Toxic Relationship Recovery – Revisited

Many folks these days have had the unfortunate experience of getting into and then barely surviving a toxic, abusive relationship.  And those who’ve had such an experience know how difficult it can be to restore one’s emotional sanity, pick up the pieces, and move on. Often, the damage resulting from such relationships is multi-dimensional, so it can a fair amount of time to fully “recover.”  Because the recovery process is ongoing, finding just the right kind of support is crucial.  And that in itself can be a challenge sometimes, which only complicates the picture.

I’ve written several times before about toxic relationship survival and recovery (see, for example: Surviving a Manipulator: Like Getting Whiplash, Toxic Relationship Aftermath: Doubt, Mistrust, and Paranoia?, Toxic Relationship Aftermath – A Wrap-Up, Moving on after an Abusive Relationship) but because so many people continually write me asking for even more on the topic (requests for more information on toxic relationship survival are second only to requests for referrals to therapists who “get it” with respect to dealing with character disturbance – a request that regrettably I’ve never been in a position to adequately fill, although that may soon change in the aftermath of my upcoming series of professional training workshops through Cross Country Seminars), I thought it wise to introduce a new series of articles that will incorporate real life examples (as always, with potentially identifying information altered to preserve anonymity) to illustrate how one goes about reclaiming one’s life and empowering oneself in the aftermath of an abusive situation and gains the resources to minimize the likelihood of being similarly victimized in the future.

While I have hundreds if not thousands of examples to share, this is one series of articles where the input of the readers has the potential to be of particularly high value.  Most folks visiting this blog know all-too-well what it’s like to be deceived on the front end of a relationship about the character of a partner, to endure various kinds of subtle and not so subtle abuse,  to struggle with finding the proper support resources, etc., and to deal with the doubt, anger, shaken sense of self and the myriad of other issues that accompany having been involved in some way with any of the many disturbed and disordered characters out there. And while many folks have found the frameworks and principles I advance in my books In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance to be both validating and illuminating, there’s no substitute for the kind of real-life illustrations of those principles only actual survivors can provide. So it’s my hope that through a combination of the illustrative vignettes I’ll be presenting and the mindful sharing of the commentators, all of the readers will derive the both kind and measure of support they need to maximally empower themselves.

One particularly “touchy” aspect of toxic relationship recovery – but one that simply can’t be ignored or shied away from in a discussion of this kind – is how to sort through one’s own vulnerabilities, possible “neuroses,” and other emotional issues in a mindful, honest, yet self-respecting way.  In their justifiable anger and hurt, survivors can sometimes be tempted to view this self-reckoning process as a type of “victim blaming,” which it definitely must not be. Besides, when it comes to the most skilled and conniving of disturbed characters, even the healthiest among us can be duped. As I point out in In Sheep’s Clothing, manipulators (i.e. covert-aggressors) can be quite adept at veiling their true nature, a nature that sadly all-too-often only becomes evident after they’ve succeeded in exploiting and/or abusing their targets. But most of us have emotional and personality vulnerabilities that disturbed characters are prone to exploit, so a mindful introspection devoid of unnecessary self-blame can be a vital aspect of avoiding future jeopardy. I was just asked about this again recently, so you can expect it to be addressed in the upcoming series. Perhaps nothing is more empowering than really knowing, accepting, and taking ownership of oneself, in part because of the increased ability one gains better appraise the character of others.  The other piece, of course, is having a framework for understanding character issues in general and a greater awareness of the signs of character disturbance, manipulation tactics, etc., which is what I’ve long striven to put forward in my books and other writings. Knowing yourself, knowing what disturbed and disordered characters are all about, how they operate, etc., and acquiring the skills to deal more effectively with all the tactics you’re likely to encounter in our character-impaired age is what personal empowerment is all about.

Character Matters will again be a live program this Sunday at 7 pm EDT, so I can take your calls.  Listernership has already exceeded expectations and continues to expand a truly heartening rate.  And for the most part, the character of the call-ins to the program has been quite remarkable.  So tune in, and if you have a mind to, join the discussion! You never know when a question you want addressed or an experience you want to share is just what someone else needs to hear.

121 thoughts on “Toxic Relationship Recovery – Revisited

  1. Loved the post Dr Simon.
    Have you ever heard of Celebrate Recovery? It is a Christ centered recovery program for “life’s hurts hangups and habits”.
    It is hard sometimes after leaving the crazy making that happens in relationships with the character impaired to know what is real and what is not and to sort through the shame and guilt to get to what you own and what you do not own. Celebrate recovery helps you do that through an amazing Christ centered spirituality and accountability to God to yourself and to others.

  2. Nice article, Dr. Simon, bringing up some crucial aspects of the aftermath of being emotionally abused by a CD. The biggest mistake many online ‘helpers’ make is to either intentionally or accidentally frame the experience of being targeted as being the ‘fault’ of the victim.

    The CD takes advantage of personality traits that are usually considered personality strengths and have a civilizing effect on society. This is a point you have brought up several times and it is appreciated.

    There are victims, so desperately seeking approval, that they are bound to be taken advantage of, though. So, that is one area some can work on. It doesn’t mean that what happened to them is their fault. It is particularly creepy that a predator would take advantage of somebody who has problems of a neurotic and relatively benign nature.

    Another aftermath reaction is seeing CD manifested in everybody–swinging too far to the other side of the spectrum. That can cause major problems, too. Seeing evil everywhere feeds fundamentalism. If society has become more psychopathological, the reaction always has to be measured, mature and not overly zealous, suspicious.

    I guess a reasonable analogy would be this: If we have to deal with more psychopathic world now, we don’t want to develop a collective borderline mentality, that splits black and white, trying to grapple with it.

    We can begin by encouraging others to use as much discernment as possible. Evil is harmful, real and embodied in psychopaths. The collective acknowledgement of that evil, mishandled, is not only harmful, but potentially explosive.

  3. It is very difficult to recover from a long term relationship with a CD. I dated xnh for 4 years and then was married to him for 45. A part of me wants him to wear a label that tells who and what he is so everyone will know. However, I have chosen to turn that over to God. He married soon after we were divorced. I do not know if his new wife suspects any thing or not. I have only a minimal e-mail once in a great while with him to discuss family. Our grown daughters and grandchildren and his family know that something isn’t right and are supportive of me.

    I am left in the wake of this discovery. It has been 9 years and I still struggle with it. I am a different person now and I can never go back. I have a reasonably good life, but it seems a lot of joy is gone. With knowing about CDs and everything that is happening in the world it seems a scary place any more.

    Dr. Simon, this website helps a great deal to know that I am not alone in this. I also take part in another forum on narcissism abuse recovery.

    1. Hi Noel,

      How are you today? I hope you are feeling just a bit better! It’s hard for me to fathom the kind of anguish you’ve gone through and the strength it must have taken for you to leave your disordered ex. It is never too late to reclaim joy, though it often feels that way!

      Can you remember your ‘ah hah’ moment when you realized that he was disordered?

      Or was it like a drip drip slow Chinese torture of realization?

      I know with my father, my real, ‘ah hah,’ moment didn’t hit me until I was in my mid twenties. And it wasn’t a highly significant event, nor an emotional one.

      I’d been away from home for enough years to develop emotional distance. I was sufficiently recovered and clear enough to have that, ‘you truly ARE weird,’ moment.

      And to this day, I don’t know how to classify him. Maybe a little bit malformed and completely unfinished, personality wise?

      Like they broke the mold just before the raw materials for his personality were poured in. And that recipe was always missing a few key ingredients and character wasn’t baked long enough?

      1. After meeting for a couple of hours with our minister, he told me to call him if I wanted to meet with him. Then at that meeting he told me that xnh had a personality disorder. I knew things weren’t right, but I had never really heard of PD before.

  4. The following post by Dr. Arthur Janov, released today the 18th October, soon to appear in Activitas Nervosa Superior, has been hailed by Neurologists as “brilliant”. Herewith the first instalment of 20 parts, that will appear on Janov’s blog Once opened, click on “Janov’s reflections on the human condition” This should be read by every human being on this planet. It is pure science.

    Sometimes I realize I am getting science-heavy but what is happening today is so exciting, especially since it supports what I have been writing about for almost 50 years. Almost every week, it seems, scientists announce new research confirming much of the primal position. This is especially true in the burgeoning field of epigenetics, the study of how experience changes an individual’s genetic code, previously considered inalterable. An article recapping the groundbreaking work by pioneering researchers from McGill University in Montreal proclaimed that “the emerging field of epigenetics is revolutionizing the study of mental health – and challenging the belief that DNA is destiny”(1).

    Moreover, in terms of the history of science, the new developments augur the convergence of previously distinct fields, psychology and biology. In one report regarding research that shows a link between early-life adversity and changes in a person’s genetic make-up, the Canadian researchers come to this sweeping conclusion: “Epigenetics could serve as a bridge between the social sciences and the biological sciences, allowing a truly integrated understanding of human health and behavior.” (McGowan & Szyf, 2010, p. 71) In short, there is a growing understanding that mental illness has a crucial physical component, which has been a basic tenet of Primal Theory from the start. We have always maintained that neurosis is a disturbance of mind and body. And in our treatment, both mind and body must be involved for a cure. Now, science is showing us how that is possible at a cellular level. Unlike genetic mutations, the researchers state, “epigenetic alterations are potentially reversible” (McGowan & Szyf, 2010, p. 66). And that is the most promising finding of all.

    I have discussed epigenetics in my blog and my books, about how adversity early on changes the switches for key genes that then serves to compound repression or inhibition. These switches turn the gene on or off, and thus help set in what seem like genetic changes. In Primal terms, it is the mechanism of closing the gates of feeling or opening them. And there are different chemicals that accompany the epigenetic events, methyl and acetyl groups, for example. The critical work in this field shows how imprints can be passed down through generations – from parent to child and grandchild – primarily through the biochemical processes known as methylation and acetylation. We need to differentiate, however, between healthy and unhealthy methylation. Under normal conditions, methylation is a necessary and naturally occurring process that helps regulate the expression of an individual’s genetic make-up. But excess methylation becomes pathological and leads to disease. The process goes awry when the individual suffers physical or psychological trauma, especially in the womb and in infancy. It seems that for each and every pain we endure during gestation and at birth there is a change in the chemicals that enhance the repression of pain. When the pain or adversity is prolonged, the system is overtaxed and we now have the mechanism of leaky gates; that is, repression begins to falter due to an overload of chronic pain.

    It is the consistency of the pain that causes the overload. There is a limit that the brain can handle. Beyond that, the gates become vulnerable and do not do well. It takes very little trauma after that to produce a symptom such as ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. The chemical methyl group is recruited when there is a traumatic event, and helps embed that memory. It seems that when there is a surge of methylation part of it attaches to cytosine, one of the four nucleobases of DNA. The imprint of the pain is now part of the DNA and blocks the expression of various genes. Concurrently, methyl and acetyl groups attached to the histones (protein structures which allow the DNA to coil up) may interfere with the timely coiling or uncoiling of the DNA. This disrupts the proper expression of certain hormones and other neurochemical processes. That is part of the reason it is so easy to confuse genetics with epigenetics: our moods and personalities are shaped early on, so we believe psychological disorders are passed down through the bloodlines. After all, if both the parents have blue eyes, it is not a mystery that their child also has blue eyes.

    But when it comes to behavior and feelings, it is another matter. Controlled by the epigenome, genetic expression can be restricted through experiences the fetus undergoes while in the womb. And it is here that some of the mystery of cancer may be uncovered; for it may be that cancerous cells would evolve as normal cells if not for the physiologic force of repression provoked by maternal stress. This creates lifelong chronic stress in the offspring. It may be that as benign cells surge forward along preordained pathways, they are blocked from their destinations. They are then “crushed” or deviated and can no longer be themselves; they lose their identity and become lethal. As they are changed, we are changed. (More on cancer in a moment.) What all this means is that by examining our womb-life in detail we can often predict our future: our sexual problems, the possibility of later cancer, psychosis, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and a whole host of afflictions (Johnstone & Baylin, 2010).

    One study suggests that the biological underpinnings of bipolar affective disorder are not primarily genetic, but are epigenetic (Rutten & Mill, 2009). Even an individual’s tendency toward violence, once thought to be a brain disorder, is being shown to have epigenetic roots. In research with rats, investigators at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne found that animals subjected to trauma in childhood showed changes in two parts of the brain – the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala (Márquez et al., 2013). Those changes taken together combined to lower the threshold of aggressive impulses and weaken the ability to control them. (A report summarizing the findings was also released by the Swiss research university under the title, “Childhood Trauma Leaves its Mark on the Brain.”(2) The results were surprisingly similar to changes found in the human brains of traumatized children who grew up to be violent adults. In addition, the scientists also measured changes in genes known to be associated with aggressive behavior. Here, they found that the psychological stress experienced by the rats caused an alteration in the way these genes were expressed, specifically an increase in the level of MAOA gene expression in the prefrontal cortex, according to Prof. Carmen Sandi, head of the Swiss school’s Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics and director of the Brain-Mind Institute. Researchers were able to reduce the levels of aggression with antidepressants, specifically an MAOA gene inhibitor. In short, childhood stress produced epigenetic changes that heightened violent tendencies. Drug treatment later tamped down the violence, reversing the long-term impact of early trauma. In our own work, we have found that the deeper patients descend down the levels of consciousness the more likely there can be rage and violence.

