Sanctuary for the Abused
Sunday, September 25, 2016
How A Narcissist Reacts to a Disaster or Illness in Your Life
Into virtually every life comes disaster. Bankruptcy, serious illness, divorce, getting laid-off or fired, failure of any sort -- you name it, whether through your own fault or not.
How will a narcissist in your life react to the situation?
Add it up: You mean nothing to him or her. You are just an object to exploit for their aggrandizement. They have no human feelings for you (despite the occasional put-on) whatsoever. And now you are more vulnerable than ever.
- Now you are down, so expect a kick.
- Expect the abuse to escalate.
- Expect them to behave so cruelly and brutally that nobody who doesn't see it would believe it.
But a narcissist reacts the opposite way a normal human person does.
In this, narcissists are only following the same perverse pattern they always do: instead of being appeased by efforts to appease them, they react with a rage; instead of being drawn to what evokes sympathy, they abominate it and react with contempt; instead of being grateful for favors you've done them, they react with hatred (for this proof that they are not God Almighty in your helping them). In short, they react backwards to everything. So, why should we be surprised when a narcissist exploits some catastrophe in our lives to malign and abuse us with shocking inhumanity?
The victims of narcissists get blind-sided by this because narcissists are from the planet Pluto. They are NOT acting on normal human premises. So, it's not about your plight: it's all about THEIR ego. So, they see this as NOTHING BUT an opportunity to vaunt themselves on you, period. In other words, they aren't acting on normal human premises; they are acting on narcissistic premises. Those are the premises of PREDATORS. They react to vulnerability the way any predator does = by salivating.
If possible, they will make a big show to the rest of the world of being your savior, while behind closed doors they are beating the you-know-what out of you and trying to drive you to suicide -- just because they know you're trapped in the situation.
As I've often said before, I'm convinced that the only reign on their conduct is what they think they can get away with.
And that changes from day to day.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Dealing With Your Abuser During the Divorce
Excerpts from: UNDERSTANDING THE BATTERER IN CUSTODY AND VISITATION DISPUTES by R. Lundy Bancroft
An abuser focuses on being charming and persuasive during a custody dispute, with an effect that can be highly misleading to Guardians ad Litem, court mediators, judges, police officers, therapists, family members, and friends. He can be skilled at discussing his hurt feelings and at characterizing the relationship as mutually destructive. He will often admit to some milder acts of violence, such as shoving or throwing things, in order to increase his own credibility and create the impression that the victim is exaggerating. He may discuss errors he has made in the past and emphasize the efforts he is making to change, in order to make his partner seem vindictive and unwilling to let go of the past.
An abuser's desire for control often intensifies as he senses the relationship slipping away from him. He tends to focus on the debt he feels his victim owes him, and his outrage at her growing independence. (This dynamic is often misread as evidence that batterers have an inordinate "fear of abandonment.") He is likely to increase his level of intimidation and manipulation at this point; he may, for example, promise to change while simultaneously frightening his victim, including using threats to take custody of the children legally or by kidnapping.
Excerpt: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Author Lundy Bancroft--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
He is careful not to create the impression he's bad-mouthing her, while subtly planting his poisonous seeds. He might say, for example: "She's telling people now that I was abusive to her, and that really hurts me. It's gotten so I don't want to show my face places 'cause of what she' saying. I'm not keeping any secrets; I'll tell you right out that I did slap her one day, which I know is wrong. She has this thing about saying that my mother is a 'whore' cause she's been divorced twice, and that really gets to me, but I know I should have handled it differently."
When he leaves, her parents find themselves ruminating "Gee, she didn't mention anything about insulting his mother in that incident. That makes it a little different. She can have quite a mouth on her. I've noticed that myself. He shouldn't slap her, but he's obviously feeling guilt about it now. And he's willing to admit that it's partly his fault, while she blames it all on him. She does that in conflict with us sometimes, she doesn't realize it takes two to tango."
The part about the woman calling his mother a degrading name may never have even happened: my clients smoothly make up stories to cover their worst incident. But whether or not he's telling the truth is almost beside the point; he is playing to the societal value, still widely held, that a man's abuse toward a woman is significantly less serious if she has behaved rudely herself.
Abusers increasingly use a tactic I call "preemptive strike," where he accuses the victim of doing all the things that he has done.
When an abused mother does break up the relationship society tends to do an abrupt about-face. Suddenly she hears from court officials and from other people:
“Well, maybe he abused you, but that’s no reason to keep the children away from him. He is their father, after all.”
”Don’t you think your own resentments are clouding your judgement about your children?”
”Don’t you believe that people ever change? Why don’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?” In other words, a women can be punished for exposing children to a man in one situation, but then punished for refusing to expose them to the same man in another situation. And, the second case is potentially even more dangerous than the first, because she is no longer able to keep an eye on what he does with the children or to prevent the post-separation escalation that is so common in abusive fathers.
Batterers naturally strive to turn mediation and GAL processes to their advantage, through the use of various tactics. Perhaps the most common is to adopt the role of a hurt, sensitive man who doesn't understand how things got so bad and just wants to work it all out "for the good of the children." He may cry in front of the mediator or GAL and use language that demonstrates considerable insight into his own feelings. He is likely to be skilled at explaining how other people have turned the victim against him, and how she is denying him access to the children as a form of revenge, "even though she knows full well that I would never do anything to hurt them." He commonly accuses her of having mental health problems, and may state that her family and friends agree with him. The two most common negative characterizations he will use are that she is hysterical and that she is promiscuous. The abuser tends to be comfortable lying, having years of practice, and so can sound believable when making baseless statements. The abuser benefits to the detriment of his children if the court representative fails to look closely at the evidence - or ignores it - because of his charm. He also benefits when professionals believe that they can "just tell" who is lying and who is telling the truth, and so fail to adequately investigate.
Batterers may continue their harassment of the victim for years, through legal channels and other means, causing periodic re-traumatizing of the victim and children and destroying the family's financial position. Motions by abusers for custody or for increases in visitation are common forms of retaliation for things that he is angry about.
Excerpts from: SPLITTING – Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist by William A. Eddy, Attorney, Mediator and Clinical Social Worker
The best strategy for Targets of their Blame is to take a very Assertive Approach – to quickly provide credible factual information to the court and to try to be as perfect as possible in every way during the court process.
Ideally, all lawyers, judges, mediators and therapists will learn about the dynamics of Borderlines and Narcissists in court cases, and will be able to successfully handle their difficult behavior. However, it may be 5-10 years beore this occurs.
Taped Conversations: Andy made very effective use of taped conversations, phone calls and voice mail messages. This is one of the best ways to show that the Blamer has a different private personality from the public persona he or she is showing in court.
Do not tell others that you have diagnosed a personality disorder in your spouse. You are not qualified to do so, and this escalates resistance to any cooperation whatsoever. You may discuss “possible patterns” with a therapist or evaluator. But let the evaluator make the diagnosis or explain the pattern to the court without giving it a name.
In court, the goal is to make a decision. Once a decision is made, the issue is resolved and the court moves on. Decisions are based on persuasion in the adversary process. The more persuasive party (or their attorney) will prevail, and the least persuasive will lose.
(Remember abusers can be female or male!)
for support, information and help with coparenting, the divorce process, custody, child support etc visit: http://facebook.com/onemomsbattle
Friday, September 23, 2016
The place of “Cognitive Dissonance” in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome
Understanding Cognitive Dissonance in relation to narcissistic abuse:
Stockholm syndrome involves the victim paradoxically forming a positive relationship with their oppressor; this is called “Trauma Bonding”. When victims of narcissistic are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, they are often seen by outsiders as somehow having participated in some bizarre way that seems to support their abuse. However, to understand how the trauma bonding occurs, it is especially relevant to understand what is involved in the decision-making and problem-solving process of the victim. This theory is known as Cognitive Dissonance.
