Living the Gentle Life Part 6:Healing Your Own World View

Healing Your Own World View

“Be gentle with yourself. The rest of your life deserves it.” (Sandra L. Brown, MA)

Over the past month or more I have been talking about healing from a dangerous and/or pathological relationship. The chronic stress disorder and often Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that occurs from the damage done in the relationship requires a serious change in lifestyle in order to heal.

We have been talking about those changes–what needs to change physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In the last segment, we discussed the negative ‘world view’ effects resulting from pathological exposure. The negative world view impacts how you now see your post-pathological relationship world. This includes how you NOW see yourself, others, the world, your future, and God. (You can read past issues about this subject on our blog–the link is listed below).

One of the seriously ‘under treated’ effects of pathological relationship exposure is the healing of the personal world view (you can listen to the audio segment I created about this topic on the magazine under CDs/Audios. The untreated aspects ‘mimic’ PTSD symptoms with increases in depression, anxiety, fear, isolation, dread of the future and other similarly related PTSD side-effects. Healing your world view is critical to a healthy future.

Another often ‘untreated’ effect of pathological relationship exposure is the ‘unconscious adopting of the pathological’s world view.’ Not only was your world view altered from the damage done to you IN the relationship, but your world view was also altered from the damage done to you THRU the pathological. One of the unrelenting side effects is the ‘learned experience’ of seeing the world through ‘his’ eyes.

One of the things that makes pathologicals, pathological is the effect of their pathology on how they see themselves in relation to the world and others. Pathologicals are noted for their over/under sense of themselves, over/under opinion of others, and their unusual view of what the world ’should’ do for them.

While you may not have adopted these exact views like the pathological, chances are that your views have been tainted with the pathological’s viewpoint. This can include normalizing abnormal behaviors or dissociating pieces of reality AWAY from yourself. Normalizing can make womanizing, over/under employment, drug dealing, alcohol/drug abuse, domestic violence, lying, cheating, stealing, or other overtly wrong behavior ‘marginal’ when you have taken on his view of life and right/wrong. Pathologicals don’t operate by the rules. They create them for their unique situations and break them for fun.

When your grip on societal boundaries begins to slip, you have been affected by his view of the world. When his behaviors become ‘just a little different’ than other people’s or ‘all people are like this’ — your world view has been infiltrated. When you begin to think of other people like he does, or define others by his warped definitions, when you believe his ‘take’ on things or tell yourself only partials truths so you don’t have to really see his ‘real’ self–your world view has been penetrated. When you become numb and lethargic to the things he has done, your world view has been violated.

This is just one more aspect of your wounded world view that needs healing if you are going to recover. A wounded world view does not allow for living the gentle life. And the gentle life is probably not even possible until the way you see yourself, others, and the world becomes ‘gentle.’
Pathologicals are harsh. They leave people feelings irritated, rubbed raw, and chapped. Your interior does not feel ‘gentle’ –it feels the opposite of it. Pathologicals are notoriously ‘negative’ so you may have found your mood, thinking, and reactions to have taken on his negativity. It’s hard to heal when everything looks like he told you it looked–bad (and it’s all your fault!) It’s hard to live the gentle life for yourself when your emotions are anything BUT gentle.

This is the point about the necessity of healing the world view–it’s a critical part of your recovery. Because having been warped by a pathological, ‘HOW you see determines WHAT you see.’

Visit www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com to learn more

Living the Gentle Life Part V-Soul Tearing;The Spiritual & World View Effects

The last few weeks I have been talking about the necessity of living a gentle life if you are recovering from a dangerous and/or pathological relationship. The damage it does to a person is profound and many are often diagnosed with a chronic stress disorder OR Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of it. These disorders respond best to a ‘gentle life’ that allows the body, mind, and spirit to rest from the overload of adrenaline and stress it has experienced in the dangerous relationship.  (Read our previous newsletters about this topic listed on the magazine)
I have talked about physically how to ‘adjust’ your environment if you have a stress disorder and we also talked about the emotional effects—anxiety, depression, and other after-effects associated with PTSD.  Today, we are going to talk about the spiritual effects.

Dangerous and pathological relationships violate at a deep soul level. That’s because it touches on the core building blocks of our concepts about relationships–Trust, Love, and Hope. Deception is evil and sick and when you realize ‘who/what’ you have been with, there is a violation that cuts to the deepest part of a person: their spirit.

