Sanctuary for the Abused
Friday, August 31, 2018
Financial Abuse / Economic Abuse
Financial and economic abuse is a form of domestic violence in which the abuser uses money as a means of controlling his or her partner. Financial and economic abuse is only one tactic that an abuser may use to gain power and dominance over his or her victim.
An abuser may deny his or her partner money. One way this is accomplished may be by forbidding a partner to be employed. This makes the non-working partner dependent upon the abuser for money. There are some economically abused women who are forced to beg their partner for everyday necessities such as diapers (for children), food and/or health care. If an abuser does permit his or her partner to work, he or she may be required to hand over their paycheck each week to their abuser.
Many times an abuser will give money to his or her partner. However, it may not be sufficient enough to meet the needs of the individual. Any monies that are given to a partner by an abuser will generally have to be accounted for and proof will have to be shown of all purchases.
Many financial and economic abusers will put all of the family bills in their victim’s name. At the same time, the abuser will not allow his or her partner to see bank records, bills or credit records. Many financial and economic abusers are not good with money and he or she will end up destroying the credit of their partners.
Some economic abusers who require their partners to do illegal acts for money. There are also abusers who will use any money brought in for children through welfare, child support checks, or monetary gifts on themselves.
Some financial abusers who refuse to work, putting the burden upon their partners to keep the household running. However, money that is brought in by the working victim is mishandled and squandered by the abuser. Then, the victim is berated if bills fall behind.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE1-800-799-SAFE. They will direct you to places in your area where you can seek help.
(While the 'male' is used here, your abuser could also be female!)
Thursday, August 30, 2018
How Psychopaths Prosper
It is literally the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. Charming and often powerful, they seduce you to get your guard down. And then, without a second thought or any trace of remorse, they are able to cold-bloodedly thieve, rape, or murder you. Robert Hare, UBC's world-renowned professor emeritus of psychology, goes so far as to say that while they look and sound exactly like us, they are functionally a different species from human beings. And seven years ago, Hare estimated that up to one in one hundred Canadians is one of these people: psychopaths.
To make matters worse, Professor Hare recently remarked in a keynote address to a conference of criminal justice professionals that today's society is becoming more and more conductive to psychopathic behavior. Moral standards,reflected in television and politics, are glamorizing and normalizing what is abnormal predatory behavior, allowing psychopathic behavior to flourish more than ever.
The story of psychopathy made the front page of The Vancouver Sun, a comment on the ongoing interest and the lack of wide-spread understanding of psychopathy in today's society.
An unexpected profile
Psychopaths aren't necessarily the people we expect, says UBC assistant professor Michael Woodworth.
"Psychopaths don't have a background with pronounced amounts of child maltreatment or an overuse of drugs or alcohol or any of these other things that often lead to general antisocial behavior. For true psychopaths you'll often find they had quite regular upbringings."In Hare's 1993 book called Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, he quotes one specimen's memories:
"A psychopath is an individual who has a propensity to prey on others for their own gain.
"And what makes them particularly intriguing is that they not only often display a number of antisocial or problematic behaviors, they also have a lot of intriguing interpersonal deficits as well as emotional deficits. They don't interpret emotions such as guilt or fear the same way that others do; they don't respond to emotional stimuli. They are conning and manipulative. They are narcissistic, have a grandiose sense of self worth, and are pathological liars."
"[My] mother, the most beautiful person in the world. She was strong, she worked hard to take care of four kids. A beautiful person. I started stealing her jewelery when I was in the fifth grade. You know, I never really knew the bitch - we went our separate ways."
"A psychopath wouldn't care less about social rules. Wouldn't in the slightest pause at social norms or expectations. The only reason they might act with any semblance of normality is to achieve their goals or personal gain. Psychopaths have defining impulsivity. But what we find is that for more serious crimes such as murder, they actually show a lot of planning and premeditation, and there appears to be a real instrumental aspect to their behavior."More interesting than simple murder
"We're not sure if its because they realise the stakes are so high and they, or if its just that they take so much pleasure in it that the planning is part of the process. In terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, psychopaths are really stuck down on that lower level."
Horror movies and modern television shows like Dexter portray this classic view of psychopaths - the antithesis of what we expect from human beings. Often charming, normal-looking people, unable to form social connections and interested only in their own impulsive pleasures, be they murder, theft, rape, or manipulation.
But, while impulsive and prone to criminal behavior, many regard violent clinical psychopaths as being just the tip of the iceberg.
"If you think of a blood thirsty murderer, who kills and rapes dozens of people, you immediately think psychopath," Woodworth says. He believes that because most of the research to date has been on prison samples, the results are skewed. Those who end up in prison are, after all, the failed psychopaths.Since psychopaths thrive in large, chaotic situations, and love situations where power and wealth are easily achievable, psychopathy might have a profound affect on the many large hierarchies that form the basis of our society.
"For me what is almost even more scary is the successful psychopaths who are out there still committing a lot of those crimes," Woodworth says.
"All psychopaths are potentially criminals. All are harmful," Woodworth says. "The ones who are most intriguing are the ones we can't get our hands on. They haven't committed an explicit crime, or at least not one they've been caught for. They're up there in society, high up in businesses, law firms. Even the higher you get up in academia, the higher your psychopathy levels start to go. The higher you get up in organizations where you have a lot of power, the more you tend to find psychopaths."The ideal corporate leader, after all, might share quite a few traits with psychopaths. Self-focus, willingness to bend rules, and aggressive dominance would come quite easily to a psychopath.
"These environments even reward psychopaths for some of their key core traits. If they can keep them in check and not get caught committing any sort of conventional antisocial behavior, than these traits can actually serve them quite well."
And would likely be rewarded by corporate management.
