As I both point out and illustrate in my book Character Disturbance, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the intervention of choice when it comes to dealing with the dysfunctional attitudes, ways of thinking, and behavior patterns of disturbed and disordered characters (For more on CBT, see the article: Abusive Characters and Treatment: The Essential Requirements and the primer series on CBT beginning with A Primer on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy). But CBT is also a highly appropriate mode of treatment for addressing a variety of other issues, including overcoming anxiety and depression, recovering from the trauma of a toxic relationship, and building a better sense of self-efficacy.
In last week’s post, I provided some excerpts from worksheets that I developed over the years to coach folks with varying levels of character disturbance through the process of character change. The primary purpose of the worksheets is not to “inform” the individual about what they’re doing. As I’ve written about many times, disturbed characters pretty much already know what they’re doing and why. Rather, the purpose of the worksheets is to accurately label the various behaviors, attitudes, and thinking patterns of concern, draw their attention to them when they occur, and provide a structure for their self-correction.
In last weeks post (see: The Mechanics of Genuine CBT) I provided an example of the worksheets I developed for use with disturbed characters. But I also developed a version of the worksheets for the relationship partners of disturbed characters. The purpose of those worksheets is not to provide a laundry list of issues that the relationship partner needs to bring to the disturbed character’s attention but rather to give the relationship partner a way to both reliably spot and accurately label problem patterns, to set and enforce important expectations, limits, and boundaries, to empower themselves by leaning how not to be swayed by the disturbed character’s responsibility avoidance tactics, and to better hold their partner to account (more on the tools needed to avoid manipulation and empower oneself can be found in my book In Sheep’s Clothing).
Here’s some examples from the worksheets designed for relationship partners dealing with a disturbed character in their lives:
ERRORS IN THINKING
Modified and adapted from the work of Stanton Samenow, Ph.D.
George Simon, Ph.D. (Latest revision: 03-15-06)
NOTE: There are many erroneous or problematic ways to think. These are just some of the more common thinking errors.
EGOCENTRIC THINKING. Thinking only of themselves and what they want. Thinking that the world revolves around them. Not thinking about others or whether what they want is right, good, legal, or might hurt someone else. This kind of thinking promotes a self-centered attitude and a disregard of social obligations. When you notice this kind of thinking and that it is not self-corrected, it’s essential that you confront it and respectfully assert your rights and needs. And when you observe any effort on the disturbed character’s part to be less self-centered and more considerate, it’s helpful to both acknowledge and reinforce that effort.
COMBATIVE THINKING. Viewing the world as a combat stage. Seeing every situation as a contest they have to win. Only seeing I win-you lose or you win-I lose scenarios in life. Being unwilling to back down or give ground. Being unable to see how they might gain more in the long-run if they would just be willing to give a little ground sometimes or on some things. This way of thinking makes it more likely they will keep fighting too much, too hard, too often, and too unnecessarily in the various aspects of life and promotes defiant, hostile, and confrontational attitudes. When you notice this kind of thinking you have to resist the bait of being drawn into unnecessary conflict. The disturbed character in your life most likely both knows and understands the values and principles you’d like them to endorse, so there’s no need to get sucked into a wrestling match. Just respectfully take a firm stand on the principles and reinforce any efforts on the disturbed character’s part to concede or give some ground, especially on the most important principles. Label combative thinking for what it is when you spot it, encourage the disturbed character to self-correct it, and recognize and reinforce them for their genuine efforts to do so.
There are similar worksheets that address common manipulative and responsibility-avoidance behaviors:
Behaviors that Obstruct the Internalization of Standards and Controls and often Used as Tactics to Manipulate Others
NOTE: There are many tactics a person can use to manipulate others and resist accepting responsibility. These are but some of the more common ones.
1. Rationalization. This is when the disturbed character attempts to justify a behavior or make an excuse for it despite knowing that most people would think it inappropriate, harmful, or wrong. It’s when they have an answer for everything, so that when you confront a behavior you know in your heart is a problem, they give you a litany of reasons why you should doubt the legitimacy of your concern. Getting you to “buy into” their excuses is how they manipulate you into backing-off or backing-down in any necessary confrontation. Empowerment tool: Accept no excuses when it comes to inappropriate behavior. The purported “reasons” the disturbed character may offer for their inappropriate actions are always irrelevant. Besides, as long as the disturbed character is making excuses, you know they’re still resisting the idea of accepting and internalizing necessary values and controls (which is what’s impairing their development of a sound conscience), and because of this, they’re almost certain to repeat the problem behavior. Avoid playing the game of “Don’t you see?” because the likelihood is they already “see” but still “disagree” with the principle you want them to adopt. Rather, hold firm on essential values and principles and when you catch them self-correcting their old habit of making excuses and making some attempt to modify their behavior, recognize and reinforce their efforts toward greater accountability.
4. Minimizing. This is when the disturbed character tries to make a molehill out of a mountain. It’s when they try to convince you or even themselves that what they did really wasn’t all that bad or harmful. It’s also when they admit only a small or insignificant part of what they did wrong. Sometimes this is a tactic to make you think they’re not such a character-impaired person after all (this is “impression management) and sometimes it’s the way they resist admitting to themselves the full extent of their character deficiencies and problems. Empowerment tool: Know well and affirm the difference between life’s “trivialities” and its important principles and values. And when it comes to behaviors that violate important principles, stand unapologetically firm. Don’t try to convince the disturbed character about the true importance of matters that you bring to his/her attention for correction. Rather, reinforce any efforts you see them genuinely making to take more seriously the behaviors and attitudes they need to correct.
The above excerpts represent but a few of the helpful ways these worksheets can help both disturbed characters self-correct problem attitudes and behaviors and help their relationship partner empower themselves. There are other ways properly designed and administered CBT can help folks who are not character disturbed but who still need to develop greater strength of character and acquire better self-care skills. A future series will examine some of those ways.
Sunday’s Character Matters program (7 pm Eastern, 4 pm Pacific on UCY.TV will again be a live broadcast so I’ll be able to take your calls.
85 thoughts on “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Primer – Wrap Up”
I see more clearly that I just wasn’t ready to do what I had to do when I was lied to and given excuses. I was trying to work things out and come to some agreement. With CDs you have to lay it all on the line. It stops or I’m out.
He told me once that he was trying to make me mad enough to get a divorce. Well, he did and I did.