If therapists are to understand the behaviour of clients who have been victims of narcissistic abuse, then it is crucial for them to appreciate why the victim combines the two unhealthy conditions of Stockholm Syndrome and Cognitive Dissonance as part of their survival strategy. When these two strategies are in place, the victim firmly believes that their relationship is not only acceptable, but also vital for their survival. They become so enmeshed in the relationship with the abuser, that they feel that their world (mental and emotional) would fall apart if the relationship ended. This explains why they fear those people who attempt to rescue them from their abuser, and how this creates the victim to develop cognitive dissonance and become protective of their abuser.
What is Cognitive Dissonance?
Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term which describes the uncomfortable tension that results from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs (Rational Wiki). Cognitive Dissonance is a communication theory that was published by Leon Festinger 1957, a theory that changed the way in which social psychology was to look at human decision-making and behaviour. The concept of cognitive dissonance is almost self explanatory by its title: ‘Cognitive’ is to do with thinking (or the mind); while ‘dissonance’ is concerned with inconsistencies or conflicts. Simply speaking, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort a person experiences whenever they are holding two conflicting ideas simultaneously (i.e. Shall I wear the red or the blue dress?). Naturally, people do not like the discomfort of conflicting thoughts; this theory proposes that when this happens, people have a motivational drive within them that allows them to rationalize and change their attitudes, beliefs, values and actions, anything that allows them to reduce or dissolve the dissonance they are experiencing (i.e Which makes my bum look smallest?) . When it comes to victims of abuse, there are several behaviours that a victim may use for reducing their cognitive dissonance. For a start they may try to ignore or eliminate it, or they may try to alter its importance, they may even create new cognitions, but most importantly they will try to prevent it from happening in the first place.
What part does Cognitive Dissonance play with victims of narcissistic abuse?
Victims living in a household where there is narcissistic abuse are living in a torturous war zone, where all forms of power and control are used against them (intimidation; emotional, physical and mental abuse; isolation, economic abuse, sexual abuse, coercion etc.). The threat of abuse is always present, and it usually gets more violent and frequent as time goes on. The controlling narcissistic environment puts the victim in a dependency situation, where they experience an extreme form of helplessness which throws them into panic and chaos. The narcissist creates a perverse form of relationship wherein the victim has no idea of what will happen next (alternating between acts of kindness or aggressive raging). This prolonged torturous situation is likely to trigger old negative scripts of the victim’s childhood internal object relations (attachment, separation and individuation). To survive the internal conflict, the victim will have to call on all their internal resources and defense strategies in order to manage their most primitive anxieties of persecution and annihilation. In order to survive, the victim has to find ways of reducing their cognitive dissonance, the strategies they employ may include; justifying things by lying to themselves if need be, regress into infantile patterns, and bond with their narcissistic captor. Most defense mechanisms are fairly unconscious, so the victim is unaware of using them in the moment; all they are intent on is surviving the madness they find themselves in.
As you can imagine, these states of mind throw the victim into any number of inner conflicts where defense mechanisms are called for, cognitive dissonance being one.
For example, a woman who is abused by her narcissistic spouse will hate the conditions she is living in. However with the real fear of a violent reprisal from her captor if she tried to leave, she will more likely choose to stay put. The cognitive dissonance shows itself through rationalization: On the one hand: she abhors her unhealthy relationship and all the abuse that goes with it; while on the other hand, she tells herself that he only fights with her because he loves and cares for her. This inner dialogue reduced her anxiety, allowing her to bond (Stockholm Syndrome) with her abuser, to the point that she will even protect him from the outside world if people attempt to rescue her or encourage her to leave. The result is that a massive draining conflict ensues between the person’s emotional self and their rational reasoning self. Their “cognitive dissonance” is a sign of the disharmony the victim is experiencing as a result of two conflicting ideas going on at the same time; i.e. the victim knows that they should get out of the abusive situation, but they also know that to do so will put them (and possibly their children) in great danger. While experiencing cognitive dissonance they may adopt a pattern of denial, diversion and defensiveness to control their discomfort. In the cognitive dissonance theory, the decision that decides which path the victim will take will be likely to be the path that causes the least emotional stress. In order to reduce the dissonance, the victim will choose the path of least resistance, and their motivational drive will support their beliefs and justify any decision that helps them stay safe. As you can imagine, the cognitive dissonance can lead to irrational decision making as the person struggles to reconcile these two conflicting beliefs. Researchers suggest that it is actually the cognitive dissonance that causes the victims to choose to stay put with their abuser. Furthermore, in order to support their seemingly irrational decisions to stay put in the abusive relationship, the victim makes heavy investments that almost cements them into the bad relationship forever.
There are six types of investment the victim may get embroiled in that helps to reduce their cognitive dissonance:-
Emotional Investment: Unable to get out of the relationship due to the fear of what will happen to them, the victim decides that they should stay, and see it through to the bitter end. The victim convinces themselves that “things are not that bad”, especially when the narcissistic abuser shows them acts of kindness. Their trauma bonding is interpreted as love. They use that love to feel compassion for their narcissistic abuser; they may even make excuses that their abuser suffered so much hurt and pain in their own childhood, that they cannot help the way they are. They convince themselves that by loving their abuser as much as possible they will heal their wounds, and then everything will be alright. They continue in this way, investing so much emotion in the relationship, (i.e. They shed so many tears, blaming themselves for upsetting their abuser, becoming responsible for their abusers feelings and behaviour. They worry for their abuser in case they harm someone and end up in jai. They even end up blaming themselves when there is another eruption (“I caused the upset, I should have known better”). They even go so far as to convince themselves that their abuser is the victim of society, and therefore must be protected from everybody.
Social Investment: The biggest social investment the victim makes is to the person nearest to them, their narcissistic abuser. The narcissist’s superiority will demand that they are the most important one in the relationship, and the victim (in time) will comply with that arrangement. It does not help that society in general has a matter-of fact attitude toward victims, they do not understand why a victim would stay in such an abusive relationship, let alone protect the abuser. This response can create a further helplessness within the victim, which leaves them feeling isolated and alienated. With a sense of damage to their pride, and deep feelings of shame, the victim begins to avoid further social embarrassment and uncomfortable situations, alienating themselves further with their abuser. Isolated, dependent and dis-spirited, the way is paved for more acceptance of the abuser, and the victim stays in the relationship. They become caught in a cycle with their abuser that involves a sequence of violent episodes, followed by an absence of battering, once again tension building, and finally tension escalating into another violent episode where they get hurt. Around and around it goes, and helplessly the victim looses all hope, so they settle for investing their loyalty there.
