Don’t Fake the Funk

“Don’t fake the funk.” ~Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

“Put a smile on your face no matter what.” “Turn your frown upside down.” “If you keep your face like that, it’ll freeze. Whoever came up with these statements was never in a relationship with a dangerous man.

The predominant thing women want to know in their phone counseling sessions is: “Is what I lived through in my dangerous-man experience normal?” “The effects I suffer today from that experience—do others have those experiences too?” “Why am I so depressed/anxious/obsessed/paranoid?” “What is it called that I have, and will I always be like this?”

Women greatly underestimate the damage done in dangerous and pathological relationships. Why? Often because they have been in so many of them that it’s now normal… being with someone so dangerous is normal to them AND feeling this bad is normal. It’s been so long since they didn’t have depression, anxiety, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, obsessions or paranoia—they have no idea what it feels like to not have these symptoms.

Some women also underestimate the damage because they were raised in families where dangerous behavior was also the norm. The chaos, drama, trauma, stress, and instability were the foundations of their home lives. Their childhood simply melded into their adulthood of the same kinds of relationships—except now, by their own choosing.

Women who have gone from pathological families into Pathological Love Relationships have been chronically depressed for so long that the biochemistry in their brain is currently altered. They have been anxious for so long that their biochemistry is altered by all the adrenaline they have lived on for so long. Long-term exposure to chronic stress, so often seen in dangerous relationships, eventually can create medical disorders. Some of the disorders suspected of being linked to unrelenting traumatic exposure include: autoimmune disorders like lupus, chronic fatigue and the Epstein-Barr virus.

Stress manifests in TMJ pain from teeth grinding, digestive disorders, migraines, hives and female disorders like endometriosis, phantom pelvic pain and other similar disorders. Stress has to go somewhere and often it is crammed into the body to wreak havoc on the body’s systems. Even when trauma has been so severe that much of it is not remembered, the body still remembers what the mind has chosen to forget. Your body always tells the truth.

Mood disorders are among the most common disorders associated with life in disordered relationships. Women are often in denial of the extent of their depression and/or anxiety—either it now feels normal or they don’t want to face what the relationship has cost them in medical and emotional disorders. ‘Faking the funk’ is just one way of coming to the truth of how ‘bodily expensive’ that relationship was. You can’t heal what you don’t see. So, taking your own inventory about how you really are is the first step in recovery. Mood disorders are often manageable through various means but you won’t be managing anything until you stop faking how affected you are by your own relational history.

Many women emerge from these relationships either diagnosed, or not yet diagnosed, with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—an anxiety disorder so extreme that the core concept of self is often fragmented. The cracked vessel must try to now function as an undamaged vase—but push on the crack and the vessel will break again.

The Institute’s books and programs are all geared to helping you face the aftermath damage of what you have experienced and helping you to recover from it.

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



Mutual Pathology: Gasoline and Fire

Pathology is a mental health issue, not a gender issue. Women have just as much pathology in some areas of personality disorders as men do in other areas of personality disorders. Some of the 10 personality disorders present more frequently in men, while some of the disorders present more in women.

As you have heard me say over the years, pathology is pathology—meaning that each personality disorder has its own problems and challenges in relationships, but mainly holds to the central three aspects that I talk about related to pathology:

  1. The inability to grow to any true emotional or spiritual depth.
  2. The inability to consistently sustain positive change.
  3. The inability to have insight about how one’s behavior negatively affects others.

Given these three aspects of personality disorders, we can easily see how each of the different types of personality disorders can be linked together by them.

While men may be more bent towards Anti-Social Personality Disorder or psychopathy, women may show more of a bent towards Histrionic, Dependent, or Borderline Personality Disorder. When you have a man with a personality disorder coupled with a personality disordered woman—it equals Jerry Springer dynamics!

There is no guarantee that there is only one pathological in the relationship. Women have just as many mental illnesses, addictions, and personality disorders as men. It’s quite common for people with a personality disorder to hook up with another disordered individual. When this happens you have two people who can’t grow to any true depth emotionally or spiritually, two people who can’t sustain positive change, and two people who don’t have insight about how their behavior affects others. These relationships are dramatic fire-beds of emotionality, addiction, and violence.

Women’s pathology is just as damaging to men as men’s pathology is to women. Women’s pathology may present differently than men’s overt aggression related to their pathology, but it is not any less problematic. Women’s pathology can sometimes (and I use the word “sometimes” lightly) be subtle when it is masked behind emotional dependency, sexual addiction, sexual manipulation, financial dependency, or high emotionality. Those types of symptoms can be associated with more than just a personality disorder. But women’s pathology is just as damaging to a partner, a boss, their family, friends and, God forbid, the effects it has on their children.