Many people in some very successful places could very well be psychopathic. And their success might not end there.
"Psychopaths have a 'cheaters' strategy when it comes to reproduction, their behavior, in terms of lots of sexual partners, trying to knock up as many women as possible, and then invest as little to no time makes sense in terms of spreading their seed as efficiently as possible," Woodworth says.While their behavior is quite disturbing, given that there is research to suggest that psychopathy has a genetic component, psychopaths fit quite well into the mold of extreme social cheaters.
Group co-operation among organisms is not that unusual in the biological world. And it is an effective strategy. Our cooperation as a species allowed us to spread humankind around the planet. But co-operation is a hard process to achieve, and is vulnerable to predation from within. If one member of a group begins to exploit other members, then the benefits provided by co-operation evaporate, and more efficient co-operatives will out-compete them. Groups therefore effectively depend on trust, and internal regulation. For a co-operative group is ever vulnerable to being preyed upon by cheaters.
"Gossip, reputation, strongly-enforced social norms - these were the tools that allowed co-operation and prevented cheaters," says David Sloan Wilson, a professor of biology and anthropology at the University of Binghamton in New York. "Of course, these things only work in small societies, the kinds of places where everyone can keep tabs on everyone else."However as societies grew, word-of-mouth became less capable of regulating people, leading to more potential for social cheating.
"You can look at the majority of recorded history in a sort of grand vision sense, as a struggle to find mechanisms to regulate co-operation on the larger scale," said Wilson.
Society has always depended on social co-operation to succeed. Even in the "free market" of "unbridled competition," people depend on references as to their character to be freely given from one employer to another - a strong mechanism to ensure reputation.
Of course, the larger a society gets, the more regulations are required to maintain cohesion. Wilson has studied Calvinism extensively in terms of its origin in Geneva. Wilson posits that Calvinism provided strong mechanisms of social cohesiveness - regulating co-operation in a city struggling to maintain cohesion. On those terms it succeeded fantastically, providing mechanisms of governance that were transparent, checked and balanced, and largely effective at preventing social cheaters.
Social regulation, of course, is a double-edged sword. In Calvinist Geneva, numerous people were executed for heresy, while others were fined or jailed for inappropriate dancing or gambling.
In the modern day, with our enormous governments running society, and our often-times ever larger corporations running our economy, fewer decisions are made by individuals, while more and more are being made by organizations. But Joel Bakan, professor of law at UBC and author of The Corporation, would argue that psychopathy still serves as a useful tool in understanding how groups work.
"As legal entities, the modern corporation is, as far as the law is concerned, a person. That is one of the fundamental legal characteristics of it and is then imbued by the law by an operating principle that it must always serve its self interest. So the idea that corporations are made in the image of human psychopaths is quite literal...we've created [an] institution that is incapable of being genuinely concerned about anybody but its own and its shareholders interests."You don't have to look very far to see examples of that. Corporations are driven to reduce their costs and increase their revenues by doing whatever they have to do. The other interests, be it environmental or working people or children or a population's health, are called externalities by economists meaning that they are outside of the corporation, they don't need to be considered by the corporation in making its decisions."
One example of this cited by Bakan takes place in the early days of the corporation. Henry Ford, having achieved great success through the production of the model-T, sought to raise wages, cut prices, and increase production of his product.
The Dodge brothers, both minority stockholders in the Ford Motor Company, sued Ford for not putting the interests of the shareholders first. They won, and the court decided that a business must be organized primarily for the profit of the stockholders, and cannot place the community or its employees first. The board of directors cannot decide to reduce profits in order to benefit the public.
Publicly-traded corporations legally can not be anything but psychopathic.
Governments, of course, have recognized this for a long time, especially in the wake of the workers' abuses of the industrial revolution.
"The tradition in both England and North America beginning in the 1930s was to say let's leave this corporation as it is, lets keep it psychopathic and driven by its own self interest, but what we're going to do is put external restraints on its behavior, what we're going to do is put the psychopath on a leash, so to speak, through government regulation," said Bakan.
One of the biggest trends over the past 10 years or so has been talk of corporate social responsibility. The Economist recently ran a story claiming that most businesses believe that corporate social responsibility is a vital part of doing business.
Bakan, who spoke with a number of corporate managers while making his film, believes that this idea is only skin deep.
"If a corporation says appearing to be socially responsible is good business, because customers like it, workers in our company like it, so there will be good morale in our company, and people will buy our products. In that strategic sense corporate social responsibility is perfectly lawful.A self-regulating corporation is even more of an incredible prospect when one considers Hare's data: the bigger and more powerful a corporation gets, the more the people at the top are likely to be psychopaths.
"The danger I see in corporate social responsibility is that when you talk to people in the corporate world, it is surprising how often they drew an equation between corporate social responsibility and deregulation. They said look, we're socially responsible now. You can trust us. And therefore you don't need to regulate us."
But even for those who are not psychopathic in the high levels of corporations, the very structure of the organization has an affect on those working within them.
"There is a gap between the way people are as individuals and what they are required to do within the framework of the corporation.
"People seem to be able to compartmentalize their moral life."That they can be quite decent people in their normal family and community lives, but when they're within the corporation, they become operatives for its amoral goals," said Bakan, who makes comparison to hockey. When hockey players get on the ice, they leave their normal day to day morality in the locker room. People will play quite dirty, slashing, tripping, and checking, and will generally receive no more than a few minutes in the penalty box as punishment.
Woodworth and the rest of the scientific community, don't believe that there is much that can be done to treat psychopaths. Profiling, monitoring dangerous offenders, and learning more about them seem to be all that can be done at this point.
But for the rest of us, there are things we can do to prevent being exploited by social cheaters.
