Sanctuary for the Abused

Saturday, April 30, 2016


by Peace

This article is from a later chapter of the Psychopath Free book (click to view on Amazon).

When they’re feeling threatened or bored, psychopaths will often use what’s called “word salad” in an attempt to keep your mind occupied. Basically, it’s a conversation from hell. They aren’t actually saying anything at all. They’re just talking at you. Before you can even respond to one outrageous statement, they’re already on to the next. You’ll be left with your head spinning. Study the warning signs, and disengage before any damage can be done:

1. Circular conversations

You’ll think you worked something out, only to begin discussing it again in two minutes. And it’s as if you never even said a word the first time around. They begin reciting all of the same tired garbage, ignoring any legitimate arguments you may have provided moments ago. If something is going to be resolved, it will be on their terms. With psychopaths, the same issues will come up over and over again—why are they so friendly with their ex again? Why are they suddenly not paying any attention to you? Why do they sound so eager to get off the phone? And every time you bring up these issues, it’s as if you never even had the argument in the past. You get sucked back in, only to feel crazy & high-maintenance when they decide “I’m sick of always arguing about this.” It’s a merry-go-round.

2. Bringing up your past wrongdoings & ignoring their own

If you point out something nasty they're doing—like ignoring you or cheating—they’ll mention something totally unrelated from the past that you’ve done wrong. Did you used to drink too much? Well then, their cheating isn’t really all that bad compared to your drinking problem. Were you late to your first date two years ago? Well then, you can’t complain about them ignoring you for three days straight. And God forbid you bring up any of their wrongdoings. Then, you are a bitter lunatic with a list of grievances.

3. Condescending & patronizing tone

The entire conversation will have this calm, cool demeanor. It’s almost as if they’re mocking you, gaging your reactions to see how much further they can push. When you finally react emotionally, that’s when they’ll tell you to calm down, raise their eyebrows, smirk, or feign disappointment. The whole point of word salad is to make you unhinged, and therefore give them the upper hand. Because remember, conversations are competitions—just like anything else with a psychopath.

4. Accusing you of doing things that they themselves are doing

I mentioned this in the previous section about psychopaths putting you on the defense. In heated arguments, psychopaths have no shame. They will begin labeling you with their own horrible qualities. It goes beyond projection, because most people project unknowingly. Psychopaths know they are smearing you with their own flaws, and they are seeking a reaction. After all, how can you not react to such blatant hypocrisy?

5. Multiple personas

Through the course of a word salad conversation, you’re likely to experience a variety of their personalities. It’s sort of like good cop, bad cop, demented cop, stalker cop, scary cop, baby cop. If you’re pulling away, sick of their abuse and lies, they will restore a glimpse of the idealize phase. A little torture to lure you back in with promises of marriage and children. If that doesn’t work, suddenly they’ll start insulting the things they once idealized. You’ll be left wondering who you’re even talking to, because his personas are imploding as they struggle to regain control. Our beloved administrator, Victoria, summed this up perfectly: “The devil himself was unleashed in a desperate fit of fury after being recognized: twisting, turning, writhing, spewing, flattering, sparkling, vomiting.”

6. The eternal victim

Somehow their cheating and lying will always lead back to a conversation about their abusive past or a crazy ex. You will end up feeling bad for them, even when they've done something horribly wrong. You will instead use it as an opportunity to bond with them over their supposed complex feelings. And once they have successfully averted your attention elsewhere, everything will go back to the way it was. No bonding or deep spiritual connection whatsoever. Psychopaths cry “abuse”—but in the end, you are the one left with nothing.

7. You begin explaining basic human emotions

You find yourself explaining things like “empathy” and “feelings” and “being nice”. Normal adults do not need to be taught the golden rules from kindergarten. You are not the first person who has attempted to see the good in them, and you will not be the last. You think to yourself, “if they can just understand why I’m hurt, then they’ll stop doing it.” But they won’t. They wouldn’t have done it in the first place if they were a decent human being. The worst part is, they pretended to be decent when you first met—sucking you in with this sweet, caring persona. They know how to be kind & good, but they find it boring.

8. Excuses

Everyone messes up every now and then, but psychopaths recite excuses more often than they actually follow through with promises. Their actions never match up with their words. You are disappointed so frequently that you feel relieved when they do something decent—they condition you to become grateful for the mediocre.

9. “What in the world just happened”

These conversations leave you drained. You will be left with an actual headache. You will spend hours, even days, obsessing over the argument. You’ll feel as if you exhausted all of your emotional energy to accomplish absolutely nothing. You will have a million pre-planned arguments in your head, ready to respond to all the unaddressed points that you couldn’t keep up with. You will feel the need to defend yourself. You’ll try to come up with a diplomatic solution that evenly distributes the blame, and therefore gives you both a chance to apologize and make up. But in the end, you’ll find that you’re the only one apologizing.

SOURCE  (check out this great site!)

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Friday, April 29, 2016

How to Deal With an Overbearing Mother

Does your mother try to tell you how to live your life?
Or scrutinize every decision you make?


1. Realize there are reasons why your mother is overbearing and that you won't ever be able to change her. The operative word is "deal."

2. Work on establishing boundaries immediately. Decide which aspects of your life you won't share with your mother, then remind her when she invades them. If boundaries will not work; go No Contact with her and get far far away.

3. Learn this phrase and repeat it often: "I love you, but I don't want to discuss that with you." Then change the subject when your mother begins to meddle.

4. If possible, consider writing your mother a letter, detailing how you'd like your relationship to evolve (and which aspects can go extinct like the dinosaurs).

5. Thank your mother for her suggestions on how to live your life, then move on to more stimulating conversation.

6. Strive to seek approval from yourself instead of from your mother. When you're self-confident, your mother's controlling tendencies won't get under your skin.

7. Opt for caller ID so you can be prepared for potentially overbearing conversations - or screen the call to measure the importance of her message.

8. Try to call her back within a day; controlling mothers are fueled by neglect, and you can avoid possible nagging with a prompt call back.

9. Appreciate the fact that someone cares so much about you that they need to call you before, during and after every small event in your life.

10. Refrain from any guilt your overbearing mother may try to trip you up with. No one should feel guilty for living their own life. 

Recommended Reading


Ignore the gnawing suspicion that your mother is trying to live her life through you. Even if she is, the urge to control is her baggage to carry, not yours.

If your mother persists in knocking down your boundaries, consider seeking therapy. You may need to go No Contact immediately if your mother is a narcissistic-type; because they can not change.



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Thursday, April 28, 2016

How Abusers Stage Their Returns

How Abusers Stage Their Returns

While the smooth talk that it takes to get an abused spouse to take them back varies from person to person, there are five major "strategies" that seem to cover most of the wide range of tactics used by abusive partners:

The Honeymoon Syndrome
Also known as "Hearts and Flowers", this can include any bribe that will get you to return - and the sooner the better. Common bribes include promises to get therapy, promises not to be violent again (even after a long history), and even calculated doses of praise for you; saying things like "I know I don't deserve you, but if you'll take me back..."

Super Parent Syndrome
This is a very common ploy, especially if your partner has neglected the children in the past. An abuser might promise to start being a good parent, or might remind you how good they already are with the children. Many victims stay in abusive relationships because they believe that it's better for the children, but children are more aware than we give them credit for - and they know that abuse is occurring.

In healthy parenting, children get to see both parents working together toward positive interactions for the whole family.
When you stay with an abuser for the sake of the children, you are really slowly destroying one half of their parenting system - yourself - thus robbing your children of the true and healthy "you" that SHOULD be in their futures and replacing it with the you that continues to be abused over time. Additionally, children depend on you to be able to do your job where they are concerned. This means they expect you to nourish them, protect them, and properly socialize them. Part of protecting them not only means DIRECTLY protecting them, but also protecting their protector - YOU. Finally, a parent will always be a parent - even in the event of seperation or divorce. A truely loving parent will continue to be a truely loving parent regardless of the shape and structure of the family. So before you cling to the promises of super parent abusers, consider carefully what is really in the long term best interests of your children.

Revival Syndrome
"I have been going to church every Sunday since you left." "I have accepted religion into my life." That's great, but so what? The real question is: has the violence stopped? Don't believe that just because someone spent an hour with their butt in a pew on a Sunday morning that violence and other abuse can't still be right around the corner. If you look at the massive amounts of literature directed at faith groups teaching them how to identify and respond to abusive relationships in their congregations, you'd quickly realize exactly how many "god-fearing" persons abuse, rape, beat and murder their partners. Even pastors! (Oprah did a great show on domestic violence featuring a pastor who murdered his wife of 22 years because they argued over money and his unwillingness to get treatment for depression.)

