Sanctuary for the Abused

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Painful Incredulity: Psychopathy and Cognitive Dissonance


by Claudia Moscovici

Almost everyone involved with a psychopath goes through a phase (and form) of denial. It’s very tough to accept the sad reality that the person who claimed to be your best friend or the love of your life is actually a backstabbing snake whose sole purpose in life is humiliating and dominating those around him. Rather than confront this reality, some victims go into denial entirely. They aren’t ready to accept any part of the truth, which, when suppressed, often surfaces in anxiety, projection and nightmares.

At some point, however, the evidence of a highly disturbed personality shows through, especially once the psychopath is no longer invested in a given victim and thus no longer makes a significant effort to keep his mask on. Then total denial is no longer possible. The floodgates of reality suddenly burst open and a whole slew of inconsistencies, downright lies, manipulations, criticism and emotional abuse flows through to the surface of our consciousness.

However, even then it’s difficult to absorb such painful information all at once. Our heart still yearns for what we have been persuaded, during the luring phase, was our one true love. Our minds are still filled with memories of the so-called good times with the psychopath. Yet, the truth about the infidelities, the constant deception, the manipulation and the backstabbing can no longer be denied. We can’t undo everything we learned about the psychopath; we cannot return to the point of original innocence, of total blindness. The result is a contradictory experience: a kind of internal battle between clinging to denial and accepting the truth.

Cognitive dissonance is a painful incredulity marked by this inner contradiction in the victim’s attitude towards the victimizer. In 1984, perhaps the best novel about brainwashing that occurs in totalitarian regimes, George Orwell coined his own term for this inner contradiction: he called it doublethink. Doublethink is not logical, but it is a common defense mechanism for coping with deception, domination and abuse. Victims engage in doublethink, or cognitive dissonance, in a partly subconscious attempt to reconcile the contradictory claims and behavior of the disordered individuals who have taken over their lives.

The denial itself can take several forms. It can manifest itself as the continuing idealization of the psychopath during the luring phase of the relationship or it can be shifting the blame for what went wrong in the relationship from him, the culprit, to ourselves, or to other victims. In fact, the easiest solution is to blame neither oneself nor the psychopath, but other victims. How often have you encountered the phenomenon where people who have partners who cheat on them lash out at the other women (or men) instead of holding their partners accountable for their actions? It’s far easier to blame someone you’re not emotionally invested in than someone you love, particularly if you still cling to that person or relationship.

Other victims project the blame back unto themselves. They accept the psychopath’s projection of blame and begin questioning themselves: what did I do wrong, to drive him away? What was lacking in me that he was so negative or unhappy in the relationship? Was I not smart enough, virtuous enough, hard-working enough, beautiful enough, sexy enough, attentive enough, submissive enough etc.

When one experiences cognitive dissonance, the rational knowledge about psychopathy doesn’t fully sink in on an emotional level. Consequently, the victim moves constantly back and forth between the idealized fantasy and the pathetic reality of the psychopath. This is a very confusing process and an emotionally draining one as well. Initially, when you’re the one being idealized by him, the fantasy is that a psychopath can love you and that he is committed to you and respects you. Then, once you’ve been devalued and/or discarded, the fantasy remains that he is capable of loving others, just not you. That you in particular weren’t right for him, but others can be. This is the fantasy that the psychopath tries to convince every victim once they enter the devalue phase. Psychopaths truly believe this because they never see anything wrong with themselves or their behavior, so if they’re no longer excited by a person, they conclude it must be her (or his) fault; that she (or he) is deficient.

Because you put up with emotional abuse from the psychopath you were with and recently been through the devaluation phase–in fact, for you it was long and drawn-out–you have absorbed this particular fantasy despite everything you know about psychopaths’ incapacity to love or even care about others. But with time and no contact, the rational knowledge and the emotional will merge, and this last bit of illusion about the psychopath will be dissolved.

Cognitive dissonance is part and parcel of being the victim of a personality disordered individual. It doesn’t occur in healthy relationships for several reasons:

1) healthy individuals may have good and bad parts of their personalities, but they don’t have a Jekyll and Hyde personality; a mask of sanity that hides an essentially malicious and destructive self. In a healthy relationship, there’s a certain transparency: basically, what you see is what you get. People are what they seem to be, flaws and all.

