REAL LOVE NOT JUST REAL ATTRACTION

So many people confuse the feeling of ‘attraction’ with the emotion of love. For some who are in chronic dangerous and pathological relationships, it’s obvious that you have gotten these two elements ‘mixed up.’ Not being able to untangle these understandings can keep people on the same path of unsafe relationship selection because they keep choosing the same way and getting the same people!

Attraction is largely not only unconscious but also physical.  There is actually something called an ‘erotic imprint’ which is the unconscious part that guides our attraction. (I talked about this in the Dangerous Man book). Our erotic imprint is literally ‘imprinted’ in our psyches when we are young–at that age when you begin to notice and be attracted to the opposite sex. As I mentioned, this is largely an unconscious drive. For instance, I like stocky dark-haired men. When ever I see that type of image, I immediately find that man ‘attractive.’ I can ‘vary’ slightly on my attraction but I’m not going to find Brad Pitt attractive. I might forego the full ‘stocky’ appearance but I’m not going to let go of some of the other traits that make men appealing to me. We like what we like. For instance, I am attracted to Johnny Depp or George Clooney. I don’t like any of the blondes or overly tall and lanky body types.

If you think back to what your ‘attraction’ basis is, you may find some patterns there as well. Attraction, however, can also be behavioral or based on emotional characteristics. For instance, some women are attracted to guys with a great sense of humor. The attraction is based on that characteristic. Other women may be attracted to athletic guys–not because of what sports do to their bodies, but because of the behavioral qualities of athletes.  Attraction can be subtle–like the unconscious erotic imprinting that makes us select men based on physical attributes OR attraction may lead us to choose relationships based on behaviors or emotional characteristics like displays of empathy, helpfulness or friendliness. (I discussed your own high traits of empathy, helpfulness and friendliness in Women Who Love Psychopaths.)

Although these traits might guide our relationships selection, this is not the foundation of love. It’s the foundation of selection.

Often, our relationship selection comes more from attraction than it does anything else. So knowing ‘who’ and ‘what types’ you are attracted to will help you understand your patterns of selection. Some people choose characteristics–helpfulness, humor, gentleness or another quality that they seem to be drawn to. Other people are more physical in their attraction and find the physicality of someone either a ‘go’ or a ‘no.’ Maybe you like blondes or blue eyes. This may also drive your pattern of selection.

Also in the area of attraction–sometimes it’s Traumatic Attraction that seems to drive our patterns of selection. People, who have been abused, especially as children, can have unusual and destructive patterns of selection. While this may seem the opposite of what you would expect, these patterns are largely driven by unresolved trauma. People who were raised in alcoholic, dysfunctional, or abusive homes are likely to repeat those exact patterns in their selection of a partner. They often select individuals who have similar ‘characteristics’ to the abusive/neglectful/addicted adult they grew up with or were exposed to. The characteristics could be physical (how they look) or behavioral (how they act) or emotional (how they abuse/neglect).  In any event, the unresolved abuse issues drive them to keep selecting abusers for relationships. Today, they are mystified as to why they keep picking abusive/neglectful/addicted people for relationship partners. That which remains unresolved, revolves–around and around thru our lives until it is resolved.

So, when you have no idea that attraction (good, bad, or dysfunctional) is guiding your selections, you just keep picking the same way and getting the same thing. But because the world keeps using the word ‘love’ you use it, too. And you label your attraction-based-choices (that are largely dysfunctional) as ‘love’ and then become confused about the nature of this thing called ‘love.’ Your attraction is NOT love. It is merely attraction. What DOES or DOES NOT happen IN the relationship may be more reflective of ‘love’ than anything else.

Remember the Bible verse, “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not seek it’s own…”? it helps to reflect how love is ‘other centered’ not in a codependent and frantic needy way but in a way that helps others be interdependent in relationships. Love is often attributed to positive ‘attributes’ such as:

Joy – love smiling

Peace – love resting

Patience – love waiting

Kindness – love showing itself sensitive to others’ feelings

Goodness – love making allowances

Faithfulness – love proving constant

Gentleness – love yielding

Self-control – love triumphing over selfish inclinations

–Source Unknown

(Now, think about if ANY of those traits described the Pathological Love Relationship? I didn’t think so….)