Sobriety Syndrome
Whether it's drugs or alcohol, abusers have a higher incidence of substance use than the general population. Most substance-using abusers know that they have a substance abuse problem, or, they are aware that YOU believe they have a problem, even if they are in denial themselves. In the panic of facing losing their relationships, many will suddenly "see the light" and swear to you that they'll never touch it again. You'll want to hear it. You'll want to believe it. You'll want to support this effort. And you should! BUT...don't just hear the words and breathe a sigh of relief. Actions speak louder than words and substance abuse and addiction is one of the hardest things to overcome by oneself.

Withdraw from chronic alcohol use, heroin, cigarettes and even caffiene can cause vomiting, nausea, paranoia and other unpleasant symptoms. When an abusive partner opens the door to getting sober, stick your foot in that door and help them to get MORE help - encourage them to talk to their doctor, to join a support group, to get substance abuse therapy, etc. Counseling, support and therapy for substance abuse problems will address underlying problems and issues and help abusers to substitute healthier behaviors for their destructive coping mechanisms. Unless and until you see a substance using abuser actively participating in sobriety with OUTSIDE HELP, don't fall for just the promise! (this applies to sex addicts as well - PSYCHOLOGICAL/PSYCHIATRIC help is a MUST with an addiction!)

Counseling Syndrome
This is both a tactic to get you to stay and a tactic to maintain control and intimidation. On this web site and others, you'll hear over and over again that abusers don't just stop their behavior without assistance to overcome issues and replace destructive behavior with healthy ones. Therapy is no exception.

Friends, family, pastors and even abusers might suggest couples counseling to you. Although they may have the best of intentions, couples counseling is NOT the solution to combat the behaviors of an abuser! Many abusers actually like the idea of couples counseling because it means that THEY don't have to take responsibility for their actions- instead, they get to drag you in as part of the problem.

With your abuser sitting next to you in a counseling session, you are not emotionally free to say what you think without fear of repercussion, without the abuser twisting your words, and without them trying to coach you along as what to say or not to say. Safe, effective and appropriate counseling for batterers and abusers must be done WITHOUT the victim present. Batterers must take responsibility for their actions, must understand and admit that THEY have a problem and be dedicated to the self-examination process to make positive long term changes possible.

Couples counseling to combat domestic violence SOUNDS like a great idea, but it's false advertising and can prolong and expand the emotional abuses that already exist.

Buy Outs
The problem with all of these things is that in no case, no way, no how, does ANYTHING excuse or "make up" for the fact that a partner batters you! If you donate a million dollars to charity, it doesn't give you the right to go out and shoot someone. Similarly, don't fall into the trap of letting a partner BUY their way out of violence in the relationship. Unless and until a battering partner owns up to their responsibility and gets some outside help to change their behavior, your relationship, your children, and your family are neither healthy nor SAFE.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What About My Pets?

Another Reason Women Don't Leave

I recently received an email from someone who reminded me of another reason why women don't leave abusive situations. They are afraid for the lives of their pets. According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a 1997 study of the largest battered women's shelters in 48 states revealed that workers at 85 percent of those shelters had heard reports from women about incidents of animal abuse. And abusers often torture the human members of the family by hurting or killing pets, right in front of the other members of the family.

In fact, some abusers use animals to 'practice' hurting humans. In these situations the pet often becomes a sort of hostage - it is safe as long as the woman stays and obeys.

In an ideal world, there would be shelters that include pets, or safe places to place pets when anyone flees an abusive situation. Advocates are working with animals shelters and veterinarians to find a solution to this problem.

The priorities in our society make things even worse. There are not enough shelters for battered women in this country, and the prospect for improvement in the immediate future is dim. So the shelters are full, and animals are usually not permitted.

In the last ten years, more attention has been paid to the fact that violent people often manifest themselves first in violence against animals. Many states have passed laws that make cruelty to animals a felony offense. Women's rights advocates will relate, with bitter irony, that being cruel to an animal is a felony, while being cruel to a woman is only a misdemeneanor. But if you can get past that irony, the animal protection laws can be used to a woman's advantage.

The main problem with domestic violence laws is that a batterer can beat up his wife or girlfriend several times before the law gets annoyed. But if the batterer harms the family pet, the batterer can be arrested on a felony charge.

In many ways, our society at the present time values animals more than it values women and children. Humane Societies may be more prevalent in a state than women's shelters, often with more reliable funding. Please understand that I am not denigrating Humane Societies; that's where I get my cats. I am suggesting that the Humane Society can be a valuable ally that can partner with women's shelters.

If you are in a violent situation where your pet is being used as a hostage, the first step is still the same: call a hotline to get help. The advocates you reach will know the laws in your state and can help to find shelter for your pets too.

The Humane Society of the United States has a program called First Strike. There is information at their website for setting up an organization in your community. The woman who reminded me of this problem runs a website called Friends of Pets. And at, there are thousands of websites listed that can help.

Ask when you call a shelter if they allow pets, or know a program in your area that will take care of your pet until your situation stabilizes. Family members and friends can be a good resource too. There may be county workers that investigate reports of animal cruelty who has ideas about sheltering your pets. I once worked with a women who has dozens of animals, including chickens and a horse. We found another women who had survived battering, had remarried and lived on a hobby farm. This survivor was happy to shelter all the women's animals while the first woman recovered.

Be sure to talk to your advocate about an Order for Protection, which can protect your animals as well as you. And as always, your best source for ideas, support, resources, and brainstorming if your local women's crisis center. The more we publicize issues like this one, the more attention it will receive. And perhaps we'll change the world.

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shared by Barbara at 12:09 AM 3 comments


Sunday, April 24, 2016


 (the term 'psychopath' is used here but can be interchangeable with narcissist or sociopath)

When dealing with malignant narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, borderlines, drama queens, stalkers and other emotional vampires, it’s commonly advised that no response is the best response to unwanted attention. This is often true and No Contact (the avoidance of all communication) should be used whenever possible.

There are some situations however, when No Contact is not feasible, as in when you share child custody with a psychopath. As another example, if you are being stalked by an ex, a restraining order can infuriate the unwanted suitor, and refusing to respond to him or her is seen as an insult. They might become convinced that they can MAKE you respond and in that way satiate their need for power over you.

Furthermore, many of us have tried to end a relationship with a psychopath several times, only to take them back, each time. They turned on the pity ploy and the charm, and because we didn’t understand that this is what a psychopath does, we fell for their promises to change. They know all of our emotional hooks. For them, it’s easy and fun to lure us back by appealing to our emotions. But a psychopath can’t change. In fact, when you leave a psychopath, he becomes determined to punish you even more severely for thinking you could be autonomous.

Even if we don’t take them back, the most dangerous time for a person is when they first break up with a psychopath. The psychopath feels rage at being discarded. Losing control or power over a person is not just a narcissistic injury for them; they feel profoundly empty when their partner leaves them — even if they had intended to kill their partner. The reason is because they have lost control. Psychopaths need to feel in control at all times.

For all these situations, we have Gray Rock.

What it is:

So, how do we escape this parasitical leech without triggering his vindictive rage? Gray Rock is primarily a way of encouraging a psychopath, a stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you. It differs from No Contact in that you don’t overtly try to avoid contact with these emotional vampires. Instead, you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the parasite must go elsewhere for his supply of drama. When contact with you is consistently unsatisfying for the psychopath, his mind is re-trained to expect boredom rather than drama. 

Psychopaths are addicted to drama and they can’t stand to be bored. With time, he will find a new person to provide drama and he will find himself drawn to you less and less often. Eventually, they just slither away to greener pastures. Gray Rock is a way of training the psychopath to view you as an unsatisfying pursuit — you bore him and he can’t stand boredom.

What it’s for:
Making a psychopath go away of his own volition is one application of Gray Rock. One might say that Gray Rock is a way of breaking up with a psychopath by using the old, “It’s not you, it’s me.” excuse, except that you act it out instead of saying it and the psychopath comes to that conclusion on his own.

Another reason to use Gray Rock is to avoid becoming a target in the first place. If you find yourself in the company of one or more narcissistic personalities — perhaps you work with them or they are members of your family — it’s important to avoid triggering their ENVY. By using Gray Rock, you fade into the background. It’s possible they won’t even remember having met you. If you have already inadvertently attracted their attention and they have already begun to focus in on you, you can still use Gray Rock. Tell them you are boring. Describe a boring life. Talk about the most mundane household chores you accomplished that day — in detail. Some people are naturally lacking in dramatic flair. Find those people and try to hang around them when the psychopath is nearby.

