Disturbed Characters and Substance Abuse – Wrap Up

I’ve been posting on the interrelationship between character disturbance and substance use. And last week’s article (see: Disturbed Characters and Substance abuse – Part 2), presented two very different scenarios: one in which a person of fairly good character succumbed to the temptation to use after experiencing trauma, began “self-medicating” her pain with substance use, descended the slippery slope into addiction, and became a much different person as a result (uncharacteristically venting much anger that had been long suppressed); and another in which a person who by nature was quite aggressive and respected few boundaries or limits, used to the point that any controls he was normally able to impose upon himself completely broke down, which eventually cost him family and career.  The examples illustrated how different how different the relational dynamics can be when folks who are mostly “neurotic” as opposed to primarily character disturbed abuse substances and also how different the response to intervention typically is for these two groups.

A person’s use pattern and prospects for “recovery” are always heavily influenced by their personality dynamics, which is why it’s so essential for character issues to be taken into account in treatment. I’ve known folks who weren’t full-blown psychopaths but who nonetheless had marked predatory aggressive personality characteristics and who, in advance of their daring and nefarious schemes, would purposefully “liquor up” (hence, the term: “liquid courage”) or get high on cocaine to fuel feelings of invincibility and quash what little inhibition they might otherwise have. And while their use patterns mostly fell into the category of “abuse,” their repeated use of their substances of choice sometimes led to true addiction.  I’ve also encountered individuals whose dominant character features were of the narcissistic variety – folks who were overly self-confident to start with, cared little about the welfare of others, considered themselves “special,” and harbored a disturbing sense of entitlement, often acting as though the rules and caveats that apply to most people simply didn’t apply to them. One individual who was a rampant poly-substance abuser and who also happened to be quite wealthy and socially particularly stands out in my memory. A “sensation-seeker” since his teen years, he had no hesitation in admitting how much he enjoyed the “recreational” aspects of his drugs of choice. And he had the confidence (i.e. arrogance) to think that he had the ability to “handle” his use in ways that many of his friends whose lives had become shipwrecks because of their substance use were simply “too weak” to do. And even when he lost everything the first time (It would take several major “crashes” before he “hit rock bottom”), went through rehab and at least stopped drinking (He was never as fond of alcohol as he was of some other substances, anyway), he still clung to the belief that he could dabble in cocaine from time to time and use various other substances without consequence.  It would be many years (and cost him and his family hundreds of thousands of dollars) before he could find room in his heart for the “I can’t” component of the First Step of A.A. and N.A.  And it would take years of counseling before he came to any meaningful terms with the idea of a “higher power” to govern his life.

In Character Disturbance, I mention that on balance, the “ambivalent” personality types (i.e. the passive-ambivalent or “obsessive-compulsive” type and the active-ambivalent or “passive-aggressive” type) tend to be more “neurotic” than character disturbed (Please note that, as I go to great length to explain in In Sheep’s Clothing, the “passive-aggressive” type mentioned here is a very different personality than the covert-aggressive or “manipulative” type).  And interestingly, these more neurotic folks also tend to be fairly addiction prone.  They struggle with a lot of anxiety, tend to use substances primarily to relieve that anxiety, and often end up “getting hooked.” Fortunately, such folks also among those who tend to do quite well in recovery programs, especially those based on the 12-step model.  And they tend to apply the principles they in treatment not only to maintain their sobriety but also to develop in character.

Not too far in the future, I’ll be posting another series exploring the special challenges posed to rehabilitation and recovery programs when it comes to the character-impaired.  Genuine addictions are tough to treat.  And they’re even harder to treat when the addict is also character impaired.  While even the most otherwise healthy individual who struggles with addiction can experience both setbacks and relapses in their recovery, the dynamics are very different for disturbed characters who chronically abuse or are in fact addicted.  And how the different dynamics are both recognized and attended to in treatment makes all the difference.  So stay tuned for more on this topic.

Sunday’s Character Matters will again be a live program, so I’ll be happy to take your calls.  And most of the hour will be “open topic,” so feel free to discuss whatever is on your mind.


66 thoughts on “Disturbed Characters and Substance Abuse – Wrap Up

  1. Not sure where I’d put my latest questions(I’m full of questions), so I put them here.

    Dr Simon, I’ve mentioned the books here before and haven’t had these questions occur to me then, weirdly enough.

    Patricia Evans’ books go so far as to characterize abusers having dissociative disorders. You have specified there’s a difference between the defense of dissociation and cognitive ability to compartmentalize. I don’t believe that a dissociative disorder itself makes anyone abusive.

    However, as far as I understand, dissociation can halt the ability to connect emotionally or empathize with other people and thus adversely affect relationships of a person with dissociation. Is this so? What difficulties DOES dissociation cause?

    On the other hand, when an aggressive fighter, who habitually keeps thinking of the ways to defy others, encounters trauma, do they manage to keep all that content and raw feeling conscious, because a traumatic incident is just another excuse for the fist-fighting approach to life? Does traumatic events and stimuli stay conscious, because it’s ego-syntonic and fits with ingrained, habitual thinking?

    Thedore Millon, in Personality Disorders in Modern Life, characterizes anti-social personalities having little to defend against, since they are working on the pleasure principle. Still, is it possible that some things are too much even for aggressor personalities, perhaps even for psychopaths? Can overt or covert fighters, when faced with trauma, still actually dissociate?