While women are more likely to be diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder, borderlines are often misdiagnosed and are really underdiagnosed psychopaths and anti-socials. There seems to be somewhat of a gender bias when it comes to diagnosing women with psychopathy. Unless they have participated in a Bonnie and Clyde-type episode, or made the America’s Most Wanted television program, they are likely to be downgraded in their pathology. Dramatic, highly emotional, or self-injuring women may be downgraded to Histrionic, Narcissistic, or Borderline Personality Disorder. Those with a little more flare for hiding their real lives may warrant the same diagnosis as male psychopaths. Their ability to hide it better, or having less violence associated with their behavior, goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

But not all female psychopaths are nonviolent. Many are horribly violent—to their children and their partners—yet always present themselves as the victim. These are the women most likely to press unwarranted domestic violence assaults, cry rape that didn’t happen, and abandon their children. The point is, both genders can have personality disorders, and each personality disorder may or may not present in a slightly different way in the other gender.

Beyond mutual pathology, a woman’s own mental health can influence the dynamics within a relationship with a pathological man. A woman who has bipolar disorder that is untreated, and who is in a relationship with a borderline male, can bring unusually dramatic dynamics to the relationship. Their fluctuations in mood can ignite a feeding frenzy of boiling anger in both which is likely to lead to violence. Both partners having a substance abuse or alcohol problem can certainly fuel the relationship dynamics in further, severely negative ways.

Let’s not overlook the “model” of pathological behavior that a woman often gets from being raised in a home with a pathological parent. She brings to the relationship the pathological-like behaviors that are learned within pathological families. I have seen this in sessions with women (and read it a lot in the emails I receive) where the pathological affects of her childhood, adult life, or past or current relationship is negatively affecting her worldview, current level of functioning, as well as the entitlement attitudes she brings to the table. Couple any of HER mental health issues and situations along with HIS pathology, and you have some of the most volatile and difficult relationships and breakups in history.

There have been many times in working with a woman that I recognize the man is not the only problem in the scenario. Not all women in pathological relationships are mentally ill. However, some women in pathological relationships ARE mentally ill. Some of their own mental illness can be the gasoline on the fire of the pathological love relationship that fans the flames of danger for them. Red flags, for me, that show there are possible mental health issues with women include the following:

  • Entitlement
  • Chronic victim mentality
  • Unregulated mood issues not amenable to treatment/medication
  • Chronically returning to the pathological relationship
  • Replacing relationships with more pathological relationships
  • History of unsuccessful counseling/treatment
  • Lack of responsibility for her own behaviors/choices

These represent only a few of the many symptoms that could indicate a possible mental health issue in the woman as well.

Clearly, pathology is not gender specific. Pathology and other mental health issues in both parties can accelerate the dangerousness and problems seen in pathological love relationships.

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


LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Will I Ever Find MINE?

February brings Valentine’s Day—a trigger month for many women who want to just ‘slip back into the fantasy’ of everything we associate as a culture with Valentine’s Day. It’s one of those trigger months, like November and December (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve), where women want to ‘look the other way’ in order to have a nice day or time with him. Just for 24 hours she wants to pretend he really isn’t pathological. She wants the chocolates, the flowers, a dinner out, dancing, a little romance—and 24 hours of normalcy. But at midnight, the Cinderella dress turns back to what it was and the carriage that carried the handsome prince is once again a pumpkin with field mice.

Pink and red hearts do not make his pathology ‘turn off’ for the convenience of a lovers’ holiday. Women get frustrated and want to know, “Will I ever find MY love? When will it be MY turn to find someone worth loving?”

I don’t know… can you:

  • Stop focusing on him?
  • Be willing to manage your intrusive thoughts of him?
  • Redirect your obsessions from him to your own self-care?
  • Create a full life so you aren’t lonely?
  • Build a foundation of support that doesn’t include ‘having to be’ in a relationship?
  • Learn to find fulfillment in activities that don’t only include intimate relationships?
  • Treat your symptoms of anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
  • Heal your sexuality?
  • Embrace spirituality?
  • Learn to be attracted to guys who aren’t proverbial bad boys?
  • Dig deep to see what all your relationships have in common so you don’t repeat the pattern?
  • Memorize what pathology is, and stop looking for loopholes?
  • Take a year, or maybe even two years, OFF from dating to nurture all those places in you that are wounded and broken?
  • Take time to learn what your trait proclivities are (read Women Who Love Psychopaths) so you know how to safeguard yourself in the next relationship?
  • Seriously UNDERSTAND how your traits and his traits are a magnet to each other?
  • Most of all… can you LOVE yourself?