Often these kinds of pathological relationships have already ‘played into’ your soul connection…leading you down the path of believing that your ‘connection’ was spiritual in nature. There were probably lots of promises of the ‘life together’ and all the ‘reasons God brought you two together.’ In the end, they were lies but before you knew they were lies, they were HOPES.

~ “Hope is the thing with wings, that perches in the soul.” ~ (Emily Dickinson)

So many pathological relationships have “an intense attachment” that feels like ‘connection’ or ’soul mate status’ when in reality it is just the intense game of the ‘pathological’ sucking you in and hoping you will confuse intensity with something healthy.

But Hope, Love, and Trust are all core spiritual values and when you have invested those core values and beliefs in someone and then the heinous deception is revealed that the ‘goal’ of the relationship was to manipulate you all along, something ‘rips’ inside of you. This ’soul tearing’ brings a spiritual skepticism, a distrust that permeates everything you EVER believed…sometimes even about God.

It’s a disastrous wound to your ‘world view’ and how you see yourself, others, God, and the world at large.

These mortal wounds to your world view can last a long time because, in effect, they are the ways you have come to ‘believe’ about yourself (I can’t trust my intuition), others (everyone is evil), the world (it’s a sick place) and God (He didn’t protect me). This profound shift in your world view can increase the symptoms of PTSD–depression, anxiety, alienation, loneliness, isolation, and a fear or dread of the future.

So often the spiritual effects of the pathological relationship are overlooked both by the victim and by the therapist. This ‘world view’ earthquake has shaken the foundation of your belief system. Without repair to the foundation from which you build your self concept, healing is limited to only symptom management. Spiritual healing of your world view is paramount to your overall recovery.

I have created a 15 minute audio (mp3) “Spiritual Effects’ that goes into more detail about healing your world view and the spiritual effects of dangerous relationships. I think the audio will greatly help your understanding of WHY this part of yourself MUST be healed as well and how the unhealed aspects can impact depression, anxiety, reaching out to others, and your future relationships. You can pick it up on the magazine under Shopping/CDs, Audios.

Also, if you are in counseling, please allow your counselor to listen to the mp3 too. This will help them address these issues with you in counseling. This is an area so often ‘under treated’ by other counselors. I teach on this aspect a lot at professional conferences and therapists are eager to understand this aspect of spiritual side effects and its impact on chronic stress disorders.

Living the Gentle Life Part IV-‘Ah….just get a life!’

People ever tell you that? Sometimes from the chronic stress and upheaval the pathological relationship causes, people can get very one-dimensional and hyper-focused on him/the relationship/or the problems. They stop doing the kinds of things in their life that could help them be LESS obsessed, depressed, or anxious. That’s because women really tend to ‘lose themselves’ in the pathological relationship. It’s a testimony to the strength of pathology.

The crazier it gets, the more they feel like they need to ‘try to understand it’ or ‘try to make him understand what he’s doing’ or ‘do something that will help the relationship feel less pathological.’ This idea can be a 24/7 thing…it can take up your whole life trying to balance the relationship, which, as you have figured out, is un-balanceable.

Getting lost in a very dark tunnel can draw people away from the actions, behaviors, thoughts, people, and resources that previously allowed them to live a happier and more balanced life. The dangerous and pathological relationship is ALL consuming and soon any level of your own self care is abandoned for the insane focus on how to fix him/the relationship.

It isn’t long before others around you notice the myopic/single focused person you have become that can’t think about or talk about anything except the dangerous relationship. This myopic view of your relationship has now blacked out any other part of your life…people are bailing out of your life, emotional resources are dwindling, your life has become the size and shape of him.

Women in the most dire of all situations (especially in domestic violence for instance) are those who have lost physical and emotional resources and can find no way to get out. The less support a woman feels from others the more likely she is to stay because it takes SUPPORT to get out/to break up/or to not go back. So, by the act of myopia, her life and resources just dwindle away.
One day someone says to her ‘man, you need to get a life bigger than THIS!’ and something really hits her about that statement. Like coming out of a big deep freeze…the light bulb goes on—she notices her lack of life and says “What happened to me? Where is my LIFE?????”

The last few weeks in the newsletter I have been talking about ‘Living the Gentle Life’–especially if you are someone who has lived in a pathological relationship or has a chronic stress disorder or PTSD from the relationship.A gentle life is a FULL life–one that includes the finds of things that nurture you, that bring peace to you, are simultaneously IN and PART of our lives.The gentle life is healing because to feel JOY is to send the right kinds of brain chemistry to your brain that fights depression and anxiety and gives the sensation of ‘well-being.’ We need to be Joy Hunters!