Noel, keep in mind that you were not ready to do what you needed to do because you didn’t KNOW what the full picture was yet. So it all changes once you are out from under their manipulative influence. Honestly, the end of one of these entanglements is never straight forward. It’s more of a multi car pile up than it is a head on collision. Many things come together and pile up on each other, not always from one side……..some them, some you, but eventually the entire structure topples because the foundation was so structurally unsound to begin with, always doomed from the beginning.
Because they are so skilled at reading us and playing the game, even when we have “had enough” or catch them in a lie, or have doubts and suspicions, they are experts at damage control…………………..to a point! eventually the picture gets clearer and clearer though.
BUT! I have heard so many stories on the ID channel about all kinds of sick people who have done all kinds of very sick and horrible things and it never ceases to amaze me how many people near and dear to them were absolutely shocked when they finally were caught.
Puddle, isn’t that the truth! I just can’t imagine how I never knew. I remember reading “People of the Lie” by Scott Peck. A lightbulb came on, but I dismissed it thinking no that can’t be.
Noel, that’s whay I mean by multiple things coming together. All those things that you dismissed because you just had no frame of reference to interpret them with collide with you unmet needs, your frustration, your suppressed feelings and humiliation, their bullshit, your exhaustion, some deal breaker they have talked their way around one too many times…….. If they have succeeded at hooking you well and at a very vulnerable place, which Spathtard did with me, it takes a LOT to get out of the web. I’m so amazed now when I picture how deep I was “in” and what an excruciating process it was to get out.
Thank you so, so much for such insight inti the human creature. I very much appreciate it.
I know how to label them. I know what they are doing. I find that when I confront (even say, by using NVC, when you did x I felt y)) they immediately up the lying. So it no longer matters what I say, they are making it up as they go.
So as soon as I notice one of the ploys, do I walk away? Because I could be saying till the cows come home, no, that’s not how it happened. No, you did not call. No, you did not tell me that. Etc etc etc. And it just gets me into a pointless struggle.
I just went through something like this (context, a visiting friend): He leaves a note at 8am, I am off for coffee, be back soon. It’s nearly 2 pm, and he has not called. I am off to hike, feeling hurt. When I get home after 4, two messages go on about car trouble. No apology. I cook, eat, then get his meal ready when he shows up. He calls close to 6, that he is going to dinner with a friend, and he’d be glad I’d joined them. So now, I am really angry. I’ve already eaten, and I am being treated like an afterthought.
When he gets here, I confront him, and he uses the “I am the victim here” — going on and on about his car trouble that turns out to be just a flat tire! — and throws lies at me (I was calling you all day! and I did invite you to dinner earlier!) and when I say I feel hurt he responds, “I am sorry you are angry” which really ticks me off.
I say he owes me an apology, he grabs his stuff and flounces out, for good. Some friend.
I knew something was not right when he called and instead of apologizing for disappearing all day just went on and on about his car. “Poor me, I am having such a bad day.”
So what then? How does one turn such a situation around?
In the past few days, I have been able to get back on the site, read some comments, jump off. Lots of drama.
Puddle, i was happy to see you here again, wishing the whatever that was going on in your life has calmed down a bit. You sound like Puddle so hopefully you are back to being able to take care of you–which I think should be our guiding light as we dig our way out of CD Hell. The larger view is stay true to ourselves.
I’m still not clear about what right or wrong in the gray areas means to you. Could you maybe give an example? I see clear boundary violations as shouting over me so I can’t talk, lying.
Is it gray when you think it’s a lie but don’t have proof beyond a reasonable doubt? My revelations about X being CD came after we split so maybe I am unrealistic. In a solid relationship, each having the other’s best interests at heart, how does that become right vs. wrong? Disagreements, yes, not power moves. Am I being way nieve to think in a healthy relationship both want it to be good?
Lulu!! You are back! I was concerned. I’m “ok” but just ok. Hanging in there.
As far as examples……..
Yes to what you say here:
“Is it gray when you think it’s a lie but don’t have proof beyond a reasonable doubt? My revelations about X being CD came after we split so maybe I am unrealistic”
Yes! But also, I know sometimes something doesn’t seem right to ME in the moment but later I find out it actually was right so I doubt myself and my perceptions in the moment. When it’s not a in your face, obvious transgression, I get caught in wait and see mode. But also if someone gives me a reasonable explanation. I have a hard time determining what is reasonable, what is not,,,,,,, it all spins together in my brain until I finally give up and just go along because I’ve lost track of it all in my mental process. I can’t keep all the balks in the air. I have a hard time weighing things against eachother.
Of course you doubt. We’ve all been broken and beaten up by malicious con men. How could we possibly trust our instincts right now? It will take time and lots of experiences with normal people to get our feet on solid ground.
Maybe an example might be….. Say we had plans to do something together but they were loose plans and he came over and said his buddy invited him golfing and was leaving next week so they would not be able to do it any other time. So, wrong or right? Am I wrong to be upset because we had plans together or am I wrong if I don’t say, sure…. Go for it. I’ve got plenty to do here. I think myself into a hole because I font KNOW what is reasonable. And then it can be a matter of how they approach you with the change of plans…..
The over-all impression I get is that the CD or even the garden variety jerk isn’t going to change for a friend. They just don’t have any skin in the game. Different if they are on the barely manageable end of the CD spectrum– and– they realize they have a problem AND have a whole lot to lose if they don’t change. In this case the change comes about for them, from within them, because it is about them. And as Dr. simon illustrates, special reinforcements, reminders, incentives, etc..aid in that process. I wouldn’t consider going through a work sheet process unless I was saddled with one of them because I had kids with them, was financially dependant because of kids, or some other extenuating factor. There are many people in this position, and the very finite, ‘no contact,’ remedy, delivered with a dollop of judgement, isn’t kind or appropriate. And….some CD’s can be okay parents.
I would run not walk away from a ‘friendship’ with anybody who treated me in a super cavalier fashion. Again, the law of 3’s probably applies here, too and encapsulates lying at the same time. Sad for you that you have had to suffer this ‘friend.’ Is this where the term, ‘frenemy’ comes from? Aren’t you grateful you aren’t saddled with this loser, as a mate.
Thank you, Lisa. His daughter warned me some years back, that he treats women poorly, like they don’t really matter. But he mostly desisted, until now.
I was relieved, when he left. And I saw how he began “fighting against taking responsibility” with that first phone call. That was the prime opportunity to make an apology; instead, he chose to play me. And it just went from there.