Realize YOU ARE ENOUGH FOR YOU! If another relationship DOESN’T come along… you WILL survive. If you’re really determined, you’ll even THRIVE. Get grounded—sink your feet into the earth of your soul and declare you’ll never be uprooted again… no matter what. You’re grounded in you and reality—not fantasy. Be willing to challenge old belief systems, old assumptions, old patterns, and old preferences.

This month is Valentines Day… you’ve fallen in love with all sorts of things and people… you’ve fallen in love with illusions, dreams, hopes, and pathology. It’s time to fall in love with you! I know who you are… you know how? After all that research we have done, we know EXACTLY who you are—you deeply attach and love, you are loving to the Nth degree, loyal, trusting, sensitive, and very invested in relationship happiness. You’re a TERRIFIC woman that any NORMAL man would be blessed to have.

No one is alone during the ‘month of love.’ We stand hand in hand, bridging the gap for each other—connected and bonded by a sorority of shared experiences, pain, and yet, hope. If you need a hug for Valentines Day, there are plenty of cyber hugs floating through here.

Learn to love YOU. Nothing happens and no one else does until you do. Give to the world that part of yourself that is so rich and deep. There are lots of ways to be loved—be loved by giving back, by reaching out to others. Valentine’s Day is for lovers. Be the lover of your own soul. We celebrate that with you…

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



Bearing Witness to Suffering and Recovery

I have spent over 25 years huddled up bearing witness to other’s incredible pain caused by pathology. Honestly, I don’t know (and don’t need to know) how many thousands of hours and hundreds of stories I have heard of mind-destroying evil.

I have been called ‘a counselor, a writer, a researcher, a pioneer in pathology’ but really all I am is someone who has bore witness and sat with those who are tormented by someone else’s directed evil. That’s all. I opened my soul and my ears and I listened. I opened my mind to comprehend. I opened my eyes and watched tears fall and hearts break and I just sat there and felt it with others.

There are those who have worked the trenches of Bangladesh with starving children and leprosy-ed adults. I have worked the pathology trenches of those discarded by remorselessness. I have faced my own powerlessness to stop evil or repair intrusive thoughts. I have embraced the not knowing of what to say why evil exists. I have struggled against knowing if a person will succumb to the desire to die and be out of pain.

There are those who sit with the dying in hospice. I sit with those who have died and are still alive. I don’t administer morphine, I administer the balm of being heard. All I bring to anyone is the ability to bear witness and see them, see what happened to them, see their suffering. To say yes, I see you are nearly dead. To say yes, your soul is gashed—I feel it. To say yes, evil blew its devil breath on you, it scorched your edges, but you are still here.

I work the ER of the psyche, the critical care unit of the soul, the rehab unit of the walking wounded who were scourged by what all that is holy calls a seared conscience. I don’t even know why except it’s where God put me and never moved me (and I think I will retire or die, whichever comes first) doing what I do. I am quite sure (and my body confirms it) that I have heard way too much pain for one powerless person to witness.

But that’s what we are all here for—to simply bear witness to the suffering of life. Jesus said “you WILL have tribulation.” He was quite sure of that. And that ‘the poor will always be among us’—which did not mean merely financial, but the poor in spirit – all those who were disheveled from brushes with darkness. That’s what darkness does—it tries to break the spirit because spirit is strongest.

And He also reminds us ‘Blessed are those who are poor in spirit for they shall see God.’ Because where else would God be but bearing witness to real life? Not bearing witness to life’s mountainous experiences but to real life lived in the trenches of pain—the places where everyone else wants to bail—when you can’t rise from your bed, or stop crying, or wanting to kill yourself for loving a psychopath. Yeah, that trench of a life. That’s where you need a witness—someone to say you are bleeding but breathing, out of your mind with pain but conscious, gas lighted but not insane. This bearing witness is simply validating reality. Sharing in someone else’s suffering and being present to it is being present to what really IS….and reality can be quite holy. It is watching each other’s lives and walking each other home—all the way to bearing witness to recovery.

And that’s home—the recovery part. Home is not suffering. Home is recovery.

People ask me how I’ve done this work for so long…how I have managed to bear this much pain with patients over the years, how my own psyche doesn’t collapse from facing evil day in and day out—bearing witness to the monumental amount of darkness in the world. This much I know is true—bearing witness is not just about the suffering because suffering rarely has the last word.

If I have learned anything from thousands of hours of this work and a God that is my wing-Man, it is that I am not only bearing witness to suffering but to the dawn that breaks afterwards. Suffering is not the end of the story. It’s the introduction, it’s the fore word, it’s the prelude, it’s the chapter titles, but it is not the conclusion. Holiness trumps pathology. Light makes darkness recede.

I have lived by Psalm 27:13 which promises that I will not be swallowed up in staring at evil my whole career. It says, “I remain confident of this: I WILL see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” And this too is the bearing witness of your recovery—that the goodness of the Holy is that recovery happens and that we all are here to validate that you are less numb, less distracted, less in flash backs.