“As long as we believe that someone else has the power to make us happy then we are setting ourselves up to be victims” (From: Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls).

This Valentine’s Day be very clear with yourself about love and attraction. This is a time when you might be likely to want to recontact him. Let me remind you, NOTHING has changed. His pathology is still the same. And on February 15th you could hate yourself for recontacting him for one weak illusionary moment on Feb 14th–in which the world is focused on love but he is focused on manipulation, control or anything OTHER than love. If you open that door, then you will have weeks or months of trying to get him out and disconnect again.

Instead, plan ahead for your potential relapse by setting up an accountability partner AND something to do! Go to a movie with a friend; go out to dinner, so SOMETHING that takes responsibility and action for your own loneliness at this time of year. Whatever you do, don’t have a knee jerk reaction and contact him. One day on the calendar about love is just an ILLUSION!

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

HEALTHY LOVE – WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT?

by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Beginning 2013 in a Completely Different Mindset

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It’s you and me, babe!

 

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

 

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

 

Finding Effective Help in 2013!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much healing to you in 2013!

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

The holidays are stressful under the best of situations. Add to it a dangerous and pathological relationships and you can have a prescription for **guaranteed** unhappiness.

The pathological relationship never lies dormant during the holidays. It’s an opportunity to recontact you–of course “just to wish you a Merry Christmas.” If you haven’t already, do read The Institute’s materials regarding our ‘Starve the Vampire’ teaching on no contact! He has a million hooks he will use to get you back in…here’s one! Christmas!

A text message of Happy Holidays is not good cheer. It’s a hook.  A Christmas Card is not a mass card to everyone–it is a targeted approach for you. A gift left on your door step isn’t a thoughtful gift–it’s a manipulation because being the good mannered girl you are, you’ll call and thank him and then he’ll have you on the phone….and it all goes down hill from there.

Then there’s the mistletoe, and the date for New Years Eve, and the gift he left for your child or your parents….The holidays are one BIG OP-POR-TU-NITY for Mr. Opportunistic.

The No Contact rule still applies and he’ll be testing your boundaries to see if it applies during the holidays. If it DOESN’T apply and you responded to him or sent him a text/card/call, you have just taught him where your loop hole is. You also said something very LOUD to him. You just screamed in his ear ” I’m Lonely! Come snuggle with me.” And you know what he’s thinking, “You don’t have to ask TWICE!”

Ladies, Christmas is ONE day of the year that is laced with a lot of triggering memories. Maybe from childhood where you believe “miracles happen on Christmas” or “everyone should be together then” or the sights, smells, and memories of past Christmases with him are rehashing in your mind. Don’t stay stuck in that ‘air brushed Christmas memory’ — how about you pull out your memory list from the other 363 days of the year and how he behaved then? One night with the twinkle of Christmas tree lights and a ribbon on a gift doesn’t make a pathological man stable!

Get out of the fantasy. Christmas has a way of hypnotizing women into the fantasy of his positive behavior and his lack of pathology. Nothing changed because we hit Christmas season. It’s just a BIGGER opportunity for him to hook you.

If you’re still with the pathological person, they can be very sabotaging at this time of year wanting to strip every little piece of joy you could get from the season away. They get drunk, pick fights, say mean things to your family, yell at the kids, and don’t participate.

Don’t react. Have a great Christmas while he wallows around in that puddle of pathology.

You know one of the things we found out in our research? You ladies tested unbelieveably high in ‘sentimentality’. What are the holidays all about? SENTIMENT! If your sentiment is on caffeine, what do you think it will do? Be restrained or have a knee jerk reaction because all that sentiment is coursing thru your veins?

One slip up now could cost you a year of trying to get rid of him again. Call a support person and tell them you VOW to them not to have contact this season. Then make plans to fill up your time so it’s not even a possibility.

I have ‘lectued’ our readers about loneliness because this 4 inch stack on research sitting on my desk that you ladies filled out, tells me that you lapse and lapse and lapse again when you feel lonely. Holidays induce loneliness. Plan ahead and safe guard. “I was lonely is not an excuse for starting something that will once again destroy your life!”

