Category Archives: Neglect

The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy

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umbrellas

 I am currently writing on the ‘therapeutic alliance’ – its relation to mindfulness, psychotherapy, understanding, and ‘being listened to…’   What follows is an interesting article that I came across that may interest some of you…

Excerpt:

Have you ever tried to change the way you do something? It could be anything — the way you hold your tennis racket, blow into a flute, meditate — you name it. If so, think about that experience. No matter how motivated you were to change, and no matter how much you knew that it would help your serve, musicality, or sense of inner peace, it can be difficult and scary to change even the smallest thing. In order to change, you have to give up your old way of doing something first and then try the new way. That means that for a while you’re in a free fall — you no longer have your old habit to rely on and you don’t yet have the new one.

The anxiety of trying to change something as complex and entrenched as how you relate to people close to you or manage stress takes the feeling to a whole new level. Yet, that’s just what you do when you enter psychotherapy. Just as you had to put yourself into the hand of your teachers and coaches, in therapy you need to gradually do just that with your therapist to help you through what can be a harrowing adventure. The foundation for therapy is called the therapeutic alliance (1, 2). When it’s there, you know that your therapist is there to help you, no matter how hard the going gets.

The therapeutic alliance might be the most important part of beginning a psychotherapy. In fact, many studies indicate that the therapeutic alliance is the best predictor of treatment outcome (3-5).

See entire article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-l-cabaniss-md/therapeutic-alliance_b_1554007.html

 

A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?

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Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/have-psychiatrists-lost-perspective-on-mental-illness/

Bang Bang

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Arapahoe County High School

Arapahoe County High School

Karl Halverson Pierson. That’s the name of the 18-year old senior who opened fire yesterday in a high school in Centennial Colorado in Arapahoe County. Pierson reportedly was targeting his ex-debate team coach. However, he shot another student and then himself.

My intent is not to give anybody notoriety nor is my intent to add my voice to those who have so much to say about yet another shooting in locations that are supposed to serve the purpose of helping to build and develop our children into the adults they are to become.

My comments are most likely not going to be met with a lot of cheering and approval from my readers, so let me apologize in advance to any of my readers who may feel offended by anything I say. My intent is not to offend, just to observe and state what I believe based on what I observe.

I am going to try extra hard to pose questions to ponder rather than to make statements just to make sure it is not incorrectly interpreted that I am faulting anybody or making any accusations directed toward anybody.

Ironically, today is exactly one year that the horrific shooting in Newton Connecticut, killing 20 young children and six adults occurred in the Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Sandy Hook Elementary School

Sandy Hook Elementary School

20-year old Adam Lanza shot his way through the elementary school after killing his mother earlier that morning. Just recently, the findings on Lanza verified that he was somewhat obsessed with the 1999 Colubine school massacre in Littleton, Colorado in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed a teacher and 12 students before shooting themselves.

We all know what they had and did in common when they died; but what about how they lived? That is the question that keeps going around in my head. What did these troubled boys have in common? What might we as adults look for, that can tell us how to possibly see the warning signs or potential warning signs and maybe prevent the next shooting from happening?

Age is clearly something the shooters had in common, ranging from the ages of 18 through 20. It makes one wonder if there isn’t a particular point and time in a young man’s life when he may be more prone to act out in violence like this? I know as a foster mom who ends up getting teenage boys, I am very aware that these ages seem to be the ones that keep reappearing.

Obsession with video games or other behaviors of violence is another common thread. We had a young man here in our home earlier this year. He was 15 years old and he was absolutely fascinated and obsessed with the details of the Boston Marathon shooting when it occurred. I couldn’t get on the phone and contact his caseworker fast enough, especially when he expressed intense anger over relatively small disturbances.

Anger issues are another warning sign. Many people get angry, but this type of anger is more of a ‘misplaced’ type of anger – where you can clearly see (even if the young man is not able to) that the degree of anger far outweighs the cause. Again, what I am suggesting here is that there be a very obvious imbalance between the amount of anger and the event that causes it.

In all the cases of the shootings listed above, there were previous outbursts of anger displayed – some disruptive behaviors and or some indication that the young man was living a troubled existence of some type even though they may not have looked like it to outsiders.

Yes, all cases report that the boys were ‘bullied’ or didn’t fit in however, that is so generic in today’s schools it is more than likely not a reliable common thread. However, if we look closer at the way the child processes the feelings brought on by being an outsider or by being bullied, we may be onto something.

Breakdown of the Family

Breakdown of the Family

In quite a few instances, families were split up by divorce or in cases where mom’s (almost always due to finances) had worked outside the home and the young man found other places to occupy himself; many times alone and isolated.

I remember talk about the break down of family and family values in the news years ago. Some people made jokes about it when politicians addressed it as a societal issue. However, here we are, watching children who don’t turn to their parents, parents who have too much else going on in their lives (sometimes, being purely overwhelmed with the need to survive and pay next month’s rent,) to connect with their children in a way where they can get to know what they are really thinking.

And the result? Well, who knows how many other names and victims will be added to this list next year?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Complex States At Being

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Emotions can be incredibly complex states of being/mind.