Family Investments: For a start, a narcissist is preoccupied in self investment, therefore they expect everybody to pamper to their false self (sadly their true self is in a state of atrophy). If the narcissist is a spouse, then the partner is going to have to invest heavily in their abuser until they are emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually bankrupt. The narcissist requires perfect mirroring and stroking continuously, when they don’t get it, they withdraw (this withdrawal is likely to lead to danger for the victim). Step by step the supposed closeness is disappearing, and the victim experiences this as a great loss (and fear), seeing this, the narcissist feels a sense of power and control. In their withdrawal state, the narcissist is going to loose their sense of specialness, power and omnipotence, this makes them very susceptible to narcissistic injury. When there is narcissistic injury, the terror monster is released, and all of the family is likely to encounter their rage. All of this is going to evoke anxiety on the victimized partner, not just around their own safety, but also for the safety of the children. The narcissist suffers from a chronic evasive pattern that does not change. Just as the narcissist is demanding of its spouse, as a parent they are also very demanding of their children, (remember that everything is about them). They see the children as extensions of themselves, representing them in every aspect. For that reason they expect their children to be high achievers, the very best in every thing that they do. However, the child is faced with a dilemma; If the child comes second best in any task, they will be perceived as being “the first looser” by their narcissistic parent. Silver medals are not seen as a reason to celebrate, they are are more likely to be perceived as a disgrace (looser). If they came first, they risk triggering the narcissist’s jealousy and envy; for the narcissist, envy always involves a comparison – they envy that which they lack. When the child shines, its success is always somehow due to the narcissist itself, but when the child fails, the narcissist takes the failure personally (narcissistic wound), and they will punish the child, whether it be by word or deed. Living with a narcissistic parent, so often the child finds it hard to get their own needs meet, which can lead to serious emotional problems for them. Because the narcissist parent is like a child their own self, there will be power struggles for attention between the child and the parent. All these dynamics are going to put strain on the partner of the narcissist, and they are likely to be the butt of all the narcissist frustration and anger, which will manifest itself as rage. Investing everything they have in their narcissistic partner is the only way the victim finds to keep the family going.
Financial Investment: Narcissist typically seeks to control the family finances, money is a love substitute for them. No matter who earn the money in their family, it is they who are entitled to control how the monies get spent. Often the victim finds themselves being put on an allowance to run the house, and the abuser closely monitors how it is spent. If there is a shortage of money, the narcissist will be stingy when it comes to members of their family spending, yet they will spend what it takes to get what they want. Where possible, the narcissist creates a complex financial situation where everybody is dependent on them, this keeps them in control. Without financial means and usually alienated, many victims are unaware of support resources they may be entitled to, they are trapped by the situation, finding themselves waiting and hoping for a better financial situation to develop so that they can make their exit and detachment easier. In the meantime they do what they can to keep their abuser happy.
Lifestyle Investment: When the narcissist is successful, they will use a lifestyle as an investment. Because they need to display their “specialness” to the world, they will want to display all of their wealth trophies (Narcissistic Supply): the big house, car, private school, business etc. All these things contribute to getting them the praise and adulation they feel they deserve. For the victim, sharing in this financial security, they may fear loosing their current lifestyle for themselves or their children. So they stay because of their fear of the poverty trap that awaits them if they manage to leave.
Intimacy Investment: Narcissism is a personality trait associated with an inflated, grandiose self-concept and a lack of intimacy in interpersonal relationships. The narcissist perceives themselves as being unique and uncommon. Being intimate requires that two people operate commonly with openness and truth (True Self) so that they relate as “equals”. The narcissist operates from a False Self, and becoming equal with anybody would only negate their notion of uniqueness, so they avoid that entirely. Unknown to them, narcissists are still held ransom to their unresolved conflicts with their primary objects (parents). Like the child, they are still harboring the deep wounds of abandonment they experienced back then. Afraid of their own negative emotions, unconsciously, they promise themselves that they will never put themselves in that position again, and they avoid further narcissistic injury by holding everybody at bay, this includes their partner and children. Unfortunately, they too, like the rest of us, are susceptible to loneliness, which is why they are always on the look out for “narcissistic supply” for attention. When they have a partner, they separate the sexual from the emotional and treat their partner as a sex object, and the typical cycle of frustration-aggression is set in motion. Unfortunately, in love with their own reflection, they are incapable of loving anybody else. Where the partner thought she had married the nice Dr. Jekyll, she now finds herself facing the raging maniac that is Mr. Hyde. In such an unhealthy relationship, she will experience the destruction of her emotional and sexual self-esteem. He is not a good father, rather than love his children he abhors them (they take the mother’s attention away from him), so they are confined to the role of being another narcissistic supply source. Furthermore, they use a type blackmail of intimacy against their partner (threatening to tell intimate detains about them that would humiliate and destroy their character). The partner finds themselves in a hopeless situation, broken, the only way out is for them to stay. This serves to send the message to the narcissist that they are truly unique and superior.
One would wonder how the victim tolerates living with an abuser who is so intolerant and hostile? For healthy relationships, tolerating intolerance is neither acceptable nor possible, but for the victim of narcissistic abuse it is vital for survival. Finding themselves in such an intolerable situation, the victim must calm the cognitive dissonance that rocks their self-esteem and self worth. The Dissonance Theory allows the victim to make their choice (even if it means lying to themselves), and gives them a way to justify that they can be happy about not making the opposite choice that would surely put them in danger. Once the choice is made and the cognitive dissonance calmed, the victim has all sorts of tools (unconscious defense mechanism) at their disposal to bolster their decision to stay in the relationship (i.e. Stockholm Syndrome, Infantilism, Trauma Bonding).
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Reactive Abuse - What Is It?
“…stop making out people to be evil if they fight back. Or run away. As in divorce.
You cannot force people to submit to abuse. That is the Sin of Sodom, otherwise known as making someone bend over for it. It violates the Laws of Nature. And common sense.” - Kathy Krajco
If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship like I have, it’s likely your abuser tried to convince you that YOU are the abusive one: that YOU have PMS (a favorite accusation of male partners), YOU are over-reacting, YOU are making it all up, YOU are the crazy one, that YOU are responsible for all the issues in the relationship, that YOU are the “time-bomb” that explodes on a regular basis. My ex-abuser even called me “Time Bomb” and mocked me about my reactions and responses to his constant abuse during the last 3-3.5 years of our relationship.
It’s a pretty safe assumption that if you’re getting this type of constant blame, mockery, and guilting from a partner in response to any and all issues that arise, you’re in an abusive relationship.
As for your partner’s assertion, yes - you may have sent angry emails or yelled or slammed doors or called names. So your abuser claims YOU were abusing him/her. Or YOU are a Narcissist, Sociopath or Psychopath.
But it’s more likely you were REACTING to being abused by your partner. What can make it even more difficult for you to see and understand at this point is that some of their abuse may be subtle and covert rather than obvious and overt. This causes further difficulty for you in identifying the abuse - and makes it easier for your abuser to convince you that it’s all your fault, or the problem is really with YOU - that you’re “crazy”, or “imagining things”.
They’ll abuse you, and when you react to that abuse, they accuse YOU of abusing THEM and they play the victim role. They don’t call it “crazymaking” for nothing!
This is the stage at which an abused partner often describes as being in the “fog” of abuse. Their abusive partner has guilted them in to accepting ALL blame for the issues in the relationship, and caused them to doubt their own perceptions of the mistreatment they’re receiving.
It’s not at all unusual for a person in an abusive relationship to REACT abusively. This does not mean YOU are the abuser, that you are crazy, have PMS etc. etc. — though the abusive partner will try to convince you that YOU are THE problem and will often succeed in guilting you into believing it. I believed it for a LONG time before I began to recognize and question the pattern of abuse and the subsequent constant blame for the abuse, and worse, the ensuing mockery because I dared respond at all to having been hurt by it.
An interesting thing to note is that an abusive partner will often be very calm when you are upset and angry. This is because when they have finally succeeded in causing your reaction of hurt, upset or anger, then THEY are in power and control over you. THIS is what abuse is about: POWER and CONTROL. And like a drug addict, they get a lot of satisfaction out of that feeling of power and control. Abusers are very disordered people in this way.
