Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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.

Always?

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.

SOURCE AND REFERENCES HERE

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why Do Psychopaths Target Married or "Taken" Individuals?


by Claudia Moscovici

Some of the readers of this blog have asked me: why do psychopaths target married or “taken” individuals? Why don’t they prefer people who are single and available? My first answer is a reminder that psychopaths target everyone. They are constantly performing in their heads a cost-benefit analysis that intuitively assesses how they can use and exploit each individual they meet.

For those psychopaths who are sex addicts and/or sexual predators, obviously the use-value that matters most has to do with domination through sex and romance. When a psychopath enters a room, he scopes out everyone and zones in on the prey that he intuits might be vulnerable or open to his advances. Psychopathic sex addicts have plenty of easy prey: one night stands, friends with benefits and flings. They do go after easy targets.

However, those targets are not enough because their domination and conquest are purely physical, not emotional. This is why psychopaths also latch on to more challenging prey. They promise them commitment and express (phony or superficial) love in order to sink their teeth deeper into them, body and soul. Feeling the love in someone else’s eyes gives psychopaths and narcissists a sense of power, almost omnipotence, that is very arousing, especially since they know that the love is based on a foundation of lies and false premises. The conquest and dupery of their victims is doubly intoxicating for them.

Choosing married or otherwise “taken” victims adds a third dimension to their sadistic pleasure. When they seduce a married woman, they are not only conquering that person’s heart but also “taking her” from another man. To psychopaths this represents a double conquest and therefore also a double defeat of their victims: both of the person they dupe into loving them and of the person they both cheat on. The thrill of seducing married individuals, to manipulate and hurt not only a given target, but also her significant other and family, often proves irresistible to psychopaths, fueling their false sense of superiority, power and invincibility.

SOURCE

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Anyone You Want Me to Be

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The Internet has made many enterprises easier since its rise to popularity in the mid-90s: book sales, personal correspondence, and, in the case of John Robinson, serial murder. Even before he ever went online, Robinson had forged a life consistent with a killer's profile. Despite being fired and arrested numerous times for fraud and theft, he wriggled out of serious trouble thanks to a smooth charm and cunning intelligence. For decades, Robinson's more sinister activities escaped the notice of nearly everyone, including law enforcement and, incredibly, his own wife. But what makes Robinson's story, as told here by John Douglas and Stephen Singular, uniquely disturbing is the presence of the World Wide Web and the ease with which a murderer can use it. Online, Robinson frequented chat rooms and sites dedicated to the lurid underground world of bondage and sadomasochism.

In this anonymous space, he was free to assume honey-tongued new identities that he used to lure women, especially those in vulnerable situations, to Kansas with promises of employment, protection, or sex. Their subsequent disappearances were explained away with letters that appeared to be written by the victims but were actually typed by the killer on pieces of paper the women had previously signed.

Ultimately, dogged law enforcement officials were able to catch up with Robinson and put him on trial after finding gruesome evidence of his deeds. While they are skilled true-crime writers, Douglas and Singular occasionally stray into hyperbole, which is far from necessary given the elements already present in Robinson’s horrifying story. It is likely that any reader will walk a little more warily by their computer after reading this book and getting an idea of who might be hiding behind a given nickname. --John Moe--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


From Publishers Weekly
Douglas (The Cases That Haunt Us)-criminal profiler, ex-FBI agent, true crime writer and supposedly the model for a key character in Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs- presents the sordid and horrific case of John Robinson, "the nation's-if not the world's-first Internet serial killer." A chubby middle-aged father of four with a long history as a con man,

Robinson explored the local s&m underground of Kansas City while skillfully using Internet chat groups to lure sexually adventurous women to Kansas, where he killed six of them, and perhaps five more, before his arrest in 2000. Douglas's methodical pace and his careful accretion of detail to describe bizarre crimes committed by seemingly ordinary people is highly reminiscent of the work of true crime writer Ann Rule, with Douglas seeing the case as being "about sex among unglamorous people and how the Internet had unleashed so many pent-up possibilities." He also spends a lot of time describing how the proliferation of porn-related sites on the Internet has made it "the fastest-growing criminal frontier in cyberspace." While much of this is fascinating, Douglas too often breaks his tone to issue simplistic warnings to the reader ("Nobody can any longer afford to be naive when it comes to cyberspace"). Johnson, writing with journalist Singular, helpfully offers an appendix featuring "tips for helping adults and kids avoid the dangers of on-line predators."


