Behavior and Impulse Control “Disorders”

For the past several weeks, I’ve been posting on commonly misunderstood psychological concepts and terms (See, for example: Mental Illnesses, Diseases, and “Disorders” and Addiction, Codependence, PTSD, Anxiety and Self-Esteem).  In this week’s article, I’ll do my best to explain the difference between disorders of behavior and impulse control that stem from clinical conditions largely outside of a person’s ability to control and problematic behavior patterns that are part and parcel of a person’s preferred way of dealing with life (i.e. a manifestation of their character disturbance). Unfortunately, because of the way we officially classify mental disorders these days, making the above distinction accurately is not always easy.  Most clinicians don’t make thorough personality/character assessments of their clients during their initial evaluations, so many times folks get diagnosed with various behavior or impulse control “disorders” simply because they meet the official behavioral criteria.  As a result, they’re sometimes misjudged as to their actual or overriding pathology, and, as a result, receive improper intervention.

Certain primarily biologically-rooted clinical conditions can make an otherwise well-adjusted individual (i.e. a person without significant personality or character disturbance) quite unstable and unpredictable.  For example, individuals who suffer from bouts of mania can, in their hyper-elated state, engage in reckless, impetuous, overly adventurous behavior, (sometimes losing all their money on a risky venture, going on a gambling spree, or engaging in high-risk daredevil acts even after several nights without sleep).  They might even become uncharacteristically volatile and aggressive during their manic episodes  And when such individuals are otherwise healthy in personality and character, their disorder-caused behavior not only troubles their family and friends but also is abhorrent to them, because their actions are so “out of character.” It unnerves a person of good character to think that they did and said things in their altered state that they would never even think of doing normally (This is equally true of those who become aware of problem behaviors they exhibited while under the influence of alcohol or other substances).  They’re the first to want some help in getting back to normal and preventing future aberrant behavior.  They would have a hard time living with themselves otherwise and see it as their responsibility to do what they can to make things right again.

Folks who have sustained brain injuries, or are afflicted with some other disease process that affects brain functioning can also display behavioral irregularities.  They might blurt things out without exercising good discretion or even physically lash out with an uncharacteristic lack of restraint. And depending upon how the condition they have impairs their ability to recognize and appreciate the inappropriateness of their behavior (For example, persons in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease or some other form of Dementia might not even remember let alone have good awareness about the changes that have come over them and the aberrant behaviors they’ve displayed), most of the time, they’re likely to not only be concerned about their uncharacteristic behavior but also might experience some depression over feeling powerless to better control it. In some rare cases, brain trauma can even cause significant changes in personality.  That is, a person might experience changes in brain functioning that affect the various functions (including impulse control), such as self-appraisal capacity, empathy level, frustration tolerance threshold, etc., that help comprise personality, thus producing a change in their coping style.

Behavior and impulse control problems that arise strictly from conditions outside a person’s ability to control (as well as brain conditions that alter personality) are really quite rare .  And when they do occur, they can afflict both folks who are healthy in character and folks who already have some disturbances of character (in which case the “dynamic interaction” between the person’s clinical condition and their maladjusted personality can really complicate matters). But in my experience, many folks get diagnosed with various behavioral and impulse control disorders when their primary pathology is one of personality or character.  A person who routinely berates his/her spouse, is habitually callous, inconsiderate, or abusive, pitches fits when things don’t go as desired, is financially irresponsible, etc. because he/she both has always felt entitled to do so and is perfectly comfortable with that way of behaving, might well qualify for an impulse control disorder diagnosis, but their real pathology most likely lies with their disturbed or disordered character.

Why does all this matter?  It matters because of what needs to be done to rectify the problem.  If someone’s behavior and impulse control problems are truly a problem of chemistry, then appropriate medication (and supportive counseling)  is what’s indicated. But if the problem is primarily one of character, then the person’s way of looking at the world – the various ways they think about things, the attitudes they hold, etc. – all need to be confronted and corrected in within a highly specialized treatment framework (For more on this see the articles: Character Disturbance: Getting the Right Kind of Help and Getting the Right Kind of Help – Part 2 as well as the concluding two chapters in Character Disturbance).  And while for a time it might indeed be necessary to intervene with behavior-altering drugs (in which case a behavior or impulse control disorder might have to be diagnosed for practical purposes even if it’s not the principal or more accurate diagnosis), strictly medical intervention is rarely the long-term solution.

Next week’s article will feature some vignettes of folks who were frustrated in their attempts to get the right kind of help for their out-of-control relationship partners and along the way learned some hard lessons about character disturbance.

This Sunday’s Character Matters program will re-visit dangerous ideologies and the kinds of disturbed characters who are drawn to them.


151 thoughts on “Behavior and Impulse Control “Disorders”

  1. Dr. Simon, thank you for this post. It is such a relief to learn these concepts that you present. I think it is sad how Character Disturbed individuals are enable, not only by us lay people, but it seems like even the professionals are giving them excuses and further enabling their behaviors; but not only that the way these situations are handled just further abuse the victim.
    I have received professional and spiritual guidance several times throughout my adult years, often if I’d bring up narcissism or “passive-aggression” (since I didn’t know any better yet) I would be told (by professionals, lay people, christian advisors alike) to be careful not to “label”, to just look at individual circumstances, “don’t read more into what is happening,” “forgive” “be more patient” “not to project my childhood issues onto him”, etc, etc, etc. I was basically told not to trust my gut instinct, to take what he does at face value. All the things that I believe only oppressed me more, made me doubt myself more, enable him more. It was like I was growing my character, getting emotionally stronger, focusing on “my issues” – basically doing everything they told me, and I couldn’t understand why I still felt so unsure, still seemed to be living in some kind of cloud where nothing really made any sense.
    When I read your book about 1 year ago, it was like all this craziness, confusion, self-blame all fell away, It was like the puzzle pieces all fell together. It seemed no matter how much I worked on myself, and had no way to explain it, I always felt like I was oppressed, held in invisible chains for 23 years, but I was told I was crazy for feeling this way, that it was somehow my insecurities and issue; reading your books truly set me free. This cloud lifted and I could really see the truth (although I could “see” the truth, it still took quite a few more incidents that truly left no doubt in my mind that he is a CA).
    You’re material really help me know what I needed for myself; this time when I went to see an abuse counselor, I could exactly articulate what was going on, and what I needed from her. It has been my life line.
    Thank you.

  2. Sheri, I can relate to what you write, although my relationship with a covert-aggressive is my brother whom I do not see that often, a few times a year. But the feelings are the same – I’d be depressed each time he’d come into town, wondering what I could say this time to make it an okay experience, just to have a normal conversation of give and take, without feeling verbally battered or guilty (because he could turn on the self-pity faucet at will), or cowed (because of his controlled outbursts of rage). I thought the burden was on me. It’s like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with half the missing pieces.

    But as you say, I regained my sanity with Dr. Simon’s insights! (it still may be frustrating to put together the jigsaw puzzle, but at least with all the pieces, it’s eventually possible)

    1. I can really relate to “I thought the burden was on me”. I like the way you put that. It was such a relief to let go of that. It is a struggle though. I often still carry much of the burden that I don’t need to be or find myself acting out old patterns, but I am slowly learning. I’ve also come to believe that I’ll never entirely get all the puzzle pieces of the CA in my life to fit (since there are too many, pieces are missing, and extra pieces that will never fit have been tossed in the box). However I do now have hope that my puzzle will one day be put together, but yes it’s a lot of work and can be frustrating

      1. Sheri, we tried for a long time to find the missing puzzle pieces using pieces from an entirely different puzzle than the one that comprises their picture. It’s hard to stop going back to that. It IS such a relief to let go of the mental and emotional burden of self blame, self created but at their making. the Hell they put someone through is beyond words. So what, maybe we lean in the self blame direction anyhow? That doesn’t mean they don’t push you flat over in that direction.
        So Spathtard’s little buddy was in a terrible car accident, ran head on into another couple. I asked his ex-wife If he had some lame excuse like he does for EVERYTHING? She said “nope” but then went on to tell me how he had said he hadn’t even had that much to drink, hadn’t eaten anything all day………hello?? Sounds like excuses to me. You know I drove down that same road the other day and hadn’t had ANYthing to drink and hadn’t eaten that day either. So he just side steps the fact that he WAS drinking and consequently ran head on into another vehicle. He just had a DUI 5 years ago and STILL drinks and drives. To make it even more pathetic, he managed to talk his 15 year old daughter into staying with him when he was relieved from jail because he was in so much pain……she stayed up with him and his moaning and groaning all night. Just so pathetic. Would you not think that if nothing else would motivate you to stop drinking it would be your children and the example you are setting for them? Spathtard……3 kids never made that leopard change his spots and not at 50+ he lives in HIS mommy basement. just turns my stomach.

      2. Wow I did it again yesterday. Just when I think that I’m gaining ground I get caught up in the crazy again. He’s been walking around “acting” like he’s so sorry and “this time he’s really changing, really sorry, etc etc” and I’m getting treated like the villain because I’m not giving him the umpteenth chance and believing him. And at the same time giving me the silent treatment, etc. this has been going on for a month. I thought I was handling it okay. So when he kept saying how much he’s changing, he told me I can’t see it because it’s going on in his head. At first I just stuck to my guns saying I wanted a specific thing he was actually doing to change. And then it got crazy, he just pulled out all his tactics and fired them at me full force. The lying, blaming, making excuses, minimizing, guilting, shaming, crying, promises, acted helplessness, and that’s just the start. And I got sucked right in trying to defend my right to not trust someone, trying to point out how what he was doing right then was showing no change, etc. the more I tried to stand up for myself the faster and more he would fire them out I couldn’t keep up. And the funny thing, other than the occasional crying and telling me how hard it is for him. And the one aggressive “now look I haven’t lied to you for a long time” (which I’m not sure since he just was caught in a lie earlier in the day, but maybe for him that’s a long time). Otherwise, he remained even, no reacting just trying to explain how much he’s trying in this soothing tone while the whole time diverting and avoiding, and I’m the one overreacting saying hurtful things, etc. I did it again, I let him win. I would walk away feeling so invalidated, that I would actually go back thinking this time I’ll be heard, have my say. But it would just happen again. I can’t beleive I did this. I was doing so good. It all just crumbled in one day. By the end of the day I had exposed so many vulnerabilities. It was like this horrible crazy going around in circles. I feel so stupid that I did it again. It’s like months of work down the drain and it happened so fast

        1. Hi Sheri — it hurts when we fall back into old patterns. This was one of those bad days — we’ve all had them. The important thing is that you realized it right away. Forgive yourself and move on — ask in prayer for strength to do better next time (and there will be a next time). We are here to encourage you during the hard days. Isaiah 41:10 — “So do not fear, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” As the old hymn says, “Guide me, oh Thou Great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land.” Cling to His promise that He will never leave you or forsake you, Heb. 13:5. Know that I pray daily for all who read here, that God will help each one to work through their problems. Peace be unto you, and Hope, from Elva

          1. Thank you for that comfort. I am very hard on myself when I fail. The scripture is exactly what I needed to help lift me up. I am going to try to use this as a learning experience. Figure out what triggered me so I am better prepared. I do know that I am human and I will fail, I just seem to unrealistically expect more from myself and it seems like yesterday my defences fell and I crumbled. I know I just need to pick myself up, but I am tired
            So again thank you. Today I will go and teach the wonderful Sunday school students I teach and I know that will uplift me (they really are a joy. And show me so much love that I come away with so much light). So I do know my day will be a good one

        2. Sheri, Would you be this harsh with your child if they were trying very hard to do something, learn something new, etc..and made a mistake, fell short, despite their efforts? Would you call them stupid? Would you tell them that all their efforts prior to a set back were in vain? I would hope not? :)
          SO, time to regroup. time to circle the mental wagons. My suggestion would be to write it down but on a piece of paper TODAY while it’s fresh. Then read it, study it and learn from it. Just another phase on your way to the top girl! Shake it off and use it as a stepping stone. :) He just created some drama royal, don’t let him keep you there!
          Question? Is he in therapy or is there ANYthing he can point to that is demonstrative of ANY attempt to change? Have you read Lundy Bancroft’s laundry list of what is required for an abuser to actually demonstrate a true desire to change? It is extremely extensive. He does NOT recommend that the abusive partner read his book “Should I Stay or Should I Go” but has a corresponding web site with two chapters that can be printed out and given to the abuser. Spathtard’s response was telling. He had ZERO desire to be anything different than the POS he really is.
          If you need a link I will find it for you Sheri.