Our community of helpers and survivors is here to do just that—simply to bear witness. The path back needs a witness—because we all are just walking each other home—to recovery. Don’t mistake the journey for your destination.

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


Pacing and Planning Your Own Recovery

We have been focused on discussing your recovery in great detail. Because the power of pathology saws people off at the knees, you need to have a plan for your own recovery in order to heal. We consider this so important that a portion of all of our coaching whether it be in-person, or during retreats, is focused on how to pace and plan your own recovery.

Women fantasize that somehow getting over this pathological relationship will ‘just happen’ and don’t realize they should be planning their recovery, or even how to go about planning it. In fact, most women have done zero to plan or facilitate their own healing process. Those of you who have found the website are at least that much further ahead than the women who haven’t even begun reading about the topic of their relationships yet! So finding the information is a great first step. But, it’s only a first step, and too many women stop there only to relapse and get into yet another pathological relationship.

Previous newsletters have spent a lot of time examining the depth of damage done at the hands of your pathological. In them, we have discussed PTSD, The Cracked Vessel and the need for Living the Gentle Life, intrusive thoughts and obsessions, healing spiritually, healing sexually, and about fantasy and hatred. We have looked very deeply at the issues of how this relationship has hurt you emotionally, physically, medically, spiritually, sexually, and financially.

There will always be those women who won’t do anything about their lives except continue to be victims of them. How do I know this? I get the same e-mails from the same people, week after week, asking me the same ‘loophole-based’ questions like, “do you think I should leave him because, after all, he SAID he would change?” Week after week, the same people with the same questions who haven’t read the book, who haven’t spent time working on the Dangerous Man workbook, who haven’t listened to one of our mp3s or CDs, who haven’t spent one hour in counseling… keep asking the same questions, expecting things to get better, but getting the same results.

Any 12-stepper knows that the only way they can stay away from something so life-gripping like drugs, alcohol, gambling, or sex is with a concerted daily focused recovery on themselves, and the behaviors, habits, and beliefs that led to the life-damaging events that have altered them. Women who will recover from pathological relationships are those who take the same serious and focused approach to the life-gripping and life-damaging relationship that has altered their lives.

We spend 40-plus hours a week at The Institute developing ways to strengthen YOUR recovery—after all, this isn’t about US! We do this by writing books, e-books, making mp3s and CDs and other products, and by giving workshops and conferences, training therapists so they can counsel you, operating a retreat center so you can get specific and unique treatment for your issues, and intense research so we understand WHAT you need in order to heal from this.

It is our hope that you will knuckle-down and focus on your recovery—taking the steps you need to heal from the life-damaging experience at the hands of the pathological. Why? First, we don’t want pathology to win by destroying the lives of strong and wonderful women. We exist to kick butt on this issue! Secondly, WE NEED YOU!

  • If you don’t teach the woman you sit next to, how will she learn to spot and avoid pathology?
  • If you don’t heal and recover, who will be a teacher to others?
  • Who will run support groups?
  • Who will give community lectures?
  • Who will operate an outreach?

It’s not us. Our focus is to educate YOU. Your job is to recover and heal! Now is the time for you to heal so you can eventually reach others.

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


The Illusion of Managing (Or Controlling) a Pathological Person

Part of how people convince themselves to stay in a pathological love relationship is that they think they are making “progress” by managing the pathological’s behavior. Once there is a glimmer of doubt about the pathological’s behavior, the partner begins to do one of two things: they either change their belief system or they change their own behavior. Most of them will change their belief system. That means they will tell themselves there are “ways” to manage the pathological’s lying, infidelity, addictions, sexual acting out, or whatever negative behavior they bring to the relationship. If they can manage the behavior, they can change the person. If they change what they don’t like in them, they have a shot at being happy.

That means they will change how they see the pathological. If they are noticing too much negative behavior, they might look the other way, rename it, minimize it, deny it, justify it, or use any other defense mechanism that allows the partner to change how they see the pathological.

When there is the thought that, by enforcing strong “rules” for the relationship, or by “demanding” their own rights, the pathological will “stop” the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought that by enforcing the “three-strike rule” for the relationship, or by “demanding” the pathological attend church, counseling, or treatment which will “stop” the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought that, by “putting the pathological on a short leash,” and checking on them frequently, calling their cell, sending people out to find them, breaking into the pathological’s phone or computer, that the fear of being caught will “stop” the behavior, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

When there is the thought that the pathological is “now working” or staying at home, or being kind, or saying the kinds of things you always wanted to hear, and that the previous behavior is now gone, the belief is based on the illusion of management.

Pathologicals and/or addicts are not managed. Shortening the leash, making demands, watching closer, hiring a P.I. is not managing a person’s acting out.

