Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Abuser Breakdown Tactics
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Are You Involved With A Narcissistic Person?
According to the American Psychological Association, people with narcissistic personality disorder display a chronic and pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. The Greek myth has it that Narcissus died enraptured by the beauty of his own reflection in a pool and feel forever in love with his own reflection. The Narcissist displays an operating style that involves extreme self-involvement, and a grandiose sense of self- importance. They exaggerate their achievements and talents, expecting others to recognize them as superior and often appearing arrogant and extremely self absorbed.
Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or beauty, they require the constant attention and admiration of those around them, although they are very choosy about the people and institutions they will associate closely with. They often admit to being snobs and are actually proud of it. They also believe that their problems are unique and can be appreciated only by other “special” high - status people. Despite their charm, the favorable first impression they make, and their wide circle of notable acquaintances, people with this disorder are rarely able to maintain a stable, long-term relationship. With their boastful and pretentious manner, narcissistic persons are seldom receptive to the feelings of others. They show a general lack of empathy, an inability or unwillingness to recognize and identify with your thoughts and needs. Many are often successful, impressively knowledgeable, and articulate, yet bored and doubt ridden as well.
Conversely, healthy narcissism is essential for emotional well-being. We need narcissism to feel confident in ourselves, and to give adequate consideration to others. NOTE: The healthy narcissist does not focus exclusively on themselves, demanding that the world reflect back their false manufactured sense of self and an image of idealized perfection.
If you encounter this personality type, a grasp of the underlying psychology can help you cope more effectively. Lets explore the genesis of the narcissistic personality. As stated above, people with this personality disorder must constantly seek outside support and approval. If they get that support and approval, they feel complete and powerful. Without that support and approval, they feel deprived, exposed, vulnerable, angry, and lonely.
KEY: Early childhood conditioning also plays a part. The child’s real or authentic self has generally been ignored, or the child’s self may have been attacked and assaulted while the parents placed demands on the child to be “perfect.” When that occurs, the type of behavior we associate with a narcissistic disorder is overindulged. Fiercely driven to achieve, children never develop the capacity to consider others’ needs. Enter adulthood, and the same traits naturally carry over.
What To Watch Out For
Most people with this disorder advertise themselves… They seek to be the center of attention. In search of constant approval and praise to reinforce their false grandiose sense of self, they’re “on- stage,” dominating the conversation, often exaggerating their importance.
They lack empathy for others and have an inflated sense of entitlement, requiring others to respond to their demands and grant favors. They need everything for themselves and are envious of others’ accomplishments and possessions.
Criticism or disapproval takes them back to their difficult childhoods, sending them into a defensive fury, since any flaw or mistake means they’re not perfect. Also, when things go wrong, they cannot acknowledge the imperfections implicit in accepting responsibility.
Appearance matters more than substance. Power, wealth and beauty bolster their fragmented self-image.
They may be extremely driven because the “narcissistic fuel” of outside approval is so essential. Many are workaholics. Warning: this personality disorder may not be immediately obvious. The subtle ones won’t show their true colors until “deprived.” Caution: Others may actually pursue and cater to you, if you have something they want, such as looks, money, or status.
Can you change them? Reality check: No. Even constructive criticism is experienced by them as an affront and is met with anger and a sense of betrayal. Placating only results in more demands, not a return of thoughtfulness and consideration. In fact, if you always excuse or rationalize self-absorption and give in to constant demands, you are actually supporting and reinforcing their narcissistic needs and wants.
Here are some tips on how to cope with the person in your life who processes the narcissistic style. Sometimes the best way to deal with extreme narcissistic behavior is to end the relationship. But since this solution isn’t always possible, I can only offer you some survival techniques…
It is important to set boundaries. Decide which demands you can meet or how much approval you’re willing to give to this person, and then stick to your decision. Also, terminate a self-centered conversation if you can, or at least set a time limit on how long you’ll listen.
Support yourself. If your resistance to them draws their anger or blame, refuse to be emotionally blackmailed. Remember that your time and feelings are not important in this person’s eyes. This can help remove your guilt.
Use bargaining chips. If you have something they want, such as a special expertise or solutions to problems—share it sparingly to keep their worst behavior under control. Be aware that when you no longer satisfy them, their old ways will resurface.
Avoid anger. Any confrontation should be conducted quietly and with control. But even a tactful approach may be greeted with anger or sometimes-frightening rage. Very likely, you’ll hear that the difficult situation is your problem and there’s something wrong with you. Arguing will only make you feel like you will want to blow your brains out. Be careful not to expect accommodation from the other person, but do give yourself points for standing up for your rights.
Finally, know when to leave. Dealing with this personality disorder can undermine your own sense of self. Ask yourself some questions…Do I continually feel depressed, irritable, devalued and worthless? Does my anger and resentment carry over into other relationships? Have I stopped supporting myself in general, not treating myself well or allowing others to coerce me? Bottom line: If you find yourself answering yes too frequently, you must examine the pay-off or importance of your relationship with this person.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE
FACEBOOK GROUP for Victims of Narcissists
(not for discussions of children, support, custody)
Monday, March 28, 2016
Victim Blaming & Control
That women are sexual beyond the ways men wish them to be disturbs a certain kind of man. The fears that once kept female sexuality in check are gradually being eroded by social change and medical advances: fear of ostracism, fear of disease, fear of unwanted pregnancy. But fear of rape remains, and it can be a powerful weapon.
There was one piece of fall-out from the paratrooper incident that I didn't mention. A family member learned that I'd gone back to the camp with a couple of men for sex. He had no reason to think anything non-consensual had happened, but he was horrified all the same. He told me that my behaviour was disgusting and that I should be ashamed of myself. Friends and other family members defended his attitude by pointing out what many people in the other thread pointed out - that I'd put myself at quite some risk.
That explanation failed to convince me. Disgust and shame are appropriate responses to moral wrongdoing, not foolhardy risk-taking. He was horrified that I'd allowed myself to be sexual in an unapproved way; the risk of rape was a justification, not his true motivation.
It shocks some people that I want sex and don't want to submit to male authority. It shocks them even more that these two desires outweigh my fear of rape, so that I dare to gratify both by picking up paratroopers in a pub. The "prudent" suggestions for keeping myself safe always boil down to giving up sex (or at least, the kind of sex I'm interested in) or submitting to male authority.
These "solutions" might well have no effect on my risk of being raped. But even if they were guaranteed to protect me from all risk, they wouldn't be worth it. I think I'd rather be raped than spend the rest of my life turning aside from what I wanted and settling for something less. I know I'd rather take risks than allow fear of rape to control my expression of my sexuality.
In my ideal world, men would not be tempted to commit rape. Sexual encounters would be handled with negotiation, not with one partner's insistence on getting what he wants at the expense of another. Men would respect the desires of women to control what happens to their bodies, whether they've known each other for ten minutes or ten years.
And in my ideal world, the fear of rape could not be used as a justification for slut-shaming.
Posted by Nick Kiddle at Alas, a Blog
Sunday, March 27, 2016
10 Reasons Abusers Don't Change
Ten Reasons to Stay the Same
From "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" by Lundy Bancroft.
To answer the question "Why Does He Do That?" we have to examine the foundation on which abusive behaviors are based. On the first level are the abuser's attitudes, beliefs and habits-- the thinking that drives his behavior day in and day out, which we have been looking at. On the second level is the learning process by which some boys develop into abusive men or, in other words, where abusive values come from, which is the topic of ch 13.
There is also a third level, which is rarely mentioned in discussions of abuse but which is actually one of the most important dynamics: the benefits that an abuser gets that make his behavior desirable to him. In what ways is abusiveness rewarding? How does this destructive pattern get reinforced?
Consider the following scenario: Mom, Dad, and their children are having dinner on a Wed night. Dad is snappy and irritable, criticizing everybody during the meal, spreading his tension around like electricity. When he finishes eating, he leaves the table abruptly and heads out of the room. His 10 yr old daughter says, "Dad, where are you going? Wed is your night to wash dishes." Upon hearing these words, Dad bursts into flames, screaming, "You upstart little shit, don't you dare try to tell me what to do! You'll be wearing a dish on your face!" He grabs a plate off the table, makes like he is going to throw it at her, and then turns away and smashes it on the floor. He knocks a chair over with his hand and storms out of the room. Mom and the children are left trembling; the daughter bursts into tears. Dad reappears in the doorway and yells that she'd better shut up, so she chokes off her tears, which causes her to shake even more violently. Without touching a soul, Dad has sent painful shock waves through the entire family.