Women go back (or pick poorly again) because they fail to build a life for themselves. They know how to ‘invest, invest, invest’ in him and THEIR relationship with him but have NO idea how to ‘invest’ and build their own life WITHOUT HIM like the one listed above. Women who have out side healthy lives ARE the women most likely to get out and stay out.
Loneliness is one of the KEY risk factors in why women go back. There are so many ways to get your needs met for friendship, fun, support, beauty, or whatever you love in life. Building a ‘life’ is the best prevention for relapse a woman can do.

But sadly, many will NOT do it. After 20 years, I can pretty much pick out who will and won’t invest in themselves and build a life. Those that don’t are in the same boat 10 years down the road…either with this pathological person or another one just like him. Those that do build a life are less likely to feel pressured to date or get so lonely they pick up the phone and call him.
The Gentle Life isn’t even possible unless you have a life that is ready for transformation. Living with a pathological man or picking another one is about as OPPOSITE of a gentle life as there is. Will you be one that rebuilds a fabulous life? Or be stuck in your dependency on dangerous and pathological relationships?

So many women say “But I don’t know where to start in the rebuilding…my life has been like this SO long I don’t know where to begin.” This is such an important issue so to solidify this discussion, I have created a companion mp3 called “Stop Focusing on Him: Get a Great Life.” We ran it recently, but I’m gonna put the link in again because it’s such a great reminder!

Click HERE to see product

Living the Gentle Life,Part 3-The Emotional Effects

The Emotional Effects

In the previous newsletter, I have been talking about recovering from a pathological love relationship.  (You can read the previous newsletters on our website under Sandra Says.) The toll it takes on people often leaves them with symptoms of chronic stress.  For extremely bad relationships, often the result is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—a diagnosed anxiety disorder.  The long-term stress from the pathological love relationship (with narcissists, abusive partners, socio/psychopaths) affects people emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually.

I have been talking about what the body ‘does’ when it is under chronic stress and the results of this unrelenting stress.  (The previous newsletters about this are on the magazine site under Sandra’s Current Article).  The last newsletter discussed how to deal with the physical ramifications of stress, and I even created a unique relaxation audio for people with chronic stress or PTSD (which is available on the magazine site under Shopping/CDs, Audios.)  I also talked about changing your physical environment to embrace the needs of a stress disorder.

Today, we are going to discuss emotional effects and how to create the Gentle Life for your emotional needs as well.

PTSD is an emotional disorder that falls in the category of anxiety disorders.  Therefore, someone with chronic stress of any kind needs to learn the types of techniques that help reduce emotional anxiety.  The problem is, by the time people ask for help with chronic stress or PTSD, they have often lived with it for a long time and the symptoms are then extreme.

The emotional effects of untreated PTSD can include tension, panic attacks, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, or hyper-startle reflex.  All of these are distressing, and over time a combination of these symptoms can normally occur at the same time.

The relaxation technique is a way of managing the physical symptoms of PTSD.  Relaxation techniques are not ‘optional’ in the recovery of chronic stress/PTSD.  That’s because these techniques have a dual purpose.  These same relaxation techniques also help manage the emotional symptoms as well as the physical.  Learning correct breathing to ward off anxiety and panic attacks can be done through the relaxation techniques.

Likewise, these same techniques can help with sleep disruptions and tension.  Chronic stress and PTSD are disorders that should be treated by a professional therapist.  Especially with PTSD, the symptoms tend to increase over time if not treated.  People make the mistake of waiting until it is totally unbearable, and then it takes time to ease the symptoms.  People are often ‘hopeful’ it will just go away when the pathological relationship has ended or contact has ceased.  These aren’t the worst relationships in the world for nothing!  They are labeled as such, because they produce horrible side effects!

Unfortunately, PTSD is a chronic disorder meaning you are likely to have symptoms off and on for years, maybe a lifetime.  This is all the more reason to learn how to manage the symptoms when you may need to.  Intrusive thoughts are one of the most complained about symptoms.

This is when unwanted thoughts of the pathological person or relationship keep popping up in your head.  No matter how many times you try ‘not’ to think about it, it keeps coming back.  The problem with the imagery in your mind is that each time it pops in, it has the ability to trigger you.  Your body responds to the trigger with adrenaline and starts the whole stress cycle over again.  So managing the intrusive thoughts and flashbacks is imperative to emotionally regulating yourself and living the gentle life.