I just want to be happyPeople (particularly in this western culture) are afraid to experience emotion due to heavy amounts of socialization and conditioning, especially in school. You know, we’re taught to sit still, to be quiet, to “use our inside voices”, to line up, to avoid disorder and be orderly, to obey, to submit, to share. To share, but not to cooperate. There is a difference. Sharing does not necessarily imply or guarantee cooperation. In school, sharing is a behavioral technique; used as a means to control the behavior of a room full of pinging (that is, naturally rambunctious and curious-minded) short beings.

Let me tell you a story: a sad story about a little girl who cried.

cry, baby, cryTo get to City Island one can walk across a 2,800 foot long truss bridge, which was exactly what I was doing when I spotted a brief exchange between a little girl and her father. The little girl’s father, pushing another child in a stroller, told the little girl to look around as well as look at all the fish visible in the River below. The little girl was throwing bread over the side of the bridge to the fish, and seemed very happy.

Later, having crossed the bridge, I was sat under a pavilion and saw the little girl and her family again as they were passing by. The little girl tripped over a rise in the structure of the sidewalk and fell very hard. So hard that I winced when I heard the sound. She immediately bawled, as I’m sure that hurt her terribly. Probably terrified at the pain, you know, she ran to her father for solace. . . and he admonished her. He yelled at her as he brushed the dirt from her clothes, “You gotta watch where you’re walking. You can’t be looking around while you’re walking!” He seemed actually angry with her that she tripped, an accident on her part, no intent to spoil his day whatsoever. She only cried harder asking then for her mommy. At this, her father really became angry and shouted, “That’s it! You’re going back to the car you can’t act right!”

Did you see the contradiction?

Just moments ago, on the bridge he was telling her to LOOK around, then minutes later punished her for doing exactly that. These are the kinds of happenings that disturb me in the world. What did that do to the mind of that little girl? How could she possible understand that kind of contradicting information from such a trusted and authoritative figure as her father? What was the impact upon her consciousness? What did she just unconsciously learn? How did that affect her ego? Her sense of self in the world she knows and how will that affect her sense of self in subsequent years?

Which brings me back to emotions and the horrors some humans have undergone. That suffering. What I think not many humans grok is that suffering can be soft, horror is not always large, it can be very subtle. . . like entropy, changing and developing small vibrations over time that then result in the current personality/identity of that child in the form of an adult.

The Girl Who Cried WolfWhat happened to that little girl is a subtle terror, an event that will accompany who knows how many more and will shape her as a human being. It’s systematic, to get children all to sit still or to behave as one being so it could be easier (or more efficient) for the teacher to educate them. A good idea, sure, but in actuality what happens is that the children become standardized. The spark, the inspiration for creativity and innovation and imagination breaks down because the channels created have no room for them, no means to categorize something as unpredictable as a room full of children all having ideas simultaneously.

This is one way that fear of emotion is installed in the collective consciousness. That fear to really let go and be fully in the space. . .

“. . . and I’m free, free falling.” ~Tom Petty, ‘Free Falling’

*Image credits (used with permission through CC license)–
“I just want to be happy” by bravelittlebird
“cry, baby, cry” by Barbara Pellizzon
“The Girl Who Cried Wolf” by GaelForce Photography

The daily headache

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Every day someone lives in pain. Sometimes it is physical torment, and sometimes it`s mental agony. A memory can harm as well as knives and blows. I want to present a blog from Ashana. She grew up with no safety net, and it is almost impossible to imagine how that must have been. But we have to. We can`t close our eyes. Stories like her, make me want to fight for a better world.


Ashana, thank you so much for sharing your story. Sending you warm thoughts.

Nina, psychologist

The Daily Headache

Have you had yours?


About This Blog

August 6th, a lone gunman toting two semi-automatic weapons killed seven people and wounded a number of others at a crowded Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A few weeks before, a man opened fire in a theater in Colorado, killing 12 and wounded 58 others. The first instance is classified as a hate crime. The second appears to be entirely random—murder for the sake of it.

These are difficult and frightening times we live in.  Much of the Middle East has become destabilized, with civil war raging in Syria and smoldering in Egypt. Terrorist attacks and sectarian violence have become so commonplace in Afghanistan and Iraq it no longer seems to be news. Bombs planted in war-torn Chechnya, where violence has erupted sporadically since the start of the First Chechen War in 1994, reportedly killed four individuals on the same day as the gurudwara shooting. Meanwhile, the Indian Mujahideen struck in Pune on August 1st, when serial explosions rocked Jangli Maharaj Road. The world has become a terrifying place.

Or has it? Is this really anything new?

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The aftermath of the 2010 German Bakery bombing in Pune.

What about the 500,000-100,000 murdered in Rwanda in 1994? The 200,000 killed in Bosnia’s “ethnic cleansing” between 1992 and 1995? The 2 million executed, starved, or worked to death in Cambodia starting in 1975? The .5 million hacked to death or burned alive during Partition? Or, for heaven’s sake, the 11 million who died during the Holocaust under Nazi rule? And going back to perhaps one of the first genocides of the 20th century, the mass killings of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turkish beginning in 1915? What about them?

Targets change, weapons improve, but ordinary people are now and always have been quite capable of torture and mass murder. Evil, it seems, is part of the human heart.