          1. He is in therapy, it seems though that all it truly has done is given him more tools to justify his behaviour. I Do know he’s not changing. What triggers me is how he vilifies me. He himself actually admitted a few months ago (once in a while he does slip and let his true self show) that he doesn’t actually do what the counsellor suggests and that he thinks that his going to therapy should be enough proof that he is changed so I should trust his word. When he pressures me to trust him and give in to something. I ask him to say what he thinks he has DONE to deserve trust he says “I’m going to counselling aren’t i”. And for a long time I’d think okay that’s right. But after two years and him still fighting so hard to manipulate, and still being caught in so many lies. I really do not accept that counselling is enough. I am not confused about whether he’s truly attempting to change. I have accepted he’s not. But what really gets to me, triggers me, is when he’ll walk around acting appropriately humble but at the same time implying that I am the one destroying the marriage because I am not giving him another chance, or automatically accepting trusting his word. It really gets him upset when I say I need to actually see it in his actions, that it’s only through his long term consistent actions that I could even be willing to trust. This gets him really going and he will pull out every tactic to try to get me to back down and he can very effectively push just the right buttons.

            So I am very aware of what happened I am very aware of what triggered me. And I was very aware of what he was doing with his tactics. Sometimes I get so stubborn and I actually feel this compulsive need to be heard. He knows this. He also knows that his invalidating me will get me to overreact. And then it’s my behaviour that’s the problem

            So I guess that’s why I am so hard on myself. I knew what was happening and just didn’t stop myself

          2. I guess what I need to determine why it is that I can’t stand him invalidating me and retrain my brain to react differently. It gets tiring it’s like I let my guard down and all that ends up happening is I find another thing about myself that I need to work on. And then some days I stubbornly think to mysel “why am I the one who needs to be doing all of this character work and learning to change” which is not a good way for me to approach this.

          3. Dear Sheri………..I understand. OK, try this if you like. Overtime he says anything that invalidates you or fill in the blank……….If you are truly not seeing a change and know in your heart that he is full of s….moke……….try a suggestion one of the readers here gave me when I was stuck in “but he said he loves me” land. He basically said to take the words they say and substitute the word “banana”. “Oh honey, I love you so much. We are a team and will fight for this relationship together”. Oh honey we are a banana and we will fight for this banana together. Sheri, nothing he says means anything and he is only trying to push you into a position he wants you to be in (emotional and reactive). Set your determination to not GIVE him that. He brings you down in order to feel like he is justified in whatever pathetic pile of putrid filth he is coming from. Set your stubborn determination in a way that benefits you and not him.
            I would also suggest coming up with a rock solid reply that works for you in these situations. My suggestion is “It’s unfortunate that you see it that way”. Then walk. Would you allow a 5 year old to engage you in such nonsense? That is the mentality they have. Picture him in front of you in his soiled diaper and don’t let him manipulate you into changing it for him. He is old enough to not only put on his big boy panties but to clean up his pants when he soils himself.
            You were probably not validated as a child and this may be a trigger point for you but it is no frigging excuse for him to push a button just because you have a button to push. We all have areas that are sensitive to the touch, scars that are easily ripped open, vulnerabilities, etc. You have the benefit here of being educated while still around this manboy, use it to your advantage and don’t let him get you on the ropes. His opinion of you means nothing more than a friend’s toddler’s opinion of you would. See him for what he is and don’t hand him what he is stomping his feet to get.
            May the force be with you Sheri……you can do this!

          4. Sheri, I was scapegoated and vilified in my family as a child and an adult, so I am an easy target like that. Also very misunderstood by people, especially when I was younger. I was picked on and teased for various reasons, etc. SO…..there is a sensitivity there. As my older friend says, when someone loves you they don’t poke at wounds, they are sensitive around them. I can not over emphasize how toddler like these types are but that doesn’t make them harmless by any stretch, often they are extremely dangerous. Physically they have outgrown their emotional age and are now armed and dangerous.
            If he has ever harmed you or threatened to harm you be extremely cautious please.

          5. Thank you puddle, love the banana idea.

            Actually funny, how sometimes people’s experiences are so similar. And yes, I my mom is a narcissist (although I didn’t know this term at the time, my therapist had told me to be careful not to “label” her). Except she has never in any way been covert. Even though she can present herself a certain way, likes to be the victim, etc. It’s obvious (ex. Once she told me that she loved my brother more than me because he was the first born and he was more like her). Nothing she ever did was covert, so it has actually been far easier to deal with.

            I have a fairly good relationship with her (as much as possible with a narcissist). So I guess I mean, I can spend time with her or talk to and walk away being okay. In 2003, when my dad passed away, my mom’s narcissism became far more apparent. I got a lot of help, worked through a lot. I actually, with the help that I had received at the time, was able to set limits with the time I spent with her, without having the guilt. I was able to take a stand and say, I will not do this or that. And especially with the kids I was able to be firm in what was acceptable with them and what wasn’t. I don’t see her often or talk to her a lot, but when I do, it’s actually okay. The therapist did help me with this area, but I can now see in another way it did me so much harm too.

            Here’s the kicker, when I was in therapy (in 2003) for this issue, I started to really see what was also going on in the marriage. How some of my hb’s traits seemed very similar to my mom’s, however, his are very, very covert. So when I began to address this with the therapist I was seeing at that time, she told me not to “project” my ideas about my mom onto my husband, not to “read” into what he was doing, to “accept” what he says at face value, and to be careful when I’m confronting him to “question” myself if it is appropriate. Since none of his behaviors are overt, it was very hard to pinpoint anything specific. And the few overt things I could articulate, she said that since they were isolated incidents, that the way he reacted seemed like he was truly sorry. She even suggested that it would be to the advantage of my marriage for me to explain to him what I was going through, dealing with coming to terms with my “feelings” (yes, even the therapist said well, she was your mom, she must have loved you she didn’t know how to express it, so the issues isn’t that my mom didn’t love me that was the problem, the problem was my “feelings”) about being unloved by my mom and that sometimes I might overreact to the things that I might “misinterpret” as being unloving.

            So basically, I walked away thinking I was overreacting, had nothing overt to put my finger on, and was able to sufficiently convince myself that my “feelings” were the issue not my mom’s or my hb’s behavior. I guess I was told to doubt and question myself. And I can now see that exposing this concept to my hb at the time was one of the worst things I could have done.

            This is why when I read “In Sheep’s Clothing”, It was like these things that I had been so many years doubting and questioning myself about were all lifted, it was like absolute relief and freedom. Not just the things he has written about the CA, but always how explains how damaging traditional therapy concepts are … it’s like it all made sense. And for a neurotic layperson, I had always assumed the the therapist new best, that I couldn’t trust myself so I needed to absolutely trust what they are saying.

          6. Sheri, Instead of determining WHY you feel like you feel when you are invalidated by banana man, how about just feeling what it feels like to be invalidated and dismissed? So when you react to his invalidation and engage with him, is it because you don’t what to feel the sadness of being invalidated? is there some part of you that is still wanting/ needing his (or someone else’s) validation and you engage with his invalidation because you want to change that so you don’t have to feel something that was once too painful to be able to feel as a child? If this Sapth experience has taught me one thing, it’s that I can feel and express feelings without shame and live to tell about it. I have overcome something that used to plague me in regards to feeling my feelings deeply and openly. I am 100% sure that was not an intentional parting “gift” Spathtard intended to give me but he did none the less!
            I get a news letter from Arthur Janov and the one I just got triggered these questions/ thoughts.

          7. it really isn’t an issue of my feelings being validated. I was referring to what messages I had been given in 2003 from the therapist. Really the idea of him and I having a relationship is not even on the table. Right it’s I very much think that he may attempt to victimize me but I will not “be” a victim. I will stand up for myself. So I will say over and over “it’s your actions, not words that count”. I do know that no matter what I can never win. Yesterday I got stubborn, literally just felt determined to “win” one. Sometimes I just need to be reminded the hard way of what’s worth it and what isnt

          8. Okay, the words “right it’s” was not supposed to be in that third sentence up above. I am on my mobile device and it keeps sticking in words that it things belongs in the sentences. Need to read things through before I hit submit

          9. Hi Sheri, I didn’t mean “feelings being validated” I meant you being validated. Not sure how to explain the difference other than when you are targeted by a narc at an early age, it’s rarely about you, your feelings, your rights, etc……’s all about them and indirectly or directly you “learn” that you don’t matter, that your needs as a human don’t matter, that your rights don’t matter. It leaves in indelible bark in your psyche but inside you KNOW that you DO matter. What I’m saying is that when you engage with banana man because hi is vilifying you, you may be fighting an old battle. Alas, you have no greater chance of winning it with him than you did with your self focused mother and i’m right there with you with my mother and indirectly my father as well (but in a backwards kind of different way). Of course Spathtard vilified me and i beat my head against a brick wall trying to defend myself to him because i KNEW he was wrong. What I DIDN’t know was that he was doing it because it amused him greatly to pull my strings and push my buttons and lie lie lie like a little boy and get away with it.

          10. Oh yes I definitely agree. I absolutely know that both mom and hb have nothing to do with me. And I can say that a year ago I didn’t have any idea that him pushing my buttons was purposeful. I am aware it’s and old battle and I truly know from the start there’s no winning. And I definitely know prior to going into it, at this stage of the game that he’s going to win if I’m not the one backing down or walking away. But the thing is even fully aware, in the moment, it’s like I don’t give a crap and I’m going to have my say. Sometimes it’s like you are looking at the cycle of crazy. Knowing full well you don’t want to be a part of it. But you step back in for a brief moment. All I can say now is it was a really good reminder as to why I stepped out of it in the first place. Now I am also so happy to have this forum it does really help not play it around in circles in my head. It helps me look at it far more objectively

          11. Sheri, YEA!! You are OK! Sometimes you have to say what you have to say and let the chips fall where they may. No beating yourself up for it because your intentions are pure. I can’t imagine knowing what I know now, what we all know now and still being with “him”. I would probably have a lot to say and not feel bad about it. I actually regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to do so but it wasn’t to be. I know now and have shed everything and anything he left on me. I was looking at pictures for my lawyer the other day and came across some of him during that whole encounter. A year ago it would have made me cry, maybe longer than that ago, but I just looked at his face and thought, really Puddle? You used to miss HIM?? I don’t mean that physically….just in general knowing what he is now. He is nothing and his little buddy’s DUI stunt at Christmas proves it to me even more. A man shall be judged by the company he keeps and as I’ve said, Spathtard is scraping the bottom of the barrel in the “friendship” department as well as every department.
            So, the saying goes, not to judge others. Why dose it seem that these types should be an exception to that “rule”? There are millions of ways people can do harm to other people but when it is done on a personal and intentional level with absolutely not the slightest reservation or concern for how it will effect someone, I do judge it.

          12. Puddle. I like the straight forward way you put things. It’s good that you judge in a sense. I think when we’re taught to “not judge” we are never truly taught what that means. We are lead to believe that means let everyone do their own thing, or whatever else. I know whenever I’ve confronted someone on a bad behaviour, etc. I was “guilted” for judging. I’m not a theologian. And I will never pretend to be. But I am learning so much more about how some of these concepts have been misused. We ARE supposed to hold others accountable for their harmful behavior. We are supposed “know them by their fruits” and determine if their fruits are rotten or good. So yes, I too am now learning that I can judge a person according to their repetitive behavior patterns to determine in what ways to include them in my life. And that in doing so I am not being unfaithful.

