Sanctuary for the Abused
Friday, July 29, 2016
Safety Nets Often Fail Abuse Victims
By SCOTT GUTIERREZ
Victims of domestic violence often turn to a neighbor instead of the police, and even if they sought court protection they often weren't given help to stay safe, according to a recent study of domestic violence homicides in Washington.
In addition, women of color were two or three times more likely than Caucasian women to be killed by an intimate partner, according to the report, and often faced cultural and language barriers to escaping an abusive relationship. The same trend was apparent with 43 men who have been killed since the biennial Domestic Violence Fatality Review began in 1997, according to the report.
The report, which was presented Monday by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, looks at trends in domestic violence homicides in an effort to improve the criminal justice system and community response to better protect victims.
Sixty-eight people were killed as the result of domestic violence in the latest two-year period examined, between July 2006 and June 2008. Of those cases, 11 were chosen for an in-depth look.
In six of those cases, victims went to a neighbor or community member instead of calling the police. Private citizens often didn't know what to do and weren't aware of organizations that they could call for advice about how to help a victim of abuse.
In the past, the fatality review mostly focused on improving how police and courts handle domestic violence. This year, the focus shifted more toward how community members could better prepare if someone sought help from them, including how to help without jeopardizing their own safety, she said.
"In general, who do you turn to when in a crisis? I think most go to the people who are closest to us before we go to a stranger," said Kelly Starr, a coalition spokeswoman. "We can't rely on all of these systems as the answer."
The report recommended that block watches and crime-prevention groups learn more about domestic violence resources and share information. It also suggested that the media give contact information about advocacy services when reporting on domestic violence.
"I think the next piece is building the community's capacity to respond to this. We all have to build ourselves up so we're ready," Starr said.
Still, the report found areas where the court system needed improvement. For instance, victims often had no help from advocates when petitioning for court protection orders against their abusers. Without someone helping them make that decision, they could increase their risk in some cases, according to the report. An advocate can help plan where to go or what to do if the abuser retaliates or with deciding whether obtaining an order is the safest option.
One woman was killed last year in Federal Way just three hours after her boyfriend was served with an anti-harassment order.
In King County, the Prosecutor's Office provides a protection order advocacy program that victims have used in 73,000 cases since it was established 20 years ago. Generally, advocates serve about 5,000 cases each year, in addition to 2,500 walk-ins seeking advice, said David Martin, who supervises the domestic violence unit.
"For some folks, these are very difficult decisions to make -- life-altering decisions. There could be children involved, or a long-term relationship," Martin said. "We want people to understand what's going on and to make a good, informed decision."
Most Washington courts that provide protection orders, however, don't offer advocacy services, according to the report.
In those cases, court clerks' offices could consider referring victims to community-based organizations, which wouldn't cost extra money, Starr said.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
How to tell when you’re not being told the straight story
By Cynthia Hubert
You think you can tell when he’s lying.
His eyes dart back and forth. He can’t keep his hands still. He stutters and stumbles over his words.
Deception is written all over him, right? Not necessarily.
Nailing a fibber is not nearly as easy or instinctive as most people think, say scientists, authors and other keen observers of the art of deception.
“There is no simple checklist,” says Gregory Hartley, a former military interrogator who applies the techniques he used on enemy combatants in a new book for civilians, “How To Spot a Liar.”
But with a little practice, Hartley insists, you, too, can become a human lie detector.
It is a skill that has challenged us through the ages, says Dallas Denery, a professor of medieval history at Bowdoin College in Maine who is working on a book about the history of lying. “The problem of lies and liars has been with us forever,” he says. “In the Judeo-Christian tradition, history really begins with a lie, with Adam and Eve and the serpent.”
Fast forward to modern times and a 2002 study suggesting that most people lie in everyday conversation. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts observed people talking for 10 minutes and found that 60 percent of them lied at least once, telling an average of two to three fibs. Some of the lies were benign, but others were extreme, including one person who falsely claimed to be a rock star.
“We didn’t expect lying to be such a common part of daily life,” one of the researchers, Robert Feldman, observed after the study was published.
Over the years, CIA agents, police detectives, psychologists, lawyers and others have tried a variety of methods to identify liars, from polygraph machines to “voice stress analysis” to analysis of barely perceptible facial movements that can give away hidden feelings. None of the techniques has been foolproof.
And the search for the truth continues. The science of liars and lying remains a hot topic in research circles, and book after book offers the latest theory about how to tell when a spouse is cheating, a witness is lying in court or a car salesman is overstating the value of a vehicle.
Check out just a few of the titles on the subject at www.amazon.com: “Lies and Liars: Pinocchio’s Nose and Less Obvious Clues,” “Liar! A Critique of Lies and the Act of Lying,” “When Your Lover Is a Liar,” and “The Concise Book of Lying.” It’s enough to shatter your trust in humanity.
John Mayoue, an Atlanta divorce lawyer who has represented famous clients - including Jane Fonda in her breakup with Ted Turner - says lying is rampant in his business.
“In the courtroom, there is no end to the lying, particularly if money is at stake,” Mayoue says. “The more money, the bigger the lies.”
The greatest lie in relationships, he says, is “Honey, I love you but I’m no longer in love with you. That’s someone’s way of saying they’re cheating on you.”
The Internet culture has made lying practically a sport, Mayoue observes. “You just have to assume that you’re in the midst of a liar’s ball when you’re online,” he says. “It’s a fantasy realm. I can’t see you. I can’t look at signals. I can’t test you. There is no verification.”
In court and in daily life, Mayoue believes, a person’s eyes tell the truest story.
“Looking at someone in an unwavering manner and answering the question is very telling,” he says. “When I see eyes shift side to side and up and down, it just causes suspicion.”
Hartley, the former interrogator, agrees that body language can hint at deception. But not always, he says. “Your eyes drift naturally when you’re searching for information,” he says. “I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t move their eyes when looking for details.”
The key to uncovering a lie, he says, is knowing how the liar behaves normally, when he or she is relaxed, and picking up on changes in voice patterns, eye movement and other body language.
“You’ve got to ask the right questions, then observe how that person responds,” Hartley says.
Signs of stress, which may signal that someone is lying, include flared nostrils and audible breathing, shaky hands and elbows moving closer to the ribs, according to Hartley.
“Stress does horrible things to our brains,” he says. “Stress hormones can virtually turn off your brain and make you become reactive.”
For the most notorious liars, the tendency to fib may be biological, suggests a study by researchers at the University of Southern California.
Pathological liars, the scientists found, have structural differences in their brains that could affect their abilities to feel remorse and learn moral behavior and might give them an advantage in planning deceitful strategies, the researchers discovered. Other scientists have suggested that pathological liars owe their behavior to the psychiatric diagnoses known as narcissism or sociopathy, and may truly believe their own falsehoods.
But the average, everyday fibber lies to achieve a goal, says communication expert Laurie Puhn, author of the best-selling book “Instant Persuasion, How To Change Your Words To Change Your Life.” Most people lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, to avoid a commitment or a task, to cover up bad behavior or to elevate themselves professionally or personally, she says.
Puhn advises people who suspect someone is lying to ask unexpected questions, look for contradictions in their statements and ask a follow-up question a couple of days later about the suspected lie.
“If someone says they had to work late to deal with a new client and you are suspicious, ask them about it a week later,” she says. “They’re likely to answer, ‘What new client?’ It’s hard for liars to keep their lies straight.”
Bettyanne Bruin, who parlayed her experiences with a former partner into a book and a support group for people who have been deceived, says the first step toward detecting a liar is overcoming denial.
“People tend to ignore the red flags,” says Bruin, author of “Shattered: Six Steps From Betrayal to Recovery.” “Their gut tells them what is going on, but they really do want to believe the best about the person they love.”