"We can change the nature of the corporation, and change the way we do business," says Bakan. "Co-operatives, and public purpose corporations generally act in a way that has some level of responsibility towards society as a whole. Or we could deepen and widen the regulatory structures that are designed to protect the greater communities from being marginalized as externalities," says Bakan.Dr. Robert Hare would probably agree. An economy with clear responsibilities, perhaps that is also composed of flatter, smaller organizations, would provide less room for psychopaths to thrive and are less likely to provide incentives for regular people to behave in a socially exploitative way. Perhaps then we could at least keep the psychopaths on a leash and keep the rest of us co-operating.
"If we want to move toward an economy that actually respects social interests or embodies moral values and is democratic in how it functions then I think we have to be moving in these directions."
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Separation Safety Plan
Step 1: Safety during a violent incident. Victims cannot always avoid violent incidents. In order to increase safety, battered victims may use a variety of strategies.
I can use some or all of the following strategies:
I can keep my money and car keys ready and put them (place) _________________ in order to leave quickly.
I can tell _____________________about the violence and request they call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my house.
I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the police and the fire department.
I will use _______________________ as my code for my children or my friends so they can call for help.
If I have to leave my home, I will go _____________________ (Decide this even if you don't think there will be a next time).
If I cannot go to the location above, then I can go to___________________________or ______________________________.
I can also teach some of these strategies to some/all my children.
When I expect we are going to have an argument, I will try to move to a space that is lowest risk, such as ____________ ____________________. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen, near weapons or in rooms without access to an outside door).
I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what he/she wants to calm him/her down. I have to protect myself until I/we are out of danger.
I can use some or all the following safety strategies:
I will keep copies of important documents or keys at _______________________.
I will open a savings account by ______________, to increase my independence.
Other things I can do to increase my independence include:
The domestic violence program's hot line number is ____________ and I can seek shelter by calling this hot line.
I can keep change for phone calls on me at all times. I under stand that if I use my telephone credit card, the following month the telephone bill will tell my batterer those numbers that I called after I left. To keep my telephone communications confidential, I must either use coins or I might get a friend to permit me to use their telephone credit card for a limited time when I first leave.
I will check with ____________________ and _____________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me some money.
I can leave extra clothes with _________________________.
I will sit down and review my safety plan every ______________ in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence. _____________ (domestic violence advocate or friend) has agreed to help me review this plan.
I will rehearse my escape plan and, as appropriate, practice it with my children.
Safety measures I can use include:
I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.
I can purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows.
I can install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in my house/apartment.
I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my house.
I will teach my children how to use the telephone to make a collect call to me and to _______________(friend/minister/ other) in the event that my partner takes the children.
I will tell people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so. The people I will inform about pick-up permission include:
________________________________________(day care staff),
___________________________________(Sunday school teacher),
I can inform ______________________________(neighbors), _______________________________________(pastor), and, _______________________________________(friend) that my partner no longer resides with me and they should call the police if he is observed near my residence.
The following are some steps that I can take to help the enforcement of my protection order:
I will give my protection order to police departments in the communities where I usually visit family or friends, and in the community where I live.
There should be a county registry of protection orders that all police departments can call to confirm a protection order. I can check to make sure that my order is in registry. The telephone number for the county registry of protection order is _________________________________.
For further safety, if I often visit other counties , I might file my protection order with the court in those counties. I will register my protection order in the following counties: ___________________ and _________________ that I have a protection order in effect.
I can call the local domestic violence program if I am not sure about B, C, or D above or if I have some problem with my protection order.
I will inform my employer, my minister, my closest friend and _____________ and ____________that I have a protection order in effect.
If my partner destroys my protection order, I can get another copy from _________________.
If my partner violates the protection order, I can call the police and report a violation, contact my attorney, call my advocate, and/or advise the court of the violation.
If the police do no help, I can contact my advocate or attorney and will file a complaint with the chief of the police department.
I can also file a private criminal compliant with the district justice in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred or with the district attorney. I can charge my battering partner with a violation of the Order of Protection and all the crimes that he/she commits in violating the order. I can call the domestic violence advocate to help me with this.
I might do any or all of the following:
I can ask ________________ to help screen my telephone calls at work.
When leaving work, I can _____________________________________ __________________________________________.
When driving home if problems occur, I can _______________________________ __________________________________.
If I use public transit, I can ________________________________________ _______________________________________.
I will go to different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business and shop at hours that are different than those when residing with my battered partner.
I can use a different bank and take care of my banking at hours different from those
I used when residing with my battered partner.
I can also __________________________________________.
If drug or alcohol use has occurred in my relationship with the battering partner, I can enhance my safety by some or all of the following:
I can also ___________________________________________.
If my partner is using, I can _____________________________.
I might also _________________________________________.
To safeguard my children, I might ________________________ and ______________________________________________.
Step 7: Safety and my emotional health. The experience of being battered and verbally degraded by partners is usually exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life for myself takes much courage and incredible energy.
To conserve my emotional energy and resources and to avoid hard emotional times, I can do some of the following:
If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can _____________________________________________.
When I have to communicate with my partner in person or by telephone, I can ____________________________________.
I can try to use "I can . . . " statements with myself and to be assertive with others.
I can tell myself - "_____________________________________ ______________________________" whenever I feel others are trying to control or abuse me.
I can read ____________________________to help me feel stronger.
I can call ___________________, ___________________ and _________________as other resources to be of support of me.
Other things I can do to help me feel stronger are __________________________, and _______________________________.
I can attend workshops and support groups at the domestic violence program or _________________________, or _____ _______________to gain support and strengthen my relationship with other people.