Living the gentle life means removing your self from personalities that are similar to the pathological relationship.  We often tend to migrate BACK to the same kind of people and relationships we just left.  These kinds of abusive people can cause an emotional avalanche.  It is important that you understand the kind of traits in people that should be avoided if you have PTSD or high-level stress.  These could be people who remind you of the pathological person, loud or aggressive people, or those who violate your boundaries or bother you in other ways.  Stress and PTSD do mandate that you develop self-protective skills such as setting boundaries—learning to say no or leave environments that increase your symptoms.  Learn to migrate instead, to people who are serene or leave you feeling relaxed and happy.

Creating your gentle physical environment will also help you emotionally.  An environment that is soothing, calm, quiet, soft, and comfortable has the best chance of allowing an over-stimulated body to relax.  Changing your physical environment for your emotional benefits, and adding the relaxation technique can greatly impact the amount of emotional symptoms you experience.  Learning ’emotional regulation skills’ for stress and PTSD is a must.

Living the Gentle Life Part 2-The Physical Effects

In the previous newsletter I had begun talking about the normal after-math of pathological love relationships—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Previous newsletter is on the magazine under Sandra’s Current Articles.)

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is often re-activated by daily ‘triggers.’ These can include people, places, things, or sensory feelings that reconnect you with the trauma of the relationship. In the last newsletter I talked about the gentle life and how an over-taxed and anxious body/mind needs a soothing life. I cannot stress this enough that people MUST remember that their PTSD symptoms CAN BE re-activated if you aren’t taking care of yourself and living a gentle life.
What IS a gentle life? A gentle life is a life lived remembering the sensitivities of your PTSD. It isn’t ignored, or wished away–it is considered and compensated for. Since PTSD affects one physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually–all of those elements need to be considered in a

gentle life. Just as if you had diabetes you would consider what you eat or what medication you need to take, so is it with PTSD.

Interestingly, although PTSD has its description listed in the psychiatric manuals, PTSD has some very real physical effects as well. In fact, they have even discussed listing it in physician’s manuals as well because the untreated on-going effects of acute stress are well known in the medical community. Since PTSD has both components of emotional and physical symptoms, someone recovering from PTSD must take those aspects into account.

Physically, PTSD is often a chronic condition by the time you take yourself for emotional help. That means you have been living with it for a while and it has been wreaking havoc on your physical body during that time. Unbridled anxiety/stress/fear pumps enormous amounts of adrenaline and cortisol into your body. This over stimulates your body and mind and causes insomnia, paranoia, hyperactivity, a racing mind/intrusive thoughts and the inability to ‘let down’ and ‘rest.’
A body that has been living on adrenaline needs the adrenal glands to ‘chill!’ People often complain of chronic insomnia which also leads to depression. Depression can lead to lethargy, over eating, weight gain and hopelessness. It is possible to have both anxiety and depression occurring at the same time. Un-managed stress, anxiety, and adrenaline can lead to longer term medical problems often associated with stress–lower GI problems, migraines, teeth grinding, aggravated periods, chest pain, panic attacks, chronic fatigue and most auto-immune disorders like fibromyalgia, lupus, chronic fatigue, arthritis, and MS.

So, CLEARLY PTSD is something that SHOULD be treated. Physically that means to go to someone who can diagnose you–a therapist or psychiatrist. In the early parts of treatment, it is normal to take anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressants or sleep aides in order to rectify your depleted brain chemistry and to allow the adrenal glands to ‘rest’ and stop pumping out the adrenaline. Your doctor is in the best position to tell you what will help you relieve your physical symptoms.

Additionally, you need to help your body and brain produce the ‘good stuff’ in your brain chemistry which means exercising, eating well, and learning relaxation techniques. Too much adrenaline has been pumping through your body with no way to get utilized. Excessive adrenaline makes your feel jumpy and restless. Exercise (even moderate walking) helps to produce endorphins in your brain that produce those feelings of ‘well-being’ and helps to burn off the adrenaline and any extra weight you might have gathered.

Although during depression you often don’t FEEL like exercising, you will always feel bad if you don’t get your body moving. Stress is even stored at the cellular level of our bodies. You must, must, must get moving in order to feel better.

Eating well means not trying to medicate your depression and low energy with carbs. When you are depressed your body craves carbs as a source of quick energy but the spikes in blood sugar add to the sense of mood highs and lows. You’ve already had enough ‘junk’ in the relationship–think of it as nurturing to give your body good food to replace all the ‘junk’ that it has been through. You can greatly help mood swings by eating well.