I would like to be able to not take the bait, and stop the drama before it hogs the stage, if you know what I mean… 🙂
I have not thought of him as CD, but he is definitely a control freak with a big ego. His easy lies is what shocked me.
Ah, yes, the lies that are as easy to say as today is Sunday. Continuous lying is (was) so far off my radar screen, it never entered my mind that someone would do it to a spouse/partner. After the split, when he would tell whoppers in the current dramas, then, although not looking, I came across lies in the recent past, on and on until I got to the beginning of our relationship. All a sham. It would be incomprehensible that anyone could “fib” so easily much less to someone they purported to care about.
I continue to practice and learn about who gets to be in my life. Sounds like I think I’m all that and more, the high school clique. It is so hard to untangle? (What would be the word?) from the nightmare of CD, I cannot afford anyone who continuously drains my energy.
Not taking the bait when somebody offends our sense of fairness, has to be the most difficult thing to do. For the CD, Liar, Just-plain-jerk, it’s about winning, though they will feign that they have been wronged, offended, judged harshly.
The perception that we are see-sawing on the scales of justice with an 800 lb gorilla, leaves us up in the air. In the end, it doesn’t matter how great their lives may appear, how carefree. Most of them end up old, alcoholic and suffering any number of consequences from their fake lifestyles. They become the ones who huddle on the scales of justice, transparent to all, faux gravitas all gone. On the other side of that scale, sits an all new 800 lb gorilla, labeled, ‘life choices.’
Hey, I just saw breaking news somewhere. It said: ROMANIA: woman divorcing husband; claims he is a werewolf. I bet she is right too, that’s what they call severe CDs out there… 🙂
Werewolves, vampires…….I think I’m seeing a pattern thrre!
Where I get confused is in determining what is “right”, what is “wrong”, what is acceptable, etc.Tthere are so many grey areas and subjective judgement calls, personal, individual expression, misread intentions, that is where most of my self doubt comes in when dealing with someone like this. I don’t get it. I have no problem with obvious boundary violations or obvious right and wrongs but introduce some wriggle room and I back down quickly because I just can’t prove that whst they are saying is bs. That is their game in my opinion….. See how close you can get to the hornets nest while you continue to poke at it. In other words it like a game of chicken.
Whoops, Puddle, I replied to you a few comments up instead of here.
There has to be some degree of willingness on the CD’s part to change. You can stand your ground, not except lies, rationalizations, justifications and outright denials until you are blue in the face. What ends up happening? You leave, because they have no desire to budge.
They do understand the consequence of you leaving, but you have to stay gone or it’s a lesson not learned anymore.
Hi Einstein, for me the end point was utter exhaustion and constipation, that got me around the corner and even then I almost went back several times because I missed him so much and was so broken hearted I craved his comfort………..until he slandered me and that was it, eyes wide open, game over. That was something he couldn’t talk his way around because I knew he knew the truth and had said so many times.
I was vulnerable to ‘going back’, too, like you. I can’t tell you how horrified but relieved I was to have emails forwarded to me, from a couple of other women, where he heaped scorn, slandered and mocked me and lie?? I honestly found it very difficult to get my head around. Thank God I was contacted. Had I not been he may have been able to re target me. Hopefully not…but it’s hard to know for sure.
This man presented a completely different face to me. He was the helpful soul who was trying to help me with health advice and ease all kinds of psychological problems I was having at the time. I want to think that he was conning me and became enraged because things started going sideways for him. At least that makes sense. And it is probably part of it. But, I think that emotional sadism may have played a role too. It is really hard to fathom that after squeezing every drop of utility out of them, the only thing their victims have to offer the psychopath is their deep suffering. They will choose a way to end things that is tailor made for their victim; a torture of the soul designed maliciously to extract the most suffering possible. It’s beyond belief.
LisaO…….. How horrible for you. It’s like once they see see a weakness or flaw they want a new toy but they need to know this one is completely broken first, like so no one else wants it? To ever hazard a guess at what they actually think, want, are, is just not within our ability to grasp. As I’ve ssid……men are from Mars, women from Venus and psychopaths are from Hell.
Yes. They want to break you just for the rush. Something inside of me died and in a way you can say it is worse than actual death. Your soul is crushed and you feel like a barely animated corpse. After I crawled out of the deepest pit I’ve ever been in, two very close friends suggested I read up on psychopathy. It made sense. About a year later I received the forwarded emails from a suspicious new target and just last year another target managed to track me down.
LisaO, you are so fortunate that these people did step forward and reach out to you. Those were other pieces of the puzzle for me too, speaking to people from his past. I can’t even remember the sequential order of which pieces came together and when now. All I know is that the slander thing was the lightbulb moment for me. Without those two things, who knows how much longer it would have drawn out and what would have ended up happening to me. I had grown so weak and emotionally fragile. Vampire!! I do think they are weak, ineffectual, pathetic nothings at their core and latch on to feed off their victims. Emotional blood meal. Sick
Agreed! So hard for us neurotics to comprehend, one of the many reasons I’m so grateful for this group, it validates that people really can be this evil. Also never thought of him as a coward before. One more thing I missed, because that shoe sure fits.
I wonder if what we fell in love with, what we THOUGHT was real about them, is really some disowned and unrealized part of ourself? Probably over thinking that.
What you fall for is the guy they PRETENDED to be. And think about how good they are at it….most everybody else still thinks they are genuinely Pretend Guy. They are effective at impression management until they have you in a position where they don’t have to be – or, until they can’t keep it up anymore (it’s exhausting being “normal”) and you begin to see what’s under the mask.
In any case, realizing they are not who they presented themselves to be is a slow process. I think it takes awhile to map your brain around the fact that people would pretend to be anything other than what they are.
Puddle, I think there is something to what you say — falling in love with a disowned part of ourselves. It can also be slowly learning to embrace yourself, to feel worthy of deep and enduring love after letting your guard down. In a sense, it is reclaiming a tender innocence that has calcified. We felt we were being loved unconditionally by a man for perhaps the first time in our lives. This is a ghastly spiritual crime… The stuff of nightmares where you open your mouth but can’t scream
LisaO, I hear you. I think you have described the pain I’ve felt better than I ever could on here and between us. I also think that we as humans search for our counter balance in a mate and don’t think that is wrong. What is wrong is pretending to be what another person needs and wants. Somehow popular trends have made us think that we are suposed to be a complete single entity and not need anything or anyone outside of our self. I think on a lot of levels that is possible and attainable but I also think there is some primal need in us, or drive, to be a part of a unit, a group, a family, a pack. When you are in an isolated place in life, for whatever reason, it certainly sets the stage for one of these losers to tap into that primal unmet need.