If you must continue a relationship with a psychopath, Gray Rock can serve you as well. Parents sharing joint custody with a psychopathic ex-spouse can use Gray Rock when the ex-spouse tries to trigger their emotions. I acknowledge that any threat to the well-being of our children is overwhelmingly anxiety provoking. Here is where Gray Rock can be applied selectively to draw attention away from what really matters to you. In general, show no emotion to the offending behaviors or words. The psychopath will try different tactics to see which ones get a reaction. With Selective Gray Rock, you choose to respond to the tactic which matters least to you. This will focus the psychopath’s attention on that issue. Remember, the psychopath has no values, so he doesn’t understand what is valuable to us — unless we show him. Selective Gray Rock shows him a decoy

When protecting our children, we can take a lesson from nature: Bird parents who have fledglings are known to feign a broken wing when a predator is in the vicinity. They fake a vulnerability to detract the cat’s attention from their real vulnerability, their babies. In this example, Selective Gray Rock fades all emotions into the background except the ones you want the predator to see.
Why it works:

A psychopath is easily bored. He or she needs constant stimulation to ward off boredom. It isn’t the type of boredom that normal people experience; it’s more like the French word, ennui, which refers to an oppressive boredom or listlessness. Drama is a psychopath’s remedy for boredom. For drama, they need an audience and some players. Once the drama begins, they feel complete and alive again. They are empowered when pulling the strings that elicit our emotions. Any kind of emotions will do, as long as it is a response to their actions.

A psychopath is an addict. He is addicted to power. His power is acquired by gaining access to our emotions. He is keenly aware of this and needs to constantly test to make sure we are still under his control. He needs to know that we are still eager to do his bidding, make him happy and avoid his wrath. He needs to create drama so he can experience the power of manipulating our emotions. As with any addiction, it is exhilarating to the psychopath when he gets his supply of emotional responses. The more times he experiences a reward for his dramatic behavior, the more addicted he becomes. Conversely, when the reward stops coming, he becomes agitated. He experiences oppressive boredom and he will counter it by creating more drama. If we stay the course and show no emotions, the psychopath will eventually decide that his toy is broken. It doesn’t squirt emotions when he squeezes it anymore! Most likely, he will slither away to find a new toy.

The Gray Rock technique does come with a caveat: psychopaths are dangerous people, if you are in a relationship with one that has already decided to kill you, it will be difficult to change his mind. He may already be poisoning you or sabotaging your vehicle. Take all necessary precautions. In this case, Gray Rock can only hope to buy time until you can make your escape.

How it works:

Psychopaths are attracted to shiny, pretty things that move fast and to bright lights. These things, signal excitement and relieve the psychopath’s ever-present ennui. Your emotional responses are his food of choice, but they aren’t the only things he wants.

He envies everything pretty, shiny and sparkly that you have and he wants whatever you value. You must hide anything that he will notice and envy. If you happen to be very good looking, you need to change that during this time. Use makeup to add bags under your eyes. If you aren’t married to the psychopath, any money or assets he covets should disappear “in a bad investment decision” (consult with your attorney on this). Your shiny sports car has to go, get a beater. If you have a sparkling reputation, anticipate that he will or has already begun to slander you; therefore, don’t allow yourself to be put into any compromising position or pushed into erratic behavior. The reason he wants to take these things from you, is not necessarily because he wants them for himself, it’s because he wants to see the emotions on your face when you lose them. He wants the power trip associated with being the one who took them from you. By preemptively removing these things from his vision and not reacting with emotion at the losses, you continue to train him with the idea that you are the most boring person on earth, someone he would never want to be.

Origin of Gray Rock:

In 2009, I left my psychopathic partner after 25 years, but I didn’t understand what was wrong with him. I sat in a sushi bar, lost in confusion, when a tall, athletic man introduced himself. To my own surprise, I instinctively poured out my story to him. This complete stranger listened to my story and then he explained to me that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist. He advised me, “Be boring.” He told me that his girlfriend would come home each night, begin drinking and become abusive. 

They were both professionals who traveled in the same professional circles. He knew that she would stalk him if he broke up with her and he didn’t want to risk the slander and drama which could leak out and damage his professional reputation.

His solution was to be so boring that she would simply leave him. He declined to go out on evenings and weekends. He showed no emotional reaction about anything, no interest in anything and responded with no drama. When she asked if he wanted to go out for dinner, his reply was, “I don’t know.” After a few months of no drama, she simply moved out.

Why is it called Gray Rock?
I chose the words Gray Rock because I needed an object for us to channel when we are in an emotionally charged situation. You don’t just practice Gray Rock, you BECOME a Gray Rock. There are gray rocks and pebbles everywhere you go, but you never notice them. None of them attract your attention. You don’t remember any specific rock you saw today because they blend with the scenery. 

That is the type of boring that you want to channel when you are dealing with a psychopath. Your boring persona will camouflage you and the psychopath won’t even notice you were there. The stranger in the sushi bar showed great insight when he advised me to “be boring.” He struck at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation: to avoid boredom.

In nature, there are many plants and creatures that show us how to survive in a world of predators. Among others, birds feign injury to protect their babies and mice play dead until the cat loses interest. 

Both of these tactics can be useful and they can be channeled when applicable. Yet, it’s difficult to calculate each and every move that a psychopath will make and to determine the best course of action each time. Instead of trying to out-think him, channel the gray rock. This simple, humble object in nature has all the wisdom it needs to avoid being noticed, it’s boring.

Copyright © 2012 Skylar


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Friday, April 22, 2016

Couldn’t Be! Do "Alleged" Abusers Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt?

Rabbi Mark Dratch
JSafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse Free Environment

Victims of abuse often face great doubts and skepticism when they speak out against their perpetrators. One of the most insidious reasons for these doubts is that abusers are most often people who are well known to their victims and to the family, friends or community officials to whom the revelations are made. The accusations are met with incredulousness. Perpetrators can be anyone: husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and siblings; rabbis and teachers; doctors and therapists; counselors, coaches and neighbors. This familiarity is not only a factor in the reaction of others, but it is a significant obstacle for the victim herself as she contemplates revealing the abuse and asking for the help and support she needs.

At first glance, Jewish law seems to support this approach. The famous Mishnah in Pirke Avot brings R. Yehoshua ben Perahyah’s teaching, “Ve-hevei dan et kol ha-adam le-kaf zekhut—Judge everyone favorably.”1 Likewise, it is forbidden to be hoshed be-kesherim, suspicious of those who have unblemished reputations.2 In fact, we are promised that if we give others the benefit of the doubt, God Himself will act towards us in the same manner.3

The Talmud illustrates the importance of judging others favorably by recounting three innocent situations that might easily have raised concerns of inappropriate behavior. The first is about an employer who did not pay his employee the wages he was owed, claiming that he had no money, no land, no cattle, and no crop. When questioned about this, the employee said that he assumed that his employer had nothing with which to pay him because his employer had invested all his assests, had leased his lands and cattle, and had not yet tithed his produce. The second story is about a prominent rabbi who, after redeeming a young woman who had been taken hostage, had her sleep at his feet on the road home. When questioned, his students related that they did not suspect their teacher of any inappropriate behavior but that they assumed that he did this in order to protect her from those who might take advantage of her. And the third story recounts the activities of Rabbi Yehoshua who entered the home of a Roman matron by himself, closing the door and secreting himself with her. His students assumed that their teacher had important private matters to discuss with her. These generous, innocent and uncritical assumptions proved to be the correct in each of the cases.4

Why Judge Favorably?
There are a number of reasons why it is proper to give people the benefit of the doubt. One is that the biblical injunction “be-tzedek tishpot et ‘amitekhah” which refers to the judicial obligation, “you shall judge your neighbor with righteousness,” also is interpreted to mean “you shall judge your neighbor as righteous.” Society’s interests are served not only by advancing the cause of justice but by furthering the integrity and innocence of each and every one of its members.

Another reason is based on the principle of hazakah, a legal theory that enshrines the status quo and enables us to make certain presumptions about people and their behavior—they are presumed to be as they have always been. Because Jewish law presumes that the status quo continues until it is demonstrated to be otherwise (this is the principle of hazakah), every person has a hezkat kashrut and is to be considered innocent until proven guilty.5 One formulation of this hazakah posits that since people are born guiltless and honest, they continue to be so.6 A second formulation focuses on the established behavior of a good person. His previous behavior patterns have established a presumption that all his actions are good and noble.7 A variation of this argument focuses on a different, yet related, principle. It looks not at the character of this particular person or on his actions, but on the character of Jews in general. Since the rov (the majority) of Jews behave in good and noble ways, the odds are that this person is part of that majority. Thus, we judge him and his actions favorably.8 It is also possible that we are swayed by the rov of a person’s actions. Since he generally behaves appropriately, we must assume that any specific behavior is proper.9

Another approach that explains the requirement of judging others favorably suggests that in considering suspicious behavior we are to assume that we do not know the entire story, that we do not properly understand another’s motivations, or that the unseemly act may have merely been an innocent mistake.10 In fact, we are warned not to judge another “until we have been in his place.”11 And even when we observe unquestionable misconduct by a Torah scholar, a person whose piety and conduct are presumed to be beyond reproach, we must assume that he has immediately repented for his misdeeds.12