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INTERNET SLAVE MASTER

Book Description
John Edward Robinson was a 56-year-old grandfather from rural Kansas. An entrepreneur and Eagle Scout, he was even honored as 'Man of the Year" at a Kansas City charity. To some of the women he met on the Internet, he was known as Slavemaster--a sexual deviate with a taste for sadomasochistic rituals of extreme domination and torture.

Masquerading as a philanthropist, he promised women money and adventure. For fifteen years, he trawled the Web, snaring unsuspecting women. They were never seen again.

But in the summer of 2000, the decomposed remains of two women were discovered in barrels on Robinson's farm, and three other bodies were found in storage units. Yet the depths of Robinson's bloodlust didn't end there. For authorities, the unspeakable criminal trail of Slavemaster was just beginning...


CLICK HERE FOR THE BOOK: Internet Slave Master (Axis Trilogy)

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Narcissists: Troubled Cases of Arrested Child Development

The simplest way to view narcissists is as troubled cases of arrested child development.

Children haven't the emotional baggage older kids and adults have acquired, but the delightful effect of this freedom on them isn't what it us usually equated to - innocence and lovingness.

Children don't take the needs, feelings, and rights of others into account. What they want is all that matters. Children can be very cruel. Improperly raised, they become terrors.

Childishness is appropriate in children, who have not yet acquired the experience to grow. So, we cut them slack and see the humor in their behavior, finding their childishness amusing, remembering that we were their age once and just like them.

It's easy to be so generous with children, because they can't hurt us. They are totally dependent on us, and they know that.

But when this same childishness persists in an adult, we don't readily see the humor in it. It is always viewed with contempt.

So, it isn't exactly a virtue in children then, either.

Ask a teacher: the main difference between an adult and a child is that a child isn't responsible for his own behavior and an adult is.

Now, when you get a grown-up child, with the power of an adult, or perhaps with great power as a high-ranking official, you have great power coupled with no responsibility. The recipe for a reign of terror.

Like Hitler or Saddam Hussein. Narcissists. Children with all power and no accountability.


- Kathy Krajco


ORIGINAL POST

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

When Enough is Enough

By Lanie Pambid

Would you believe that love can be gone in a blink of an eye? Based on facts that I am going to share with you is that it CAN happen. A couple who has been together for a few years would just one day wake up and realize that they no longer love their partner. It’s like, she slept tonight, and the next morning she doesn’t feel anything for her partner anymore.

Why is this so? Of course, we need to know what caused these kinds of things to happen. But, what we are going to state here are just observations from different relationships of people.

First, there might be a possibility that a couple of more than seven years and hasn’t married yet CAN be TIRED of one another. In the case of the woman, she must have expected to be married at that time but the man hasn’t asked her yet, so there is the tendency to think that they won’t ever be married at all, so instead of waiting longer years the woman finally decides of leaving the man for someone who will marry her sooner. Or it can also be that either person could be tired of doing the same things as what we call routine. If things go by this way there is a larger possibility that they would think of their married life to be as boring as that of their existing relationship. So, they decide to leave each other, in hopes of finding someone who would really make them happy again.