2) healthy relationships aren’t based on emotional abuse, domination and a mountain of deliberate lies and manipulation

3) healthy relationships don’t end abruptly, as if they never even happened because normal people can’t detach so quickly from deeper relationships

4) conversely, however, once healthy relationships end, both parties accept that and move on. There is no stalking and cyberstalking, which are the signs of a disordered person’s inability to detach from a dominance bond: a pathetic attempt at reassertion of power and control over a relationship that’s over for good

Cognitive dissonance happens in those cases where there’s an unbridgeable contradiction between a dire reality and an increasingly implausible fantasy which, once fully revealed, would be so painful to accept, that you’d rather cling to parts of the fantasy than confront that sad reality and move on.

Relatedly, cognitive dissonance is also a sign that the psychopath still has a form of power over you: that his distorted standards still have a place in your brain. That even though you may reject him on some level, on another his opinions still matter to you. Needless to say, they shouldn’t. He is a fraud; his opinions are distorted; his ties to others, even those he claims to “love,” just empty dominance bonds. Rationally, you already know that his opinions and those of his followers should have no place in your own mental landscape.

But if emotionally you still care about what he thinks or feels, then you are giving a disordered person too much power over you: another form of cognitive dissonance, perhaps the most dangerous. Cut those imaginary ties and cut the power chords that still tie you to a pathological person, his disordered supporters and their abnormal frame of reference. Nothing good will ever come out of allowing a psychopath and his pathological defenders any place in your heart or mind. The schism between their disordered perspective and your healthy one creates the inner tension that is also called cognitive dissonance. To eliminate this inner tension means to free yourself– body, heart and mind–from the psychopath, his followers and their opinions or standards. What they do, say, think or believe –and the silly mind games they choose to play–simply does not matter.

SOURCE

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sexual Anorexia



...and A Small Town Private Practice
by Michael Zahab

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.

http://www.sexhelp.com/sa_small_town_practice.cfm

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Messages the Abusive Mother Sends to Her Children


Messages the Abusive Woman uses to Control her Children:

I am a wonderful mother and you owe me for having taken care of you and raised you because I sacrificed so much for you. You are responsible for my happiness and I should be the central person in your life for the rest of your life.

You owe it to me to tell me everything that is going on in your life so that I can use it to manipulate and control you and give you guilt.

If you try to pull away from me and become strong, healthy and independent, I will come on stronger…calling you more and more; talking to relatives (siblings) about you so they will call you and make you feel guilty; make myself sick so you will have to communicate with me because you will be afraid I might die and you would take responsibility for this (of course, I want you to believe this because it works every time); use every guilt trick I can think of, embarrass you with my outrageous behavior. I disregard normal cues to back off, shut-up, change or compromise. If anything, the cues you give make me come on stronger, using guilt and the distortion of your belief systems that I taught you as a child. I will hound you until I get my way, no matter how long it takes or the extent of the outrageous behaviors I must go through to do this.

I have a right to invade your privacy as a person because you are an extension of me. You have no self and I will never let you have a self, if I can use guilt or manipulation to keep you from having one.

I really don’t like you… I am really incapable of liking or loving anyone but myself.

I believe you should give me unconditional love, respect, time, attention. However, I will rarely give you any of this because you don’t deserve it because you have never given me enough. I will make you believe that if only you will do whatever it is I want that day that I will give you love and like you, but I am acting and conning you.

I will get my way no matter what it takes because I deserve to get my way. Your needs (you shouldn’t have needs except to serve my needs) are unimportant and I don’t even notice them except to use them to manipulate you.

I will give you gifts, but they always have strings attached because if you try to do something I don’t want you to do, I will remind you that you owe me. I am incapable of getting joy from giving a gift freely. I am incapable of empathy or caring that someone else is hurting, especially you. In fact, if I can make you hurt to get you to do what I want, that’s great!!!

How dare you even think that you can have an intimate relationship with someone besides me, especially if they are strong, independent people who teach you what I really am about? I will do whatever it takes to disrupt those relationships.

You do not have the right to be happy if I am not happy. In fact, your happiness should only depend on making me happy…nothing else.

I really don’t care if you are successful or not, except if I can use your accomplishments and brag about you to make me look better or I can use the money you make. In fact, I would rather you would be dysfunctional, divorced, alone, et cetera and living near me so that I could use you for my bidding. If you are weak and unhappy and guilt-ridden, you are easier to use. I also love complaining to those around me that you treat me very poorly and are ungrateful because this gets them to feel sympathy for me.

I don’t want you and your brothers and sisters to be happy and like each other. It serves my interests more if I can play you against one another, because when I do that I am the center of everyone’s life and I get attention and what I want.