Another reason for a person to give others the benefit of the doubt is that this attitude is the key to maintaining good interpersonal relationships. After all, it is not uncommon for those who live in close proximity to each other to say or do things that may be perceived as slights or insults; relationships suffer. Doubt, resentment and suspicion are not uncommon. Unless we are generous in our judgment and forgiving in our dealings, disagreement with our friends and alienation from them are possible. Consequently, giving another the benefit of the doubt ensures the integrity of familial and communal relationships.13 R. Avraham Yitzhak Kook explained that disputes arise because we do not know another person’s thoughts and motivations. However, he writes, by giving others the benefit of the doubt, peaceful relations will result.14

Others see this principle as a means of protecting one’s own moral integrity. Favorable judgment impacts one’s own perspective of the world, training him to see only the good and noble, and denying evil. Such an approach inspires a positive and optimistic world view in which, ultimately, all people are good and all people do good things. This protects him from the pernicious influence of evil activities and immorality.15 Favorable judgment also helps focus a person’s attention not on the failings of others, but on his own weaknesses and flaws, and can serve as a catalyst for introspection, self-growth, and repentance.16

Judging Favorably: Obligation or Meritorious Act?
There is a difference of opinion as to whether one is obligated to judge others favorably17 or whether doing so is just an ethical act.18 Furthermore, there is a dispute as to whether we have to judge everyone in this manner19 or whether our favorable judgment is due only to the religious elite.20 Rambam is of the opinion that, as a matter of law, righteous people must always be given the benefit of the doubt and that wicked people must always be judged negatively, regardless of the apparent nature of any particular action. He applies R. Yehoshua ben Perahyah’s teaching—hevei dan le-kaf zekhut—only to actions of people who are beinonim, neither wicked nor righteous.21 Others apply this principle to strangers, those whose characters are unknown to us and thus we have no context by which to make assumptions about their behavior.22 Maharam Shik and Avodat Yisrael, in their commentaries to Pirke Avot, limit its application to those individuals mentioned in the Mishnah—friends and teachers.


Once they are before the court, the opinion of R. Yehudah b. Tabbi, Avot 1:8, applies:

Despite the call to judge favorably, there is room for suspicion and for precaution. Another Talmudic dictate instructs, “A person should always consider others as thieves, while honoring them like Rabban Gamliel.”24 An example of this approach is found in a story about R. Yehoshua and how he treated a house guest with great suspicion. After an evening of eating and drinking, R. Yehoshua showed his guest to the roof where he would spend the night. After the guest climbed the ladder, R. Yehoshua, without his guest’s knowledge, removed the only safe exit. In the middle of the night, the guest gathered much of his host’s property and sought to escape “like a thief in the night.” The ladder having been removed, the thief fell off the roof and was injured. When the thief complained about the missing ladder, R. Yehoshua castigated him saying that he should have realized that he would have been under suspicion.25
How do we resolve the tension between the requirement to judge favorably on the one hand, and the need for caution and suspicion on the other?

One answer is to make a distinction between those we know who generally behave appropriately and strangers whose motives and dispositions are unknown to us. The former require our sympathetic assessment, the latter do not.26 Others suggest that one should be wary and suspicious of others, but he must treat them respectfully as if they were innocent.27

Consider the Mishnah, Yoma 18b, which relates how the priestly elders charged the High Priest prior to his officiating in the Temple’s Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. To ensure that he would follow the rituals according to the rabbinic, Pharasaic requirements, and not in accord with the interpretations of the Saduccees. They adjured him, took their leave, as they said to him: “Sir High Priest, we are messengers of the court and you are our messenger and the messenger of the court. We adjure you by He Who made His name to dwell in this house that you do not change anything of what we said to you.” [The High Priest] turned aside and wept and they turned aside and wept.

The Talmud explains that “he turned aside and wept” because they suspected him of being a Sadducee, and they turned aside and wept for having suspected him and not judging him favorably.

Yehudah b. Tabbai said: [A judge] should not play the part of an advocate (i.e., should not suggest to either party a line of argument); while [the parties in a lawsuit] are standing before you, regard them as if they were [both] guilty (and thus you will assess their words critically and appropriately). And when they leave your presence, [after] having submitted to the judgment, regard them as if they were [both] guiltless (i.e., each thought that justice was on his side and comported himself appropriately during the legal procedures).28
Rambam, in his commentary on the Mishnah dealing with the exhortation of the elders of the High Priest before Yom Kippur states that positive presumptions are suspended with regard to strangers when there is a hekhreh gadol, a critical need to do so. Another resolution is offered by R. Moshe Soloveitchik who suggested that in the case of the High Priest and the elders on Yom Kippur, the elders were justified in their actions. He submits that while one may look at a person’s past behavior in a charitable light, such openness is not required, and may be inappropriate, with regard to future actions.

The Rest of the Story
This predisposition to give others the benefit of the doubt is limited in its application. If we accept that argument that it is based either on hazakah (legal presumption of the status quo) or on rov (the majority of his actions), it is important to note that these principles are operative only in cases of doubt and only when it is impossible to otherwise investigate and establish the facts of this case. While one may initially want to reserve final judgment about the allegations, one is obligated to follow through and establish, to the best of his ability, the facts of the case.29

In addition, the hazakah of innocence is a weak one. Although people are born innocent or have established a track record of the same, King Solomon himself reminded us that “There is not a righteous person on earth that does good and that does not sin.” (Eccl. 7:20). We need to be concerned about those failures, especially when they may be harmful to others.

Furthermore, the obligation to judge others favorably, according to the Mishnah, applies to all people, including the accuser. If we are to give others the benefit of the doubt, we must do so for the accuser as well. We are not to assume automatically that the allegations are false, nor are we to assume automatically that the accusations are true. We must treat all parties with deference, as if all were innocent of wrong doing, but we must investigate carefully and thoroughly, and in a timely manner. Of course, as we shall see, we must also act with great prudence, assuring that those who make the accusations as well as other innocents do not come to harm either by further abuse or by retaliation of the accused.

In addition, we cannot let our favorable judgment cause us to ignore possible violations of Jewish law. The Torah obligates us to rebuke those who have sinned30 as well as to protect the safety and welfare of the community.31 Automatically deciding another’s innocence prevents these obligations from being fulfilled.32 And this obligation of rebuke applies even when the one accused of doing wrong is one’s parent or teacher.33 In fact, R. Yehudah was greatly rewarded for calling his teacher, Shmuel, to task.34 A distinction can be made between giving someone the benefit of the doubt and finding him guiltless.35 The former does not require the latter and justice is served when victims are believed, their accusations validated, and they find safety and security.

Justice and Mercy
It is often difficult to believe allegations of abuse. And it is often difficult, even if the allegations are believed, to want to hold the perpetrator responsible. Feelings of compassion and pity for the perpetrator, his reputation, and his family push even well meaning people to minimize the abuse or to minimize the perpetrator’s responsibility and the consequences he must face. But such compassion is misplaced. Denying justice to the victims of abuse denies compassion for the abused. Denying accountability for the perpetrator denies compassion for victims—past, present, and future.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is important for all the reasons discussed in this article; giving victims the justice they deserve, the security they need, and the faith of others they crave is more important. Judging people favorably is important; judging victims favorably whose innocence and self esteem have been violated and whose past and future have been devastated is even more important.
The Midrash taught that “be-tzedek tishpot et ‘amitekhah” means not only that “you shall judge your neighbor with righteousness,” but “you shall judge your neighbor as righteous.” Choosing the right neighbor to call righteous makes all the difference in the world and is an act not only of justice, but ultimately of kindness and mercy to those who need it most.


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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Verbal Abuse

Calling her dumb, an idiot, stupid is verbal abuse. Putting her down, criticizing her, defeating her in argument for the sake of defeating, not for the sake of mutual enlightenment – this is verbal abuse. Threatening and intimidating by use of words is verbal abuse. If he is angry almost daily, this is verbal abuse. If he is constantly trying to convince her that something is wrong with her, this is verbal abuse. If he further tries to convince her that something is psychologically amiss with her and that she needs therapy, this is moving to extreme verbal abuse.

Verbal abuse may be indirect or covert, and it may be direct – shouting slanderous slogans – the same ones she has heard over and over. Verbal abuse is wanting power over the woman, and completely misusing the power. Verbal abuse constantly undermines the woman, it constantly denies her reality, her very existence.

In many cases, she is not supposed to exist. She is to be an extension of her husband/partner and nothing more. She is to parrot his words, his ideas, and to predict his needs and desires at every step. This is her function. And despite whether she succeeds or not, abuse will rain on her head. There is no escaping it, and there is no escaping its escalation over time.

There are clear symptoms of verbal abuse. Generally, verbal abuse will be secretive. Only those inside the home will know about it. Second, it increases with the passing of time, and the wife adapts to this increase. Third, the abuser repeatedly denies and discounts the wife’s perception of his treatment of her.