Another reason could be the person’s attitude towards the partner. The situation I am going to give you mostly happens with some couples. This couple has been with each other for more than five years. Their friends see them as a happy couple whenever they’re together. But little did they know was that behind the happy and cheerful couple they see during parties it wasn’t so. The man is a perfectionist and the woman is timid. Every single day of her life, the man kept on discouraging her, telling her bad things, making her feel bad about herself from head to toe (physically and emotionally). Not just with her job, but even the friends she have, the clothes she wears, the never-ending badmouth of this man made the woman feel like she was the ugliest person on earth. Until one day, the man left her. She cried at first but realized that she was actually free from the chains of a very abusive person who made her life miserable most of the time. Instead of harvesting beautiful memories that they both shared, the one remembered were the ugly ones. In a span of a few months, she found someone who uplifted her spirits and made her into a new and beautiful person inside out.

The man tried to win back the woman but he failed. Now, you see in this kind of relationship, there is no growth. This is a very UNHEALTHY relationship, wherein negativity rung around it. One abusive word should have been stopped if the woman stood up for herself instead of accepting every single bad word she hears from the man. Every individual should always remember that “No one should put you down.” Put a stop to it, what seems to be wrong in this relationship was that the woman kept on accepting and keeping quiet and never even tried to tell what she really feels. Or we could also assume that the woman tries to tell the man, but it so happened that the man is stronger than the woman and sort of over powers her or doesn’t listen to whatever she says. If your boyfriend is like this for years and years you better leave him. He is just one selfish schmuck who thinks only of himself. Relationships like this should be done. Don’t wait for a couple of years before getting out of it. Think now! Do you want a life like this?

In relation to the example given about abusive words, we will also include physical abuse. If a man hits you and says he’s sorry after and then you forgive him, that’s a big no no! Because once you accepted the first sorry, you’ll always accept the hits and blows and whatever physical injury you might have. At the first time this happens, report it to the police. If in case the man always pulls you or grabs you by the shoulder and it leaves a bruise that is already physical abuse. Don’t ever let anyone hurt you. If a man truly loves a woman he would never hurt you, but will always be patient. That is why some women leave their partners too. Some of them endure the years of being beaten up by their partners and when they’ve had enough, that’s just the time they leave them. Others who hasn’t had enough even die because of the beatings they get from their husbands. Women, do you like this to happen to you?

This next case is quite different. This couple is totally happy. Even their friends would say that they really are a great couple when they’re together. Always having fun and always complementing each other. Then one day, the man just leaves the woman without a valid reason. Now, how would you react to that? If you were the woman, what would you think? Let’s say for example, the woman is very understanding, always cares for the man, and all the good things this woman could offer. I could say that maybe the man has a problem that he has kept for a long time, that he didn’t tell the woman. Most men has problems opening up to the person they love or sometimes to people who are really close to them. Unlike women, they can easily share their problems to their friends, thus letting the emotions out of them, unlike men. In cases like these, don’t give up on your man. Try to clear things out with him so that you won’t be left open-mouthed when this kind of thing happens to you. If he doesn’t want to talk about it maybe he needs space or time to think of his problems on his own and maybe he wants to solve it. Give it a week or two for your man to come back and apologize. But if in case he never calls you anymore and has vanished into thin air, accept the fact that he has already left you because he’s ready to go into some kind of Looney bin. Although, you have to make sure that there is no third party involved because if there is another woman involved that’s a case closed, find another man who is not a womanizer!

Women apparently are patient in nature. They tend to make sacrifices and try to be patient with their partner. They keep on trying to continue the relationship until they have had enough. Oftentimes, some of them become martyrs wherein it already takes them a couple of years before they realize that it is enough. If you are in a situation like these examples given, think for yourself. Is that a healthy relationship you are in? Did you try everything you can before you quit the relationship?

Women should know when to stop and when to try to make things right. You choose you own life and you make your own destiny. Learn to fight and be strong because only you can help yourself.

SOURCE

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Entitlement


(the following is from a victim who left her abuser. They are now wrangling over property.... which includes their daughter. To an abuser - anyone & anything is an object with no free will)

If you want our daughter - she is mine.

If you want our house - its mine.