    Until recently, the role of epigenetic mechanisms in transmitting trauma across generations has been demonstrated in animals but not in humans. A new study, involving Holocaust survivors and their children, shows for the first time how the epigenetic impact of stress, the cellular changes, can also be passed down among humans, from one generation to the next (Yehuda et al., 2015). Researchers found that children of Holocaust survivors frequently gave birth to anxious children. At first, they thought it was because the parents told horrible stories to the children, but later they discovered that the anxiety came down through the genetic chain, as we shall see in more detail shortly. The point is that the genetic effect of wartime stress had descended from the mother’s physiology through epigenetics. (More on this study in a moment.)

    I will discuss the clinical implications of the research in the second half of this article. Suffice to say for now that pharmacological treatment may not be the only way to reverse epigenetic changes. We propose that the effects of methylation – as an agent of repression – can be reversed during Primal Therapy, which revisits and resolves the traumatic events that triggered the repressive chemical process to begin with. The real revolution lies in the possibility that people no longer have to live with their genetic inheritance but can actually take charge and change it through Primal Therapy. We believe we may have the method for reversing the long-term deleterious effects of epigenetics, and we are undertaking new research to study that point. If it is life experience that caused changes in the biochemistry and neuronal circuitry, then it is not a fixed entity. It can be altered; the way this is done is by retrieving and reliving key imprints, as I will explain. Heredity is irreversible, but epigenetics is not. It is reversible, which is something I propose we have been doing for almost 50 years.

    1. This is incredibly interesting and kind of scary as I did suffer a lot of trauma during my pregnancy. Is it possible that the genes will be influenced in such a way to make the child more resilient to stress? Lol

      Also interesting and important is that a female childs overies are developed in gestation so the experiences of the mother can be very directly passed on to the grandchild. Whereas the sperm is developed later in life by the male so what the male child experienced in his life and at the time of conception of his offspring have an effect on the grandchild.

      I can’t help but think that if nature is made this way there must be some evolutionary advantage to epigenetics not only to transmit trauma and give us cancer?

    2. Also! I wonder what the correlations between intergenerational trauma and chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, etc are.

      It’s interesting that these conditions are more prominent in women than men. And given how much more easily a mother’s experiences can effect her daughters grandchild than her son’s there might really be something to that. There’s a thesis to research! Lol

      1. Hi Valencia,

        Autoimmune disorders are more prevalent in women than men. Upgraded immune responses are required by nurturers as they come into closer contact with sick children. (.I think) That’s just a guess. So that may not be a cause of fibro and cfs, it would certainly exacerbate symptoms or predispose women to illnesses that take advantage of immune systems (or are able to do an end run around) that are very active, to begin with.

        in this video michael tsarion says misogyny, subjugation of women and even violence against women is not justified, but “justifiable” because of epigenetics…of a time prior to the ice age when women left their men and ran off with space aliens. whew!
        this movement against women is growing legs.

  5. Lisa said: “Another aftermath reaction is seeing CD manifested in everybody–swinging too far to the other side of the spectrum. The collective acknowledgement of that evil, mishandled, is not only harmful, but potentially explosive.”

    I agree. Rigid, black and white thinking is dangerous. After being severely damaged by toxic relationships we can easily begin to see bad stuff everywhere. The health of our emotions is like everything else in life, a delicate balance. We must examine everything carefully and hold fast to that which is good.

    The policeman and the robber both shoot. To imply that both are bad is morally wrong.

    It takes discernment, the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. The ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think. Otherwise we run the risk of being tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind.

    1. Btw, Suzi, thanks for sharing your thoughts back then, I really appreciated it.

      Took a bit of searching, since I didn’t remember where you said this:

      “We can accept bits and pieces and reject that which is of no value. And the time spent separating information and thinking about what is or is not worth using is “critical thinking” or “brainstorming”.

      There are so many things that we learn that takes a long time and a lot of thinking before it becomes useable or before we begin to connect dots.

      Actually that’s how life goes. From cradle to grave it’s a journey of building on what we’ve learned in the past and improving the areas that need change.

      And we do that by constantly seeking and learning new stuff.

      Brainstorm and think your way through life. Don’t let anyone else do your thinking for you.

      And yes, learn as much as you can and fill your mind with all sorts of good and beautiful stuff.

      Go as far as you can see. When you get there, you will see farther.”

      I think that made perfect sense. Perhaps write it down and save it somewhere for yourself to be seen?

    2. You know what the problem with a discussion full of good points tends to be? Specific good points may be missed in the info flood. Hence me suggesting this, so I hope I’m not being offensive here.

  6. Patrick,

    An interesting theory, to be sure, hails back to Lamark’s theories of evolution and could account for what has previously been described as ‘junk DNA’.

    Maybe those genes lie dormant, within the genome, in the absence of environmental triggers. The idea that the active genome can be changed as easily as Janov describes, I would question, until solid proof is provided though.

    An easy change to the genome, of that magnitude, implies the dominant active genome is highly unstable, to a degree that would have pronounced follow on effects.

    Intuition tells me that the larger physical manifestations of that instability would have individual humans looking as varied as something out of the intergalactic bar scene in Star Wars. But that’s just my intuition, which might be more unstable than any genome, or theory about it!

    As far as the processes involved in character disorders goes, my working hypothesis is that evolution of the mind has a genetic, ancestral , cultural component and a personal component. The personal component is made up of the choices we make and our behavior. This honors forces that are beyond the individual’s control but also respects a person’s ability to exercise free will.

    Throughout childhood we make choices as to where we will direct our attention. The parts of our brain that are exercised the most, survive the pruning process the brain goes through in adolescence.

    Rather than being a process of addition or change, it’s a process of subtraction. The brain, in a sense, self- bonsai’s. It prunes out of existence, what it hasn’t used before.

    If a child has paid no attention to morality, focus on others, etc… he is less likely to be able to develop the ability to develop it, as the brain loses plasticity with age.

    The bigger most complete picture may always be just a bit if a mystery, as the spiritual aspects of the development of personality aren’t easily studied or accepted by the scientific community, at this time.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for your comment. I am not sure how familiar you are with Janov’s work, but you may know that it entails re-experiencing (or reliving) painful feelings from your childhood. In his clinical work Janov started realising that painful imprints can and do occur during a troublesome birth, and even earlier, whilst a foetus is still in the womb.

      Thus, long before the word “Epigenetics” was coined, Janov saw the effects of pre-natal trauma in his patients, and wrote about it.
      Simply put, the most painful and most damaging trauma is laid down during gestation. Other researchers doing neuro research then – independently of Janov – came to the same conclusions.

      Janov’s Magnum Opus, titled “Life Before Birth” has since been hailed by many researchers as one of the most authoritative books on epigenetics.

      P.S I commented on this blog a long time ago, under a different username. I am from South Africa and started Primal therapy in 1980, and I can testify to the fact that PT really does cure neurosis. I wish I could scream it from the rooftops.

  7. Suzie,

    So true. We have to be on guard, for the enemy outside and the potential “enemy within”. A survivor of manipulation need only frequent a few forums, that profess to free people from psychopaths and help in the aftermath, to witness the endless and unnecessary mud-slinging, slighting and discarding of members that ‘arouse suspicion’ to see what can happen.

    Sometimes a person’s online behaviour is so undermining and hostile to other forum members, it is understandable they are asked to leave. But often…not so much.

    Unsuspecting new members are sometimes red flagged because the mods are in witch hunt mode. The mods have become what they despise, through acquiring what appears to be a collective borderline mentality. And borderline personality disorder, springs from a different place, but the behaviour can mirror psychopathy. Their singular focus on rooting out evil distorts their perceptual lens. They become zealots. It’s much like being taken to task by those who have been taken out of the grand inquisition.

    Demonizing others is a very risky business — and it’s not a purely Christian temptation. Shamanic tribal societies have the highest murder rates. Everybody suspects everybody else might be cursing them. It all ends in murder. Terrible.

    Through environmental, population and economic stress we could become more inclined to follow the more morally careless New Age, Hindu, Muslim and Christian zealots into an inverted ‘heaven’ that will seem a lot like Hell, once the ‘spot the psychopath’ genie is out of the bottle. Very very difficult job to be targeted, accept the presence of evil and not be taken over by that reality.

    I know the world is a different place for me now. It saddened me before. Now it is more inclined to overwhelm and terrify me, at times. But I refuse to make it a worse place for myself by tossing out my core belief that most people are well intentioned and good. Maybe I’m wrong but it just feels like the best way to proceed

    Christianity merged with genuine positive intent and constrained by science, is probably the safest spiritual milieu. Zen Buddhism seems pretty safe, too — just a bit boring! LOL.

    1. LisaO, I don’t agree that most people are well intentioned and good. While a few of us are saints, and few of us are psychopaths, most of us are a mix of nasty and nice. As Dr Simon has stressed, being good takes commitment and skills, and even then we don’t always succeed. It’s lifelong hard work.

      The whole “nicey nice” meme ought to be tossed; it turns people into easy targets for the character impaired.

  8. Vera,
    Hi Vera,

    I live in an area where I am surrounded by people I would describe as striving to be better human beings. You can feel it in the air. That may be affecting my over all perception.

    If I lived elsewhere I could easily have a different take on people. So I guess I’m lucky and my heart goes out to you if you live in a place where people are really aggressive, creepy or just generally kind of dirt bags.

    I just think that judging all of humanity based on my one horrible experience and a few lesser horrible experience, wouldn’t be fair — to me.

  9. Oh–Vera, one more thought. I just burst out laughing as I remembered my meeting with a friend who is a New Age healer a couple of days ago. She’s a totally gentle soul. I was telling her about a seriously CD woman I have been pretty much forced to have in my life, who is Hell on wheels, major sh** disturber. She responded immediately with, “well she’s obviously suffering beneath the surface.” I told her no, she is one of the happiest people I know. So the back and forth began. All bad behavior, in her mind, is reactive, fear based…(you know the drill.)

    I told her that I think my understanding of this woman might actually be better than hers, seeing as she hasn’t even met her. I followed up by saying if she thinks ALL people are good, and if they aren’t its because they are suffering, she doesn’t understand CD and the underlying personality dynamics. Fear is NOT the prime motivator there, often, it’s aggression, another very basic instinctive drive that is completely unbridled in many of these types.

    Anyway, it made me smile remembering it because you may have had more of this attitude foisted on you than I have…and yes it is hard to take and God help anybody who deeply believes everybody is ‘good!’

    1. “… She’s a totally gentle soul… ”
      I bet she must be radiant too, radiant with gentleness. I just pray that she never runs into one of these light sucking narcissistic blackhole. Because, if she does, she just may turn into one of us, people with haunted looks, trawling around looking for answers, eventually (& hopefully) getting enlightenment and true meaning of “not everyone is same, not everyone is nice”. It takes a life to understand that not everyone is good.
      Wisdom cometh but slowly, too slowly.

    2. LisaO, I have run into people like her way too often as well, and I have come to realize that they are among the enablers of the character-impaired. Very frustrating. Bad enough we run into CDs… but the enablers make it all worse. Did she listen to you? She probably assumed you are too warped to appreciate how people really ARE ‘deep down good’. Sigh.

      1. Hi Vera,

        I think what happens with people, in general, is they think that your anger and ‘not seeing the pain underlying badness,’ is because they think you are still stuck in a child like emotional perceptual realm. They figure that you’re not acknowledging another’s pain is because you are in a highly agitated, emotional state.

        They assume because you are triggered you can’t think, analyze clearly.

        And that’s often the case when there is bad blood between neurotic people.

        But it doesn’t hold water when it comes to people whose dominant motivation in life is just that–to dominate.

        So easy for CDs to run rings around people who see the world almost exclusively through the ‘EVERYbody is deep down pure lens. And yes, God help them if they ever come face to face with pure evil.

        This healer friend spends most of her time with a completely blank expression, as she is an ’empath’ and desperately trying to shield herself from everyone’s ‘negativity’.

        I plan to have a conversation with her and tell her the blank look is interpreted as a negative and does she realize that not giving feedback through expression is interpreted by her clients not as a neutral but as a negative. The subconscious mind of the person on the receiving end of the blank stare will go towards the negative and interpret it as judgement, censure, etc..,

        She has a lot to learn about the full spectrum of emotion.

  10. Thank you again dr. Simon!

    I have been thinking the last few days about this topic. Here’s what’s been on my mind.

    Absolutely DC’s pray on our virtues. Our empathy, our since of fairness, our innocence.

    I have been strstruggling with the shame and self blame for having allowed all the narcs in my life treat me as they did. When I reflect on it, most of my meaningful relationships including friendships have been with an at least moderate DC/narc. My mother was narcissistic and this has imprinted me, my epigenome, or my karma, whatever it may be to seek out more of these people. My boundaries have become suppressed because it’s what I had to do to survive. Even healthy people have been known to become abusive with me because they can. I was conditioned to be passive and while I can be VERY assertive it takes a lot to muster up the guts to do so. Secretly my biggest fear is that I will keep being victimized. That there is something so wrong and weak in me that just makes me such an easy target.

    For many years I didn’t even realize the role I was playing by allowing it to happen. Understanding myself and my weaknesses and passivity are important. There is a loss of innocence when we realize not everyone is “good”. And I don’t mean seeing the world as good or bad, but knowing that there are people out there who will knowingly and deliberately HURT you to justify their personal gain. We all make mistakes but most of us don’t deliberately victimize others. This loss of innocence must be grieved. It is a real loss. And the hard reality accepted.