Verbal abuse always hurts. It attacks the abilities of the wife and erodes her self-confidence. Verbal abuse fills her with doubts regarding herself. Verbal abuse may comprise of angry shouting or it may be subtle brainwashing, or both. Abusers with developed intellect will use every form of manipulative cunning to brainwash their wives, to convince them their value is nil. Verbal abuse is insidious because many times it is indirect, roundabout and filled with devious cunning which the spouse cannot even begin to comprehend but which leaves her feeling horrible.

While the husband may create many so-called issues of dispute in the marriage, in fact the real issue in the marriage, the real problem, is his never-ending and escalating abuse. It is very hard for the victim to recognize this simple fact. Anger is another category of verbal abuse. If a man uses anger, there is nothing the wife can do or say to mitigate the anger, because it is nothing she has done. His anger is irrational, unpredictable and explosive. It is his trait of character, it is a part of his personality makeup. Generally, it cannot be changed.

In her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, P. Evans lists the types of verbal abuse:

1. withholding: rejecting the wife.

2. countering: saying the opposite, arguing without real cause.

3. discounting: discrediting what she says. (‘You’re too sensitive.’ ‘You can’t take a joke.’ ‘You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.’)

4. joking: using jokes to abuse. In the joke, she is the victim, she is the object of ridicule.

5. blocking: not allowing the wife to communicate. (‘You know what I meant. You’re talking out of turn.’ ‘Quit your bitching.’ ‘It’s too complicated for you to understand.’ ‘Just drop it!’. ‘You heard me. I shouldn’t have to repeat myself.’)

6. converting dialogue into fights: When the wife tries to accommodate him, he blows up in anger. He frequently takes her words as a personal attack.

7. Judging: constantly condemning over issues big and small.

8. Trivializing: making fun of what she says and what she does, her accomplishments.

9. Undermining: continually eroding the wife’s enthusiasm about subjects and interests not related to the husband, thereby sabotaging her social life.

10. Threatening: threats of loss or punishment

11. Name calling: from violent attacks to patronizing contemptuous nick names to sarcastic affection, name calling is used to keep the wife in her place

12. Forgetting: declaring that abusive events or where the husband was exposed never happened.

13. Ordering: treating the wife as a servant. This dehumanizes the wife to a machine with no needs. Some men continuously talk in the imperative even when there is no conflict.

14. Denial: refusing to accept responsibility for abuse by accusing the wife of lying or being crazy.

15. Angry abuse: in the forms of yelling, snapping back, raging, shouting, glaring, grimacing (clenched teeth), argumentativeness, tantrums, explosions, long episodes of continuous vicious sarcasms. This develops into an addiction so that the husband will need a daily fix of raging in order to overcome his feelings of dependency, inadequacy and powerlessness by shouting out his anger.

Still another form of verbal abuse is interrogation. The interrogation begins with throwing the wife into a guilty confusion by a cold inquisitional air. The husband plays both the roles of the good cop and the bad cop, changing from sorrowful, reproving affection to cold scientist examining a lab rat to a vicious abuser that the wife cannot even recognize. Interrogation is an addictive power game that gives thrills of power to the power-hungry husband who yearns for greater power in society. The reason it is so thrilling is that the husband can take a petty incident such as shopping and convert it into a criminal act. The husband’s own anxiety and possessive insecurity merely adds to the emotional high of tormenting the wife. Interrogation not only involves making the wife feel she is sinful (materialistic) and selfish (not serving the needs of the husband), but also establishes the husband as the omniscient lord who will judge the wife in future whenever she may ‘fall’ from the path of virtue.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Power of the Original Trauma Bond

** Warning: This post may be very triggering to the adult survivors of psychopathic/narcissistic abuse. Please use caution in reading**

While many survivors discover that their partners are psychopathic/narcissistic, many who come from childhood backgrounds of pathology, fail to realize that their parent is the foundation of the original trauma bond. They can leave partners, but continue to engage with the parent. This leaves the stench of pathology in their lives, and makes them vulnerable in continuing the bond into the future with another partner or other people who are pathological. 

Psychopathic parents are as toxic, if not more so, than the psychopathic partner.

Trauma bonds to the source of origin (parent) are incredibly powerful and equally as challenging to break. I have broken the bonds with my psychopathic father and biological siblings, and without realizing any of this stuff about trauma bonds, I went no contact with them about five years ago now. Without the break in this bond, I undoubtedly would not have been able to heal completely. This bond was broken just a couple of years prior to my break with the last psychopath in my life. 

The psychopathic parent is a ‘special’ kind of ‘crazy’. It’s amazing to me our perspectives when we see other survivors just out of relationships with psychopaths and how horrified we are at the antics of the psychopath when it comes to he and the survivor’s  children, particularly if there are custody issues. We are horrified at his contempt and lack of empathy when it comes to his children and his ability to manipulate and/or abuse them. We are appalled at the terrorist-like attempts of the psychopath to undermine his children’s relationship with the survivor through triangulation, by hateful discussion, smear campaigns, triangulations and projections about their mother or using a new victim to separate mother and child. The list is long in how he can implement his tactics. While the survivor who sees these games played out with another survivor’s ex psychopath and children, even with her own, she fails to see this has also played out in her childhood and continues to play out with her parent as an adult. She fails to be as horrified at the antics of her parent upon her, as she is in witnessing it in others situations.

Her lack of appropriate reaction of horror at the actions of her parent, is an indication of how strong the trauma bond is. It has reached a level of extremes in normalizing the highly pathological and abnormal.  The lack of  reaction that would mean salvation via no contact is not even a consideration for many of these survivors. In  my work with survivors of the psychopathic/narcissistic parent, the idea of no contact when presented to them is often met with a vicious or contemptuous response, filled with excuse, fear, obligation, guilt and denial.

The survivor with the psychopathic parent will inevitably, in most cases continue with the bond. The bond is so powerful and so intense due to a lifetime of cyclical abuse. Some of the very same abuses upon the survivor of a psychopathic parent, that are visited upon the survivor as long as there is contact, are the very same visited upon her in a romantic relationship or what she finds appalling in others. The psychopathic parent is manipulative, guilt inducing, degrading, demanding. They triangulate the survivor with siblings and other family members, creating competitions for the parent’s attention and love. Each survivor from these families plays a  specific role, which I’ll be discussing in another post, but some of the most familiar roles are scapegoat, golden child and lost child. The scapegoat is the child who is often most sensitive to the parent and equally the most abused. The sins of the psychopathic parent are liberally employed upon the scapegoat and the roles of other siblings are encouraged (especially the golden child) to abuse the scapegoat as well. The scapegoat is usually the most sensitive of the family members and the most intuitive to the abuse. The psychopathic parent knows this and fears this child most because this child is the child who understands exactly what is going on and is most likely to ‘report’ it to others. Ironically, the scapegoat can be healthiest of the family and the psychopathic parent is aware of this. This child will be tested most in weighing the possibilities as to how they can be used by the parent. If the scapegoat does not go along with the ‘plan’ set up by the psychopathic parent, this child’s abuse will be the most extreme. 

Even when the scapegoat goes along with the plan, the psychopathic parent still fears this child as the child cannot ‘pretend’  to the psychopathic parents liking, that she doesn’t know what’s going on. She always sees behind the mask and her pretentiousness is caught by the parent. Unfortunately, if the scapegoat manages to survive her childhood, her abuse will be manifested with disorders of her own, from personality disorders to complex PTSD. For the survivor who is gifted with awareness into adulthood in that she does not develop a serious disorder of her own, she will wrestle with her own empathy in her feelings of compassion for the parent and is the child most likely to take on care giving responsibilities, as well as continuing to take the abuse. Her exposure to such intense pathology also makes her vulnerable to more painful relationships with psychopaths into the future, from romantic relationships to friendships, the cycles continue, the desire to ‘repair’ the damage in a repetition complex, compulsive in nature. 

Survivors who manage to escape psychopathic partners, initially believe that they have escaped pathology altogether, separating the parent from the inevitable acting out behavior and relationship choices she has made. There is no connection for her in tying her partner selection to the original trauma bond with the parent. In a very odd way, this makes the separation from the psychopath EASIER comparatively because she still has access to the familiar, to pathology.

If she cannot act out with a partner, the parent will continue to provide ample opportunity to continue the trauma bond and addiction to pathology through continued abuse.

There are survivors who have gone no contact with their parent, such as myself but continued pathology with a romantic partner. Again, the intensity and addiction to pathology is played out with her inability to separate from the partner. In these cases, the ‘bond’ to the partner is even stronger with the loss of the original trauma bond and the relationship loss can feel very devastating as the last intense bond is broken.

She can hang on, even though she wants to let go, eventually because the parent is not there to replace it.