Money : If I don't take any money from the accounts, he/she can legally take all money and/or close the account and I may not get my share until the court rules on it if ever.
These items might be placed in one location, so that if we have to leave in a hurry, I can grab them quickly.
When I leave, I should have:
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Narcissists Make YOU Guilty of the Sin of Feeling the Pain
Feeling the Pain
Remember when you were a child and you used to say that "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"?
Even little children instinctively know enough to hide their pain when someone has hurt their feelings. This instinct is good, even when the enemy isn't really an enemy - just a friendly opponent in a tennis match. Don't let the emotional effect on you of bad things show. It encourages the adversary.
But keeping them to yourself doesn't get rid of those feelings, does it?
Children, however, live in very different minds than normal adults do. Like Alice and Peter Pan, they don't distinguish between fantasy and realty, preferring fantasy, where they learn the (delusory) power of magical thinking. In some cases this pretending goes so far as to imagine into existence an imaginary friend, expecting Mom to set a place for her at the dinner table.
So, children have no problem getting rid of unwanted feelings. They just pretend them away. They just pretend their feelings aren't hurt.
They aren't really altering those feelings though. They're just repressing awareness of them to the subconscious and pretending to have other, good, feelings instead.
You can tell, because their behavior is such as proceeds from bad feelings, the repressed ones, not the feelings they pretend to have. In other words, those repressed feelings are still there and having their normal motivational effect on the thinking that controls conduct.
Unfortunately, however, the child is unaware of those buried feelings and therefore unaware of why she's doing what she's doing.
When feelings are repressed, it takes a good deal of of introspection to get in touch with those feelings again, so that you know why you're doing whatever you're doing.
I'll never forget this little exchange between Sister Mary Peter and a budding sixth-grade narcissist who had done something vicious that was totally inexplicable and whose mother was there and totally snookered by the conning brat. Seeing that the mother was willfully obtuse, Sister Peter got blunt...
Sister Mary Peter: Why did you do it?Yes, people who don't know why they do things are seriously mentally ill. And when you bury your natural feelings, that is what you are doing to yourself. You will soon NOT know why you are doing things.
Narc: I don't know.
Sister Mary Peter: Do you know what we do with people who don't know why they do things?
But narcissists aren't the only people who refuse to grow up and quit clinging to the cherished myth that they can make unhappy feelings go away and make them into happy ones instead. Many people cling to this belief that "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" because I am strong and I have high self-esteem, when really all I have is a habit of lying to myself.
One thing I remember about the Bible is how virtually anything can be "uncircumcised." Like your heart. Your eyes. Your ears.
In fact, according to the Bible, things that are circumcised can suddenly get uncircumcised. Kinda calloused-over with some crusty shield.
So, I had a hard time figuring out exactly what this figure of speech means. But, like a dog with a bone, I kept at it till I got it.
Nothing uncircumcises a head faster than stating the simple, self-evident truth that we cannot control our feelings, that feelings are not conduct and therefore cannot be right or wrong.
Just state that plain truth to many people and you can almost see it happening: that person's forehead suddenly gets thick as brick. Reason bounces off it like missiles bounce off an Abrams tank.
They act like they didn't even hear what you said. They just come back with, "But" and a reply that assumes you can control your feelings and that certain ones are sins.
How's that for being blockheaded? They can't even give you an answer - just nothing but this complete dodge all the time.
Which is absurd. Feelings are sensations, emotional sensations. You cannot alter sensations (except with hallucinatory drugs and hypnosis). If you get burnt, you should feel burned. If you don't, something is wrong with you. If the narcissist punches you in the face, he is responsible for your pain, not you. If he forces you to your knees and shoves your face into garbage he threw all over the floor, he is the one responsible for your anger, not you.
To think otherwise is incredibly stupid. The cause of a sensation is the stimulus that produces it, not the mind of the person who experiences it.
The worst thing about repressing unwanted feelings is that burying them locks them inside. They never go away then! Just as normal physical pain motivates action and then passes, normal feelings motivate action and then pass whether action has been taken or not.
But denied pain paralyzes and then just festers in the subconscious, motivating negative behavior (usually passive-aggressive behavior) like an unseen puppet master. And not just against the abuser - but rather against any available target, people who had nothing to do with the person who abused you. Hence we see many people subconsciously getting even with a parent by mistreating their spouse decades later.
So, the very premise that codependency therapy rests on is invalid. Manifestly invalid. Of course people swear by it, though. But that doesn't mean that codependence "therapy" works. It just means that they think they have made their bad feelings go away. But they have merely brainwashed themselves and were conned into doing so. Sooner or later the price for doing that will have to be paid.
The pain of narcissistic abuse is sheer torture. I have no doubt that it drives many mentally healthy people all the way to suicide. And often without the narcissist even laying a hand on the victim. It's THAT bad when you're bludgeoned with it day after day after day.
But in my own experience, I found relief when I stopped trying to fight those feelings off. When I asked myself why I was angry, sad, outraged about this or that. When I accepted my feelings as having a valid cause and owning them. I could see that my feelings were a natural human reaction to what had been done to me. I no longer felt like a pressure cooker about to explode. I could bear it. And it got better - just a little better - every single day.
Feelings are nothing to fear. Felt feelings motivate behavior, but they don't rule it. And felt feelings never killed anyone.
SOURCE: "Responsibility" Wrap: Narcissist Hurts You to Make YOU Guilty of the Sin of Feeling the Pain
Monday, August 27, 2018
...and A Small Town Private Practice
The following is a conversation between Michael Zahab, a public relations manager at recovery facility, and the husband-wife team of Paul Hartman, M.S., Marriage & Family Therapist, and Ginnie Hartman, M.A., L.P.C. The Hartmans have worked together in private practice since 1991 at the Healing Center in Spring Lake, Michigan. Paul and Ginnie began their counseling careers in 1981 and 1985, respectively. They recently completed training with Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., for the treatment of sexual anorexia.