Pathology is noted for three things:

  • the inability to grow to any emotional or spiritual depth
  • the inability to sustain the changes that you have demanded
  • the inability to develop insight about how their behavior harms or affects others.

People with pathological disorders are not managed—not by you, not by jail or prison, and not by church. The inability to sustain change may show that the pathological APPEARS to do whatever it takes to stay in the relationship, but the disorder itself means they cannot sustain the change that will please you.

People embrace the truth of pathology when they realize that the idea they are ‘managing’ the pathological’s negative behavior or addictions is simply an illusion. Jails and prisons are packed full of personality disordered and pathological individuals because probation ‘management’ or ‘psychological management’ did not work. As they say in 12 steps, ‘When nothing changes–nothing changes.’ Pathology has an inability to change which means nothing consistently changes in the pathological individual except maybe new ‘ideas’ about how to con others.

Managing manipulative behavior, drugs or alcohol, porn or sex addictions, infidelity, lying, and conning are an illusion used by the partner in order to ‘buy a little more time’ to try to figure out how to make the pathological be ‘more normal.’ In the end, it’s your defense mechanisms telling you that by changing your belief system (he can be different, he can do better) you can ‘help them find the resources they need in order to grow into their full potential.’ If you’re over 30, falling in love with ‘potential’ is a crap game risk. People not living up to their potential in adulthood are called–pathologically disordered. By adulthood, either you ‘have the ability for life skills and success’ or you are ‘life challenged’ by addictions or pathology. In either case, partners need to understand there is no ‘managing’ someone else’s negative and pathological behavior. That is an illusion!

Additionally, playing with the illusion of management increases cognitive dissonance in you. It causes a miserable symptom of your thinking “ping-ponging” back and forth between “he’s good/he’s bad.” This is simply responding to both sides of his Jekyll/Hyde nature. The longer you play with the illusion, the more cognitive dissonance (CD) you overload your mind with.

If you have CD, make sure you get treated for it. It increases over time and makes the symptoms worse. Getting a handle on the “illusion” is a first step toward managing your CD.

The Institute always treats the cognitive dissonance—in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone coaching —the issue of cognitive dissonance is always addressed. We are the leading provider of CD treatment for aftermath symptoms from pathological love relationships.

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


Happiness vs. Joy, Part 2

In my last article, I talked about the issue of happiness, and how happiness is hinged on external conditions such as relationships, things, careers – stuff. … Our happiness is largely conditional based on “if things go the way we think they should go” or “if people act the way we think they should act.” This leaves a lot of our own happiness tied to someone else’s shirt tails and when he leaves, your happiness goes right out the door with him.


I also related some fun stories about my mom and her concepts of happiness. What I talked about regarding my mom was her JOY which was far different than her happiness. She wasn’t always happy. My father was murdered. That certainly did not bring happiness. Her second husband stole her life savings and was a sociopath. No happiness there. Her last “main squeeze” in her life died of prostrate cancer—a lot of sadness there. Yet, my mother was unusually “joyful.”


Joy has to do with the quality of US, not them. It’s a ME factor, not a him or them factor. Happiness may be external but joy is internal, and, in many ways, eternal. It emanates from within us and can exist even when the external circumstances of our lives “suck.”


Joy can be infectious and can touch others when HOW we are has nothing to do with WHO we are with. It’s a barometer reading of how we are doing with ourselves and in our own spiritual development. It reminds us of how we are doing with managing our own outlook, optimism, and future. We may not have control over what he’s doing, who he’s doing, or how he’s doing, but we do have control over how we choose to see our circumstances. This is the essence of internal joy—managing your worldview from the inside instead of taking your emotional temperature based on how well he’s behaving. How we are, or how our joy is, can’t be taken by a thermometer from his mouth. It has to be taken from our internal and eternal well-being.


When you are finally able to shift your focus of where and how joy is created, it is a mind-blowing change because you no longer hold tight to the reins of external control—“I’ll be happy when someone else does _________.” You are able to refocus on finding joy in your life, just the way it is, with yourself and all your warts.  In fact, a few years ago, I wrote about this regarding Viktor Frankel, a Jewish psychiatrist who went through the Holocaust and developed what is now called Existential Psychology which is finding meaning in pain AND taking control of how you see what you have lived through.


If all pain is bad, then there is no gift in it. If there is no gift, there is no learning. If there is no learning, there is no opportunity to transform it. If you can’t transform it, you are its victim.


Joy comes from the right perspective when we tweak how we see ourselves, our lives, and the lessons of our lives. When life is a spiritual walk, not just a relationship destination, we are able to see the lessons as part of the journey and the OPTION of having joy even in the midst of an unplanned disaster like a pathological relationship. Joy is like a new eyeglass prescription—it clears up and crisps up how we see who we are on this journey and path of life even while in pain.


