Should I React This Way?

Partners of pathologicals face chronic confusion about their reactions to his pathology. The woman feels the incongruency in her partner’s Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, reacts to it, and then gets labeled by him as being hysterical.

The fact is, pathologicals project their traits and behaviors on everyone else and say it’s the woman instead of him. That IS part of pathology. In fact, several different personality disorders DO that in relationships because it is a feature and a trait of pathology. So just maybe those are HIS traits, they are not yours! Maybe what you are seeing is a glimmer of his pathological self-view and worldview, and how he thrusts that upon others and labels them with his own disorder.

Is this normal?

Many of you wonder if what you DO feel in the relationship is the correct or normal way to react. SHOULD you have certain reactions to certain disorders or behaviors? The answer is a resounding “YES!”

Normal people have very strong reactions when exposed short- OR long-term to  pathological persons. In fact, it is normal to have these kinds of reactions, and non-pathological persons SHOULD have strong reactions to abnormal behavior. I have the same types of reactions to pathologicals—I have just had to learn over the years to contain my reactions for professional reasons.

These types of reactions in you can be: confusion, frustration, anxiety, wanting to hurt them (slap them, verbally assault them or fantasies of REALLY hurting them). Some women have reactions of “trying to help him understand himself better so I can alter his behaviors.” Others believe what he says about her and start to judge their own behavior, character, and history. She truly begins to think SHE is the one who is sick and not him. She begins to doubt her own perceptions (well I guess black IS white and bad IS good). Her whole worldview becomes distorted – like looking into a carnival mirror where the world becomes wavy and crazy-looking. Others shut down completely and stop communicating because every word is turned back on her by the pathological. Some become paranoid, knowing he is doing something but she is not able to prove it.

Long Term Effects

Long-term effects are a complete emotional shutdown, physical exhaustion with resulting medical issues, chronic depression and/or anxiety (including PTSD), and an altered sense of self-worth. Much like the elephant who only needs to be chained for a short time before it thinks it can never escape and, therefore, it never tries to—women do the same thing. The emotional operant conditioning by pathologicals renders normally strong and independent women into lobotomized ragdolls who don’t move or respond because they have been trained not to.

Reactions to Pathology

Outsiders who are around the pathological also have their own normal reactions to his abnormal behavior. If he has children, they too have adverse reactions, as does his boss, any normal family members he might have, the neighbors, or anyone else he has to deal with. It is normal to have BIG reactions to pathologicals. Even pets often don’t like them! Come on, now—if a dog avoids him—we should too!

Reactions to pathology are expected and, to a large degree, normal. Then there are those of you who not only have had your training at the hands of intimate pathological relationships, but you have been trained in your youth by pathological parents. By now abnormal behavior most likely looks and feels totally normal to you. The effects of pathological parenting are huge and set up reactions, behaviors and worldviews that need intense treatment in order to be set straight.

(**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.)