    1. J, you are the question KING!! :) you really have such a curious mind and I mean that as a “compliment”. Based on my limited exposure to these lack of characters…I see that what would normally be a traumatic event is just not experienced as they by them….like the part of a human being that registers trauma gets bypassed. They have the Zen like ability to not react to things with normal human emotion which is why they can do what they do. If I get frustrated and loose my temper, and yell at my dog and i see that it upset him,,,,,,I feel badly for him and want to comfort him and let him know, to the best of my ability, that he’s ok, I love him and I’m sorry for yelling at him. I feel the feelings inside that tell me that I hurt his feelings, I feel what he is showing me he feels. In my opinion, the psychopath NEVER feels anything remotely close to this experience so when they cause it in others…..it means nothing to them, there is nothing they can refer back to in their own self to understand what the other person is experiencing. I think that in a way,,,,,they are always “dissociated”. That just gave me a realization! A lightbulb moment! YES! That is how Spathtard felf to me……dissociated! Disconnected…..like a blowup human that looked real but there was a void, the lights were on but no one was home. WEIRD!

    2. Human psychology is so varied, many-sided, multi-dimensional.

      What you describe isn’t dissocation. Having a callous attitude is more like it. Selective inattention is not dissociation. Not being mindful of how own behavior impacts others isn’t dissociation. Callous ability to compartmentalize that some psychopaths have isn’t dissociation.

      Not having developed anything in one’s character that would prevent wanton harm isn’t dissociation. In a similar vein, if I haven’t learned some language, that doesn’t mean I have dissociated, suppressed or repressed that knowledge of that language. It can’t in my brain hidden from conscious awareness if I haven’t learned it in the first place.

      I don’t know. Could there be a chance that someone with a fist-fighting approach to life would still dissociate after a traumatic event?

      Also, on the less aggressive side, can assertive, disciplined fighters avoid dissociation and difficulties it seems to bring? Is there a way to keep traumatic material conscious and have that reinforce a go-getter approach to life? I’m not intellectualizing in the strictest sense, but mostly I’m philosophizing all the same. Still.

      1. J, you said…………..
        “Not having developed anything in one’s character that would prevent wanton harm isn’t dissociation. In a similar vein, if I haven’t learned some language, that doesn’t mean I have dissociated, suppressed or repressed that knowledge of that language. It can’t in my brain hidden from conscious awareness if I haven’t learned it in the first place.”
        They can’t learn what they don’t have the capacity to learn….the connections are not there. You can’t fix something that never existed in the first place. So, the way I’m using the word dissociate with a Spath is different than the way it would normally be used or thought of………………as is just about everything with them. Maybe disconnected is a better way of saying it but I’m not sure any of our usual words apply to the true psychopath or seriously disturbed CA characters.

      2. Words do mean things. Better use words as accurate as possible. Perhaps “emotionally shallow” would be better?

        Also, I don’t discount the damage that sociopaths(or other aggressors) can do. They can be creepy and everyone’s run into someone that gives them the creeps for no easily perceptible reason.

        Humans in general can easily fall short of what we could be. We could develop as people, but not everyone does. I don’t see anything wrong in stating simply that sociopaths are people. They are people you and me wouldn’t want alive anywhere near ten mile radius, for a reason.

        1. OK, emotionally vacant, flat, disconnected, empty, flaccid, deflated, cold, passionless. but even those words don’t fully encompass what it felt like to be with someone like this because I still find words inadequate to describe my experience.

        2. Perhaps you needn’t.

          People in general can go wrong in countless ways. People in general can grow up wrong in various ways.

          I’ve noticed myself how, no matter how biologically even I am, imagination can play tricks. If I avoid some dark area, where there is a good chance of being robbed or mugged, I’d have some random thoughts and a slight feeling of some msyterious evil lurking somewhere. It is slight anticipation with a foreboding edge, but not strong fear. Then again, it might help that I’m not strongly “neurotic” myself.

          Anyone else had that vague feeling when avoiding possible dangers?

          1. I have definitely had that feeling you describe J…….it is similar to getting chills in my spine and makes me want to run or get past it as fast as possible. I used to have this a lot when I was younger being alone in our family home. I get it now mostly when I’m outdoors at night in the shadows or if my dog starts sniffing the air and then barking at SOMEthing! That just gave me chills just thinking it.

          2. In Jung’s writings vol. 8, Structure and Dynamics of Psyche, there is an interesting text Psychological foundation of belief in spirits(pg.301). I’ve mentioned “spirit complexes” here before and I’m fascinated how humans can experience things as supernatural.

            Even though we have science and rationalism, we still have tendency to feel certain things near a “haunted house”, for example. Jung doesn’t talk about “spirits” so much as EXPERIENCE of “spirits”.

            Jung says belief in souls is a necessary correlate to belief in spirits(pg. 305, 309). Being possessed by a spirit has been felt as negative, just like losing one’s soul. Jung mentions this seems to parallel his view of personal and collective unconscious(pg. 312). Autonomous complexes of the personal unconscious are soul-complexes, the autonomous complexes of the collective unconscious are spirit-complexes(Jung types it differently).

