come through our program have PTSD that was acquired during the pathological relationship or was made worse by the relationship. PTSD is a trauma disorder—meaning you were traumatized in some way, which is how you acquired it.

PTSD symptoms can last for short or long periods of time and are almost always increased by stress—such as stress by being in court or stress created by his behavior while in court. These types of recurring symptoms can negatively impact your effectiveness in court and can require special accommodations so you are able to function during court. Some of these special accommodations include:

  • Having the woman speak over a speaker phone in another room so she doesn’t have to face him.
  • Not having him in the courtroom.
  • Having him detained so she can leave early from the courtroom.
  • Calling in to the courtroom from home to avoid having to attend the hearing in person.
  • If she has to attend—having a disability advocate present with her.
  • Having him not be allowed to speak directly to her when walking past him from the courtroom.

 

All of these special accommodations can greatly ease the stress normally associated with court, but are not granted unless a special ADA (American with Disabilities Act http://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm) accommodation is granted.

Accommodations can also be made for:

  • Emotional triggering caused by discussing the situation
  • Memory recall problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Flexibility with deadlines because of amnesic symptoms or recurring trauma when having to testify in front of him
  • Emergency hearing to enforce court orders
  • Rehabilitative alimony for treatment of PTSD for you or your children

PTSD is the disorder most associated with pathological love relationships. A diagnosis of this can help women acquire accommodations that are associated with the ADA accommodations offered. You simply have to have a diagnosis that requires special accommodations in order for you to function. (In our article, “PTSD as Trauma Disorder—NOT Psychiatric Illness,” we discussed the differences between mental illnesses and emotional, trauma-based disorders such as PTSD.)

http://legalabusesyndrome.com/ provides information about writing your PTSD Accommodations Request Report for the court. This is a HUGE breakthrough for women because once you have received ADA accommodations, the judges and attorneys MUST adhere to protocols developed for ADA which are federally based and help accommodate your needs in order to function in court. Protocols not followed are prosecutable, making the courts highly attentive to meeting federal protocols. This could also apply to your children if they have PTSD, and could hopefully impact how they are to be treated in court and how their needs must be met.

Before we get a FLOOD of letters and emails about this, here is what you need to know:

  • You must legitimately have PTSD. If you have already been diagnosed with PTSD, you have already jumped one hurdle.
  • If you need to be diagnosed, you must be evaluated by a licensed professional such as a mental health professional or a psychiatrist.
  • Once you are diagnosed, you will need to draft your PTSD Accommodations Report. This is a time-consuming and lengthy report of approximately 10-15 pages. It is a highly specialized report. It is unlikely that your doctor or health care professional will construct something of this nature as it addresses specific areas to meet the criteria for ADA. (There are ADA Advocates, professionals, who can help with this but, of course, they charge for this report; however, we believe that what the report renders to you is highly worth the investment.)
  • This is NOT the same thing as being declared “disabled,” and has nothing to do with physical or mental disability or acquiring disability payments.
  • PTSD, if diagnosed, does become part of one’s medical and/or psychological record.

We believe that these Accommodations Reports are the beginning of leveling the playing field when it comes to being in court with pathologicals. We also believe that children who are diagnosed with PTSD and who have acquired it from living with the pathological may have a far more arguable case about custody when courts try to mandate visitation with the very one who caused PTSD.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

 

 

 

Fantasy Re­runs or ‘Obsession Interruptus’

Everyone knows what ‘coitus interruptus’ is–but what you really need to know is what ‘emotional obsession interruptus’ is!

In the past, I have talked about the inherent traps, pitfalls, and perils of how people get roped back in to the pathological relationships during ‘weak moments’ of family or relationship fantasizing about normal relationships. There are no Normal Rockwells, oh, I meant ‘Norman’ Rockwells with narcissists and psychopaths. As much as you want to paint the picture of a happy family, that’s not what you got.

What you do have is a pathological dynamic. Discussion about family fantasizing stirs up many people who want to remain in the fantasy. Loneliness is subjective. You’re with them but you are STILL lonely because pathology doesn’t pay attention to anything other than itself.

One of my brilliant proteges, Carol, has SOOOO understood the issue about pathology, personality disorders and the lies you tend to tell yourself —wrote me this brilliant analogy of people who don’t want to ‘get it.’ She is speaking for the people who get offended when you discuss ending the relationship or when the newsletter hits them hard on some aspect of their denial. (read this with some sarcasm….)

“I am offended that someone shed the light on psychopathy in the newsletter. I am offended that I might be set free from my psychopath. I am happy and joyous to be in the secret and dark world of my psychopath. I am happy to unsubscribe from the very thing that might set me free from my soul destroying psychopath. I am happy to continue on the path through hell with my charming psychopath. I enjoy my time more when I spend it with a pathological.”

This ‘emotional obsession interruptus’ as I like to call it, is a re­framing technique that works incredibly well when said out loud. Repeat Carol’s often…but say it OUT LOUD and not merely just read silently.

Fantasizing normal family life is nothing new. The truth is, people want healthy families. They want what they see others have– enjoyable and meaningful relationships. Then they try to reproduce that with their own families who may not have the same capacity for normality.

Pathological people have challenges that interrupt their ability to sustain the consistent positive change you want them to make. ‘Wanting’ to have JUST ONE occasion in which everyone gets along, there is no fighting, no one gets drunk or hits someone, or no one overtly insults others doesn’t mean that the pathologicals in your life have the ABILITY to give that to you.

Repetition compulsion is often re­enacted within relationships. This is repeating the same event over and over trying to get a different and satisfying outcome. This is, sadly, what we often see in Adult Children of Pathological Parents. At 43, they are STILL trying to have that ONE Christmas with a narcissistic mother or a borderline father so that a healing can take place in them. Each year they start with the same hope that this year the parent, sibling or partner will do something kind and sweet or will ‘behave.’ They desperately feel like they need one restorative experience to heal their dysfunctional family memories.

Repetition compulsion can leave adults trapped in this never ending desire for just one good experience, but, now they have pulled their own children into the same cycle creating an inter­generational experience of exposure to pathology. (Ever see the movie ‘Stuart Saves His Family?’)

While it is painful to face the reality that pathology is related to the inability to change, grow, or have insight about their own behavior, it is less painful than putting yourself and your children through another cycle of hope and despair. Pathological parents, siblings, or partners can challenge you in ways that are kinder to yourself to just avoid.

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com