Or do we fall in love with the guy we WANTED him to be? I was so good at dismissing things that were huge keys to his character. Made excuses for him, poor him and his mean mommy. I think most—all?— of us were emotionally abused (and often more) as children. Not sure what you mean by disowned part of ourselves. Unrealized I might get. My feelings were ridiculed, made to feel wrong, so out of place with how the rest of my family acted (ice cubes), I ached for hugs and touch. That whole primal need to belong, to be part of a family was a physical ache inside me. And he hugged me. He didn’t call me names. Or make sure every day that I knew I was worthless. I don’t know what CD wanted, maybe just to not be alone and have someone take care of him. With little expectation from him. Then the controlling to get his way always, sooo much easier to do what he wanted to, lie, and not mess with all that integrity stuff. When he began to fear my leaving, then he’d do the nice guy thing for a while, but as someone said, being normal takes so much effort. I had no idea what love was, what a healthy partnership looked like. Or, Einstein, wrapping your head around being so calculating, so intentionally mean. Puddle, in your golf example, I think it’s okay to be disappointed. For me, it would depended on how my guy responded to me. Does he seem upset about changing plans? Offer an alternative for the two of you. Appreciate what you are doing? IF I am ever in another relationship, I know that trust will be difficult for me. Be up front that I’m irrational and working on it every day is the only way I know how to deal with it.
Yes Lulu, we fall in love with who we wanted him to be but its more complicated than that because they lie by omission and commission and manipulate you overtly and covertly into thinking and feeling they are someone they are not. I liken it to luring a starving dog to your back door step with pieces of meat and then kicking it once you have finally gained its trust. That makes me cry just typing it. You have no idea how fooled I was on a very deep level.
Puddle, Same. I could cry reading about the luring a starving dog, too. This is no ordinary jilting. Those are horrible. This is mind shattering and soul destroying. He described me to new target as a person he was moved to ‘help’ as an act of kindness. It didn’t work out because I was morally depraved — ready to do anything, including displace my husband from his house to be with him!! Th exact polar opposite was true. He then went on and forwarded her very personal emails between he and I about the PTSD therapy I was undergoing and the traumas that were responsible for them. I recounted to him in one of these emails how I had tried to commit suicide when I was 18 years old. He forwarded his response to that email– that he would “kiss my scarred wrists at the first opportunity.” I have never come into contact with a more hateful human being. It dawned on me with crystal clarity after reading these emails. The sense of betrayal was overwhelming. He treated it all as if my life’s trials were merely lines from a play and a rather tacky and maudlin one at that.
LisaO, I hope he gets his due. How can you feel bad for someone who does these things? Honestly they seem like an acception to any golden rule there is. I have never had to work harder to reign my revenge gene in in my life. I hope he self destructs and I get to know. I know thst is “wrong”? I just don’t care if it is though. I won’t lower myself to do anything to “help” him but I sure as hell won’t feel bad if he gets his due somehow.
Ha! My ultimate fantasy is to be driving along and see him pulled over doing acfield sobriety test. I’d pull over and ask him if he needs me to call his mother?
I think the ‘unrealized part of self’ you refer to is very well described. . For some it is unrealized, for others innocence, rather than naivete, was a big part of their nature they had to disown to protect themselves.
I think we all fall in love with the person we want rather than the one we end up with. I don’t think the victim’s of CD’s are any different than anybody else, in that regard. If we are lucky our image of that person roughly approximates who the person really is. The important thing to consider is whether the CD is aware of the normal tendency to idealize love objects. And, does he capitalize on that very human feature of romantic relationships and manipulate his target using this understanding of basic human psychology.
LisaO, I think that is true, how we fall in love, the whole process? Even in a normal relationship there is an idealization at first, rose colored glasses. But with a Spath, they force feed you and create a false environment in which bonding takes place abnormally fast, like before you get to know them. I’m certain it’s intentional, there are books written on how to gain a woman’s trust or over ride distrust. Touch is key and it does not need to be sexual. That’s what mirroring does to, it makes you think you are kindred. He used to watch me eat and take bites of food at the same time I did. I thought it was sweet and that he had some weird idea of being polite!
I know my comment is a bit late but wow, this sounds like my exact situation! This horrible person came into my life around a time when I was experiencing big changes and needed someone to be there for me on a deep, emotional level. The guy goes on and on about how his ex was such a big meanie…which I’m starting to believe was a big lie. The worst part is realizing that the person you thought you fell in love with was simply a mask, or what they knew you liked. In reality, these people wear many masks and it’s how they fool their victims. After months of emotional torture, I feel like I finally have the strength to leave him. The hardest part is the no contact rule, but I believe it to be the most effective because it sends a clear message. It breaks my heart to think about the whole situation because everyone deserves to feel loved and that’s all I ever gave him…he just never gave it back to me. On the positive side, awareness is key, meaning that all of us commenting on this site are already taking the first step to freedom from these POS narcissistic individuals
Puddle, what a sickeningly apt description….kick the dog who believes in you.,,,,,mind shattering and soul destroying….I didn’t get the invitation to that fun party until after we separated. I couldn’t catch my breath and get up off the mat before the next thing came flying at me from another direction. Or sometimes it would be a while…..always waiting. Interesting question: does he capitalize on that very human feature of romantic relationships? Are you talking about the CD feeling love? Or knowing about it and what a powerful tool it is for his cruel manipulations? After being in this for four years and, sadly, counting, I still cannot wrap my head around how absof’inglutely easy it is for vicious word to slide out of CD’s mouth. And to do it to our kids without one second of thought of the impact of them. To me, LisaO, it sounds worse than lines from a play. To take your excruciating pain and struggles and use them in a twisted game, it comes across to me almost like mockery of what you endured. How low can you go? Once I caught on to what he had done, my anxiety zoomed, it seems like he will do anything to hurt me. Certainly never any consequences so why not?
Lulu, I’m sorry for the graphic discription in the example but honestly, it’s the only thing that comes close to summing it up for me. And it’s the drawing me in to the back step part that makes me the most disgusted. I have always felt a little like a wild animal in a way or a displaced pet fending for itself. A little skittish, shy, wary……..and hungry for a petting. Well he hit the bullseye the first night. Kept it in his pants and “just wanted to hold me”, blink blink. Huh? This is different ………blink blink……..purrrrrrrrrr I think that I was done that night even though the whole story is just so much more. So complicated and I barely care to remember it anymore, like it has become irrelevant. He is irrelevant. I feel bad for the next one.