    I feel that very importantly however is to not let the “evil” get the better of the good in us. We have all been blessed with a beautiful soul. Some of us just have to dig a little deeper to find it. Don’t let someone else’s crap dim your light. I know it’s corny, there’s no other real way to say it though.

  11. Valencia,

    Most CD’s target people who will jump through hoops trying to understand, give them the benefit of the doubt, who are naturally fair minded and diplomatic. etc.. It’s a strength, to be sure and nothing to be in any way ashamed of.

    Very difficult to master the art of retaining these qualities when dealing with most people but ditching them when it comes to the self serving.

    Also, CDs are more prevalent now, as Dr Simon has mentioned often, so it actually IS a different world we are in. Most of us were raised in a gentler time.

    So we have to really work on knowing when to be kind patient and when to pull out a whole different play book.

  12. LisaO, I’m not sure if I keep up with you on everything, but you really, really, really, really should become a writer. You seem to have thought so much of everything from what I’ve read in your post, it comes across.

    I’m not sure where I should begin. I bled my heart out a while back on some similar things as you refer to.

    I’ve myself gotten manipulated many times(and then managed to avoid being manipulated other times). I’ve met virulent and not-so-virulent cases alike. Not sure if I’ve met a psychopath though, though I have a slight creeping suspicion one guy I met a few times briefly might’ve been one or close. I’ve silently listened to gossip, though most of the time it’s seemingly been casual, idle rambling about random people just to fill time, you know, not particularly intended to target anyone. I’ve also avoided contact with some people, because someone else said or implied I may not like what happens if I do get into their company. Pretty much like poisoning the well, right? Inoculating another person(in those cases, me) so everything a third party can do and say gets a particular slant, all this in the name of warning against them. Such insidious, cunning stuff. Sometimes just subtle nudging “See? See?” does the work. Whatever someone else truly could have to say gets lost and it’s a real damn loss, it’s sad. I had a convo with a pal over coffee some few weeks back and we talked about this and that until we spoke about how humans have probably known subtle influencing from the dawn of time. Some are just better(more instinctive? More foresightful? More malicious? More perceptive? Yeesh…..).

    “a collective borderline mentality”? Hmmmmm…..

    “singular focus on rooting out evil distorts their perceptual lens” Sorry, I kinda take things outta context here. Hope you don’t mind. But that makes frightening amounts of sense. I was once frequenting another forum entirely, though later I didn’t post all that often, because I had little in common with others. One guy I often talked to and considered a good friend, until some things started going to hell. I had made fun of some other commenters on another site making fun of the site we were on. Apparently someone’s writing style had some similarities to mine, since he told me. I was dumbstruck. Why’d he suspect I was playing some complicated joke on him? I convinced him that wasn’t the case. No help. He actually copypasted some sentences and went on and on about how it couldn’t be coincidence and I must’ve been intent on getting to him. Noting how it was talking in circles and I saw no reason to continue, I blocked him and dropped contact. When another guy I’d talked to told me he’d heard some crazy things about me(luckily he’d refused to believe them), I decided to leave that site. I had very little else there, why stay? It was godawful.

    1. Timothy,

      Sounds like you fell off the edge of the world and ended up somewhere in limbo, forum wise. These are pretty unhealthy arenas of human emotional activity. You were surrounded by people who generalize from the specifics of their own experience. And it sounds like you were blind sided by the actions of a very suspicious fellow member.

      I received similar treatment on a forum. My crime? To this day, I am not quite certain. I didn’t disagree with them, got along with fellow members. Curious. Real mean girl/high school dynamics there.

      From these experiences we can easily infer that there is only one thing possibly worse than being targeted by a P and that is being demonized by hysterical targets, post abuse. Just because these people are likely, by and large, empathetic and ‘kindly’ souls, they haven’t gone through proper therapy and learned when to put their emotional brakes on.

      And, Valencia has this right. That kind of anger, extended over time, years, has the potential to embitter the victim and ruin subsequent relationships. Seeing everyone through the lens of CD is not the way to go. It is way too convenient for those recovering from abuse to flip black and see those who are merely annoying or disagreeable as having a major pathology.

      But going through extreme anger with the abuser is normal. Imagining their destruction? Normal. Imagining running them over with a steam roller…all normal, as long as it’s not obsessive and limited, time wise.

      There is no need to apologize for having a shadow that acts as protection against dangerous people. The shadow, appropriately utilized, gives us a real, “don’t mess with me,” persona. And often that is all you need as a shield, a real,” back off, or else!” aura, for lack of better terms. Useful to be able to put it on and take it off, respecting the demands of your environment and social milieu.

  13. ALL,

    Vera said:
    “I don’t agree that most people are well intentioned and good. While a few of us are saints, and few of us are psychopaths, most of us are a mix of nasty and nice. As Dr. Simon has stressed, being good takes commitment and skills, and even then we don’t always succeed. It’s lifelong hard work. The whole “nicey nice” meme ought to be tossed; it turns people into easy targets for the character impaired.”

    I don’t see psychopaths everywhere. Although I see an explosion of people who simply don’t care. Character disorders to varying degrees. They are not trustworthy, will lie, cheat and swindle. Even the nicest of them will run over anyone they can take advantage of others in the public square.

    It’s been slow [very slow] as I’ve worked to change my way of thinking and come to a better understanding of character. I never expected the cold harsh reality that not all people are good and then add in all the enablers. What a mess! There’s no question in my mind that mankind is the worst of all beast in the jungle.

    If people don’t care and lack concern towards others then apathy sets in and spreads. If everyone is apathetic then no one has anything to worry about. No one cares, so apathy solves the social problems of humanity. It’s mind over matter, I don’t mind and you don’t matter. What a devastating dark hole.

    Andy said:
    “I bet she must be radiant too, radiant with gentleness. I just pray that she never runs into one of these light sucking narcissistic blackhole. Because, if she does, she just may turn into one of us, people with haunted looks, trawling around looking for answers, eventually (& hopefully) getting enlightenment and true meaning of “not everyone is same, not everyone is nice”. It takes a life to understand that not everyone is good. Wisdom cometh but slowly, too slowly.”

    Yes, very slow, from cradle to grave. And the journey gets lonely and terrifying at times. It’s a brutal journey.

    As Timothy has said: “It’s godawful.”

    Thank you EVERYONE for sharing and caring!

  14. Commentators,

    If anyone is having difficulty either posting comments or receiving notifications of comments posted, please let me know directly via the “Contact Dr. Simon” feature.

    Thank you.

  15. As part of my recovery, I would like to write two letters, and I wonder what you others think of this.

    1) one letter to the abuser to tell him specifically what behaviors and actions he did that were unacceptable and why, how his behaviors have affected me, and what I am feeling in the aftermath. I would do this because I don’t want him to think he can just ignore what his behavior has done to the person he still claims to love (not that I care anymore). I don’t expect it will change anything for him or in him. I don’t expect anything from him. I don’t expect an apology, and even if he gave one, I would doubt his sincerity. I just want him to know the consequences of his actions from my perspective.

    I think I would also tell him that I am also wiser and stronger, ironically, thanks to him. And unlike many other commentators here, I have escaped relatively unscathed after a short relationship during which I’ve learned a lot about messed up people, thanks to Dr. Simon and others, and hopefully how to detect and avoid them in the future. (For example, he is still trying to get some narcissicistic supply from me, but I will not be hooked in again, I just ignore his attempts. I communicate only what is necessary: no emotion, no insults, no compliments. I do not engage.)

    2) a second letter, I want to write to one of his family members to warn them of the extent of his addictions and deceptions. I think some of the family already know some of it, but not the true extent of it. I feel someone in the family should have a heads up. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would want to be warned, or cautioned before he hits bottom, not that they can prevent it. And partly I feel that bringing his deceptive behavior into the light with his family is a logical consequence and the right thing to do. Root out deception, because deception causes harm. Apply a consequence to his behaviors because he chose to stay in a relationship with me and use me, when he could have left anytime and taken his secrets with him. I don’t expect the family to do anything with the information. I would just feel like I had done what I feel is right. I would also ask this family member to warn anyone else that this man may get involved with. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would have wanted to be warned before I got involved with him.

    What do others think of this?

    1. To Anne,
      Your post reminds me so much of myself when I discovered the true character of my brother. Via letter I confronted him and told him how his behavior affected me and why I was cutting him out of my life. His response was swift, vile and vicious. As expected he took NO responsiblity and blamed everyone else for the person he is. CDs will never get it, they will never admit fault, they will deflect.
      I went to other members of my family with my story and they have a “well it hasn’t happened to us so we will welcome him into our family, we are Christians we have to forgive and blah, blah, blah.” My family has seen how CDed he is towards my mother but they still excuse his behavior. My CD can be very charming and that’s what they see and believe no matter the evidence I’ve put forward. I have had not one lick of validation from my siblings but I’m so thankful for my husband and son, they are the two people who validate me wholeheartedly.

      1. The Jesus of the modern church as a whole, is nothing like the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus is NEVER complacent about abusers/oppressors.

        We do not have to believe lies which have caused pain, but the truth, which brings joy!

      2. Sydney, your brother is a clone of my own! Isn’t it amazing how alike they are? And each of them is so narcissistic they believe they are unique and smarter than anyone else. I’d love to get them all in the same room at the same time, stand outside with a 2-way mirror and watch the resulting show.

        CDs/narcissists will not take responsibility and they will not acknowledge anything about their own behavior.

        Anne, in my opinion, writing a letter will only provide ammunition to the CD that YOU are the one who is off-balance and they are only trying to provide help. You will be seen as the perpetrator of your own hurt and discomfort and the CD will twist your words and examples to come off looking like the victim. That is exactly what happened with my brother.

        It won’t matter how far off the mark their assertions are – any kind of communication only feeds their ego, makes no difference what you say – in their minds they’ve succeeded because they’ve still got you hooked. And you ARE hooked if you feel you need to write a letter.

        I know, I was too. But with lots of help, here and elsewhere, and much reading and inner reflection and work, I learned (am still learning) not to respond, not to initiate any contact whatsoever. I’ve had to heal me, and in a bizarre way, if it hadn’t been for that abuse, I wouldn’t be who I am now, I wouldn’t have dug through the depths of my inner dark places and given myself permission to grieve, and grow.

        And yes it sucks that it seems they’re getting away with it. But since they won’t ever acknowledge their actions could hurt anyone else, why waste energy on them? The CD in your life will not accept anything you say. You will be called too sensitive, that you’re carrying a grudge, sulking, or anything else to deny responsibility for their bad behavior and turn it around and throw it back at you.

    2. To tell him what harm he has done you I believe would be fruitless. He truly does not care how he has harmed you. DC are selfish. DC don’t love. They maybe need, or want, but they don’t show love. They bring harm.
      I hope to get to the point, as you have, to be able to disengage. I still do the insults, get emotional, angry as hell.
      As far as his family, I don’t think I’d bother with that either. They most probably will feel the need to “protect” him from you.
      In my case, I have told my daughter about her father and the awful things he has done in the marriage and what harm it has caused. It has hurt her to know what he truly is, but she needs to know he is not the man she thinks/thought him to be. It’s sad and hurtful.
      An apology from a DC would mean absolutely nothing to me. I’ve been used up to the full extent he could use me. When backed up against a wall, a DC will turn full-throttle evil.
      I hope you get the satisfaction you hope for if you choose to write these letters.

    3. To tell him what harm he has done you I believe would be fruitless. He truly does not care how he has harmed you. DC are selfish. DC don’t love. They maybe need, or want, but they don’t show love. They bring harm.
      I hope to get to the point, as you have, to be able to disengage. I still do the insults, get emotional, angry as hell.
      As far as his family, I don’t think I’d bother with that either. They most probably will feel the need to “protect” him from you.
      In my case, I have told my daughter about her father and the awful things he has done in the marriage and what harm it has caused. It has hurt her to know what he truly is, but she needs to know he is not the man she thinks/thought him to be. It’s sad and hurtful.
      An apology from a DC would mean absolutely nothing to me. I’ve been used up to the full extent he could use me. When backed up against a wall, a DC will turn full-throttle evil.
      I hope you get the satisfaction you hope for if you choose to write these letters.

    4. To tell him what harm he has done you I believe would be fruitless. He truly does not care how he has harmed you. DC are selfish. DC don’t love. They maybe need, or want, but they don’t show love. They bring harm.
      I hope to get to the point, as you have, to be able to disengage. I still do the insults, get emotional, angry as hell.
      As far as his family, I don’t think I’d bother with that either. They most probably will feel the need to “protect” him from you.
      In my case, I have told my daughter about her father and the awful things he has done in the marriage and what harm it has caused. It has hurt her to know what he truly is, but she needs to know he is not the man she thinks/thought him to be. It’s sad and hurtful.
      An apology from a DC would mean absolutely nothing to me. I’ve been used up to the full extent he could use me. When backed up against a wall, a DC will turn full-throttle evil.
      I hope you get the satisfaction you hope for if you choose to write these letters.

    5. Anne,

      Why not? If it takes a weight off of you and helps somebody else in the future? Plus, his brother can use his discretionary powers, should he choose to keep it to himself.

      I struggled with writing the CD who manipulated me, too. The only reason I didn’t follow through with any correspondence, such as you are described… I thought he might be emotionally sadistic enough to enjoy the fact that he had hurt another human being that much. It turned out I was probably right. But that was my case. In your case–it just feels right.