    1. No Corey, not in the true sense of the word, it is not a disease. According to what Dr. Simon has written, a lot (most) of the people who are supposedly “addicted” to alcohol and other substances are not really even truly physically addicted. More like they just keep repeating their patterns of self entitled and irresponsible choices to use. Of course they will brandish the supposed “fact” that they have a problem or an addiction as an excuse for a litany of bad behavior………..Like they just got attacked by alcohol and it took them captive and they are powerless to change.

    2. It’s substance abuse, really, with some folks. I think even if someone’s not an all-around self-entitled douche, but just comfortable enough with consuming substances, it’s still basically substance abuse.

  3. I was married for 45 years to someone who is covert aggressive. The pastor at my church met with us and later told me that my then husband had a personality disorder. It prompted my looking up many articles on the internet. I got a dissolution from him. It has now been 8 years on my own. It is so freeing to know that I am not in that relationship any longer. My children are grown and are seeing where the problem lies.

    His new wife wanted to meet me this past summer at a family wedding. I chose not to. I don’t need either of them in my life. I forgive them because they don’t understand what they did. However, I no longer want a relationship of any kind with him. And I don’t want to be drug into any kind of drama where they are concerned.

    1. Noel, Congratulations on your freedom! What a positive.
      I’m not saying that you should not forgive, if it has helped you that is great but I do question this statement……..” I forgive them because they don’t understand what they did.” I do not know the particulars of your situation but I wouldn’t be to quick to jump to the conclusion that he or they did not know what they did.
      Best to you!

      1. Oh, they understand what they did, but I guess what I meant is they have no clue all of the ramifications of it. He only thinks of himself and she must believe everything he tells her.

        They have to live with each other now. Who in their right mind would choose someone like that?

        1. I can see what you’re saying Noel, I too have realized that my hb is aware and understands what he does. However he is unwilling/unable to look at what it’s done to me. Also due to his entitlement he doesn’t think he should have to experience any natural consequences. So when they occur he thinks he’s been wronged. So yes if his new wife believes his twist on things than she most likely doesn’t understand

          I also think that even though they are aware they will not “understand” it or look at it in a way a person with better character understands it

          1. Sheri, posting this here because the reply button is closer and I have a hard time following the lengthy back and forth string of comments. Sorry if i’m off base with my suggestions
            and not following what you are speaking of exactly? Subjective interpretation? I read your replies and you sound like you are advocating for yourself very well. I can relate to the confusion you have experienced in the hands of misinformed councilors for sure, almost word for word. “Funny”, Spathtard actually told me what he was during a co- session with a relationship councilor when she asked who he thought he most resembled from my family. He said my brother. Well my brother is a p-path. Just another puzzle piece in retrospect. Of course in the aftermath when I said that I was surprised his sister didn’t see through him like I saw through my brother he indignantly responded, how dare I compare him to my brother for x, y and z reason. Figured that out in retrospect as well.

        2. “Who in their right mind would choose someone like that?” EXACTLY! If it were not for the lies and intentionally withheld truth and the manipulation, no one would EVER be with someone like this!! Case closed! I think about this NOW all the time. Take away all of his BS and lying manipulations and there is a big pathetic Spathtard, no one I would ever EVER give the time of day to. A pathetic mama’s manboy living like a teenager, sponging off his mother. How attractive.
          Again Noel, I propose they/ he knows exactly what the ramifications of his actions are unless he is completely incompetent. I don’t know in your situation, only in my own. Spathtard has been Spathtard for 50 years. He knows, his mother “knows” and I KNOW all of his ex’s know :) They might not have the knowledge to label him accurately but they know. He leaves a trail of pollution and garbage everywhere h’s been.

          1. Hi all — I believe that yes, they ARE aware, they just don’t care. If you try to call them on anything, they will give you all kinds of excuses. I finally just asked God to take all the negative feelings out of my heart, because negative feelings will hurt and ultimately destroy the one who holds them, and yes, He did take those feelings away. So shake the dirt off your feet and go on with your life. I know that sounds too simplistic and it can be very difficult to do, but it worked for me. And, after I divorced him, 3 stepdaughters all said, well, if you had done this or that, you would still be married. I ignored them — why didn’t they give me the information when I could have used it? Well, it’s water under the bridge now, life goes on. Peace and hope from Elva

          2. Elva,

            In the last article’s comment section, this was the kind of discussion I was aiming at:

            “I finally just asked God to take all the negative feelings out of my heart, because negative feelings will hurt and ultimately destroy the one who holds them, and yes, He did take those feelings away. So shake the dirt off your feet and go on with your life.”

            That makes sense.

          3. That’s it…none of us would have got hooked up if it wasn’t for the fact we were duped in some way. I too think on it so much Puddle. It works away at you all those lies, all that confusion and then the trail of destruction. He had no friends from his past because he’d basically turned them against him…risking their lives in his acts of irresponsibility. I can say now he’s a p-path but still find it difficult though I know that’s what he is…I think he knows too as a year before I left (at that time having no knowledge of all this stuff or even thinking he could even be one) my goodness…I am just thinking how I never thought on it. Anyway I bought that book The Psychopath Test, as I thought it would be interesting and because of the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats… etc. Anyway my ex carried that book around like a bible. I know now that it is not a great book on the subject by any means but it makes me wonder if he knew what I didn’t know. So many things I see now that I just overlooked then. It never goes away that horrible feeling of being manipulated into loving someone you know that if it wasn’t for the charming mask you’d never have looked at twice let alone stayed with him! I still get caught in an emotional knot, like I will always be somehow stuck to him. (Does that make sense to anyone) It’s only I had that awful feeling a couple of times lately and it makes me feel sick that it is still there! I want so much to be free of it all but there are so many stumbling blocks.

          4. Tori, when I read this ” It never goes away that horrible feeling of being manipulated into loving someone you know that if it wasn’t for the charming mask you’d never have looked at twice let alone stayed with him! I still get caught in an emotional knot, like I will always be somehow stuck to him.”

            I look at that statement, it’s amazing. I think about that charming mask, what’s really sick to me … is now that I know, I can look back to 1990, when we first started. I can see how it was there all along. And now that I do see it, and I am still with him, I can see through that mask – there’s nothing behind it. The worst part for me (I don’t fault myself for it, but it’s still there) is that I willingly gave so much, exposed so many vulnerabilities. That’s how I relate to feeling that “somehow I’ll always be stuck to him.” All the vulnerabilities, dreams, needs, wants, etc. It’s like he used that mask to trick me into giving him all these things. It’s all the pieces of me I gave to him that keep me stuck to him, since he gave nothing in return. Looking at my entire time with him, seeing it with now knowing the truth. It is a lot to work through, a lot to take. For me, it’s that long term conditioning that is so hard to overcome.

          5. Sheri I couldn’t have put it better…and I’m a little bit of a mess right now. You give so much of yourself to them every treasured secret, as you say all your vulnerabilities and they do condition you. So many things I accepted or wiped away because “when you love someone you somehow deal with the bad parts…for better or worse as they say… Sheri it’s true the thing is they are always the same but that mask hides them so well…when I think of all the thoughtful gifts he bought me over the years…I mean things that really meant something to me, as if he’d taken that extra care to choose exactly the right thing. I think that’s why I am teary I was thinking of a gift he’d bought me earlier…and how do you put that together with the evil POS that he actually is!! Over 13 years I just can’t get my head around it. I’d love to think he really cared when he bought me those gifts but now I see it as a cunning man who knew so much about me, he held it like a thief and used it so he could hurt and control me…not love or respect me!
            I don’t know how you do it Sheri still being with him but I do admire your strength and your sound way of dealing with him. It is truly amazing. You are so right about the long term conditioning being the hardest part…as it encompasses everything and you have to keep deprogramming yourself… Keep going strong Sheri :)

          6. I am in tears reading your reply to me. I’ve been through so much counseling to set boundaries and learn “tools” to cope. However, with the size of our community we don’t have support groups for this type of situation.
            It brings up so much when I read comments or have people respond to me comments.
            Tears of pain, but also tears of relief. It is so hard dealing with all of these memories.
            Just to understand that there are other people who actually get it. I know my head that my experiences were real, but I’ve been conditioned to doubt myself. And I have to fight against that every moment. I have been conditioned to think I’m the one that’s the problem, that if I was just more loving, more trusting, more forgiving, than everything would be okay. I know those ideas are wrong, but I still have to fight against them.
            So just to have other people who can relate really helps me stay strong, really helps me trust myself.
            Just having someone who actually says “yes” to what I’m saying instead of always finding a way to discount my experiences, I can’t even put into word what it does for me.

          7. I’ve also had a new realization about some of these times I find it harder to cope. I will try to do say this as tactfully as I can, if I go over board please let me know.

            It seems like he backs off for about a month, gives me my space. He will do the silent treatment, walk around the house looking appropriately humble, or spend a lot of time pouting. It irks me, but I prefer those times because then I’m not feeling like I’m always on the defensive. And then about “once a month” he tries to pressure me into seeing how much he’s changed, because he’s not done anything wrong for the month. Here’s the funny thing, I find out that during that “silent treatment / pouting” time he’s actually been lying/keeping things from me and often has done one thing that he’s promised me he would stop doing (I think this is way of playing “get-back” at me). So he’s trying to manipulate me into thinking he’s changes, he can’t seem to keep it together, he ends up contradicting himself and exposing how he truly hasn’t changed. Almost comical. And if I just keep saying, give me one concrete example of one thing you’ve changed in this last month and have stuck to consistently. He’ll start telling me he’s changed in his head, I just can’t see it. I keep telling him if he has changed I would see it, and the first sign of that would be he’d stop trying to pressure me into trusting him again. I’ll just keep repeating it over and over, and he ups his game, he’ll assent, but then he won’t back down, saying that he agrees he hasn’t changed, and since now he agrees he really wants to and will change this time and he begins to pressure me into trusting him again. And around and around he goes, and he just won’t back down. It’s the one thing he knows he can do to push my buttons and get my defenses up, the verbal convincing me to trust him and guilting.

            But here’s what I just realized, he does this about “once a month”. Not using this as an excuse, but it’s during “this time” that I am more vulnerable and have to fight harder to retain and use my coping tools and stick to my boundaries. I just realized that I think he knows this is my most vulnerable time and chooses that time to attack. Realizing this really helps me keep my eyes open as to the true nature of his character.

          8. Sheri, Tori……….here’s the short synopsis………They appeal to something you, anyone wants………the list is endless. They go right to the heart of it and use it to get what ever it is. The list on the victim’s side is endless and the list of what they hope to get from the victim is endless. The victim could be a romantic involvement, a business involvement, a legal involvement………they appeal to some need or want or desire in those they victimize. When that need gets falsely filled by them we get attached/ addicted to that being filled/ met. We think we have found the “missing piece”, what ever that may be, even if we didn’t know it was missing. They hook us so hard and then rip out the hook from the gut. This is all a metaphor…….but it translates across the board no mater what the nature of the involvement is. When the truth becomes apparent and the fact the the emperor really isn’t wearing any clothes, it is humiliating and devastating on so many levels that it really is unbearable for a while. In my opinion, when your heart is where they hooked you or some unmet primal need that was crying out silently or loudly to be filled, it is the worst form of torture imaginable. He took a S**T in my inner wounded child, he built me up and held that inner child and then slam dunked it into oblivion. I have NEVER had someone do what he did and I have been with people romantically who were not exactly what you would consider “a catch” but no one EVER did what he did.
            This issue with the contractor has only served to undermine my confidence even further that I can protect myself. But I don’t have any personal feelings or hurt about what he did to me. I wasn’t hooked in any sort of potentially addictive way. He defiled my property though, my sanctuary, my base of operation. That has proved to be harmful in a totally different way. I don’t know………..I just have seen so clearly how they do what they do. Dr. Simon is right in saying that we all need to know ourselves and our vulnerabilities but some things are unknowable. Vulnerabilities can be created by life circumstances, health and financial issues, etc. It’s is hard to keep yourself squared up 100% of the time! I am so with what the two of you have posted here. I am not able to respond in detail and I see you are very supportive of each other Tori and Sheri.
            I feel your pain.