I love to create chaos. I don’t want people around me to be happy, stress free, and content. If I sense that you are happy, I am going to use every trick in my book to make you miserable and upset. I don’t want you to have friends. I should be enough for you.

Your opinions and decisions are poor compared to mine. If you would just listen to me and do everything I say, then you would be smart. I know what is best for you.

Reality is what I tell you it is. This has nothing to do with the truth or what really has happened. I can change reality by believing it is different.

I am a master of behavior modification. If you do what I want, I reward you…perhaps by occasionally saying something nice or kind to you or maybe by just not harassing you. If you do not do what I want, I will do everything I can to make you miserable until you give me what I want. I really don’t care what this does to you because your ability to be happy should always depend on whether I am happy.

I intentionally keep you hypervigilent as to my moods. You should always be aware of whether I am happy so you can do whatever it takes to make me happy, if I am not. Of course, I am never really happy. I constantly change what it is that would make me happy because I rarely want you to feel successful in making me happy, except when you are my puppet and do everything I want you to do. It is easier for me to control you if I keep you feeling inadequate and unsuccessful.

Although I constantly strive to make you feel guilty, I am incapable of feeling guilt. Why should I feel guilt? I am perfect and never wrong. I also don’t have a conscience. Why should I feel guilt? I am always right. I am entitled to do whatever I want to do regardless of laws and rules because I am superior to everyone. Laws do not apply to me.

I will treat your children much better than I treated you to teach you that you should have given me unconditional love and there is something wrong with you.

I have instilled in you the sense that I am extremely powerful, unable to be defeated, smarter and more competent than you; better than you at everything. I will never give up to get my way and it won’t be worth the price you will have to pay for not giving me my way. I have instilled in you a sense of incompetence, insecurity, powerlessness, and an inability to compete with me. I have intentionally kept our relationship as one of mother to small child so that you will quake when I am unhappy and give me my way to satisfy me and always be trying to please me in order to get me to love you. Your non-verbal sense of me is that I am powerful, scary, dangerous, superior to you, smarter and more capable than you and that you cannot take me on as an equal ever, even as an adult. When you were a young child, I made sure that you were unsuccessful in having your needs met when you were dealing with me time and time again so that you came to believe that you could never be successful in meeting your own needs before mine.

Nancy Davis, Ph.D. © 2005

SOURCE

FACEBOOK GROUP FOR DAUGHTERS OF ABUSIVE/NARCISSISTIC MOTHERS

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Unresolved Trauma

REASONS FOR and SYMPTOMS OF
UNRESOLVED TRAUMA
The following are symptoms that may result from a more commonplace, unresolved trauma, especially if there were earlier, overwhelming life experiences:

Physical
• Eating disturbances (more or less than usual)
• Sleep disturbances (more or less than usual)
• Sexual dysfunction (unable or unwilling to engage in sexual relations)
• Low energy
• Chronic, unexplained pain

Emotional
• Depression, spontaneous crying, despair and hopelessness
• Anxiety
• Panic attacks
• Fearfulness
• Compulsive and obsessive behaviors
• Feeling out of control
• Irritability, angry and resentment
• Emotional numbness
• Withdrawal from normal routine and relationships

Cognitive
• Memory lapses, especially about the trauma
• Difficulty making decisions
• Decreased ability to concentrate
• Feeling distracted
• ADHD-like symptoms (compulsiveness, needing to talk about it over and over, lack of attention span, rushing around, etc)

The following additional symptoms of emotional trauma are commonly associated with a severe precipitating event, such as a natural disaster, exposure to war, rape, assault, violent crime, major car or airplane crashes, or child abuse. Extreme symptoms can also occur as a delayed reaction to the traumatic event.

Re-experiencing the Trauma
• intrusive thoughts
• flashbacks or nightmares
• sudden floods of emotions or images related to the traumatic event

Emotional Numbing and Avoidance
• amnesia
• avoidance of situations that resemble the initial event
• detachment
• depression
• guilt feelings
• grief reactions
• an altered sense of time 
Increased Arousal
• Persistant feelings of sexual arousal (even at inappropriate times)

• hyper-vigilance, jumpiness, an extreme sense of being "on guard"
• overreactions, including sudden unprovoked anger
• underreactions, "deer in headlights" reaction to being yelled at or invalidated
• general anxiety
• insomnia
• obsessions with death

What are the possible effects of emotional trauma?
Even when unrecognized, emotional trauma can create lasting difficulties in an individual's life. One way to determine whether an emotional or psychological trauma has occurred, perhaps even early in life before language or conscious awareness were in place, is to look at the kinds of recurring problems one might be experiencing. These can serve as clues to an earlier situation that caused a dysregulation in the structure or function of the brain.