We move ahead now to the following Wed. Dinner passes fairly normally, without the previous week's tension, but Dad still strolls out of the kitchen when he finishes eating. Does a family member remind him that it's his turn to wash the dishes? Of course not. It will be many, many months before anyone makes that mistake again. They quietly attend to the cleanup, or they squabble among themselves about who should do it, taking out their frustrations over Dad's unfairness and volatility on each other. Dad's scary behavior has created a context in which he won't have to do the dishes anytime he doesn't feel like it, and no one will dare take him to task for it.
Any incident of abusive behavior brings the abuser benefits just as this one did. Over time, the man grows attached to his ballooning collection of comforts and privileges. Here are some of the reasons why he may appear so determined not to stop bullying:
1. The intrinsic satisfaction of power and control
The abusive man gains power through his coercive and intimidating behaviors -- a sensation that can create a potent, thrilling rush. The wielder of power feels important and effective and finds a momentary relief from life's normal distresses. It isn't the woman's pain that appeals to him; most abusers are not sadists. In fact, he has to go to some lengths to shield himself from his own natural tendenty to empathize with her. The feeling that he rules is where the pleasure lies.
Yet the heady rush of power is the bare beginning of what the abuser gains through his mistreatment of his partner. If the rewards stopped here, I would find it much easier than I do to prevail upon my clients to change.
2. Getting his way, especially when it matters to him most
A romantic partnership involves a never-ending series of negotiations between 2 people's differing needs, desires, and preferences. Many of the differences that have to be worked out are matters of tremendous importance to the emotional life of each partner, such as:
-- Are we spending Christmas with my relatives, whom I enjoy, or with your relatives who get on my nerves and don't seem to like me?
-- Are we eating dinner tonight at my favorite restaurant, or at a place that I'm tired of and where the children seem to get wound up and irritating?
-- Am I going to have to go alone to my office party, which makes me feel terrible, or are you going to come with me even though you would rather spend the evening doing almost anything else on earth?
It is important not to underestimate theimpact of these kinds of day-to-day decisions. Your happiness in a relationship depends greatly on your ability to get your needs heard and taken seriously. If these decisions are taken over by an abusive or controlling partner, you experiences disappointment after disappointment, the constant sacrificing of your needs. He, on the other hand, enjoys the luxury of a relationship where he rarely has to compromise, gets to the things he enjoys, and skips the rest. He shows off his generosity when the stakes are low, so that friends will see what a swell guy he is.
The abuser ends up with the benefits of being in an intimate relationship without the sacrifices that normally come with the territory. That's a pretty privileged lifestyle.
3. Someone to take his problems out on
Have you ever suffered a sharp disappointment or a painful loss and found yourself looking for someone to blame? Have you, for example, ever been nasty to a store clerk when you were really upset about your job? Most people have an impulse to dump bad feelings on some undeserving person, as a way to relieve-- temporarily-- sadness or frustration. Certain days you may know that you just have to keep an eye on yourself so as not to bite someone's head off.
The abusive man doesn't bother to keep an eye on himself, however. In fact, he considers himself entitled to use his partner as a kind of human garbage dump where he can litter the ordinary pains and frustrations that life brings us. She is always an available target, she is easy to blame-- since no partner is perfect-- and she can't prevent him from dumping because he will get even worse if she tries. His excuse when he jettisons his distresses onto her is that life is unusually painful-- an unacceptable rationalization even if it were true, which it generally isn't.
4. Free labor from her; leisure and freedom for him
No abusive man does his share of the work in a relationship. He may take advantage of his partner's hard work keeping the house, preparing the meals, caring for the children, and managing the myriad details of life. Or, if he is one of the few abusers who carries his weight in these areas, then he exploits her emotionally instead, sucking her dry of attention, nurturing, and support, and returning only a trickle.
All this uncompensated labor from her means leisure for him. During the house he spends talking about himself he is relieved of the work of listening. The long weekend days when she cares for the children are his opportunity to watch sports, go rock climbing, or write his novel. My clients don't make the connection that someone takes care of the work; they think of it as just mysteriously getting done and refer to women as "lazy." Yet on a deeper level the abuser seems to realize how hard his partner works, because he fights like hell not to have to share that burden. He is accustomed to his luxury and often talks exaggeratedly about his exhaustion to excuse staying on his read end.
Studies have shown that a majority of women feel that their male partners don't contribute fairly to household responsibilities. However, a woman whose partner is not abusive at least has the option to put her foot down about her workload and insist that the man pick up the slack. With an abusive man, however, if you put your foot down he either ignores you or makes you pay.
The abuser comes and goes as he pleases, meets or ignores his responsibilities at his whim, and skips anything he finds too unpleasant. In fact, some abusers are rarely home at all, using the house only as a base for periodic refueling.
5. Being the center of attention, with priority given to his needs
When a woman's partner chronically mistreats her, what fills up her thoughts? Him, of course. She ponders how to soothe him so that he won't explode, how to improve herself in his eyes, how she might delicately raise a touchy issue with him. Little space remains for her to think about her own life, which suits the abuser; he wants her to be thinking about him. The abuser reaps cooperation and catering to his physical, emotional and sexual needs. And if the couple has children, the entire famly strives to enhance his good moods and fix his bad ones, in the hope that he won't start tearing pieces out of anyone. Consistently at the center of attention and getting his own way, the abuser can ensure that his emotional needs get met on his terms-- a luxury he is loath to part with.
6. Financial control
Money is a leading cause of tension in modern relationships, at least in families with children. Financial choices have huge quality of life implications, including: Who get to make the purchases that matter most to him or her; what kind sof preparations are made for the future, including retirement; what types of leisure activities and travel are engaged in; who gets to work; who gets to not work if he or she doesn't want to; and how the children's needs are met. To have your voice in these decisions taken away is a monumental denial of your rights and has long-term implications. On the lfip side, the abuser who dominates these kinds of decisionsextorts important benefits for himself, whether the family is low income or wealthy. One of the most common tactics I hear about, for example, is that the abuser manages to finagle dealings so that his name is on his partner's belongings-- such as her house or her car-- along with, or instead of, her name. In fact, I have had clients whose abuse was almost entirely economically based and who managed to take many thousands of dollars away from their partners, either openly or thorugh playing financial tricks.
An abuser's history of economic exploitation tends to put him in a much better financial position that his partner if the relationship splits up. This imbalanace makes it harder for her to leave him, especially is she has to find a way to support her children. He may also threaten to use his economic advantage to hire a lawyer and pursue custody, on of the single most terrifying prospects that can face an abused woman.
7. Ensuring that his career, education or other goals are prioritized
Closely interwoven with financial control is the question of whose personal goals receive priority. If the abuser needs to be out several evening studying for a certificate that will improve his job advancement potential, he's going to do it. If a career opportunity for him involves moving to a new state, he is likely to ignore the impact of his decision on his partner. Her own goals may also advance at times, but only as long as they don't interfere with his.
8. Public status of partner and/or father without the sacrifices
With his strong people-pleasing skills and his lively energy when under the public gaze, the abusive man is often thought of as an unusually fun and loving partner and a sweet, committed dad. He soaks up the smiles and appreciation he receives from relatives, neighbots, and people in the street who are unaware of his behavior in private.
9. The approval of his friends and relatives
An abuser often chooses friends who are supportive of abusive attitudes. On top of that, he may come from an abusive fmaily; in fact, his father or stepfather may have been his key role model for how to treat female partners. If these are his social surroundings, he gets strokes for knowing how to control his partner, for "putting her in her place" from time to time, and for ridiculing her complaints about him. His friends and relatives may even bond with him on the basis of his view of women in general as being irrational, vindictive, or avaricious. For this man to renounce abuse, he would have to give up his cheerleading squad as well.
10. Double standards
An abusive man subtly or overtly imposes a system in which he is exempt from the rules and standards that he applies to you. He may allow himself to have occaisonal affairs, "because men have their needs," but if you so much as gaze at another man, you're a "whore". He may scream in arguments, but if you raise your voice, you're "hysterical". He may pick up one of your children by the ear, but if you grab your son and put him in timeout for punching you in the leg, you're a "child abuser". He can leave his schedule open and flexible while you have to account for your time. He can point out your faults, while setting himself above criticism, so that he doesn't have to deal with your complaints or be confronted with the effects of his selfish and destructive actions. The abusive man has the privilege of living by a special set of criteria that were designed just for him.