In saying this, I am not arguing that we are all just sinners, hopelessly seduced by that devil. Evil, at least in my mind, is a complicated matter. It is worth making an effort to understand  These are my questions:

Why do some people carry out evil acts?

Why do some engage in more extreme acts of evil than others?

Why do these events occur more at some times than others?

How is it that some people—and not others—take a stand against evil, often at great personal risk to themselves?

This Travelodge in Oceanside was shut down in 2011 because of its use in sex trafficking by gang members.
This Travelodge in Oceanside was shut down in 2011 because of its use in sex trafficking by gang members.

Since I was about 13 years old, I have been deeply and abidingly interested in these questions. While an adolescent Stephen Hawking may have started searching for a unified theory of physics at that age, I started looking for a unified theory of evil. We need to understand the worlds we live in, and mine was for many years almost unrelentingly evil.

It might help to tell a little of my story. My dad molested me from the time I can remember. When I was two, he raped me with a pair of scissors. Like many sociopaths, he killed animals from time to time—usually in front of me—and at least once insisted I kill as well. His aim was not only to frighten, but to corrupt.

Before I was school-aged, my mother assaulted me multiple times—a few times by strangling, once with a pair of kitchen knives, once with a kitchen chair. I have incoherent memories of being dunked head-first in water—the tub or the toilet. I think she did that. But I don’t know.

To discipline me, one or both of them shut me up in a freezer until I lost consciousness. Alternatively, they chained me blindfolded to a wall in the garage, at times without any clothes on. In the garage, I was fed spoiled food, crawling with bugs, or no food at all and refused access to a toilet.

At the same time, my father was also my pimp. For 11 years, I serviced the perverted desires of pedophiles, mainly in a variety of cheap hotels, but also at home or in the homes of his friends. In addition, I performed sporadically in child pornography—both still and filmed.

I grew up in hell and the devil lived there.

Except these were people. People did these things, and in some cases, a lot of people. Unlike my mother, who acted impulsively and alone, my father was intelligent, organized, and apparently well-connected. For the most part, he abused me in the context of organizations that were systematically abusing other children and employed a variety of people—as actors and film crew, hotel managers, maintenance and janitorial workers, and human traffickers.

This was not simply the product of a single, unbalanced mind going over the edge, nor was it the result of a few people getting greedy and slipping into amoral behavior. There were too many of them—both consumers and producers—for these to be adequately understood as isolated incidents or as the work of the 1% of the population who simply lack conscience. Some of this is about ordinary people committing unbelievably, horrifyingly evil acts..

This blog is not so much the place where I am telling my story, as the place where I work to understand those stories. And also where I try to heal the scars.

Thanks for being here with me.

Fight for yourself

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2d2d4a0b12fdae4794c80dae84e568a1Listening To Psychopathic Externals, Is Hazardous To Your Health

21 Aug 2013 4 Comments

by theabilitytolove in Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , ,

      I realized that I’ve had a hell of a lot of invalidation lately. Medically, emotionally, and with my disability claim, and others in my life.  What this does to me, combined with my pathological family dynamics and emphasis on wealth and success as a definition of self, which bleeds into my type A personality, is that I’ve integrated and internalized these beliefs and external voices of “you can, don’t say you can’t!” so much that I’m over compensating leading to decompensation, if that makes sense. I’m a very sick chica right now.

I realized I don’t have a problem validating me or my pain or my illnesses , even my PTSD. Other people do. From my doctors to some people who write to me, and all in between. It has been massively frustrating to me and these voices appeal to my type A, so I’ve pushed myself, quite literally, to death’s door from the stress of it all. That is my doing completely.

“you’re not doing enough”, “Stop saying you ‘can’t”, “it’s fibromyalgia not your sciatica”, “you’re just using excuses because of your abuse”, “why do you let ‘him’ bother you so much?”, ‘well, if you’d stop saying you can’t maybe you COULD’. and many, many more examples of invalidation…

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it can be hard when everybody tries to tell you how to live!

And I hear and listen, DENY that it’s ‘that bad’, then push harder and harder. I’ve been pontificating like a FOOL on this blog in absorbing all of those messages. I have had countless emails from others with chronic illness, just as bad and/or worse than mine, telling me how they did this or did that and are WELL again. “It was yoga that did it for me!” , “I just decided one day that I was just going to BELIEVE in myself!”, “You know, you have beautiful gifts and you could make a lot of money from that if you were willing to do workshops, webinars, skype and phone” (Just hearing this makes me want to head to the ER from the stress). . . I think you get the picture. . .

I’ve also been told that I lay out too many sob stories on my blog in sharing what I’mg going through. I’ve also been told that my writing can get me targeted by others. I’ve been told a hundred million things that I listen too about my writing, how I write, what I write, and yet I get emails often that say, “I’ve never seen a blog like yours, it’s so real and it has helped me so much to heal”. So whose right here? Where is “ME” in all of this?