Common personal and behavioral effects of emotional trauma:
• substance abuse
• compulsive behavior patterns
• self-destructive and impulsive behavior
• uncontrollable reactive thoughts
• inability to make healthy professional or lifestyle choices
• dissociative symptoms ("splitting off" parts of the self)
• feelings of ineffectiveness, shame, despair, hopelessness
• feeling permanently damaged
• a loss of previously sustained beliefs

Common effects of emotional trauma on interpersonal relationships:
• inability to maintain close relationships or choose appropriate friends and mates
• sexual problems
• hostility
• arguments with family members, employers or co-workers
• social withdrawal
• feeling constantly threatened

What if symptoms don't go away, or appear at a later time?
Over time, even without professional treatment, symptoms of an emotional trauma generally subside, and normal daily functioning gradually returns. However, even after time has passed, sometimes the symptoms don't go away. Or they may appear to be gone, but surface again in another stressful situation. When a person's daily life functioning or life choices continue to be affected, a post-traumatic stress disorder may be the problem, requiring professional assistance.
~~~~~~~~~~~
Online Resources for Emotional or Psychological Trauma

www.sidran.org
This noncommercial site offers a thorough description of the causes and symptoms of trauma.

www.trauma-pages.com/pg2.htm
This popular non-commercial site by David Baldwin does a thorough job of defining and describing PTSD.

www.tlcinstitute.org/trauma.html
Is an educational institution that focuses on violent traumatic events and fears in children's lives. Especially helpful is the distinction made between trauma and grief.

www.traumainstitute.org/trauma.php
is a noncommercial site that focuses on the societal as well as personal impact of trauma

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sexual Sadism & Sociopathy/ Psychopathy

Sad Pictures, Images and Photos

ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER
According to the DSM-IV, the essential feature of the disorder is to be found in patterns of irresponsible and antisocial behaviors beginning in childhood or early adolescence and continuing into adulthood. Lying, stealing,truancy, vandalism, initiating fights, running away from home, and physical cruelty are typical childhood signs. In adulthood the antisocial pattern continues and may include failure to honor financial obligations, maintain consistent employment, or plan ahead.

These individuals fail to conform to social norms and repeatedly engage in antisocial behaviors that are grounds for arrest, such as destroying property, harassing others, and stealing. Often these antisocial acts are committed with no seeming necessity. People with antisocial personality disorder tend toward irritability and aggressivity, and often become involved in physical fights and assaults, including spouse and child beating. Reckless behavior without regard for personal safety is common, as indicated by driving while intoxicated or getting numerous speeding tickets.

Frequently these individuals are promiscuous, often failing to sustain a monogamous relationship for more than one year. Some marry but do not remain faithful. They do not appear to learn from past experiences in that they tend to resume the same kinds of antisocial behaviors they were punishment for. Finally, they seem to lack feelings of remorse about the effects of their behavior on others. On the contrary, they may feel justified in having violated the rights of others.

SEXUAL SADISM
Meloy (1992) defines Sexual Sadism as "the conscious experience of pleasurable sexual arousal through the infliction of physical or emotional pain on the actual object."(p.76)

DSM-IV describes Sexual Sadism as follows: Over a period of at least six months: recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving acts ( real, not simulated) in which the psychological or physical suffering (including humiliation) of the victim is sexually exciting to the person. These behaviors are sadistic fantasies or acts that involve activities that indicate the dominance of the person over his victim. (not always physical!)

FROM:
http://www.practicalhomicide.com/articles/psexsad.htm

(PLEASE NOTE: not ALL Sexual Sadists are Serial Killers!! Some direct their sadism into mental & emotional torture and psychological rape. - And are rarely seen as the sadists they truly are)

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Toxic Hope




 
 

Three Reasons Your Relationship
Will Never Get Better


L.A. couples therapist featured in Time Magazine uses unique approach to marriage therapy including the acceptance that things won't change.

There are three reasons that your relationship cannot improve, even though you keep thinking it will. These are primary problems that are so influential that they are an obstacle that must be cleared before real progress in the relationship is possible.

#1 Someone is frequently dishonest and that person is unwilling to identify that behavior as an individual problem that he or she wants to work on. An ongoing affair whether it is known or secret.

#2 Psychological or medical disorders that are not treated. (Or personality disorders that are untreatable)

These include: depression, manic depression, or menopause disorders, post traumatic stress and anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive or post-traumatic stress disorder.  (Include narcissism, psychopathy, sociopathy or borderline personality in the personality disorders category)