          9. Again Sheri, I can see similarities… mine demanded trust within days and weeks like you have to trust me before I can do the right thing… Somtimes he did but it takes more than a few days or weeks to build what’s been torn down over years. All the sulking, silent treatments and yeah they know how to set you off at your most vulnerable of that I have no doubt Sheri. Last night I was teary this morning I wake up and feel downright angry about it all. I am angry because of what he took from me, he stole me! I read in the book Puddle recommended that they “never change” from the moment they meet you to whenever they leave or do harm etc… they hide momentarily, pretend to be what we want and we are the ones who
            change, we become frightened, mistrusting, confused, anxious as they go along playing their merry little game of cat and mouse. I do hate that he stole the best bits of me and that I now have to fight to get them back in place…I know they are still there but having the courage to be that person is difficult. As you point out Sheri they make you doubt yourself on so many levels. I am in the same situation here in that there are no support groups as such…it helps so much to talk with those who know what it’s like.

          10. Puddle, there is something that they see in our vulnerabilities, that they can pinpoint that vulnerable spot inside us. I wish I knew what mine was at that time?? It’s awful how these predators operate, having your home violated is very much a personal thing Puddle…they take something and try to ruin it or make your sanctuary unsafe. So sorry this has knocked your confidence back, it takes so long to build it up. I hate the thought that these people are out there and you’d never know if you met one, no matter how much you have read and have armed yourself with knowledge. As my psychologist said, he’ll get better next time and learn lessons from this experience. They just don’t want to get caught. That seems to be their thing…getting away with it

          11. Tori, Spathtard said as much……”I’d like to think I’ve learned something from my previous mistakes”! LOL seeeeeriously??? I’m sure you have you loser. See, there is a formula in my opinion…… you get older, the things you do against others or are things most people would have out grown at a much younger age count more against you. They also look worse on you. An older man or woman sitting in a bar, acting like a teenager, living irresponsibly, etc. looks more and more ridiculous the older they get. When I think of Spathtard sitting in his mommy’s basement, or sitting at the bar or running his line of c**p on anyone, at his age, I picture a 12th grader squeezed into a 1st graders desk in school. I could never describe how insanely ridiculous he seems to me now, him and his little buddy are like cartoon characters to me………………but it’s not funny at all in the true sense of the word. and it wasn’t remotely funny two years ago when I was clinging to reality by a thread. When I speak about it now I am aware that it all sounds ridiculous to most people and I’m better off keeping my mouth shut other than around people who really know and understand through their own experiences.
            HUGS to you Tori….BIG ones! :)

          12. Tori, I know what my vulnerabilities were then and are now. The thing that made me an easier target to HIM was that I was drinking and hungry (not desperate) for companionship. The drinking part made me EXTRA vulnerable but that companionship piece is always there because I have never felt “a part of” a human system or group. Being adopted might have a lot to do with that but being adopted into an extremely dysfunctional environment sure didn’t help. Well, along comes Spathtard and wants to be with me all the time, seems to and says he LOVES to be with me, there is no where else he would rather be……….all probably true but not for the reasons I thought and I will probably never understand or know the real reasons.This is the thing I see and wonder about……It’s more normal and natural then not, to want to be united with others. It’s human nature. Spaths are different but know that most people have an unmet need or two or three or four. They swoop right in as our night in shining armor (in all situations, not just romantic) and we drink the koolaid because we are thirsty and naive.We don’t know it’s poison until our guts are raw. SO, yes, we drank the Koolaid but we didn’t poison it did we? We drank it in good faith because it tasted good and we had no earthly clue that someone would put poison in koolaid, why in the world would anyone want to do THAT? Boy………..sometimes I wish I could use stronger language here!!!

    2. Noel, wow 45 years. I am so happy that the pastor was able to see what was going on in your life, and help you see it too. So many people (pastors, christian counselors) are so unaware concerning these type of characters.
      One of my biggest struggles right now is overcoming the “wrong” messages I’ve been given about being a wife in this type of marriage. I truly believe they were well intended, they just had no idea … I had no idea about the true nature of what was going on. This mixed with they ways he could subtly use my faith to manipulate me is one of the most difficult things to work through.

      It’s really good to know that there are some pastors out there who can see through what’s going on in this type of relationship and give the guidance needed.

      I came across this Christian article the other day, and I think I read it a few times a day, and I cry each time. It so close to what my life has been like, it only scratches the surface. But to be an oppressed Christian wife is a hard thing to overcome. I hope you pass this along to other woman you see trapped in this cycle, but are not finding the real help they need within their Christian community. It really hit to the heart of what I’ve experienced, it was a difficult article for me to read, still is – overwhelming, but it makes so much sense:

      This article is called “The Silent Killer of Christian Marriages”–/mfiles/the-silent-killer-of-christian-marriages.pdf

      1. Dear Sheri — my heart goes out to you. Wish I could just reach out and hold you and let you cry on my shoulder if you need. I experienced many of those same things mentioned in the article you linked to. I’ve printed it out and will share it with others. It has occurred to me that you are stuck in a contract in which your husband has breached the contract repeatedly. Which leaves you “wrestling with snakes.”

        You do NOT deserve to be treated like that. I remember the first time I realized that I deserved better. I was reading the Bible (Phillips translation), specifically Ephesians 1:4 — “For consider what He has done — before the foundation of the world He chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within His constant care. He planned, in His purpose of love, that we should be adopted as His own children through Jesus Christ…” Put simply, I am, and you are, a daughter of the King, princesses if you will. You deserve better treatment than you are getting. I am praying for you, and all the others who read but don’t comment, that God will help each one work through their problems. I know this may sound like just words, but I have seen miracles in answer to prayers. Peace and hope from Elva

        1. Elva, “I know this may sound like just words,” To me it isn’t “just words”, to know that someone else is praying for my (and other) situations like this is a comfort.

          I am glad that you will share this article with others, it is painful to read but also can be very freeing. I truly also think that more counselors and pastors in the Christian community need to read these types of articles, and be there to support the survivors.

          I know, in my church, if I leave (for any reason other than adultery or physical abuse) I will not be able to serve within the church. One of my greatest joys and forms of spiritual and emotional fulfillment is the bonds I’ve created with my small group of Sunday School children. You know I will even have some of the “tough” 10 year old boys hug me and tell me how much they enjoy coming to church and coming to class when I am teaching them. I don’t think I could bear to lose that right now.

      2. The minister that I was referring to just happened to grow up in the same small town that my xnh and I did even though we were all then living in another town 100 miles away. He had a background in juvenile counseling and had been introduced to narcissism by someone in his congregation. His family was very respected in our home town, so when I told xnh’s family they could not deny that he was probably correct. He helped me find a lawyer and told me that I needed a female lawyer because many male lawyers are not fair to women. I bless the day he came to our church. He is retired now, but I will never forget what a help he was to me.

  4. Dr Simon, I was impressed with your Character Matters program and how you called out these heinous extremists for what they are and also for acknowledging that it is not the Islamic faith but these character disturbed individuals who use it for their own hideous agendas that are the problem. It was great to hear such passion.
    I think you’re right that it’s time to wake up though it will take an almighty effort on decent people’s part to bring about an end to these acts of terrorism. It’s indeed a worldwide dilemma that needs every decent person to band together and unite stand as people of this world regardless of race, religion or whatever, we all have a stake in this. I don’t know how the powers that be address this issue as it is both covert and overt in the way these predators perpetrate their crimes against humanity. We are so glued to our own way of lives our own little neighbourhoods that we don’t step outside and see the real picture. I think on the courage of the young girl from Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai Rose, who stood up to those extremist and nearly lost her life to them. I can’t imagine the strength of character that took for such a young girl… crikey if we all banded together it would only take a smidgen of that girls courage to change the world. I wonder if we could muster it within ourselves. JUST IMAGINE!

    1. J, I don’t even know if I can “recommend” it in some ways…….FYI, he is kind of “out there” but a LOT of what he talks about really does make sense. I don’t have a link and I’m not sure how I ended up receiving his newsletter. Try doing a search on him though. Arthur Janov and/ or Primal Therapy.

  5. Here’s an excellent abuse blog for anyone interested in following a Christian perceptive without all the legalism and misquoting Bible verses. Counsel is given from the whole Bible and not simply by touching the surface. They dig real deep, leaving no stone unturned. God knows all.

    Dr. Simon’s is often quoted on this blog.

    Crying for justice. com

    1. I actually had a “christian counselor” admonish me about 8 months ago, telling my that the problem was actually my lack of faith, that it is my duty to “trust” my husband and directed me to daily read 1 Corinthians 13 and Proverbs 31 to make sure I’m being loving and the wife that “God intended me to be” that no matter what my husband is doing “I still need to live out my purpose as a Godly wife.”

      These type of articles really help and I need to read them everyday. I have carried so much guilt and shame for never being “faithful” enough, not being “a Godly wife”, etc.

      The more of these types of things I can read to help me overcome these concepts I have carried for so long.

      Really thank you again for sharing this!!!!

      1. That’s horrible Sheri but I have no doubt that it’s true. What your Christian counselor is advising kind of reminds me of the honor you mother and father issue. What if they are abusive in any way? Should a child still honor the father or mother who is beating them, physically, mentally, emotionally??
        They just don’t get it Sheri and I’m sorry for any additional pain and confusion that has brought you. I understand.

      2. Hi again Sheri — Christian counselors can sometimes be SO dense. In total, instead of throwing you a life preserver so that you might be lifted and towed to shore, she threw you a concrete block. Gah!!

        I have several counselors among my customers, I pass along this site and others mentioned here so that others might be helped. I am remembering one local person whose husband suddenly decided he wanted a divorce. She was devastated, but all her friends rallied around and helped her to pull through. After about a year, she was doing well emotionally and financially — she was a college teacher. Well, lo and behold, after 18 months or so, he came crawling back, asking to be let into her life again, and she said NO THANKS!

        When you feel overwhelmed, take several deep breaths, ask for guidance, be sure to get some “me” time to do whatever might help you to endure. Peace and hope from Elva

      3. Here’s the crazy thing, thankfully, I had already discovered Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, so I was beginning to “see the light.”

        However, even though I was seeing it, I was still following so many misguided things.

        I think about how almost every day, I would journal, make a checklist on what love means according to 1 Corinthians, to document how I was failing to love and honor and be a better wife. I was praying daily to God to “change MY heart” so that I could be more loving … to my abuser. It’s so twisted.
        I was crying just thinking about it, I was thinking about all the other women out there was are still being misled, it is devastating to a person’s faith. I am so happy I’ve found this site.

        There are a lot of Christian marital websites out there that truly do more harm than good. I’ve managed to find a few that truly do advocate for the survivor in the whole context of Scripture. I cling to these type of sites.

        It is so easy for me to fall back into my old way of thinking. When reading some of the material I found an article about how to tell if the person claiming to be the victim was really the abuser. You know, I was afraid to read the article, I was scared that maybe I would read it and discover that I am the abusive one, that I’m still the one who is really causing all the problems. I’m glad I clicked into the site, it really help me understand the reason why the people he has been going to for help have approached me the way they have.

  6. Sheri,

    Keep digging around on Cry For Justice. Pastor Crippen and Barbara Roberts leads us through the Bible with tremendous wisdom, Bible knowledge and many years of training and experience. Everything is based on a massive amount of scripture. One Bible verse is never enough.

    Pastor Crippen is a retired policeman that went back to school for the ministry. He understands abuse so well that I think he can smell it coming. He leads as a shepherd protecting his innocent flock. He stands firm against the evil ones. Our churches are full of wolves hiding in sheep clothing.