Because I wanted a new car - it was mine (but I did it only "for the family")

Because I wanted a new house - I'll keep it now.

Because you wanted out - you have no life, you are still mine and you do as I say.

Because I want our daughter/son - she/he is mine.

Because I am a great dad - you are automatically a bad mom.

Because you made me give up anything - I will pay you back and smash the house to pieces, before you get it.

Because I want to keep the car (which is mine), I won't pay the mortage.

Because I now have to pay you child support, you should be greatful for that money - because it is really mine.

Because I am her father - she is mine (at any costs) She is mine, she is mine - you will never have her, I'll tell everyone what a bad mother you really are - she is mine anyway.

If you want the house - come and get it, I changed the locks so you can't get in.

If you want to leave my country and need a suitcase - come and get it. I won't even let you.

You are mine until we die and I am so glad that you are gone, I'll pay you back for leaving me.

She is mine, I'll never let her live with you.

She is mine, I'll never agree to any school that you like because she is mine.

I am the best father, just look at me!

Look, I bought her a bike, a new toy - just look at the trashy clothes you wear.

You will never amount to anything.

You are useless. You are 'dopey'.

You need to get therapy, because you say that I drive too fast.

She is mine, she is mine - you'll never have her.

I'll drive as fast as I like and cut off any creep that cuts in, pay him back what he deserves.

Anyone who comes near my daughter will be shot.

She is mine, she is mine.

I am sick off you, I am glad you are gone, I hate the sight of you.

She is mine, she is mine.

(note: women can be just as abusive & narcissistic as men)

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Without Conscience



by Robert D. Hare, Ph.D


Chapter 8
Words from an Overcoat Pocket

One question runs like a refrain through the stories told by the victims of psychopaths:
"How could I have been so stupid? How could I have fallen for the incredible line of baloney?”
 

And when victims aren’t asking themselves, somebody else is sure to pose the question. “How on earth could you have been taken in to that extent?” The characteristic answer: “You had to be there. It seemed reasonable, plausible at the time.” The clear--and largely valid--implication is that had we been there we too might have been sucked in.


Some people are simply too trusting and gullible for their own good--ready targets for any smooth talker who comes along. But what about the rest of us? The sad fact is that we are all vulnerable. Few people are such sophisticated and perceptive judges of human nature that they cannot be taken in by the machinations of a skilled and determined psychopath. Even those who study them are not immune; as I’ve indicated in previous chapters, my students and I are sometimes conned, even when aware that we’re dealing with a probably psychopath.
 

Of course, pathological lying and manipulation are not restricted to psychopaths. What makes psychopaths different from all others is the remarkable ease with which they lie, the pervasiveness of their deception, and the callousness with which they carry it out.
 

But there is something else about the speech of psychopaths that is equally puzzling; their frequent use of contradictory and logically inconsistent statements that usually escape detection.

Recent research on the language of psychopaths provides us with some important clues to this puzzle, as well as to the uncanny ability psychopaths have to move words--and people--around so easily. But first, here are some examples to illustrate the point, the first three from offenders who scored high on the Psychopathy Checklist.
  1. When asked if he had ever committed a violent offense, a man serving time for theft answered, “No, but I once had to kill someone.”
  2. A woman with a staggering record of fraud, deceit, lies and broken promises concluded a letter to the parole board with, “I’ve let a lot of people down. . . . One is only as good as her reputation and name. My word is as good as gold.”
  3. A man serving a term for armed robbery replied to the testimony of an eyewitness, “He’s lying. I wasn’t there. I should have blown his f*cking head off.”
  4. A tabloid television program showed a classic con man who shamelessly swindled elderly women.(1). When the interviewer asked, “Where do you draw the line between right and wrong?” he replied,"I have some morals, whether you believe it or not, I have some morals.” To the interviewer’s question, “And where do you draw the line?” he replied, “That’s a good question. I’m not trying to hedge, but that’s a good question.” When asked, “Did you actually carry around in your briefcase blank power-of-attorney forms?” his reply was, “No, I didn’t carry them around, but I had them in my briefcase, yes.”
  5. When Ted Bundy was asked what cocaine did to him he replied, “cocaine? I‘ve never used it. . . . I’ve never tried cocaine. I think I might have tried it once and got nothing out of it. Just snorted a little bit. And I just don’t mess with it. It’s too expensive. And I suppose if I was on the streets and had enough of it, I might get into it. But I’m strictly a marijuana man. All I do is . . . .I love to smoke a reefer. And Valiums. And of course alcohol.”
Think about this for a moment--not only lies but several contradictory statements in the same breath. Very perplexing. It is as if psychopaths sometimes have difficulty in monitoring their own speech, and they let loose with a convoluted barrage of poorly connected words and thoughts.

