Although health circumstances forced me to retire from active practice several years ago, I still engage on occasion in consultations (with therapists as well as individuals) to expand upon and/or clarify principles I advocate in my writings for understanding and dealing with character disturbance. And of the hundreds of requests I get every year (through the back channel or “Contact Dr. Simon” feature on this blog or on the Dr. George Simon website) there are certain topics and concerns that come up fairly regularly, which is why I’ve posted some articles that specifically address some of the more common questions (see, for example: Life After a Manipulator, Character Disturbance and the Art of Confrontation, An Emotional Declaration of Independence, Manipulators Can Make You Feel Crazy, Manipulators: Do They Really Believe What They’re Saying), and Character Disturbance: Getting the Right Kind of Help) folks ask me. Toward the end of last year, I received more consultation requests than usual from all parts of the globe, even though it’s fairly typical for the holiday season to bring added stress into the lives of persons involved in troubled relationships. I also received more than the usual number of emails from individuals attesting to the value of the principles they discovered reading my books In Sheep’s Clothing or Character Disturbance, and reading my various online articles. I’m extremely grateful for these contacts, not only for the affirmation about my work they often provide me (many folks have taken advantage of an option to contact me 4-6 months after a consultation to report on how putting principles into practice has helped them improve their circumstances), but also for the valuable information people impart to me when sharing their stories, which helps me greatly in my ongoing efforts to refine and improve my work.
Many of the individuals who wrote me last year not only graciously gave me permission share their insights and experiences with the blog readers but also urged me to do so as a way of bonding with and helping others who have faced similar circumstances. For that reason, in the coming weeks I’ll be crafting some articles that include some first-hand accounts by those who have come to a new sense of personal empowerment after reading my books or blog posts or who still have questions that perhaps were not adequately answered by material they have already read. But there is one request I get far more than any other, and sadly I must report it’s one that I’ve never been able to satisfy they way I’d really like to. Here’s an example of such a request (edited to ensure anonymity despite permission to print):
Dr. Simon, your book In Sheep’s Clothing is just what I needed because it helped me accept the truth I always suspected in my gut but could never really allow myself to believe. For years I thought my ex wanted to feel loved and accepted just like me but was too wounded and afraid to do so. I think that’s why I so often excused his behavior. He was a skilled manipulator, capable of making good impressions, and the counselor we saw only seemed to reinforce all these misguided notions. I’ve been dating again and I think the person I’m seeing has some of the characteristics of one of the problem personality types you mention in Character Disturbance. He’s also been married before and has agreed to go to counseling to “get it right this time.” But I want to be sure we see a therapist who also “gets it” when it comes to making a good character assessment. Can you please recommend someone in my area for us to see – maybe even someone familiar with your work? It would mean a lot.
Sad to say that I have a fairly stock response to questions like these, for long ago it proved impossible for me to maintain an accurate and up-to-date professional referral roster. At one time I thought about adding a very specialized training component to the workshops I was doing for professionals, and then keeping a record of attendees who both grasped and adopted the framework and techniques I promote. But even that proved unworkable for a variety of reasons, and suffice it to say that despite the many requests I get each week similar to the one mentioned above, I always have to reply that the best recommendation I can make is that the person seeking help would likely serve themselves best by doing some upfront research to secure a therapist with some proven experience working with personality/character-disturbed individuals and who adopts a primarily cognitive-behavioral as opposed to traditional therapeutic orientation and perspective.
Fortunately, I’m able to respond to most of the other requests I get in a much more satisfying fashion. And, as I mentioned earlier, in the coming weeks I’ll be posting some articles that expand upon some of the more frequent questions I get asked as well as some of the more noteworthy circumstances others have shared with me during my consultations with them that should prove of great interest to the readers.
I owe a big “thank you” to all those with whom I consulted last year. It’s very edifying to witness people making powerful changes in their lives as a result of whatever they might have been able to glean from my work and it’s also a significant continuing educational experience for me to learn about the many issues folks struggle with in their relationships with impaired characters. That’s why I can truly say that I got as much if not more out of the experience than I trust those with whom I visited did. And hopefully, as I incorporate some of the information derived from these consultations into timely articles for the coming year, even more folks will find the resources to empower their lives.