Post traumatic Stress is often a result of abusive, neglectful or violent experiences in childhood. These can experiences can profoundly affect how someone later experiences issues of trust and conflict in current relationships. If symptoms from any of these illnesses are present and the person is unwilling to get treatment for it then there is a much reduced prospect for significant change in the relationship. First things first.

#3 One partner uses physical violence, verbal abuse, psychological manipulation or emotional intimidation and is unwilling to say that this is their individual problem that s/he wants to work on it separately from the relationship.

Saying, "I'm sorry. It won't happen again." is a good thing to hear from your partner. More importantly though is whether the intimidation ceases. The frequency, intensity or duration should be getting better. If it doesn't then you may have 'Toxic Hope.'

Toxic hope is waiting for someone to change when there is no realistic reason to believe that it will happen. Battered women, or men, who keep hoping something will change, perhaps even when their partner has never even admitted that they have a control problem; are in toxic hope. Even though there is a fair effort made; the frequency and magnitude of the continuing offenses are severe enough that the other partner does not feel safe enough to continue within the relationship.

We emphasize 'progress, not perfection' so the issue isn't that slips or mistakes are made. The important thing is does the person eventually recognize his or her responsibility in the conflict and can the person show some concern for how that affects you. Or, if one person is unable to reasonably follow the guidelines and is not willing to seek further help.

What do I mean when I say "an individual problem that he or she is willing to work on separate from the relationship?" Or what is meant by getting 'further help'? A person can work on the issues they struggle with alone by reading books on the subject of violence or lying but few people are able to do this without the help of others.

Using the help of others could mean going to a professional therapist who specializes in the area that needs work or it can mean going to a self -help group for that particular problem. If physical violence is the problem then my recommendation is to attend a professionally led anger management or domestic violence group. Having worked for ten years in these groups I can say that the men are pleasantly surprised that they can learn useful methods that benefit their relationships. For most of the men it is the first time that they are exposed to the principle that being vulnerable will not result in being hurt.

* One partner refuses to ever consider forgiving the other for some past wrong committed by the other, even when that partner has humbly asked for forgiveness.

* Alcohol or drug dependence or abuse (prescribed medicines too!) Other addictions such as food, sex, spending, gambling or work are huge impediments to progress in a relationship which are sometimes overlooked or simply denied.

* Leaving a psychologically violent or abusive relationship. If you feel scared that you will be hurt, pursued or injured if you leave then trust your feelings and seek help from a women's shelter or hotline before taking action. Talk with them and consider the advice or recommendations that is given to you. The most dangerous time, physically, for the abused wife (or husband) is at the time of separating. There were armchair quarterbacks saying Nicole Brown Simpson should have left O.J. and divorced him. She was leaving him! It was then that she was killed.

If you are physically abused by your partner call 1 800 978-3600 to talk to a domestic violence counselor to learn about resources in your area. You are not alone!

If violence is occuring in your home then break the isolation. And for the person whose anger is out of control, please seek the competent help of anger management specialists. Why wait for a neighbor's phone call to initiate your criminal record? Do something courageous and positive NOW! Seek the help of professionals who can help you. Stop saying "I'm sorry." and take some real steps toward repeating what probably happened in the family you grew up in.

Checklist Before You Leave:
If you have done these things then you can leave knowing that you did everything you could before deciding for sure to leave. These do not apply if there is violence, addiction, continuing adultery or unrepentent lying in the relationship. Things to think about when you consider ending a relationship:

- When your partner apologizes does s/he mention both what s/he did and how s/he's hurt you?

- If any form of physical control, intimidation or violence occurs, does it get justified (ie. "I wouldn't have done it if you didn't....")?

- If apologies are made is there reference made to the person's intention about changing future behavior, or is there further justification for the disrespectful behavior?

- Are you growing in this relationship?

- Does this person have all the signs of having a personality disorder (they can not be fixed or cured)?

- Is the other person growing in this relationship? Is there improvement? It's a process. Is there an expressed willingness to grow? Or are you wishing & assuming your partner wants to change his/her behavior and attitudes. Remember we're looking for 'Progress and not Perfection'.