Glance back quickly over this impressive collection of privileges. Is it any wonder that abusive men are reluctant to change? The benefits of abuse are a major social secret, rarely mentioned anywhere. Why? Largely because abusers are specialists in distracting our attention. They don't want anyone to notice how well this system is working for them (and usually don't even want to admit it to themselves). If we caught on, we would stop feeling sorry for them and instead start holding them accountable for their actions. As long as we see abusers as victims, or as out-of-control monsters, they will continue getting away with ruining lives. If we want abusers to change, we will have to require them to give up the luxury of exploitation.
When you are left feeling hurt or confused after a confrontation with your controlling partner, ask yourself: What was he trying to get out of what he just did? What is the ultimate benefit to him? Thinking through these questions can help you clear your head and identify his tactics.
Certainly the abusive man also loses a great deal through his abusiveness. He loses the potential for genuine intimacy in his relationship, for example, and his capacity for compassion and empathy. But these are often not things that he values, so he may not feel their absence. And even if he would like greater intimacy, that wish is outweighed by his attachment to the benefits of abuse.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
The Male Abuser's Best Weapon
by Donna Canfield
This book was written to provide hope and inspiration to the millions of women involved in abusive relationships. Understanding the abusive relationship and the mighty fix of the abuser, the honeymoon, should provide them with a clear understanding of why they have stayed in their nightmarish relationships. Even more important, this book may help them gain the strength to seek help or get out, instead of being part of the horrifying statistics these types of relationships breed. Because it is important to get out in the safest manner possible, I discuss how to plan their escape.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Centerfold Syndrome & Men
The Centerfold Syndrome
Psychologist Dr. Gary R. Brooks, in his book, The Centerfold Syndrome: How Men Can Overcome Objectification and Achieve Intimacy with Women*, has identified four symptoms of the "centerfold syndrome." As the result of a steady diet of soft-core pornography, men may display one or more of the following symptoms:
Voyeurism-an obsession with visual stimulation that trivializes all other features of a healthy relationship
Objectification-obsessive fetishes over body parts and the rating of women by size and shape
Trophyism-treatment of women as collectibles and property
Fear of intimacy-inability to get beyond glossy, centerfold images of women to have a real relationship
Pornography subtly communicates that the value of a woman is determined by her body, shape, and size. Only those women with a perfect physical appearance are valuable and worthy of being admired, desired, and loved. This can have detrimental effects on how women and girls view themselves.
I often wonder how many young girls who struggle with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are unknowingly struggling to measure up to the perfect "10" image projected by the airbrushed centerfold.
I also wonder how many teenage boys, consciously or unconsciously, measure the value of their girlfriends against the "bunny" image.
Pornography's Progressive Pattern of Addiction
Dr. Victor Cline, a clinical psychologist at the University of Utah and a specialist in the area of sexual addictions, has observed a four-step syndrome common to almost all of his clients who have been involved with pornography.
Once consumers of pornography get hooked, they keep coming back for more and more. The sexually graphic material provides the viewer with an aphrodisiac effect, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Pornography gives the viewer powerful imagery that can be recalled and elaborated on with the person's fantasy life. Despite negative consequences, most addicts are unable to rid themselves of their dependence on pornography. Their addiction rules their lives.
Cline describes the second phase as an escalation-effect. The pornography consumer, similar to the drug user, requires more and more stimulation to reach his or her "highs." In fact some viewers prefer the powerful sexual imagery planted in their minds by exposure to pornography to sexual intercourse itself. This nearly always diminishes the viewer's capacity to love and express appropriate intimacy within relationships.
In this phase, material that was originally perceived as unthinkable, shocking, illegal, repulsive, or immoral is now viewed as acceptable and commonplace by the viewer of pornography. Regardless of the deviancy expressed, the viewer perceives the pornography and his or her use of it as legitimate.
Step 4-Acting out sexually.
This last step describes an increased tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in pornography, including things such as: promiscuity, visiting escorts, voyeurism, exhibitionism, group sex, affairs, rape, sadomasochism, cybersex, phone sex, child molestation, and more.
Clearly, this progressive pattern demonstrates how reality and fantasy become blurred for those who are entangled with pornography or when viewing is no longer enough. Early emotional wounding is almost always a factor in pornography addiction.
In regard to the compulsive or addictive nature of pornography, Dr. Cline shares the following: "In over 26 years, I have treated approximately 350 males afflicted with sexual addictions (or sometimes referred to as sexual compulsions). In about 94 percent of the cases I have found that pornography was a contributor, facilitator, or direct causal agent in the acquiring of these sexual illnesses." ii
iCline, Pornography's Effects, 3-5.
iiVictor B. Cline, "Pornography and Sexual Addictions," Christian Counseling Today 4, no.4 (1996): 58.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG TO GET OVER A NARCISSIST OR PSYCHOPATH?
Relationships with psychopaths take an unusually long time to recover from. Survivors often find themselves frustrated because they haven't healed as fast as they'd like. They also end up dealing with friends & therapists who give them judgmental advice about how it's "time to move on".
Whether you were in a long-term marriage or a quick summer fling, the recovery process will be the same when it comes to a psychopathic encounter. It takes 12-24 months to get your heart back in a good place, and even after that, you might have tough days. I certainly do!
The important thing here is to stop blaming yourself. Stop wishing it would go faster. Stop thinking that the psychopath somehow "wins" if you're still hurting. They are out of the picture now. This journey is about you. If you come to peace with the extended timeline, you'll find this experience a lot more pleasant. You can settle in, make some friends, and get cozy with this whole recovery thing.
So why is it taking so long?
You were in love
Yes, it was manufactured love. Yes, your personality was mirrored and your dreams manipulated. But you were in love. It's the strongest human emotion & bond in the world, and you felt it with all your heart. It is always painful to lose someone you loved - someone you planned to be with for the rest of your life.
The human spirit must heal from these love losses. Regardless of your abuser's intentions, your love was still very real. It will take a great deal of time and hope to pull yourself out of the standard post-breakup depression.
You were in desperate love
Here's where we branch off from regular breakups. Psychopaths manufacture desperation & desire. You probably worked harder for this relationship than any other, right? You put more time, energy, and thought into it than ever before. And in turn, you were rewarded with the nastiest, most painful experience of your life.
In the idealization phase, they showered you with attention, gifts, letters, and compliments. Unlike most honeymoon phases, they actually pretended to be exactly like you in every way. Everything you did was perfect to them. This put you on Cloud 9, preparing you for the identity erosion.
You began to pick up on all sorts of hints that you might be replaced at any time. This encouraged your racing thoughts, ensuring that this person was on your mind every second of the day. This unhinged, unpredictable lifestyle is what psychopaths hope to create with their lies, gas-lighting, and triangulation.
By keeping them on your mind at all times, you fall into a state of desperate love. This is unhealthy, and not a sign that the person you feel so strongly about is actually worthy of your love. Your mind convinces you that if you feel so powerfully, then they must be the only person who will ever make you feel that way. And when you lose that person, your world completely falls apart. You enter a state of panic & devastation.
The Chemical Reaction
Psychopaths have an intense emotional & sexual bond over their victims. This is due to their sexual magnetism, and the way they train your mind to become reliant upon their approval.
By first adoring you in every way, you let down your guard and began to place your self worth in this person. Your happiness started to rely on this person's opinion on you. Happiness is a chemical reaction going off in your brain - dopamine and receptors firing off to make you feel good.
Like a drug, the psychopath offers you this feeling in full force to begin with. But once you become reliant on it, they begin to pull back. Slowly, you need more and more to feel that same high. You do everything you can to hang onto it, while they are doing everything in their power to keep you just barely starved.
There are thousands of support groups for survivors of infidelity. It leaves long-lasting insecurities and feelings of never being good enough. It leaves you constantly comparing yourself to others. That pain alone takes many people out there years to recover from.
Now compare that to the psychopath's triangulation. Not only do they cheat on you - they happily wave it in your face. They brag about it, trying to prove how happy they are with your replacement. They carry none of the usual shame & guilt that comes with cheating. They are thrilled to be posting pictures and telling their friends how happy they are.
I cannot even begin to explain how emotionally damaging this is after once being the target of their idealization. The triangulation alone will take so much time to heal from.
You have encountered pure evil
Everything you once understood about people did not apply to this person. During the relationship, you tried to be compassionate, easy-going, and forgiving. You never could have known that the person you loved was actively using these things against you. It just doesn't make any sense. No typical person is ready to expect that, and so we spend our time projecting a normal human conscience onto them, trying to explain away their inexplicable behavior.