Your pain does not have to define you. That’s your choice. You are more than your pain. And so is your life!


(**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, on-on-ones, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).




Joy vs. Happiness, Part 1

You were out looking for a little happiness when you stumbled upon Dr. Jekyll, as he was appearing wonderful and considerate. Strangely, before you knew it, evil Mr. Hyde was instead dismantling anything that resembled happiness, and leaving destruction and despair in its wake.

Despair is a long way from the happiness you were initially seeking. How did you get from mere happiness-seeking to a totally despairing life? How can you embrace the happiness that you set out to find?

It might not even be “happiness”, per se, that you were initially seeking. You might have been looking for someone who was introspective, spiritual and existential.  But you tell me…

Happiness is external. It’s based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts. Happiness is connected to your hope for a relationship or your hope for a future with someone. Happiness is linked to “some day when I meet the right guy” or “when he starts changing and acting right,” or “when he goes to counseling”.

Happiness is future-oriented and it puts all its eggs in someone else’s basket. It is dependent on outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations so that the result is your happiness. These expectations can be seen especially during the holidays when, whether or not you have a Merry Christmas or a happy holiday, it depends on whether or not he is with you, shows up, isn’t drunk, isn’t cheating, or a list of other behaviors you expect for a happy holiday experience. Unfortunately, pathology rarely obliges in that way. So when the relationship falls through, or he isn’t wonderful at Christmas, or you kick him out, or he cheats again, or he runs off with your money, or he was a con artist … then your holidays were not happy and your happiness was crushed.

Unhappiness is the result. It’s a typical and inevitable result in pathological love relationships. After all, it’s the only way it CAN turn out. There are no happy endings to pathological relationships. After Christmas and New Years, he will still be pathological and you will still have the same problems you had in November. You notice that The Institute has not written a book called, “How to Have a Happy Relationship with a Pathological”.

Chronic unhappiness leads to despair and depression. Remember the emotional rollercoaster you rode with him? You were happy when he was good – and miserable when he was bad. You were hypnotically lulled into happy-land when you were with him and in intrusive-thought-hell when you weren’t. Your happiness was hitched to his rear end. When he was around (and behaving) you were happy. When he wasn’t, your happiness followed his rear end right out the door and you were left obsessing, wondering, and pacing.

Happiness is what you feel when he says the “right romantic stuff”, buys you a ring, or moves in. But happiness is not joy because joy is not external. Joy can’t be bought and it is not conditional on someone else’s behavior.  In fact, joy is not contingent on anything in order to exist. You don’t have to have him for the holidays to have joy. Likewise, you don’t have to get revenge, snoop out his shortcomings, tell the new girlfriend the truth or anything else in order to have joy. You can lose in court with him, already have lost your life savings to him, watch him out with a new woman, or live out of the back of your car and still have joy.

You’re probably thinking, “Sure, you can have joy in those circumstances if you are Mother Teresa!” Joy is almost a mystery, isn’t it? It’s a spiritual quality that is internal. My mother, Joyce, had a lot of joy, and I learned from watching her joy. Her pathological man ran off with her life savings, forcing her to work well past retirement. It forced her to live simply so she moved to a one-room beach shack and drove a motorcycle. For cheap entertainment, she walked the beach and painted nudes. She drank cheap grocery-store wine that came in a box, bought her clothes from thrift shops, and made beach totes from crocheting plastic grocery bags together. She recycled long before it was hip to do so. But what she recycled most and best was pain … into joy.

Instead of looking externally for yet another relationship to remove the sting of the last one, or to conquer the boredom she might feel at being alone, she cultivated internal and deep abiding joy. It was both an enigma and a privilege to watch this magnificent life emerge from the ashes of great betrayal.

I use her a lot as an example of someone who went ahead and got a great life. She turned this rotten deal into an exquisite piece of art called her life. Anyone who spoke of my mother spoke MOST of her radiant joy. She had the “IT” factor long before it was even called “IT.” Women flocked to her to ask, “How did you do it? How did you shed the despair and bitterness of what he did and grow into this? THIS bright, shining, joyful person? What is your secret?”

Somewhere along that rocky path of broken relationships with pathological men, she learned that happiness is fleeting if it’s tied to a man’s shirt-tails. She watched too many shirt-tails walk out the door with her happiness tied to his butt. In order to find the peacefulness that resides inside, she had to learn what was happiness and what was joy.

The transitory things of life are happiness-based. She had a big house and lost a big house when she divorced my father. She had a big career and lost a big career when, according to our culture, she got “too old” to have the kind of job she had. She had diamonds and lost diamonds.