Dealing with the negative habits you have picked up as a ‘coping mechanism’ is also necessary. Lots of people with PTSD try to medicate their anxiety and depression. This could be through smoking, relationship hopping, sex, eating/binging/purging, drugs (legal and illegal) and the

increased use of alcohol. In fact, one of the devastating side effects of PTSD is how many alcoholics it produces. Anything you are prone to right now tends to increase when you have PTSD because you begin to do that habit more and more to manage your PTSD symptoms. Finding positive coping skills instead of negative habits is a great step in your recovery.

Physical recovery also means paying attention to not reactivating your symptoms. Your physical environment in which you live, play and work must be conducive to low stimulation. That means low lights, low noise, and low aggravation. Sometimes that means making big changes in how your house is run so that it is not loud, noisy and over active. Sometimes that means making big changes in the PEOPLE you hang out with — getting rid of the loud, noisy, over active, aggressive and pathological. And sometimes it means making big changes in a job where the environment does nothing but trigger you.

Lastly, learning relaxation techniques is not ‘optional’ for people with PTSD. PTSD is a chronic state of hyper-vigilance, agitation, and restlessness. Your body has been over-ridden with adrenaline for a long time and has ‘forgotten’ how to find it’s equilibrium in relaxation. It must be retaught. Re-teaching means doing it daily. Taking 5 – 10 minutes a day to use relaxation breathing and allowing your mind to unwind and giving positive messages to your body to relax will help your tap into this natural relaxation even during times you are not actively trying to relax. The more you use the technique, the quicker your body can relax–even at work or when you are doing something else because it has ‘remembered’ how to.

There are lots of tapes, CDs or videos you can buy on relaxation that walk you thru how to do it (we also have one created for PTSD on the magazine under Shopping/CDs, Audios. Or take Yoga where they teach you these deep breathing techniques that help correct the ’shallow/panting’ breathing that is associated with PTSD and anxiety. This type of breathing can actually trigger panic attacks. Learning to breathe well again is a metaphor for ‘exhaling’ all the junk you’ve been thru and releasing it. If you don’t have a relaxation tape, you are welcome to get our mp3 audio on relaxation techniques on our website. Most importantly is to just become acutely aware that PTSD is physical (and often medical) as it is emotional.

Living the Gentle Life Part 1

“Be gentle with yourself.  The rest of your life deserves it.” (Sandra L. Brown, MAPost Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a trauma-related anxiety disorder. PTSD is often seen as an aftermath symptom of Pathological Love Relationships. Exposure to other people’s pathology can and often does, give other people stress disorders, including PTSD. Our systems are simply not wired for long term exposure to someone else’s abnormal psychology. Often the result is a series of aftermath symptoms that include PTSD which is described as ‘a normal reaction to an abnormal life event.’ Being with a narcissist, socio or psychopath is definitely an ‘abnormal life event.’

PTSD’s profound and long term effects create what I refer to as a ‘cracked vessel.’ The fragmentation caused by the trauma creates a crack in the emotional defense system of the person. While treatment can ‘glue the crack back together’ and the vessel can once again function as a vessel, if pressure is applied to the crack, the vase will split apart again. This means, that the crack is a stress fracture in the vessel—it’s the part of the vessel that is damaged and weakened in that area.

There are numerous types of therapies that can help PTSD. If you have it, or someone you care about has it, you/they should seek treatment because it does not go away by itself and many people don’t realize that if left untreated, it can worsen. People often have missed the opportunity of treating PTSD when it was still relatively ‘treatable’ and responsive to therapy. The sooner PTSD is treated, the better the outcome. But any treatment can still help PTSD.

However, what is often not recognized is the ‘continual’ life that must be lived when living with the after effects of PTSD. Because the cracked vessel can re-crack again, a gentle and balanced life will relieve a lot of the PTSD symptoms that can linger. I have often seen people who have put a lot of effort into their recovery NOT put a lot of effort into the quality of a gentle life following treatment. This is a mistake because going back into a busy and crazy life can re-fragment the PTSD. As much as people want to ‘get back out there’ and think they can return to the life they use to live, often that’s not true. ‘Wanting’ to be able to live or do what you did before does not mean that you will be able to.

Consequently, many people’s anxiety symptoms returned. Much like a 12 Step program, ‘one day at a time’ is necessary and understanding your proclivity for re-activated PTSD must stay foremost in your mind.