            When “a complex of the collective unconscious becomes associated with the ego, i.e., becomes conscious it is felt as strange, uncanny and at the same time fascinating. – If the content can be removed from consciousness again, the patient will feel relieved and more normal.” (pg. 311)

            “While the contents of the personal unconscious are felt as belonging to one’s own psyche, the contents of the collective unconscious seem alien, as if they came from outside.”(pg. 312)

            I got interested in this phenomena after reading Robert L. Moore mention it in Facing the Dragon. Moore suggests “that there is more to this archetype of spiritual warfare than simply integrating your personal shadow or merely learning to love those denied parts of your personality. It involves learning how to tell the difference between the personal shadow that comes from your individual experience and the archetypal forces which have Access to your psyche from within, that you can integrate and had betternot try to integrate.” (Facing the Dragon, pg.40)

            “We must distinguish between the Lucifer complex and the personal shadow. You can, as a human being, appropriately integrate your personal shadow. If what you call shadow is only that part of you that wants to shine, then you need to reintegrate that that psychological potential and become more radiant. The ego”, Moore says unconsciously, but perhaps it could go consciously as well, “identifying with the Lucifer complex, however, presents a far different situation. Jung talked about “spirit complexes” that you cannot integrate and must not try to integrate.” (Facing the Dragon, pg.130)

            Please read this carefully over again.

            Would anyone here happen to have experiences of something alien and weird like this? Do these ring familiar to anyone here?

          3. In other words, if you ever encounter something like this that feels alien and disorienting, feels like it doesn’t belong to you, DON’T INTEGRATE IT. It leads to psychosis.

        3. J, please note that I used “quotations” when I used the term “dissociated”, meaning……that he was not necessarily dissociated, just saying how it felt to me or trying to explain how his overall demeanor felt to be around. Never having truly understood what is behind the bizarre presence these people possess, it is difficult to capture the experience in retrospect, understanding what I do now.
          I think that in a way,,,,,they are always “dissociated”. That just gave me a realization! A lightbulb moment! YES! That is how Spathtard felf to me……dissociated!”

          So, I apologize if I misused the word technically.

      1. J, getting to them just now. Sorry for the delay, but as is sometimes the case, your questions are fairly weighty and I wanted to be sure I had the time, presence of mind, and information necessary to answer well. I hope I do a good job!

        P.S. I just answered the question from part 3 as best I could but I still can’t find the question from part 1. Could you please direct me to it or repeat? Thanks.

    3. Okay, J. Here’s my stab at a very good question to ask but a hard one to answer without writing an essay. Anyway, here goes: SOME people who episodically abuse, if they’re suffering the after-effects of extreme trauma, for example, can lash out in states that appear dissociative in character. This doesn’t mean they’re unconsciously using the classic defense mechanism of dissociation. It just means that when they’re “acting-out” and “displacing” their rage (rage really connected to a past traumatic event) they’re not in good reality contact at the moment and their “executive egos” are kind of out to lunch in a way. When they come to their senses, sometimes they don’t even realize what they’ve done and if the do realize it, they feel awful. This kind of scenario, however, is very rare, and it’s nothing like the psychopathically-inclined character’s ability to wall-off or compartmentalize any feeling or emotion and lash out with complete abandon even against someone they might otherwise actually have a few feelings for. In my experience, the major problem afflicting abusers (most of whom fall into the category of aggressive personalities) is that because they don’t “put on the brakes” (either because they don’t have the inhibition capacity or they lack the desire and will to apply the brakes they do have), situations rapidly escalate to the point that they simply abandon all controls. I’ve used the analogy often about the train at the top of a mountain with deficient brakes that begins its descent. If there’s ever a prayer to stop it, it will be at a point long before it’s built up any momentum. Given it’s weak capacity to stop, once it gets rolling with no or little attempt to self-arrest, someone or something is going to get run over!

      I know this is inadequate, but as I mentioned, I could go on forever. Hope it helps a little, anyway.

      1. I meant the first post I posted under this article.

        Still, let me make sure I understood:

        When faced with trauma, aggressively inclined personalities generally keep all that material in consciousness. Already questionable controls can worsen, though.

        Sometimes trauma can overwhelm even a psychopath’s mind and cause dissociation. Some aggressors can have that numbness after trauma. They are still aggressive fighters, of course, but in such cases they can have episodes, when they become really unhinged. Their touch with reality loosens for a moment and their ego goes somewhere else as they lash out. This is not genuine acting-out but a savage outburst.

        How well have I understood this? Am I assuming too much anywhere?

        1. While it’s still a bit more complicated than that, you’ve definitely got the meat of it, J. Now that I’ve found your first comment and questions, I’m not sure what more I can add except to say that there’s so much misunderstanding about terms and concepts – misunderstandings just as much caused and perpetuated by professionals who misunderstand, confuse, and misrepresent terms in their writings as they are caused by public misperceptions. I’m going to be re-posting the series on commonly misused and misunderstood terms and concepts in the near future. I’ll try to remind myself to include “dissociation” and the like.