So she entered into voluntary simplicity where the fire of purging away “stuff” left a clearer picture and path to the internal life. When stuff, people, and the problems they bring fall away, there is a stillness. Only in that stillness can we ever find the joy that resides inside us, dependent on nothing external in order to exist. During this holiday season, this is a great concept to contemplate.

Joyce’s joy came from deeply held spiritual beliefs but it also came from a place even beyond that. Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, what you are, where you are, why you are, and who you are not with. When you need nothing more than your truth and the love of a good God to bring peace, you have settled into the abiding joy that is not rocked by relationships. It’s not rocked by anything.

It wasn’t rocked for Joyce as she lay dying some years ago in the most peaceful arms of grace—a blissful state of quiet surrender and anticipation. Those who were witness to her death still tell me that her death brought new understanding to them about the issue of real joy. Joy in all things … the death of a dream, the death of a relationship, or the death of a body. Joy from within, stripped down, naked and beautiful.

Follow Joyce’s lead – untie your happiness from the ends of his shirt-tail …

Merry Christmas and peace to you in this season of peaceful opportunities!


(**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, on-on-ones, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).



How to Not Go Back During the Holidays

People relapse and go back into relationships more from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day than any other time of the year. Why? So many great holidays for faking it! Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, 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.

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, during the holidays, or with them. WITH them, you have more drama, damage and danger—your choice.

The holiday season is an extremely stressful time. It’s a time when it is more likely for:

  • Domestic violence to occur or recur
  • Dysfunctional families to be even MORE dysfunctional
  • Pathologicals to be overt and blatant, and to target your joy and ruin your holidays
  • Former pathological partners to magically reappear and try to hook you back in
  • People to eat, drink, and spend too much
  • People to not get enough rest
  • People to feel pressured to “be in a relationship” and accept dates or stay with dangerous persons “just until the holidays are over”

It’s an idealistic time when people have more depression and anxiety than at any other time of the year because they think their lives should be like the picture postcards and old movies we see this time of year. Depression creeps in, anxiety increases, and to cope, they eat/drink/spend/date in ways they normally would not. But you can’t make a “picture postcard memory” with a psychopath or a narcissist!

Those with the super trait of “sentimentality” will focus on the past — when they had that one perfect Christmas with the pathological.  The other drunken, absent, or abusive 14 Christmases are forgotten, forgiven or overlooked. But what IS focused on is that one year when it was nice and the pitbull stronghold on the hope it will be this way again.

But you and I both know that pathology is permanent. The bad 14 years are a much better and more realistic presentation of what pathology is like during the holidays than the one fluke of a year he held it together. Pathology is very stressful to experience under any circumstances. Add to it the expectations for a pathological to be different (i.e., act appropriately) this time of year, and the pathological’s and everyone else’s stress is then through the roof. Sometimes even our hope can be “pathological” when it is focused on something that cannot and will not change.

The glittering fantasy that resembles your Christmas tree lights places not only you in the path of misery, but all those you plan to spend Christmas with—your family, friends, kids and pets.  It is much kinder to unplug your glittering fantasy and tell yourself the truth of what will happen if you expect a serene and joyful time with a pathological than it is to drag others through your fantasy.

Here’s a mantra to say out loud to 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 out loud. It takes all the romanticizing 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 LAST YEAR. You want to be with a nice man/woman/person for the holidays. And, 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 OKAY to be by yourself for the holidays. It sure beats pathology as a gift.

Peace, gratitude, and all the spiritual reflections that are supposed to happen during this time of year cannot be found in pathology. They were not created there, but they do end there. If your goal for the holidays is to find some peace, joy, hope, and love, don’t spend it where and with whom it cannot be found. After the holidays, you will be a lot happier for not having attempted, for the millionth time, to find happiness where it does not exist.

Here’s a real gift for you—some tips!


— Stop idealizing—you are who you are, it is what it is, pathology is pathology. If your family isn’t perfect, they certainly WON’T be during the season. Accept yourself and others for who they are. This includes accepting that pathology cannot, and will not, be different during the holidays simply because you want the Christmas fantasy.  “Emotional suffering is created in the moment when we don’t accept what ‘is’.” (~Eckart Tolle)

— Don’t feel pressured to eat more/spend more/drink more than you want to. Remind yourself that you have choices and the word “No” is a complete sentence. Don’t be held hostage to exhausting holiday schedules.

— 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 five 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 worst binds going to parties with others, and get stuck in relationships they don’t want to be in, because they feel obligated. 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 and those who are in need.

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

— Plant joy—in yourself, in your life and in others. What you invest in your own recovery is also reaped in the lives of those closest to you.

— Pick ONE growth-oriented issue you’d like to focus on next year for your own growth beginning on January 1. It creates hope when you know you have a plan to move forward and out of your current emotional condition. Invest in your opportunity to grow past the aftermath of this pathological love relationship.