Survivors still tied to the parent are extremely creative individuals. The excuses to hang onto the parent are wide and varied. The almost apologetic statements by survivors on behalf of the insidious and leveling abuse of the parent stands as symbolic to the depth of their denial. Like any psychopath, the parent knows that they have control in this child’s life and no matter how awful the abuse, the child will defend the parent to the detriment of herself and others around her who continue to see her in pain with each engagement with the parent. 

There are not different ‘rules’ with the psychopathic parent, anymore than there are with the psychopathic partner. The tactics are the same and just as damaging upon the adult child. The adult child of a psychopathic parent becomes almost child like in her response to the parent, the ultimate authority figure in her life.  She overlooks the obvious degradation and the feeling of a knife to her chest with the painful abuse, is almost cathartic, as it underscores what the parent has created for her in that she is a failure, that she is worthless. It is utterly and tragically familiar. The involvement with the parent is the attempt by the survivor to right the wrongs of the abuse, the hopeless and yet prayerful power of wishful thinking for change that will never come.

The adult survivor works every angle, forgives and forgets, while the trauma continues to build over years, cementing her obligation to the parent. The survivor, desperate (although rarely acknowledged) to change the status quo, will often suggest therapy with the parent, or try to find a way to make contact ‘bearable’ while still taking the abuse. The excuses a survivor gives for continued contact are obvious in her inability to let go:  “I can’t abandon her/him!”, “There is no one else who will take care of  her/him”, “she/he raised me alone! No one else was there for me but her/him!”, “She/he would fall apart without me. I feel sorry for her/him because she/he has no one else but me.” . . .and on and on the merry go round goes. . .

The problem with this is that much of what the survivor wants to avoid is abandonment by the parent, or has an exaggerated fear of what will happen to the parent should they let go, or what will happen to themselves if they do. They fear the parents rage and anger. They feel so sorry for the parents disorder that they are compelled to put up with more abuse. In all of this, the failure to see that no one deserves abuse, not even from a parent, is a foregone conclusion in these situations.

None of what psychopaths are all about and what they do, apply to the parent as far as this child is concerned. Much of this is subconscious, a pattern weaved into the adult child over a lifetime of exposure to pathology and abuse. We automatically act out our roles and are compelled to engage in them by an unspoken, unacknowledged force of extreme evil that wages war upon our high levels of sensitivity, empathy and compassion.

The psychopathic parent is no different than a survivor’s psychopathic partner. With each engagement the parent knows they have control over the survivor. They play their  adult children like chess pieces and lack empathy for them as much as they do anyone else, there are NO EXCEPTIONS. 

To the adult child of the psychopath/narcissist: Do you want to know why you are so afraid to acknowledge the truth about your Mom or Dad or both? About maybe even your siblings if they are disordered too? Because you know they don’t love you. This truth is the most devastating of all. Acknowledging this truth is the most painful experience you will ever live through. It will call into question your own person hood, your existence. My psychopathic father never loved me. Ever. Not from the day I was born, and not up to no contact. I could not let go because if I acknowledged the truth in that he did not love me, it meant I was truly lost, it meant that no one else possibly could, if the person who was my sperm and egg donor did not and could not love me.

It meant I was anchorless, without purpose and direction, as what is suppose to be the childhood foundations built for us out of LOVE by our parents.  It called into question everything I lived. My entire life was a lie.  A lie that my psychopathic family told about me and to me. I didn’t exist as a human being to them, worthy of love and respect. My foundation was built on sands washed away by every abusive tide. What in God’s name do  you do when your foundation was not built on love from  your parent?

This is what I can share with you. YOU are not the lie. YOUR existence is meaningful and your soul and spirit full of energy and love. You were born into a psychopathic family, a tragedy yes, but YOUR life is NOT. This very knowledge can set your feet upon a path of no contact and true and genuine healing, through and through. You are of the most courageous, loving, caring group having survived in a situation where you were NOT LOVED. Your psychopathic parent removed your choices that would  reflect in adulthood, a healthy human being, a product of humanity built in a loving home environment. The key to your healing is no contact. The realization that you have the power of CHOICE as an adult to stop the abuse. The realization that you are worth more than continued exploitation by a psychopath.

Human connection is important, isn’t it? We all need this as a life giving source when it is expressed in love and care for one another. The psychopathic parent teaches us that human connection is merely for the sake of feeding off of others, to take, not to give. To act in hate and contempt, not in love. This is not you. This is not who you are. You are no longer a CHILD. You are NOT obligated to a very sick, strategically abusive individual. You are the psychopathic parents favorite target. You are endlessly exploited for the sake of the false glorification of the parent. You are the number one poison container. The psychopathic parent REVELS in their ability to hurt you, to get a rise out of you, any reaction will do. They live to harm you. Your importance to them is not found in what you want so  much to believe  in that you are loved, but rather that you are not. They know exactly what they are doing.

It is my opinion that a survivor cannot truly heal without going completely no contact with the parent. It simply is not possible. The roles we play are automatic, as in flipping a switch. When we are with them, we are ‘on’. We are not shut off until we are out of range of their targeting. When we get out of range, we obsess about what they said and/or did with the last engagement. We sound like gossipy ole ladies chatting across the fence to anyone who will listen to our martyr status with our parent. We subject ourselves to enabling others as we do our parent. Addiction is a very powerful force and you cannot engage in it in any way and consider yourself completely healed.  I would like you to think about something if you choose to ponder the realities of this post:  When  you see another survivor struggling with her ex psychopath and what he is doing to her children, put yourself in the child’s shoes.

View this survivors ex as your parent. It is the SAME. Ask yourself, why am I appalled by this but not by what my parent is doing to me? Why am I not horrified by the abuse I have taken and continue to take? When you see a survivor in pain about what the psychopath is doing to her child(ren), what makes what your psychopathic parent is doing to you, so different? What is the cost of your involvement in being engaged with someone who does not love you, but is merely using you for their own personal pleasure in causing you further harm? Can you see what the affects of the psychopathic parents abuse is having on you, and others around you while you react to them? If you have children who are exposed to your psychopathic parent, is this what you want for your children to see in how your parent treats you and in how you react to it? Obsess about it?  What ties can you connect from a past or current partner to the antics of your parent or anyone else in your life where enabling is allowed, where you fight with your empathy, where you fight with those who are manipulative, exploitive and abusive? Can you feel yourself slipping into the costume of the child in response to any of this, as you would your parent? Do you suddenly feel that, while in the presence of those who are abusive or manipulative, no matter who they are, that you are powerless? Voiceless? Listen to yourself. . .

I know these are hard questions. I know they will provoke anger, but for others they will provoke thought, and yet for others, it will hurt your heart. You are NOT a child any longer. You are NOT beholden to an abuser who cannot love, no matter who it is.

You will never have validation from the parent who created your existence biologically. Ask yourself why you believe this person loves you when it’s clear every time you engage that they don’t? The SAME principles apply to the psychopathic parent that they do ALL psychopaths. Your continued involvement makes you more vulnerable to future psychopaths. Healing from extreme childhood abuse must commence before any changes can happen into our future. This IS the original trauma bond. It must be broken before you can truly heal. The ultimate in re-victimizing yourself is the continued contact and abuse you take out of this person. Ask yourself why your psychopathic, ABUSIVE parent is the exception to the rule.

Putting into practice our awareness will only go so far while we still have abuse in our lives, especially from our parent. The danger in acting out in further relationships is there when we cannot cut ties to the parent. Engaging with the psychopathic parent is to keep the ADDICTIVE quality of the abuse GOING. We are literally practicing our addictions with anyone who is pathological.

Healing from pathology means to remove yourself from it long enough to see what your own behaviors are and have been in response to it. It is incredibly difficult, if not possible to change while engagement is still in active status.

Your psychopathic parent is not ‘different’ than all the rest. This person is the one who set you up to be abused in other relationships and to continue to take it from them. They don’t have a miraculous and just a ‘little bit’ of empathy for you. Hanging onto this belief, and the refusal to deal with and grieve the reality that this person does not love you and never could, hurts you more. Their inability to do so says NOTHING about you as a human being and the gift you were born with: empathy. Compassion for others.

I’m suggesting that you think about this. You don’t deserve abuse. Your parent will continue to apply it liberally to you and your life if you allow it. The no contact rule applies to the psychopathic partner for obvious reasons, as well as any past friendships, bosses, coworkers, children. It also applies to the parent.

I understand how painful it feels to integrate the reality of this into your heart. It is a pain like no other.

Your value and worth is not found in abuse, but a future free of it. Even if the abuser is your parent.

Onward and upward.

Note: This article also applies to men who are survivors of psychopathic women.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Overcoming Triangulation in Love Relationships

Reginald B. Humphreys, Ph.D. , Kathleen P. Eagan, M.S.

from the book: Detoxifying Love Relationships: Solutions for Couples

Although the term triangulation may at first seem to be highly complex, it has a simple meaning. Triangulation refers to the tendency of certain individuals to become involved in love triangles. The person struggling with triangulation goes through a repetitive cycle of love relationships, in which two or more men are simultaneously involved with the same woman, or in which one man is simultaneously involved with two or more women.