The most critical sign that a partner is lying, she says, is defensiveness.
“Liars are very defensive when you question them,” says Bruin. “They will become very resistant and angrier and angrier upon each attempt to probe.” Often, she says, they make their partners feel guilty about questioning them. “They’ll say, ‘You’re being unreasonable,’ or ‘Why are you treating me this way?’ ”
Types of lies
Joseph Tecce, an associate professor of psychology at Boston College who has studied liars and lying, identifies six types of untruths, some more egregious than others.
He classifies them as:
The ‘protective’ lie, which can shield the liar from danger.
The ‘heroic’ lie, created to protect someone else from danger or punishment.
The ‘playful’ lie, such as an angler’s fib about the size of his fish.
The ‘ego’ lie, designed to shield someone from embarrassment.
The ‘gainful’ lie, which somehow enriches the fibber.
And the ‘malicious’ lie, told to deliberately hurt someone else.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Heartbreak, Heartache, and Cardiac Pain
A Study of Coronary-Prone Behavior
by Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D.
Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of in the industrialized world. Over the years, and particularly within the last decade, a considerable amount of research has been undertaken in an effort to discover the causes of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease -- a unique phenomenon of twentieth century people. This research has been mostly of a statistical nature. Risk factors such as cigarette smoking, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension are significant variables in the relationship between life style and cardiovascular disease. Additional research studies, however, have disclosed that certain individuals are more prone to heart disease than others.
Such disease-prone individuals have a special pattern of behavior (Friedman 1984, 3-70; Eliot 1984, 35-92; S 1980). This behavior may be described as ambitious, competitive, aggressive, and hostile. Coronary-prone individual driven by achievement and performance, strive to succeed but gain no satisfaction or fulfillment from the effort. They suppress feelings; thinking becomes more important than feeling. They frequently have an over-commitment to work and a profound sense of time urgency and impatience. They project an positive self-esteem and success.
The reality of their poor esteem, depression, and various forms of sexual inadequacy are frequently hidden from the outside world. Subconsciously have a strong desire to control events, and many of them expertence a need to accomplish out of a profound sense of panic (Lowen 1980, 1-29).It can be asked: Why is there an inordinate drive for success? How did this behavior develop? What function does it serve in personalities? If one does not know drives one, one cannot act effectively to limit the drive to a reasonable level. If one can understand how these forces act in one's personality, specific actions can be taken to diminish their power and so protect one's heart from their harmful effects.
For the past three years, I have been collaborating with Al-exander Lowen in a project to arrive at a bioenergetic under-standing of cardiac disease and the individuals who are prone to it (Lowen and Sinatra, 1988). The formulations in this paper are based on our research.
It is well known that mind and body influence each other. What one thinks can elicit an emotional response in which the body participates. Thus, psychosomatic issues are key elements found in almost every illness. In general, psychosomatic illness represents suppressed emotion that eventually damages the body and its physiological system. In hypertension, the major suppressed emotions are anger, hostility and rage (Rosenman 103-135; Sinatra and Chawla 1986, 197-199). In addition to suppressing anger and hostility, coronary-prone individuals have also struggled with the heart-breaking experience loss of love and subsequent loss of a vital connection. Such feelings of heartbreak, and the great sorrow, grief, and anguish which are part of them, are subsequently expressed in one's evolving behavior, character, and body. Although the childhood injury of heartbreak may be repressed, in adulthood the body holds these experiences in its physical expression. Such individuals display an over-inflated, high-held chest, mechanical breathing, a contracted pelvis, and a general state of rigidity.
Few people would admit that they were unloved as children. Even patients undergoing analvsis have considerable difficulty accepting this possibility. Generally, it is only after thev have ex-perienced the pain of their heartbreak that they are willing to recognize that one or both parents felt negatively towards them.
Parental love is a critical component of development in humans. But unfortunately, it is withheld from some children.Type A coronary-prone behavior develops in a family situation in which love for the child is conditioned upon the child's accomplishments and achievements (Sinatra and Lowen 1988). In western culture, success has become the most important "virtue." Many parents are excessively involved in their children's status and performance in and out of school, in studies and in sports. Love conditioned upon performance is not love at all.
Conditional love always carries with it the possibility that, at some time or another, children will experience the withdrawal of love if their behavior has not fulfilled parental expectations. True love surrounds people with warmth and affection for who they are and not for what they do. If young children receive the message, "You are not acceptable the way you are," basic insecurities develop. These are the bases for the Type A personality, the drive to achieve as a way to overcome early rejections.
Fearing to love, children close their hearts to avoid subsequent rejection and heartbreak. They then pay the price loneliness and new connections are not made. If approval is based on performance alone, there is avoidance of intimacy, contact, and commitment. Children who falsely assume that successful endeavors buy them love, hope to gain acceptance and acknowledgment first at home, then at school, and later at the work place.
In the pursuit to gain lost parental love and overcome such feelings of heartbreak, children sacrifice their true self for an illusion --success. The narcissistic character develops in this way. Work and performance become newly substituted passions that replace lost love. When there is an exaggerated involvement in one's image at the expense of one's self (i.e., emphasizing what one would wish to be as opposed to be as opposed to what one actually is), the person loses the capacity to feel. With denial of feeling and without a solid sense of self, one becomes vulnerable to pushing and striving beyond normal levels. It is this tendency towards denial that is so characteristic of those who develop heart disease. It is the sacrifice of true, deep feeling, the denial and suppression of feelings, that contributes to coronary-prone behavior and subsequent cardiovascular risk.This pattern, es-tablished in childhood, is typical of the coronary-prone personality. (Sinatra and Lowen, 1988).
The heartbroken child who fears love as an adult will have a personality and character structure typical of those who develop cardiac symptoms and eventually coronary pathology (Sinatra and Lowen, 1988).
This rigid, narcissistic character structure, a survival mechanism for the child, is a bodily defense against love and heartbreak.It is characterized by immobilization - and rigidification of the chest wall. Thus the denial of the loss becomes a chronic negative factor in the body by limiting respiration and creating a condition of muscular tension, which, in itself, is a cardiac stress. As one's breathing is limited by such chronic tension, one's energy is also limited, and there is less available to deal with other stresses. Variations of the rigid narcissistic character type, in which one's image is more important than one's self leaves one vulnerable to unexpected cardiac events. This is exemplified in the following case study.
Tim came in for therapy following an extensive negative car-diological evaluation for chest pain. He had a history of resting and exertional chest pain and considerable fear about the possibility of heart disease. As -a young boy, he witnessed his father having a myocardial infarction at the age of 34. Although Tim was resistant in the first few sessions, he had considerable awareness that his chest pain had a lot to do with the feelings of heartbreak that he experienced as a young child. At the time of his therapy, his marriage was in trouble. He was experiencing little emotional feeling and was suffering from a low-grade depression. He also lived in constant fear of dying.
The initial period of therapy focused on his hurt as a child. He was the youngest of four children. He resented the fact that he had never really experienced his childhood. His childhood was full of criticism and lack of love and acceptance. He admitted to being very lonely. In order to get approval for love, Tim became a good boy and sacrificed anger and all his negative feelings. As a good boy, he did the chores, the yard work folded his clothes, counseled and listened to his mother. He recalled that his mother had constantlv corrected him in toilet training. He was alwavs told that he was a very, very good boy. In therapy, Tim had memories of being terrorized bv his father and mother. The parents split up on numerous occasions and they had many arguments in the presence of the children. Although Tim saw his father on occasion, there was no real closeness to him. Tim's recollection of his mother was one of horror and disgust. He described his mother as having a "ghoulish quality." In therapy, he also sensed the strong possibility of incestual relationship between them. Tim described his mother as sad, depressed, and not available to him. Although he felt sorrow for her, he felt that he needed her and, as any little boy would, wanted to care for her and make her feel good. Since his mother was beaten by his father and was depressed, Tim could not really experience any negative feeling toward her. His mother forbade him to express anger because this was "acting like the crazy father."