    Last week someone here mentioned about turning the other cheek. There is a good thread on that subject. Very interesting. It certainly is not anything like I was taught in church. It’s an insult to the abuser that goes way back in Jewish history.

    God hates abuse, especially within the family unit.

    1. Many of use did not fully understand we were being abused until the party was over. We certainly didn’t understand the level of abuse we were being subjected to.

      1. Puddle,

        “Many of us did not fully understand”

        Of course not. Not understanding is pretty much the norm.

        As children we are dependent on our caretaker[s]. We instinctively follow the leader of the pack. Their ways become the framework of our thinking and behavior. Dysfunctional caretakers teach us “what” to think, they do not teach us “how” to think.

        We don’t realize what we don’t know until we learn “how” to understand it thru a different lens. When we start connecting the dots the lies begin to crumble and destroys everything that we had known as the truth.

        1. Suzi, I remember it well……..during the time I have spoken about, when I first quit drinking and was seeing a counselor…..It was so surreal to be listening to her explain the whats and whys of a healthy family system. Probably for the first time in my life I was validated about what I KNEW was a very messed up situation but didn’t have the words or counter knowledge to describe. It is sad…….how MANY children are victimized by all kinds of severe dysfunction, staggering really. I see it all the time, right in front of my eyes in a family I am acquainted with and think to myself……here goes another generation. I see what they are witnessing and the attitudes their father’s treatment of their mother is creating. It’s very frustrating to watch and my hands are tied because it’s not my wife he is abusing and it’s not my children who are witnessing it. SHE is the one who needs to step up and put a stop to it but……………. Honestly i don’t think she realizes the dynamics behind his asinine behavior and perhaps chooses not to to a degree. I don’t know but I do see his attitudes manifesting in his son who by nature is a sweet sweet person. He has reached pre- independence and this is what he has learned that a adult man looks like and does.

  7. Puddle

    Honor your father and mother….think about your definition of honor.
    The goal is to reach some point of understanding then see nothing in another’s face but his or her humanity.
    And you can do that from another zip code.

    1. I mean as a child Suzi……..a child is taught that they must honor their father and mother…….they don’t know how many levels there are to the word and concept of “honor”. They are told that they must obey and comply, like Sheri’s Christian counselor told her in regards to her husband. I was just making a comparison between the misuse of things that can be said to an victim of abuse.

      1. Puddle,

        I was speaking about adults, but there are the children too. It’s such a cruel life for the innocent little ones. Often times there isn’t one single person in their young life that will protect them. There is so much to think about in the cycles of abuse. The number of lives that one disordered person touches in a life time is countless. And bad behavior is contagious.

        Although good behavior is contagious too. When I think back over my life there has been people that passed through for short periods of time that planted a seed. We just never know when and if we have planted seeds in the lives of others. A tiny seed will grow if the choice is made to take care and keep it nourished and watered.

        1. Very true Suzi, same for me. I have had people come into my life that basically filled the rolls that was missing in my upbringing. Mother, father, brother. The interesting thing to me has always been how my life flooded with these people after the initial time I quit drinking, so many things changed. Ultimately i did continue to drink for a significant time but something changed inside me during that initial period when I first quit and I think like you say, some seeds were sown and eventually with the right conditions did take root and grow.
          The impact these abusers have is so much greater than just their immediate victim. A mother with children to raise and is suffering the affects of PTSD and mental/ emotional/ physical exhaustion from being tangled in their manipulative and abusive web can hardly be the mother to her children she would be if she wasn’t victimized by one of these types. So it is like a stone dropped in the water with ripples spreading out from the center.

          1. Puddle,

            I was that mother trapped in a dense web, just as you described. There was no way to stop one single ripple when I was at the other end of the creek without a paddle.
            Time doesn’t stand still. Friends part there way, children grow up, the elders in the family pass away and life goes on. You can’t unring the bell. You see it all. You get it. You understand. You pray that you did your best and then trust God to do the rest.

          2. Suzi, I’m sorry you were in that position. All the time I think how something like this must be for someone who has children with one of these idiots. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to keep the boat afloat and I know of some that were not able to. They cracked and crumbled under the strain. Just so so sad. I have no feelings for a Spath’s humanity when I know that they can’t even put their own children above their selfish interests and games. None. Spathtards little drinking buddy is a perfect example. Does nothing but bad mouth his children’s mother to their face and anyone else’s who will listen and believe him yet is the biggest joke of a father and a “man” imaginable. Hides his income, drinks to the point of passing out around his kids and more….and now has another DUI because he hit a couple head on while driving drunk……..again. This is his legacy and the example he is setting for his children. He thinks he is so cool and he is just not. Pathetic. If it was only him it affected it would be his problem alone but it Is just SO not just him. I know it is what it is, there is no changing the overall make up of the human race but that doesn’t make me see these types any differently. What am I missing?

          3. Hi Puddle Suzi, you can only do your best being a mother in that situation. I had no idea of the impact it had on my children. In truth it’s only when I left that I realised the devastation it’s had on me…my children were also traumatised but when I was in it I felt everything was directed at me so it wasn’t having an effect on them or at least not to the extent it had on me. Again it’s only when you’re out that you realise. It’s only now that my kids will share certain things with me…because they were trying to protect me when I was in it all. It’s dreadful to know that you don’t see these things and there’s nothing you can do about it… you can’t go back and change any of it. It’s awful and then have to negotiate what’s best once your out with regards to contact with the spath…ugh!

          4. I truly struggle with this one, as I am still in the relationship. It is very difficult with children involved, and the damage done to them, I can see it. I do know the best thing to do would be to leave and to force them to come with me. It is something that is so heavy to carry. If they were little, had I only seen then, things would have been so much easier.
            The thing that’s the hardest for me is where we are at now. He has gradually turned them to look at him as this poor, humble guy, who is “trying his hardest” and I’m unreasonable and mean. when my kids mention it to him, he’ll cry, say he’s doing the best he can, that no matter what he does “he just can’t make me happy”
            Had I only left a few years ago, right when I first began to see.
            I know this sounds like an excuse, maybe it is … they would now stay with him. All the things he had me convinced of for years that I’m unreasonable, unforgiving, have emotional instability, etc. He’s has very subtly convinced them of those things. He really knows just the right things to say to get them feeling sorry for him. And I am in a lot of confusion. I know the damage I’ve done to them by staying for all these years, and now I fear the damage that would happen to them if I left and they stayed with him. And mostly a big part of it is pure selfishness on my part … I’m not sure if I could bear to lose them. It is so confusing.

          5. Sheri don’t beat yourself up on that one. It’s a tough situation. As I said I didn’t really think my kids were so traumatised because I was the one being abused. It was all the mixed up messages and confusion that goes along with it as well but it was only when I had reached out for counselling that I was told that if I stayed my son could be taken off me…(my situation being violent) and I was terrified. That was when it hit me. I wonder if they use it as a tactic actually to make sure you stay out! You know Sheri if they see you changing they might come around. As if you stay strong I think your children will respect that, it might take a while but I think children see more and know more than we think they do. As I was surprised by my son when I left, he was completely supportive (actually relieved is probably a better word) and I thought he was so close to his father that I would have terrible trouble with him. It’s exactly the opposite. Which is why I’d rather keep him right away from his father. I want him to see what life can be and learn to be a respectful young man.

    2. Suzi, Do you think this applies to psychopaths and abusive parents and people? How do you look in the face of someone who is knowingly destructive towards others and see their humanity? This is another thing i think about a lot, not that I would do anything to harm them but I don’t see the humanity in a Spath, only anti-humanity.

      1. Puddle,
        It’s a harsh fact of life that the worst beast in the jungle is often the human. Humans are capable of deplorable evil. I see the disordered as a part of humanity because they are human. Although the choices the disordered have made reflects the dark ugly side of the human kingdom. It’s a choice and they choose to sell their soul to the devil. As I said before: give satan an inch and he’ll run with it every time.

        “How do you look in the face of someone who is knowingly destructive towards others and see their humanity?”

        By standing firm and remembering the flip side, the ugly side of humanity.

        1. Well, other species are known to reject and ban members of their pack when they don’t conform in an acceptable way so I say sc*ew the human who chooses to act like a non human and in an intentionally anti social and destructive way. They don’t do this because they are facing a hardship and desperate for sustanence, they do it because they want to and can get away with it. I don’t know Suzi like I said, these types seem to be an exception to the rules and take exception to anyone’s rules but their own. Maybe I’m just not a big enough or enlightened enoug person to see this the way you do but I will think about it more and I appreciate your view.

          1. Oh they’re an exception alright. They not only do it because they want to and can get away with it; they also enjoy it.

            Oh Puddle you’re enlightened just fine. Do you hear me? You’re just fine. My goodness how big do we have to be to see them as dangerous worthless burdens. The problem is when we communicate there aren’t even words that can capture it all. Like how do we put all this stuff into spoken or written words.

            Some people have reasoned that this type of person was needed by primitive tribes to ward off other tribes during disputes. I don’t know, but I’ve read where in certain more modern civilizations when the men went hunting they’d come back with the misfit missing. They pushed him off a cliff.

          2. Hi Puddle and Tori,

            I can’t find the reply button. I have a big challenge with all this tech stuff. I just told j that I’m slow. But you know artificial intelligence is no match, for natural stupidity. Anyhow I’ll reply anywhere I can find a button.

            Puddle you ask: What am I missing? I often asked myself the same question. For me it’s like peeling an onion, I just never know what’s going to be under the next layer. It’s a “an awakening-to-reality process…” A process, one step at a time. For myself, a very slow process. Three steps forward and two back.

            I am deeply heartbroken, yes my children needed better and they deserved a whole lot better. I’m having difficulty finding the right words. How do I find the words to describe such deep feelings of heartfelt pain and the injustice done to my innocent children? I don’t because there are no words. My tears are my words.

            There is a gut wrenching, cautionary tale with the dialogue of love ones who have walked this journey. The behavior is completely baffling and often times even cruel or worse. It’s a psychological journey that shows no mercy with no map or compass. The reality is deeply heartfelt pain, an eternal hollowness to wander through.

            Living with a disordered spouse that manages to stay under the radar and behind closed doors takes the spouse and children into a serious nose dive. The threatened environment over long periods of time becomes ingrained and damaging. It’s easy to write things off to “stress” or “the times”. Although when one is continuously pushed to the edge it becomes deeply imbedded traumas, as with a merciless dictator. It’s the repeated trauma, complex post-traumatic stress disorder that has the potential to destroy the lives of the innocent. Some of the worst beatings leave no outward scars. The scars of the spouse and children are hidden, deeply imbedded on the heart. It affects the entire family in immeasurable ways.

            Nothing else wounds so deeply and irreparably and robs us of hope so much as being unloved by one[s] we love.

  8. Having followed some discussions here, I have some thoughts.

    Predatory mindset is by definition actively observant, self-discerning and hyperrationally calculating.

    What if there was a benevolent counterpart to such mindset?

    1. That a person is good and has the level of observation, planning AND self-awareness parallel to that of psychopaths’ without being predatory.

      1. J, I’m sure there is. I’m not sure about the planning part, what exactly you mean by that but certainly people can excel in being observant and self aware to a very high degree without being predatory.

    2. Planning ahead, assessing different possibilities, also possibilities for victimization or getting screwed over and possibilities for prospering and staying in good shape.

      I took a quick look again at these comments. No one is on 100 % of the time. Even so high levels of observation AND self-awareness are important to achieve, especially to find out different vulnerabilities within.

      And HOW? That would be the subject of this small discussion.

    1. Predatory mindset is so aware of many different things, now, what might occur in the future and what’s gone on before. It’s also self-aware. That’s why it’s so effective.

      What if there was a counterpart to it, a mindset that’s not domination-seeking, predatory, malevolent or evil, but just as actively discerning and aware, outside and inside?