Instead, do something wonderful with your kids. Get outside, take a walk, go to a movie with friends, do some scrapbooking, get some of our books to read, go to a nursing home and visit someone! Sit in a chapel alone and count blessings, walk your dog more, go to the gym! Do anything except have a knee jerk reaction to your excessive sentimentality gene!!

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

Over the  past few months we have been talking about the power of defense mechanisms. It is unfortunately common to employ defense mechanisms that actually enhance your own emotional suffering. And of course, what we want you to employ are resources that help you recover not defense mechanisms that keep you stuck. You have suffered enough from the pathological love relationship and the last thing you need is for your own psychology to be working against you. So today we’re going to
talk about ‘fantasy’ and how that too can effect your emotional suffering.

Eckart Tollee 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 but has additional components in it that effect 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 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 don’t technically feel ‘abandoned’ although that’s the feeling state we think we are having when someone leaves us. The adult feeling state is loss, not abandonment but when someone has unresolved early childhood abandonment issues, any loss will template it self on top of the feelings of abandonment. Adults are techincally incapable 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. The feeling is an early childhood feeling usually associated with a time of parental abandonment. It is an age-regression feeling–something that pulls you back to your childhood or a very young emotional state. Every time I write about abandonment I will get a furious letter from someone INSISTING they are adults and they feel abandoned.  There are two categories in which adults go through intense feelings of child-like abandonment. One is if the adult has a trauma disorder and has unresolved early childhood issues from parental abandonment that have not been treated in therapy. In that case, those feelings often resurface attached to unprocessed traumatic feelings. The other intense abandonment feeings are often held by people with Borderline Personality Disorder who regularly feel abandoned.’ I still maintain as a former psychotherapist, that are adults cannot be abandoned unless you are elderly, medically need care, or have cognitive disorders that require caretaking. This is not to say you don’t PERCEIVE yourself as abandoned.  But if you were dropped in the middle of a city ‘abandoned’ you would make your way to the police department or social services and would be fed, sheltered, and given provisions. Therefore, you were not abandoned the way a child would experience if dropped in the middle of a city.

The feeling of ‘ending’ a relationship often subconsciously sets off childhood feelings of abandonment. These are past associations that 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, emotionally, the child feeling state is so strong that it feels like a ‘hole in the soul.’ The fantasy of THIS (him leaving) being the same as THAT (my parent left me) takes hold and your panic makes you go back to stop the panic or allow him back in to squelch the sense of abandonment.

Fantasy is also future oriented. Fairytales are fantasy 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 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. Betting on a Normal Rockwell holiday…oh I meant ‘Norman Rockwell’ holiday—is fantasy betting as well.

Why? Because pathology is the inability to change and sustain consistent postive change, grow in any meaningful way, and the inability to for him to see how his behavior negatively effects 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 the next women will get all his good traits and none of his bad. This too is fantasy….that his pathology somehow will not effect he next woman the way it effects you. (You can’t turn pathology on and off like a light switch!)

Here’s some info:

Pathology Effects 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 effect 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 trully pathological he is hard-wired. This IS his DNA.

* Women fantazie 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 related to the here and now. Fantasy is not being present in your real life to what is happening around you in this moment. Fantasy is ‘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 present. 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 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.’

Fantasy wants to whisper in your ear to ignore it all for a few days during the holidays when you can pretend to be that Normal Rockwell family. But on December 26th, Mr Pathology will be there in all his glittering Cluster B-ness to remind you nothing happened except a Christmas Tree.  You unwrapped a ‘gift’ of pathology because all you really wanted for Christmas was your pile of fantasy, right? NO! No adult really wants for Christmas ‘her own psychopath.’

There is stil time to straighten out your Holiday Fantasy Thinking before December 24th.  Get a hold of it so you can enjoy a pathology-free holiday.

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

Last week I wrote about the “Power of Relapsing’ and got many emails saying “THANK YOU for writing about it as I was thinking about going back to the relationship just so I wasn’t alone during the holidays! You saved me from a disaster!”