      2. Dr. Simon, J,,,,,, Dr. Simon, when you say “Anyway, here goes: SOME people who episodically abuse, if they’re suffering the after-effects of extreme trauma, for example, can lash out in states that appear dissociative in character. This doesn’t mean they’re unconsciously using the classic defense mechanism of dissociation. It just means that when they’re “acting-out” and “displacing” their rage (rage really connected to a past traumatic event) they’re not in good reality contact at the moment and their “executive egos” are kind of out to lunch in a way. When they come to their senses, sometimes they don’t even realize what they’ve done and if the do realize it, they feel awful. ”

        You are not referring to a “Psychopathic” or covertly aggressive abuser here, correct? you are referring to a person who occasionally acts out in and abusive way?

        And when you say “rage really connected to a past traumatic event”, I have always wondered about this because if you are being traumatized in the present, AND it is triggering a reaction that is also tied to a past trauma, it seems like the present trauma could warrant the same reaction as the past trauma even if there was no past trauma. In my situation with Spathtard I think my REactions to his mental and emotional abuse were tied to past trauma but the results of abuse in the present would cause the same reaction even if the past damage was not there so I don’t understand this.

        I think this might describe me in certain situations I have experienced, with Spathtard for instance…….” SOME people who episodically abuse, if they’re suffering the after-effects of extreme trauma, for example, can lash out in states that appear dissociative in character. This doesn’t mean they’re unconsciously using the classic defense mechanism of dissociation. It just means that when they’re “acting-out” and “displacing” their rage (rage really connected to a past traumatic event) they’re not in good reality contact at the moment and their “executive egos” are kind of out to lunch in a way. When they come to their senses, sometimes they don’t even realize what they’ve done and if the do realize it, they feel awful. ”
        I have had some serious meltdowns and I’m sure that a past and very deep/ primal nerve was hit that brought on the REaction, but I also know what happens in my brain at the hands of someone who is playing with my mind and emotions……when things don’t make sense or my brain can’t keep up. That is in the here and now and in my opinion is like cornering an injured dog who normally would be kind and loving but lashes out in fear and pain and in it’s perspective, self defense. Also, a person who is still in the throws of an abusive relationship is suffering PTSD at the same time as they are being re-traumatized. And yes……I have a sense of what you say about the executive ego being out to lunch at these times,,,,,It’s a no holds bared feeling but I see in as more of a self defense reaction in my life, at the hands of an abuser it seems like something gets canceled out.
        The councilor I was seeing during part of the time I was with Spathtard kept saying,,,,,you are just getting re-traumatized. I never understood what she meant exactly, probably because my brain was just so spent, but after the mess was over, I had a moment of clarity and though “OH! She meant re-traumatized by HIM!”.

        Is the executive ego related in any way to executive functioning?

        1. Puddle, to address all of this in a way that clears up any ambiguity would be a bit of a challenge at this point but let me address a few questions: Yes, it is the “executive” part (i.e., decision-making, planning, prioritizing, imposing controls, etc.) of one’s ego function that is sometimes referred to as “executive functioning.” And no, I’m not talking about the general modus operandi of a psychopath or covert-aggressor, although it is conceivable that even a character like that could have been subjected to extreme trauma. As for the issue of what “triggers” the out-of-character and out-of-bounds response of a PTSD person who “loses it” at times (and, BTW, it’s important to stress that not all – in fact very few – PTSD individuals display these behaviors), the trigger event does not have to be a presently occurring similar trauma inviting a response similar to the response to the earlier trauma. Rather, triggers can be any situation that either bear some resemblance to the traumatizing event or evoke the same feelings of safety jeopardy that the initial trauma evoked.

          Again, I apologize for a very brief and likely quite inadequate response here.

          1. No apology necessary Dr. Simon :) I think I understand, I’m surprised you could make heads or tails out of my comment/ question but when I think/ talk about it that is exactly how it goes down in my mind!

            “And no, I’m not talking about the general modus operandi of a psychopath or covert-aggressor, although it is conceivable that even a character like that could have been subjected to extreme trauma.”
            And if they weren’t, they would certainly jump at the chance to make you think they had been (pity ploy manipulation!)

            OK, I find this all very interesting because one of the areas I have extreme difficulty with is executive function and it is a signature FASD trait. SO, I wonder if what might be behind my “out-of-character and out-of-bounds response of a PTSD person who “loses it” at times ” isn’t a combination of PTSD issues and FASD executive function issues.
            I have tried to explain what happens in my brain under extremely confusing and emotionally overloading/ triggering events before. I can not “find” the right thing to say, think, reference, translate with, respond with, etc… and I can’t stay on top of what all is being said and how it applies to the over all situation. I know this is happening as it happens which only exacerbates the problem but I can’t stop trying and it gets worse and worse but I can’t shut up and my brain feels like it is misfiring, like it’s darting back and forth looking for something it can’t find……I literally can feel it almost physically but not exactly. Honestly, at that point I am just done because anything i say is just ammunition for the other person to use against me. Not to be overly dramatic here but it almost seems like a seizure or like I have Tourrette’s! My mouth is moving and words are coming out but my mouth can’t keep up with my brain or my brain can’t keep up with my mouth. The end result is a frustration fueled “explosion” or a dissociated shut down.
            At the time I was still under the mistaken belief that Spathtard really loved me I remember telling him that when I’m like that I just need him to hold me and tell me he loves me so I can get my bearings again. Of course that never happened…….just the opposite, he would fly off in an indignant huff and, surprise surprise,,,,,,go drinking. I didn’t understand that the reason I had lost my bearings to begin with was because he was intentionally resisting any normal relationship dynamics and I couldn’t keep a grip on the bad gut feelings because there was so much other manipulation going on to counter them. Horrible.
            Thank you for your clarification.