Michael Zahab (MZ): Please tell me about your professional background and your current practice.
Paul Hartman (PH): I'm a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, specializing in addiction issues. In many years of working with recovering alcoholics, I've tried to help those people who are physically dry move on to a higher level of recovery by dealing with family of origin issues as well as doing Twelve Step recovery work. Despite seeing much progress in my clients, I've continued to feel that something was missing in my work.
I've discovered in the last couple years that the issue I've seldom, if ever, addressed is sex addiction. So, after training with Pat Carnes, I began to do groups that specifically focused on this area. Most participants have been people who were already in recovery from another addiction-long-term recovery for some-but all were still having relationship problems and experiencing pain in their life. Once I began to address sex addition issues, once I made it the primary thrust of therapy, I began to see a tremendously positive response among some of my clients. I'm very excited about the outcomes I continue to see.
Ginnie Hartman (GH): My work for many years has focused primarily on individual families that have been affected by addiction. I have done a lot of group work on family of origin issues and have seen remarkable progress. After my training with Patrick Carnes, however, I began to look for and talk about sexual anorexia-and I have been amazed by the number of people-women, primarily-who struggle with this problem. I've long believed that when substance addiction is present in a relationship, sexual function is usually distorted. But I never understood the dynamics involved until I worked with Pat [Carnes]. I am so excited as I watch the participants in women's groups that have been together for quite a while bloom as they discover and explore their sexuality for the first time.
MZ: Do you believe that this is a new problem, or is it something that we've simply overlooked for many years?
PH: Awareness has been building for some years, beginning for us with the model Claudia Black developed in the early 1980's when she published, It Will Never Happen To Me. We've also had Pia Mellody's work to draw from. I was familiar with Pat Carnes' work through his books, but it wasn't until training with him that I set up groups explicitly focused on treating sex addiction.
This is an important point. Previously I put all my clients together in groups; I didn't differentiate. Generally, the clients in such groups became, after several months, became good friends. They felt safe enough with one another to disclose family secrets, but what they didn't do was talk about sexual issues. No matter how safe the environment, these issues never seemed to come out mixed groups.
My first (sex addiction) group was composed of men who had at least two of years of recovery and had done a lot of group work. When they came together in a sex addiction group, experiences came out that they had never before talked about. It's been the missing treatment piece for these men.
Frankly, I'm coming to believe more and more that the so-called primary addictions aren't truly primary addictions. I'm seeing more and more men for whom the primary addiction is sex addiction. The other addictions are secondary to sex addiction.
MZ: Spring Lake, Michigan, is not a large community. Has it been difficult to pull together enough people to conduct groups which address sex addiction?
P.H.: When I came back from the training, I wondered about this same question. As soon as word got out around the community that I was doing this, however, people were calling and asking to get in the group. Now I have two groups running concurrently, and could easily do one every night of the week if I had the time.
MZ: Ginny, what was your experience coming away from the training? Are you finding a similar situation among the women with whom you work?
GH: Although I've always treated some sexual dysfunction, I'm now just much more aware of the problem. After evaluating my clients more carefully, I realized that those who were in a relationship with an addict had invariably shut down sexually in some way and disowned their sexuality. Several women, when first approached about sexual anorexia, responded with such comments as, "I'm not sexual, and I could care less if I ever have sex again. I'm fine without it. I don't feel anything is missing." Other were being sexual with their partner, but only for their partner, not for themselves.
Each of these women had done family of origin work, a lot of recovery work, and were in a Twelve Step program. I had to really help them understand that they would not be fully recovered until they could embrace their sensual and sexual being. After announcing the group and suggesting Pat Carnes' book, Sexual Anorexia, I had a group of ten before I knew it. As word spread in the recovering community, I had another group of ten-and now I have people on a waiting list.
MZ: Do the women in group meet the criteria for sexual anorexia more than the criteria for any of the other sexual disorders?
GH: It seems so. The typical woman who has been in relationship with an addict has totally disowned her sexuality. She's decided she doesn't want or need sex any longer. This represents a shift to an extreme; these women have not had a lifetime of sexual anorexia. There are, of course, women who have been shut down sexually most of their lives, but that doesn't seem to be the norm among those I've seen.
MZ: Do the couples or individuals with whom you've worked have sexual or relationship issues, but no other apparent dysfunction?
PH: We occasionally see people like this, but, they're not our typical couple client. Generally speaking, our typical couple is in their late 30's or 40's and has been in Twelve Step recovery for six, seven, or eight years. The husband is an alcoholic with seven to eight years of sobriety and he's been active in A.A. During this time, his spouse has been working a good Alanon program.
When they come to us, we hear such stories as: "We're doing everything the program tells us to do. We're working the Steps; we've got a sponsor; we're not into our addiction, but our relationship is terrible and we're thinking of getting a divorce." After a deeper assessment of such couples, we quickly get into the issue of sexual satisfaction and dissatisfaction-and there it is.
MZ: Among the dysfunctional behaviors, are the Internet and pornography a factor? Tell me about this.
PH: I'd put this right on the top of the list. I continue to be amazed each week as people come in and disclosing the ways they use sexually explicit materials on the Internet for arousal and masturbation and how they go to chat rooms and how they then go out to meet people from the chat rooms. That's got to be one of the top issues we deal with in our marital therapy work. This is something that, two years ago, I never asked about. Now, I ask routinely.
GH: I can't tell you how many women who have come into therapy saying, "My marriage is falling to pieces, I don't know what's happened, my husband is up all night on the computer, on the Internet." They have no idea what's going on. As a therapist, you simply have to be aware of this problem.