Here’s a secret: “Even if you go back, you’re still alone. You’ve been alone the entire time because by nature of their disorder, they can’t be there for you. So you’re alone–now, in the holidays, or with them. With them, you have more drama, damage and danger. Your choice….”

People relapse and go back into relationships more from Thanksgiving thru Valentines Day than any other time of the year. Why? So many great holidays to fake it in! Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, V-Day….then PHOOEY! You’re out. Why not be out now and stay out and save face. You’re not fooling anyone…not yourself, them, or your family and friends.

Holidays are extremely stressful times. It’s a time when it is more likely

* For domestic violence to occur

* For dysfunctional families to be even MORE dysfunctional

* People drink more

* People binge eat because of the stress

* Some feel pressured to ‘be in a relationship’ during the holidays and accept dates or stay with dangerous persons to ‘just get thru the holidays’

* To overspend

* To not get enough rest

*  It’s an idealistic time when people have more depression and anxiety than any other time of the year. Depression creeps in, anxiety increases, to cope they eat/drink/spend/date in ways they normally would not.

People put extraordinary pressure on themselves thinking their lives ‘should be’ the picture postcards and old movies we watch this time of year. You can’t make a ‘picture postcard memory with a psychopath or a narcissist!’

Here’s a mantra to say outloud for yourself “I’m pretending that staying/going back with a psychopath/narcissist will make my holidays better.”  Pretty ridiculous thought, isn’t it? Something happens when you say the REAL thing outloud. It takes all the romaticization and fantasy out of the thought and smacks a little reality in your face.

“I want to be with a psychopath/narcissist for the holiday.”  Say that three times to yourself out loud….

NO!! That’s not what you want. That’s what you GOT. You want to be with a nice man/woman/person for the holidays. As you VERY well know, they’re not it.

“I want to share my special holidays with my special psychopath.”  ???  Nope. That’s not it either. But that’s what’s going to happen unless you buck up and start telling yourself the truth. It’s OK to be by yourself for the holidays. It sure beats pathology as a gift.

Here’s a real gift for you–some tips!

TIPS FOR A HAPPIER/HEALTHIER HOLIDAY

~ Stop idealizing–you are who you are, it is what it is. If your family isn’t perfect, they certainly WON’T be during the season. In fact, everyone acts WORSE during the holidays. It is the peak of dysfunction. Accept yourself and others for who they are.

~ Don’t feel pressured to eat more/spend more/drink more than you want to. Remind yourself you have choices and that the word ‘No’ is a complete sentence.

~ Take quiet time during the season or you’ll get run over by the sheer speed of the holidays. Pencil it in like you would any other appointment. Buy your own present now–some bubble bath and spend quality time with some bubbles by yourself. Light a candle, find 5 things to be grateful for. Repeat often.

~ Take same-sex friends to parties and don’t feel OBLIGATED to go with someone you don’t want to go with. People end up in the worse binds of going to parties with others and get stuck in relationships they don’t want to be in because of it. Find a few other friends who are willing to be ‘party partners’ during the holidays.

~ Give to others in need. The best way to get out of your own problems is to give to others whose problems exceed yours. Give to a charity, feed the homeless, buy toys for kids.

~ Find time for spiritual reflection. It’s the only way to really feel the season and reconnect. Go to a service, pray, meditate, reflect.

~ Pick ONE growth oriented issue you’d like to focus on for 2011 and begin cultivating it in your mind–look for resources you can use to kick start your own growth on January 1.

~ Plant joy–in your self, in your life and in others.

I am so passionate about this subject and concerned for your well being this holiday that I have made an mp3 message for you. To listen to my 15 min broadcast about protecting yourself this holiday season from relapse and hook ups, click here: http://www.howtospotadangerousman.com/Audio/Christmas2008Message.mp3
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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

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

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

Telling yourself the truth means several difficult things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen. Your body is smarter than your brain.

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

Is it Fear Or Is it Anxiety?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LADIES– WRONG FEELING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s why all abusers are not created equal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could we learn something about that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what about victims?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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