Living the gentle life means reducing your exposure to triggers that can re-activate your PTSD. Only you know what these are…if you don’t know, then that’s the first order of therapy–to find your triggers. You can’t avoid (or even treat) what you don’t know exists.

Triggers are exposure to emotional, physical, sexual, visual, auditory, or kinesthetic reminders that set off anxiety symptoms. This could be people, places, objects, sounds, tastes, or smells that reconnect you to your trauma. Once you are reconnected to your trauma, your physical body reacts by pumping out the adrenaline and you become hyper-aroused known as hyper vigilant.

This increases paranoia, insomnia, startle reflex and lots of other over-stimulated and anxiety oriented behaviors.

Other triggers that are not trauma-specific but you should be on the alert for are violent movies, TV, or music, high noise levels, life style/jobs/people who are too fast-paced, ‘busy’ environments, risky or scary jobs, bosses or co-workers who have personality disorders and are abrasive, or any other situation that kick-starts your anxiety.

Women are often surprised that other people’s pathology now sets them off. Once they have been exposed to pathology and gotten PTSD from this exposure, other pathology can trigger PTSD symptoms. Living ‘pathology free’ is nearly mandatory–to the degree that you can ‘un-expose’ yourself to other known pathologies.

The opposite of chronic exposure to craziness and pathology would be the gentle life. Think ‘Zen Retreat Center’ — a subdued environment where your senses can rest…where a body that has been too pumped up with adrenaline can let down…a mind that races can relax, the video flash-backs can go on pause, fast-paced chest panting can turn into long/slow/deep diaphragmatic breathing, where darting eyes can close, where soft scents soothe, and gentle music lulls, where high heels come off and flip flops go on…where long quiet walks give way to tension release…where quieting of the mind chases off the demons of hyperactive thinking….where when you whisper you can hear yourself.

Only, this isn’t a retreat center for once a year…this is your life where your recovery and your need for all things-gentle, are center in your life. It doesn’t mean you need to quit your job or move to a mountain, but it does mean that you attend to your over-stimulated physical body. Those things in your life you can control such as the tranquility of your own environment need to be. Lifestyle adjustments ARE required for those who want to avoid reactivated anxiety. This includes psychological/emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual self care techniques.

The one thing you can count on about PTSD is when you AREN’T taking care of your self your body will SCREAM IT! Your life can not be the crazy-filled life you may watch others live. Your need for exercise, quiet, healthy food, spirituality, tension release, and joy are as necessary as oxygen for someone with PTSD. Walking the gentle path is your best guard against more anxiety and your best advocate for peace.)

 

About Face:Changing the Direction from Which You Seek Happiness

There are times when “internal reflecting” becomes necessary and we are guided to dig in, evaluate, and give thanks. It is a time to ponder ideas and gather insights that might have eluded us during the busyness of everyday life, and slow down to look inward and receive the Light we may not receive at other times during the year. I hope this week’s newsletter is a little piece of Light that you are open to receive.

Several Christmas’ ago, I received a book written by one of my favorite spiritual writers, Thomas Keating. It’s called The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation. Profoundly, he reminds us that we spend much of our lives looking for happiness through avenues that can never produce it. We create our misery by “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the song goes.  Nothing can be truer when it comes to pathology. Pathology is wired to produce misery, not happiness. Everyone has the same response to pathology—they are harmed, miserable, and eventually try to flee. It’s a true indicator of seeking happiness from a source unable to deliver it.

Your idea of happiness was probably initially developed around the relationship, or the fantasy that was painted for you about him, the relationship, or your future. Instead of understanding that happiness had been sought from someone, whom by the nature of their disorder could never deliver happiness, you were held captive in the compulsion of repeating the same scenario with him. You tried to find happiness in the very person who is hard-wired to NOT produce happiness!

Not all of this seeking happiness in the wrong place is the result of his pathology. Some of it is the result of our own unknowing about where happiness is found. It is not found in someone else. Instead, happiness is found inside of our self, rooted in our own spirituality through God. It isn’t about them. It is about us.

Keating says, “What we experience is our desperate search for happiness where it cannot possibly be found.” The key to our happiness is not lost outside of our self. It was lost inside our self when we began looking for it in someone else. We need to look for it were it can actually BE found.

The chief characteristic of the human condition is that everyone is looking for this key, and nobody knows where to find it. The human condition is thus poignant in the extreme. If you want help as you look for the key in the wrong place, you can get plenty of help because everybody is looking for it in the wrong place too! They are looking for it where there is more pleasure, security, power, and acceptance by others. We have a sense of solidarity in the search, yet without any possibility of finding what we are looking for.