I have around twenty people that I’ve been mentoring steadily, with my email requests much higher. Without disability, I have nothing to live on and my appearances, due to these voices and my listening to it, are contradictory. “you’re not really disabled”, internalizedis, “You’re right, I’m not so I’ll push harder” It’s combined with ‘You’re a failure and you’ll never commit anything!”, which kicks the Type A in me into gear, leaving others in the dust, riding the pathological Indy 500 of self sabotage, terror and chasing a faulty success that will NEVER happen. When I listen, when I ride that pathological wave of voices, I lose my own and I get sick. Really sick. Do those pathological voices CARE if I get sick? Nope. It’s up to ME to listen to ME. Epic fail this last time. EPIC.

Over the last year, just writing, along with a few survivors that I’ve been mentoring, with security in even a tiny income to pay my bills, I’ve been the happiest and most peaceful I’ve ever been, until it stopped and I shifted into fear. Fear is when I listen to externals most and me less. 

I’ve been able to monitor myself, take care of my health because I was LISTENING TO ME and understood clearly, my limitations. This bullshit society about how you gotta just forget your shit and get on it, may mean someone could die from that. I’m one of those people. I am not you, I am me. I CAN’T do what you do, I can only do what I can do.

Saying I have limitations is a fancier form of ‘I can’t’. Maybe I’ll use that term from now on, as it seems more socially acceptable. What an extremely pathological society we live in. The emphasis is always the bottom line: MONEY AND IMAGE.

I’m very angry at myself for this, pissed off at the invalidation. I’m sick of it. Sick to death of it. And I’ll be IGNORING someone who writes to me or talks to me, no matter WHO it is, and tells me that I need to ‘buck up”  and that I’m not doing ‘enough’ in some way, when in reality, not listening to myself and instead, the voice of a very pathological society, is killing me. I’ve listened so much, I don’t even KNOW what I want anymore, let alone what to do about it. . .it feels like a big ball of cognitive dissonance, not unlike the experiences I’ve had with all of my psychopaths. It’s INSANE.

Then when I get to point the of stability and more thought about this, I’ll write a post about it, as I think there are some very big knots to untie here, within myself and with my past that might in turn, be helpful to others. Invalidation and my integrating and internalizing those messages, has been incredibly detrimental to me and has led to all kinds of confusion and pain, and I have a feeling that a lot of it has been quite unnecessary. For those of us who grew up in pathological homes, internalizing pathological voices is automatic pilot. It is a lot of work to overcome it. Clearly, I have more work to do on this.

I can write. There’s my gift. I can mentor a few survivors, there’s my gift.

But to do more than that, creates hell in my body and in my mind that I can’t control.

So when I go to Voc Rehab tomorrow, I will be VERY CLEAR as to my limitations, like I will commit far more to doing with everyone else from now on.

Not listening to yourself comes with a very high price and externals are extremely convincing when you come from a pathological home. I don’t know that it is something that is ‘cured’ but more something, like everything else, that is simply managed and I think therein, lies the gray area I’ve been working so hard to see.

Onward and upward.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold/201305/12-tips-12-years-sick

The invisible child

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The Invisible Child

I’ve always struggled with the term attachment, used in my profession to denote the relationship that is supposed to develop between mother and infant during the earliest months of life. I may be too concrete, but it makes me think of those poor monkeys in Harlow’s experiment, clinging to that cloth-covered metal skeleton; it seems to imply a kind of behind the mirrorphysical connection when in fact, it’s all about the emotional relationship. In his video on attachment theory, Allan Schore brings that relationship to life when he speaks about the complex interactions between mother and baby — the role of eye contact, physical interaction and facial expresions in creating secure “attachment” — but it still seems to me to be the wrong word.

I’ve had a similar problem with Kohut’s word, mirroring, because to my concrete mind, it suggests that what the mother does is behave like a physical object (a mirror), though lately, I’ve been feeling better about it. In my work with several different clients, I’ve been struck anew with the role of our parents’ attention in creating our sense of self, how important it is that we feel that we are seen. In a fundamental way, we come to know who we are by witnessing our parents’ responses to us; in particular, the joy and love we see in our mother’s face convey to us that we are beautiful and important. Allan Schore has shown how the infant comes with a set of inbuilt expectations and behaviors geared to elicit those parental responses; when the reality of an engaged and loving mother meets those expectations, the result is a secure “attachment” (ugh).

It also results in a secure sense of self, the basis for later self-confidence and self-esteem. But when those expectations are disappointed, as I have explained elsewhere, it leaves the infant with a sense of intrinsic defect and basic shame. This is particularly true when the environment is highly traumatic or abusive. Lately, I’ve also been thinking about a parenting style that isn’t overtly abusive but vacant or largely withdrawn instead. In such a case, though basic shame is an invariable result, the person also develops a sense of unreality, as if he were invisible. It’s as if she looked into the mirror of her mother’s face and found no reflection whatsoever.

In a recent session, my client Alexis was speaking about her boss, with whom she has had an intense and problematic working relationship for many years. Lately, she has “woken up” to the rather nasty ways he sometimes treats her; in this particular session, she told me that she felt as if her boss wanted nothing to do with her or her actual emotional experience. As a result, she had come to feel like a “ghost” at work; this made her want to retreat from their relationship in turn, becoming an impersonal function and discharging her duties in an efficient, detached way. I linked this to her relationship with her father, a college professor who had largely ignored her and her sister, warning them to be silent as he retreated into his study with the graduate students who came for their tutorials. She had felt invisible to her father, and desperate to be noticed by him.