MZ: How has the training affected your clinical approach and work?
GH: Understanding the anorexia cycle (preoccupation, distance strategies, sexual aversion, despair) has been so important for us and for our clients. It's so much easier to identify how sexual addiction has affected individuals and their intimate relationships. Previously, I recognized that some kind of cycle was in place, but I didn't have a term for it. The term "sexual anorexia" fit perfectly. Clients understand it, too. They know immediately what we're talking about. Consequently, it's much easier to then help clients see how that cycle had interrupted their own sexual maturity and growth. It's made all the difference.
PH: Our work in addictions has long had this basic premise: all current dysfunction is tied in to dysfunction in the family of origin-and that dysfunction often took the form of child abuse. One way people survive that kind of experience is to shut down emotionally. The focus of our work has been to help people access those repressed feelings and express them, and the result has been healing.
In contrast, whether it's Ginnie's sexual anorexia group or my sex addiction group, we focus explicitly on the sexual issues and the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that accompany them.
The other difference is that every week, the group is focused on something that is explicitly sexual. We really follow the outline we received at the training, starting with denial and going right through that outline, you have a subject and it just builds-it just provides the program.
We have a large population of clients who have been extensive family of origin work, so not all are starting from square one-but some are. Initially, I was concerned abut how I could take two divergent groups and treat them together. I decided to deal with child abuse early in the process. That piece of it was repetitious for some, but they didn't object. And those who hadn't dealt with these issues found it very revealing and helpful.
MZ: How did you implement what you learned in the training?
GH: I began evaluating my clients to discover those who had sexual disorder issues, and gave those who did some of the literature to read. I also checked with clients who had finished family of origin work and suggested they do some reading on the topic, too. Many more than I expected called back immediately asking to be in the group.
PH: It hasn't worked that well for me on the sex addiction side. I typically recommend Out Of The Shadows or Don't Call It Love. For a person who is in denial of their sex addiction, my experience is that those books don't do a lot to bring them out of denial. When reading about the behaviors that Patrick describes, many men focus on what they don't do.
One-on-one therapy, however, has help enormously. Through it, these men begin to understand that if they're spending an inordinate amount of time fantasizing about sex and/or objectifying women-regardless of what acting out behaviors they have-this alone is enough to make the diagnosis of sex addiction.
I also stress that such a diagnosis is important, not to put a label on them, but to help us know how to help. Some of these guys have been all over the mental health community looking for help, but haven't gotten it. They've been treated for anxiety disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsion disorder, you name it. Many of them have been on medications, especially the SRI's (seratonin reuptake inhibitors) with some improvement. But after all the treatment and all the Twelve Step experiences, they're still coming back saying, "Is that all there is?"
MZ: As a member of the group progresses, what indications or changes do you see?
PH: These male sex addicts have been carrying an enormous level of shame. I believe now that more shame is associated with sex addiction than any other dysfunction. Because of the shame, there's an extra need for secrecy. In treatment, we work to reduce their level of shame, and that alone has an enormous impact on their lines. As their shame decreases, their self-esteem increases. They start to believe, often for the first time in their lives, that they are valuable people. To me that's been the biggest change that I've seen emerge from this group. These men are beginning to really love themselves. They seem themselves as worthwhile, good men. It's so powerful.
GH: I think one of the changes I see is people rediscovering their passion for life. When you shut down any part of your being-particularly your sexuality-you just lose some of the passion and vitality for life. I see life back in their eyes, color in their face. I see a lot of physical changes in female clients. They move differently, they are able to wear feminine clothes again, and they report learning once again to enjoy touching and being touched.
PH: Ginny and I have seen similarities in progress and healing in both our male and female clients, but we have see one significant difference: the progress women make seems to be quite steady and straight ahead. The men in my group, however, initially made good progress breaking through denial. They could identify their dysfunctional sexual behaviors, and, I believe, genuinely wanted recovery. Yet week after week they came to group talking about slipping-going back to their dysfunctional sexual behaviors. I think what Patrick has learned about this in his research is that it's very typical in the first year recovery from sex addiction.
MZ: How is the support community where you practice?
PH: That was another concern I had. We have a very strong A.A. recovery community, but other Twelve Step programs are not widely available. There were no S.A. groups in our area, which meant clients had to drive 45 minutes to less than ideal groups. I'd advise therapists who try this approach to encourage your own clients to start a Twelve Step group-which is what we did. Attendance is typically twelve to sixteen people, and they've just recently expanded to an additional evening night. Both are well-established and well-attended. GH: All of the women I see are in Twelve Step groups, too. Two or three women have sought help for more family of origin issues. And when they finish this group (sexual anorexia) they too will probably go into one of our family of origin groups.
MZ: How critical is to have members of the family of origin geographically close with regard to progress with therapy and recovery?
GH: We have found, since we use experiential and psycho-drama techniques, that it isn't necessary for the family to be physically available.
PH: I agree. Today's treatment techniques enable people to heal whether or not they have direct access to family. A typical dysfunctional response is to cut off relationships-from parents, from siblings, from adult children. I think as long as those severed relationships continue, a certain amount of woundedness lives on inside the person. After they learn how to set boundaries, clients can go back and sustain family relationships-even with a member who has not been through recovery-most, but not all, of the time.
Sunday, August 26, 2018
The Elements of Power & Control
The Power and Control Wheel
Using isolation. One of the most effective ways to begin to overpower another person is to keep her from having contact with others. By systematically severing her relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, the batterer insures that his victim has little support. He becomes her only point of reference, thereby defining and controlling her world. Batterers can isolate their partners in a variety of ways, from excessive jealousy to restricting their access to education and jobs or controlling where they go or with whom they spend their time. For women with disabilities, lesbians, older women, immigrant women, or others who are marginalized by mainstream society, isolation takes on an increased potency.