The problem of triangulation in love relationships remains one of the most serious issues confronting modern society. Infidelity in love relationships, often caused by triangulation, destroys the marriages and lives of many individuals, couples, and families each year.

Theological and religious sources would maintain that the answer to this problem is already at hand, and that a strict observation of principles of loyalty and fidelity can eliminate the phenomena and effects of triangulation. However, much of today’s society is beyond the reach of religion, and so society’s growing epidemic of triangulation and infidelity is likely to continue to rage out of control unless solutions are found which transcend the limits of individual religions. Also, clinical experience reveals that even enthusiastic participants in religious activities are often crippled with the same triangulation tendencies of the non-religious.

Overcoming triangulation does require that the individual be grounded in some system of morality or other. However, the main issues in triangulation are inadequately understood by most, and therefore these crucial issues are not usually addressed in any adequate fashion. The two most important issues which should be addressed in order to fully understand and correct triangulation, are:

(1) the tendency of the individual to unconsciously reconstruct and reenact unhealthy love triangles which were present in the individual’s early childhood experiences with parents, and;

(2) repetitive attempts by the individual to symbolically "correct", "resolve", or "master" these historical issues and their ill effects, within current-day love triangles.
Only the well-analyzed person is usually aware of these two critical aspects of triangulation. On initial introduction of these ideas to patients in psychotherapy, it is common for both these notions to be rejected immediately as incorrect or inapplicable. However, the therapist will have to return to these ideas time after time, until the patient finally accepts and works on these two issues as the issues which are in control of the triangulation problem.

Many persons caught up in lifestyles riddled with triangulation claim that they would like to overcome this problem. However, the true motivation for this kind of self-correction rests entirely on the individual’s ability to deal with the two core issues. The more the person expresses opposition or indifference to these key insights, the worse that person’s prognosis for improvement becomes.
The person may protest that no love triangles or infidelity were present in the parents’ marriage. And while this may be factually true, this is where the person must learn to broaden their understanding of the nature of love triangles. The patient must eventually learn that he or she was the third party in the triangle, and that as a child, the individual became trapped in an envelope of triangulation dynamics which has left a life-long and deeply life-altering residual.

Patients often react with great intensity to the first discussion of these issues. The topic becomes controversial, and the patient may express disgust over the idea that it is possible that the child and parents are engaged in love-triangle dynamics. This disgust represent the deep unacceptability to the person of childhood triangulation feelings, and explains why the individual has felt forced to repress and hide these issues throughout life, although symbolically reenacting these in each new attempt at a love relationship.

As therapeutic work progresses, the individual may be even more resistant to the idea that within the early-childhood love triangle involving parents, that one of the parents may be loved obsessively, jealously, and possessively, while other parents may be loathed and hated with intensity that may reach homicidal proportions.

Rather than being in a context where the patient could have loved both parents in an appropriate way, the child is prematurely caught up in adult heterosexual dynamics, in which defenses of splitting may play a primary role. One parent is idealized as perfect, and becomes the repository for the child’s fantasies of perfection and omnipotence, while the other parent becomes the repository of everything that is hated, rejected, and scorned.

Being unable to accomplish the normal developmental task of establishing an integrated perception of parents which includes a realistic sense of both desirable and undesirable parental qualities, the patient also loses the ability to have an integrated perception of self. "Splitting of the self" occurs, and this non-integration of self-identity continues throughout the patient’s life unless this split is corrected in treatment.

Without such correction, the individual is condemned to compulsively repeat and reenact the unhealthy triangulation dynamics in the family of origin. These sexually-toned dynamics, impossible for the child to integrate, are re-enacted with each new person and relationship in life.

It is not difficult to understand why exposing the child to adult triangulation dynamics would have a life-long destructive impact. The child has literally had their childhood stripped away or stolen by the parents’ illness. The traumatic loss of childhood usually has lasting or permanent effects. The premature forcing of the child to cope with disturbing adult dynamics floods the child with unmanageable feelings and reactions, which leave an indelible effect. The child now is eroticized by the triangulation situation or thoughts of triangulation. Over time, only the triangular situation can "turn the person on". Without the psychological presence of a third party, feelings of love and eroticism are unattainable. Eventually, the only way to achieve a feeling of love and excitement requires that there be one person who is idealized, and another who can be rejected and symbolically "murdered" by rejection or elimination.

In the childhood situation either parent may be idealized, regardless of the sex of the child. Similarly, either parent may be hated with unconscious homicidal intensity.

Although few adults remember childhood erotic or retaliatory feelings, a few do have memories. The majority who do not remember the oedipal period of development (which is normal) must do their therapeutic work by reconstruction of events rather than direct recall. Adults may also deny any idealizing of current partners or any destructive motivation towards other partners. These feelings are usually so deeply buried that much work may be required for the person to see that each time they enact a love triangle, they are symbolically winning the idealized parent, and murdering or eliminating the hated one.

Persons with triangulation pathology (oedipal pathology) cut a destructive swath through humanity, retaliating against and symbolically "murdering" one "love partner" after another.

Especially characteristic of the "murderer" in these instances is a cold-heartedness and lack of remorse or sense of responsibility for the "victim" in the triangle. The person, having invested through splitting defenses all their rage toward one parent, can easily enjoy the disposal of the hated parent by disposal of the parental stand-in in the contemporary love triangle. If asked to reverse their infidelity, they may feel an utter coldness and unwillingness to alter their life course. They "must" murder the parent surrogate in order to fully "get off". Empathy or concern for their victim is impossible, and highly irrelevant. To do "what is profitable for oneself" becomes the only remaining remnant of a moral standard. The parent-surrogate is dehumanized and negated, as the child feels is justly deserved by the parent (surrogate) for having put the child through a traumatic loss of their own childhood, and the resulting lifelong ill effects.

Persons with triangulation pathology are often incapable of normal feelings of empathy or responsibility toward their "victims". Therefore, these persons can be easily thought of as being psychopathic, due to their unwillingness to adopt a responsible correction to their acting out, even when confronted. During the symbolic act of murdering the hated parent, their lack of remorse is obvious.

Confronting these behaviors in psychotherapy, the therapist becomes the only possible mechanism for correcting the defects of conscience that can allow the person to harm others in a wanton and indifferent fashion. The technique required in the psychotherapy of such individuals is highly specific. Two case vignettes are provided.

Patient N:

Patient N presented with a history of serial love relationships of varying degrees of duration. These were characterized by a rapid development of physical intimacy, immediate spending of all leisure time with the partner, a fusional quality of interaction, and then abrupt ending provoked by minor causes.

During the unfolding of one of these liaisons, therapist asked patient whether he had any perception regarding the eventual outcome of the current relationship. Patient revealed that he knew that he would eventually terminate the liaison. Over time, it was revealed that patient always had a perception that the relationship would end, but desired to experience whatever could be experienced as long as things could work out.

On questioning as to whether the respective feminine partners had a similar lack of concern over the future, i.e. an equivalent degree of comfort with a "no-strings, no-future" kind of expectation, the patient revealed that the current love object was not comfortable with this at all, and regularly requested a change in the status of the relationship to one with a serious future.

With analysis of new relationships and retrospective review of former ones, it became clear that Patient N was a "heartbreaker" in that each person he romanced experienced the termination of the relationship by him as traumatic and damaging. Patient N had left a string of depressed, brokenhearted women as victims of his psychopathic disregard of their lives and feelings.
Was N psychopathic, or merely neurotic? The answer to this crucial diagnostic question is often revealed by the patient’s response to the therapist’s verbal interventions.

Over time, the therapist asked N to recognize and acknowledge his destructive romantic patterns, and to come to terms with what it would mean about his character if he were to be willing to continue to inflict psychic pain and damage upon each new lover.
Although N may have always had a subliminal awareness of the implications of his relationship conduct, once it had been named and discussed in psychotherapy, the entire context could begin to shift. With his pattern now "on the table", patient could be asked to reverse his pattern and to adopt responsible conduct during new liaisons. N failed to do this, while acknowledging "I know that I should".
Triangulated patients can be expected to reject the therapist’s encouragement for them to give up exploitive relationships. These individuals are at the very brink of their developmental deficit, and need help to "bridge the gap" up to the next level of maturational sophistication.. At this juncture, the interventions of the therapist are critical. If the patient’s conscience development is ever to be solidified, there is no alternative except to succeed with the patient at this point. The therapist can no longer be a passive witness to the spectacle of abuse, but must now begin to operate according to the maxim that if the therapist cannot be part of the solution, they have become a part of the problem.