          2. Dr. Simon, OK, briefly……… You said ” As for the issue of what “triggers” the out-of-character and out-of-bounds response of a PTSD person who “loses it” at times (and, BTW, it’s important to stress that not all – in fact very few – PTSD individuals display these behaviors), the trigger event does not have to be a presently occurring similar trauma inviting a response similar to the response to the earlier trauma. Rather, triggers can be any situation that either bear some resemblance to the traumatizing event or evoke the same feelings of safety jeopardy that the initial trauma evoked.”

            So what if the “trigger event” IS a similar event to the original traumatic event? What if it actually is some kind of mentally and emotionally manipulative game being played on the previously traumatized person and it is traumatic in and of it’s self but also triggers earlier trauma responses? This is more in line with what I was wondering about. The current trauma it’s self can bring on a reaction let alone trigger an earlier reaction. Do you see the difference in what I’m asking?

          3. Yes, I see. And you have it right on both counts. A triggering event can a similar and equally traumatizing event and manipulators can deliberately create such scenes for the purposes of traumatizing. It’s also important, however, for a person who has known trauma issues to not only protect themselves in general but to steer clear of people and situations that re-introduce triggering circumstances – at least until they feel sufficiently strong and skilled and sufficiently healed of the trauma scars.

          4. Thank you for your response Dr. Simon…….I would like to point out a couple caveats to the last part of your reply.
            “It’s also important, however, for a person who has known trauma issues to not only protect themselves in general but to steer clear of people and situations that re-introduce triggering circumstances – at least until they feel sufficiently strong and skilled and sufficiently healed of the trauma scars.”

            It’s my understanding that trauma leaves a foot print in the brain, as do most addictions, which is why addicts can still experience cravings for something LONG after they have physically removed the substance from their body and people who have suffered trauma can be triggered by even by seemingly insignificant things. I still don’t seem to have any sort of understanding how someone can “heal” a trauma that they are unaware of, or more specifically, have no memory of. (I gave the example of my friend and his completely repressed experience in VN and a friend who had been molested as a child)
            In regards to avoiding potential events or people who may re-traumatize you, I don’t know how (based on my experience with CA’s) you can actually do that because of the mask that they wear and their skills at hiding their true intentions. It seems that these people and the devastation that they cause others are only able to be seen and understood in retrospect. Once you have been manipulated/ fooled into position it’s too late, “it’s all over but the crying”. This most recent situation is such a perfect example of how easy it is to get tricked and fooled again. Even now that it’s clear to me that the contractor I hired is a “no good”, it’s only really starting to become clear to me how HE was able to do what he did to gain my trust and confidence. His tactics were completely different that Spathtards……in other words, the signs and signals were not similar enough to serve as a loud enough warning signal to me. I compare these experiences to doing a jigsaw puzzle…….only it’s one that the pieces don’t exactly fit together until it’s over. Then all of a sudden, as if you put on magic glasses, the entire puzzle starts coming together right before your eyes and now you are able to see what you couldn’t before! That in and of it’s self is extremely bizarre and disorienting!