Marc Sadoff, MSW, BCD
PACIFIC SKILLS TRAINING CO.

Marc Sadoff, MSW, BCD

310 444-1951

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Anti-Social Emotional Vampire

ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH ONE?
Anti-Social Vampires are called that not because they don't like parties, but because they are heedless of normal social rules. 

They love parties, and any other source of excitement and fun. They hate boredom worse than a stake through the heart.

DAREDEVILS are attracted to thrills like lemmings to cliffs. Sex, drugs, online relationships, spending, driving fast, and so on.
LOOK FOR: Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Covert or overt.
DRAW YOU IN WITH: Fun, excitement, and adorable adolescent rebelliousness.
DRAIN YOU BY: Overdoing everything exciting, and underdoing everything else.
THE ONES YOU SEE EVERY DAY: Cowboys, cowgirls, day traders, party animals, rebels without a cause, and that one lover you just can't seem to forget.
DEFENSIVE STRATEGY: Keep your brain engaged even when theirs are turned off. Especially then.


USED-CAR SALESMEN their drug of choice is putting one over on you.
LOOK FOR: People who swear they're telling the truth. Think about it, who but a liar would expect to be doubted?
DRAW YOU IN WITH: Instant rapport, smiling sincerity, and the sweet prospect of something for nothing.
DRAIN YOU BY: Lying, cheating, stealing, and perhaps getting you to engage in a bit of subterfuge yourself.
THE ONES YOU SEE EVERY DAY: Anybody who asks you if you've thought about your financial or romantic future.
DEFENSIVE STRATEGY: Always read the fine print, and remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it is.


BULLIES are addicted to the raw thrill of seeing you cry or squirm.
LOOK FOR: Anger, threats, and yelling.
DRAW YOU IN WITH: The illusion that they are powerful.
DRAIN YOU BY: Making you afraid.
THE ONES YOU SEE EVERY DAY: The guy in the pickup who flips you off, and the petty tyrant who runs the finance department, the ex friend or lover who says "if you tell on me I will....".
DEFENSIVE STRATEGY: Remember that the real battle with bullies is not in the dust of the playground, but in your own mind.


By ALBERT J. BERNSTEIN, Ph.D.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Victim Blaming, Codependency, and the Analogy


 


Here's how I view this idea that the pain I feel in my relationship is "my fault", and stemming from "old wounds" or due to my "codependency".

Let's say when I was three I fell down some stairs and broke my leg. And let's say that I fell down those stairs because someone bigger than me, someone who was supposed to care for and protect me, pushed me.

Let's also say that as a three year old I couldn't get myself to a hospital and no one brought me so my leg never healed right leaving me with a bum leg that I could eventually walk on, but not quite right. In fact, my whole skeletal structure became compromised because I had to favor one leg over the other causing all sorts of other things to get thrown out of alignment. Back problems, neck problems, muscle problems, etc. But I learned to live with it, and I was functional as best I could be.

Years later I meet a man who loves my quirky crookedness and we fall in love. He is kind. He is attentive. He makes me feel good. But then things start going a little awry. Then one day, with not a whole lot of warning, man walks up to me with a baseball bat and nails me on the bum leg, breaking it again.

So I've got a broken leg, a re-broken leg, and I go to the hospital.

Here are two possible scenarios.

What should happen:

At the ER the doctor takes some x-rays and comes back to tell me what's what. "You've got a pretty hefty fracture and we're going to have to set the leg and then put a cast on. After 8 weeks in the cast I'm going to want you to do some physical therapy. What I'm concerned with is that you also appear to have an old fracture that didn't heal right, and we're going to have to fix that too. The good news is that the new fracture is on the same line, so by fixing the new fracture, and with intense therapy, you'll be almost as good as new, in fact better than you have been for years. I'm sorry this happened to you. We'll give you something for the pain for a few days, and after that the pain will be bearable enough for you to handle on your own, but you'll be coming in for regular check-ups so we can be sure you're healing properly this time. Also, I think you might benefit from a self-defense class so that once you're healed you'll have a much better chance of keeping yourself safe from harm. Good luck and we'll see you in two weeks."

Yay!

What happens in the codependent/co-addict model:

At the ER the doctor takes some x-rays and comes back to tell me what's what. "You've got an old fracture and that's what caused this new one, so really it's your fault that your leg is broken. As for the pain you're feeling, that's also your fault. Clearly you are focusing on the pain too much and if you could just detach from it you'd realize there's really nothing to fuss about. You're bringing up your old pain and that's simply not the correct way to go about this. You say you were hit with a baseball bat? Obviously you put yourself in a situation to get your leg broken again because you're addicted to getting your leg broken. Look at how many times this has happened to you? Given your history, it's likely your leg is always going to be getting broken, but if you learn to realize that the pain your feeling is just wrong thinking, and as long as you go to a support group for the rest of your life, you'll be able to learn how to not worry or feel pain when your leg is broken. We good here?"