  16. This is part 2/20 by Dr. Arthur Janov – Epigenetics and Primal Therapy –
    The Cure for Neurosis

    Heredity Turned on its Head

    Let’s make sure we understand this notion of epigenetics because in the coming years it will likely be one of most important areas of scientific research. As I’ve mentioned, one reason for its preeminence is that many of the serious diseases we think are genetic are actually epigenetic and, therefore, environmentally caused, and possibly treatable. That is now an established fact in human development. However, early discoveries in the field a short decade ago were so startling that they even surprised the scientific world.

    The power of epigenetics was demonstrated early on in an experiment at Duke University. That study showed that when female mice were fed a diet rich in methyl it completely altered the fur pigment of the offspring; in other words, it acted like a genetic inheritance when it was not. It was the result of experience, something totally unexpected in the field of genetics until then. As a result of this study, two leading scientists from Canada, Michael Meaney and Moshe Szyf, thought: if that is true why shouldn’t it be true of other experiences such as bad mothering or negligent parenting? (3) Well,it was,and epigenetic research exploded. Think of that: traumatic events in very early childhood leave a mark or tag on a gene that affects us just about forever. That is what I refer to as the imprint, the psychological stamp engraved by harmful events during gestation and early infancy, and burned into the system for life. We now understand that the imprint is aided and abetted by the process of methylation, in which the chemical methyl group is added to the genome to restrict its expression. In other words, the imprint is laid down, in part, by a change in the cell, as certain chemical reactions are taking place — hydrogen removal, methyl infusion, and so on. Methylation leaves a heritable imprint, one that can be passed down even from grandparents to their grandchildren, as research has shown. So what we always thought was genetic may well be the result of very early experience diverting the genetic legacy. In short, the experiences of our forbearers can endure and be passed down the epigenetic chain – the inheritance of acquired characteristics. This is something science thought impossible not long ago.

    In another key experiment, the McGill genetics researchers compared two groups of rats: one group consisted of the offspring of normal mothers who frequently licked their babies but had subjected the offspring to stress during pregnancy, with a second group of pups who were also under stress but experienced no licking (Meaney, Aitken, Bodnoff, Iny, & Sapolsky, 1985). Not surprisingly, those babies who were heavily licked turned out to be the most normal and well adjusted. What is a surprise, however, is how much womb-life counts; what the scientists found is that the right amount of licking and grooming early on, left offspring less responsive to stress hormones as adults. It is what we all know: that early love makes us stronger and less anxious. But it turns out that if the mothers were licked and groomed early on in their lives, that experience could be passed on too; the stress hormone genes of their offspring could be modified by the methyl group (and also other chemicals) in a beneficial way. Good history in the mother, good childhood for the children. The more loving by the mother, the less methylation in the child. As we will see shortly, loving in the womb means receiving proper nutrients, being calm and not furiously running here and there, avoiding dangerous or unhealthy situations. I know of someone who did extreme heat/massage therapy while pregnant, never realizing the possible harm to the baby.

    Almost every animal form that is loved and licked has grown up pretty healthy with no serious disease; and in my therapeutic experience, those children who had bad and traumatic births with unhealthy gestations are the ones who suffer the most as adults. Too often, catastrophic early life equals catastrophic disease later in life.

    To make sure that these changes in the rat pups resulted from experience and not heredity, the researchers let normally stable rat pups raised by attentive mothers be raised by neurotic negligent mothers. And the result was still the same – unstressed babies. These babies had birth mothers who had normal amounts of methylation in their genomes. Thus rats raised by loving mothers could pass it onto offspring even when the adopted mother was not loving. The genes for stress hormone output had minimal methylation; in other words love was passed down the genetic chain. So normal babies raised by negligent and inattentive mothers still had low methyl levels in their hippocampus. The babies started life one leg up; a good start in life despite a bad childhood.

    For animal mothers, licking is tantamount to hugging and caressing in humans. And, just as we see in the rats, a woman who is unhappy or depressed while carrying can influence that child for a lifetime, even if she later normalizes and feels better. I believe that changes in the genes, methylation and acetylation, must occur very early as the whole neuronal system is evolving. So before we can state what causes depression or anxiety, we need to observe the early epigenetics at work. Again, pups born to bad mothers but reared by loving mothers still seemed to be normal and relatively un-methylated.

    Here is one more reason this research is important: the scientists found that unloving mothers of rodents caused methylation of the estrogen receptors in female offspring. Then, when they had offspring of their own, the offspring were deficient in estrogen, which made them less attentive and loving to their own babies. We as yet do not know how many key chemical processes can be affected by lack of early love, and more, we have no idea how many hormones are changed in neurotic (heavily methylated) mothers, and how that affects myriad adult behaviors.

    Nowadays, there seem to be constant breakthroughs in epigenetics research. As I stated at the start, researchers have established that epigenetics is at work not just in animals but among humans as well. In the aforementioned study of Holocaust survivors, published in August in Biological Psychiatry, an international team of researchers led by Rachel Yehuda, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, examined the genes of 32 Jewish subjects who had suffered some level of trauma during World War II. They were either held in concentration camps, tortured or forced into hiding. Researchers also examined the genes of 22 adult children of these traumatized survivors. The results were then compared with a control group of Jewish families (eight parents and nine offspring) who were living outside of Europe during the war.

    Investigators focused on a specific gene, FKBP5, which is known to
    regulate the stress hormone system and determines how well a person handles
    stress, according to Elisabeth Binder, director at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, who directed the molecular analyses. The study found that the war trauma had altered the methylation levels of a specific site within that gene (bin 3/site 6) in both the Holocaust survivors and their offspring. The methylation levels at that site were higher in Holocaust survivors compared to the control subjects. In the survivors’ adult offspring, paradoxically, the methylation levels at that same site were lower, compared to controls. Still, researchers determined that “methylation levels for exposed parents and their offspring were significantly correlated.”

    The research has quickly led to a practical, real-world application. In August, around the same time the study was released, London’s Guardian newspaper reported that Jewish activists in Scotland had launched an effort to help the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors suffering from depression, anxiety, addiction and eating disorders. The article makes note of epigenetics studies that document “the intergenerational effects of the Holocaust” by showing that “the atrocities altered the DNA of victims’ descendants.” Armed with that knowledge, activists called for “a mental health provision to treat inherited trauma.” (4)

    Although critics say the number of subjects in this study is too small – reflecting the small number of Holocaust survivors still alive – the connection is clear. “The gene changes in the children did not appear to be mediated by adversity experienced during their own childhood but could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents,” said Yehuda, in a statement from the Max Planck Institute (5). “Environmental influences such as stress, smoking or diet can affect the genes of our children.”
    In other words, even before a baby is conceived, his genetic destiny is being determined, at least in part, by the life experiences of his parents, not just their existing genetic code. That is epigenetics in action.

    1. Hi Patrick,

      Bad mothering can leave a stamp on your immune , nervous system, endocrine system, brain development, GI tract and many other developing systems, without changing the actual genome, I’m thinking. Are the scientists you are referencing forcing unwarranted conclusions here?

      If you are keenly interested in the biochemistry of brain development that may have a little more substance to it, check out Stanford university’s research into toxoplasma gondii, the protozoan that half the people on the planet test positive for.

      I could be wrong here and don’t mean to rain on your parade but the over emphasis on epigenetics and its entre into mainstream pop science and all the over simplifications and misinterpretations that engenders, rings some alarm bells. It is starting to remind me of the whole ‘co-dependency’ confusions of a few years back!

      Interesting about methyl and fur color change though! And am sure that epigenetics will prove to play some kind of role in personality formation. It just remains to be seen. The evidence so far isn’t compelling.
      You might like the book ‘Aquiring Genomes’, too. (Lynn Margulis). It was over my head, very academic but what I understood I liked! It was very mind blowing.

  17. I will mention my personal experience being married to a DC for 30 years and am now trying to divorce. His meanness and hurtful tactics are at an all high. He is a disbarred lawyer, so you can only imagine the legal tactics he is employing. However, I have to say, through all the deception, ugliness, lying, manipulating and denials from him, and his constant attempts to harm me emotionally, he has not destroyed me or even come close. I have had therapy for a year and read Dr. Simon’s articles diligently and have a good understanding of his awful character, character disturbance, narcissist, my soon-to-be-ex husband, and can just shake my head at what he is doing. It’s like textbook.
    I have not lost my zest for life and am enjoying a healthy relationship with a man, a good honest man who truly loves me. I still love men – just hate my husband.

    1. When my mother passes away I solemnly vow that I will never give one more moment to this soleless DC ex-brother of mine again. I will be legally responsible for distributing her estate and it sickens me that this parasistic DC will inherit even a penny of her legacy after all the manipulating, the self-victimization and lies he has used to gain pity.

      Letter writing to a DC and his family is setting yourself up for more damage. The DC will absolutely never give you what you’re looking for because it is their pleasure not to.

  18. The thing is, I am not wanting anything from him or from his family. I only want to put the truth to them, leave them with knowledge. He/they can wrestle with it as he/they choose. I don’t care if my truths upset him or how he reacts. He can rant and rave all he wants, it doesn’t affect me anymore. In fact, when a DC gets upset, you know you have hit their button, hit the truth.

    I don’t want to participate in keeping his secrets from his family. If they choose to ignore, that’s their business. I know this. I don’t think there is anything the family can do anyway. He’s determined in his path/choices. They do know some of it. And maybe they know all of it, and I am the one who is just catching up. Maybe they have been wondering why I have been in a relationship with him all this time, knowing what they know, and what I now know. However, I think I actually know more than them right now. Telling his family also leaves him less room to use lies on them. Knowledge is power.

    Writing these letters I think will help me to move on, help me to let go. It feels like a step I have to do before I will be able to move on. However, I do wonder if such letters might have negative repercussions: lead him to suicide, or more self-destructive addictive behaviour. Or it might damage relationships between him and his family (but the damage is there already and more is coming anyway, when the crash happens and they find out how bad things really are.)

    I examine my intentions: I don’t think I am wanting to do this to damage him, get revenge. I am not doing it out of anger. In fact, when I think of *not* telling his family, it is because I am feeling angry: “piss on them too, it’s not my problem, why should I help them”.

    I know I do like to apply consequences. I don’t like people to walk away from something like this with no consequences, even if the consequence is just to jolt their awareness and educate them. Of course a DC is not going to admit anything, and may not care at all. But I at least I tried, and perhaps that is what is important to me. There are few things I have control over, and writing a few pointed letters is one of them.

    1. Anne,

      I examined my intent very carefully too. And truthfully, at the time I was considering writing the CD who interfered in my life, the very worst thing, I could have imagined was his jumping off a cliff. It would have been too fast and relatively painless.

      I have to be brutally honest. I went through a phase where I hoped he was in deep prolonged emotional turmoil. Plus, I imagined having someone hold his arms back while I punched him in the stomach. Just once, because physical violence creeps me out. But still, that one good punch felt great!

      I think it is perfectly understandable to desire those who hurt us, suffer some sort of consequences. I think it is referred to as closure. But, sad to say, it can backfire.

      So be very careful. They say the worst thing you can do, if you want them to suffer consequences AND they are narcissistic, is to ignore them completely. It makes them felt invisible, their worst fear.

      1. LisaO,

        Not sure where to address this, so the latest comment should go just fine.

        I like this site, because people have a grasp on what some people are like deep down and what their game is. I’ve been manipulated way too many times and I don’t like it any more than anyone else.

        Your posts also sound like you’ve researched many things intensely over a long period of time and I gotta tip my hat to you for that.

        I’ve scrolled comment sections for a few months here and found great reading material recommended by various contributors. I’ve even made a list ’bout three or four times to help others keep track. Is there anything you’d recommend to read?

        1. Timothy thanks for all of your kind compliments. I can’t think, off hand of anything with regards CDs I would suggest anybody read. I would certainly suggest they not read forums that aren’t moderated well though. There is a lot of contradictory confusing ‘help’ out there. Best stick with the professionals like Dr Simon.

      2. LisaO

        I have to strongly disagree that wanting your abuser to “suffer” and causing them harm is considered closure. This kind of thinking is just as toxic to us as the abusive behavior itself.

        I strongly believe that an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. We have been wronged! Our natural instinct is to respond with aggression towards the perpetrator. It is a sure way to protect ourselves. And sometimes some aggression is needed but only to the extent that you can justify self defense. I strongly believe that revenge, while very tempting, is ethically wrong.

        To me, real closure looks more like forgiveness. Forgiving the moral debt that is owed to you. It’s obvious we are not going to get it back, they wont apologize and change and make it right. Best to cut our loses and move on.

        It’s much easier said than done but it’s not healthy to dwell in the hatred and anger. Compassion, forgiveness, acceptance that they are very very sick, are some of the virtues we may be capable of and they are not that truly make us the healthy ones and set us on the road to healing. The best “revenge” is living well. Though it’s not really revenge just moving on.

        I personally feel a strong need for justice. I’m over what was done to me. I’m suffering now though the effects of revictimization with an awful smear campaign. I want “truth” and “justice”. I want people to know the truth and seethe DC for who she is. This to me is fair enough. That she would have to face and be accountable for what she’s done. I may not get this. It would be nice. This is acting from a sense of fairness not need to retaliate or allow ourselves to become the agressor.

        1. About forgiveness…..
          Sadly, there is really no such thing as “forgiveness” that is going to remove the memory of painful experiences. Forgiveness is a religious notion, and not a science of the human condition.