Psychopaths also sometimes put words together in strange ways. For example, consider the following exchange between a journalist and psychopathic serial killer, Clifford Olson. “And then I had annual sex with her. “ “once a year?” No. Annual... from behind.” Oh. But she was dead.”” “No, no. She was just unconscientious.” 

About his many experiences, Olson said. “I’ve got enough antidotes to fill five or six books -- enough for a trilogy.” He was determined not to be an ”escape goat” no matter what the ”migrating” facts.

Of course, words don’t simply pop out of our mouths of their own accord. They are the end products of very complicated mental activity. This raises the interesting possibility that, like much of their behavior, the mental processes of psychopaths are poorly regulated and not bound by conventional rules. This issue is discussed in the following sections, which outline evidence that psychopaths differ from others in the way their brains are organized and in the connections between words and emotion.”

************************************************** ************
A CONVICTED SERIAL killer, Elmer Wayne Henley, now asking for parole, says that he was the victim of an older serial killer he worked with, and that he would not have done anything wrong on his own. Together, they killed at least twenty-seven young men and boys. “I’m passive,” he offered. “I don’t want to be no psychopath, I don’t want to be no killer. I just want to be decent people.”

Consider the following exchange between the interviewer and Henley. The interviewer says, “You make it out that you’re the victim of a serial killer, but if you look at the record you’re a serial killer.” Henley replies, “I’m not.” “You’re not a serial killer?” the interviewer asks in disbelief, to which Henley replies, “I’m not a serial killer.” The interviewer then says,
“You’re saying you’re not a serial killer now, but you’ve serially killed.” Henley replies with some exasperation and condescension, “Well, yeah, that’s semantics.”

--From the May 8, 1991 episode of 48 Hours
************************************************** ***************************

Who’s in Charge?
In most people the two sides of the brain have different, specialized functions. The left cerebral hemisphere is skilled at processing information analytically and sequentially, and it plays a crucial role in the understanding and use of language. The right hemisphere processes information simultaneously, as a whole; it plays an important role in the perception of spatial relations, imagery, emotional experience, and the processing of music.

Nature probably "arranged" for each side of the brain to have different functions for the sake of efficiency. For example, it is clearly more effective for all the complex mental operations required to use and understand language to take place in one side of the brain than if they were distributed over both sides. In the latter case, information would have to be sent back and forth between the two hemispheres, which would slow down the processing rate and increase the chances of error.

Further, some part of the brain has to have primary control over the task; if the two sides of the brain were competing for this control, the conflict would reduce the efficiency of processing. Some forms of dyslexia and stuttering, for example, are associated with just such a condition: Language centers are bilateral--located in both hemispheres. Competition between the two hemispheres makes for a variety of difficulties in the understanding and production of language.

New experimental evidence suggests that bilateral language processes are also characteristic of psychopathy. This leads me to speculate that part of the tendency for psychopaths to make contradictory statements is related to an inefficient “line of authority”--each hemisphere tries to run the show, with the result that speech is poorly integrated and monitored.