But once we discover psychopathy, sociopathy, or narcissism, that's when everything starts to change. We begin to feel disgusted - horrified that we let this darkness into our lives. Everything clicks and falls into place. All of the "accidental" or "insensitive" behavior finally makes sense.
You try to explain this to friends and family members - no one really seems to get it. This is why validation matters. When you come together with others who have experienced the same thing as you, you discover you were not crazy. You were not alone in this inhuman experience.
It takes a great deal of time to come to terms with this personality disorder. You end up having to let go of your past understanding of human nature, and building it back up from scratch. You realize that people are not always inherently good. You begin to feel paranoid, hyper-vigialant, and anxious. The healing process is about learning to balance this new state of awareness with your once trusting spirit.
Your spirit is deeply wounded
After the eventual abandonment, most survivors end up feeling a kind of emptiness that cannot even be described as depression. It's like your spirit has completely gone away. You feel numb to everything and everyone around you. The things that once made you happy now make you feel absolutely nothing at all. You worry that your encounter with this monster has destroyed your ability to empathize, feel and care.
I believe this is what takes the longest time to recover from. It feels hopeless at first, but your spirit is always with you. Damaged, for sure, but never gone. As you begin to discover self-respect & boundaries, it slowly starts to find its voice again. It feels safe opening up, peeking out randomly to say hello. You will find yourself grateful to be crying again, happy that your emotions seem to be returning. This is great, and it will start to become more and more consistent.
Ultimately, you will leave this experience with an unexpected wisdom about the people around you. Your spirit will return stronger than ever before, refusing to be treated that way again. You may encounter toxic people throughout your life, but you won't let them stay for very long. You don't have time for mind games & manipulation. You seek out kind, honest, and compassionate individuals. You know you deserve nothing less.
This new found strength is the greatest gift of the psychopathic experience. And it is worth every second of the recovery process, because it will serve you for the rest of your life.
If you're worried that your recovery process is taking too long, please stop worrying. You've been through hell and back - there is no quick fix for that. And what's more, when all is said and done, these few years will be some of the most important years of your life.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Anger isn't always bad - 5 ways that anger is GOOD!
by Ron Huxley
Experience with anger may leave you with the idea that all anger is bad. Yelling at your children for cooperation doesn't leave you feeling very positively. Watching your children fight when they are angry doesn't give you any warm feelings either. But, anger does have it's purpose in our lives and can teach us a thing or two about how to have healthier, happier relationships.
Here are five ways that anger can be a good thing:
1. Anger protects. When your child is in danger your mind will automatically kick into a “fight or flight” reaction that can result in anger. You don't have time to stop and ponder a course of action when your child is in the middle of the street! Anger short cuts our thinking brain to allow us to act quickly. This is nature's way of protecting your family from harm.
2. Anger signals. The purpose of anger is to destroy problems in our lives, not our relationships. When something needs to dramatically change, anger not only lets you know but it gives you the power to do something about it. For example, if your child's doctor won't listen to your concerns, getting angry can stir things up and get a problem diagnosed and solved.
3. Anger rules. Your child left his toys all over the house again! Tired of yelling at your child to get his cooperation. That only reinforces the annoying behavior. Your anger may be telling you that expectations are too high, the rule is not clear enough, or that you are not following through on consequences consistently. Use the energy of your anger to communicate the rule (again) and then follow it up with consistent, age appropriate discipline.
4. Anger talks. What we say to ourselves affects our emotional state. If we tell ourselves we are bad parents then we may act like bad parents. If we tell ourselves we are doing the best we can under stressful circumstances we will react with less hostility and frustration. Practice listening to that little "anger voice" and challenge some of the misperceptions you hold of yourself and your child. Ask some honest friends to help you be objective in your inner inventory. If what you are saying to yourself is true, use this information to make changes in your parent/child relationship.
5. Anger teaches. Our anger management styles are learned from our own parents. If Mom was a yeller, we may follow her example, even if we vowed never to yell at our kids. Fortunately, if you learned one anger expression style you can learn another. Separate the idea that feeling anger is bad. That is natural and unavoidable but what you do with those hot emotions is completely under your control -- with some practice. Allow yourself permission to find new ways to cope with daily parenting hassles by taking a class or reading a book on anger management.
Monday, March 21, 2016
How a Narcissist Trains his Victims
by Kathy Krajco
Nearly everyone has seen something like the following little scene...
A three-or-four-year-old is with his mother in the grocery store. He points at a candy bar, looking at his mother with the brightest, cutest, most engaging little face you ever saw. Mother is busy and hardly glancing at him as she reads her grocery list and says, "No, you don't---"
She was going to say, "No, you don't need that," but she didn't get half the words out before he erupted into "WAAAAH!!!!"
Everyone in the store jumps, wondering who's killing that kid. In one split-second his face has undergone a startling transfiguration into something grotesque.
But he hasn't got the first "WAAAH!!!" half out yet before his mother, with a quick look around at all the people looking at her, grabs that candy bar and thrusts it into his hand.
WAAAAH--off, mid-WAAAH, and there is that darling little beaming angel-face again, unwrapping his his candy bar.
That's what you call a spoiled brat -- a kid who has learned to use temper tantrums to control his parents. The dead giveaway is how instantaneously he switches from one emotional extreme to the other. Real people don't do that in one split second, do they?
He can do that because those emotions are bogus. Faked. He isn't upset when he's screaming, and he isn't happy when he's not. He's just a little actor. He has two masks. One is for positive reinforcement, and the other is for negative reinforcement. He switches from one to the other in the blink of an eye.
Yes! This four-year-old has learned the art of Behavior Modification! It's childsplay, ain't it? His happy face is a carrot to reward you for good behavior, and his mad face is a stick to punish you for bad behavior.
Now notice how similar this is to an adult narcissist's rages. They are exactly the same thing.
Whenever you aren't behaving the way they want, they throw a fit. Like that brat in the grocery store, they don't think they should even have to ask for what they they want. They think you should be so attentive to their desires that you just offer it to them. It would be beneath them to ask for anything. So they throw a "Don't-go-there!" tantrum whenever you aren't playing the part they've assigned to you in the stageplay of their life.
That could be because you are behaving like you deserve respect. Or maybe you are busy and do not have lunch on the table yet. Whatever, the cowboy just herds people by yelling and waving things whenever the cattle in his home get out of line.
His wild act is so obnoxious and menacing that people soon learn how to turn it off. They would rather conform to his specifications than put up with that obnoxious wild act all the time.
Thus he trains them to behave the way he wants them to.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Why Do Abusive Men Abuse?
(we have used the male gender, your abuser could be female)
('battering' can be extended to verbal, emotional & psychological abuse)
Abusive men batter women as a means of power and control, to manipulate, intimidate and rule their intimate partner.
Men who abuse their partners come from all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, areas of the world, educational levels and occupations.
They often appear charming and attentive to outsiders, and even to their partners, at first.
Many batterers are very good at disguising their abusive behavior to appear socially acceptable. Once they develop a relationship with a partner however, they become more and more abusive.
Characteristics of Domestic violence perpetrators:
seek control of the thoughts, beliefs and conduct of their partner.
punish their partner for resisting control.
Men who batter:
minimize the seriousness of their violence.
need to control people and situations.
express feelings as anger.
A batterer covers up his violence by denying, minimizing, and blaming the victim. He often convinces his partner that the abuse is less serious than it is, or that it is her fault. He may tell her that "if only" she had acted differently, he wouldn't have abused her. Sometimes he will say, "You made me do it."
Victims of abuse do not cause violence. The batterer is responsible for every act of abuse committed.
Domestic violence is a learned behavior. It is learned through:
community (peer group, school, etc.).
(Personality disorders, mental illness, and other problems may compound domestic violence, but the abusive behavior must be addressed separately. )
Abuse is NOT caused by:
alcohol and drugs.
behavior of the victim.
problems in the relationship.
Many men blame their violence on the effects of drug and alcohol use.A batterer abuses because he wants to, and thinks he has a "right" to his behavior. He may think he is superior to his partner and is entitled to use whatever means necessary to control her.
Alcohol abuse is present in about 50 percent of battering relationships.
Research shows that alcohol and other drug abuse is commonly a symptom of an abusive personality, not the cause. Men often blame their intoxication for the abuse, or use it as an excuse to use violence. Regardless, it is an excuse, not a cause. Taking away the alcohol, does not stop the abuse.
Substance abuse must be treated before or in conjunction with domestic violence treatment programs.