          Really, the only way to remove the “toxins” of emotional trauma from your being, is to do it the scientific way, and to me there is only one science on earth that can do it. I am talking about Primal Therapy, where those painful feelings are allowed to surface – in a gradual and organised way, while the patient is kept totally safe – and be felt. Pleeaase do not go to any other persons or groups who proclaim to do PT. It is extremely dangerous !

          Dr. Arthur Janov, at the Primal Centre in Los Angeles, has almost fifty years of solid scientific experience in treating patients from all over the world and from all walks of life.

          If anyone is interested, here is a link to his blog:
 – click on Janov’s reflections on the human condition.

          1. Patrick,

            You know who and what comes to mind when you say “Pleeaase do not go to any other persons or groups who proclaim to do PT”? Osho.


            Warning, it’s a long article by Timothy Conway(like how someone sharing the name has such clear thoughts, even if including some advaita vedanta lingo; don’t let the religious references bother you).

        2. About forgiveness…..
          Sadly, there is really no such thing as “forgiveness” that is going to remove the memory of painful experiences. Forgiveness is a religious notion, and not a science of the human condition.

          Really, the only way to remove the “toxins” of emotional trauma from your being, is to do it the scientific way, and to me there is only one science on earth that can do it. I am talking about Primal Therapy, where those painful feelings are allowed to surface – in a gradual and organised way, while the patient is kept totally safe – and be felt. Pleeaase do not go to any other persons or groups who proclaim to do PT. It is extremely dangerous !

          Dr. Arthur Janov, at the Primal Centre in Los Angeles, has almost fifty years of solid scientific experience in treating patients from all over the world and from all walks of life.

          If anyone is interested, here is a link to his blog:
 – click on Janov’s reflections on the human condition.

          1. Hi Timothy,
            I did not see a reply tag beneath your comment, so I will just reply to you here.

            I do not know what Osho means. Perhaps you can explain.

            When it comes to the human condition, there are, as we all know, an untold number of Schools of thought, ideations and esoteric bull floating out there, e.g. Religions, Gurus, Cults, Astrology, Numerology, Yoga, Acupuncture and an endless panoply of lotions and potions. The list goes on and on.

            There are also Psychiatrists and Psychologists, Councillors , Medications and Therapies. All designed to “make us feel better”. None of them can claim to enact a Cure in the full sense of the word.

            There are also some realities about the human condition, e.g. You need Food, Air and Water, and you need Love. If you are bereft of Air for a few minutes, Anoxia and perhaps death occurs. If you are without Food or Water for certain periods, you develop malnutrition or dehydration or death occurs.

            If you are bereft of Love, or have been physically assaulted or or abused in any way, not having had your needs met as a baby, a toddler or small child, or emotionally and/or intellectually suppressed, you become Neurotic – or worse, Psychotic. Same applies if a foetus experienced trauma during gestation.

            Another simple fact is that Primal Therapy is a science through and through. Primal theory is solidly scientific.
            Like gravity, one cannot argue against it any longer.

            More and more, Janov’s work is getting recognition from other researchers who can immediately see the science that supports it. Like with any new discovery, there were failures and hiccups, but the therapy and the theory was honed and improved nonstop, and still continuing to be advanced fifty years later. By comparison, everything else smells of booga booga.

          2. Did you click on the link? Osho the cult leader sure utilized screaming therapy.

            Perhaps I misunderstood your statement, Patrick. What did you mean, when you said “Pleeaase do not go to any other persons or groups who proclaim to do PT”?

      3. Just to be totally clear. I do not want anyone to “suffer consequences”. I want the truth out and my name, as well as other victims names cleared. ie. Psycho mil’s deceased husband who actually did commit suicide and who everyone blames all the trauma that the kids suffered on.

        Wanting the truth out when I know the psycho is spreading lies about me is an act of self defense.

        Honestly if it was not for the lies I don’t think I would care or be tempted to write letters. I truly and wholeheartedly prefer to wish that my DC would get better than wish her harm. (Not going to hold my breath). But this is empowering!

  19. Forgiveness, as I understand it, it’s really not much more than letting go. It’s really the end result of a kind of greif after we have been wronged where we go through the denial, anger, depression, etc (or whatever the stages of greif are) and then finally we let go and accept the truth.

    It’s a step where you actually do release the pain by accepting it (feeling it) and letting it go.

    It is absolutely a spiritual experience and from a quick glance at PT it absolutely seems to have a spiritual component.

    We undoubtedly have an emotional and spiritual existence and this in my opinion is not at all mutually exclusive from our physiology. I very much think they influence and express one another.

  20. Valencia,

    What is the difference, in your mind, between the concepts of justice and revenge? If you can figure that one out you might want to share it with those recently discarded like trash by a P, for example. Because it is this feature of the aftermath that drives people crazy. They aren’t there yet. They can’t let go. From a purely social status tribal angle anybody so malleable and spineless would be at risk. It’s part if our basic makeup to want to redress wrongs on our own behalf and on behalf of others. Is it wise? Often not. Is it unwise to think about? Probably not.

    I have a problem with the moral equivalency argument applied to someone desperately craving justice post abuse and the abuser himself.

    It is unrealistic, unfair and lacks a basic understanding of human nature. To deny people the right to retaliatory feelings, through religious or ‘spiritual’ condemnation , is to suggest they repress their entire being.

    I would simply caution targets that they might suffer blowback, not that they are thinking or feeling in ways that are ‘wrong.’ And I am referring to the initial stages of the trauma, not long after it’s past.

    Forums that fail to properly address the sad reality of appropriate feelings of revenge/justice are doling out careless advice (judgement) that doesn’t take in the entirety of the experience or it’s different stages.

    And yes, primal screaming might help, Patrick.

    1. LisaO

      I’m really only sharing my own experience in the aftermath of a lifetime of abuse. My intention is not to judge or denie anyone their feelings. Anger is an extremely normal and healthy response to abuse. And it’s an important stage in the grieving process. In no way do I suggest to suppress it or denie yourself of it before you’re ready. In my own experience it is a very negative, toxic emotion, and if you don’t move on from it at some point it will be detrimental to you.

      From my experience, what we do with that anger is very important. It is a natural response. Like a fever telling us to get rid of the danger.

      The difference between justice and revenge in my understanding is the difference between being assertive and aggressive. Assertiveness is to speak the truth, to protect yourself and others from harm (humane incarceration for example), to protect your boundaries while respecting the rights of others even when they may not deserve respect. Aggression is when a line gets crossed and we ourselves become the sadists. And I strongly feel this is unethical. We become the perpetrators and we are no better than them.

      It is a primal reaction to want to retaliate and destroy our aggressor. It is normal to entertain some fantasy of revenge. From my very own experience part of me wants/wanted (I’m still working on it) to write these letters to destroy my psycho mil. To have everyone turn against her and socially isolate her. This is bullying right back! And I choose not to do that. I have a right to protect myself and my boundaries. Even the boundaries of others, and it’s appropriate to want the perpetrator held accountable to protect other future victims. But not for the pure sadistic pleasure of hurting them.

      I will repeat this because I think it’s very important. It is very qualities that they prayed on, that made us vulnerable in the first place that will help us to heal. Our sense of fairness, our empathy and compassion, our ability to forgive. Just do it from a very safe distance.

      This is only my experience in the aftermath of abuse. And please take it or leave it. I’m just sharing. I really have had somewhat of a breakthrough and am able to feel forgiveness and compassion today. I’m grateful for that. It feels much much better than anger and hate. Maybe tomorrow I’ll regress. I’m sure I’m not totally out of the woods and maybe tomorrow I’ll regress.

      Accept all our feelings! For sure. But be careful how you act on them or even indulge too long in the negativity and self pity. It’s a healthy step for a while just don’t get stuck there! We just keep reliving the pain.

      1. Valencia,
        I agree with much of what you say. You have obviously been through a lot and given it a lot of thought. This is just a though exercise. Do you think that some CD’s hold themselves in check around certain people, because they know that if they cross a line they will have major retaliation to deal with. Am not advocating for this, I just wonder.

        1. From my experience DCs only exploit when they size up the situation and think they can get away with it. My psycho mil hugely underestimated me because I was very passive, especially during my pregnancy. She’s used to tormenting everyone until she gets what she wants. In my case she wanted my baby for narcissistic supply and to plant her evil seed and take her away from us psychologically. I didn’t see through her right away but eventually I connected the dots. I don’t think she saw it coming or that I was capable of going no contact in a matter of months. I just don’t trust her now. I don’t think she would try anything again now that her cover is blown and she knows there will be consequences but you never know. She may just try to be more underhanded. I wouldn’t let a known pediphile around my kid, why would I allow an emotional preditor? Not a change I’m willing to take.

          To answer your question, yes I think they keep themselves in check when they know there will be consequences. They hate consequences! But I still strongly advocate not to cross that ethical line between being assertive and setting boundaries to being aggressive. I can tell her a consequence will be she will not be allowed near my child if she acts crazy and aggressive. But I wouldn’t threaten to harm her like say, throw her out the window if she does. Though I may feel like it sometimes! Lol

          1. I think depending on how far down the spectrum they are they could learn to respect boundaries if there are serious consequences. They hate consequences!!! But they are psycho enough to still try to get away with it and the only thing that will work are serious threats to their safety, it’s probably better to keep your distance.

        2. Yes I think they size up every situation and only abuse when they know they can get away with it.

          But I really hold the belief that setting consequences should not cross the line from threats of assertion to those of aggression. I can tell my psycho mil I will go no contact if she keeps up the abuse. I wouldn’t threaten to throw her out the window (though I may feel like it sometimes).

          To behave in a prososcial way we have to constantly suppress our agressive impulses and learn to respect the boundaries of others. Something DC’s have a very hard time with.

  21. There is no revenge or justice.

    I am still stunned and emotionally scarred by the vile words that were texted to me after I sent a letter to confront my brother and to tell him why I was cutting him out of my life.

    His response simply added another layer of ugliness that I need to recover from.

    1. This sounds like a narcissistic rage. When we threaten the narcs ideal sense of self with criticism and they feel cornered they rage.

      I confronted my mildly narc brother (before I realized he was a narc) with a quote from his very own text to me proving he was acting without empathy. He lost it! That’s when I realized there was probably something pretty wrong with him.

  22. Hi Timothy,
    My apologies. Earlier, I did not look at the link you gave, but now I have done so. My reply to you is as follows:

    First of all, Primal therapy is not scream therapy, never has been. It is about connecting with deeply laid down hurtful emotions, and when they surface, there could be deep crying, sobbing, wailing for more than an hour, or immense anger that would obviously result in screaming. No-one is told do anything, such as “scream now” or other misconceptions .

    The title derived from the fact that Janov saw the first moments of a patient who wanted to do something unique and ended up screaming.
    The scream came from deep down. In pursuing this line of action, Janov soon saw other patients start crying deeply. Such are our emotions and feelings. As a scientist first and foremost, he carefully developed the therapy, making copious notes, then joined by a neurologist, they started formulating the theory.

    Thus, to answer you:
    Upon the release of his first book “The Primal Scream”, hundreds of lay persons, also some psychiatrists and psychologists, jumped up claiming that they can do the same. Many people were damaged as a result, through having no idea what it was all about, others adopted tactics such as forcing people to scream or cry, or locking them up for days in a room, catapulting them into psychotic states.

    Janov has so far written 16 books, which includes an online one. The title of his latest book is Beyond Belief, to be released in November this year.

    About Osho, I am sorry to say it looks to me like a lot of mumbo jumbo, quasi-religious cultist stuff. I will stick to absolute science, thank you.

    There are still folks out there who do mock Primal therapy. Some of their victims end up at the Primal centre later, badly damaged, needing to be treated. Proper PT, as practised by the Primal centre, cannot hurt anyone. I hope this answers your questions satisfactorily.

    1. Patrick,

      I didn’t give you the link to persuade you to try dynamic meditation. I simply wanted to hear your opinion about whether it’s a perversion of this PT, too. It would seem so to me.

      Thanks for the recommending Janov, Patrick.

  23. Valencia,

    I don’t know enough about the specifics of your own situation to offer any advice, but just based on how I view the world, if I received correspondence from person A about person B and I liked person B, because they put on such a good act, I would believe my own experience with person B, over the rumination of person A.

    An actual letter writing campaign, involving multiple others, against someone who is a skilled smearer, might end up supporting the abuser. It’s acting and social judo moves they do best. Or compared to boxing, they have you on the ropes and then let YOU beat yourself to the floor.

    It’s a terrible struggle. You are handling it well. I have very nearly gone the actual (not just in my head) retaliatory route with family member and am very happy I didn’t now.

    1. I have been reading the comments here that seem to have branched off from my initial question. The comments have been giving me pause for thought. Thanks to all for sharing.

      I have been through the stages of anger, doubt, hurt, shock, grief and wanting revenge upon discovering how much I have been lied to and used by the DC. I’m no angel in my thoughts. I know not to retaliate when I am in that mood.

      I can truly say that writing to the DC is not out of revenge or wanting to harm, or shame, or cause him to suffer (although he may feel those things and that’s his own business to deal with). It feels like something I need to do to find closure. Borrowing from what others have written above, perhaps I am wanting him to read the “truth” of my experience, wanting to be “assertive” and speak up for myself, wanting to define how he transgressed my boundaries, wanting to be heard. It all may go in one of his ears and out the other. I accept that as out of my control.