    4. Well, as always J, you showed an extremely critical way of thinking. It’s your way of questioning, that tells me so. I hope you won’t take this, as my mentoring you, but a wholehearted complement. I cannot mentor, or claim I have answers, even subjective ones, as the psychology is not my area…, or is becoming…may be hahahaha, for all of us. I however, have a scientific background, and as you probably know, the philosophy of science applies to all the disciplines.
      Here are my subjective amateur thoughts, therefore;
      1. yes, words matter. A messy terminology creates a great confusion, and my experience in my field tell volumes regarding this issue. That is why anyone, who places great emphases on proper terminology use and definitions is making a huge input into the further development of knowledge, for ex., Dr. Simon. Not many do this, as they prefer to get away without doing all the heavy lifting. Terms cannot be used interchangeably, or randomly, or inappropriately. That’s why they are ‘terms’.
      2. Keep in mind, I haven’t done any reading on the comparative analyses on ‘dissociation’ and the ‘compartmentalization’ on this site, but I think the idea is, that the dissociation is a subconscious process, while the compartmentalization is a result of conscious decision.
      3. You mentioned ‘cognitive’, as a description for ‘compartmentalization’. It is my feeling (and may be you didn’t mean otherwise), that all, subconscious, unconscious and conscious are cognitive. A person may react with emotions, as a result of subconscious processes, without inhibiting these processes (this is why they are subconscious), but these are still THOUGHTS, therefore manifestations of cognitive. If the definition of cognitive doesn’t apply to the ‘subconscious’, my apologies. Pass your info or thoughts, if you can/wish.
      4. There has been a big brakethrough in psychology, but I feel it’s implied, that dissociation and compartmentalisation are still hypothetical notions. REGARDLESS, I TOO AM VERY INTERESTED IN WHAT YOU ASKED, how these two work, at least at the theoretical level.
      5. Yes, I too think, that ‘dissociation’ itself doesn’t make anyone abusive, not deliberately, since/if it is subconscious. I think, that yes, it may still cause a great deal of complications in relationships, though.
      6. Just like you, I too tend think, that the trauma for the cluster B is an excuse. I know someone mentioning their trauma, a tragic situation with a parent. The person was becoming emotional while mentioning this trauma, but on any other instances displayed no emotions, or fouls emotions, or rage associated with loosing control/power. That had been my observation with 3 more people. So, probably the only emotion they have is fear of loosing their ‘position’; ‘my dad’, ‘my mom’ etc., not the pain of the relative. One person was repeatedly mentioning his state of powerlessness associated with inability to revenge, as what happened was something done to that person’s parent by people, who couldn’t be traced. So, it could be ‘me, me, me’ situation. Narcissistic injury, as they call it. Neurotics would have the similar display, but considering the context and these peoples’ behaviour in general, i.e. extremely predatory and no empathy, I assume, that the underlying cause for such ’emotional’ display is very different from that of neurotic’s, i.e. excuse for the preying intentions. I perhaps should try and think, that these were just an extremely traumatised ‘neurotics’. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?! (not the trauma wonderful, but the absence of disorder…hahaha). However, I so understand the point made repeatedly on various sites by ‘victims’, that the disturbed characters can be better understood, if the impact on victims is given more attention. There was one professional as well, who wrote, that “her hair went astray”, after she was done with theory only and went cancelling abused women. She wasn’t talking about victims’ pain, or the fact that there are many of them, but about WHAT SHE UNDERSTOOD/ FEALT HAD TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT DISORDERED. These “peoples'” behaviour goes far beyond any existing checklists. With all my great appreciation for the tremendous job these specialists have made, the absence/limited inter-relational experience may explain the fact, that the creators of those checklists themselves had been manipulated by ‘disturbed’.(I don’t imply victims are immune now…uffff). Interestingly, I’ve found out, that the psycho’s parent was indeed bed-ridden, as a result of the violence, BUT had the same or similar disorder, as the “traumatised” (both are antisocial for sure, and there may have been some other traits in common). Also, the psycho’s antisocial behaviour began years before the incident. Yes, he did mention the earlier childhood trauma too, caused by the very same parent, but this was during the conversation, when I was pressing with the person’s co-morbid problem (I didn’t know yet about the BIGGER issue and was trying to help…ha! you know what they do to you when you help them). Looking back, I think this was the ‘pity me’ and ‘I admit’ manipulation, as he just grumbled the sentence with a tragic face and changed the matter, as if this was too painful to him. Also, I now know the context, that was going on behind my back (I was only suspecting), and other facts fit as explanation for such “admitting” better, then the trauma pain. The reason I am mentioning is to exemplify your point. Also….
      7. Cases like this made me tend to believe, that these disorders are predisposed, rather then environmentally caused – nature vs. nurture, sort of speak. He became, as he is, because of trauma/pain caused to his parent? ha!.., but the parent was attacked, precisely because of HIS (PARENT’S) BEHAVIOUR, not an excuse for attackers, just theorising…
      8. Yes, may be some things are too much even for fullblown psycho, but may be only in a sense, that some of subconscious is not fully brought up on the conscious level, ONLY IF IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SOCIALISING. I still feel that, WHAT THEY DO TO PEOPLE IS FULLY CONSCIOUS, ALSO, THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHY THEY DO IT. May be, it’s not a matter of dissociation from trauma, just a different reaction to it, say ‘shallow’ reaction.
      HOWEVER,…if anybody wants/is interested I can bring various examples, that may point at what J is suggesting, if I got his point right, – ‘too much’ of no emotions, or ‘too much’ of the ability to dissociate, but with feelings in general, I’ve little about the trauma, in particular.
      J, I too am very interested in ‘what problems dissociation may cause’. I am also very interested in how to distinguish dissociation from compartmentalization, based on behaviour, i.e. what patterns should I see while observing a disordered, in order to allocate the behaviour to one or another.
      I am also very curious, whether it’s possible for the sadistic tendency to be completely missing in someone who is a predator. When I think theoretically, it’s when one is getting pleasure from what he/she is getting out of you, but is not getting pleasure from you loosing it, doesn’t care, sort of. When I try to visualise a situation, it kind of doesn’t work, sometimes it does… OK, animals are not getting pleasure from the victim’s pain, just from eating. And yes, I do buy an idea, that some disordered are sub-species, not completely humans, I tend to believe in differences in the brain structure, compare to neurotics. But animals, don’t have cognitive, and even that’s of what we know. Is it that this individuals know exactly about peoples’ pain, but don’t enjoy it? After all what they take away is so much bigger, compare to what they get(I hope…hahaha). To spend that much energy!! just to get this!!? ….hold on, I may recon some facts, that point at them NOT spending time and energy on ‘braking’ people, but on what they get out of people. I don’t know….What I STRONGLY BELIEVE, THEY AREN’T THAT SMART, AND I BELIEVE THERE IS A DISTORTION IN COGNITIVE AS WELL. I’VE SEEN!! the rigid, inflexible thinking, inability to put simple facts together and, as a result, expressions of unthinkably irrational conclusions (in 4 of them, several times in each). I claim, these were not pretence to appear stupid, or manipulate. What they were doing proved, they were believing, what they were thinking and saying. Just to clarify, I am not talking about a bunch of ‘bad’ people, who are idiots, but extremely DANGEROUS people. THEY ARE EXTRIMELY SMART AND SKILLED TO MANIPULATE INTO SOMETHING DANGEROUS OR HUMILIATING, BUT THIS SOMETHING HAS BEEN SO FAR (HOPE FOREEVER), EXTRIMELY STUPID.