      1. J

        You said: “Predatory mindset is so aware of many different things, now, what might occur in the future and what’s gone on before. It’s also self-aware. That’s why it’s so effective.”

        I’m still confused. Is this the mindset of a predator?

        You also said: “but just as actively discerning and aware, outside and inside?”

        Discerning and aware, isn’t that a healthy thought process?

        1. J

          Are you asking if a psychopath can be a good person if they don’t have a mindset that’s domination-seeking, predatory, malevolent or evil?

    2. You missed the point by a long shot here.

      Psychopaths are VERY aware, aren’t they? That’s why they’re effective predators. Sounds like it’s the closest thing to total self-awareness anyone can get.

      Now, is that level of awareness and self-awareness just reserved for psychopaths and other unscrupulous fighters?

      HOW can WE, as good people, reach that level of awareness and self-awareness?


      *know ourselves so well we’d be able to key in on our own vulnerabilities

      *take care of those vulnerabilities efficiently

      *be able to easily acknowledge our improvable points, strengths and troubling realities without flinching, denial or kidding ourselves

      *be actively observant without even trying; assess different possibilities, including troubling and unpleasant ones(“How can I prepare a plan B, C and D? How can this and this end up victimizing me? How can that and that screw me over? How do I avoid that and that screwing me over? How do I act next?”) without worrying

      *be without defensiveness at all

      At this point, it’s HOW we can become like this, difficult prey.

      1. A predator is aware but in a single focus sort of way. Just like Spathtard predator staring at his friends daughter. He was so intent on his interest that he was unaware of me observing him. Watch a cat. They could easily get picked off by a bird of prey while they are focused on catching the mockingbird. These two legged cats are not without certain vulnerabilities and just because some tend to be quite intelligent, doesn’t mean they are smart.
        I don’t know about you J but I don’t have the time, attention span or energy to put that much effort into my thought and decision processes, probably why I get screwed over. I just can’t.
        I don’t know that I would use the word “aware” in regards to Spathtard. Observant, yes. Oppertunistic, yes. Of course there are many more words I would use.

      2. J, Spaths are very goal aware, have increased desire to ‘win’. Where they seem to fall down is when they have to do processing of complex social situations that require enhanced empathy skills and the type of intuition that is required and flows from those empathy skills. This is where, deprived of direct access to a socially complex situation, they drop the ball. Also, not having any real humility creates arrogance, which is a vulnerability–and not the product of hyper awareness but one of narrow angle focus. Again, feeding the narrow goal focus.

        This is how the British ran rings around the Nazis, covertly — and won the war, along with the allies. They capitalized on the psycho and sociopath’s arrogance and limited emotional and intuitive range.

      3. The answer (generally speaking) reminds me of a joke* by Gary Larson of the far side, which is not so funny in this instance, but at least shows HOW vital it is to understand the inherent truth, “that some people ARE vulnerable and MUST resort to survival terms on which they LIVE their lives accordingly, in order to survive. Staying “herd-bound with the RIGHT and GOOD herd, is the key.

        Deer # 1 is standing in field talking to Deer #2; after noticing a target on Deer# 1’s stomach and chest Deer #2 says, “Bummer of a birthmark Hal”!!
        So in this case, Deer#1 needs to stop standing up in the forest if it makes him more vulnerable. he needs to learn how to become less visible by hiding or covering up his vulnerability in becoming a target.

  9. J I think there is a mindset like that…wouldn’t it be survival instinct. This makes us aware. It certainly helps animals but I guess with human beings at the top of the food chain it’s like what do we have to be aware of…other humans basically psychopaths and those out to do us harm. We can protect ourselves as best we can from all sorts of natural disasters of nature but when it comes to other human beings I think that’s when we are blinded somewhat by emotions. We crave connection with people because that’s what makes us feel happier and safer. So psychopaths already know that about people in general, but when your actively trying to connive someone you will watch that person to ascertain that persons particular vulnerabilities that can be exploited. My theory is you can’t have a mindset that frees you up completely to become completely self aware until you’ve had your trust broken in someway by one of them. Then you start to wonder and seek information about it to avoid it in the future. Information by rights your parents could have prepared you for but as we know many of us believe the dodgey character is the stranger on the street not the loved one in the home. The loved one in the home be it parent or spouse maybe the exact person you should be avoiding but can’t and if you’ve been brought up in that your self awareness is bound to be screwed up. It’s only when you realise that’s not how it should be that life can be different that you seek answers and come about a different sense of awareness about yourself. Now, after all this and from dissecting my relationships that’s how I’ve come to see the different problems in my life and myself so that I can change and become more self aware.
    We are a species that needs guidance from an early age that continues to adulthood, if that guidance hasn’t been given then we have to relearn it. I don’t know but maybe even psychopaths don’t understand themselves until they realise somehow they’re different from everyone else but by the time that realisation hits they don’t care anyway. The only way a psychopath is possibly so aware is they are not blinded by conscience or empathy, remove those two feelings from the equation everyone could be more self aware and don’t care precisely what causes the problem in the first place. That certainly doesn’t make psychopaths smarter or a top level predator. Most of them from what I read are scraping the barrel and the few successful ones are at the top ruining millions of people on a daily basis. It certainly makes them dangerous though and I for one would rather keep my emotional makeup but learn to do my best to know what I can do to keep me safe in the future. Learn how my vulnerabilites make me a target, and how to spot and runaway from the red flags. I think if we commit to being who we are, caring, concerned individuals with conscience but learn all we can about these CD types that in itself is a new mindset. I think via learning we can protect ourselves and others then these CD people will realise the way they do things won’t work.

    1. Good points, Tori.

      This bothers me big time. “The only way a psychopath is possibly so aware is they are not blinded by conscience or empathy, remove those two feelings from the equation everyone could be more self aware and don’t care precisely what causes the problem in the first place.” So conscience or empathy cloud self-awareness?

      Does it really need to be so?

      Can’t you have conscience and empathy and still be coolly rational, actively observant and self-aware?

      Constantly spend mental energy on active self-prospering?

      1. Conscience and empathy don’t cloud self awareness but I would think for the psychopath the self awareness is really a form of narcissism it’s really not the same thing as self awareness for those of us trying to learn about the person we are and who want to be better people. I think we are all capable of being coolly rational, actively observant and self aware? It’s about learning those things as we move through life… like having CBT therapy to help with anxiety problems. Suddenly you take away a vulnerability that helps you remain calm and self aware. Practice often enough and a new mindset develops.

          1. LOL!! I am just SO picky!! But there is definitely a difference! I don’t think they have one iota of self awareness, why would they need THAT? I asked Spathtard once if he had any inhibitions or anything that he felt self conscious about……….. “No, not really”. Kind of goes along with the answer he gave me when I asked him what he was thinking as he lay in bed staring out the window one time………….”nothing”.
            Ah………those touching moments of honesty…..that was probably both of them.

    2. Since some things screw up self-awareness for young people, couldn’t there be need to do something about it? For example, some kind of a program teaching self-awareness, coping skills, resilience, mindfulness and sufficient controls?

      Also, be able to assess vulnerabilities in self as they form, naturally? Isn’t that a matter of spending mental energy?

      1. J – I’m sorry that it took a while before I understood your question….I’m slow.

        Torri – I agree: ” learn all we can about these CD types that in itself is a new mindset”

        They are well aware that their mental makeup is drastically different from the majority. They have a sixth sense for detecting and exploiting any weakness you may have. At a very early age they learn that they can inflict mental and emotional harm on others with ease. They also learn how to detect others like themselves out of a crowd of normal people. Beginning in their childhood, most of them learn to mimic normal emotional reactions in order to blend in with society.

        We can’t do it their way. Although we can learn to spot them and to fake it.

        1. I like the term you used “learn to mimic normal emotional reactions”. This helps me, I will put it in my toolbox of messages I use for myself. Often if I have a phrase I can say over and over in my head when he is attempting to manage my impression of him it helps me keep my senses about me and remain emotionally disconnected from what he is attempting to do.. So this phrase is what I can retrain my brain with “he is really only mimicking normal emotional reactions.”

    3. Nope, nothing to do with doing things their way.

      Why not develop a sixth sense for instantly detecting and repairing vulnerabilities in self? This would make sense with predators being as good in doing what they do as they are.

      1. J
        You said:
        “Why not develop a sixth sense for instantly detecting and repairing vulnerabilities in self?”

        Gee, I don’t know. They seem to shuttle through life on the predatory animal instinct. They certainly aren’t pack animals.

        I just went outside in fridget weather with my broom. I do that crazy thing several times a day. I never cheat or back down, just one slip could be disastrous. A hawk comes after my little dogs. The hawk will push the limits and over time become more aggressive moving in closer to his target and slowly decreasing the fear of a human being waving a broom. Especially during winter months when food is scarce.

        Why would I need to develop another sense to understand that? I already understand it’s the predatory instinct and it can’t be changed. I need to use what mental facilities I already have and learn as much as I can about hawks, spot the thing and then fake it by waving my broom if he comes down into my yard. As he gets more aggressive I may have to get more aggressive too, setting firmer boundaries maybe a net or a pit-bull or something .

        I am using my intellect to protect my emotions. Why would I need another sense?

          1. Elva, please clarify. What truth? Unless it just happens to be what I thought she meant, but please do clarify nonetheless.

          1. Well, why not think even further?

            Yes, setting firmer boundaries. Yes, predicting situations, different possibilities, accurately and rationally. Yes, sharp intuition, too.

            Why just “intellect to protect my emotions”? Why not actually becoming emotionally stronger?

      2. Suzi,

        No intuition? No use for sharp intuition, intuiting your emotional state at any given moment, intuiting your weaknesses to take care of? Isn’t that part of “know yourself”?

        Also, not sure about your illustrative example and how it well it really fits this.

    4. I agree with what you’re saying here, Tori. Often we do not understand the type of “self-awareness” that’s needed with a CD individual. I would like to add, though, that no can be entirely “self-aware”, that comes with learning and growing, which is a life long process. But as we mature and grow our self-awareness must also include “other-awareness” – how we impact those around us. I can see many of my vulnerabilities, however, here is another thing about CD’s. It is not always our vulnerabilities they play on, they can often take a person who is growing their character, seeking help for those areas that they struggle with on their own. It is often these character traits that are the signs of good character that they can very craftily use against us; they can take and twist, the empathy and conscience we have and very effectively use that against us. Now I don’t think that having good character attributes, being empathetic, and having a conscience are vulnerabilities. Those “vulnerabilities” from child-hood, etc. I had worked on, there’s remnants of it, but the stronger I would get, the more I would mature and learn and grow over the years, the more covert he got. He (and others) would then use those vulnerabilities I had worked through as even more “evidence” that it was those things that were the ONLY problem.

      I guess I truly understand the being self-aware, learning your vulnerabilities, building safe-guards, etc. However, what does frustrate me, the CD person plays on the good character of others to manipulate and control. Now I don’t consider sound character and having a conscience a vulnerability. And often they are so good at what they do, that those “red flags” at the start are very hard to see. I can now look back at the “red flags” from the beginning and really unless I had been victimized by a covert aggressive type prior to this one and had already read all of the correct material about them, not been influence by all the “incorrect” material, decided to be completely defensive against everyone, and constantly have my guard up until say a year or two goes by, with every person I meet, learn to be a hard, unemotional person. The way I look at it, that would have been the only way I could have avoided the CD in my life.

      I’m not saying that I did not enable, because now I know I did. I’m not saying that I never bought his “excuses”, because I did, often without question. What I am saying is that they can be very manipulative, often starting in very minor ways, and gradually adding more and more controlling behaviors the longer you’re with them, it’s a gradual conditioning that is very hard to detect, often until it is far, far too late.

      1. Sheri you are correct when you say “It is not always our vulnerabilities they play on, they can often take a person who is growing their character, seeking help for those areas that they struggle with on their own. It is often these character traits that are the signs of good character that they can very craftily use against us;” I know he did that with me, as I tried to improve myself through study or grow stronger he would try to shoot me down in some way…causing a chaos or drama! Or as you say use it against me by implying I thought I was so much better than everyone else etc…which was rubbish! Also I agree with self awareness being a life long learning process… like all things we change with time too.