The religions of the world have discovered the insight that (non-pathological) human beings are designed for unlimited happiness, the enjoyment of truth, and love without end. This spiritual hunger is part of our nature as beings with a spiritual dimension. Here we are, with an unbounded desire for happiness and not the slightest idea of where to look for it.

While we may certainly recognize that looking for happiness in alcohol or drugs is looking in the wrong place, do we recognize that looking for happiness even in relationships can be the wrong place? Certainly looking for love in pathology would never produce the key you were seeking, because it cannot be found where you were seeking it. But sometimes people even look for happiness in what appears to be the RIGHT places—marriage, children, higher education, careers, and service to others, only again to find that they are still seeking happiness in the wrong direction.

In religious language, the word, repent means to “turn away from.” And I like that concept even from a psychological growth standpoint. As you find your own path of recovery from the aftermath of the pathological love relationship, your recovery calls you to turn away from the very thing that has produced so much pain for you—the relationship, the choices, the person. In essence, in order for you to find happiness in yourself, in God, and in your own (often single) life, you must “change the direction from which you are seeking happiness.” This is especially true when everything in you wants to turn back to him, to the routine, to the perceived comfort—just to get through. Changing the direction from which you seek happiness is embracing the truth that happiness cannot be found in pathology. God did not create you for pathology. He created you for Himself—for peace, love, and joy.  It’s not there and will never be there in pathology.

Over the years, I have become pretty good at picking up on those who will “get it” and move on and never repeat the pathological love relationship dynamic again, and those who WILL, unfortunately, not change direction from which they are seeking happiness. They might change the FACE from whom they seek happiness, but they are still facing the same direction seeking it.

The Institute has been involved in helping hundreds and hundreds of people “change the direction from which they are seeking happiness,” and learn how to find recovery, healing, growth, and to make better choices for themselves. To that end, we are always consciously trying to expand the ways to meet the needs of our growing population of wounded readers and bring a wider comprehensive approach to your own health, wellbeing, and healing from the aftermath of pathological love relationships. We hope that we have touched your recovery in a positive way. We hope that we have helped you change direction on your path. If we haven’t, we’re still here!

Although there is much turmoil in the world right now, be reminded again, that we can always change the direction from which we have been seeking happiness and focus on a brighter future for our self and with our self. We look forward to being a bright part of your future. Thank you for entrusting your care and recovery to us. We do not take that privilege lightly.

The Successful Pathological’s Evil Twin: The Parasite

In last week’s newsletter we looked at the Successful Pathological and how he flies in under the radar, while women are looking at his success and missing the red flags concerning his character or behaviors. Women can get sidetracked by his degree or noble career, or blinded by his business bling. The Italian-made shoes aren’t the only loafer—LOL!

Another way pathology manifests is what we call “parasitic” behavior—which means, like a tick, they live off of others. Some pathologically disordered people are underachievers and require much financial assistance, some are not employed at all, and in fact, some are successful AND parasitic.

Wealthy and parasitic pathologicals have all the radar-busting combinations to come gliding in under a woman’s relationship radar. Wealthy pathologicals may be as parasitic as the poor ones, but are usually less identified. It’s not that wealthy ones need the housing assistance by living with you—it’s that they are able to get you to let them. It’s a power game and when you say “yes,” he wins. It’s a ridiculous game that most women don’t even pay attention to in the beginning, until it begins to happen over and over again. Most women don’t care about power struggles; not so with him, because it’s his source of entertainment.

Parasites can latch on for the ride, the entertainment, or to drain you dry. The “financially challenged” ones try to hide that they are broke and underemployed until they are already living off of you. Or they get in by playing the pity trump card—needing a “little time to get on his feet.” Many of them appear to have “the worst luck” when it comes to getting or keeping a good job or somehow manage (according to him) to always find horrible bosses. In any case, it’s never his fault, and a new potential turn of events is “just around the corner,” if you will just “wait it out” with him.

The interesting thing about the parasitic life is that it has more to do with conning than it has to do with any legitimate need. The proof is that even the wealthy ones play the same game.

For the overt parasite, a red flag for women would be men who always are living with someone else, including family. Of course they have a good reason usually associated with what appears to be “helping others” (older parents, helping with rent for a single mother, sister, etc.).