      The letter would be primarily about me, how I feel, written with as much neutrality as I can muster.

      And I agree with LisaO that ignoring him would probably cause him the most distress. He thrives on attention, both positive and negative.

      I don’t think “justice” is what I am seeking either.

      He would not get forgiveness from me unless he showed true contrition (as Dr. Simon as previously described). I doubt that will happen, and I can easily let that all go.

      I try to find the positive in the time we were in relationship, and the things I have learned that will benefit me in the future, however painful those lessons have been. This is not so difficult because this particular DC was not violent and nasty. He’s too lazy. And as far as I know, he never stole financially from me. And perhaps he knows me well enough that I would not hesitate to enforce legal consequences if he ever tried anything on me.

      I am trying to understand myself better, how I got into this relationship, why I violated my own values and boundaries and tolerated him and all his crap. I am trying to figure out if anything he said and did was truthful.

      As for writing to the family member, I would add to their knowledge and back it up with proof. They can then do with it, what they want. Again it’s out of my control, but in a way, it passes the responsibility for this guy from me back to the family, making it easier for me to walk away from the whole business.

      1. I totally think you should write an assertive letter. You may or may not want to send it that’s up to you. But even just getting it all out helps so much.

        I did write an assertive letter to my crazy mil. Basically I confronted her once about the aggressive behavior, she just denied and made excuses (obviously), and then was wanting to come around again to exploit me and my baby. I told her a firm “NO”! And she lost it. That’s when the smear campaign started. She thought it would pressure me into giving in to her. That’s when I wrote the very assertive letter letting her know I’m on to her manipulation, lies, and coercion. Now she just playes the victim. But she has nothing on me because I never once violated her rights. Actually if you do retaliate they will totally use it against you and claim you are the aggressor. But I have to say. That letter felt really really really good. I needed to stand up for myself so bad and tell her to f*** off and leave me and my child alone.

        I’m actually quite passive. My sister tells me it’s important to be assertive the minute you need to. Nip in the bud. But boy it felt good to stand up for myself!

        Psycho mil has not contacted me since. She just complains to everyone about me and sends pasive aggressive memes on fb.

      2. Also, forgiveness… Or letting go of the moral debt that is owed to you, is something you do for yourself not for him.

        If you want to continue the relationship it helps when they are willing to right their wrongs. But if the relationship is over, it has nothing to do with him and all to do with you. Like if someone frauded your bank account and got away with it and wont pay it back. At some point you cut your loses and move on for your own peace of mind.

      3. Anne,

        Please be sure that you are safe from any serious retaliation before writing a letter.

        As I said, I suffered a smear campaign when I refused my DC access to exploit me. I was kind of expecting this. Look up “stages to confronting a serial bully” for some idea of what to expect. But be sure they don’t have any real power to seriously hurt you or your reputation. They hate being held accountable and stoop to all kinds of evil to evade it.

        1. Yes Anne, as Valencia says make sure you are out of harms way before you send a letter. DCs have very little impulse control. Mine is a parasitic coward who is deathly afraid of the law but can be oh so inventive when it comes to false allegations, smear campaigning, false ads online and things that you never even thought of. I never thought I would feel this vulnerable to a family member but sometimes it’s like waiting for the other shoe to fall.

          “It feels like something I need to do to find closure. Borrowing from what others have written above, perhaps I am wanting him to read the “truth” of my experience, wanting to be “assertive” and speak up for myself, wanting to define how he transgressed my boundaries, wanting to be heard. It all may go in one of his ears and out the other. I accept that as out of my control.”
          This is what I set out to do too. Go NO CONTACT when he retaliates. He will try and instill doubt and you do not want to go there. Good Luck Anne.

      4. …..”I am trying to understand myself better, how I got into this relationship, why I violated my own values and boundaries and tolerated him and all his crap. I am trying to figure out if anything he said and did was truthful.”

        Hi Anne,
        I sympathise and also want to congratulate everyone who musters up the courage to walk away from a damaging relationship.

        There is a phenomenon with humans, let’s call it “The Struggle”.

        A little girl has a daddy who never shows any love or kindness towards her. He never acknowledges, validates her or makes her feel wanted. She struggles through all her childhood to
        feel his love, and to hear him say it, meaningfully.

        As a young woman, she starts to date, but finds certain guys do
        not “turn her on”. These guys may be wonderfully kind, relaxed, caring, giving, vulnerable, and so on. She eventually meets a guy who is cold, quite controlling and always somewhat distant. She “falls in love”.

        What she has done is re-create “The Struggle”. She had become unaware and unconscious of how painful it was for lacking the love she yearned for. “The Struggle” itself, is actually killing her pain. She started living in hope, which is a very powerful pain killer. For her to stop struggling, means her pain would hit her like a freight train. That is how our mind-body protects us from inordinate painful feelings. (Actually what happens is that our neo-cortex, or thinking brain, has what’s called a gating mechanism. It constantly puts out these “gates” that block painful upward-rising feelings)

        This young woman would most likely develop a “steeled” body-musculature, on top of her emotional and intellectual disposition, all designed to keep her unaware and in the grips of “The Struggle”. As long as she is going to struggle for what she lacked as a child, she will never become conscious of the pain.

        We often see that with people like rock artists and actors, who struggle to make it to the top, thus getting some acknowledgement or validation. When they reach the top, however, the need to struggle diminishes, and their pain hits them very hard. They often turn to drugs, religion or sadly, commit suicide.

        That is why it is vital for any child, to be allowed to cry his pain out, even from the moment of birth, whilst being held, and to later on express his feelings and thoughts, no matter what they are. Even as a baby or toddler, he should be allowed to “throw temper tantrums”, whilst a loving caretaker sits with him, just listening.

        I hope this explains things a bit.

        1. Patrick,

          That is really interesting and rings true. I think, for men if you substitute the word ‘respect’ for ‘love’ there are similar dynamics going on. I had a father like this but never ‘yearned for his love’. I didn’t want it. I rejected him, early on and rebelled against his autocratic rule.
          My husband was introverted and aloof and I accepted, early on, that there was nothing I could do to change that. But he did what he could and was worthy of respect and my ongoing concern, so we always remained friends.

          But I have definitely seem the pattern you have described here, in others. Always reaching for that thing that is just out of reach. Super sad.

        2. Patrick,
          Kids are perfectly capable of using temper tantrums to manipulate and control though, right? We’re not talking basic needs here, necessarily, but children allowed to freak out in public so they can get a new toy.

          This should be tolerated….never.

          1. Hi LisaO,
            I can only hope that you will come to other insights one day. If I may explain further:

            The idea that children are capable of manipulating their parents, is definitely an old wives’ tale. It is so sad that so many erroneous ideas are still out there when it comes to babies, toddlers, young children and also teenagers. Parents who have been victims of their own painful childhoods, become deaf and blind, suppressing the memories of how awful it was for them.

            We know today that a foetus can be subjected to trauma during gestation, that leaves a very deep imprint, because that is when we are at our most vulnerable stage ever. A protracted birth, breech birth or other traumatic birth then adds to the pain and suffering of the just born baby.

            As an adult, you can talk to others about your hurt and anger, perhaps even screaming or crying whilst you express some injustice that occurred. A baby can only scream and cry. It cannot articulate its painful feelings to anyone. That is why it is crucial that a new-born baby be allowed to cry, whilst being in the loving arms of a caretaker, without being prevented through actions like shaking, shushing, talking and so on. If the crying/screaming is always allowed, then that baby will never “throw temper tantrums” as a three or four year old.

            Describing an action as “throwing a temper tantrum” without actually knowing exactly how the child feels and what it is doing and how it is trying to communicate painful upward-rising feelings, is an act of violence towards children.

            In fact, the same applies to teenagers and even adults. We tend to rob others of the ability to connect with painful feelings by talking, explaining, giving advice, “cheering them up” and so on. We need to become listeners only. An insight that is given actually does not “cure” anyone of a particular emotionally painful history. Allowing that person to cry deeply, or beat a mattress to pieces whilst screaming out the anger,
            (not forced by anyone) is the road that we should all be on.

            For anyone who has such deep pain that they are unable to cope with because of serious depression or other afflictions, I can only recommend that they first read any one of Dr. Arthur Janov’s books. , and then consider Primal therapy.

            Americans do not know how fortunate they are to be living there in the USA where getting PT is perhaps only a matter of crossing state lines. For many or perhaps most foreigners it has become nigh impossible, what with exchange rates, obtaining visas and other issues.

          2. I guess I’ll find out soon enough about tantrums. From my own memories of being a child (and I can remember as far back as my 2nd bday). I don’t think I would cry to manipulate my parents. Back then the it was a disaster if I didn’t have the right kind of bow in my hair as I remember on one occasion when my parents brought me to a photographer. It really was the end of the world! I think kids lack the cognitive ability to gage the importance of things, or to suppress their wants as frivolous as they may be. It’s not their fault. I don’t think we should give in to their every demand obviously, we should help them navigate their emotions. I agree completely that they need to be able to express themselves. And we need to have a lot of empathy and acceptance of their emotions because to them it may really be a huge deal.

        3. Patrick, this makes so much sense. I have been feeling this was a pattern in my life for a long time now and it’s great to see it articulated with so much clarity. I have seen it many others too.

          In my case it all started with my narcissistic mother. And I have purposefully chosen other narcs to come into my life in an attempt to resolve that “struggle”.

          It is incredibly hard to come to terms with the fact that someone who means so much to you has a limited if any capacity to love you back. Or will abuse you.

          I think really accepting deep deep down the reality of this very painful situation is so important to resolving “the struggle” and reaching some closure.

          1. Hi Valencia,

            It is a real pleasure to be of help in any way, and your ability to be open to input can put you on the road to healing.

            I must add though, that an insight that is given, as I just explained in another comment, does nothing itself to remove a history of a painful childhood. We cannot cure ourselves of anything by attempting to “change our thoughts” or “using our minds” or “being strong” or
            the popular idea of “being positive’ or “forgiving” and so on, neither through being talked to and shown the “errors of our ways”

            If a traumatic past renders us to a state of feeling hopeless or helpless, and where it affects our daily lives so much that we suffer an overarching depression or other malady, then we need to get help. The right kind of help though, not more “talk” therapy. Medication will suppress the symptoms for a period of time, but emotional pain (and physical btw) is an energy, always knocking and wanting out. It is a 24-hour force, begging to be released, and if we fail to let it out, it will start destroying us from the inside, i.e. our heart, blood pressure, pulse, body temperature…. eventually causing major damage to our bodies, resulting in an early death.

          2. Hi Valencia,

            It is a real pleasure to be of help in any way, and your ability to be open to input can put you on the road to healing.

            I must add though, that an insight that is given, as I just explained in another comment, does nothing itself to remove a history of a painful childhood. We cannot cure ourselves of anything by attempting to “change our thoughts” or “using our minds” or “being strong” or
            the popular idea of “being positive’ or “forgiving” and so on, neither through being talked to and shown the “errors of our ways”

            If a traumatic past renders us to a state of feeling hopeless or helpless, and where it affects our daily lives so much that we suffer an overarching depression or other malady, then we need to get help. The right kind of help though, not more “talk” therapy. Medication will suppress the symptoms for a period of time, but emotional pain (and physical btw) is an energy, always knocking and wanting out. It is a 24-hour force, begging to be released, and if we fail to let it out, it will start destroying us from the inside, i.e. our heart, blood pressure, pulse, body temperature…. eventually causing major damage to our bodies, resulting in an early death.

        4. Thank you Patrick. It seems you believe passionately in Primal Therapy. I agree that some problems of some adults may have roots in our parental relationships and early life, as you describe. In my own life however, I think my peer relationships shaped me more than my family relationships. Furthermore, difficult life experiences have shaped me too, made me stronger, wiser, better able to manage situations that would have crushed me in the past. I’ve learned to manage my emotions better and not let anxiety rule.

          I also think that the input (or lack thereof) of mothers and fathers is not as important as psychotherapy likes to make it out to be. Who amongst us has ever had one ideal parent, let alone two? In my estimation, the human race would not have survived if parental input was that important. Children need nurturing and good role models, they need mentors and protectors, … they need alot of things, and no two people can do it all.

          I also strongly believe that my need to bond with, care for and love someone is stronger than my need to seek or receive love. Looking around at all the pet dogs people have, makes me think I am not alone in this.

    2. Thanks for offering the advice! In my case, everyone in my husband’s family knows how disordered she is. I don’t think it would be a far stretch to believe she acted totally crazy and aggressive. I probably have the upper hand here actually if I want to play it. I can only see it backfiring in the sense that there’s a huge amount of denial and they tend to sweep everything under the rug. I’m the total opposite I have everything out in the open. They may choose to continue the denial in fear of retaliation from her and gang on me even more. Say I’m spreading lies and causing drama. Causing drama maybe yes! Lol. But I don’t like to keep skeletons in the family closet.

      1. Hi Valencia,

        Often, the simple reality is, that one has to cut it and walk away from all destructive persons, whether they be family or friends.
        It is the choice of the lesser of two pains.

        Yes, they will most certainly react strongly to that, sometimes coming down on you like a ton of bricks. But by allowing yourself to be vulnerable, feeling your pain, you are the one who wins in the end, and they remain stuck in their defensive, aggressive, neurotic and ignorant ways. They will never grow
        because they do not want to face their own pain, rather choosing to judge, criticise and for some, going through life forever dumping their shit on others. Good luck

  24. Hi Valencia, and all the other bloggers…….
    It is only when you are on a journey designed to allow you to feel your pain of your past, that insights about the human condition, from gestation to adulthood, will pop into your head from within yourself and not by having been lectured on it.