Some ways batterers deny and minimize their violence:
"I hit the wall, not her head."
"She bruises easily."
"She just fell down the steps."
"Her face got in the way of my fist."
Characteristics of a Potential Batterer
Isolation of victim
Blames others for his problems
Blames others for his feelings
Cruelty to animals or children
"Playful" use of force during sex
Rigid sex roles
Jekyll and Hyde type personality
History of past battering
Threats of violence
Breaking or striking objects
Any force during an argument
Objectification of women
Tight control over finances
Minimization of the violence
Manipulation through guilt
Extreme highs and lows
Expects her to follow his orders
Use of physical force
Abusers often try to manipulate the "system" by:
Threatening to call Child Protective Services or the Department of Human Resources and making actual reports that his partner neglects or abuses the children.
Changing lawyers and delaying court hearings to increase his partner's financial hardship.
Telling everyone (friends, family, police, etc.) that she is "crazy" and making things up.
Using the threat of prosecution to get her to return to him.
Telling police she hit him, too.
Giving false information about the criminal justice system to confuse his partner or prevent her from acting on her own behalf.
Using children as leverage to get and control his victim.
Accusing her of stalking him and/or his family
Accusing her of harrassment
Abusers may try to manipulate their partners, especially after a violent episode.
He may try to "win" her back in some of these ways:
Invoking sympathy from her, her family and friends.
Talking about his "difficult childhood".
Becoming overly charming, reminding her of the good times they've had.
Bringing romantic gifts, flowers, dinner.
Crying, begging for forgiveness.
Promising it will "never happen again."
Promising to get counseling, to change.
Abuse gets worse and more frequent over time
Lies Abusers Tell
Abusers often tell lies about their violence to themselves (their partners and society):
"I just need to be understood".
"I had a bad childhood."
"I can't control it."
"I get angry."
"She fights too."
"She pushes my buttons."
"If I don't control her, she will control me."
"My smashing things isn’t abusive, it’s venting."
"I have a lot of stress in my life."
"I just have an anger management problem."
"I just have a problem when I drink or use drugs."
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Beware Disordered Therapists, Gurus and Spiritual 'Teachers'
Narcissistic gurus often come with fine academic credentials. Some are medical doctors or Ph.D.'s. Others call themselves holistic healers, medical intuitives. Their presentations are so smooth that most people are mesmerized by them. Often attractive physically with excellent communications skills, they can captivate any audience within a short period of time. I know of spiritual gurus who travel the world, peddling their packages or retreats which cost $1000 to $3000 for less than a week. The goal is enlightenment----the expensive way. What happens if you don't have any money--That's too bad -- you are out of the spiritual loop. Where do true spirituality and spending a lot of money and attending a five day seminar meet-----NOWHERE! (By the way learning how to meditate and reach levels of calmness and deeper consciousness doesn't cost money. It requires your time and dedication).
Friday, March 18, 2016
The Inner Landscape of the Psychopath
The surface of the psychopath, however, that is, all of him that can be reached by verbal exploration and direct examination, shows up as equal to or better than normal and gives no hint at all of a disorder within.
Nothing about him suggests oddness, inadequacy, or moral frailty. His mask is that of robust mental health. Yet he has a disorder that often manifests itself in conduct far more seriously abnormal than that of the schizophrenic.
Inwardly, too, there appears to be a significant difference.
Deep in the masked schizophrenic we often sense a cold, weird indifference to many of life's most urgent issues and sometimes also bizarre, inexplicable, and unpredictable but intense emotional reactions to what seems almost irrelevant.
Behind the exquisitely deceptive mask of the psychopath the emotional alteration we feel appears to be primarily one of degree, a consistent leveling of response to petty ranges and an incapacity to react with sufficient seriousness to achieve much more than pseudoexperience or quasi-experience. Nowhere within do we find a real cause or a sincere commitment, reasonable or unreasonable. There is nowhere the loyalty to produce real and lasting allegiance even to a negative or fanatic cause.
Just as meaning and the adequate sense of things as a whole are lost with semantic aphasia in the circumscribed field of speech although the technical mimicry of language remains intact, so in most psychopaths the purposiveness and the significance of all life-striving and of all subjective experience are affected without obvious damage to the outer appearance or superficial reactions of the personality. Nor is there any loss of technical or measurable intelligence.
With such a biologic change the human being becomes more reflex, more machinelike. It has been said that a monkey endowed with sufficient longevity would, if he continuously pounded the keys of a typewriter, finally strike by pure chance the very succession of keys to reproduce all the plays of Shakespeare. These papers so composed in the complete absence of purpose and human awareness would look just as good to any scholar as the actual works of the Bard. Yet we cannot deny that there is a difference. Meaning and life at a prodigiously high level of human values went into one and merely the rule of permutations and combinations would go into the other.
The patient semantically defective by lack of meaningful purpose and realization at deep levels does not, of course, strike sane and normal attitudes merely by chance. His rational power enables him to mimic directly the complex play of human living. Yet what looks like sane realization and normal experience remains, in a sense and to some degree, like the plays of our simian typist.
In Henry Head's interpretation of semantic aphasia we find, however, concepts of neural function and of its integration and impairment that help to convey a hypothesis of grave personality disorder thoroughly screened by the intact peripheral operation of all ordinary abilities.
In relatively abstract or circumscribed situations, such as the psychiatric examination or the trial in court, these abilities do not show impairment but more or less automatically demonstrate an outer sanity unquestionable in all its aspects and at all levels accessible to the observer. That this technical sanity is little more than a mimicry of true sanity cannot be proved at such levels.
Only when the subject sets out to conduct his life can we get evidence of how little his good theoretical understanding means to him, of how inadequate and insubstantial are the apparently normal basic emotional reactions and motivations convincingly portrayed and enunciated but existing in little more than two dimensions.
What we take as evidence of his sanity will not significantly or consistently influence his behavior. Nor does it represent real intention within, the degree of his emotional response, or the quality of his personal experience much more reliably than some grammatically well-formed, clear, and perhaps verbally sensible statement produced vocally by the autonomous neural apparatus of a patient with semantic aphasia can be said to represent such a patient's thought or carry a meaningful communication of it.
Let us assume tentatively that the psychopath is, in this sense, semantically disordered. We have said that his outer functional aspect masks or disguises something quite different within, concealing behind a perfect mimicry of normal emotion, fine intelligence, and social responsibility a grossly disabled and irresponsible personality. Must we conclude that this disguise is a mere pretense voluntarily assumed and that the psychopath's essential dysfunction should be classed as mere hypocrisy instead of psychiatric defect or deformity?
Let us remember that his typical behavior defeats what appear to be his own aims.
Is it not he himself who is most deeply deceived by his apparent normality?
Although he deliberately cheats others and is quite conscious of his lies, he appears unable to distinguish adequately between his own pseudo-intentions, pseudo-remorse, pseudo-love, and the genuine responses of a normal person.
His monumental lack of insight indicates how little he appreciates the nature of his disorder.
When others fail to accept immediately his "word of honor as a gentleman," his amazement, I believe, is often genuine. The term genuine is used here not to qualify the psychopath's intentions but to qualify his amazement. His subjective experience is so bleached of deep emotion that he is invincibly ignorant of what life means to others.
His awareness of hypocrisy's opposite is so insubstantially theoretical that it becomes questionable if what we chiefly mean by hypocrisy should be attributed to him.
Having no major values himself, can he be said to realize adequately the nature and quality of the outrages his conduct inflicts upon others?
A young child who has no impressive memory of severe pain may have been told by his mother it is wrong to cut off the dog's tail. Knowing it is wrong he may proceed with the operation. We need not totally absolve him of responsibility if we say he realized less what he did than an adult who, in full appreciation of physical agony, so uses a knife.
Can a person experience the deeper levels of sorrow without considerable knowledge of happiness? Can he achieve evil intention in the full sense without real awareness of evil's opposite? I have no final answer to these questions.
Attempts to interpret the psychopath's disorder do not, of course, furnish evidence that he has a disorder or that it is serious. For reliable evidence of this we must examine his behavior. Only here, not in psychopathologic formulations, can we apply our judgment to what is objective and demonstrable.
Functionally and structurally all is intact on the outside. Good function (healthy reactivity) will be demonstrated in all theoretical trials. Sound judgment as well as good reasoning are likely to appear at verbal levels. Ethical as well as practical considerations will be recognized in the abstract. A brilliant mimicry of sound, social reactions will occur in every test except the test of life itself.