The important thing for you to know is that this relationship and this person is toxic, unhealthy, and you need to get out of it and away from this person ASAP. They are emotional vampires, sucking away from you every iota of self-esteem and spirit you ever had. (then they will complain when you have none!)
If someone can drive you to be so upset on a regular basis (and abusers are experts at this - it gives them the sense of superiority, power and control they absolutely LIVE for) then the best thing to do is GET OUT and have NO FURTHER contact with that toxic person, if it is possible for you to do so.
The thing with abusers is that they are pathologically backwards people.
Lundy Bancroft touches on this in his book. Abusive, toxic people only consider and notice THEIR own feelings and their partner’s behavior. They never, EVER consider or notice their PARTNER’S FEELINGS and their own behavior.
When they’re abusive, (verbally, emotionally, sexually, physically, financially - covertly or overtly) it is always someone else’s fault. When their partner/victim finally reacts to that abuse with anger or upset at having been abused - then that is their partner/victim’s fault too.
In their minds, it never gets down to their OWN behavior and how it affects their partner’s feelings. They like to pretend that isn’t relevant, or anything they should ever be responsible for. They ALWAYS lack empathy for their partners (beyond the early “romance” stages when they’re trying to pull you in). This lack of empathy is the mark of the beast of abuse - more than anything else.
Here’s some information that may also help explain this “reactive abuse” concept a little more:
How do you know that you are not the one who is crazy or PMS’ing and that he is really emotionally abusive?
Answer:You may well be abusing him - but that does not mean that he is not being abusive towards you. Both parties are sometimes abusive towards each other.
You are being abused if:
(1) He repeats a certain bad behavior (ie: pattern of behavior).
(2) You asked him to stop (for whatever reason) and...
(3) He refuses and continues to behave the way he has.
People who are abusers rarely consider that they might be abusive. Even if the stresses of the relationship lead into what might be considered reactive abuse, anyone who honestly tries to adjust to the other person’s actual needs, actively listens to the other person, and makes every attempt to stop such behavior, probably is not an abuser.
Abusers do not take responsibility for their own actions, and in fact often blame the abused. When the abused person reacts to the abuse, the abuser calls that reaction abuse, and will use guilt to try to get the abused to feel responsible for the arguments or difficulties, as well as for the abuser’s actions.
This is one of the reasons getting away from an abuser is so important. Everything clarifies then.
While this article is written with the male as an abuser, your abuser may well be female!
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
The birth of Milton H. Erickson’s Confusion Technique:
Milton Erickson’s Collected Papers-Volume I-pg. 259
"One windy day as I was on my way to attend that first formal seminar on hypnosis conducted by Clark Hull in 1923 , a man came rushing around the corner of a building and bumped hard against me as I stood bracing myself against the wind. Before he could recover his poise to speak to me, I glanced elaborately at my watch and courteously, as if he had inquired the time of day, I stated “It’s exactly 10 minutes of two,” although it was actually closer to 4:00pm, and I walked on. About a half a block away I turned and saw him still looking at me, undoubtedly still puzzled and bewildered by my remark."
"I continued on my way to the laboratory and began to puzzle over the total situation and to recall various times I had made similar remarks to my classmates, and acquaintances and the resulting confusion, bewilderment, and feeling of mental eagerness on their part for some comprehensible understanding. Particularly did I recall the occasion on which my physics laboratory mate had told his friends that he intended to do the second (and interesting) part of a coming experiment. I learned of this, and when we collected our experimental material and apparatus and were dividing it up into two separate piles, I told him at the crucial moment quietly but with great intensity, “THAT SPARROW REALLY FLEW TO THE RIGHT, THEN SUDDENLY FLEW LEFT, AND THEN UP, AND I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT.” While he stared blankly at me, I took the equipment for the second part of the experiment and set busily to work with the equipment for the first part of the experiment. Not until the experiment was nearly completed did he break the customary silence that characterized our working together. He asked, “How come I’m doing this part? I wanted to do that part.” To this I replied simply, “It just seemed to work out naturally this way.”Confusion techniques are techniques that disrupt the regular pattern of a person’s conscious processing strategy, thereby enabling the development of hypnotic processes. In the therapeutic context, confusion techniques utilize whatever the client is doing to inhibit hypnosis or other therapeutic developments as the basis for inducing those developments. More precisely put, is that such hypnotic techniques are naturalistic communications which disrupt rigid mentally set patterns.
Confusion techniques are based on the following assumptions:
1. There are many automatic and predictable patterns in a person’s behavioral processes, such as the handshake;
2. Disruption of any of these patterns creates a state of uncertainty dominated by undifferentiated arousal (e.g. confusion);
3. Most people strongly dislike the state of uncertainty, and are hence extremely motivated to avoid them;
4. The arousal will increase unless the person can attribute it to something (“this happened because …”);
5. As uncertainty increases, so does the motivation to reduce it;
6. The person who is highly uncertain will typically accept the first viable way by which the uncertainty can be reduced (e.g. suggestions to drop into hypnosis).
In accord with the utilization of these assumptions, most confusional techniques follow the basic steps listed below:
a) Identify pattern(s) of expression - identify a regular pattern such as a handshake, or a particular idiosyncratic pattern of the individuals, such as fiddling with the hair when nervous.
b) Align with the pattern - this involves pacing the client until the appropriate context arises. The application of rapport and respect is critical in this step to prevent the client from pulling away from the hypnotherapist.
c) Introduce confusion via interrupting or overloading the pattern - interruptions should be short and quick, usually entailing a few interruption patterns, e.g. the handshake induction involves, initial fluctuation of sensations upon the hand, followed by the lifting of the wrist with the opposite hand, a ghostly wondering look in the eyes followed with an imperceptible release of the hand being shook. This, in turn, should provide a bewilderment and uncertainty to be further utilized.
d) Amplify the confusion - once uncertainty is produced in the subject, the hypnotherapist continues to act in a completely congruent and meaningful way, which amplifies the client's confusion.
e) Utilize the confusion - at this point the client is willing to accept any simple suggestion to reduce or eliminate the confusion, at which time the hypnotherapist can simply state "That's right … go deeply into trance … now … John."
Clinical Applications of Confusion Techniques:
An Ericksonian hypnotherapist uses confusion to support the person by creating an opportunity to disengage from the rigid limits of normal ways of being and experience the "Self", in more nurturing ways. Confusion techniques can liberate a person from a false and limiting identity.
The hypnotherapist must develop, maintain, and communicate a belief that the client is an intelligent, capable, and unique individual deserving the utmost respect, and that the intent of hypnotic communication is to support the person.
Confusion should usually be introduced gradually, after rapport has been established with the client, perhaps after the 2nd or 3rd sessions. The hypnotherapist should establish that his intent is to fully respect and protect the client’s needs and values while stimulating his ability and desire to develop the desired changes. The hypnotherapist should also make clear that fulfilling these intentions will require that he communicates in a variety of ways, one of them being confusion.
In some circumstances, confusion techniques should not be used. This particularly applies to those already deeply confused, such as suicidal individuals, and people in grieving. With these people, confusion is already present – the hypnotherapist only needs to utilize it.
The client’s processes should be the basis for selecting or developing confusion techniques. The general utilization principle that "whatever a person is doing is exactly that which will allow trance to develop", can help the hypnotherapist realize what type of confusion technique might work, and how and when it should be applied.