        I know what you’re saying about having to be hard and unemotional to avoid them… I think in someway that could be true but in others not so… As from what I’ve read you can be targeted that way as well as they see that unemotional person as a challenge. I just don’t think anyone is immune no matter how well they’re prepared. There’s no doubt at this precise moment in my life I look at many people with suspicion and feel sometimes I have to keep emotions isolated but even today I realised the sympathetic part of me wanting to please everyone made a slip up… took me a little while to realise and now I have to put my guard back up. It like you have to be constantly vigilant and think through things you would naturally do, as J said earlier so as not to be victimised again.

        1. It was often very covert too. Like telling me how I’m such a strong great person, and then turning around and subtly make a comment that criticizes that part of me. Or saying how supportive they are but then sabotaging what you’re doing. I think the one that used to get me the most how in the same sentence he’d tell me he thinks I’m such a great wife. And then also point out how im being disrespectful or somehow failing as a wife. It can really throw a person off balance

        2. It is hard. Who wants to go through life being emotionally closed off. It is in our nature to want to connect with others, to give people a chance. It is part of our humanness to have vulnerabilities and to want to feel emotionally safe with someone to be able to expose them. I know that there are a very small amount of people who are DCs. But it almost seems exhausting to have our radars on and guards up most of the time. I am a naturally trusting person. I don’t want to be cynical and suspicious. Does that mean I’m asking to be a target?

          1. Hi Sheri — of course you are tired — you are in battle at home. Could I suggest a variant of what works for me? I have in some situations where I genuinely did not know whether to do this, or that, asked God to put some kind of red flag on the way I should not go. And He always does. Maybe you could pray for Him to “red flag” the people you come in contact with who are not trustworthy. You might pick some signal to ask for. Surely this is one of those times where — “Come unto Me, ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” — is appropriate because you need help. Peace on earth to men of good will, and hope for a better future from Elva

          2. I agree Sheri, I am naturally trusting too and would like to be. Recently it has been that my old natural self is starting to return, so I am being a little more open the way I used to be. It’s just that I find myself thinking is this okay. I guess I don’t want to be too open and chance meeting another person whom will take advantage of that! I think that’s what I mean by being vigilant.

          3. Tori, I am glad that you are becoming more the way you used to be. I hope I’m not off base, I’m interpreting it as still being vigilant, and trusting yourself at the same time. Which I have hope that is what I am able to attain one day. Just knowing that we have the potential to encounter a DC at any given time, but to be able to trust yourself enough that you’ll be okay and know what to do in the situation. Not sure if I interpreted what you were saying correctly. It great to see you face your struggles and are truly coming out better on the other side of them.

          4. There is body scanning meditation. However, can emotional vulnerabilities be scanned in a similar way?

          5. Sheri, no it does not mean you are asking to be a target! It (for me anyhow) is exhausting to be on guard all the frigging time. I have no clue where to go with that at this point because I am just not even able to do that. Example: yesterday this woman called me from some organization that finds people for other people, like birth parents, missing siblings, etc.. By the time I got off the phone with her I had told her just about everything about myself imaginable. Using the word everything loosely but my name, my birth name, my full adopted name, my fathers name, my mothers name and madin name, where I was born, several of the places I have lived, where I live now…..oh, there’s more. She wanted $800 to find my father, which she told me AFTER I had just revealed all of that. An hour or so after I had a moment of clarity and just sat there in amazement and bewilderment. I don’t know who she is but she is adopted so my little inside person figured she must be ok, a kindred soul, right? Well she probably might maybe be but I don’t know her and that’s the bottom line. She knows me. I can NOT hold my cards close. I throw my cards down on the table, face up and wonder why I get taken advantage of. Talk about unmet needs…… I need a guardian, I kind of always have. I have no idea how I survived this long, during my drinking years? So much could have gone much worse than it did.
            I know what you mean Sheri…..that feeling of being safe? I think there is a part of almost every woman who wants to feel safe in all ways and I just do not.

          6. It’s hard not to be open and honest with people. It’s part of who I am. Sometimes I think that by putting up those safe guards that I am then the one wearing the mask, and I don’t like it. There have been times in my life that showing genuiness, being open, showing some vulnerability has touched and helped others in some small way. It is very difficult, finding that balance. Being vulnerable, I never thought as a weakness before this, letting people see the real me I never used to consider a weakness, I considered it something positive in my self, a strength of character. Now I’m needing to learn how to somehow balance that. It is a difficult learning process.

      2. From what I’ve read, they can and do target people for other reasons besides their vulnerabilities, this connects with the covetous envy aspect. They can HATE a person for having something they don’t have and want to destroy it. Good character, they want to make that crumble underneath the person who is of good character. Money? They want to watch you go broke. A love for life and nature? They steal your energy and zest and leave you in a hole so deep it takes years to climb out of. I think Spathtard hated me because I was real. I cared about things besides drinking even when I drank. My house is alive, plants, pets, things I value….he has nothing like that. I wish I had a picture of his basement room at mommys. Just beyond description.

  10. “be constantly vigilant and think through things you would naturally do, as J said earlier so as not to be victimised again.”

    What about it making active, rational observation and scanning an automatic part of cognitive prosessing?

    It’s a stretch to say that defensiveness makes us free hamburgers, but defensiveness doesn’t really help, it seems to me.

    What about spending extra mental energy diving inside and hearing all those emotionally laden stories(yes, illustration of my own here, you can agree or disagree with me here) until you can’t help but automatically notice the chords and notes, as if mechanically. Perhaps you folks don’t think of it quite like that.

    Reminds me vaguely of Albert Ellis’ desensitization in imagination in Feeling Better, Getting Better, Staying Better(haven’t read other Ellis’ books myself).

  11. Thanks for this series of articles, Dr. Simon. My son was diagnosed with bipolar I.

    There’s such a huge difference between someone like my son, and someone with a character disorder. My son at times has no control over his mind, while the character disordered do. They are purposeful in all their thoughts and actions.

    The problem with wanting to over label with something like bipolar, is that the majority of the pubic assumes that bipolar equals personality disordered (because people aren’t stupid, and know a bad egg when they see them). It’s sad to me that so many have such a poor understanding of what it means to be mentally ill. My son is not “acting up”, or “bad” or “worthless”. He struggles every day to overcome what his own brain is telling him.

    It’s disheartening to have some schmuck labeled “mentally ill” when his only problem is that he’s a big, fat jerk. As far as we have come in all other areas of medicine, there is such a long way to go in the mental health field.

    1. Hi
      My schizoaffective mother struggles with the same things your son struggles with, Einstein. You are correct in everything say. I agree the CD folks do have control, whereas folks like your son and my mom often do not.
      My mom comes up with some doozy delusions: she is pregnant (she’s 72, had a hysterectomy), her ex-husband is trying to poison her, other people she knows are out to get her, the evening newscasters are broadcasting stories about her, etc. Now that she’s geriatric, stability is even more elusive than ever due to inability to tolerate the antipsychotic meds, lithium etc. Over the last ~35 years, I’ve watched so many friends leave along the way. Who can blame them? One day the sweet woman they knew would knock on the door flinging bizarre accusations. Who wouldn’t run? And when she gets her wits about her again, she’s bewildered- in disbelief of things she has said and done. While everyone continues to keep their distance- permanently. There are 3 of us who interact in any way with my mom…
      But I love my mom. She is a sweet, kind, generous, wonderful person. She wouldn’t hurt a flea. When she’s well, she’ll give you any and everything you ask for and more.
      Given my life-long experiences with my mother, It is absolutely no wonder to me that I misconstrued a crazy CD-person’s behavior as being “off” in an innocent way, the way my mother’s behavior so often was..

      1. Hi Einstein,
        My apologies, I was writing my own stuff without thinking of your son and of you. I hope for better things for your son. Psychiatry has actually come a very long way since my mom was young and just diagnosed. There are so many more, excellent mood-stabilizing and antipsychotic meds now. I hope your son gets excellent treatment and does well.

        Did you see the silver linings playbook? My mom and your son are so, so lovable, in that unique way that only a few can understand…

        1. There is an overwhelming lack of understanding of the differences between “mental illness and “poor mental health”. Neuro science research has come a long way the past 40 years, although with the advancements has come tremendous confusion and blurred lines. Through the years the confusion has actually gotten worse.

          Dr. Simon said in his post: “Why does all this matter? It matters because of what needs to be done to rectify the problem”.

          Yes, it really does matter that we separate those that “can’t” from those that “won’t”. Anything short of that is placing all concerned into the position of being a part of the problem.

          If we are not part of the solution then we are part of the problem. The trick is be focused on the correct or best possible solution.

          We are now seeing a massive explosion of character disordered and giving them a label to hide behind. They have become such a burden to families and society that it’s overwhelming to look at the big picture. It’s not a pretty picture.

          In the meantime those with neurobiological disorders are being pushed to the side and we’re not offering the helping hand that they need and deserve. Instead we’re giving hand-outs to the character disordered.

          Dr. Simon I also thank you for this series of articles. It’s a message that people just don’t get. Perhaps it’s one of those things in life that you have to roll your sleeves up and get down in the trenches to fully understand. I don’t know, but to say the least it baffling.

          1. I agree, Suzi. In addition to limited resources, it generates a lack of understanding among the general public. It causes the mentally ill to be treated in a “less than” manner. Makes me so angry, because I’m thinking that they should just be thankful that it didn’t happen to them or someone they love.

        2. Linda and Einstein, this is so sad and I’m sad for both of you and the people in your life who are affected this way. How lonely they must feel and vulnerable. They are very fortunate to have you by their sides and you are truly wonderful to understand and be there in their corner for them. I realize you ate their kin but still, that isn’t a guarantee.

          1. Thanks Puddle. As a Mom, it’s hard to watch him suffer and struggle like he does – even on the meds which have made a huge difference (although, not without a lot of trial and error). You want life to good for your kids, and instead he got a great big (excuse my french) shit sandwich. I hate it that I can’t just fix this.

            But we have faith, and know that God will give us whatever strength we need to see it through. It’s a long road, but I’m convinced we’ll get to the end of it.

          2. Einstein, At least he has someone who knows what kind of sandwich he was served and doesn’t expect him to gobble it down like it was prime rib. I had no such person in my corner and was admonished because I didn’t clean my plate. I took a lot of that on, internalized it. When I was diagnosed at 53, I was so validated by knowing so many things had an explanation. Pieces magically fell together that had been floating up in the air my whole life, including my freakish attraction to alcohol even as a child. I wish my mother would have been alive to hear it though since she was the one standing first in line to admonish me. Your son is fortunate. From what I have read, the number one most important thing a non neuro typical child ( or a child with a condition such as your son has) can have in their corner is someone who understands and can guide and advocate for them. (((Hugs to you and your son)))

      2. “One day the sweet woman they knew would knock on the door flinging bizarre accusations. Who wouldn’t run? And when she gets her wits about her again, she’s bewildered- in disbelief of things she has said and done.”

        I understand. My son gets so manic that his behavior is much like that of a schizophrenic. So delusional, paranoid, he’s God – we’re evil and need to be eradicated. He’s lost friends and family members, and since he has no real recollection of what went on during one of his (weeks long) episodes, he has no idea why. To say that these people are cursed is an understatement.

        Thanks for sharing your experience. It helps to know there are others who live in a surrealistic universe.

        1. Einstein and Linda,

          It’s rough, that’s for sure. I’ve had to deal with both the neurobiological disorder and the character disorder in different family members. It’s certainly no easy journey. One takes such a high level of patience and compassion and the other takes the stern, tough approach. There were many times I tied a knot at the end of my rope and hung on for dear life.

          I have also found the those who are ill often times do not get treated with respect and dignity. No matter how diligently NAMI tries to educate the public people still don’t get it. Our Veterans aren’t being treated properly either.