Yeah, I have NEVER allowed myself to go there the way I was there over that POS.
Puddle, there is nothing too graphic or shameful in your description. I am so moved by the way you describe the predator. I know exactly how you feel now — and felt then. In truth, love’s ideal is to become as open trusting and vulnerable to anybody. It is something to aspire to. The fact that you still have that part of you, intact. is a testament to your wholeness and strength. Nobody can take that away from you; your fundamentally healthy spirit. I am so sorry that Spathtard tortured you. I would so kick his ass if I could.
LisaO, thank you, it means so much to have the kind of pain I was in acknowledged. I’d like to take turns kicking each other’s Spaths asses!! Still fond of your comment about hopping someone dropping a house on him! It was so similar to being in the land of OZ.
Yeah, the kids………a man that can’t be a man, in the true sense of the word, for their children……….if that doesn’t motivate then to reach down and pull themselves up by their stones, what else possibly could. Not singling out men here, ok a parent? How can you not see the damage your selfishness is doing?
Children go through the same emotional turmoil with a CD parent that we have been through but don’t have the words to define any of it. They bond to and love the parent by nature and keep going back to the door step no matter how many times they get kicked emotionally. They just don’t know how to not keep expecting their rights as a human to be fulfilled.
An ex boyfriend of mine years back, his mother told me how his alcoholic father(after they finally divorced) would promise T that he’d come get him for the weekend and time after time T would be left sitting and waiting with his little bag packed, his Dad a no show. Horrible.
Yes. He was gleeful in retelling the new target about how he blindsided me and the torment I went through. Of course it was twisted so that I was the villainess who got what I deserved. It was so weird to read this and also to go through the entire body of this target’s email, studying his persona–how radically it shifted from me to her. He described my physical self as gorgeous. But this isn’t true and was self serving. He wanted the new target to be impressed with the fact he could score a gorgeous woman and also to play on this theme of “ditching beautiful women” to establish dominance with her, right off the bat. Very very intriguing. He was a completely different person with me.
The target who found me last year, (after his wife left him) he approached using yet another persona. Fascinating. She also forwarded his emails to me. Going through all of these emails was like examining his character under a microscope. And like seeing a blood sucking tick, close up, it’s terrible but you can’t take your eyes off of it, because you can’t believe that what grabbed your heart strings wasn’t an advanced spiritual being but a creepy little bug squished between the slides if a microscope.
That’s the horrifying part. An old acquaintance contacted me on the web some years back, and for several months, played me like a fiddle. He was my soul mate to a T! Mr Sensitive! He used every detail I wrote to him about, to craft a persona who shared all my major interests… I was one happy camper. (That was a couple of years before the scales fell off my eyes.)
Then he hit me for money, and though I did give it to him, something felt wrong, and thankfully, I began to be much more careful. I still stuck with him for another 3 years, hoping he’d “come through” and start behaving like he did those first months… HA! There were moments when he did, but it never lasted. It must have been exhausting, playing another person, and keeping it all straight with all the other people he was playing. Like a juggler.
He still sends an email once a year, hoping to get me entangled again… But I got his number… since our relationship was by emails, I have all those letters to study the tactics he used on me. 🙂
Vera, at least you spotted it. It seems that even though you’ve been trashed once, the next time it’s just that much different that the lesson from the previous just doesn’t click fast enough. I’ve done this with lending money and each time I swear I won’t do it again. Never much money but it always results in the same outcome which is bad feelings. Thankfully I’ve always gotten it back and thankfully never lost the acquaintance in the outcome but, I should know better by now.
Not sure what you are apologizing for, Puddle. The back step sickens me because some one could so callously do that. Be so cold and calculating. It is sickening because it is true! Pull over and ask if he needs you to call mommy. I laughing so much, every time I read that. Obvi, i don’t know what you look like but I’m picturing a sweet face, offering to help. Too funny. I think CD is revenging himself. He sits around all day, drinking and being consumed with rage at twisted stuff he has made up about me. I guess he tells the walls, everyone else is done with his poor me self. Eventually they have to run out of victims, then what do they have. Just their sorry ass selves with no one to prey upon. Just a tired, pathetic shell of a person , all alone. Meanwhile your beautiful self will find a true happiness, moving along your amazing journey.
Lulu, you make me smile……. Yeah, just apologizing because it’s just such a sad image.
Funny, I actually do look pretty much as you describe and in that scenario I could reach really deep and look even more angelic LOL! Of course looks can be deceiving!! And My halo has been less than shiny in my past.
No, this is so true……..he looks like one of those old alcoholic grizzled men, cigarette wheezie laugh, you know the type. Sitting at a bar laughing at things that are only funny if you are drinking, with people you only can stand because you are drinking, looking like a twelve grader squeezed into a preschoolers desk? And I am not a “looks” type of gal, it’s not that. And ordinarily I would have compassion for someone in such a state but not for him…. Nope. He has dug that hole so deep and at every given opportunity to stop digging and climb out, mommy just hands him the shovel again and back to digging he goes.
Hi all, I know I said I was moving on…and I am still but you girls talking about these men when they hit rock bottom is so relevant to what has happened recently. I had contact from my exh after months of nothing, he sent a photo of himself and he’s a shadow of the man I was married to. No job, no teeth, looks like he’s aged 20 odd years, skinny and yes still as abusive…as I am responsible for it all in his eyes. It was an absolute shock…not the abuse that was expected but how he looked! Thankfully I haven’t heard from him in 72 hours so I think that may all be over with but who knows?? Yet it just feels so empty and sad and I thought about what Dr Simon has said that they can either hit rock bottom and finally realise they need help or what?? They end up homeless or worse, then I wonder about how much deep resentment they have inside… For me I thought why was I so frightened of this man and a part of me is still only from the point of when they get so desperate what is there next move if they don’t hit rock bottom enough to get help? I just feel so all over the place with my feelings at the moment, it sets me back a little. I can’t help thinking I was married to this man for so many years, I loved him and now…I don’t have the words. I still care in some ways but I know I can’t do anything…what he does is what he does and I am not responsible but what a sickly feeling it leaves.
Tori, I think the outside finally starts to resemble the inside. No teeth. No job. Wow. Imagine his ‘plenty of fish’ profile. Think he’s going to be striking out with potential new targets.