Key elements & workings of Confusion Techniques:
The various forms of confusion techniques developed are based on the assumption that, as humans, we require understanding, and somewhat of a comprehension to what we experience, otherwise we tend to shut down and go inside, in order to possibly make sense of the confusing occurrence.
There are various techniques employed to do this, such as the handshake induction, pantomime, shock, and various forms of verbal techniques.
The handshake induction employs the method of confusion via a pattern interrupt. Any specific pattern, which has been learned and requires a sequence of steps from beginning to end, if interrupted causes a momentary point of confusion. The key to its use is via the operator catching the moment, and offering a simple suggestion such as, “Now, Alice…just drop … deeply into trance”. Given such an understandable, easy point of direction, the confused individual accepts the suggestion and follows it.
When employing the confusion technique verbally, steps are taken via verbal wording to overload the subject’s mental abilities. This can be done using a play on words such as “knows, nose, nos”. Furthermore, irrelevancies and nonsequiturs can also be employed to achieve the desired results.
Considerations when providing suggestions for confusion to set in are that the operator speaks in a casual, but earnest manner conveying an intent, and expectation of understanding. A steady flow of language with only enough pauses for the subject to almost begin a reply, yet constantly interrupted with new trains of thought.
Eventually the play with words becomes confusing, distracting, and inhibiting, which causes the subject to develop a need for some form of communication which can be readily comprehended, and easily responded to.
Thus, “the Confusion Technique is a play on words or communication of some sort that introduces progressively an element of confusion into the question of what is meant, thereby leading to an inhibition of response called for but not allowed to be manifested and hence to an accumulating need to respond”. “The culmination occurs in a final suggestion permitting a ready and easy response satisfying to the subject, and validated by each subject’s own, though perhaps unrecognized on a conscious level, of experiential learnings”.
Milton’s Confusion Technique as printed in “The Collected Papers”,
Volume I pgs. 258, 259"
"It is primarily a verbal technique, although pantomime can be used for confusional purposes as well as for communication. As a verbal technique, the Confusion Technique is based upon plays upon words, an involved example of which can be readily understood by the reader but not by the listener, such as “Write right right, not wright or write.” Spoken to attentive listeners with complete earnestness, a burden of constructing a meaning is placed upon them, and before they can reject it, another statement can be made to hold their attention. This play on words can be illustrated in another fashion by the statement that a man lost his left hand in an accident and thus his right (hand) is his left. Thus two words with opposite meanings are used correctly to describe a single object, in this instance the remaining hand. Then too, use is made of tenses to keep the subject in a state of constant endeavor to sort out the intended meaning. For example one may declare so easily that "the PRESENT and the PAST can be so readily summarized by the simple statement, “That which now IS WILL soon be WAS yesterday’s FUTURE even as it WILL BE tomorrow’s WAS.” Thus are the past, the present, and the future all used in reference to the reality of “today”.The next item in the Confusion Technique is the employment of irrelevancies and non sequiturs, EACH OF WHICH TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT appears to be a sound and sensible communication (i.e. - schizophasia or "word salad"). Taken IN CONTEXT they are confusing, distracting, and inhibiting and lead progressively to the subjects’ earnest desire for an actual need to receive some communication which, in their increasing state of frustration, they can readily comprehend and to which they can easily make a response. It is in many ways an adaptation of common everyday behavior, particularly seen in the field of humor, a form of humor this author has employed since childhood.
A primary consideration in the use of a Confusion Technique is the consistent maintenance of a general casual but definitely interested attitude and speaking in a gravely earnest, intent manner expressive of a certain, utterly complete expectation of their understanding of what is being said or done together with an extremely careful shifting of tenses employed. Also of great importance is a ready flow of language, rapid for the fast thinker, slower for the slower minded, but always being careful to give a little time for a response but never quite sufficient. Thus the subjects are led almost to begin a response, are frustrated in this by then being presented with the next idea, and the whole process is repeated with a continued development of a state of inhibition, leading to confusion and a growing need to receive a clear-cut, comprehensible communication to which they CAN MAKE a ready and full response."
Values of Confusion Techniques:
The values of the confusion technique are twofold. In experimental work it serves excellently to teach experimenter's a facility in the use of words, a mental agility in shifting their habitual patterns of thought, and allows them to make adequate allowances for the problems involved in keeping the subjects attentive and responsive. Also it allows experimenters to learn to recognize and to understand the minimal cues of behavioral changes within the subject. A final value is that long and frequent use of the confusion technique has many times effected exceedingly rapid hypnotic inductions under unfavorable conditions such as acute pain of terminal malignant disease and in persons interested but hostile, aggressive, and resistant.
The following was used by Milton Erickson on two separate accounts with different patients. Italicized words indicate tonal markings. “The Collected Papers”, Volume I pgs. 285, 286"
"You know and I know and the doctors you know know that there is one answer that you know that you don't want to know and that I know but don't want to know, that your family knows but doesn't want to know, no matter how much you want to say no, you know that the no is really a yes, and you wish it could be a good yes and so do you know that what you and your family know is yes, yet they still wish it were no. And just as you wish there were no pain, you know that there is but what you don't know is no pain is something you can know . And no matter what you knew no pain would be better than what you know and of course what you want to know is no pain and that is what you are going to know, no pain. [All of this is said slowly but with utter intensity and with seemingly total disregard of any interruption of cries of pain or admonitions of "Shut up".] Esther [John, Dick, Harry, or Evangeline, some family member or friend] knows pain and knows no pain and so do you wish to know no pain but comfort and you do know comfort and no pain and as comfort increases you know that you cannot say no to ease and comfort but you can say no pain and know no pain but you can say no pain and know no pain but know comfort and ease and it is so good to know comfort and ease and relaxation and to know it now and later and still longer and longer as more and more relaxation occurs and to know it now and later and still longer and longer as more and more and more relaxation and wonderment and surprise come to your mind as you begin to know a freedom and a comfort you have so greatly desired and as you feel it grow and grow you know, really know, that today, to-night, tomorrow, all next week and all next month, and at Esther's [John's] 16th birthday, and what a time that was, and those wonderful feelings that you had then seem almost as clear as if they were today and the memory of every good thing is a glorious thing "… (IF YOU THINK THAT WAS TOUGH, YOU SHOULD TRY RE-TYPING IT WITH ONE FINGER)One can improvise indefinitely, but the slow, impressing, utterly intense, and quietly, softly emphatic way in which these plays on words and the unobtrusive introduction of new ideas, old happy memories, feelings of comfort, ease, and relaxation as presented usually results in an arrest of the patient's attention, rigid fixation of the eyes, the development of physical immobility, even catalepsy and of an intense desire to understand what the author so gravely and so earnestly is saying to them that their attention is sooner or later captured completely. Then with equal care the operator demonstrates a complete loss of fear, concern, of worry about negative words by introducing them as if to explain but actually to make further helpful suggestions.
"And now you have forgotten something, just as we all forget many things, good and bad, especially the bad because the good are good to remember and you can remember comfort and ease and relaxation and restful sleep and now you know that you need no pain and it is good to know no pain and good to remember, always to remember, that in many places, here, there, everywhere you have been at ease and comfortable and now that you know this, you know that no pain is needed but that you do need to know all there is to know about ease and comfort and relaxation and numbness and dissociation and the redirection of thought and mental energies and to know and know fully all that will give you freedom to know your family and all that they are doing and to enjoy unimpeded the pleasures of being with them with all the comfort and pleasure that is possible for as long as possible and this is what you are going to do.""Usually the patients' attention can be captured in about five minutes, but one may have to continue for an hour or even longer. Also, and very important, one uses words that the patients understands. Both of the above patients were college graduates.