          I went to a lecture over 30 years ago and someone asked the psychiatrist what was the worst part of his job. He didn’t have to think about it, immediately he answered: “seeing the isolation and devastation of the family and love ones.”

          Well, things haven’t changed much.

          Yes, it’s a long road, a narrow road, but we will get there one step at a time.

          We really do love them with all of our hearts.

          My best wishes and hope to you and your families.

  12. Hi Sheri,

    Is there any way you could simply tell your husband that you won’t engage in conversations other than non-controversial ones, like the weather? Could you tell him, too, that ALL conversations about your relationship with him are to cease and desist? Stripping the drama out of the mundane day to day, is the only way to preserve your peace of mind. They LOVE drama. Heightened emotion enhances their ability to control and focuses the spotlight on them.

    Have you ever watched a narcissist at a dinner party, or other social event where you were able to sit back, relax, listen and just observe? (I am not sure how your husband’s narcissism manifests socially. Maybe he is able to mask the more extreme elements of his character, if he is stealthy.)

    As soon as the focus of attention leaves the narcissist who is playing ‘life of the party’ they seem to lose the life force completely. It’s amazing watching them drained of the vital essence of human attention. It’s like the old cartoon strip, ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ Hobbes is a stuffed tiger belonging to Calvin. Hobbes takes on a wild and crazy human persona when he and Calvin are together, alone, playing. When his mother enters the scene and Calvin is no longer focussed on Hobbes, he is drawn as a small stuffed toy, with a completely flat and lifeless expression.

    Although the cartoonist’s depiction represent the life of the imagination, in a small child, and how it affects their perception, this particular cartoon is really handy as a metaphor for the narcissist’s experience and world view.

    So, don’t be annoyed with yourself for slipping up and engaging him, just live and learn. Be civil but don’t let him draw you into situations or conversations that make you upset or uncomfortable. They are children, essentially and you are an adult.

    I’ve learned the hard way that whenever I take the bait with certain people I just get way too annoyed for the sake of my own comfort. It’s so not worth it to try to make a point with them. The only ‘point’ you can make also serves you well–stay neutral.

    1. LisaO, that is a fantastic post and a great example and perfect advise. Sheri, it is worth trying just to see things about him more clearly but LisaO is right. I constantly fed the Spath and I regret it so much now. But I didn’t know what was going on, you do.

      1. Thanks Puddle,

        I am so bad when it comes to taking the bait. I am incensed by people who sacrifice the peace of mind of others to dominate. Sometimes it seems they find the emotional reaction interesting or entertaining to watch. They are bored and your triggered sensitivities and outrage excites them, makes them feel alive! I get SO angry with this kind of thing that I can come off looking like I am the one who is clearly out of my mind. So I have to always remember to take my own advice. Stay neutral. Feel nothing when the manipulation starts. If someone tries to start an argument just for the sake of arguing, just go silent and tell them you won’t engage.

        The other thing I find useful when dealing with manipulative people is to limit interaction to emails and only when I am calm. Talking affords them the opportunity to get a good volley of argument going. Those with a sense of fairness can’t easily resist defending themselves, but seeing as nothing is in text, there is room for all sorts of manipulation. You are aiming for common ground, clarity, resolution. You have deep emotional skin in the game. They are merely amusing themselves in a game they want to win.

        I think the main thing to remember with some manipulative types, is, by and large, outside of dominance and control, they are attempting to stimulate with your emotions. They are bored.

        A constant refrain of an in-law who never agrees with anybody about anything, is, ” I just like to play the devil’s advocate”, or ” Some people have a problem with me because I am so opinionated!” These two expressions are red flags for insensitivity for me now.

        1. I completely understand LisaO, I easily snatch the bait in defending myself when falsely accused or misinterpreted. With Dpathtard it never occurred to me that he could know perfectly well what the truth was so I was always in a state of…….WTF? I didn’t SAY that or, that’s not what happened or, I didn’t say it that way or, but you said……. Truly a little puppet on a string. Who could conceive that another person who supposedly loves you would do these things and do them on purpose. It is still just so rediculous to imagine, even knowing it’s true. Spathetic.

          1. Spath-e-tick. Remember they are parasites! I was super happy the other day to read that you came across a pic of him with your lawyer and had a non reaction to it. You are processing the danage and really moving on. It takes time–more for some people than others. I was such a mess a couple of years ago that i was put on meds for angina. I didn’t take them as i figured I was having a psycho-somatic stress reaction. Turns out that chest pain (probably in the muscle and connective tissue) can be a symptom of extreme stress. But now I am doing so much better and the resilience I acquired, with my husband’s help, helped me get through his death. He was one aloof cat, but was able to see situations with a certain amount of clarity as a result.

            I am able to view my family as strangers, more or less, now. People I neither really love or hate. I am just neutral and that is unlikely to change. No more cutting chest pain every time I think about them. I AM free.

            It took 2 years–but I did it! Bro has P traits but isn’t what I would classify as a P. Obnoxious–check. Hypocritical? Check. Beyond selfish? Check. Personality disordered? I don’t know. All I know is I can’t handle it.

            Here is a great example of what I now find kind of amusing…in a detached kind of way. I received two short visits and 3 phone calls , in the two months after husband died. Then….nothing for 3 months. I think I eventually emailed him. He answered back. He was sorry he had been out of contact for so long but HE had been depressed. Taken alone, I would have been worried. But no–he didn’t have a major life threatening depression. He was experiencing periodic blue moods.

            This followed on the heels of the memorial service that none of my siblings could attend because the timing wasn’t convenient. They live 3 hours away, by car. They have no kids and a certain amount of flextime with job. S-in- law suggested I hold the memorial 3 months after husband passed –as it would be more convenient for her!! Again, I am so used to this treatment that it doesn’t phase me much now

            They have become strangers to me. I just don’t care. And everyone here, with the support of this blog and hopefully understanding and compassionate people in your day to day lives, one day, you will arrive at the same place. Forgiveness is all well and good but indifference is emotionally more realistic. Really hard when it’s family but doable. You can even live with somebody and cultivate healthy indifference. I don’t think the ‘no contact’ rule is possible for everybody, line Sheri. Emotional self preservation is key and attainable.

          2. LisaO, Sheri, this is why it is so important to keep it real by participating on a site like this one………not just for you but for others. In the initial afterspath it is hard to comprehend that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even hearing that there is from others…….it’s still hard to imagine that the way I felt then would ever get better. I was so damaged and hurt……..anything he could have said to me would knock my legs out from under me (and he did). Now? He could say anything and I mean ANYthing and all it would do is make me see him even more clearly for the pathetic, parasitic spath-e-tick he actually is. So it benefits me and I hope that it benefits someone else to be here with these fellow survivors. !!!HUGE Hugs!!! :)

          3. And, LisaO….. Your siblings…… Just amazing. Three hours away and their sister has lost her LONG time husband, who they knew for a long time as well……. It doesn’t even seem like being in another country could make that ok.
            My brother couldn’t get it together to go twenty miles to see my father on Christmas. He does not have a drivers licence but there are cabs and he has used them in the past when it suits him. I think my father has finally had enough of his BS though. It’s just so sad to me… The whole thing is just such a royal mess. Hard to believe so many things can go wrong in one family, that so many ill suited circumstances and issues could collide at once. Apparently not that uncommon.

        2. I’m right there with you both LisaO and Puddle, the types of situations can push my buttons. The ones I find myself engaging most in, where it seems I have the most trouble disengaging from are those ones where I’m pretty sure im being direct and clear. But the other person acts like I’m not making any sense, so I further try to explain myself, and then they act like they don’t know what I’m talking about. Then he’ll take it one step further and tells me to give him some examples.. Now I’m suddenly rattling off all this stuff sounding crazy, being historical, I’ve totally lost focus, and he’s just sitting there smiling or nodding. Then that smile or nod seems to get me going even more. It’s really crazy. It really helps if I just type something up, hand it to him and say “this is what I’m doing”

          1. Sheri……..I just smiled in recognition. That may be an odd reaction but I had a visual of me doing the EXACT same thing and I don’t know why it struck me as funny? Weird.
            Anyhow, The one thing I find myself regretting because I didn’t know what I was dealing with but you do, is coming up with some pat responses. One thing I might suggest is replying to anything, ANYthing he says with a question back to him.
            OR, An answer like, “I’m not really sure…..I’ll have to think about that”. If you keep taking the wind out of his sails……..well it would be interesting to see what happens.

          2. Sheri,

            If you have him examples he would accuse you of keeping lists or following him around with a clipboard! UYou can’t possibly expect a reasonable fair exchange…ever. So wonderful that you are refining your survival strategies!

    2. Thank you for this, it is something I just did. And hearing someone else reinforce this idea actually helps me think I’m on the right track. I have told him this before and he seems to find away around it. So this time I actually gave him the “how to know they’ve changed checklist” and said “this is what I am following, so before you want to talk about how much you’ve changed I suggest you look at this. If you meet what this list says, I will engage”. Then just last night he asked if I would renegotiate (he loves to use these terms he learns in therapy, but I do know he actually meant he wanted me to sit and listen to him convince me how much he’s changed, that’s what it’s meant every other time). So, he started out with his “renegotiation”. And I realized where it was going, I just told him to take a look at the list I gave him, he tried a little longer and then actually admitted he was not changed and didn’t have a leg to stand on to try to tell me any different. So I know he will try again, but for now he’s given me my space

      1. Sheri, once you know what they are and see what they are doing, it does become a choice of how much of your self you chose to give away, or should I say throw away? There may be a part of us that wants to win as well, or can’t face “loosing” what ever it is we thought we had with them. You do seem to be dancing the same dance over and overwith banana man. Do the two of you spend any quality time together or just coexist in the same house? I’m not sure I am understanding the entire picture.

      2. I like the way you said this is what you are following and didn’t say, this is what I need YOU to do or show me.

        1. Yes, I am past telling him what I want from him (most of the time). It’s we pretty much co-exist, but he wants more … Not a relationship … He fights really hard to manage my impression of him, he would like to go back to “pretending” everything is fine. But I’m not into pretending anymore.

          1. Sheri, My impression of the types is that they want YOU to be the unquestioning, unconditionally loving, forgiving woman at home (aka a mother) and they want to be able to do whatever they want to do and be left to get away with it. The second part of that could encompass many many things. I am curious to know, if you are comfortable, what bananna “man”‘s relationship is/ was with his mother. More often than not it doesn’t take much of a dig to find some significant mother issues with these “men”.

          2. Yes, that’s exactly how he has been throughout our marriage, I would often comment that he wants to be a single man who gets the benefits of a married man. His mom passed away before we were married, but there was definitely stuff there, he was also the youngest of 5 children (much younger, kind of grew up as an only child).

          3. Sheri……..ok, see……I had a feeling. First off, -youngest child-, second. -substantially younger than the next oldest which makes him an only child for all intents and purposes-, thirdly, -you have already hit the nail on the head by saying he wants to live like a single man with the benefits of a married man only I translate that to a mother not a wife-!
            Spathtard was the youngest, two girls ahead of him but a significant gap between them and him, only boy………he may have come into this world pre wired for being a path but i guarantee his mother sealed the deal. They are just such an adorable couple!! I’ve often wondered if they……..oh never mind.
            They want someone at home to pick up after them and allow them to be the perpetually stunted emotional idiots they have always been. Basically they want a saint at home and a whore (and all that goes along with that) away from home. Spathtard rushed right to mommy when his father died…….that created quite a nice opportunity for his highness to rule the roost with his emotionally incestuous mother at his side.

  13. Puddle, speaking of eating kin, you also wrote something really perfect. You write that childhood events leave their ‘bark’ on you. I know you meant ”mark’ but ‘bark’ is even better. Who doesn’t have that internal and infernal drill sergeant barking orders and insults at them. Childhood really does leave it’s bark with us! LOL.

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