      Many Thanks to all.

  2. I have an off-topic question for Dr. Simon it relates to something he covered in Character Disturbance. It is a question about physiology.

    Some people are born with a fast metabolism and they tend to be skinny, energetic and tend to be more anxious and even angry. Others are born with a metabolism that tends to slow down when it is under stress. At least that’s my theory. My question is do I have this right?

    How are the people with the slower metabolism to have any chance in this world if they are surrounded by the skinny angry anxious people who desire to overpower them at every turn?

    Thank you!!

    1. That’s a great question Claire because there are so many innate traits that we are born with that can really work against us. When it comes to the type of person I have had in my life, just the fact that I and many others are ( were ) unaware of them is a huge disadvantage. So, take an unaware slow metabolism person and throw them into the mix and the outcome is certain. I think about this very often, what if a person just isn’t smart? They didn’t have any control over what their IQ would be but have to get by in the world none the less. They are at a disadvantage in many ways and an easy target for exploitation.

      1. Both types can have high IQs. It’s physiology. An anxious skinny person I know cannot handle a job, if he doesn’t eat four MacDonals breakfast eggwiches his weight drops and he turns into a nervous nellie.

        1. Claire, I wasn’t referring to IQ in the people you were speaking of, it was just an aside comment about how it is to be at a disadvantage, what ever that may be, because of the way you are by nature.

    2. Biological predispositions play a significant role in character formation. And it’s many different physiological (e.g., genetic, metabolic, temperamental, hormonal, etc.) processes and the dynamic interplay between those processes and other factors (e.g., environmental, situational, developmental, etc.) that make all the difference when it comes to the kind of “style” of relating a person comes to prefer. Those with an innately “slower” response style definitely have a chance, as we all have the capacity to learn, despite the fact that the learning curve on some things is steeper for some folks with certain predispositions and limitations. The key to skill development is always “rehearsal” or more simply, “practice.” Unfortunately, folks with certain predispositions inadvertently fall into the rut of “practicing” dysfunctional response styles a lot, making new learning even more challenging. So, the short answer to a great and complicated question: Stop practicing what you’re both predisposed to do and have made a habit of doing and practice new strategies, reinforcing yourself for every effort to do so, no matter how small.

      1. This answer is a simple gem Dr Simon. Having had anxiety since young adulthood (and probably since childhood) it has taken me a long time just to deal with the sometimes subconscious, irrational fear that takes hold of me at times. When younger it almost had the capacity to make me terrified of interacting with the outside world it could be so problematic. I was at that time literally terrified to go shopping or go out into the world because of the physical symptoms that would occur. I don’t know how many times I felt I had to make an escape from somewhere public feeling like I’d made a complete fool out of myself just to feel safe and ease the symptoms. Yet having said that, I had no choice, to survive you have to go out, you have to work, shop, go to meetings etc…all the things that could leave me in a state of fear. Thankfully when I was young and single I found a book Living with fear and it was all about anxiety. I realise that it was pretty much filled with CBT practices before that became the preferred way in dealing with anxiety. Anyway, when I reached a point in my life for the sake of my children I couldn’t be that frightened anymore I loaded myself up with the self help notes from the book and would put them in my pocket when I went out. As soon as a symptom hit I would take the notes out and read them to remind myself that I wouldn’t die, that the worst that was going to happen was I’d be embarrassed but I’d live through it and I could deal with it and any number of other exercises. That simple exercise worked for me.
        Yet there are always other things to combat like hormones and environment. Living this life is a constant battle just to get on top of your own issues. You know if a doctor or psychologist had said to me exactly what you’ve said in this comment when younger it may have made a huge difference but usually you get a pill or told to just breathe into a paper bag. That’s what I was told at first. I also think on how many companies have made a fortune in vitamin supplements for hormonal problems when as you say it’s about developing new strategies, rehearsal and practice in changing your own dysfunctional habits in dealing with them. It may be taking a life time but I realise that yes…I have to break the habits I’ve formed. I still have issues and now coping with what’s happened because of my ex it’s like starting anew in dealing with fear, nerves etc but I have no choice I have to combat them to keep going, enjoy life and be the person I want to be and that’s why I visit here regularly to keep myself on that track.

        1. ((((Hugs to you Tori)))) I read a similar book called “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyhow”.
          So many things helped me through my similar, although milder in someways but not in others, social anxiety issues……and it really kicked in after I stopped drinking the first time around age 30. Interesting how removing the crutch I had used because of my social anxiety actually helped heal it. That is an over simplification but still worth mentioning. It sounds like your roll as a mother did the same for you.
          This experience has undermined my progress in so many ways, I’ve lost so much ground…….there is only so much of you to go around and the reality of it is that there is only so much personal energy available to make it through a day, an hour, an endeavor, etc…….only so much brain capacity for me before it all becomes too overwhelming and I just have to stop before things become more of a mess than they already are or i loose track of what I’ve already done or need to do the next day. I have never experienced the type of total exhaustion that I have since this happened and the mess I’m in now has about got me completely defeated. It’s so big and so crazy that I just CAN”T stay on top of it all.