When such cases are referred to me, I make a practice of getting preliminary information of personality type, history, interests, education, and attitude, and then in longhand I write out a general outline of the order and frequency with which these special items of fact are worked into the endless flow of words delivered with such earnestness of manner.
Once the patients begin to develop a light trance, I speed the process more rapidly by jumping steps, yet retaining my right to mention pain so that patients know that I do not fear to name it and that I am utterly confident that they will lose it because of my ease and freedom in naming it, usually in a context negating pain in favor of absence of diminution or transformation of pain.
Then one should bear in mind that these patients are highly motivated, that their disinterest, antagonism, belligerence, and disbelief are actually allies in bringing about the eventful results, nor does this author ever hesitate to utilize what is offered. The angry, belligerent man can strike a blow that hurts his head and not notice it, the disbeliever closes his mind to exclude a boring dissertation, but that excludes the pain to, and from this there develops unwittingly in the patients a different state of inner orientation, highly conducive to hypnosis and receptive to any hypnotic suggestion that meets their needs; sensibly one always inserts the hypnotic suggestion that if ever the pain should come back enough to need medication, the relief from one or two tablets of aspirin will be sufficient. "And if any real emergency ever develops, a hypo will work far greater success than ever." Sometimes sterile water will suffice."
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
FAMILY COURT REFORM
from ONE MOMS BATTLE
Monday, September 19, 2016
by: David Mandel
When it comes to domestic violence perpetrators everyone wants to know: how dangerous is he? Or more specifically, what kind of violence is he likely to do in the future? Domestic violence survivors and their children can think and worry about this on a daily basis as they attempt to avoid or minimize the impact of the abusers’ next attack. In the judicial system, agencies such as adult probation look for information which will help them allocate supervision resources towards the most serious and dangerous offenders. Child protection service agencies want to understand whether a domestic violence abuser can be successfully prevented from harming a victim and her children through restraining and protective orders.
While researchers strive to isolate profile factors of abusers who will kill or do serious damage, anecdotal information from survivors of domestic violence continues to be the best common sense source of information about dangerousness. For instance, men who threaten to kill their partners, who have physically assaulted them when they were pregnant or have forced their partners to engage in unwanted sexual behavior are perceived as some of the most dangerous. Men who stalk their victims, willfully violate court orders and assault them in front of others also fall into this category.
What do these men have in common? Is there an aspect or pattern in their behavior that would be useful in assessing the behavior and dangerousness of all abusers? All these behaviors share a distinct quality which can be described as a "boundary violation." A "boundary violation" is an action which by its very nature penetrates the physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries of another person. All types of violence share this characteristic to some degree. By examining the extent, severity and the frequency of the "boundary violations" in the behavior of an abuser, we can begin to see a pattern emerge that may be useful in assessing for future dangerousness as well as the path towards successful intervention approaches with an abuser.
First of all, evaluating an abusive man based on his history of violating his victims boundaries orients the assessment process towards an essential dynamic in domestic violence cases. Webster's Collegiate Dictionary uses the words, "break", "disregard", "interrupt" "disturb", "desecrate" and "rape" in association with the words violation or violate. All these words accurately describe the range of experience of battered women and their children at the hands of their abuser. By engaging in a pattern of abuse, a batterer "breaks, interrupts and disturbs" his victim's control over her own time, energy, physical space and even her thoughts. When we understand domestic violence as a boundary violation, we refocus the community dialogue on the serious impact of the behavior on the victim and her children. Our understanding of the abuser changes from seeing him as someone with a "temper problem" or someone who "lost control" to someone who is breaking the trust of his loved ones. And we are implicitly acknowledging the right and need for women and their children to have their own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual boundaries.
Second, by knowing how far a particular abuser has gone in his "boundary violations" we can begin to see his dangerousness more clearly. Was he physically violent to his partner when she was pregnant? If he was, he has demonstrated his willingness and ability to strike out against a very vulnerable form of life. Has he stalked his partner against her wishes and in disregard for court orders against him? If he has, he has demonstrated his unwillingness to respond to either his victim’s request for physical space or legal and social injunctions against his invasion of her space. Has he been violent to his partner in front of others including children, friends, family or in public? If the answer is yes, then he has displayed a willingness to humiliate and shame his partner in addition to assaulting her. Has he been sexually assaulting toward his partner? If the answer is yes, then has demonstrated his willingness to override and ignore her most basic and fundamental right: to control her own body. The questions can continue: Has he broken into her house? Has he spied on her? and so on.
Three useful perspectives emerge from examining the extent, severity and frequency of the boundary violations.
First, a profile develops of the offender centered on the most crucial aspects of his behavior. What social, ethical and moral norms is the abuser willing to violate in order to get his own way? What requests from the victim, her children and legal and social authorities is he willing to disregard in order to get what he wants? The more an abuser indicates his willingness to "break, interrupt, desecrate, and disturb" the normal human needs of his victim and accepted legal and social boundaries, the more dangerous he is.
Second, a picture forms of the abuser's level of disconnection from himself and others. To become abusive, a man must forget about everything except his goal of control. Focusing on revenge or proving oneself right takes all precedent over the impact of his behavior on his children or his partner's feelings for him. He disconnects from his other values, and he disconnects from the real long-term impact of his behavior. The more time a man spends disconnected from himself and others, the more dangerous he is. The greater the degree of disconnection the more dangerous he is.
Third, if you analyze the boundaries an abuser is willing to cross, you may also begin to see which boundaries he respects and won't cross. We know that many abusers, when they become aware of the impact of their behavior on their children, begin to make an effort to change. For instance, a study showed that a number of men who had been physically violent before their partner became pregnant stopped their physical violence during the pregnancy. This kind of information can help the court, social service workers and community agencies begin to develop individual and community strategies designed to leverage these pre-existing patterns.
A battered women intuitively understand many of these things. Her fear level can quickly rise when her partner becomes quiet. His disconnection from her and the family may be a precursor of a violent incident. The same may be true for a sarcastic or critical comment. A outside observer may fail to understand how a small, cutting comment telegraphs so much about his willingness to violate her emotional space. Battered women are constantly trying to discover the boundary the abuser will not cross to hurt her or her children. For instance, a victim might strategize "Let me invite our friends over. He's never violent when other people are around," or "I need to call the police because he always leaves me alone for a few months after the police get involved."
Professionals working with domestic violence may benefit from examining the patterns of abusers from the "boundary violations" perspective. This method of organizing our thinking about abusers can enhance our efforts to develop the most effective assessment and intervention strategies in our work to diminish and ultimately stop domestic violence in our society.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
No, You're Not Crazy!
Effects of Emotional Abuse
In Canada in 1993, a Violence Against Women Survey was taken among women aged 18 to 65, and found that 35% of all women surveyed reported that their spouse was emotionally abusive. In another Canadian study on abuse in university and college dating relationships, 81% of male respondents reported that they had psychologically abused a female partner. Unlike physical abuse, which is obvious to detect, emotional abuse can slowly build over time. Both leave devastating long-lasting effects on the victim.
One victim involved in an abusive relationship recounted, “I was in a twenty year marriage, and like most women was very sensitive about my weight. My husband knew this, as he knew most of my insecurities as only someone who lives with you that many years can. One day we went to a local steakhouse, and went through the buffet line. People were lined up behind us, and there was quite a crowd. I reached for the trays, and decided to also get one out for him. I sat both on the counter. He turned and said in a loud voice, “God, Woman! How much you planning to eat to need TWO trays!” He laughed hysterically and people around us gave us pitiful looks. I tried to not think about it, but some months later, I mentioned it to a friend, who quickly replied, “That’s emotional abuse.” I didn’t know if I believed that. He was my husband, after all.”