In the psychopath we confront a personality neither broken nor outwardly distorted but of a substance that lacks ingredients without which normal function in major life issues is impossible. [...]
Simon, Holzberg, and Unger, impressed by the paradox of the psychopath's poor performance despite intact reasoning, devised an objective test specifically to appraise judgment as it would function in real situations, as contrasted with theoretical judgment in abstract situations. These workers are aware that the more complex synthesis of influences constituting what is often called judgment or understanding (as compared to a more theoretical "reasoning") may be simulated in test situations in which emotional participation is minimal, that rational factors alone by an accurate aping or stereotyping can produce in vitro, so to speak, what they cannot produce in vivo. Items for a multiple choice test were selected with an aim of providing maximal possibilities for emotional factors to influence decision and particularly for relatively trivial immediate gratification impulses to clash with major, long-range objectives. The same items were also utilized in the form of a completion test. The results of this test on a group of psychopaths tend to support the hypothetical interpretation attempted in this book.
If such a disorder does indeed exist in the so-called psychopath, it is not remarkable that its recognition as a major and disabling impairment has been long delayed. Pathologic changes visible on the surface of the body (laceration, compound fractures) were already being handled regularly by medical men when the exorcism of indwelling demons retained popular favor in many illnesses now treated by the internist. So, too, it has been with personality disorders. Those characterized by gross outward manifestations have been accepted as psychiatric problems long before others in which a superficial appearance of sanity is preserved.
Despite the psychopath's lack of academic symptoms characteristic of those disorders traditionally classed as psychosis, he often seems, in some important respects, but not in all, to belong more with that group than with any other. Certainly his problems cannot be dealt with, medically or by any other means, unless similar legal instrumentalities for controlling his situation are set up and regularly applied.
I believe that if such a patient shows himself grossly incompetent in his behavior, he should be so appraised. It is necessary to change some of our legal criteria to make attempts at treatment or urgently needed supervision possible for him, the most serious objections are primarily theoretical. Perhaps our traditional definitions of psychiatric disability can stand alteration better than these grossly defective patients and those about them can stand the present farcical and sometimes tragic methods of handling their problems.
This is not to say that all people showing features of this type should be regarded as totally disabled. It is here maintained that this defect, like other psychiatric disorders, appears in every degree of severity and may constitute anything from a personality trait through handicaps of varying magnitude, including maximum disability and maximum threat to the peace and safety of the community.
In attempting to account for the abnormal behavior observed in the psychopath, we have found useful the hypothesis that he has a serious and subtle abnormality or defect at deep levels disturbing the integration and normal appreciation of experience and resulting in a pathology that might, in analogy with Henry Head's classifications of the aphasias, be described as semantic.
Presuming that such a patient does fail to experience life adequately in its major issues, can we then better account for his clinical manifestations? The difficulties of proving, or even of demonstrating direct objective evidence, for hypotheses about psychopathology (or about ordinary subjective functioning) are too obvious to need elaborate discussion here.
If the psychopath's life is devoid of higher order stimuli, of primary or serious goals and values, and of intense and meaningful satisfactions, it may be possible for the observer to better understand the patient who, for the trivial excitement of stealing a dollar (or a candy bar), the small gain of forging a $20.00 check, or halfhearted intercourse with an unappealing partner, sacrifices his job, the respect of his friends, or perhaps his marriage.
Behind much of the psychopath's behavior we see evidence of relatively mild stimuli common to all mankind. In his panhandling, his pranks, his truancy, his idle boasts, his begging, and his taking another drink, he is acting on motives in themselves not unnatural. In their massive accumulation during his career, these acts are impressive chiefly because of what he sacrifices to carry them out. If, for him, the things sacrificed are also of petty value, his conduct becomes more comprehensible.
Woolley, in an interesting interpretation of these patients, compared them with an otherwise intact automobile having very defective brakes. Such an analogy suggests accurately an important pathologic defect which seems to exist. In contrast with an automobile, however, the braking functions of the human organism are built into the personality by reaction to life experience, to reward and punishment, praise and blame, shame, loss, honor, love, and so on. True as Woolley's hypothesis may be, it seems likely that more fundamental than inadequate powers to refrain is the inadequate emotional reactivity upon which the learning to refrain must be based.
Even with good brakes on his car, the driver must have not only knowledge of but also feeling for what will happen otherwise if he is to use them correctly and adequately.
Some of the psychopath's behavior may be fairly well accounted for if we grant a limitation of emotional capacity. Additional factors merit consideration. The psychopath seems to go out of his way to make trouble for himself and for others. In carelessly marrying a whore, in more or less inviting detection of a theft (or at least in ignoring the probability of detection), in attempting gross intimacies with a debutante in the poorly sheltered alcove just off a crowded ballroom, in losing his hospital parole or failing to be with his wife in labor just because he did not want to leave the crap game at midnight (or at 3 A.M.), in such actions there seems to be not only a disregard for consequences but an active impulse to show off, to be not discreet but conspicuous in making mischief. Apparently he likes to flaunt his outlandish or antisocial acts with bravado.
When negative consequences are negligible or slight (both materially and emotionally), who does not like to cut up a little, to make a bit of inconsequential fun, or perhaps playfully take off on the more sober aspects of living? Dignity might otherwise become pompousness; learning, pedantry; goodness, self-righteousness. The essential difference seems to lie in how much the consequences matter. It is also important to remember that inclination and taste are profoundly shaped by capacity to feel the situation adequately. A normal man's potential inclination to give the pretty hatcheck girl $100.00 would probably not reach awareness in view of his knowledge that this would result in his three children's not having shoes or in his having to humiliate himself by wheedling from a friend a loan he will never repay.
If, as we maintain, the big rewards of love, of the hard job well done, of faith kept despite sacrifices, do not enter significantly in the equation, it is not difficult to see that the psychopath is likely to be bored. Being bored, he will seek to cut up more than the ordinary person to relieve the tedium of his unrewarding existence. If we think of a theater half-filled with ordinary pubertal boys who must sit through a performance of King Lear or of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, we need ask little of either imagination or memory to bring to mind the restless fidgeting, the noisy intercommunication of trivialities, the inappropriate guffaws or catcalls, and perhaps the spitballs or the mischievous application of a pin to the fellow in the next seat.
Apparently blocked from fulfillment at deep levels, the psychopath is not unnaturally pushed toward some sort of divertissement. Even weak impulses, petty and fleeting gratifications, are sufficient to produce in him injudicious, distasteful, and even outlandish misbehavior. Major positive attractions are not present to compete successfully with whims, and the major negative deterrents (hot, persistent shame, profound regret) do not loom ahead to influence him. If the 12-year-old boys could enjoy King Lear or the Ninth Symphony as much as some people do, they would not be so reckless or unruly. [...]
In a world where tedium demands that the situation be enlivened by pranks that bring censure, nagging, nights in the local jail, and irritating duns about unpaid bills, it can well be imagined that the psychopath finds cause for vexation and impulses toward reprisal. Few, if any, of the scruples that in the ordinary man might oppose and control such impulses seem to influence him. Unable to realize what it meant to his wife when he was discovered in the cellar flagrante delicto with the cook, he is likely to be put out considerably by her reactions to this. His having used the rent money for a midnight long-distance call to an old acquaintance in California (with whom he bantered for an hour) also brings upon him censure or tearful expostulation. Considering himself harassed beyond measure, he may rise from the dining room table in a petty tantrum, curse his wife violently, slap her, even spit on her, and further annoyed by the sudden weeping of their 6-year-old daughter, throw his salad in the little girl's face before he strides indignantly from the room.
His father, from the patient's point of view, lacks humor and does not understand things. The old man could easily take a different attitude about having had to make good those last three little old checks written by the son. Nor was there any sense in raising so much hell because he took that dilapidated old Chevrolet for his trip to Memphis. What if he did forget to tell the old man he was going to take it? It wouldn't hurt him to go to the office on the bus for a few days. How was he (the patient) to know the fellows were going to clean him out at stud or that the little bitch of a waitress at the Frolic Spot would get so nasty about money? What else could he do except sell the antiquated buggy? If the old man weren't so parsimonious he'd want to get a new car anyway!
And why did he (the father) have to act so magnanimous and hurt about settling things last Saturday night down at the barracks? You'd think from his attitude that it was the old man himself who'd had to put up with being cooped in there all those hours with louse-infested riff-raff! Well, he'd thanked his father and told him how sorry he was. What else could a fellowdo? As for that damned old Chevrolet, he was sick of hearing about it. His grudge passing with a turn of thought, he smiles with half-affectionate, playfully cordial feelings toward the old man as he concludes, "I ought to tell him to take his precious old vehicle and stick it up his _____!"