The inability to express anger and rage a child left him with considerable guilt, which was eventual reflected in his sexuality.At age four, he swallowed a bottle of aspirin as a suicidal gesture and made the false connection that "illness will buy me affection." At around that time, this feeling was reinforced since his father was hospitalized with a myocardial infarction. Throughout his childhood, Tim continued to avoid feeling. He did not cry, and he held in his anger. If he experienced true feeling, he had the fear that his father would kill him. Thus, he ran the risk of full rejection by his mother and annihilation by his father. In therapy, however, he had the awareness that his body contained an enormous amount of rage. He related two stories of loss of control and rage. On one occasion, he flung a cat across the room in a fit of rage. On another occasion, during karate class, he almost "killed someone" as a result of losing his composure. In therapy, he was able to own his rage and held in anger. This was easily facilitated with the intervention of kicking the mattress and using the word "why?" After experiencing anger in therapy, he admitted that some passion was re-awakened in his marital relationship. Communication with his wife improved, and he was able to experience more sexual feeling. The more anger Tim experienced, the better he felt. It gave him a true sense of strength and a feeling of being alive and free.
Tim's body was tight, coiled and rigid, reflecting his lack of feeling. His perpetual smile was a cover-up for his hurt and rage. His voice was constricted and at times high-pitched. His chest was over-inflated and his breathing was shallow. The pectoralis was heavily armored to protect the heart. The illusion of power and control was seen in his armored, over-inflated chest and mechan-ical way of breathing. This, too, was a cover-up for the great sorrow and anguish that he experienced as a child. The waist was tight and contracted, and he admitted to little sexual feeling. His hostility towards women was locked in severe tensions of the upper back. The musculature was prominent, however, and the shoulders rounded as if he were burdened by women. The source of Tim's guilt was his inability to feel angry toward a helpless, pathetic mother.
His underlying deep fear of women led to his fear of castration and, therefore, to the absence of sexual feeling. Although he admitted to having tremendously low self-esteem, being unlovable, and mentally and sexually inadequate, Tim's body had the stance, "I can take it."Even though his father was the president of a large corporation, Tim's oedipal situation surfaced; he had the idea that he could do better than his father. Fortunately for Tim, his bioen-ergetic therapy opened up feeling and awareness. As he lay over the bioenergetic stool, he broke down quickly into sobbing. Crying released some of his tension. Although he always felt better after crying, he frequently had episodes of intense chest and arm pain following his sessions. Tim had difficulty in utilizing his voice in therapy. Frequently he needed to extend his neck and open up the throat. Soft pressure on the diaphragm enabled the voice to break through and release feeling. At times, his soft cries had an anguished quality.
The pain of reopening the heart with subsequent release of feeling is perhaps the greatest resistance the patient can offer. Tim did not reallv want to examine the pain. He did not want to get in touch with the feeling of heartbreak he had experienced as a child. As a child he felt that he could die. The patient was confronted with a seemingly life-threatening dilemma by reexamining such feeling (Sinatra and Lowen 1986). By utilizing voice, he was able to break through into deep emotion. The hostilitv towards women was expressed by hitting and striking mattress with his fists. By using the words "leave me alone," and by connecting the voice with the hitting motion of the arms, Tim was able to get into true, deep, anger. At times, his anger assumed a theatrical quality; i.e., he tried to do with his therapist what was done to him as a child. As his therapist, I felt as if he were testing me with his anger and rage.
Tim's lack of sexual responsiveness to his wife was seen an expression of his hostility towards and fear of women. Unable to get back at his mother, he retaliated by withholding sexual feeling from his wife. His unconscious negative feeling toward women was expressed in an inability to give himself fully to sexual pleasure with his wife. His premature ejaculation was a manifestation of his deep pelvic tension. Tim was engaged in a power struggle with his wife on two levels -- sex and business. Although he felt inferior to his wife on a sexual level, he felt even more castrated on an economic level, particularly when she was making more money than he was. As a boy, he felt powerless with his mother, and as a man he felt powerless with his wife. After having repressed his memory of those experiences with his mother, he reexperienced them with his spouse, feel powerless and sexually inadequate. As Tim worked through his unconscious conflicts, he realized that his wife, as his mother, was cold and critical. When he realized that he had chosen a wife like his mother, he abruptly ended the marriage.
Thus, Tim's fear of love and his mistrust of women can traced back to the experience of heartbreak that he suffered as a small child. In trying to find love, he sets up a vicious cycle. Tim wants women to love him; however, he cannot reach out for love or experience it. He wanted his mother to love him. He wished his wife would love him. He spends his whole life trying to have people love him. Although he wants to be in a relationship with a woman and wants a woman to need him, when a woman finds him attractive and has feeling for him, he then hates her.
This powerful unconscious negative transference has had a tremendous psychological and physical life. The psychic pain of his heartache and heartbreak manifests itself in true cardiac pain from coronary artery spasm.For all practical purposes, Tim possesses a coronary-prone personality. As an engineer, he is aggressive, ambitious, and successful. He also has experienced the pain of rejection and subsequent fear of love, which places undue stress upon the heart. Unfortunately, Tim does not see his striving for success as an expression of his need for love. He does not reach out for love since he is frightened by the possibility of rejection. He strives to earn love by achievement and success, but this is a desperate striving tinged with hostility, aggressiveness, and bitterness, all of which prevents others from loving him. However, even though Tim is coronary-prone, the experience of therapy has brought him into true, deep feeling. Is Tim prone to cardiac illness? Will Tim fulfill the family tradition and face the same demise as his father who recently died of congestive heart fail-ure? The answer to these questions is negative. Although Tim has the personality, character type, and drive associated with coronary heart disease, the fact that he is feeling the pain of heartbreak and experiencing his depression and despair protects him from the perils of this disease. The mobilization of his anger and the release of his deep sadness through crying and sobbing will alleviate the tensions associated with heartbreak, and free him to the path to heart disease. In a therapeutic relationship, he is able to have profound feeling and experience his true self.
Tim's bioenergetic analysis frees up muscular rigidity and tension. Opening up breathing induces feeling. And feeling reduces rigidity in the thoracic cage. The chronic effects of sup-pressed emotions, energetic blocks, and muscular tensions set the stage for the coronary disease process. The attenuation of the coronary-prone behavior pattern with bioenergetic analysis allows the patient to experience spontaneity of feeling, and the patient can gain emotional and physical well-being. The body can feel, soften, and become truly alive.
Acknowledgement: The author wishes to thank Alexander Lowen, M.D. for participating in the study. He also wishes to thank Leslie Case, Ph.D., for supervision.
Eliot, R. and Breo, D. 1984. Is It Worth Dying For? NY: Bantam.
Friedman, M. and Ylmer, D. 1984. Treating Tvpe A Behavior and Your Heart. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Lowen, A. 1980. Stress and Illness: A Bioenergetic View. New York: IIBA.
Lowen, A. and Sinatra, S. 1988. Anticipated Title: Love, Sex and Your Heart. NY: Macmillan Publishing. In press.
Rosenman, R. 1985. "Health Consequences of Anger and Implications Treatment." In: Chesney, M. and Rosenman, R., eds. Anger and Hostility in Cardiovascular and Behavioral Disorders. Menlo Park, CA: Hemisphere Pub. Co.
Sinatra, S. and Chawla, S. 1986. "Aortic Dissection Associated with Anger, Suppressed Rage and Acute Emotional Stress." Journal of Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation, v.6.
Sinatra, S. and Lowen, A. 1986. "Heartbreak and Heart Disease." British Holistic Medical Journal. In press.