Of course, others with bilateral language--some stutterers, dyslexics, and left-handers--do not lie and contradict themselves the way psychopaths do. Clearly, something else must be involved.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Coping with Sexual Anorexia and Aversion



Coping with Sexual Anorexia and Aversion

by Rob Jackson, MS, LPC, LMHC, NCC

Note: Given the brevity of the article, it is not possible to cover all the facets of this disorder. Anyone suspecting he or she has this condition is strongly encouraged to speak with a professional counselor.

A review of the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is sobering. Research has identified numerous detrimental effects:
The apparent common denominator in these conditions is the profound injury done to one’s ability to trust and attach to another human being.

While it is generally recognized that abused males have a more difficult recovery from CSA, I find there are two conditions that are more prevalent among female survivors. These conditions are sexual anorexia and sexual aversion disorder.

Sexual Anorexia
You may be more familiar with the type of anorexia that occurs when a person, usually a young woman, obsesses over how to avoid food. Over time, this condition can lead to numerous health concerns – and can even be fatal, as shown by the 1983 death of singer Karen Carpenter. This condition has a parallel known as sexual anorexia.

Sexual anorexia occurs when a person – again, most often a woman – fails to possess a healthy, sexual desire. This person will most likely be unaware of the hidden drivers that compel her behaviors. These victims can be in otherwise loving marriages, but have no interest in expressing any type of sexuality. They will often fail to initiate sexual contact, but usually report that once sex is underway, they are able to enjoy the exchange.

The impact of sexual anorexia on marriage can be profound. This condition can force an unhealthy celibacy onto the spouse, or worse, help lead the spouse to a false sense of entitlement to pornography, masturbation, or extramarital sexual involvement. These behaviors, in turn, further erode intimacy in the relationship and can facilitate a destructive cycle that threatens the marriage.

Sexual Aversion Disorder
Of the two disorders, Sexual Aversion Disorder is the one that carries official diagnostic criteria from the American Psychological Association. In terms of symptoms, this disorder is more severe.

An individual who suffers from a more active form of Sexual Aversion Disorder, finds sex to be repulsive, without exception. According to the DSM IV, “The essential feature of Sexual Aversion Disorder is the aversion to and active avoidance of genital sexual contact with a sexual partner.”1 Some individuals’ aversion extends to all sexual behaviors, including kissing and touching. A person’s reaction “may range from moderate anxiety to and lack of pleasure to extreme psychological distress.”2


This disorder can injure the patient’s spouse at a deep level. The passive indifference of sexual anorexia is one thing, but the active repulsion of sexual aversion is quite another. The spouse may begin to wonder if maybe he/she is sickening to their spouse, rather than just the act of sex.


Closing Thoughts
It’s important to note that not every survivor of CSA will suffer sexual dysfunction, and not everyone who suffers anorexia or aversion has been sexually abused. Nevertheless, these conditions strongly correlate with CSA and can continue to injure the survivor as well as his or her spouse or future mate.

The husbands or wives of these individuals will need to be patient and understanding. In most cases when this kind of problem affects a couple’s marriage, there was a time when the conflicted spouse was forced into unhealthy sexual experiences as a child, or even as an adult in an abusive relationship. The marriage can be a safe place where old wounds are healed as husband and wife yield themselves to each other in the safety of their marital commitment.

Although this is only a brief overview of these conditions, if this seems to fit you or someone you love, it is worth talking to a professional. Any unresolved trauma has the potential to lead to further injury or addictions. There is hope for recovery. This healing starts when a person suffering anorexia or aversion takes “ownership” of this condition. He or she will acknowledge that this condition can only further injure the marriage – and both spouses - if left untreated. Seeking whatever resources are needed is part of this healthy ownership of the problem. Compassion for each other and respect for the marriage can motivate both spouses to do whatever it takes to restore the pleasure and joy of marital sexuality.

Copyright © 2004 Rob Jackson. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The 10 Commandments of Con Artists



This helpful list of "Ten Commandments for Con Men" comes from one of the great international charlatans of the 20th century, "Count" Victor Lustig, who had 25 aliases.