Lacking vital elements in the appreciation of what the family and various bystanders are experiencing, the psychopath finds it hard to understand why they continually criticize, reproach, quarrel with, and interfere with him. His employer, whom he has praised a few hours before, becomes a pettifogging tyrant who needs some telling off. The policeman to whom he gave tickets for the barbecue last week (because he is such a swell guy) turns out to be a stupid oaf and a meddler who can't mind his own business but has to go and arrest somebody just because of a little argument with Casey in the Midnight Grill about what happened to a few stinking dollar bills that were lying on the bar. [...]
It is not necessary to assume great cruelty or conscious hatred in him commensurate with the degree of suffering he deals out to others. Not knowing how it hurts or even where it hurts, he often seems to believe that he has made a relatively mild but appropriate reprimand and that he has done it with humor.
What he believes he needs to protest against turns out to be no small group, no particular institution or set of ideologies, but human life itself. In it he seems to find nothing deeply meaningful or persistently stimulating, but only some transient and relatively petty pleasant caprices, a terribly repetitious series of minor frustrations, and ennui.
Like many teenagers, saints, history-making statesmen, and other notable leaders or geniuses, he shows unrest; he wants to do something about the situation. Unlike these others, as Lindner has so well and convincingly stressed, he is a "rebel without a cause."
Reacting with something that seems not too much like divine discontent or noble indignation, he finds no cause in the ordinary sense to which, he can devote himself with wholeheartedness or with persistent interest. In certain aspects his essential life seems to be a peevish bickering with the inconsequential. In other aspects he suggests a man hanging from a ledge who knows if he lets go he will fall, is likely to break a leg, may lose his job and his savings (through the disability and hospital expenses), and perhaps may injure his baby in the carriage just below. He suggests a man in this position who, furthermore, is not very tired and who knows help will arrive in a few minutes, but who, nevertheless, with a charming smile and a wisecrack, releases his hold to light a cigarette, to snatch at a butterfly, or just to thumb his nose at a fellow passing in the street below. [...]
A world not by any means identical but with some vivid features of both these underlying situations can be found in Huysmans' Against the Grain and in Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea. In the satirical novels of Evelyn Waugh, also, an atmosphere difficult to describe sometimes develops - an atmosphere that may give the reader awareness of attitudes and evaluations genuinely illustrative of deeply distorted or inadequate reactions to life. [...]
The leading characters depicted therein show a peculiar cynicism which is more conscious and directed and purposive than the behavior of the psychopath. But none of the characters presented show even an approximate awareness of what is most valid and meaningful and natural in human beings. A negative response to life itself, an aversion at levels more basic than ordinary morals or the infraconscious foundations of taste and incentive, is conveyed subtly and impressively.
It is difficult to illustrate by incident, by the expressed attitude of the characters depicted, or by any clearly implied evaluation of the authors the specific quality of what is evoked in these novels as the essence of an unhappy, mutilated, and trivial universe in which all the characters exist. The sense of pathology pervades to levels so deep that rational scrutiny cannot reach and meet the fundamental implications; nor can inquiry satisfactorily demonstrate its precise source. If the actual world and man's biologic scope were only that conveyed in these interesting works, it would perhaps be less difficult to account for obsessive illness and for the psychopath's career as reasonable reactions to a situation where no course is possible except one profoundly pathologic in one way or another.
Thoughtful contemplation of what is depicted in these works of fiction suggests a world as fundamentally altered as what Straus presents as the world of the obsessive patient. In the effective and terse implication of general emotional incapacity in these characters, the authors succeed in evoking awareness of a sort of quasi-life restricted within a range of staggering superficiality. This, rather than those aspects of the works that apparently brought them popularity, may deserve high literary appraisal as concise and valuable communications of something that is by no means easy to convey in direct language. Such a superficiality and lack of major incentive or feeling strongly suggest the apparent emotional limitations of the psychopath. [...]
What Straus and Havelock Ellis have brought out is not discernible in the reactions of the psychopath. It is, as a matter of fact, somewhat veiled in the reactions of most obsessive patients. Observation of the psychopath makes it increasingly plain, however, that he is not reacting normally to the surroundings that are ordinarily assumed to exist. I cannot clearly define the specific milieu which such a patient encounters and to which his reactions are related. There is much to suggest that it is a less distinctly or consistently apprehended world than what Straus describes as the inner world of the obsessive patient. It is my belief that it may be a world not less abnormal and perhaps more complexly confusing. We should remember, however, that we have no direct evidence to prove that a deficiency or distortion of this sort exists in the unconscious core of the psychopath. We can only say that his behavior strongly and consistently suggests it. This discussion has been based, of course. on a hypothesis that the psychopath has a basic inadequacy of feeling and realization that prevents him from normally experiencing the major emotions and from reacting adequately to the chief goals of human life. [...]
Beyond the symptomatic acts of the psychopath, we must bear in mind his reaction to his situation, his general experiencing of life. Typical of psychoneurosis are anxiety, recognition that one is in trouble, and efforts to alter the bad situation. These are natural ("normal") whole personality reactions to localized symptoms.
In contrast, the severe psychopath, like those so long called psychotic, does not show normal responses to the situation. It is offered as an opinion that a less obvious but nonetheless real pathology is general, and that in this respect he is more closely allied with the psychotic than with the psychoneurotic patient. The pathology might be regarded not as gross fragmentation of the personality but as a more subtle alteration. Let us say that instead of macroscopic disintegration our (hypothetical) change might be conceived of as one that seriously curtails function without obliterating form. [...]
Let us think of the personality in the psychopath as differing from the normal in some such way. The form is perfect and the outlines are undistorted. But being subtly and profoundly altered, it can successfully perform only superficial activities or pseudofunctions. It cannot maintain important or meaningful interpersonal relations. It cannot fulfill its purpose of adjusting adequately to social reality. Its performance can only mimic these genuine functions. [...]
The persistent pattern of maladaptation at personality levels and the ostensible purposelessness of many self-damaging acts definitely suggests not only a lack of strong purpose but also a negative purpose or at least a negative drift. This sort of patient, despite all his opportunities, his intelligence, and his plain lessons of experience, seems to go out of his way to woo misfortune. The suggestion has already been made that his typical activities seem less comprehensible in terms, of life-striving or of a pursuit of joy than as an unrecognized blundering toward the negations of nonexistence.
Some of this, it has been suggested, may be interpreted as the tantrum, like reactions of an inadequate personality balked, as behavior similar to that of the spoiled child who bumps his own head against the wall or holds his breath when he is crossed. It might be thought of as not unlike a man's cutting off his nose to spite not only his face, but also the scheme of life in general, which has turned out to be a game that he cannot play. Such reactions are, of course, found in nearly all types of personality disorder or inadequacy. It will perhaps be readily granted that they are all regressive. Behavior against the constructive patterns through which the personality finds expression and seeks fulfillment of its destiny is regressive activity although it may not consist in a return, step by step, or in a partial return to the status of childhood and eventually of infancy.
Such reactions appear to be, in a sense, against the grain of life or against the general biologic purpose.
Regressive reactions or processes may all be regarded as disintegrative, as reverse steps in the general process of biologic growth through which a living entity becomes more complex, more highly adapted and specialized, better coordinated, and more capable of dealing successfully or happily with objective or subjective experience. This scale of increasing complexity exists at points even below the level of living matter. A group of electrons functioning together make up the atom which can indeed be split down again to its components. The atoms joining form molecules which, in turn, coming together in definite orderly arrangement, may become structurally coordinating parts of elaborate crystalline materials; or, in even more specialized and complex fashion, they may form a cell of organic matter. Cells of organic matter may unite and integrate to form the living organism we know as a jellyfish. Always the process is reversible; the organic matter can decompose back into inorganic matter.
Without laboriously following out all the steps of this scale, we might mention the increasing scope of activity, the increasing specialization, and the increasing precariousness of existence at various levels up through vertebrates and mammals to man. All along this scale it is evident that failure to function successfully at a certain level necessitates regression or decomposition to a lower or less complicated one. If the cell membrane of one epithelial unit in a mammalian body becomes imporous and fails to obtain nutriment brought by blood and lymph, it loses its existence as an epithelial cell. If the unwary rabbit fails to perceive the danger of the snare, he soon becomes in rapid succession a dead rabbit, merely a collection of dead organs and supportive structures, protein, fat, and finally, inorganic matter. The fundamental quest for life has been interrupted, and, having been interrupted, the process goes into reverse.