Oh LisaO you have no idea what he thought he was, he thought he could have any woman in his mind! I wasn’t good enough! Always flirting, always the charmer and now I don’t even want to think to tell you the truth! He was once a good looking man, when I left he was still a good looking man. Now…I just thought what was I thinking…??? I think you’re right about the inside revealling itself on the outside.
Seriously? I just lost my entire post to you Tori! Bummer.
But, your post brought back to mind the song “Tainted Love”, a blast from the past.
Hi Puddle! Yeah Tainted Love…so apt!
Tori, especially the “-dun-dun- run away” part! I keep having bizarre near misses with Spathtard. He had better hope and prey we don’t come face to face and had better have the discretion, if we do, to not presume it is ok to speak to me again as if he gets to walk away from this on good terms. Idiot.
It’s such a long sad process, coming to terms with the fact that someone you thought was so wonderful is curiously oddly bizarrely different than other people. Someone you thought was your super handsome best friend, sensitive, so into you (at first), capitalizes on your own sensitivity and feeds on it and also uses your empathy and damaged self image to gain leverage over you. I am so so sorry you had such a terrible time. I think everybody on this blog has had their concern for others, their empathy used against them. Dr. Simon says that empathy, a tendency to be anxious, possibly shy, easily embarrassed, are civilizing force. So they really are the pillars upon which a compassionate society is built. But for those of us who have extreme anxiety and sensitivity, it’s like we are always reclining on our empathy, like a hammock. Our serenity rests with keeping things in balance. Our hammock hangs on the poles of our expectations and trust in crucial relationships. The P offers us sure support and then, without reason or warning swings wildly so we do this cartoon like flip and end up on the ground. Taking the metaphor a step further–nobody in their right mind would get back on a hammock. But what if the hammock is you, represents you. What if the hammock IS your personality. That is the tough part.
He will likely continue the downhill slide. He did bring it on himself. These types do have free will. They lack certain traits but manipulation takes conscious effort and they can control that. He never had to flip your hammock on you. He chose to.
LisaO……….BEAUTIFUL! You are beautiful!
It’s like they want to take you away from you by trashing who you are that “allowed” them to do what they did to you! They want to prove to you that it’s not safe to be who you are and probably translate who you are, your God given good traits that you live by, as as fake as their feigned, shallow, mirrored imitations are.
Oh Wow LisaO, that is a beautiful and thoughtful response. The hammock metaphor I can so relate to…that’s precisely it, isn’t it! I felt very upset by those pictures and was feeling so bad for him and even so I have my knowledge from all I’ve read here on the blog and from you guys that I have kept myself from falling into the trap of showing too much compassion. The rescuer part of me was activated but I was able to keep it from getting me back into the craziness. For that I am so grateful, without all this knowledge I’d never be able to do that. It’s difficult when that man is the father of your child. That man is no longer my responsibility, really he never was, what he does is what he does. I can feel sad and wish things were different but I’ll do it from a safe distance and not let it infect me. I won’t ever be a hammock again LisaO! 🙂 Thank you!
And Lulu, the more the collective consciousness comes to terms with the pity play used to ensnare new victims, the less likely CP’s (creepy people) have of being successful. And particularly as they age. There is nothing more repulsive than an old narcissist who doesn’t realize their time’s up. They just strike me as one big ‘Keith Richards’, bloated Elvi, and who is that other dude who married Farrah Fawcett, oh yeah…Ryan O’neil.
No hair. No teeth. None of this is at all funny, but I get these mental images. Or the beginning of a country song. No hair. No teeth. The poison on the inside has to seep out. Why couldn’t he leave the 26 and 31 y/o sons out of it. He was so hell bent on destroying me with his evil craziness he didn’t care who was around. And all they wanted to do is love him. Someone was saying earlier, how can they be so blind to their kids? Or Mick Jagger…so sad. We are caring, kind people and found someone to use and abuse that. Your feelings are your feelings…no right or wrong in that. Was it okay to feel upset when plans changed and he, presumably with good reason, played golf? Absolutely it was okay to feel upset, disappointed and he should acknowledge (not really apologize) and appreciate that you are being a sport (ha!). For me any guy who would a) make me feel like I should smile and deny my emotions or b) gets angry blame-y because I’m laying a guilt trip on him, would be the cue to run!
Lulu, you are right on target and when I read your words it makes sense. Of course I’m upset because I was looking forward to spending time with you bone head! So……. The way I see it now? It doesn’t even matter….. Nothing good or bad matters because none of it meant anything anyway! So there I was trying to figure out if I was really wrong for being upset of if I was just being too demanding or needy or what evah! And it was all a big laugh yo him I’m sure.
I guess my original comment about the golf issue was that I don’t know how to make those assessments, not just with Spathtard. You have the give and take but when does the giving part become giving in? Or giving yourself away?
If someone, even a casual friend, makes plans to be with you and then decides to do something else, they are treating you with deep disrespect. This is how people show other people they don’t matter much to them. If the offender is confronted, sure they will try to deflect responsibility. It should NEVER be tolerated. This is alpha male baboon to lower ranking female behavior. Zero tolerance on that one.
LisaO, more than one example on that one but I never thought about the way you put it in the ranking department. Another thing to digest. 🙁
It’s validating though because I’ve had other men do that. ( issues I see clearly now, this helps flesh them out)
Puddle, about people making plans with you and then ‘forgetting’, particularly if it it’s part of a pattern, I go no contact. Again, with the forgetting–law of threes, more than three times–DONE. Three strikes–you’re out! If somebody makes really firm plans with me and I don’t hear back from them but find out they dropped the ball because something ‘more fun’ came up. Done. They don’t get another chance. Completely different if there are real neurological issues with memory or something truly pressing came up or they became flustered about something and forgot, within a general overwhelmed state. I can appreciate that because I’ve done that.
I have been dealing with this with narbro for years and years. So much of it I just accepted because he does have huge issues with ADD but be also has tremendous issues with sense of entitlement, boundaries, and making plans and then changing them at the last minute because he would just prefer doing something else. He tries to bullshit his way around this. The latest big example is a bit of a jaw dropper. Like, ” you did what? You went where?”