Minimizing, denying, and blaming. Batterers often minimize or deny the abuse, or they blame their partners for provoking it. He may minimize the severity of her injuries, or outright deny that he caused them. Unfortunately, "victim-blaming" is prevalent in our society. Sometimes abusers play mind games with their victims trying to make them feel crazy. Often violent behavior towards women is justified by saying things like "she asked for it" or "she needed to be put back in her place." In so doing, the blame and accountability shifts from the abusive behavior of the batterer to the "weakness" of the victim.
Using children. Using children is yet another way that a batterer can instill feelings of guilt and incompetence in his partner, making her feel like a "bad" mother. Some batterers will force children to turn against their mothers, or will threaten to take the children away if the victim were to try to leave. There is also evidence that in homes where there is abuse towards the mother, there is an increased likelihood of abuse towards the children. Girls whose fathers batter their mothers are 6.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted by their fathers than are girls from non-violent homes.
Using male privilege. In our patriarchal society, men are often raised to believe that they have been given the right to be dominating and aggressive. Being "tough" and "in charge" are accepted and expected as part of one´s manhood. It is all too often the case that batterers use this gender imbalance as a justification for violent or controlling behavior.
Using economic abuse. By controlling and limiting a woman´s access to financial means, a batterer can assure that his victim will have limited resources if she has thoughts of leaving. She may have to turn over her paycheck, leave her job, or account for every penny spent. Too often women have to choose between staying in an abusive relationship or being thrust into economic ruin or poverty.
Using coercion and threats. Threats are used to control by creating intense fear that can paralyze the victim's ability to act or keep herself constantly on guard in an effort to protect our lives or well-being. Some common threats are suicide, threats to kill her or the children, threats to damage property, etc. The victim may also be coerced into acting in ways that contradict her values, such as prostitution or fraud.
Using intimidation. Abusers will often commit terrifying acts in order to keep their partner in a state of continuous fear. This may include smashing things, killing pets, harassing friends and family, setting fires, driving recklessly, suicide and homicide. Intimidation periodically reinforced with assault, makes violence a daily part of the victim´s reality and, therefore, makes her easier to control.
Using emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is the most common form of control and can often exist in relationships where there is not physical battering. This includes put-downs, insults to the victim´s intelligence and abilities, name-calling, etc. In so doing, the batterer systematically breaks her spirit and self-esteem. She may begin to feel as if the abuse is her fault or that she must deserve it.
These forms of abuse are used in multiple combinations. Constant violence and criticism leaves women uncertain, humiliated, and much easier to control.
(while this was written in the Male, your abuser may well be Female)
Saturday, August 25, 2018
Should You Confront a Narcissist about His Narcissism?
by Beth McHugh
This is a question I am often asked by clients who are dealing with a narcissist in their lives. The answer is: it depends.
As a psychologist, I cannot tell a client what to do, they have to come to a decision about what to do about problems in their lives on their own and be comfortable with those decisions. But what I can do is point out the pros and cons of telling a person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and what effects that revelation can have on the client.
Narcissistic personality disorder is an unusual condition on that it operates via its own set of rules. You can tell a person suffering from alcoholism that they have a problem with alcohol and they have one of two choices. Either to deny their alcoholism or face it and change.
It is similar with many other forms of mental illness. While denial can be an integral part of many illnesses, the person suffering from one of the anxiety disorders is aware that they are ill. Similarly, depression and bipolar disorder can be ignored up to a point, but once the symptoms become clinically disabling there can be no self-denial, even if outwardly the person is denying the truth.
This is not the case with NPD. The whole crux of the condition is built on the premise that, for the narcissist, other people do not really exist except to serve the narcissist and prop up their false image of themselves. Not having individuated as people, narcissists believe the world revolves around them and is intensely interested in them. In believing this they are especially harmful people, and cause untold damage to their children in particular.
Once an adult child has discovered that the eccentric and toxic behaviors of their parent is due to NPD, there can be an overwhelming urge to confront the parent who has caused them so much pain with the fact that there is something psychologically wrong with them.
When my clients arrive at this stage in their recovery, we discuss how viable this option is. It really depends on the reason why you as an adult child of a narcissistic parent want to tell your parent. If it is in the hope that, upon reading about the condition, they will recognize themselves in the description and be filled with remorse for the pain they have caused, then beware.
The narcissist's sense of self, which has not progressed past that of a very young child, they cannot deal with the reality of a mirror being held up before them. Unlike the alcoholic who may in due course "see the light", a narcissist simply does not have the emotional skills to step outside of themselves and glimpse the truth in the mirror. The essence of NPD is that the sufferer lives in a bubble that can only accommodate themselves. Self-reflection is definitely not in the narcissist's bag of skills and expecting them to be capable of doing so can court disaster.
Be prepared for rage and aggression to be aimed at you. Be prepared to not be heard.. Be prepared to have everything that you claim about them, to be reassigned to you. When and if you are strong enough to cope with this treatment, then you may decide to go ahead.
If you are hoping for recognition and a change for the better, more pain is in store.
Friday, August 24, 2018
Are You Involved With a Psychopath?
"Are You Involved With A Psychopath?"
Stop The Madness
By: Michael G. Conner, Psy.D, Clinical, Medical & Family Psychologist
For most of us the idea of a psychopath conjures up images from movies like "Silence of The Lambs" and characters with names like "Hannibal Lector." Fortunately characters like Hannibal don’t really exist. Serial killers and people involved in ritual torture are rare, but psychopathic behavior is more common than you might think.