1e6f0c21138bf6ebac99cb1538aa4dd7Alexis also linked this feeling to her mother, a woman who had felt over-burdened by her children and very much wanted to be left alone. Alexis recounted a story recently told to her by her sister Adrienne. Around the age of 8, Adrienne had begun suffering panic attacks in the evenings. Their mother’s response was to give her an over-the-counter sleeping pill and put her to bed with Alexis (age 10), who was then responsible for moving Adrienne to her own bed whenever she felt able to sleep. This “hands off” approach to mothering was typical. Whenever the girls were fighting (as they often did) she would tell them she preferred not to get involved or play referee.

I suggested to Alexis that she felt her mother had wished her to go away, which left Alexis feeling like a ghost, scarcely real. Rather than discovering her sense of self in her mother’s joyful expression, when she looked for a reflection in that mirror, she found it a blank. This discussion helped me understand yet another reason why she has resisted the idea that she’d ever finish treatment and go it alone. Over the long years of our relationship, my bearing witness to her experience and taking a deep interest in her as a person has felt precious to her, an important source of the sense of self she has developed through our work together. On some level, she’s afraid that without me and my attention, she would cease to exist. As a child, she must have felt that way in the absence of parental involvement: as if she were invisible, a ghost child without physical substance.

We ended the session by talking about the importance of being seen and known by others, how at the end of the day, it’s a very small universe of people who “get” you, who are capable of actually seeing you for who you are. It seemed important to acknowledge that I have felt seen and known by her, as well, and that our long relationship has been important to me. How many people understand the work that I do and the psychological issues I consider most important as deeply as Alexis? In a weird way, you’d have to say she knows me better than many of my friends. I also derive a sense of who I am through the mirroring Alexis and my other clients provide to me, just as there’s a kind of reciprocal mirroring that goes on between mother and child.

I wonder if this is why therapists sometimes find it hard to let go of their clients. Maybe they can’t bear to lose that mirroring; they might feel that when a client of long-standing terminates, they lose a little bit of themselves, too.

Joe is the author and the owner of AfterPsychotherapy.com, one of the leading online mental health resources on the internet. Be sure to connect with him on Google+ and Linkedin.

The vendictive narcissist

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Narcissism has many faces.

The following post explores the darker sides of narcissism/psychopathy. This post might trigger reactions in people who have been abused or are in vulnerable positions right now. Feedback is most welcome, and if someone have opinions, we are available on mail (forfreepsychology@gmail.com)

Nina, clinical psychologist

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The Vindictive Narcissist

In recent weeks, both within my practice and through emails from site visitors (all women), I’ve heard about several men who have tried to destroy the reputation of their ex-wives with a ruthless and quite thorough assault on their public characters. These men have told lies to friends and family members, attempted to blackmail their former spouses by threatening to spread vicious lies about them, stolen money from them, tried to turn children against their mothers, become explosively angry, even physically violent when challenged, and have uniformly laid blame for the failure of the marriage at the feet of the ex-wife. I’ve also heard from a couple of men confronting vengeful and narcissistic women in their lives, but with nowhere near the level of vindictiveness displayed by these narcissistic ex-husbands.7c46a3fbc5f98fc62faf824c7da3741aThe viciousness can be quite subtle and sometimes invisible to those who don’t know the man well. For instance, the ex-husband of one of my clients sent a very reasonable sounding email to selected members of their church, including the pastoral counselors who’d tried to help them salvage their marriage, portraying himself as a man of God abandoned by his wife, and then directly impugning her mental sanity while planting doubts about her fitness as a mother. She is, in fact, a quite devoted and capable mother while he consistently manipulates their children with gifts to enlist sympathy on his side (but will also dump them on their mother during his custodial days whenever he happens to have a date).

They seldom come to therapy.

The word I use to describe them is reptilian: they seem so cold-blooded, without any genuine feeling for other people, and their desire to inflict pain or even destroy their former spouses seems inhuman, snake-like. At the same time, I feel that I do understand their psychology and what drives them. As a follow-up to my last post, I thought I’d provide a psychological portrait of the vindictive narcissist, making use of the concepts of projection, shame according to my particular views and narcissistic defenses against it.

In that prior post, I discussed what I’ve called the “law of false attribution,” or an in-built human tendency to believe that whenever we experience pain, an outside agent (some other person) has caused us to feel it. For the vindictive narcissist, the subject pain is a profound and quite literally unbearable sense of shame. He has so thoroughly defended against this shame (the felt knowledge of internal defect) that he has no conscious awareness of it. He has constructed an idealized and false self-image as a protection against it, a kind of fortress behind which he conceals his shame, and will defend that self-image with every weapon in his arsenal. When a wife decides to leave a marriage, the narcissistic husband experiences it as a kind of attack (according to the law of false attribution): her rejection threatens to put him into contact with all the shame he can’t bear to feel, and so he must instantly turn against her. If he can’t literally destroy her, as some wounded narcissists have done, he will attempt to annihilate her character. Like the husband of my client, he will try to turn everyone they know against his ex-wife, painting himself as a martyr.