Zero tolerance. Puddle, I am so happy you brought this up. It hurts to be treated like you are second rate. I have just lately isolated an incident for my narbro and shown him a very small step he could take to change his behavior. This is the behavior part of cognitive behavioral ‘therapy’ If he doesn’t pick up on it and change his behavior, sees it as submitting or that he is ‘being coerced’ and I will ‘win’ if he adheres to what I consider almost basic etiquette, I am willing to forgo a relationship with him. He and his wife, together, are both highly aggressive, will not submit to anybody anytime about anything. They fight like cats and dogs as a consequence. Narbro has become much worse since they have been together, I think. But that’s a big one for them… Pulling switcheroos after making plans and trying to do it stealthily.
Clarifying, he didn’t forget he just wanted to go with his friend. It was kund of a last minute offer on the friends part and he is not up here often. So it was kind of a last minute thing. But then he said he really didn’t want to go because of x, y, z. It wasn’t THAT he wanted to do this, it was partly that I don’t handle “surprises” well. I kind of need predictability. It really throws me off kilter really bad. So I need a little hand holding when plans change, you know……consideration and respect?
LisaO, my bro too. It’s more because of drugs and alcohol but I can say that the times he follows through, without some kind of drama that negates THAT attempt, are so few and far between that it basically comes as a surprise when he does. OMG! The stories and lines of BS he has come up with in the past?? Just mind boggles me that ANYone would ever believe them! But my mother bought it, my father still does and I did not and do not which was a huge source of conflict in the family and frustration for me. And even after being initiated through all of that and all that went with it, I still have a hard time calling someone out on BS unless I know 100%.
LisaO, I think the difference between your brotard and mine is that I have almost zero expectations of him being anything other than what he is. It’s been this way forEVER so I never have had the disappointment to face that you have. There was never anything to loose in other words. I care about him though and feel a lot of sadness for him………..but only to a point.
Puddle, I am the same as you when it comes to calling someone out on their BS…I like to be sure, 100%. All the things I thought were off in my relationship I could never really prove. He would gaslight me with strange conversations, like say I was right sometimes but not others and would of course never let me know which ones… I guess that’s the neurotic part, not wanting to upset things by accusing without absolute proof, it gets us into trouble. Or is it as simple as not trusting our gut!
Tori, same same, me to, just what he said to me……. One thing/ action followed by something different then a denial of having said x,y,z or having meant a,b,c. Gas lighting/ mental, emotional torture.
As far as my gut, no. It sent me mixed messages. If it would have sent me nothing but bad messages I wouldn’t be here. Even friends, therapists, etc inadvertently added to the confusion. I’m not confused anymore, that’s for sure. ((((HUGS)))) to you Tori.
I will tell you this as well. I have had my gut tell me things only to be proven wrong many times.
Oh Lulu, You must have had the poor man, “walking on eggshells!” They love that one. The P who targeted me would bristle when I asked him to refrain from sending me raunchy emails. Then he would tell me he felt like he was being held in a “creative straight jacket. He could barely breathe!” Omg…traverse boundaries much? And he would be describing his ‘special times’ with his wife! Grosse. Poor tragic man being told to keep it clean. Oh the humanity!!
Puddle, thank you and you are beautiful, too! That’s what every target who reads these words has to remember. They are beautiful inside. There is something uniquely sweet and pure about them that makes them not just vulnerable to parasites and predators but also a bit of an uneasy fit with people who are just generally a little less sensitive. We are always jumping from the strands of one tightrope to another, socially, emotionally and probably neurologically, too. I think our role is to suffer deeply, recover up to a point and then provide a description and a rough roadmap for others going through similar difficulties. As we describe and help, we help ourselves.
About a sibling or siblings you were very close to at some point–that’s a really tough one. I was trying to describe to a friend this morning who gets it but doesn’t understand how painful it is and what a long process it is to deal with, emotionally. My bro is a, let’s say celebrity, where I’m from. When I tell people I am his sister, they are in awe. He is considered one of the most powerful moral spiritual individuals in my part of the world. We were very close. Not only were we best friends and siblings, I used to provide ideas and help him write some of his material, many years ago. We were mentally melded. I was and am quite ill, very limited energy. The time and effort I put into helping him, not only with his work but with everything else in his life used up all my reserves, while I was still working part time. When I married, my husband and I both continued, in this vein. My husband provided some contract work for him. When he was depressed we phoned him long distance ( it was expensive then!), every other day and encouraged him, supported his ego, tried to give him hope. We visited him frequently. Same theme. Fast forward ten years. My bro has been married now for several years and when my husband died he and his Nar-wife, asked me to postpone the memorial to a convenient time for them…and that was 3 months after his death! Yesterday, I asked my brother to please, instead of sending me mass emails about interesting topics, to email me one on one and ask me how I’m doing. He was totally offended, super angry. Christmas, a few months after my husband passed away, I waited and waited, wondering if he would think to include me in their festivities. Nope.
So you can see what happened and this is a point that I try to make here often. The discard happens years before you may even be aware of it. Because husband and I were no longer needed he tossed us both away. But…he has tried to manage a veneer of care and concern by keeping me on his email list of friends and fans and sending me video links and links to his ‘spiritual sermons’. He totally dropped my husband — would phone to talk to me and brush husband off. This went on for years. I served some minor function for him, I guess, so the veneer remained in place for me. But now as I am getting older and not as intellectually vibrant and ‘interesting’ to him, plus I am asking him to observe basic netiquette, I will no longer hear from him. That last exchange where I opened up and told him being reduced to a communication that involves him hitting send is hurtful and actually worse than receiving nothing at all. My husband, who was the least angry person I have ever known, was very angry with him, appalled, disgusted, disappointed and kind of shocked when it became apparent he wasn’t who he appeared to be. He advised me to give up on him a few years back. He was right. I should have. He used us.
It saddens me. I am just dealing with the brunt of this now. It has been a tremendously difficult few years. I wish my husband was here to help me. I wish he was here, period!
LisaO, could you not only say what you said about the emailing you personally but also say everything you have said here and to me, to him? I mean lay it out to him? Really paint the picture in technicolor? Or is it just too much to face?
I went to a therapy session with he and my sister two years ago where this was all laid out for both of them. At the end of the session, counsellor asked him if he had known how much emotional pain I was in would he have done things differently. He said that he would have. Nothing changed. He isn’t sufficiently motivated. He has always treated others cavalierly. Over the course of thirty years he has had four close friends. Two of the friendships ended in major fist fights. Another ended with best friend being totally enraged. Refused to speak to brother ever again. Another friend had a total WTF reaction to him. I have had two tearful phone calls from girlfriends imploring me to try and reason with him over the years.