SOURCE 

'Codependency' with an Abuser is a myth! 
You are actually experiencing Trauma Bonding and NONE OF IT is your fault! 

"Abused persons are not co-dependent," writes Lundy Bancroft, "It is the abusers, not victims, who create abusive relationships."

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What is Projection, Exactly?


Written by Kathi Stringer
Projection is to blame another person for one’s own actions.
Primitive and Infantile Defense



Projection – Action 
You made me do it! Ever hear those words from an angry and frustrated child? In essence, the child is projecting the responsibility of his/her actions onto someone else. This child is anxious to rid themselves of the garbage. Projection is to ‘blame’ another. And, the words, ‘you made me do it,’ slip out ever so easily.

My little 5-year-old girl was listening to her grandparents in a tiff. Grandma said, “You made me [do this]!” Grandpa said, “No, you made me [make you do this]!” Finally, K, an intuitive child, shouted in response, “Stop projecting!” She caught them both by surprise. A small child had recognized projection in action.

Example #1: (Action) 
Jim is holding an expensive camera. Jane is fumbling with the keys to the door. In the meantime, Jim drops and breaks the camera. Jim screams at Jane, “See what you made me do! I broke it because you didn’t open the door!” Jim blamed Jane for dropping the camera. Jim could have prevented the camera from dropping if he had employed foresight and safety measures..i.e putting the camera band around his neck.

Projection – Emotional
You make me [feel] so mad! This is a bit more complicated because a degree of transference is involved. Easy speak – Transference = transferring memories from the past, placed onto a different person.

The derivatives of transference in this case transmutes into projection. Meaning, if an individual gets angry beyond the objective meaning of the statement, (reads more into it than intended) then a level of projection is at work. In other words, a person that reminds another individual of their hated father (transference at work – transference is ALWAYS a distortion), and OVERREACTS to a statement from that person based on that memory (triggered), then, that excessive anger would be projection.

Example #2: (Emotion) 
Jane said, “Jim, just make a choice. We don’t have all day.” Jim screams back, “Why don’t you just shut your big mouth?” and stormed off. On examination, Jim grew up with an over critical, and impatient mother. When Jane made her remark, Jim regressed into the child that hated his mother. Jim did not see Jane standing there at the moment. He saw his hated mother, in the transference. Now that Jim has a bigger body and is more confident to protect himself, he reacted in defense of the critical mother. It happened in a snap of the fingers. In this case, Jim was projecting out of his transference. Jim had distorted Jane into his hated mother. Remember, transference is always a distortion.

Caution:
 While pointing out that action projection can be funny at times, (Remark: You made me drop the hula-hoop when you spoke! – Response: ha ha projection!), it is dangerous to point out the err of a person’s behavior during an emotional projection, UNLESS YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL. Since the person is caught up in the transference, empowered by the transference, and enraged by the transference, it would be wise to let the transference diminish before discussing the event. To address the distortion in the heat of the moment, can be perceived as minimizing the original trauma. This will lead to an unconscious perception of the invalidated child/victim (How dare you!? It did happen!). Wait until the person cools down and gets a grip back on reality and the transference is held in abeyance.
 
For Professionals:
The superlative therapeutic window to target projection, from the transference, would be in the height of the moment. However, a strong therapeutic alliance and rapport MUST BE established first. Trust is paramount. At this time, the client’s internal closed core objects are ‘hot’ and can be redefined through a new experience. See more on ‘projective identification.

Projection Keyword Alerts

· ACTION – You made me do it!

· EMOTIONAL – You make me feel this way!

Question:
Is transference and projection the same?

Answer:
No. Some claim they are the same because psych can become convoluted (duh) to the point meanings are no longer clear to the novice. However, on exact examination, projection is ‘caused’ by the transference. Transference is ‘activated in the person, and projection is the release of that transference out of the person. One treater said, “I hope you know, all this anger you are projecting on to me is not my anger, it is YOUR anger.” The client coolly said, “Can you think of anything better to do with it? (Gabbard)

Homework
Observe the number of times you can spot projection. Then, in cases of emotional projection, try to objectively determine the extent of the justified response vs. the transference reaction. Is if off just a little? Is it half-and-half? Is it way out there? This exercise can be a powerful indicator for self-awareness, an indicator to seek treatment for self or other.

References:
Psych 101, Unlocking the Secret of Terms – K. Stringer

An Object Relations Approach toProjective Identification and the Borderline – K. Stringer