imageThe degree of viciousness and the unrelenting pursuit of revenge point to a truly toxic level of shame. It’s so unbearable that these men must instantly respond with a counter-assault to any person threatening to stir it up. All insults or wounds to his pride will be felt as an attack and provoke the usual blaming and contemptuous defenses; but the public humiliation they experience when their wives ask for a divorce is a narcissistic injury so profound it provokes a retaliatory strike of nuclear proportions. Most people who go through divorce feel some degree of shame, some sense of failure, but the vindictive narcissist feels it a thousand-fold. That pain is felt as an attack, calling forth an all-out counter-assault meant to annihilate the threat to his fragile self-esteem.

anxiousIf you’ve ever felt hurt or humiliated by someone you know and then entertained fantasies of revenge, imagining that you would show that person up or triumph over him, then you’ll understand (to a degree) what the vindictive narcissist experiences. Unlike you and me, however, he can’t tolerate such painful humiliation, not even for a second, and revenge fantasies are not enough. He experiences the continuing reality of a woman who rejected him as a continual threat, a constant assault upon his ideal self-image; as a result, his defenses remain on continual alert against it. At the least provocation — that is, whenever shame threatens to emerge — he will viciously strike out, like a snake assaulting its prey.

Iimagen comments to my post about narcissistic mothers, many site visitors have described similar assaults by their own mothers. Vindictive narcissists are not limited to vengeful ex-husbands. Since such people have almost no interest in or capacity for change, the best you can do is stay clear of them, just the way you’d avoid a snake if it happened to cross your path. Unfortunately, some narcissists can also be quite charming, having learned how to manipulate people to evoke their desire and sympathy; as children, we can’t escape our narcissistic mothers until we’re grown. When escape is impossible in life, perhaps the most you can do is set very firm limits and try not to inflict unnecessary narcissistic injuries upon them. It will only come back to haunt you.

UPDATE: May 23, 2013

Inspired by reader comments to my posts about narcissistic mothers and vindictive narcissists, I’ve released a new eBook on the Kindle platform. It’s a novella-length retelling of the classic Cinderella story, focusing on my usual themes of shame and narcissism, with a look at the tumultuous emotions behind self-injury

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How to spot disorder: Is your ego being inflated?

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How To Spot Disorder: Is Your Ego Being Inflated? Run.

16AUG201310 Comments

by theabilitytolove in Uncategorized Tags: ,

     I pontificate a lot about a ‘genuine’ recovery. I’ve gone into what that means. So I’m going into this a little more because I experienced an attempt by a disordered one trying to infiltrate with their little tentacles out, ready to claw into my soul. NOPE. Not going there.

The reason that a psychopath, sociopath or narcissist is able to get into your life and down your pants so fast to seal the deal is ego inflation. Who doesn’t like to be told that they’re wonderful, right?
imageI think we make ‘nice’ of the reasons our disordered ones were allowed into our lives and I see this when page admins ‘lure’ survivors, when describing what happened: “He exploited all of your GOOD qualities! Bastard! He saw all the GOOD in you and that’s why you were targeted! Yes, he took all of those GOOD things about you, your POOR THING and exploited them for his OWN benefit!” I’m exaggerating this of course, but it’s irritating when I see it. It’s also questionable because it doesn’t feel honest to me.

Recovery is the greatest opportunity you will ever have in getting to know yourself, warts and all.

Well, what they say is only half true. He took your ‘good’ qualities and elevated it to rock star status. Healthy people do not need this kind of ego stroking and healthy people do not need to ego stroke in this way either.

imageAny abuser, whether it’s a disordered one or not, knows that you’re probably not going to date him if he’s throwing you up against walls and down stairs, or twisting your arm, or devaluing you and calling you names, right?

That’s only logical, but with a disordered one, they study you, they do it through Google searches, your face book page, and they will even create fake profiles and message your friends, claiming to be an old friend of the past and that they want to surprise you but need a little more info, and of course, friends willingly do this without exercising any caution on your behalf with privacy. They are really good at getting information on you, your friends and out of you, with all of that ego boosting, you fill in all the blanks.

So he takes all of this and gets out his ego inflating machine and turns on the air attached to your ego…pump, pump. pump. . . and soon enough, there is enough air in that ego that you’re literally swooning. This is how the disordered creates the mirroring that you’re experiencing, that intense high. It is unrealistic and it is dangerous because NO ONE is that special.

But this is also something that you need to be mindful of in recovery. It’s been really interesting talking to women who are emotionally healthy in ego. What I’ve found consistently with all of them, is that not only do they have a healthy self esteem (ego) but they are also highly aware of their darker sides, their vulnerabilities, so when they’ve experienced targeting in their dating lives, they are able to see the disordered one readily because the over the top flattery and ego inflation looks completely ridiculous to them. They recognize it for what it is,extreme manipulation through ego boosting. It is incredibly distorted and that’s because IT IS.

imageSurvivors can become very defensive about this and it’s frustrating to me when working with them too. I give clear examples of what it means to look at yourself completely, with a great deal of humility and transparency in recovery. It is UNPLEASANT, but ironically, looking at the behaviors, attitudes, poor self esteem, low/no boundaries, mistakes, choices, SETS YOU FREE TO EMBRACE YOUR HUMANITY, and this will be the very thing that will protect you against  targeting from anyone in the future. It keeps your feet on the ground and centered securely in reality, because the psychopath’s love bombing is anything but that, it is fantasy.