So, too, the criminal discovered and imprisoned ceases to be a free man who comes and goes as he pleases. A curtailment in the scope of his functioning is suffered-a regression in one sense to simpler, more routine, and less varied and vivid activities.
The man who fails in another and more complex way to go on with life, to fulfill his personality growth and function, becomes what we call a schizophrenic. The objective curtailment of his activities by the rules of the psychiatric hospital are almost negligible in comparison with the vast simplification, the loss of self-expression, and the personal disintegration which characterize his regression from the subjective point of view. The old practice of referring to the extremely regressed schizophrenic as leading a vegetative existence implies the significance that is being stressed.
Regression, then, in a broad sense may be taken to mean movement from richer and more full life to levels of scantier or less highly developed life. In other words, it is relative death. It is the cessation of existence or maintenance of function at a given level.
The concept of an active death instinct postulated by Freud has been utilized by some to account for socially self-destructive reactions. I have never been able to discover in the writings of Freud or any of his followers real evidence to confirm this assumption.
In contrast, the familiar tendency to disintegrate, against which life evolves, may be regarded as fundamental and comparable to gravity. The climbing man or animal must use force and purpose to ascend or to maintain himself at a given height. To fall or slide downhill he need only cease his efforts and let go. Without assuming an intrinsic death instinct, it is possible to account for active withdrawal from positions at which adaptation is unsuccessful and stress too extreme.
Whether regression occurs primarily through something like gravity or through impulses more self-contained, the backward movement (or ebbing) is likely to prompt many sorts of secondary reactions, including behavior not adapted for ordinary human purposes but instead, for functioning in the other direction. The modes of such reactivity may vary, may fall into complex patterns, and may seek elaborate expression.
In a movement (or gravitational drift) from levels where life is vigorous and full to those where it is less so, the tactics of withdrawal predominate.
People with all the outer mechanisms of adaptation intact might, one would think, regress more complexly than can those who react more simply. The simplest reaction in reverse might be found in a person who straightway blows out his brains.
As a skillful general who has realized that the objective is unobtainable withdraws by feints and utilizes all sorts of delaying actions, so a patient who has much of the outer mechanisms for living may retire, not in obvious rout but skillfully and elaborately, preserving his lines.
The psychopath as we conceive of him in such an interpretation seems to justify the high estimate of his technical abilities as we see them expressed in reverse movement.
Unlike the general with the retreating army in our analogy, he seems not still devoted to the original contest but to other issues and aims that arise in withdrawal. To force the analogy further we might say that the retiring army is now concerning itself with looting the countryside, seeking mischief and light entertainment. The troops have cast off their original loyalties and given up their former aims but have found no other serious ones to replace them. But the effective organization and all of the technical skills are retained.[And utilized destructively.]
F. L. Wells has expressed things very pertinent to the present discussion. A brief quotation will bring out useful points:
The principle of substitutive reactions, sublimative or regressive in character, has long been known, but Kurt Lewin's (1933) experimental construction of the latter is especially apt, if not unquestionable mental hygiene. A child, for example, continually impelled to open a gate it is impossible for him to open, may blow up in a tantrum, grovel on the ground, till the emotion subsides sufficiently for him to become substitutively occupied, as with fragments of gravel and other detritus he finds there, by which he forgets his distress about the gate. [...] The human personality has the adaptive property of finding satisfactions at simpler levels when higher ones are taken away, fortunately so if this keeps him out of a psychosis, otherwise if it stabilizes him in contentment at this lower level ("going native") or if the satisfactions cannot be found short of a psychosis (MacCurdy, 1925, p. 367). All such cases have the common regressive factor of giving up the higher-level adjustment (opening the gate) with regressive relief at a lower level (playing with the gravel).Another illustration given by Wells emphasizes features of the concept that are valuable to us:
Consider, for example, the group of drives that center about the concept of self-maintenance, the "living standards" of civilization. This means the pursuit of the diverse means to surround oneself with the maximum of material comfort in terms of residence, food, playthings, etc., for the purchase of which one can capitalize his abilities. That the normal individual will do this to a liberal limit is taken in the local culture as a matter of course, probably more liberally than the facts justify. For this pursuit involves a competitive struggle beset also with inner conflicts (e.g., ethical), which by no means everyone is able to set aside. Among regressions specific to this category are those undertakings of poverty common to religious orders, but this regression is quite specific, since these orders often involve their members in other "disciplines" from which the normal individual would flee as far (Parkman, 1867, Chap. 16). It is quite certain, though hard to demonstrate objectively, that many an individual in normal life regresses from these economic conflicts only in less degree. He does not take the vow of poverty like the monastic, nor does he dedicate himself to the simplified life of the "South Sea Island" stereotype, but he prefers salary to commission, city apartment to suburban "bungalow," clerical work to (outside) sales.A thought expressed by William James in 1902 and quoted by Wells deserves renewed attention:
Yonder puny fellow however, whom everyone can beat suffers no chagrin about it, for he has long ago abandoned the attempt to "carry that line," as the merchants say, of Self at all.Something relevant to the points now under consideration may be found also in Sherrington's comment on reactions (or inlaid precautions) against unbearable pain or stress in the human organism. He says:
With no attempt there can be no failure; with no failure no humiliation.
So our self-feeling in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do. It is determined by the ratio of our actualities to our supposed potentialities; a fraction of which our pretentions are the denominator and the numerator our success: thus, Self-esteem = Success/Pretensions.
Such a fraction may be increased as well by diminishing the denominator as by increasing the numerator.
To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified; and where disappointment is incessant and the struggle unending, this is what men will always do.
The history of evangelical theology, with its conviction of sin, its self-despair, and its abandonment of salvation by works, is the deepest of possible examples, but we meet others in every walk of life.
How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young-or slender! Thank God, we say, those illusions are gone. Everything added to the self is a burden as well as a pride.
Again in life's final struggle the chemical delicacy of the brain-net can make distress lapse early because with the brain's disintegration the mind fades early - a rough world's mercy towards its dearest possession.There are, it seems, many ways for this to occur without signs of any change which we yet have objective means to detect, chemically or microscopically. Such changes may occur under the stimulus of agents that do not have direct physical contact with the brain or with any part of the body.
Withdrawal, or limitation of one's quest in living, appears in many forms.
The decision for taking such a step may be consciously voluntary, but it seems likely that many influences less clear and simple may also play a part. In the earliest years of human life a great deal of complicated shaping may occur, with adaptive changes to promote survival by an automatic refusal (inability) to risk one's feelings (response) in the greatest subjective adventures. In adult life such decisions sometimes emerge in clear deliberation.
The activity of the psychopath may seem in some respects to accomplish a kind of protracted and elaborate social and spiritual suicide. Perhaps the complex, sustained, and spectacular undoing of the self may be cherished by him. He seldom allows physical suicide to interrupt it.
Be it noted that such a person retains high intelligence and nearly all the outer mechanisms for carrying on the complicated activities of positive life. It is to be expected then that his function in the opposite (regressive) emotional direction might be more subtle than those of a less highly developed biologic entity.
The average rooster proceeds at once to leap on the nearest hen and have done with his simple erotic impulse. The complex human lover may pay suit for years to his love object, approaching her through many volumes of poetry, through the building up of financial security in his business, through manifold activities and operations of his personality functions, and with aims and emotions incomparably more complicated and more profound than that of the rooster.
When complexly organized functions are devoted to aimless or inconsistent rebellion against the positive goals of life, perhaps they may enable the patient to woo failure and disintegration with similar elaborateness and subtlety. His conscious or outer functioning may at the same time maintain an imitation of life that is uniquely deceptive.
Perhaps the emptiness or superficiality of life without major goals or deep loyalties, or real love, would leave a person with high intelligence and other superior capacities so bored that he would eventually turn to hazardous, self-damaging, outlandish, antisocial, and even self-destructive exploits in order to find something fresh and stimulating in which to apply his relatively useless and unchallenged energies and talents. [...]
The more experience I have with psychopaths over the years, the less likely it seems to me that any dynamic or psychogenic theory is likely to be established by real evidence as the cause of their grave maladaptation.
Increasingly I have come to believe that some subtle and profound defect in the human organism, probably inborn but not hereditary, plays the chief role in the psychopath's puzzling and spectacular failure to experience life normally and to carry on a career acceptable to society. This, too, is still a speculative concept and is not supported by demonstrable evidence.