I have known several psychopaths in my life. The clearest case involved an older teen who had no sense of guilt. He could learn the rules, but he had no sense of conscience. The only thing that saved him was a mother who loved him, took him to counseling for years and spent a great deal of time patiently teaching him right from wrong. I remember a conversation where he told me, "People know when something is wrong because it feels wrong. I have to remember or be reminded that stealing from someone is wrong. I don’t feel bad if I take something."
Meeting this young boy changed my opinion of a psychopathic personality. Why? Because children with this condition are "emotionally blind." And while I do not excuse cruelty or criminal behavior, I have sympathy and appreciate how hard it is for some people to learn how to act responsibly. Without help, potentially psychopathic children will become adults who never remain attached to anyone or anything for long. They may end up living a "predatory" lifestyle, feeling little or no regret, and having little or no remorse - except when they are caught or about to be locked up. And then they do feel bad - for themselves. They may marry but continue to have illicit relationships or promiscuous sex; the marriage is for appearances only. But they are prone to have problems with society, rules, expectations and relationships.
A psychopath will use people for excitement, entertainment, to build their self-esteem and they invariably value people in terms of their material value (e.g. money, property, comfort, etc..). They can involve and get other people into trouble quickly and they seem to have no regret for their actions. To date there is no checklist of behavior and symptoms that will tell you with certainty whether or not a person is a psychopath. But there are warning signs. The following warning signs are based on my experience but primarily research conducted by Robert Hare, Ph.D - the leading expert on the Psychopathic Personality.
Characteristics of a Psychopath
self-centered & self-important
need for stimulation & prone to boredom
deceptive behavior & lying
conning & manipulative
little remorse or guilt
shallow emotional response
callous with a lack of empathy
living off others or predatory attitude (taking advantage of others' trust)
promiscuous sexual behavior
early behavioral problems
lack of realistic long term goals
blaming others for their actions
short term relationships
juvenile delinquency (some 'never caught')
breaking parole or probation, ignoring restraining or cease & desist orders
varied criminal activity (some 'under the radar')
The idea that psychopaths eat people is a myth. In reality, a person with a psychopathic personality can lead what appears to be an ordinary life. They can have jobs, get married and they can break the law like anyone else. But their jobs and marriages usually don’t last and their life is usually on the verge of personal chaos. They are almost always in some kind of trouble or they are not far from it.
A psychopath is usually a subtle manipulator. They do this by playing to the emotions of others. They typically have high verbal intelligence, but they lack what is commonly referred to as "emotional intelligence". There is always a shallow quality to the emotional aspect of their stories. In particular they have difficulty describing how they felt, why they felt that way, or how others may feel and why. In many cases you almost have to explain it to them. Close friends and parents will often end up explaining to the psychopath how they feel and how others feel who have been hurt by him or her. They can do this over and over with no significant change in the person's choices and behavior. They don't understand or appreciate the impact that their behavior has on others. They do appreciate what it means when they are caught breaking rules or the law even though they seem to end up in trouble again. They desperately avoid incarceration and loss of freedom but continue to act as if they can get away with breaking the rules. They don't learn from these consequences.
They seem to react with feelings and regret when they are caught. But their regret is not so much for other people as it is for the consequences that their behavior has had on them, their freedom, their resources and their so called "friends."
They can be very sad for their self. A psychopath is always in it for their self even when it seems like they are caring for and helping others. The definition of their "friends" are people who support the psychopath and protect them from the consequence of their own antisocial behavior. Shallow friendships, low emotional intelligence, using people, antisocial attitudes and failure to learn from the repeated consequences of their choices and actions help identify the psychopath.
Psychopaths with low intelligence or a poor education seem to end up in jail more than ones with a higher education. The lack of emotional insight is the first good sign you may be involved with a psychopath. The second best sign is a history of criminal behavior in which a person does not seem to learn from their experience, but merely thinks about ways to not get caught.
So what happens to these poor kids if they don’t learn right from wrong? Parents with a child like this usually end up angry and frustrated. They will often shield their child from the consequences of their decisions and take the role of continuously trying to educate their child as to right and wrong. The child is always in trouble and doesn’t seem to learn. Their parents may begin to excuse their child's behavior believing their child will eventually "get it." When they don't, many parents resort to punishment. But what these children need is intensive guidance, instruction, training, choices, consequences and supervision. Severe and repeated punishment alone is the worst thing you can do. Letting a child like this run around unsupervised with violent and antisocial children is almost as bad. And child abuse is a sure way to create a social misfit or a monster.
There is a growing discussion among researchers to suggest there may be a genetic influence that creates a psychopathic personality. The psychopath may lack the ability to physically feel what others identify as the physical sensation of guilt. They can feel fear, anger, sadness in the moment but not guilt for what they did or what they are about to do. Some sociologists believe that a sexually promiscuous psychopath who can live off others is a survivor and may represent one of many genes for survival in the human species. Even more surprising has been the observation that many adult psychopaths do not seem to benefit from support, counseling or therapy and may in fact commit crimes again and sooner because of it. Research using brain scanning technology has revealed that the brain of a psychopath functions and processes information differently. One famous brain imaging study showed that psychopaths can remain calm looking photos of dead bodies in automobile accidents where as other people were clearly upset. They don't use their brain they way others do. This suggests that they may be physically different from normal people.
Are you involved with a psychopath? You may not know because they can be very charming and friendly until you get close and disappoint them. Don’t assume anyone is a psychopath based on their behavior alone. It is the pattern of their life and many other factors. Please don’t go around assuming or calling someone a psychopath just because they may have some of the warning signs. Get a professional opinion from a qualified mental health professional if you think you are involved with a psychopath.