The individual love bombing me, was of course, appealing to my ‘great writing’! It’s always nice to be appreciated for the work I do. Sometimes I feel down because it doesn’t feel appreciated so much, but that’s an area of LOW self esteem and not valuing myself.

We all have a human desire to be appreciated for our gifts and who we are. This IS natural and it’s perfectly okay too. I let my friends know often, that they are special to me, and that their friendships or  personal gifts mean a lot to me. A compliment or appreciation given when taken in context and combining the WHOLE person, someone you know well, can really make someone’s day brighter, especially if they’re having a rough time. This is the good stuff.

But when someone is ego inflating me, putting me into ‘rock star’ status with my writing, and continuing on with what a great person I am,  I know I’m being fed bullshit. There are times when I’m asked questions, where the questions in and of themselves are an attempt to inflate my ego with my knowledge about the disorders. At other times, I’m offered other ‘gifts’ that are clearly an attempt to exploit.

I know that my writing is ‘okay’, but I’m no Ernest Hemingway, or Claudia Moscovici! I’m realistic about it, with a level of humility when it comes to my work, where I strive for balance and this helps me to recognize ‘rock star’ status immediately and to ignore it.

At the same time, there are survivors who write to me and tell me that the blog has literally saved their lives with the information they’ve read here. I don’t see that as ‘love bombing’. When someone is grateful to you for your giving to others,it is not the same as the disordered one holding the ego inflater pump. As with everything else when discussing pathological people, it is in the EXTREME. There is a balance. Again, compliments are really nice, but flattery is a major red flag.

I think this part of recovery in acknowledging that the psychopath was allowed into our lives is hard, not because we felt good about ourselves or that our good qualities were exploited, but because we didn’t feel good about ourselves, we didn’t have healthy boundaries and we weren’t aware of our darker sides or vulnerabilities. I know this stuff is incredibly difficult to come to terms with because it already feels like such an injustice with all the pain we are feeling and with what the psychopath appeared to have ‘gotten away with’. It’s hard to admit that in reality, we were duped.

I’m not responsible for any of my psychopaths abuse. But I am responsible now for working on myself genuinely and deeply, so that this never, ever happens to me again and I know how to respond when I’m targeted.

The most dangerous phase of any relationship with a psychopath is the love bombing stage. It is the stage filled with the most deceit, the most ego inflation. This stage is critical to any disordered one approaching you, and the idea is to completely destroy you. Your future destruction by a disordered one is not going to happen without your willing participation. And THAT is not going to happen unless the psychopath can successfully exploit your low self esteem, boundaries and vulnerabilities and the tendency to FANTASY through ego inflation.

Change in recovery, includes rebuilding from a foundation of authenticity about ourselves. Positive and negative behaviors. Building self esteem, boundaries and most especially self awareness of yourself and your humanity, is what a genuine recovery entails. There is nothing more devastating to create a rock bottom than a strategically destructive psychopath.

The psychopath shows us all the wounds we need to heal.

Ego inflation, in my opinion, is the number one way to spot disorder. If you see this, don’t doubt. RUN.

Onward and upward.

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What is narcissistic personality disorder

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Reblogged from: http://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/

The other parts will be reblogged later!

 

July 20, 2013

Please Note: You can skip whatever part you are not interested in – I’m assuming you’re interested in a part of this as you’re reading it – and go straight to whichever part you are looking for. PART ONE indulges my need to understand NPD due to my being the only child of two Narcissists

I read a blog post the other day written by a woman who became alarmed that her propensity to attract Narcissists was a sign that she herself could be one. She had applied the relationship rule that we attract others who express who we are subconsciously, our shadow self, our unclaimed parts. That we project ourselves onto those with whom we have relationships and they reflect us back at ourselves.

PART ONE

I understand her alarm at the possibility that attracting Narcissists means she may be one. If you do a search for information on Narcissistic Personality Disorder the results are ugly. Whether the information comes from a mental health professional or a victim Danger narcissistof a Narcissist, the picture portrayed of the disorder is The Picture of Dorian Gray. If in a moment of clarity, and they do have them, a Narcissist were to suspect that they had NPD, what they would read would be too awful to accept and they would retreat back into their disorder to protect themselves from the very wound they became a Narcissist to escape.

It doesn’t help that many people confuse Sociopathy with Narcissism. The two conditions have similarities, but they are not the same. Narcissists are mostly unaware of what they are doing. Sociopaths always know exactly what they are doing. Narcissists manipulate others because they need to control their reality, and others are part of their constructed reality, it is partly conscious, they do think that they are very clever, but it is largely subconscious. A Sociopath is always conscious. Narcissists do have feelings, much of their behaviour stems from a need to not feel what they are feeling because their emotions are those of a young child, frightening, huge, uncontrollable, and they never learned how to process and deal with their emotions because the Narcissistic wound occurs during the phase when children learn to do so. Sociopaths do not feel, their wound occurred before the emotional nature developed.