Sinatra, S. and Lowen, A. 1986. "Cultural and Bioenergetic Applications Individuals with Heart Disease." In Proceedings from the 8th International Bioenergetic Congress. Brussels: Societe Belge D'Analyse Bioenergetique.
Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F. A.C.C., is a board certified cardiologist and certified bioenergetic analyst with more that 20 years of experience in helping patients precvent and reverse heart disease.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
"Help, I'm in Love with a Narcissist!"
Narcissists: If you love one, a new book offers help
By KRISTIN DIZON -- SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Jerk. Witch. Creep.
You’ve probably used such names to describe a romantic partner gone bad, or maybe a few choice words of the four-letter variety.
But, there’s another name for the ones who are so self-absorbed and self-involved that all of their needs and wants come first: the narcissist.
He’s the boyfriend who begs you to leave your job, family and rent-controlled apartment to move to another state to be with him, only to discover, after moving, that he’s got another girlfriend he failed to tell you about.
She’s the girlfriend who creates a crisis out of every little situation so she can be the perpetual look-at-me center of attention and drama.
It’s the father who chose to play golf instead of help with his young son’s birthday party, despite his wife’s pleas. Then he arrived when the party was almost over, crushing his son’s feelings.
All of these are examples from flesh and blood people in the new book, “Help! I’m in Love With a Narcissist,” by relationship authors Julia Sokol and Steven Carter. (M. Evans and Co., 270 pages, $21.95).
Previously, they wound up on the best-seller list for “Men Who Can’t Love,” in which they coined the now ubiquitous term, “commitmentphobia.” Now, they’re throwing our self-obsessed, me!, me!, me! approach to relationships under the microscope.
We live in narcissistic times. We observe every move of Paris Hilton and P. Diddy, and lavish attention upon arrogant business moguls like Donald Trump.
Reality is, most of us have some degree of narcissism and self-involvedness. But there's a big difference between garden-variety (healthy) narcissistic tendencies and toxic narcissism.
Narcissists are often charming, adventurous people who entertain us with their interesting stories and grandiose sense of self. They are often very attentive and appreciative toward their partners for the first month or two, and are skilled at fanning the chemistry.
But, they also know how to demean, criticize and show no empathy for others. They're often controlling and have a needy side that asks frequently: Do you really love me? Will you leave me? Are you like all of the others?
Many have a history of troubled relationships and lots of emotional baggage.
They take, they demand, they expect. In return, they give very little, although many are good at delivering flowery words of love that suck us back in, especially after a fight or ultimatum.
But, how do you know if you're living with a narcissist? The bottom line is that if you're in a relationship that's dominated by the other person's wishes and priorities, without the normal give-and-take and compromise, you very well may be shacking up with a narcissist.
Sokol recently spoke with us from her Rhode Island home about living with and loving narcissists.
Who did you write this book for? And why the need for it?
"We're writing it for everybody who doesn't quite understand why they're getting stuck in the same relationship -- one that revolves around the other person. ... I think it's very widespread. And we also did this book to help readers understand their own narcissistic issues. That will help you understand the choices you make and why you're drawn to a particular type of person. Most of these people who get into these hideous, hideous relationships, one after another, complain that they were bored with other people."
What separates average narcissistic qualities from a true toxic narcissist?
"I guess it's how much pain that person is causing and how unable and completely incapable the toxic narcissist is to feel anything for another person. The narcissist is able to weave this terrific web of fantasy and illusion. It's fulfilling all your fantasies, all your dreams. You've always wanted to feel unique and special and the narcissist is able to make you feel that and that this is a unique and special relationship."
Why do people fall for narcissists?
"I think society places a value on narcissism and narcissistic values. We put an emphasis on the superficial. We put an emphasis on the people who sound as though they know what they're talking about, even when they don't. ... Narcissism forgives an awful lot that in an earlier time would have been considered obnoxious. Modesty is no longer a virtue in this country. Narcissists tend to tell you that they're wonderful and terrific and adorable. ... They tend to know how to sweep people off their feet. They are incredibly seductive. They know what you like to hear."
A lot of folks seem to believe that with enough love and hope and effort, the narcissist in their life can change. What do you think?
"After years of hearing these stories -- and we've heard thousands of them -- they don't ever seem to change."
How does one's upbringing tie into loving a narcissist or becoming one?
"Many people have parents who have all-about-me tendencies -- everything comes back to that person. The child is the audience, the support system, a part of this drama. And then they turn around and find partners who pull us in this way. It comes from our own weak sense of self. ... Some are so spoiled by parents that they turned into narcissists."
Why are narcissists so hard to leave?
"The classic narcissistic partner has this 'look-at-me' quality, but also has this 'oh poor me, I really need help.' They draw you in with the sadness and the emptiness and you feel that somehow you can fill this void. And you tell yourself, he really loves me -- even though he's cheating on me every other night of the week."
What's your advice for people to get out of a narcissistic relationship and break the pattern?
"You start setting up boundaries that you're not going to let people cross. You really start believing in the things that you say are important. You stop focusing on perfection, you stop worrying about being bored. And you stop feeling that you can solve the other person's problems. ... The minute you feel you're in this kind of relationship or you've had more than one person like this in your life, a little professional help is not going to hurt."
You and Steven Carter coined the term commitmentphobia. Do you think narcissist will become part of the dating lexicon?
"I think it's starting to do that already. And it's about time, too. I think this is the relationship issue of our times. There's nothing to curb people like these. They're in a society that supports it."
KNOW A NARCISSIST?
Here are the signs of narcissism. It takes five or more before you can slap the label on someone:
1. An exaggerated or grandiose sense of self-importance that isn't supported by reality
2. A preoccupation with fantasies of extraordinary success, wealth, power, beauty and love
3. A belief that he/she is special and unique and can only be understood by other special people
4. An intense need for admiration
5. A sense of entitlement
6. A tendency to exploit others without guilt or remorse
7. An absence of meaningful empathy
8. A tendency to be envious or to assume that he/she is the object of others' envy
9. An 'I'm never wrong' attitude;
P-I reporter Kristin Dizon can be reached at 206-448-8118 or email@example.com.
Click on my Facebook page - linked at the left - for supportive discussions with other victims of Narcissists
Monday, July 25, 2016
"Truly evil people avoid extending themselves. They will take any action in their power to protect their own laziness, to preserve the integrity of their sick self. Rather than nurturing others, they will actually destroy others in this cause. If necessary, they will even kill to escape the pain of their own spiritual growth."
by M. Scott Peck, Psychiatrist, Author People of the Lie
Sunday, July 24, 2016
CO-PARENTING WITH A NARCISSIST, SOCIOPATH or ABUSER
1. STAY STRONG IN YOUR FAITH! I know that this is difficult at times because I myself have been tried so much. Go to church regularly and tell the pastor(s) and counselors at your church what you are dealing with and ask them and the congregation to pray for you. Pray and read your Bible. If you are not religious you might want to try this out anyway or meditate to bring peace to your soul. It is absolutely necessary that you find some peace in a situation that is utter chaos and dysfunction.
2. DO NOT TAKE THEIR BAIT! I have read on several websites (including this one), and books like The Sociopath Next Door, by Dr. Martha Stout, and also Without Conscience, by Dr. Robert Hare, that stress this very point. I found this out the hard way and have learned from experience that this only adds to the problem because the sociopath is often trying to get a reaction out of you. Reacting or retaliating against the sociopath only fuels the fire. Although it might sound cliché, one can only truly and successfully fight evil with goodness, especially in this case.
3. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Sociopaths (as my ex is) are pathological liars and are bound to contradict themselves in their stories. Thorough logs of all events with the sociopath and also supporting documents such as emails, police documents, medical records, court documents, etc., can all be of help when dealing with a sociopath in a situation such as this. When the time is right (sometimes its smart to let time go by so that the sociopath can implicate, perjure, and hang him/herself some more) you might decide to file the appropriate paperwork in court (i.e. Order to Show Cause for custody and visitation, declarations, motions for contempt of court, etc.) and attach the documents that you have been logging and saving as exhibits/evidence to your court papers (you can ask an attorney, paralegal, or family law self help center or other similar groups how to do this). If you have the financial resources, you might want to consider a deposition as another opportunity to let the animal perjure him/herself some more.
4. REQUEST EXPLICIT COURT ORDERS! I have found through personal experience that sociopaths will exploit and take advantage of any ambiguity or vagueness in court orders to create complete and utter chaos. You must push for detailed court orders when you go to court to prevent this from happening.
5. IF POSSIBLE, ASK THE COURT TO ARRANGE CHILD EXCHANGES AT LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS! Doing this eliminates the opportunity of having to interact with the sociopath at your home or his/her home as well as other places that are easy for chaos to occur. Arrive at the exchange early and let the officers know that you are there for a child exchange (make sure you always have the court orders with you so that the police can see it if need be) and you can ask the desk officers if they can monitor the exchange.
6. HAVE PEOPLE OTHER THAN YOU THAT YOU TRUST AND ARE GOOD PEOPLE DO THE EXCHANGE OF YOUR CHILD(REN) IF POSSIBLE! Making yourself as invisible as possible might increase the chances of cutting the sociopath out of your life since he or she will no longer be able to see you sweat. Remember to always stay calm and collected when the sociopath tries to anger you (you can cry and vent in private) even and especially in court.
7. BE CAUTIOUS IN STATING THAT YOUR EX IS A SOCIOPATH (OR NARCISSIST)! Many people, including the courts, child welfare organizations, lawyers, etc., are not familiar with this devastating disorder and as a result do not know how to respond properly to the warning signs (as many of us did not know how to until we were caught in a complex web of deception). Therefore, focus on proving the behavior of the sociopath in court using the strategies I suggested earlier and do not accuse your ex as being a sociopath in court. They will not take this seriously since you are probably not a professional licensed to make such a diagnosis.
8. PUSH FOR COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND THE EX TO BE THROUGH EMAIL ONLY WHEN YOU GO TO COURT! Communication using this vehicle of communication helps to eliminate the possibility of he said/she said. Websites such as www.ourfamilywizard.com are excellent because they provide an opportunity for you to communicate with your ex via email and all the communication is safe and secure and can easily be printed out (all emails also include the date and exact time the emails were sent and viewed by the other party and also include the time any printed emails are generated). Also, the website allows you to input your parenting schedules, input medical information for the child, and offers a journal, free children’s accounts to the child(ren) involved and can also offer professional accounts for minor’s counsel and possible others to oversee the account and monitor what is going on.
9. PUSH THE COURT FOR PERMISSION TO VIDEO OR TAPE RECORD EXCHANGES AND MAKE SURE THIS IS WRITTEN IN THE COURT ORDER! Doing this helps to eliminate any possibility for potential chaos.
10. GET ALL INFORMATION STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE! Do not rely on any information the sociopath provides you. Always verify all information concerning the child or children with their doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. If possible have the child(ren’s) doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. document all information they give you.
11. DO NOT CUT THE SOCIOPATH ANY SLACK! Record and document any and all violations of court orders. Recording these violations may be helpful when you go to court.
12. HIRE AN EXPERIENCED COMPETENT ATTORNEY, AND IF POSSIBLE ONE THAT HAS EXPERIENCE IN DEALING WITH SOCIOPATHS OR OTHER SIMILAR PERSONALITY DISORDERS! Child custody cases involving sociopaths are complicated and need the skill, experience, and know-how of a professional.
13. TRUST YOUR GUT! Oftentimes, we doubt our intuitions when we shouldn’t. In my personal experience I found that there were warning signs but did not respond to them as I should have because I took the signs lightly. Likewise, when I was drawn into my ex’s net of deception and chaos, I knew something was wrong, and attempted to explain what I believed was wrong with my ex to my previous attorney, but the attorney did not understand and discouraged me from engrossing myself in research. She stated that doing so could help me to become emotionally and mentally unstable (the attorney did not have experience in dealing with such complex personalities and so did not know how to properly respond to my ex’s actions). I later decided to trust my gut and continued with my research. Through research, trial and error, I have learned how to better deal with my ex and I do not respond to his baits (my ex has accused me of being a sociopath and has falsely accused me of harassing him).
14. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Living well is truly the best revenge. As difficult as it may be, try not to let the sociopath make you a bitter, angry, mean person. Remember the ultimate goal of the sociopath is to frustrate you. Enjoy your child(ren) while they are with you and let them know that you love them. Listen to them and model what real love looks like while they are in your care. Let them see you in loving relationships with other people. Criticize their actions and not them in private and DO NOT talk badly about the other parent in their presence (this can give the other parent an opportunity to bring parental alienation charges against you); instead you can let them know that actions like the ones their parents are exhibiting are wrong and hurtful to others and that this behavior is undesirable. Also, don’t forget to eat (like I have in the past), exercise, sleep, and laugh! Do not under any circumstances allow the sociopath to rob you of your ability to laugh.
(REMEMBER: you can NOT CO-Parent with a Cluster B, you can only Parallel Parent)
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Few Religious Leaders (or Religious-Based Therapists) are Trained to Deal with Abuse
Silenced by shame; Fixing broken lives can be frightening, arduous
BY: Linda Espenshade
Religious leaders who believe it's their job to save an abusive marriage are taking on a job that gives even professional marriage counselors a headache.
"It's awfully hard to unscramble an egg," said a Mennonite minister simply. Yet that's precisely what a couple asks for when they bring their beaten marriage to their leaders.
"I don't think these ministers want these problems to be there, but because they don't know how to work with it is why it goes on," said Paul, a conservative Mennonite pastor who counsels abuse victims from all over the East Coast.
In many conservative churches, the leaders have no training in theology, family dynamics, abuse, psychology, conflict management or leadership principles, nor do many want to know more than what they read in the Bible.
Many are selected for church leadership through the lot, a kind of God-ordained lottery. The church chooses several men they believe are godly. After prayer, each man selects a book, one of which holds a special paper. The man who selects the book with the paper in it is the new leader.
Now, this man, in addition to working full time, must lead a church, preach, counsel people, go to meetings and nurture his own family in his spare time. Chances are he doesn't have time to deal with an abuse situation.
"Well, if you start getting involved in someone's life where there are marriage difficulties, it's going to take tremendous amounts of time," said Mary Boll, a Lancaster Conference woman who is a consultant for Mennonite ministers dealing with abuse."This isn't a quick thing. It's not one or two sessions and then it's done. This can be several years of involvement. I know many who have been involved for long periods of time."
In addition to the time commitment, dealing with abuse can be frightening for a minister, said Boll.
"If this guy is really doing what she says she's doing, is he dangerous? If I interfere, is he going to come after me?" a minister may ask himself, Boll said.Paul said some leaders are so concerned about keeping the church pure, they miss the needs of the person.
"The other fear that I think comes in there is, what if she wants to leave him? Heaven help us if we break up a marriage. And I don't say that lightly because I believe in marriage," said Boll, who's been married for 36 years.
"If they are a bishop, they feel like their job is to administrate and take care of ordinances...and make sure everything is straight, that everybody's following the rules...rather than to sit down and listen to somebody."Some leaders may be afraid to listen and acknowledge the abuse because then they would have to admit that they don't know how to deal with it. Then they feel powerless and impotent, said Mary Steffy, executive director of the Mental Health Association.
Even those who do know how to deal with abuse can end up feeling used and powerless when they get involved, said Boll. For example, if a minister tries to hold an offender accountable, the man can go to another church or denomination where the minister has no influence.