Strangely, Puddle, he has probably treated me better than anybody else in his life! Man, if his adoring public knew what he was like in interpersonal relationships. Wow.
LisaO, I’m sorry but this is so sickingly sad. Your narbro sounds like someone I would NOT want in my life and I know that doesn’t make it any easier for you to deal with such a significant loss. I do see a link between narbro and nar sil but J used to ask if someone who is not tainted from birth can become this way. I don’t think they can unless the frame work to be that way is already lurking in their structure somewhere. If it were only as easy and simple just to bid them farewell once and for all, leave the door cracked for SERIOUS signs of contrition. But honestly I am pretty familiar with this story at this point and it seems to me that you could beat your head against that wall until you loose consciousness and nothing would change. In the overall picture of your health, I don’t see this being anything but a contributing factor to your already limited energy and vitality level. He is Dead emotional weight. So I say cut him loose but say that knowing its not an easy thing to do.
Thank you, thank you! I have received so much confirmation over the years that he is an extreme cerebral narcissist but haven’t wanted to believe it. This is what I was trying to explain to friend the other day. If he is just a troubled screw-up, I will hang in there and try to help him somehow. I won’t close the door on him. But if he is CD, I have to go ‘no contact ever again.’ I have to let myself separate from my remaining family and try not to get too bent out of shape about it. The litmus test, I figure, for a diagnosis of malignant narcissism is how the narcissist responds to being confronted. I don’t mean attacked, I mean simply confronted. They have such an arrogant, crazy, offended over reaction. He reacts as if I’ve come after him brandishing a Molotov cocktail. My best friend is a psychologist who sat down with him one day to have a chat. She was shaking when it was over and said she hadn’t experienced anything quite so venomous. She has been emcouraging me to make a break ever since.
So…I understand the turmoil anybody who had bizarre parenting goes through, particularly if you are the older protective sibling. We both witnessed how our brothers were raised and can see how harmful it was. My brother may be functioning the best and only way he can. He didn’t turn to drugs or alcohol, has been self supporting and is married and financially secure. This is the best I could have hoped for and I hope I played a role in that. To expect him to be any more than what he is is not reasonable, on my part. But he doesn’t have to be a part of my life anymore, as I require some reciprocity, care and concern. The care and concern doesn’t have to be applied with a trowel, either. Just minimal one on one, that’s all.
Yeah LisaO, he is NOT fulfilling his role on the emotional teeter totter, he has left you stranded up in the air while his fat arse sits on the ground. I do NOT have a very good picture of him LisaO, in fact I get a REALLY bad vibe.
These worksheets look quite good. It will be wonderful to have them, maybe as appendix to Character Disturbance book, maybe in next edition or reprint.
I know just having worksheet and trying to work with a character disturbed person may just enable them further without expert psychologist assistance. Still, it should be possible to add worksheets with proper disclaimers. Thanks!
I have a friend who called me yesterday to tell me she had seen a cognitive therapist about the anxiety she was feeling around her siblings. My friend is in turmoil because she is realizing she isn’t as close to her siblings as much as she thought and she finds herself replaying incidences she perceives as very hurtful towards her. I’ve been a confidante for a long time and we had agreed we felt her older sister is controlling. She went to see the therapist for coping skills and to learn how to react differently to her older sister when problems arise.
When my friend related her experiences to the therapist she was encouraged to consider her older sister as protective and is possibly taking on the part of matriarch since their mother is failing. My friend feels a lot better about this new perspective but I can’t understand the hurt my friend has endured if her older sister is protective? The elder sister has undermined decisions, opinions and plans but will minimize when confronted. From all of our conversations I still consider her a controller and manipulator. I didn’t ever consider her protective otherwise why would my friend be hurt so much. I was kind of at a loss for words.
My question is this; what is the difference between protective vs controlling in this situation?
What does your friends gut feeling says? If every-time her gut screams that the smiling person sitting opposite to her is trying to take advantage of her, then that person probably is.
If your friend is honest about what she feels, so much so that, she went to therapist, then very likely she is right. Older sister probably just wants to get her ways, and uses all tactics to con your friend.
It is good that your friend feel better for now. If she starts to feel bad again in future, then gift her a copy of In Sheep’s Clothing, and point her to this blog.
Do not always trust therapist. Many of them operate from wrong beliefs about human behavior. And, some are bad enough to take an easy way out, telling gullible people how wrong they have been reading manipulation in protective person.
If you believe that your friend need protection, like the children do, then it may be protection. Otherwise it is control.
Even parents are supposed to let their children go, once children are ready to fend for themselves. And if a child is late and not ready then he needs to be nudged out of nest gently. Eventually kicked out when it comes to that. It doesn’t appear that older sister is doing anything like that.
Thank-you for your insight Andy D. I was very surprised to hear the therapists perspective and I was just as surprised to hear my friend tell me she felt better thinking that her sisters behavior could be out of concern. I almost screamed WHAT!?
I have heard the pain my friend has been going through for months and months now and MY gut is telling me she is being controlled covertly and my friend is acting out because she sees her sister for what she is. I have gone through so much with my siblings under very similar circumstances and this is why she has turned to me. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from this sight and I’m at peace because I’ve gone no contact with 2 out of 3 of them brothers.
My friend has limited contact and she wants to learn how to react less defensively with her siblings when painful things happen. I’m hoping the therapist is going to help her with that.
I wish there was an edit button. It should read “I’ve gone no contact with 2 out of 3 brothers.”
Many times it takes several visits to a therapist before the therapist can truly apprise the family dynamics taking place, especially, with a covert individual. Many therapists are just plain naive and lacking in the skills and knowledge which Dr. Simon is trying to teach.
Perhaps, you are the one that will help your friend see the truth of the matter. AndyD has given you good insight.
BTOV thanks for the advice, I’ve been her shoulder for a long time now but I also feel if I’m contrary to what the therapist suggests then perhaps it will be perceived as being negative.
I’m going to visit my friend in a few weeks and I will be able to read more into this but I don’t want my visit to be all about her therapy. If she’s happy with the advice she’s getting then I’m going to leave it. One of the biggest obstacles after being disregarded by her sister or her other siblings is her replaying and replaying the incident over and over in her mind and it causes her to get anxious. I’m very interested in what the therapist suggests for coping exercises.
I agree that she might be seeing a therapist that is naive. Perhaps my friend suggested to the therapist that she finds her sister controlling, then maybe the therapist decided she could come up with an alternative perspective to prove she is worth $150/hour?