Sociopathy occurs before the Narcissistic phase of development, and is usually the result of an infant undergoing abuse the likes of which most of us do not want to imagine. It has also been linked to early brain damage. The trauma which creates a Narcissist is very different from the trauma which creates a Sociopath.

A large percentage of Narcissists are created by one or both parents invading the fragile boundaries of a young child and pushing the emerging identity out of the body and replacing it with their own. They project themselves into the child and the child becomes them, losing touch with themselves and their real identity, which is why a Narcissist can change their identity easily, discarding one for another, because they have no fixed identity of their own. This kind of abuse is often unseen by others, as to the outside world the parent or parents of a Narcissist appear to be very loving, perhaps too loving, over-protective, sacrificing everything for the child. Parents who think that their very young child is a genius and who do everything in their power to nurture that genius, pushing the child to fulfill its potential often at the expense of the child having a childhood, run the risk of creating a Narcissist.

In some ways you could equate the Narcissistic wound to a country which has been invaded, the original inhabitants, the natives, are rounded up by the invaders and exterminated or exiled to an inhospitable, uninhabitable, part of the country. The invaders call themselves settlers and proceed to build a home in this new land, yet without any visceral connection to it all they see is the potential therein, the fertile fields which can be farmed until every nutrient is removed from the ground, the abundant wildlife which is hunted to extinction, the resources, the ore, the gold, the oil, removed from the earth, every inch exploited without thought for the consequences of the exploitation, because it doesn’t matter, once this country is empty of value, the settlers will unsettle themselves and move to new territory, repeat the cycle, because they have no real roots in this land. They have a homeland, but they choose for whatever reason not to live there, perhaps because they are unwelcome there and don’t feel a sense of belonging anywhere. The Earth is a temporary home.

Those who inflict the Narcissistic wound which creates a Narcissist never claim responsibility for what they have done. They did their very best, obviously the child was a bad seed and a bad egg. Either that or they never see the bad side of the Narcissist and tell their child that the world just isn’t prepared to accept such a superhuman being.

Narcissistic Parents - Words from Their Children - NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDERThey do what they do to their child because they can and because they think it is good for them, and they tell themselves that they do it for the good of the Narcissist. They know better. Because those who create Narcissists are always in a position of power over the person, the child, who is made into a Narcissist, and they abuse that power, consciously sometimes, but often unconsciously. They often believe they are doing what is best for the child, and for themselves, but they often think they are sacrificing their good for the future of the child. They are noble in their quest. They often feel that they are harnessing the potential of the child, which the child will spend years wasting while being a child, while having a childhood, and which the child might waste as an adult too.

The Narcissist creator wants control of another’s life because they could live it better than the person to whom it belongs, because they feel that they have wasted their own life in some way and are angry about it. They need redemption, a second chance… and they take it, because they believe that you can make your own dreams come true by seizing whatever opportunity is available, even if it means kicking someone else, a child, out of their own body, and taking that body and mind over. The sacrifice will be worth it.

If you’re going to hate a Narcissist, spare some hate for those who created the Narcissist. Those who wounded a child so deeply that the child grew up to spread that wound around, and inflict the pain of the wound onto others. They did not do this to themselves. They did not wound themselves. Why would anyone do that to themselves, especially not a child. Human beings are designed by nature to avoid pain. We only hurt ourselves and others when we are already hurting.

narcissistThere are a lot of Narcissists in our world, psychologists have come to the conclusion that we are living in a Narcissistic society. So the chances are that all of us will attract a Narcissist, maybe more, at some point and have a relationship with someone with NPD. This could be a boss, a colleague, a friend, a lover or a partner.

There are some traits which are particularly attractive to Narcissists, and if you display these traits you will be more prone to being a magnet for Narcissists. Many of the traits which Narcissists find attractive are the same ones we are encouraged to develop to be socially acceptable. They vary slightly with gender.

There is a myth that those with NPD are predominantly male. In my personal experience I have met more female Narcissists than male ones. I think the reason that there seems to be fewer female Narcissists than male ones can be explained by society’s behavioural excuse system – stereotypes. All women are crazy. Thus a female Narcissist is less likely to be seen as having NPD and more likely to be labeled as a woman being stereotypically crazy, prone to irrational emotional outbursts, and emotionally manipulative, in other words, hormonally challenged. Female Narcissists also tend to be very sexually aware, often displaying what is known as sexually inappropriate behaviour, and will do things which will turn a man’s brain to mush. Thus men are less likely to realise that a woman has NPD. Other women will label such a woman with names which will be put down to envy and jealousy. A female Narcissist will often have few if any female friends, and she will be rather proud of this often stating boldly that she prefers men to women. A female Narcissist also makes very little distinction between seducing a male and seducing a female. Seduction is a very useful tool, people who are no longer thinking with their minds are easier to manipulate, and less likely to notice what you are doing. If they come to their senses, their embarrassment will protect the Narcissist. They will blame their own weakness, be ashamed of their own desire, and not blame and shame the Narcissist. The Narcissist will be gone before that penny drops, if it ever does.