Star Trek and Projective Identification – K. Stringer

Effective Inpatient Treatment And the Amelioration of the Therapeutic Alliance For Resistive Individuals with BPD – K. Stringer

Transference – K. Stringer

Defense Mechanisms – K. Stringer

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How They Exploit Others

(note from site owner: this wonderful description deception & exploitation can also apply to narcissists, sociopaths and other types of abusers)


Modes of Sociopathic Deception and Manipulation

by Jennifer Copley


Psychopaths, also known as sociopaths, comprise 20-25% of the prison population, but 50% of those who have committed serious crimes. However, the majority of psychopaths are not violent — most are users, scam artists and shady businesspeople. There is some evidence that psychopaths may be overrepresented in the fields of business, politics and entertainment.

Targeting the Vulnerable
Psychopaths are good at spotting exploitable vulnerabilities in others. Many psychopathic scam artists seek lonely individuals and promise them a lifetime of love and partnership. Others target the grief-stricken or those who have suffered a recent setback or breakup and are therefore less apt to look closely at what appears to be a compassionate helping hand.

Alternatively, psychopaths may exploit someone’s need to be needed, finding a motherly or fatherly soul that they can milk for sympathy and cash. They are also inclined to marry people with low self-esteem and convince them that they are somehow to blame for any abuse they suffer in the marriage.


The Sympathy Ploy
Psychopaths usually play on the sympathies of others. When people’s empathic responses are aroused, they are less inclined to scrutinize an individual’s behaviour, or they will attribute bad behaviour to an abusive childhood or other trauma. This provokes the sort of nurturing response that enables the psychopath to manipulate and extract what he wants from others.

While often appearing cold and deadpan, when they are trying to manipulate others, psychopaths often engage in dramatic, short-lived emotional displays designed to provoke sympathy or guilt, or even cause people to believe that they must be crazy for questioning the psychopath’s motives.

Psychopaths say whatever will get people to give them what they want. Many work hard to give the impression that all of their problems stem from cruel treatment at the hands of others, and that they could change for the better if only some kindly soul would take an interest in them and support them.

They usually reward these people by breaking their hearts and cleaning out their bank accounts, as well as ...abusing them ...


The Dynamic Persona

The psychopath can be an exciting companion at first because he takes risks that others wouldn’t take and thus can appear courageous and impressive. Psychopaths often pose as brilliant eccentrics, misunderstood geniuses or difficult artistic types, and so people are inclined to attribute bad behaviour to a creative temperament.

Self-assured, cool under pressure and socially adept, they may appear larger than life. Their tendency to maintain intensive eye contact and move into the personal space of others enhances the image of forcefulness and confidence.


Because many psychopaths have a surplus of charm and the gift of gab, they are able to dazzle their audiences and con them into believing all sorts of outrageous stories. Excellent self-promoters and fast talkers, they boast and dazzle their targets with a variety of grandiose plans.

The target usually experiences a wild ride and is left disappointed, financially poorer and wondering how everything the psychopath said could have seemed so plausible at the time.


The Flatterer
In The Miser, Moliere noted that “People can be induced to swallow anything, provided it is sufficiently seasoned with praise.” A common tool of the psychopath is excessive flattery. Most people enjoy receiving compliments, and those who suffer from either low self-esteem ...can be particularly vulnerable to this sort of approach.

Beware of those who tell you everything you want to hear all the time. A compliment or two is nice, but someone who continually peppers the conversation with flattery should be suspect.


Excuses and Empty Promises
A psychopath does not keep his commitments or obligations. He breaks his word, stands people up, abandons those who care about him at critical times in their lives, cheats with impunity, and makes promises he has no intention of delivering on to get what he wants.

Psychopaths may disappear and reappear in the lives of friends and family, causing worry and heartbreak, without ever adequately explaining what they’ve been up to. However, they always have excuses, and it is always someone else’s fault.


Psychopaths abandon their partners, spouses and children without the slightest concern. And while many don’t commit crimes for which they can be convicted, they often live what could be termed as a sub-criminal existence, engaging in a variety of secretive and shady dealings.

When they do achieve success, it is usually through causing harm to others. Their lack of commitment to anything is evident in the many contradictory and hollow statements they make.

However, they hang onto the people in their lives by promising to change, or even changing, briefly, only to revert back to their old ways in time.


SOURCE

(personal thanks to Jennifer Copley!)

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