During the unfolding of one of N’s liaisons, at a highly opportune moment, the therapist asked N if he was planning on continuing with the relationship pattern as usual, and if so, inquired whether N would mind terminating therapy first, so that therapist could be saved from again witnessing the savage destruction of an innocent human being. Along with this, therapist acknowledged the fact that since N had continued his harmful conduct without interruption, that the therapy should now be considered to be failing anyway, further strengthening the appropriateness of terminating therapy at the current juncture.

Patient N’s subsequent choice to alter his relationship conduct was motivated by his desire to retain the therapeutic relationship, and to regain acceptance by the therapist. This factor works exactly in psychotherapy as it works in raising children. Children develop a conscience in order to retain parental acceptance, and if parents are flawed or passive in their teaching of conscience, or have deficient conscience themselves, then significant deficiencies in the child’s conscience development usually occur. To reverse the ill effects of this deficient parenting, the therapist assumes a parenting role in requiring the patient to either progress morally or exit treatment.
Beginning with Freud’s earliest observations regarding childhood oedipal issues, successful resolution of oedipal issues has been regarded as the fundamental cornerstone of conscience development. Without renunciation of the forbidden oedipal love object (parent), conscience formation is incomplete, and moral deficiency is inevitable and pervasive.

To correct the deficient adult conscience, the adult patient is always asked to renounce the inappropriate love object. If they choose to do so, even if with complaints, then they may be assumed to have occupied the neurotic spectrum of psychopathology. The more the patient resists the renunciation of the inappropriate love-object, the more the diagnosis should be psychopathic personality.

To expand on this important idea, it should be recognized that the neurotic triangulator can be persuaded to renounce inappropriate conduct, and feel remorse when the usually-repressed implications of their conduct are illuminated. No similar remorse or motivation for self-correction can be evoked in the psychopathic triangulator, who remains apathetic about the injury done to others, and never renounces the illicit love-object.
It is always tragic if the patient refuses to renounce the illicit partner in the current triangulation. Before the therapist brings this issue to the forefront, there always remains the possibility that the individual might choose a moral alternative. However, once the patient identifies with the psychopathic choice, then their personality becomes crystallized in alignment with a psychopathic orientation. At this point, the prognosis for the future begins to approach zero. However, occasionally the patient may leave therapy and return months or years later, as the "lessons" from the work on triangulation become gradually integrated. The patient returns to now deal in earnest with the issues previously analyzed.

Persons suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) also exhibit triangulation in their close relationships. These individuals are easily differentiated from oedipal neurotics by the pervasive presence of many other regressed symptoms, including profound depression, rage, poor impulse control, among others. In contrast, the neurotic is characterized by the central role which oedipal concerns take in the individual’s daily existence, along with a relative absence of other major symptoms.

Triangulated relationships and dynamics are sometimes suggestive of schizophrenia. A tipoff to the presence of an underlying schizophrenic process may be found in the degree of chaoticism of the triangulation patterns. For example, if a situation is already complicated by the presence of several love triangles, the most chaotic thing that could happen might be for the schizophrenic individual to add yet another triangulation to the situation by recruiting a new liaison. The more unpredictable, bizarre, or unfathomable a triangulation acting-out behavior seems, the more a schizophrenic process might be indicated. A diagnostic hypothesis of schizophrenia would of course require corroboration on other traditional diagnostic grounds.

In summary, triangulation phenomena are seen in small amounts in most relationships. Seriously harmful triangulation phenomena may occur in neurotic individuals, in psychopathic and borderline personalities, and in schizophrenia. Individuals at the treatable end of the spectrum, the neurotic end, are distinguished by the individual’s willingness to recognize and reverse the triangular acting-out, through renunciation of the illicit love-object (the triangulated relationship partner). The psychopathic patient refuses to revise their conduct, and becomes solidified in a non-empathic stance of willful abuse to the "victim" in the love triangle. The intractable patient refuses to stop reenacting the symbolic pattern of possession of the idealized parent, and "murder" or elimination of the opposing parent.

Patient Y:

Patient Y was a woman involved in a relationship which was fairly long-term, but unsatisfying. Patient Y had recently met another man who was desired, and the possibility of a liaison seemed of interest to both. Patient Y discussed her plans to see the new interest socially, citing her enhanced interest and feeling as compared to her current relationship.

Therapist advised the patient that since her feelings of new interest occurred before she had announced or decided upon leaving her current involvement, that her feelings of attraction could not be trusted as valid. Any feelings for a new person would tend to be idealizing as compared with her feelings for the individual in the more lasting relationship, which would tend to be more reality-based and less contaminated with idealizing fantasy. Only new, shallow relationships allow for deep idealization fantasies, and often promote splitting of toxic projections into the partner who has greater longevity of relationship with the individual.
Patient Y asked if the new love interest might not "work out" in spite of its inappropriate beginnings. The patient was advised that personal relationships which are built on the abuse and misfortune of others cannot later result in a valid relationship. The moral stain attached to the relationship from its inception is permanent, providing a built-in nullification of the validity of the relationship in all futures to come.

Patient was further advised that if the therapist were to witness the patient abusing her relationship partner in this fashion, that the therapist would be obliged to resign as therapist, as the commission of such actions by the patient would have profound implications that would tend to disqualify her as a valid candidate for future success in psychotherapeutic activities with that therapist.

Striking about the case of Y is that as soon as the barrier of resistance to renouncing the illicit love-object had been transcended, the patient was flooded with many critical perceptions of the new love interest, including an acute perception of severe flaws in the new person which had been obscured or repressed under the influence of intense idealization and idealizing defenses.

Patient Y’s gratitude to the therapist for "rescuing" her from the use of idealizing defenses with men she barely knew was profound. Her subsequent ability to succeed in her already-existing love relationship was attributed by her to her acquired ability to ignore and contain triangulation impulses, rather than being tempted to act on them.

In the cases of both patients N and Y, appreciation was eventually shown to the therapist for insisting that each patient achieve moral advancement when the patient was otherwise uninclined to advance. Each patient showed moral advance in other areas as well, as the generalized benefits of conquering triangulation dynamics began to accrue. Both preferred their developmental advances over their former acting out, and both went on to achieve fidelity and success in their respective love relationships.
In couples where neither party is in psychotherapy, the process is similar. The triangulating partner is usually confronted with their disloyalty by the other partner, and asked to renounce the illicit (triangulated) third party. However, the spouse, lover, or suitor of an individual rarely has the leverage and influence which are available to the therapist, and therefore rarely get a positive response to their request. Without the needed influence from a psychotherapist, the neurotic’s underlying potential to mature and transcend triangulation may never be fully realized.

Rationale for Interventions:

What is the nature of therapeutic change in these clinical examples? Why are these specific interventions indicated, and how may their effects be understood?
The original reason the individual acquired developmental arrest within the oedipal phase is that the child’s parents did not shield or protect the child from exposure to adult triangulation dynamics. Instead of being allowed to devote their inherent maturational capacities to the task of resolving their personal oedipal issues, the child’s life sphere is contaminated or saturated with the unfinished oedipal issues of each parent. The child automatically takes on the unfinished oedipal issues of each parent, as well as a new contamination that has to do with the way the particular childhood experiences originally unfolded. For example, if a child was used by one parent as a shield and buffer against the other parent, then the child’s oedipal disturbance will reflect this problem as well as each of the parent’s unresolved oedipal issues.

The adult with triangulation pathology cannot seem to take a stand based on conscience, fairness, and morality. The reason is clear: the child’s parents were unable to take a protective, empathic stance toward the child, by protecting the child from adult triangulation dynamics. The child therefore cannot take a protective stance toward anyone else whom they may harm within a love triangle. Empathy for the "victim" is impossible, as modeling of moral conduct by parents was inadequate.
Before the individual can take a empathic, moral stance which may be personally costly, this behavior must be modeled within the therapeutic relationship. The therapist must take a moral stand risking great cost (loss of the patient’s therapy) for the sake of the patient’s evolution. Also, the therapist must model a distaste and unwillingness to be a silent participant or accomplice in the degradation, harm, and destruction of any human being. In this special clinical circumstance, the therapist must momentarily shift into modeling empathy for the victim (of the love triangle) instead of empathy for the patient. In so doing, the therapist is not truly losing empathy with the patient, but has refocused the empathic connection on attempting to resonate with the patient’s latent capacity to function empathically and with conscience. Not until the patient is convinced regarding the necessity of maintaining empathy for all individuals at all times can the solidification of the individual’s conscience development be regarded as complete.

Parents use this same approach when they have empathy for a pet which a child has carelessly harmed, or for any sibling or other child whom their child may have hurt. Parents, like therapists treating adults with triangulation pathology, must ally themselves with the individual’s latent potential to function empathically if they hope to promote evolution of the empathic capacity of the individual. Without continuous functioning of the empathic faculty, conscience development remains arrested at the oedipal level.

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