The Count's most unusual scam was selling the Eiffel Tower. Having read in Paris that upkeep on the Eiffel Tower was expensive for the French government, he forged some official government stationery, and as a government official, he called five wealthy European scrap merchants to a secret conference to select a buyer. He took each man on a tour of the Tower, selected the best victim, and accepted an illegal bribe as well as official payment to the French government. Then he fled the country, and his victim was too ashamed to report his loss. One year later the Count returned and sold the Eiffel Tower again the same way. The second victim reported the crime, so there wasn't a third victim.

The Count's Ten Commandments:

(Source: Fakes, Frauds & Other Malarkey, by Kathryn Lindskoog, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993.)

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Monday, May 15, 2017

TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT


by Rayne Wolfe

How many times...

In 2009, I was a reporter working for a New York Times regional newspaper in Northern California’s Wine Country. With ten years of daily newsgathering under my belt, I had survived multiple rounds of brutal lay-offs and the stress was getting to me.  

I thought it might be time to take a break before I broke.

With my husband’s support, I left my job to write my memoir about growing up with three mothers: two very toxic, and one wonderful stepmother. I had a notion that I knew a lot about resilience and I could help others. I had also been collecting women’s stories for years, focusing on how they survived their own very toxic mothers.

I was aware that I should build a platform to support my book writing and research led me to 8 Women Dream and Lord-have-mercy they were coincidentally looking for a new blogger to join their slate of online dreamers. I slaved over my presentation; agonized over my story and plans -- and dreams!
And after a considered vetting process I was turned down with apologies and encouragement to try again.

The Universe Gives You What You Need When You Need It
It was the most important turn down of my life. I believed what they said: That they loved my project. That they wished me well. That they wanted me to apply again.

That “rejection” fueled my early work. Not in an I’ll-show-them sort of way, but more in a Wait-till-they-see-this! way. I created a Toxic Mom Toolkit Facebook page, which I grew from 35 friends to currently over 250,000 visitors per month.

By the time it was possible to apply to be on 8 Women Dream again, I had much more to talk about and was deep into the creative process. Finally accepted as a member of 8 Women Dream, I wrote about my dream of publishing my first book.

From the platform of 8 Women Dream I found and interviewed hundreds of women from all over the world. I curated extensive Toxic Mom Toolkit questionnaires developing them into a wide range of mini-memoirs. Every person I spoke to increased and informed my work and made it richer. I realized that writing my own memoir was nice, but what would be epic would be to marry my story with a rainbow of stories, each illustrating a different type of toxic mom. And, after my year at 8 Women Dream was up, I was fueled to tackle the hard work of editing, polishing and publishing my manuscript.

Women had trusted me with their stories and told me amazing things; things they had never told another living soul. They laughed and cried with me. They also encouraged me.  I remember one lady in particular saying that each morning while she was driving she prayed for my book. For three years of writing, which included many challenges, the idea of a lady on the freeway praying for my book, kept me focused.

Starting from a broken place, with lots of help, I am now healed and an author. Along the way I’ve learned that it is in sharing our stories that we heal others.

In a few weeks, Toxic Mom Toolkit will be published on Amazon.com, thanks in large part to the energy and encouragement I received from everyone at 8 Women Dream and all the people I met during my online tenure.

What I find very poignant is that my book owes so much to 8 Women Dream – literally. It seemed that as each obstacle arose – one of my friends from 8 Women Dream popped up with offers of help and encouragement. I have blogging colleagues Iman Woods to thank for creating a killer book cover and Remi Gervais to thank for taking my “sane and approachable” head shot.

It would have been great to write my memoir. But I’m so glad I opened myself up to the energy and creativity of the 8 Women Dream community. When readers hold a copy of Toxic Mom Toolkit in their hands, they may not know the story behind it. But we will. We will.

To Check out Rayne's book or order it - CLICK HERE

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