Or a minister may get involved in helping a woman get out of an abusive situation, only to have the victim change her mind at the last minute.
Paul said he is dealing with an abusive marital situation at his church now that won't resolve. "I've done everything books and literature say to do, but unless a person wants to fix the problem," it won't happen, he said.
Lancaster Newspapers, Inc./ INTELLIGENCER JOURNAL (LANCASTER, PA.)
Friday, July 22, 2016
Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone's feelings. Constant invalidation may be one of the most significant reasons a person with high innate emotional intelligence suffers from unmet emotional needs later in life.(1)
A sensitive child who is repeatedly invalidated becomes confused and begins to distrust his own emotions. He fails to develop confidence in and healthy use of his emotional brain-- one of nature's most basic survival tools. To adapt to this unhealthy and dysfunctional environment, the working relationship between his thoughts and feelings becomes twisted. His emotional responses, emotional management, and emotional development will likely be seriously, and perhaps permanently, impaired. The emotional processes which worked for him as a child may begin to work against him as an adult. In fact, one defintion of the so-called "borderline personality disorder" is "the normal response of a sensitive person to an invalidating environment" (2)
Psychiatrist R.D. Laing said that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them. He found that when one's feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even they are perfectly mentally healthy. (Reference)
Recent research by Thomas R. Lynch, Ph.D. of Duke University supports the idea that invalidation leads to mental health problems. He writes "...a history of emotion invalidation (i.e., a history of childhood psychological abuse and parental punishment, minimization, and distress in response to negative emotion) was significantly associated with emotion inhibition (i.e., ambivalence over emotional expression, thought suppression, and avoidant stress responses). Further, emotion inhibition significantly predicted psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms.) (Reference)
Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but that we are fundamentally abnormal. This implies that there is something wrong with us because we aren't like everyone else; we are strange; we are different; we are weird.
None of this feels good, and all of it damages us. The more different from the mass norm a person is, for example, more intelligent or more sensitive, the more he is likely to be invalidated. When we are invalidated by having our feelings repudiated, we are attacked at the deepest level possible, since our feelings are the innermost expression of our individual identities.
Telling a person she shouldn't feel the way she does feel is akin to telling water it shouldn't be wet, grass it shouldn't be green, or rocks they shouldn't be hard. Each persons's feelings are real. Whether we like or understand someone's feelings, they are still real. Rejecting feelings is rejecting reality; it is to fight nature and may be called a crime against nature, "psychological murder", or "soul murder." Considering that trying to fight feelings, rather than accept them, is trying to fight all of nature, you can see why it is so frustrating, draining and futile. A good guideline is:
First accept the feelings, then address the behavior.
One the great leaders in education, Haim Ginott, said this:
Primum non nocere- First do no harm. Do not deny your teenager's perception. Do not argue with his experience. Do not disown his feelings.We regularly invalidate others because we ourselves were, and are often invalidated, so it has become habitual. Below are a few of the many ways we are invalidated:
- We are told we shouldn't feel the way we feel
- We are dictated not to feel the way we feel
- We are told we are too sensitive, too "dramatic"
- We are ignored
- We are judged
- We are led to believe there is something wrong with us for feeling how we feel
People with high IQ and low EQ tend to use logic to address emotional issues. They may say, "You are not being rational. There is no reason for you to feel the way you do. Let's look at the facts." Businesses, for example, and "professionals" are traditionally out of balance towards logic at the expense of emotions. This tends to alienate people and diminish their potential.
Actually, all emotions do have a basis in reality, and feelings are facts, fleeting though they may be. But trying to dress an emotional wound, with logic tends to either confuse, sadden or infuriate a person. Or it may eventually isolate them from their feelings, with a resulting loss of major part of their natural intelligence.
There are many forms of invalidation. Most of them are so insidious that we don't even know what is happening. We know that something doesn't feel good, but we sometimes can't put our finger on it. We have been conditioned to think that invalidation is "normal." Indeed, it is extremely common, but it is certainly not healthy.
I have heard parents and teachers call children:
dramatic, crybabies, whiners, whingers, too sensitive, worry warts, drama queens
I have also heard them say things like: "He cries at the drop of a hat." One teacher said "When she starts to cry, I just ignore her and eventually she stops." Another said, "When one kid's crying is disrupting the lesson, I tell them to go cry in the hall till they can pull themselves back together again."
Defensiveness and Invalidation
All invalidation is a form of psychological attack. When we are attacked, our survival instinct tells us to defend ourselves either through withdrawal or counter-attack. Repteated withdrawal, though, tends to decrease our self-confidence and lead to a sense of powerlessness and depression. On the other hand, going on the offensive often escalates the conflict or puts us in the position of trying to change another person.
One sign of both high self-esteem and high EQ is the absence of either of these defensive responses. A healthier response, one which is both informative and assertive, without being aggressive, is to simply express your feelings clearly and concisely. For example, you might respond, "I feel invalidated," "I feel mocked," or "I feel judged."
How the other person responds to your emotional honesty will depend upon, and be indicative of:
(a) how much they respect you
(b) how much they care about you and your feelings
(c) how insecure and defensive they are
(d) how much they are trying to change or control you
All of this is information which will help you make decisions which are in your best interest.
Self-Injury and Invalidation
Invalidation has been suggested as one of the primary reasons people cut, burn and injure themselves.
For example this quote is from D. Martinson
One factor common to most people who self-injure, whether they were abused or not, is invalidation. They were taught at an early age that their interpretations of and feelings about the things around them were bad and wrong. They learned that certain feelings weren't allowed. In abusive homes, they may have been severely punished for expressing certain thoughts and feelings.
Martnison also writes:
Self-injury is probably the result of many different factors. Among them: Lack of role models and invalidation - most people who self-injure were chronically invalidated in some way as children (many self-injurers report abuse, but almost all report chronic invalidation).
Examples of invalidating expressions. -- Each is an attempt to talk you out of your feelings.
"Ordering" You to Feel Differently
Get over it.
Get a life
Don't be sad.
Don't get angry.
Deal with it.
Give it a rest.
Forget about it.
Don't be so dramatic.
Don't be so sensitive.
Stop being so emotional.
Stop taking everything so personally.
Ordering you to "look" differently
Don't look so sad.
Don't look so smug.
Don't look so down.
Don't look like that.
Don't make that face.
Don't look so serious.
Don't look so proud of yourself.
Don't look so pleased with yourself.
Denying Your Perception, Defending
But of course I respect you.
But I do listen to you.
That is ridiculous (nonsense, totally absurd, etc.)
I was only kidding.
I honestly don't judge you as much as you think.
Trying to Make You Feel Guilty While Invalidating You
I tried to help you..
At least I .....
At least you....
Trying to Isolate You
You are the only one who feels that way.
It doesn't bother anyone else, why should it bother you?
Minimizing Your Feelings
You must be kidding.
You can't be serious.
It can't be that bad.
Your life can't be that bad.
You are just ... (being difficult; being dramatic, in a bad mood, tired, etc)
It's nothing to get upset over.
It's not worth getting that upset over.
There is no reason to get upset.
You are not being rational.
But it doesn't make any sense to feel that way.
Let's look at the facts.
Let's stick to the facts.
But if you really think about it....
I don't always do that.
It's not that bad. (that far, that heavy, that hot, that serious, etc.)
Judging & Labeling You
You are a cry baby.
You have a problem.
You are too sensitive.
You are over-reacting. You are too thin-skinned.
You are way too emotional.
You are an insensitive jerk. .
You need to get your head examined!
You are impossible to talk to.
You are impossible.
You are hopeless.
Turning Things Around
You are making a big deal out of nothing.
You are blowing this way out of proportion.
You are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Trying to get you to question yourself
What is your problem?
What's wrong with you?
What's the matter with you?
Why can't you just get over it?