    Most people actually believe that when a baby is crying, it is suffering. Not so at all. The entire being of a baby, toddler, child, teenager or adult is actually begging for the opportunity to express past pain through our emotions. It is incredibly cathartic, even to a baby.

    It is so simple:

    If you were not allowed to connect with your pain as a two year old, your being, realising that it had become unacceptable or even dangerous to do that directly, started acting out even at that age, by trying to express it differently. Thus Valencia, the “disaster” if the right kind of ribbon was not in your hair. For the majority of humans on earth, act-outs have become a way of life. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of ways that we try to kill our pain, the most obvious ones being habits like smoking, heavy drinking, doing drugs or crime, overeating, non-stop sex, non-stop talking, partying, becoming workaholics…..the list goes on and on.

    Even becoming an intellectual, spending your days reading and not being able to simply enjoy life to the full, or a proselytiser of some religion or esoteric bull, being loud and aggressive, are all different ways of being disconnected. We also develop body structures, with a deep, atrophied and spasmodic muscularity ……..And it all starts with not having been allowed to connect when our entire brain-body system was still fluid and supple, thus allowing emotions to rise unimpeded.

    Fortunately, it can now be reversed for some, with a proper and scientific therapy, depending on the severity of the damage, but it is now a long slow climb, whereas the connections could have happened instantly when we were young,

    ……. And we, the ignorant adults, suppress this very healing action that evolution gave us. Any wonder the world is in a total mess?

  25. “Even as a baby or toddler, he should be allowed to “throw temper tantrums”, whilst a loving caretaker sits with him, just listening.”

    Patrick, are you saying that when a two year old is throwing a fit in a store or a restaurant it should be tolerated because the child is expressing pain from its past?

    It’s my inderstanding that DC disorders begin at a young age I’ve read at about 9 years old.

    I’ve also read that setting boundaries is best, so when does a parent set boundaries?

    We didn’t tolerate tantrums or outbursts from our 2 year old simply because we said no to something she wanted, was this a cry of pain? From what, being born by C-Section. Then so be it because I call it a boundary. People do not always get what they want. If we had given in, you had better believe she would have connected the dots and cried everytime we said no. It’s called manipulation.
    The world is a mess because for whatever reason the word no is not in their vocabulary.

    1. Hi Sydney,
      Thanks for your question. I will try and answer best I can, although it might help to read a few of my other comments, where I have touched on the issue of “childrearing”.

      A baby that has been allowed to cry and scream from the moment of birth, will have absolutely no need to “throw tantrums” as a 2 or 3 year old, because there will be none, or very little residual of the trauma it experienced during gestation and perhaps at birth. ***Assuming of course, all his needs were met by two very loving parents.

      Further, a two year old cannot “connect the dots. The most important thing in the life of a two year old, is to be loved by her caretakers, held when she cries (without being shaken, shushed or talked to) and to play like a two year old.

      Think of it logically. If a baby was not allowed to express pain through the only way that is possible for it, the pain simply has to be bottled up, or does that only apply to adults? A baby is already a feeling creature and, unlike her parents who by now have been so shut down emotionally, replacing their feelings with ideas and more ideas (e.g. “don’t pick up a baby when it cries, you will spoil it” or “feed the baby every two hours whether it is hungry or not”. Heaven knows there are so many totally erroneous notions about) , the baby at this point can still access her pain and try to expel it. We do not allow it because we “think” that the baby is manipulative, or suffering by crying, or deliberate. What utter nonsense ! And so we proceed to turn the baby into another messed up human, just like we are.

      Most parents are coming from a place in their head called the thinking brain, intellect or cortex. Words like “discipline” and “boundaries” abound. A child without pain simply loves to mimic his parents and those around him, learning and observing, and has such pleasure showing all and sundry how much he has learned. A child with no pain will set boundaries automatically as he observes them when his older. There are people who believe you must beat the custom of greeting others into a child as soon as he can talk. Greeting others is not part of her world at a very young age. Believe me, it will happen before she is 21 years old. (lol)

      Leave well alone. Love and hold and caress and touch and play and allow the tears to flow, also the anger and rage. And any words, even if Johnny has picked up a cool new swear word. Like with everything else, he will tire of it eventually. You will be blessed with the most content of children, who will turn out to be very “disciplined”, and a pleasure to be around.

  26. “Leave well alone. Love and hold and caress and touch and play and allow the tears to flow, also the anger and rage. And any words, even if Johnny has picked up a cool new swear word. Like with everything else, he will tire of it eventually. You will be blessed with the most content of children, who will turn out to be very “disciplined”, and a pleasure to be around.”

    Where do you live I want to move there?

      1. …..Or how about this…….

        A school that was started in England in 1921 – still going – where kids can run around and play forever, not having to attend classes if they do not wish to. They do not have to wash their faces or wear clothes. They address the principal and all teachers by their first names. They are allowed to swear and use any vulgar language, scream and shout, are not indoctrinated with any religion, and play play play to their hearts content.

        How do they turn out? Want to guess?

        Here is the link:

        A.S. Neill started the school Summerhill

    1. To Sydney and Suzy,

      Haha ! I live in south Africa, but we are just as fucked up here as are people all over the world. You may find it interesting to read about the experiences of Jean Liedloff, a New York literary agent who accepted an invitation to explore the Amazon jungles with two Italians, travelling by boat up the Amazon river. They met up with one of the tribes, the Yequana Indians. She was so impressed with their non-neurotic behaviour, that she decided to stay with them while the Italians continued the journey.

      She lived with them for two and a half years, returned home and then visited them again. She wrote a book titled The Continuum Concept. What a wonderful read it is ! Here is a link:

  27. Patrick,

    Primal therapy works on the premise that problems arise out of repression. I think that in many of the character disordered, problems arise out of a refusal to genuinely repress…ever.

    Children who are over indulged are not happier, either. They don’t feel safe. Parental boundaries make them feel secure.

    A young child allowed to throw a public freak out because he wants candy — and not admonished for it, gets the clear message that he is alpha and his poor parents are subordinate.

    This is wrong in more ways than I can possibly describe. I can’t imagine how ego distorting AND scary that would be for a kid. It also would tend to curry contempt for adults in general. Sounds like the prefect set up for narcissism.

  28. LisaO,

    Forgive me, but your language when it comes to children is so bogged down with words like
    refusal to genuinely repress” ???? and “he is alpha” ????? ego distorting??????
    “curry contempt for adults” ?? setup for narcissism……… Hoo Boy !

    Do you hate kids, LisaO ? Or very angry at them? Really, because you seem to have total contempt for them. The psychobabble coming from you actually made me freeze up a bit and I am an adult.

    What psychological hogwash ! Who would want to be a child of yours……?

    Entirely lacking are words like love, caring, freedom, pleasure, fun, play, run, shout, talk, touch, hold, caress, nurture…….

    Did you even open the link to A. S. Neill that I posted? Or Jean Liedloff? I bet not.
    You wouldn’t do so because I think your disdain for vulnerable babies and children will not allow you to. Did you “psychoanalyse” your babies from day one? Can you just let go and embrace the fact that children have no agendas of the type that you describe here. They simply react to what is being done to them. A simple reality like “allow your baby to cry to it’s heart content” seems to get your hackles up.

    You are so full of advice to all the adults who comment here. You fantasize about punching someone in the stomach, as an adult, but fail to realise that a baby is born with feelings and also need to express some sort of hurt/pain/anger through the only way it knows how to. No, when a toddler wants to scream or cry it is being “deliberate” or “manipulative” or “currying contempt for adults”.

    You come across to me as repressive mother, or would have been with your children.

    Get rid of all the ideas in your head, LisaO, and stop being accusive, suspicious, distrusting and fearful of what babies and young kids do and say. Open the links I posted, let go learn something. Watch the movie that comes after Neil’s talk and then make comments. If you can’t be persuaded by what you have seen and heard, then you are as rigid as an ironing board.

  29. Ummm…Patrick, I am of the opinion that young children, not babies, need structure in their lives and should not be allowed to throw tantrums, in public, to control their parents or caregivers. They should be carried out of the store, if possible, and placed in their parent’s vehicle. If they are flailing and too apoplectic, parents should just ignore them, until they quit.

    Children, (not babies) who are catered to, in such a scenario, are not being raised with a realistic attitude that respects their ability to control themselves, to some degree. Nor does it respect that children can and do manipulate. They aren’t all sweetness and light, born a blank slate, upon which society and family write an ugly script.

    I suggest when you address me you do so with the same respect I have shown you. Do not insult me, nor make moral judgements about me, personally. I am calling some, not all of your ideas into question, not you as a person.

    1. The topic of Dr. Simon’s blog entry seems to have gone off course, which is unfortunate. However, here is my two bits about children:

      When I was a little girl of about 5 or 6, I remember that adults would sometimes pat me on the head and comment how sweet and good I was.

      This annoyed me because internally I was thinking: “how foolish this adult is, how naive they are. I am good because I choose to be good at this moment. I could also choose to be bad (but I have no reason to be right now)”.

      I felt insulted by their naive presumption of me, of the patronizing. They believed I was a “good girl” because what they saw was a cute, smiling child. I knew I could use their naivety to try to manipulate them if I had wanted to.

      Also, about the same time, I recognized hypocrisy in society and people, although I did not know there was a word for it.

      I don’t think I was an unusually precocious or abnormal child in these thoughts. Which is all to say that children have much more going on in their heads then we give them credit for.

      1. Hi Anne,
        This blog is about humans. If I was trying to describe how a motor car works, then I would be off course…..

        Let’s not be blind to the fact that as humans, most of us on this planet are victims of neuroses that abound are so prevalent, that it is almost impossible for a child to be born these days without becoming a victim too, unless that child is lucky enough to be born to two very healthy individuals, emotionally speaking.

        Neurosis can begin in the womb. The precursory conditions for developing into a psychopath, starts with trauma in the womb, which can then be compounded by a painful birth – even a caesarean, which is so popular these days – continuing post-birth, all because either the mother or father or both, were victims themselves, and never healed.

        Should we just ignore these facts, and carry on going round and round in our heads, trying to solve very serious, damaging and painful issues by totally ignoring our past, trying to “figure out” what went wrong, using only our intellect, which is so disconnected from our feeling brain?

        Upsets that happen to you as an adult, threaten to trigger painful, repressed memories of past neglect, repression or abuse. You could even be creating these upsets continually, because of your history. The choices you make as an adult, e.g. the partners or friends you choose, who you marry and how you behave towards your child, are all directly influenced by your own past.

        A crying baby can trigger the fears and anxieties that a mother suffers from, causing her to try and suppress it, wanting a “sweet and good” little girl, who will disconnect from her feelings at a young age, and be unable to accept kindness from adults, finding it necessary to “choose how she is at that moment”, already highly traumatised.

        It is clear that your dislike and also distrust of humans means that you disconnected from your feelings at a very young age. And here you are, trying to find help on a blog that peppers you with advice about the bad experiences you had as a result of the choices you made. Alas, it is a merry-go-round that cannot go straight to a cause and a cure, because it may dredge up the old pains, not true?

        Pray do tell, how are we going to cure so many psychopaths – the DC’s as they are called – who manipulate and destroy people’s lives. Can we do it by talking to them? You will be talking to the wrong brain.

    2. LisaO,

      No disrespect is ever meant…….

      When we are trying to find answers to the personal problems we have, it is very necessary to be brutally honest with ourselves and all others. Being polite, and “respectful” often means simply skirting the issues. To tell someone to be respectful, is the oldest trick in the book that helps us to avoid looking in the mirror that someone is holding up to us.

      I suspect that you had to always “be respectful” to your parents, meaning that you could never be “nasty” by crying, showing anger or expressing your truest feelings whatever they were. And I suspect that you are doing or did the same with your kids.

      I get the impression that you are perhaps threatened by what I have to say on this blog. Perhaps some introspection on your part can be of help.

      1. Patrick,

        Some of your language doesn’t seem so much encouraging to reflect as getting unnecessarily personal. Doesn’t seem like a way to be heard.

  30. Hi Timothy,
    Thanks for your input. My apologies to LisaO and anyone else if I have offended in any way. I will be more aware of how I put things in future.

  31. Patrick,

    “If I was trying to describe how a motor car works, then I would be off course…..”

    Don’t take this personally Patrick but I don’t care about why these DCs are the way they are. All I know is they walk amongst us.

    Trauma in the womb, repression…..this helps people who are coping with the aftermath of DCs how?

    Trauma in the womb….

      1. Sydney,

        You are right. Emotional release is the key. And there is no better time to start the release than when you have just been born, and then continuing it through life as and when necessary. If pain was water, then many people may think their baggage would fill a cup or bucket. Trust me, for most of us it would fill an ocean.

        As a baby and young child, you are so much closer to your feelings. You are still open and able to expel any pain immediately. Lucky is the child who has parents that will allow that to happen, by just sitting with her and listening, not saying a word, or to let her cry as a baby whilst being held. It becomes more difficult as you age.

        Sadly, by the time you are a teenager or young adult it is still relatively easy, but your body-mind character structure has been slowly setting in, and continues to do so, held in place by a cerebral disposition, (ideas, beliefs) also fears, act-outs and habits – perhaps smoking, drinking, drugs, and so on.