Most often, abused people are the ones that are limited in power and resources, usually women and children. Emotional abuse is about power and control, using whatever means necessary to make another feel inferior or dependent, using fear to intimidate, slowly taking away another’s ability to choose, or using a threatening manner or tone of voice.
Another woman reports, “My boyfriend was very jealous. At first I was flattered. I thought it meant he loved me. Then gradually he became so possessive that he didn’t want me to talk to my friends. He accused me of things I didn’t do. I found myself making excuses or lying to keep him from getting angry. He would apologize afterward and say it was because he loved me and worried about me. He told me if I would only do what he asked, we wouldn’t fight so much. I began to feel like it was all my fault.”
Emotional abuse usually follows a pattern. His anger slowly builds. Then come the accusations or belittling. Usually there is a blowup or argument with name calling or passing blame. This is followed by a cooling down period, sorrow for what has happened, and then a period of peace. But slowly the anger builds again.
Mary said, “I kept thinking if it happened again, I’d just break up with him. When it happened, I’d make up my mind to really get out this time. But by the next morning, he’d cry and be so sorry, and I’d believe him. After all, he seemed to care so much. Then things would get better, and I’d think I was too hasty in thinking about leaving him. But it always happened again. And again.”
Emotional abuse is a crime when it happens to children. But women are not protected, unless they are strong enough to protect themselves. How does emotional abuse impact the millions of women who are victims of it each year? There are both physical and psychological consequences, including anxiety, back and limb problems, stomach problems, depression and persistent headaches. Women who are emotionally abused but not physically abused are five times more likely to misuse alcohol than women who have not experienced abuse.
In addition, victims of emotional abuse may experience withdrawal, sleep disturbances, low self-esteem, physical symptoms without medical basis. They may become passive underachievers, become overly dependent, have frequent crying and feelings of shame and guilt, and put themselves down.
What can you do if you are abused? First, know it is not your fault. No one deserves to be abused for any reason. You are not alone, and help is available. If there is a 24 hour crisis hotline, call and ask for help. Contact your local social service agency or Legal Aid. Go to a community counseling center such as your local Mental Health Center or to your physician or clergy. Tell someone and keep telling until you receive the support you need. Reaching out is the most difficult part. Remember that things will only get harder the longer you stay in an abusive relationship. Abusive partners don’t get better; the abuse only continues to escalate over time. If you don’t get help now, you will become even more beaten down and devastated by the effects.
You deserve to be loved, honored, and treated as a valuable human being. Your feelings are valid. You are not to blame. You have the right to your own opinions and beliefs, to have your own friends, to not have to make excuses to anyone else. You deserve to be valued and cherished. If you are not getting that in your relationship, then give it to yourself and reach out today for help.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
The Differences Between A Sociopath And A Narcissist
When we try to analyze the people we cross paths with in society, it is possible to misinterpret our analysis for lack of a better understanding. For those who have crossed paths with a sociopath and a narcissist (on separate occasions), it may seem like there is little to no difference between the two when in fact one can be mistaken for the other. Both are considered to be social terrorists, however, there are distinguishing characteristics that would imply neither of them are one in the same. Therefore, I would like to explain briefly the differences in character between these two personality disorders…
A Narcissist will
- often let you know up front what they’re about.
- They will tell you grandiose stories of themselves of either their accomplishments (real or fake) or of their associations with important people (real or fake).
- They generally do not tell these stories for any other gain than to hear praises.
- They have an unquenchable desire to be admired, worshiped, and adulated with no real gain from those that respond to them in this way other than to feed their own ego.
- They need to be the center of attention at all times in any social gathering.
A Sociopath will
- NEVER let you know up front what they are about, because they wear a mask to hide their true identity.
- They will tell you grandiose stories of themselves of either their accomplishments (real or fake, but mostly fake) or of their associations with important people (real or fake, but mostly fake).
- They generally tell these stories to appear as a “good person” to gain trust and as a cover-up for their ulterior motives.
- They have the same unquenchable desires as the Narcissist as a result of the power and control they gain over their victims.
- They do not care to be the center of attention at all times in any social gathering unless doing so promises to earn them more unsuspecting victims.
Here’s a few more brief distinguishing characteristics:
- A Narcissist can occasionally have a conscience. A Sociopath has no conscience whatsoever, nor do they have any remorse for hurting others intentionally.
- A Narcissist can occasionally be constructive. A Sociopath is always destructive.
- A Narcissist’s world can be built by their own hands. A Sociopath prefers their world to be built by someone else’s hands.
- A Narcissist is self-deceptive. A Sociopath is socially deceptive.
- A Narcissist needs admirers. A Sociopath needs victims.
- A Narcissist lacks empathy in the form of belittling, name-calling, and defaming another’s character. A Sociopath lacks empathy in a criminal or physically violent way.
- A Narcissist exploits themselves in a grandiose manner. A Sociopath pretends to be someone who they are not to hide their hidden agendas.
Both think they are superior to anyone and everyone, both think they deserve special treatment, both process the world differently, and both play to “win”. However, it is possible for both personality traits to be combined into one, which is called a “Narcissistic Sociopath,” and is more dangerous than the two of them separately.
From what I know: All Sociopaths are also Narcissists. Not all Narcissists are/or become Sociopaths.
One can be a Narcissistic Sociopath but NEVER a Sociopathic Narcissist. The spectrum only moves one way. - Barbara
Friday, September 16, 2016
The "Need to Know"
by Peggy Vaughan
Why we need answers to our questions
When learning of our partner's affair, most of us feel an intense "need to know" - asking questions to try to make some kind of sense out of what has happened.
Here's an excerpt about this from my book, The Monogamy Myth
"When a person discovers their mate is having an affair, their world suddenly turns upside down. In order to recover any sense of balance, they need to get more information and understanding of the situation. Without answers to their questions, they convince themselves that the answers must all be bad; otherwise why wouldn't they be told what they want to know.(end of excerpt from "The Monogamy Myth")
They feel they're being treated like a child, and they resent it.
"If the information didn't exist, it wouldn't be so frustrating and demeaning. But they know their partner has it, and simply refuses to give it to them. This makes a balance of power in the relationship impossible... It's doubtful if trust can ever be restored in a relationship where this persists.
"I remember how tough it was on my husband when I continually asked more and more questions. Intellectually, I wanted to move on and get over it, but emotionally I needed the ongoing support and understanding he gave me. It was extremely important that he never said, "enough is enough, let's get on with our lives." Of course, nobody would choose to go through the thousands of hours of talking about this if there were some other way. In my own case, I think it was an essential part of overcoming my feelings and finding peace of mind."
While I have consistently heard this same thing from thousands of people during the past 20 years, there's still a great reluctance on the part of those who have had affairs to answer questions and to continue talking about the whole situation. Unfortunately, there has also been a large segment of the therapeutic community that has reinforced the idea that too many questions and too much talking is not for the best.
I now have statistical data that demonstrates the connection between honest communication and both staying married and recovering. I have posted some results from my Research Questionnaire that may help people see the importance of respecting this "need to know."
While it's important to get answers to your questions IF you ask questions, this does NOT mean you "should" ask questions unless/until you really want to know. It's just that it's essential to get answers if you DO ask.