Why do you always have to ....?
Is that all you can do, complain?
Why are you making such a big deal over it?
What's wrong with you, can't you take a joke?
How can you let a little thing like that bother you?
Don't you think you are being a little dramatic?
Do you really think that crying about it is going to help anything?
Telling You How You "Should" Feel or Act
You should be excited.
You should be thrilled.
You should feel guilty.
You should feel thankful that...
You should be happy that ....
You should be glad that ...
You should just drop it.
You shouldn't worry so much.
You shouldn't let it bother you.
You should just forget about it.
You should feel ashamed of yourself.
You shouldn't wear your heart out on your sleeve.
You shouldn't say that about your father/mother.
Defending The Other Person
Maybe they were just having a bad day.
I am sure she didn't mean it like that.
You just took it wrong.
I am sure she means well.
Negating, Denial & Confusion
Now you know that isn't true.
You don't mean that. You know you love your baby brother.
You don't really mean that. You are just ... (in a bad mood today, tired, cranky)
Sarcasm and Mocking
Oh, you poor thing. Did I hurt your little feelings?
What did you think? The world was created to serve you?
What happened to you? Did you get out of the wrong side of bed again?
Laying Guilt Trips
Don't you ever think of anyone but yourself?
What about my feelings?!
Have you ever stopped to consider my feelings?
Philosophizing Or Clichés
Time heals all wounds.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
Life is full of pain and pleasure.
In time you will understand this.
When you are older you will understand
You are just going through a phase.
Everything has its reasons.
Everything is just the way it is supposed to be.
Talking about you when you can hear it
She is impossible to talk to.
You can't say anything to her.
This is getting really old.
This is getting really pathetic.
I am sick of hearing about it.
Even when we are happy, unhappy people want to ruin it for us by saying diminishing things like: What are you so happy about? That's it? That's all you are so excited about?
There was an expression I heard when I was growing up. It was "Who put a quarter in you?" A quarter is a 25 cent coin in the USA. It was a coin which was once enough to start music in a juke box. So the implication was the person was acting abnormally happy, excited, lively etc.
When your awareness rises, you'll begin to notice such comments on a regular basis. Together, they take their toll on us. We wonder if there is something wrong with us for feeling how we do. It seems fair to say that with enough invalidation, one person can figuratively, if not literally, drive another person crazy. This is especially possible, I believe, in the case where one person has long-term power over another. Examples of such relationships are parent/child, teacher/child, "spiritual" leader/follower, boss/employee, spouse A/spouse B. Such a sad scenario appears to be even more likely when the person being invalidated is highly sensitive, intelligent and has previously suffered self-esteem damage.
The more sensitive the person, the more serious the damage of invalidation. Invalidation undermines self-confidence because it causes self-doubt. This in turn further diminishes self-esteem. Invalidation is serious violation of one's "true self." I believe it is one of the worst crimes one person can commit against another without ever lifting a finger against them. And yet it is neither illegal, "immoral" by most who consider themselves moralists, nor even widely recognized as a problem.
The high EQ person will never invalidate another person's feelings, especially not the feelings of a sensitive child.
Below is an article on invalidation which uses some of my thoughts.
Validation and Invalidation
Excerpts from an article by Cathy Palmer-Scruggs
Recently, I had a few situations to come up that called for some comfort from my friends. I really needed them. A few came through for me in just 'being there'...and others took it as their cue to 'give advice'...and believe me, it only made the situation worse. I did not ask anyone for advice.January 20 , 2001 -- Cathy Palmer-Scruggs
I don't make the habit of asking my friends for advice....believe me. I am a 'thinking' person and only need some time and to get things off of my chest. I do not ask my friends to solve my problems. I do not tell my friends about a situation in order for them to come up with ways in which to tell me how to 'get through it' or 'how to think about it' or how to look at it.
No one likes to hear things like "don't let it get to you"...or "don't let her / him get to you"....or "you need to just 'get over' this"....etc. If solutions were that easy, don't you think we'd all do them? And I've also noticed that the very people who tell me this will also eventually deal with frustrating things, and they don't follow their own advice. See, it's different when something happens to THEM.....but not when it's me.
It's easier said than done....how does one not let things get to them? If they are upset, obviously, it's bothering them. They can't just 'dismiss' their feelings on a whim. How do you feel when someone says that to you?
Then there's the other side of the coin...the friends who do not know what to say and do, so, they avoid their friend altogether...the friend in pain. Well, you don't need to say or do anything...just 'be there' for them. They do not expect special words and solutions....they only want to know you care.
They know that not all of their friends are poetic, graceful with words...know 'just what to say'....this isn't a contest of who can make them feel the best. They just want to know you care...that you will merely listen, if they need to talk. And believe me, even if you don't think so at the moment, if you have a hard time facing your friend, you can get a little blank note card and just put the words 'you are in my thoughts' and that is enough...it does show you care. Send it to them. No one ever expects anything 'fancy' or 'just the right thing to say'....please believe that.
Basically, for me, I just need to talk...or type....just 'get it out'...then I can look at it, process it, deal with it, begin the healing, and move on. The very best words a friend can ever say to me is "I'm here for you if you just need to talk". My close friends know that I am not coming to them for answers.....I just need to talk it out ....hear myself say it....
And sometimes, my good friends will 're-state' what I've already said, or re-phrase it....letting me know they 'got it'....they understood me....they heard me. And sometimes they even tell me a similar situation that may have happened in their own lives...and from there, I can glean out some good things that I can take with me. Not everything works for all people. What may have worked for you may NOT work for your friend.
I realize that when our friends are hurting and in pain, our instincts urge us to want to help. None of us want to see our friends hurt. But, especially in my own situation recently, I expected no solutions....no answers...no 'fixes'....no advice....and certainly no philosophical sayings. All I needed was 'validation'....let me feel what I feel. And when my wonderful friends do that, they are deeper into my heart....I feel closer to them and respect them because they respected me and my feelings.
If a person loses a loved one to death, it might not be a good time to say things like "you need to get past that"...or "just don't think of it"....or "you need to get on with your life"....And I've actually had people say this to me.
I don't care how much time passes or what a person tells themselves....you never 'get over' something like this...you merely learn to live with it...live around it....cope with it. No amount of grieving, then or now, will take away the pain or fill the void. Time will allow us to continue our lives while we accept the loss.
Accepting the loss does not mean we are not allowed to grieve from time to time...or cry, when inspired to do so. No one has the right to tell you to put it so far back behind you, that you no longer feel the loss. It will always be there.
Being able to live with this loss does not mean that you are not allowed to visit those very painful memories. Just because you can still cry about anything does not mean you have not gone on with your life....and that somehow, once you are past the initial hurt and tears, that to re-visit those feelings will be wrong and damaging. And anyone who tells you anything different ...well, they are not being realistic.
Why is it that when a person feels momentarily sad, their friends think it's their cue to stop them from feeling and grieving? Who in the world told them that was healthy? When did they become an expert at how long a person should grieve, and feel, and cry and remember? And just because I do cry from time to time over something, that does not mean that for the rest of my life, each and every day, I will sit and cry, just like this, forever....and that I have ruined my life....forever. Allow me to be sad, just as you would welcome and allow me to be happy....I need it.
My telling someone of an event or something that I am going through, does not mean it's their cue to try to 'solve my problem'...I didn't ask for advice or ask how to grieve.
I have the RIGHT to grieve and cry and 'feel' any emotions I ever have in any event in MY life. No one has the right to rob me of my right to express myself or to grieve....to do what "I" need to do in order to continue on with my life. (note)
If your friend is hurting....if they are angry at someone, if they have to make a decision that they feel is in the best interest of them, LET THEM DO IT....let them feel it....validate what they are going through. Just because YOU can't feel it in the same way or maybe not 'see it' in the same way, does not mean that YOU get to take it away from your friend....who "IS" feeling that way. You need to respect what your FRIEND feels. This does not mean your friend is wrong...'feelings' are not wrong. The feelings are based on your friend's life experiences...not yours.