What is suspicious is that you never see where he lives or how he lives. Why? That “great condo with the roof deck” is really a room in someone’s mobile home. Or there’s a wife and three kids at the house, which are his. Or his house is really a meth lab. Pick a reason … the bottom line is there is a reason why you don’t see it. And it normally has to do with living a different life, perhaps living off of others, that he hasn’t quite disclosed to you.

A huge red flag would be that he wants to move in or marry quickly. Is it because he is so into you? Nope. It’s because he wants to betroth your checkbook before you can verify his income, his job status, his debt load, or anything else. In a blink of an eye you are sipping rum drinks with umbrellas in glasses in the Bahamas (oh, and did I mention, on your credit card?).

A flashing billboard would be when he asks you to invest in his potential business (with your love bundle!) so that you can help finance the “rest of your lives together” business.  Here’s a clue: If he’s over 28 years old and not living up to any part of his potential, there’s a reason and it’s usually pathology or addiction or both. If you are over 30, don’t fall in love with anyone’s potential. Either they’ve got the goods or they don’t. And if they don’t, there’s a reason bigger than the sad, empathy-producing story they have.

The more covert parasite, if wealthy, may give a storyline that he is “giving you an opportunity to invest in his business,” so you can make some of that return capital that you see him living on. He’s successful—so he must be doing something right. Right? Do you remember Bernie Madoff?

Pete the Parasite sometimes needs money to send his ailing mother out of the country to see relatives. Or he may need money to cover the costs of his children’s needs because his “psycho ex-wife” is not using the child support she receives. (Uh-huh …)

If these tactics and lines didn’t work, he wouldn’t use them and I wouldn’t know them. Parasites need hosts. The body where a parasite lands (like a tick on a dog) is called the “host.” Here’s a time where being a BAD HOST is a good thing!

(**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 Successful Pathological

The Successful Pathological

Pathology Education teaches that pathological partners come
in all levels of social and economic success.

Survivors say, “He’s a doctor” to which I respond “SO?” So what.
Doctors, attorneys, clergy, law enforcement—it’s not
the job that’s pathological— it’s the character
and personality disorders underneath.

Pathologicals flock to all types of careers. Those with high
levels of narcissism and psychopathy flock to areas
where they are experts, heros, or are able to climb high up the career
ladder. These disorders ‘want’ adoration. You don’t get alot of that on
the back end of garbage truck as a worker.

Paul Babiak and Robert Hare wrote about this in their book
‘Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work.’ The book
examines the rise of white collar psychopathy in our country and in
the work place.  Some forms of pathology hide very well within
their careers and success. A subconscious belief system
is “If they are successful, they must be ok.”

A degree from Yale means he’s smart. It doesn’t mean he’s safe.
A doctor that saves ‘others lives’ doesn’t mean he won’t take yours.
Clergy who will pray for others souls doesn’t mean he isn’t soul-deadening in
a personal relationship.

We only have to look at the nightly news to see examples in our culture of
those within the ‘helping profession’ who were really predators. Pediatricians
who sexually abused children, religious leaders who led the sheep
astray, psychologists who had sex with their clients, trusted financial advisors who
stole people blind, loving partners who murdered their wives and children.
People who appeared ‘normal’ or ‘successful’ to others were disguised dangerous
and disordered persons.

Pathologicals with a lot of success and money are often the hardest ones to leave
according to their partners. They have more connections, can pay off more bribes,
get better outcomes in court, skip on retraining orders, talk their way out
of all sorts of legal issues because of who they are, what they have, or who they know.
Partners are at a disadvantage when leaving the wealthy pathological.

‘They are sicker than we are smart’ is a logo we have long taught in Pathology Education.
Leaving a successful pathological is often difficult because non-pathological partners can
never be as deceitful, conning, or manipulative to fight on their turf. Non-
pathologicals don’t think in those terms so their sickness ends up as gain for them–
up the career ladder, out of the marriage, or anywhere else they want to go.

In the end, success, career, or wealth has NOTHING to do with mental health or
your safety. Career is just that. It’s what they do for a living or the vehicle in which
they hunt their prey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn How to Starve The Vampire

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

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

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

  • One contact he’s angry, blaming, shaming

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

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

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

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

When you don’t respond

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

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

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

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

My Anniversary of the Plunge into Pathology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verbal Bulimia and the Art of Over-Disclosure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMI! TMI! Too Much Information!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genetic and Neuro-Physiological Basis for Hyper-Empathy

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

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

Do I need to tell you?  WAY TOO MUCH!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy and Its’ Effect on Your Reality

by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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