Happy Holidays from The Institute!


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


Awareness is Not Enough

The new mantra—awareness is not enough.

Our goal has been Public Pathology Education but it does not END there. It’s like Step 1 of the 12 Steps which is a statement of awareness “I am powerless (thus aware) over the effects of someone else’s pathology. I have been powerless (thus aware) over my patterns of selection due to my Super Traits.”

These are the FIRST steps of recovery. They are NOT recovery. Awareness is not action.

LOTS of people come to retreats to become aware of his pathology or her super traits and never put ACTION behind it–they don’t stop contact or work with our counselors to better understand how their super traits impact all aspects of their lives.

Action is recovery. You have to DO something in order to change.


Cognitive dissonance is created by holding two differing belief systems. “He’s good/He’s bad. I’m smart/I’m stupid.” It’s called COGNITIVE because it messes with your thinking abilities and impairs neuro pathways which create recurring thinking patterns. You aren’t going to use that same messed up thinking pattern to THINK your way out of the relationship. “More understanding” of pathology, or just being aware of ONE MORE act of betrayal isn’t the magic line in the sand that becomes the ‘aha’ moment when you start No Contact.

You can’t think your way out of cog diss. You have to WORK your way out. It is counter intuitive or everyone would have already done it to get well. You have to STOP the behavior so you STOP the thinking. Thinking aligns with behavior, which is why the No Contact mantra. NOTHING happens until it is reduced to its least possible amount (i.e., parenting). Cog diss is thereby cured NOT by awareness, NOT by rethinking a million times of the things he’s done, NOT by journaling, NOT by retelling the story in therapy, but ONLY by taking an action and changing what you would normally DO (read another book, tell another person, check his email another time, answer his text again).

Most people have not considered that recovery for cog diss is the opposite of what they have been doing which is why nothing has happened in their recovery. New neuro pathways are created when you change your behavior. New neuro pathways are created in your thinking AFTER they are created in your behavior.

Recovery is both action oriented and awareness based. But if awareness is not leading you to action, you are stuck in your recovery process and need help to change gears.

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



Learn How to Starve the Vampire

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


When you don’t respond…

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


When you don’t respond…

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


When you don’t respond…

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

When you don’t respond…

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

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

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

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

When you don’t respond…

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

When you don’t respond…

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

When you don’t respond…

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

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

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

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

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


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



The Predictability of Pathology

“You are describing my relationship EXACTLY!”

 “He has said those exact words to me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



Fantasy and Its Effect on Your Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the facts:

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

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

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












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

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

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


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




Recovery Without Justice

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

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

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

The judicial system acts as the conscience of this country. Victims seek solace in the courtroom and chambers hoping that justice will alleviate the pain, horror, and stigmatization of being a victim of the monster. But we know that in many cases and, I dare say, in most cases, that’s not what happens. Restraining orders are not granted, arrests are not made for stalking or violence, children are given over to the pathological who is an overtly violent, sick, drug-addicted, or an otherwise inept parent. When the pathological doesn’t pay child support, nothing is done and the child is still sent to him. The thousands of dollars he conned out of you or stole from you is never returned. When alimony isn’t paid, he gets away with it. Repeated visits to the courts do nothing to convince them or to open their eyes to the true nature of his behaviors. Anything that is court-ordered he defies and laughs at. You stand, mouth gaping, and wonder, “Where is the justice? HOW does he get away with this?”

I have repeatedly said that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological. If ANYONE will get away with a con or a criminal act, it will be the pathological. The universal scales of justice are tilted in their favor and, ironically, somehow influence the judicial scales of justice. In the 25+ years of doing this work, I have seen them literally get away with murder, rape, embezzlement, breaking and entering, stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, and more. This ranks as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’—how pathological people can con their way out of the most vicious deeds and often never pay in any way for their behavior.

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

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

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

You have to recover without a second of judicial support. Women who hinge recovery on judicial justice, or waiting for their day in court, or “when he gets what’s coming to him,” will never recover. Your own recovery must be a daring adventure in the face of a lack of victims’ rights. Sometimes the only personal justice IS recovering and living a great life. What he has done to you doesn’t define you, hold you down, or stop you from succeeding in your own spiritual outlook.

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

The unfair situation is what you have lived through and the aftermath of the effects of the Pathological Love Relationship. In the face of this grossly dehumanizing experience is the indomitable ability to recover that can guide you, not only to survive, but also to thrive in the face of great pain. I have every confidence you can heal, even without justice.


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



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

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

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

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

“What just happened?”

“Did I do that?”

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Why am I so obsessed with this?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 16 years later she had answered her own question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of our readers memorialized Joyce on our Facebook page:

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

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

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