What if you are the kind of person who is in denial of things around you...trying to look at things through 'rose colored glasses'...and your friend doesn't ....you cannot expect your friend to put on your 'special glasses' and pretend that their pain doesn't exist, or that nothing is wrong, just because it would be easier for YOU to deal with. Maybe that works for you...but I doubt it...it will come out eventually, in one way or another. I try to avoid that by dealing with it now, not later.
And it will still hurt later, but not with the same intensity. That does not mean I didn't do something right...it just means that it was a painful event in my life that I will forever feel....as long as I am alive, just not with the same intensity. You do grow with, and from, your experiences.
If you can't deal with your friend's pain and frustration, then maybe it's best that you say nothing at all....it's certainly better to say nothing than to make your friend feel worse. They probably aren't asking you for a solution anyway. Why hurt them worse?
I'm sure that if your friend needs or asks advice, it would be a different story. I'm just talking about those people who like to immediately step in and tell a hurting person to suppress their feelings.
They see and feel what they see and feel...and unless they have been diagnosed with a mental illness that causes hallucinations and 'voices'....don't be so quick to 'dismiss' them. They may be more grounded in reality than you are....and YOU are the one who may need the advice when it's all said and done. Your friend is trying to deal with reality, what is real...
Please do NOT see it as your cue to 'fix' them or tell them that they "should feel this way" or that they "should not feel that way". They feel as they do because of their own life's experiences....not based on your life's experiences. It does not have to make sense to YOU or even be real to YOU...it does not have to be felt by YOU, in order to validate what your FRIEND is feeling.
Being 'strong' for your friend does not mean you have to solve their problems or give them answers.
Just be there to 'listen'....they may not even need to talk to you about it, but feel close enough to you to share it...and if you give them the hurtful advice that I mentioned on this page, you are going to alienate them from you.
You may help them, upon hearing them explain their situation, to even agree that 'you can understand how and why they would feel that way', even if YOUR OWN thoughts are different...try to understand the way THEY are seeing it.
To your friend, all of what they are feeling is very real and very painful....it's affecting their life.
As a great friend, all you need to do is just lend a listening ear....'be there' for them....don't try to make them look at it differently. If that needs to be done, they will do it on their own, you can't rush it. They have to see their OWN way through.
If you take it as your cue to minimize their situation, 'make excuses' for their enemies, or the ones who are hurting them and causing them grief, what you are now doing is making them feel defensive .....they already feel bad enough, but now they have to further frustrate the situation by defending their feelings and emotions to you.
So, while they try, once again, to tell you why they are hurting, you have just sent them on a detour of the path they are on....now they have to get it all past YOU. And, not only are they upset at the original situation, now they feel alienated and unsupported by you....their friend...the person they just needed to talk to.
And the more you try to get them to see it a different way, the worse it will get. They have to see those things for themselves, "if" it's something they can ever do to begin with. Again, not on YOUR schedule. They, most likely, know more about the situation than you do, give them the benefit of the doubt.
No one expects you to have a clever saying....no one has the answers or the solutions. Each person has to work through their own pain....they can't hurry things along on YOUR schedule, just because you don't want this to be happening to them. The worst thing you can do is minimize what they are dealing with....that just makes them feel even more isolated. If I really want to get some advice from, I'll ask for it....and so will your other friends.
And this also goes for situations regarding pets. I have friends who have lost pets through a death, or the pet turned up missing, and they have told me of incredibly insensitive things that were said to them. They are grieving a companion...a friend...and a friendship that, through 'unspoken language', grew into a special friendship that they will surely miss. This was a creature, a 'friend', who loved them unconditionally. Who wouldn't miss something like that?
It' s a real pain, whether it's an animal or a human, it hurts. There are memories associated with the pet...a routine....pictures....little treasures that will forever remind them that the pet is gone. Please be respectful of that. Not everyone can rush out and get another pet...some people need time. And when the time is right, they may be able to open their hearts to another pet. Again, this is on THEIR schedule, not yours.
I have lived for 46 years, thus far...and I hardly think I've waited all these years and went through all the things that I've endured, just to have a friend tell me how to 'get through it'....Nothing anyone says will make it go away....nothing will make a friend in pain feel better....except for the words "I'll be right here for you if you need to talk".
Be a friend....
Note: I would say that it is a "need" to grieve. It doesn't make much sense to try to tell someone else that they have no "right" to tell you to get over it. This is invalidating their feelings almost the same as they are invalidating yours. Evidently they feel something which causes them to say "get over it" or whatever. Probably they feel uncomfortable with your pain. They might feel powerless to do anything to help you, so to have some sense of power over the situation they start trying to give you advice or order you around. S. Hein
1. At the time I first wrote this this was my own hypothesis. Later I was informed of the defintion of "borderline personality disorder" which is based on invalidation. If you are aware of any scientific research on invalidation and the connection between it and later emotional problems, please let me know. See also section self-injury and invalidation.
3. Reference to R.D. Laing is from chapter 1 of Claude Steiner's book Achieving Emotional Literacy
The Role of Emotion Inhibition in Psychological Distress
Thomas R. Lynch, Ph.D. , Duke University
Emotion avoidance and inhibition has been implicated as a common feature associated with borderline personality disorder. This presentation will discuss three studies that that have been recently conducted at the Duke Cognitive Behavioral Research and Treatment Program. The first study examined 127 participants to evaluate a developmental model in which chronic emotion inhibition mediates the relation between childhood emotional invalidation/abuse and adult psychological distress. Findings indicated that a history of emotion invalidation (i.e., a history of childhood psychological abuse and parental punishment, minimization, and distress in response to negative emotion) was significantly associated with emotion inhibition (i.e., ambivalence over emotional expression, thought suppression, and avoidant stress responses). Further, emotion inhibition significantly predicted psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms. The second study examined a model in which inhibition of thoughts and emotion was predicted to mediate the relationship between the trait of negative affect intensity and acute psychological distress. Using structural equation modeling hypotheses were supported in both clinical and non-clinical samples, indicating its generalizability. The third study examined the effects of emotion suppression on classical conditioning. Participants were randomized to a suppression (n= 22; show or feel no emotion) or a non-suppression (n = 24; no instruction) condition. Data indicated that discriminative learning (assessed by galvanic skin response) occurred faster and was more robust for suppressors. Suppressors also exhibited less extinction. Results suggest that active attempts to suppress emotion may increase associations to an aversive event, implicating a mechanism by which certain disorders (e.g., PTSD, BPD) retain features associated with greater conditionability. Finally, directions regarding future research from our lab examining borderline personality disorder and a brief overview of a current study examining emotion suppression among suicidal patients will be discussed.
Lynch, T.R., Robins, C.J., Morse, J.Q., & Krause, E.D. (2001). A mediational model relating affect intensity, emotion inhibition, and psychological distress. Behavior Therapy, 32, 519-536.
Lynch, T.R., Krause, E.D., Morse, J.Q., Mendelson, T., Crozier, J., & LaBar, K.S. (2001). Role of emotion suppression in classical fear conditioning. In T.R. Lynch (Chair), Experiential avoidance and psychopathology: Recent research and methodological developments. Symposium conducted at the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy 35th Annual Convention, Philadelphia.
Krause, E.D., Mendelson, T., & Lynch, T.R. (in press). Childhood emotion invalidation and adult psychological distress: The mediating role of emotion inhibition. Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect.
Krause, E. D., Robins, C.J., & Lynch, T.R. (2000). A mediational model relating sociotropy, ambivalence over emotional expression and eating disorder symptoms. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 328-335.