While for most people, "getting answers to your questions" is a key ingredient in rebuilding the trust and building a strong marriage, no one should be forced to hear things they don't want to hear. But if they DO want to hear details, they deserve to have their questions answered. It's the WILLINGNESS of the partner to answer questions that is so critical, not whether or not you ASK for the answers.
So each person needs to decide for themselves the timing of when/what/how much they want to know. (It's important to determine that you really want the truth, and are not just hoping for some kind of reassurance or disclaimers.) For most people, "not knowing" is worst of all - because their imagination fills in the blanks and the wondering never ceases.
I want to share a beautiful example of a letter one man wrote in his effort to get his wife to answer his questions. This was originally posted on my BAN Message Board before it was closed. While I didn't keep any of the messages posted on that board, this was so exceptional that I got Joseph's permission to include it in "Peggy's Forum" so it could continue to be accessed by people who didn't read his original posting.
So I'm including it here as a clear statement of the "need to know," as well as a clear explanation of why you ask the questions:
"I know you are feeling the pain of guilt and confusion. I understand that you wish all this never happened and that you wish it would just go away. I can even believe that you truly love me and that your indiscretion hurts you emotionally much the same way it hurts me. I understand your apprehension to me discovering little by little, everything that led up to your indiscretion, everything that happened that night, and everything that happened afterwards. I understand.
No one wants to have a mistake or misjudgment thrown in his or her face repeatedly. No one wants to be forced to "look" at the thing that caused all their pain over and over again. I can actually see, that through your eyes, you are viewing this whole thing as something that just needs to go away, something that is over, that he/she doesn't mean anything to you, so why is it such a big issue? I can understand you wondering why I torture myself with this continuously, and thinking, doesn't he/she know by now that I love him/her? I can see how you can feel this way and how frustrating it must be. But for the remainder of this letter I'm going to ask you to view my reality through my eyes.
"You were there. There is no detail left out from your point of view. Like a puzzle, you have all the pieces and you are able to reconstruct them and be able to understand the whole picture, the whole message, or the whole meaning. You know exactly what that picture is and what it means to you and if it can effect your life and whether or not it continues to stir your feelings. You have the pieces, the tools, and the knowledge. You can move through your life with 100% of the picture you compiled. If you have any doubts, then at least you're carrying all the information in your mind and you can use it to derive conclusions or answers to your doubts or question. You carry all the "STUFF" to figure out OUR reality. There isn't really any information, or pieces to the puzzle that you don't have.
"Now let's enter my reality.
Let's both agree that this affects our lives equally. The outcome no matter what it is well affect us both. Our future and our present circumstances are every bit as important to me as it is to you. So, why then is it okay for me to be left in the dark? Do I not deserve to know as much about the night that nearly destroyed our relationship as you do? Just like you, I am also able to discern the meaning of certain particulars and innuendoes of that night and just like you, I deserve to be given the opportunity to understand what nearly brought our relationship down. To assume that I can move forward and accept everything at face value is unrealistic and unless we stop thinking unrealistically I doubt our lives well ever "feel" complete.
You have given me a puzzle. It is a 1000 piece puzzle and 400 random pieces are missing. You expect me to assemble the puzzle without the benefit of looking at the picture on the box. You expect me to be able to discern what I am looking at and to appreciate it in the same context as you. You want me to be as comfortable with what I see in the picture as you are. When I ask if there was a tree in such and such area of the picture you tell me don't worry about it, it's not important. When I ask whether there were any animals in my puzzle you say don't worry about it, it's not important. When I ask if there was a lake in that big empty spot in my puzzle you say, what's the difference, it's not important. Then later when I'm expected to "understand" the picture in my puzzle you fail to understand my disorientation and confusion.
You expect me to feel the same way about the picture as you do but deny me the same view as you. When I express this problem you feel compelled to admonish me for not understanding it, for not seeing it the way you see it. You wonder why I can't just accept whatever you chose to describe to me about the picture and then be able to feel the same way you feel about it.
"So, you want me to be okay with everything. You think you deserve to know and I deserve to wonder. You may honestly feel that the whole picture, everything that happened is insignificant because in your heart you know it was a mistake and wish it never happened. But how can I know that? Faith? Because you told me so? Would you have faith if the tables were turned? Don't you understand that I want to believe you completely? But how can I? I can never know what is truly in your mind and heart. I can only observe you actions, and what information I have acquired and slowly, over time rebuild my faith in your feelings. I truly wish it were easier.
"So, there it is, as best as I can put it. That is why I ask questions. That is where my need to know is derived from. And that is why it is unfair for you to think that we can effectively move forward and unfair for you to accuse me of dwelling on the past. My need to know stems from my desire to hold our world together. It doesn't come from jealousy, it doesn't come from spitefulness, and it doesn't come from a desire to make you suffer. It comes from the fact that I love you. Why else would I put myself through this? Wouldn't it be easier for me to walk away? Wouldn't it be easier to consider our relationship a bad mistake in my life and to move on to better horizons? Of course it would, but I can't and the reason I can't is because I love you and that reason in itself makes all the difference in the world."
The Importance of Reinforcing the Honesty
While it's understandable that the focus is almost exclusively on "getting answers," the key to whether or not there is a continuation of getting answers depends in large part on how you react to hearing the answers you do get. While it may not seem "fair," one who asks for details has a responsibility to hear them in a way that doesn't punish the partner for doing what they've asked them to do. (This is not a matter of it being "wrong" to punish the partner; it's simply not "smart" to immediately punish someone for being honest, despite the potential pain from the honesty, because it means the honesty will be unlikely to continue.)
Here's another excerpt from the "The Monogamy Myth" that points out how important it is for the person who asks for answers to react in a way that Reinforces the Honesty:
"The ability to succeed in dealing honestly with an affair does not depend solely on the attitude and behavior of the one who had the affair. Their partner's reaction is critical because it serves either to reinforce honesty or to discourage it. Honesty about affairs comes in stages. First, there is the admission that it happened, then the many details that contribute to seeing the whole picture. A partner's reaction to the initial fact of the affair has a lot to do with the willingness of the person who had an affair to share any of the details.
"A person who discovers their mate's affair usually feels justified in venting their feelings of hurt and anger. While they certainly have a right to those feelings, they need to recognize that punishing their mate for telling the truth will almost surely put an end to any further honesty. So while it may seem unfair, it's in their own best interest to try to reinforce whatever honesty is received if there is to be much hope for the honesty continuing.
"Supporting a partner's honesty often takes enormous patience. One man said he felt his effort to get his wife to open up and talk was like peeling an onion, with each skin coming off very hard. He continued to encourage her and to show his appreciation for her efforts to be honest, so she finally became convinced it was safe to tell him the truth. It took a long time, but they were able to stay together and develop a relationship that was closer than it had been prior to the affair.
"In another case, a man told of the terrible price his wife paid for being honest with him about her affair. By his own admission, he lashed out at her to try to hurt her back. She decided she had made a mistake by being honest about her affair and became afraid to tell him anything else. But she hung in without trying to defend herself against his constant barrage of criticism. Finally, he came to realize that she must love him very much to tolerate all he had put her through. He felt thankful she hadn't left, and began trying to make up for the damage that had been done.
"This can be quite a challenge for the person who asks for honesty--to avoid punishing their partner for telling them what they want to know. It's understandable that a person feels badly about some of the information they receive, but this can be balanced by feeling good about their partner's honesty. This was my experience, feeling so positive about James' honesty in answering everything I asked him that it diminished the pain of what he had to say. This kind of honest communication is important, not only in dealing with what has happened, but in determining the nature of the relationship in the future."