  32. Patrick,

    It’s all good. I really appreciate your input, for the most part and whole heartedly agree with most of what you have written. Janov’s take on neuroses is and was ground breaking and useful.

    But the thrust of the blog is dealing and recovering from people who are predatory.

    For the most part, these people choose to relate to others in a deceitful, manipulative manner. So, perhaps more than examining the root causes of their disorders, which may be underpinned by trauma in childhood, I focus more on their intent.

    Repression and a history of abuse still present the individual with a choice, based on their intent. There are people, like Wayne Dyer, who had a terribly traumatic childhood. I believe he was put up for adoption, at some point. So pretty nasty. But..through his desire to be a good person, he overcame his past and beyond that, used it to help others.

    We aren’t merely beings purely at the mercy of external forces, after we reach a certain age. That is only part of the picture. It’s a huge part of it, but free will enters into it, too.

    I hope you don’t mind me asking but, have you ever been targeted by a psychopath?

    1. Hi LisaO,

      I am aware of course that the thrust of this blog is dealing and recovering from people who are predatory.

      But remember, it is not just a simple case of black and white e.g. “we on this blog are all victims of those awful bad people who hurt us, and here we are, so innocent, so pure” …………

      As I have said many times, the unfelt pain that you suffered from the time as a foetus in the womb, very possibly your birth itself, your immediate post-birth situation e.g. did you bond with your mother right then or not, and then overall, were you a welcome and loved baby, allowed to cry your pain out or not, is going to steer you through you child- and adulthood, being a major factor in the decisions you will make. The big question is:

      “Can we prevent parents from failing in their duty to allow a healthy child to grow up and be happy?” Do they know that most schooling is anti-child?
      Are they aware of schools like Summerhill, where children can heal, by palying as much as they want to, and still get a good education?

      And if some us have been so damaged that all the talk and advice in the world is not helping, then what help is there? How ignorant are people the world over, of the wonderful work of Arthur Janov?

      With all respect to Dr. Simon, whose blog this is: There is a growing awareness amongst mainstream medicine that psychology and psychiatry as practised today, has failed us thus far, and is still failing us.

      Yes, it is wonderful when someone “pulls himself together”, overcoming huge personal obstacles in his life. We all applaud that. The simple truth is that this does not happen to the overwhelming percentage of people who have been badly damaged, and let us not judge them to be “weak” or “lazy” or whatever. They are victims who are overwhelmed and crippled by their pain.

      1. LisaO,

        Surely psychological techniques have their place in discussion about “recovering from people who are predatory”?

  33. LisaO,

    You asked me whether I have been the victim of a psychopath? Both my parents and
    all my siblings were either psychopathic or severely neurotic to a greater or lesser extent.

  34. Patrick,

    I get it, I get it, I get it but what does it have to do with the price of eggs.
    There is not a hope in hell that the world will be rid of the sociopath/psychopath/CDs so it’s a matter of identifying and coping.
    The DC that invaded my life has been out of the womb for 50 odd years I don’t give a crap why he is the way he is. I do know that it’s my choice to set boundaries, heal and move on. Forums like this validate my experience.

    1. Hi Timothy,

      I fully agree with you that the world will probably never be rid of these highly disturbed people, at least not in our lifetimes.

      You want to heal and move on. If what you have been doing up till now to help you heal and move on, has genuinely helped you, then that is great and I would be happy for you.

      There are many, many people who are hurting, because they have been damaged by their parents, siblings, spouses, friends, schoolmates, also
      cults, religions and other esoteric bull and weird belief systems. Perhaps simply “identifying and coping” falls far short of helping many of those who have been victims of abuse.

      It is great that Dr. Simon set up a blog like this, so that people like yourself and others can benefit, by having your experiences validated, but if you ever find yourself at wit’s end due to emotional trauma, perhaps you may just consider what I have suggested all along.

  35. I don’t know where people read these comments from, but it seems like I and a few others have been mistaken for someone else. Myself I’ve been mixed up with someone else four times now. Do some comments seem to come from other commenters than the original sender?


  36. Timothy, I see what you mean. Patrick should be addressing me not you.

    On the other hand when I get a response notification by email Patrick’s name comes up as Fanie not Patrick, it took me awhile to figure that one out.


  37. Timothy,

    I think we are discussing apples and oranges here. Undergoing primal therapy is a wonderful tool for people who have huge issues with repression. And that’s a lot of people. At no point have I disagreed with Patrick, on that issue. I question some of the child rearing practices. That’s all.

    The biggest mistake people make when they come to this blog, though, is in trying to attribute the cause if targeting while very much appearing to lay equivalent blame on the target.

    Yes, we may be neurotic. Yes, we have accumulated pain, fear and some of us more than others.

    And yes, we may be giving off signals that show that we can be manipulated through guilt and shame.

    It makes no sense for anybody to play on our own well honed self doubts by creating more, by hammering us over the heads, trying to ‘help’ us, by almost ordering us to deconstruct our entire personalities through some of the most intensive therapies out there.

    Doesn’t it strike you as ludicrous that anyone would approach us about our ‘pain’ and then make underhanded ‘helpful’ comments when they don’t ‘win’ by getting complete agreement?

    Like– “you seem to have a lot of shame. Here’s a therapy you should try and if you don’t, well you’re very messed up”

    Or “you’re not completely accepting what I say because you’re in fear. You will never get better and live a Hellish existence, if you don’t accept my way…which, by the way, is the only way. Oh and btw, all of your positive teachers and influences, just forget them because they don’t know what they are talking about.”

    I have a strong enough spine to call ‘Baloney’ on that one.

    1. LisaO,

      I am not trying to challenge your position here as the no. 1 advisor on this blog, so you can relax about that.

      Your accusations and distortions of what I am really trying to get across is way off the mark.

      The word “blame” does not apply to anything I have ever said on this blog. I have simply stressed the fact that we are/were all victims. That means most people on earth, no matter their disposition.

      1. “LisaO, I am not trying to challenge your position here as the no. 1 advisor on this blog, so you can relax about that.”

        Phew. For quite sometime I thought that you were vying for no. 1 advisor position. And, I was feeling threatened.

        Just kidding. :-)

  38. …… About child-rearing. If anyone is really interested in knowing more about what is totally wrong with modern-day pedagogy, this movie about Summerhil, a school where children are free to be themselves, and to regulate themselves, should be a tear-jerker.

    Since 1921, A.S. Neill have shown us that children who are allowed to play and play to their heart’s content, can and will get a decent education, very often surpassing those who went to conventional schools, without the baggage of having been suppressed or indoctrinated.

    Remember LisaO, everyone has the right to free choice. Anyone on this blog can choose to watch or do anything that has been suggested by anyone. It is all about growing, and learning about our real selves.

  39. Patrick, you said:

    But remember, it’s not a case of simple black and white. “We on this blog are all victims of awful bad people who hurt us. And here we are so innocent, so pure!”

    This lays a bit too much unecessary blame and appears to do it in a slightly sarcastic manner.

    Beyond that, you are going to find that many posters here do have heightened sensitivity and perhaps are a little more ‘pure’ than most.

    And I haven’t felt challenged by you and have not suffered any tension from your presence. I am only slightly put off at your inability to agree to disagree and to pick up on some very clear hints from other posters, as well, that Janov is great but you are going overboard here.

    1. LisaO,

      thank you for putting that so well. I appreciate how mindfully you deal with Patrick. I do not have those skills yet, so I don’t respond anymore.

      And I appreciate your input on all matters on this blog. Your presentation is No. 1 ;-) whether I agree with your comments or not. And I am glad you have the time and ability to provide supportive comments to other people on here that are seeking it.

      1. Thanks Anne and Sydney. I understand how enthusiastic people become about what has worked so well for them. It’s really hard to resist wanting to get others totally onside and it can feel, appear like an insult when that doesn’t happen.

        I remember when I first learned about near death experiences, being super excited about it and desperately wanting to help people who (I thought) must have been afraid of death. I had to be told quite clearly to shut the heck up by 2 different people.

        Very teachable moments for me. I have to be very careful about trying to disseminate info that isn’t a good fit with other people’s attitudes, concerns, beliefs, or current preoccupations!

  40. Epigenetics and Brain Development

    Although the study of epigenetics can get fairly complex, one of the keys to proper understanding lies in accounting how the brain develops during the fetal period. The thalamo-cortical (thinking/feeling) circuits are established very late in gestation. Only after they have developed and the amygdala-cortical circuits are in place is it possible for us to have a mental appreciation of the pain we are in. Before then, we can experience pain without acknowledging it. Thus, pain is laid down unconsciously, without words to explain or clarify it. There was a study reported in the British journal Nature, (Garcia, Vouimba, Beaudry & Thompson, 1999) in which the investigators noted that when babies are under threat the amygdala sends a signal to the prefrontal cortex, triggering the expression of fear in behavior. The cortex becomes the “decider,” as it were, planning for action. As part of the study, the researchers trained mice to associate a tone with an accompanying shock delivered whenever the tone was issued. Each time the mice heard the tone, there was commensurate brain activity in the prefrontal area, signaling a threat. But when the amygdala was surgically removed there was no longer any prefrontal activity; the former could no longer signal fear to the top level. The same is true when we drug that structure or tranquilize it: we thereby diminish the force that mounts in the prefrontal area. As we learned earlier, gating problems in the amygdala may be part of the reason so many of us have trouble either falling asleep, staying asleep, or even concentrating. Lower level imprints thrusting upwards and forward keep us from traveling to a lower level of brain function by jolting us into a hyper-vigilant state whenever we lie down to relax. There is simply too much activity in that deeper level to permit sleep.

    The primordial Primal Imprint involves the brainstem. Phylo-genetically, this is an ancient brain system that we share with sharks. It makes us hyperaware and hyper-reactive. It is the source of basic biological impulses, fight or flight. And research points to this key structure as where anxiety emanates from, something I have seen and written about for many decades. Imprints here adversely affect the serotonin system, which should help dampen panic, but it cannot. So what do we do years later for panic? We offer serotonin pills in the form of SSRI’s, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. And what does that do? Make up for what was depleted during brainstem dominance.

    What is most important from my perspective is that when the brain is marked by trauma, serotonin supplies are depleted; and when that happens, we have what I call “leaky gates’ for a lifetime. We are then less effective in our efforts to repress. Pain roils the brain. We are disturbed and cannot concentrate or learn. And later in life, we are more susceptible to mental illness. This was found by researchers in Quebec, Canada, who measured the serotonin synthesis capacity of 26 healthy adult males, recruited from a 27-year longitudinal study. The results were then correlated with reported birth trauma, especially a delivery where the fetus showed signs of physiological distress (Booij et al., 2012). The study concluded that “perinatal stressors may contribute to increased vulnerability for psychiatric disorders in which serotonin plays a major role.”

    Recently, researchers have found that children with OCD, Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder, are much more likely to have suffered a birth trauma than controls (Geller et al., 2008). And the question is, why does this reaction get imprinted and last so long? Because it is essential for survival that we remember what is dangerous and how to react to it. We need to have the capacity to feel terror and get galvanized to react immediately. Part of this is that the secretion of noradrenaline affects the amygdala and elements of the brainstem, which are mobilized. We become hyper-alert and ready for action, and this alertness interacts with the memory system to direct our efforts.

    If we had the ability to employ words at birth we would say, “Oh My, such terror”. But we wait years to have those words, and then we call it anxiety. Why? Because we lost the connection to the origin of it. Now it seems like a different disease with no known cause. It is the same old imprint with a new title. Yet it is a powerhouse, and when we begin our study into the development of cancer later in life we expect to see strong correlations. Remember, terror – now called anxiety – has a purpose: it is essential for memory to alert us to danger from inside and out. We try to do away with anxiety with pills when it is a life-saving mechanism and needs to be available.

    Terror is mobilized so deep in the brain that an individual is often unaware of its onset. Thus, people who suffer panic attacks often say they seem to come out of nowhere, even though their bodies are trying to send early warning signals. In one experiment, scientists at Southern Methodist University in Dallas attached mobile monitors to panic sufferers and recorded round-the-clock readings of vital signs (Meuret et al., 2011). What they found was that subjects were completely unaware of physiological symptoms that could have signaled an impending panic episode, the biological precursors to manifest symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, trembling or hot flashes. Patients were oblivious to these “waves of physiological instability” for at least an hour after the symptoms had started. Suddenly, as if on a time-delay, the patient becomes aware that he is having a full-blown panic attack. It is as though the pain/terror is on the rise and we are not aware of it until it engulfs our consciousness. (The experiment is also explained in a YouTube video posted online and featuring the study’s lead researcher, Alicia Meuret, Associate Professor Of Psychology and Director of the Anxiety and Depression Research Center at SMU(12)). Because the terror is set down so early, in the beginning months of gestation, and imprinted so deep in the brain, we have no idea where it comes from. Terror surely begins its life in the brainstem and in archaic parts of the limbic system (amygdala). It is only when the gates falter and the terror bursts through that we become aware of it. Attention Deficit Disorder means that the gates have let through scattered pain and terror, distracting our focus and attention. It is not a deficit; our attentional processes are overwhelmed. And what is the message it is trying to unravel? It is not one message but a myriad of them, all shouting “I hurt.” Arthur Janov

    (12) Meuret, A., Ph.D. (2011, July 26). SMU: Out-of-the-blue panic attacks aren’t without warning. Retrieved from

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