          1. Sending you a hug Puddle :) The best thing to do is what your body tells you in times of stress like what you’re going through. Sleep if you have to or curl in a ball and cry it out…I know I know easier said than done. I like the title of that book you read as it seems to have been the motto of my life. I know in about any given situation I will feel anxious and uncomfortable. Thankfully it’s milder now, though yeah getting through this traumatic stage has pushed me backwards too. I was only self talking to myself the other day…really letting myself have it for just not being brave enough to do something I would have done a year or so ago regardless if I was frightened or not! So note to self…JUst do it anyhow!! Ha ha! Puddle take a lovely long bath and think some happy thoughts! There’s a quote I heard that I say a lot to myself “worry is like a rocking chair…gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere!” I’ve found it applies to a lot of the situations I find myself in and usually spurs me into a better way of thinking. (((hugs))) and take care Puddle :)

          2. yes Tori,,,,,,needless worry is pointless……………where do you draw the line though? The seasonal clock is ticking here and I can honestly say that none of what I’m “worried” about is unfounded. it’s like a big long train,,,,,,,a car at the front has to move before the rest of the train can. Right now it’s like there is no power to the engine…..out of gas and I am slipping into total inertia and depression and exhaustion on all levels. I told my friend in an email that I feel like a leaf caught it the wind, spinning in circles but going nowhere. I just want to get to bed but I have me and pets to care for and have to try to keep a grasp on things.
            The money loss is potentially huge here,,,,,,That worry I have under control because I know there is nothing to do but what can be done and hope for the best. But getting this place back to something functional is paramount. It is getting cold and will continue to do that. I have my dooryard full of the aftermath of this debacle, it’s a total mess……. {{{{{{HUGS!!!! TORI}}}}}}}

  3. I have a serious spinal cord injury. Nerve root damage to the nerve root of my spine my left leg is in the process of dyeing 3 herniated disc, my disc from upper c to t”s to lower” l’s to my s1 are at moderate desperation. Hyper faucet, spinal stenosis,and scoliosis…the pain og the nerve root and leg is horrific. I have pain management. ..at times I have gone a week without due to cost..no withdrawal, sweats, throwing up ect…am I a addict because without this medication I could not stand ot walk with out horrific pain. ..an intellect educated person would call these medication not drugs. Im confused

    1. Rebecca, I have wondered about this exact issue from a number of different angles. I’m sorry you are in pain first of all. I have a friend who is also an “addict” out of necessity because of severe injuries when he was younger. Honestly I don’t know how he got along as well as he did because 9 out of 10 times I was around him he was obviously medicated heavily but he ran a business, had a loving relationship with his son and many other positives. BUT, he was also a mess because of the drugs he HAD to take. It’s an exercise in judgement and a challenge to ones compassion to know someone in such a situation.

  4. “I’m going to be re-posting the series on commonly misused and misunderstood terms and concepts in the near future. I’ll try to remind myself to include “dissociation” and the like.”

    Dr Simon, why not a NEW series on confusable terms? I do get these terms we’ve already gone through. Why not a NEW list?

    Perhaps it could include how “acting-out” could be confused with a kind of a savage emotional outburst I mentioned(like a terrorist attack). I mentioned once what my friend saw in that town when younger. One skinhead crushed a beercan in his fist and yelled publicly(he was with other skinheads) that his wife is a whore. Could those kinds of poorly managed outbursts have been confused for acting-out?

    Also, other suggestions:

    *anxiety(some of it as even psychopaths can have it) vs irasciblity over being denied

    *fear of losing control vs fury over losing power

    *dissociation(even though apparently even a psychopath can get such after facing trauma, not that it changes his modus operandi) vs compartmentalization

    **Also, if a person can be more neurotic than CD and still be a covert aggressor(have nothing defensive about their style, I suppose) and a paranoid personality can think he’s being pre-emptively defensive while actually being aggressive, can an aggressor get mentally overwhelmed and dissociate(it wouldn’t change modus operandi, but could get them become more dysfunctional, I take it)?

    **How different is a ‘normal’ person suffering from dissociation from an aggressor having actual dissociation or lashing out in states that appear dissociative?

    **If someone, who’s already grown up to be an aggressor, happens to face trauma(let’s say he gets an inhumanly brutal beatdown from another aggressor personality), how does the trauma worsen the dysfunction? In what many ways can it appear?

  5. Also, could unwillingness to bear discomfort have been confused for low self-esteem somewhere along the way? You even said in one article that sadists can be miserable, when they have no one to hurt.

    Would you asnwer THOSE in a NEW list, Dr Simon?

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, J. I will definitely do so. In fact, I think a new series that addresses not only the misconceptions but also the damage that can be done when someone misperceives a situation because of those misconceptions is a good idea. Look for the series in the near future. And I hope all the readers will chime in about all the terms they’re confused about and all the underlying psychological dynamics they have assumed to be at work in their toxic interactions. I think it will lead to a robust and possibly quite constructive discussion. The list you provided is definitely a good start!

    2. Also, it could be confusing if a covert-aggressor or a psychopath can also have dissociation or lashing-out states when controls have weakened. I didn’t mean whether they could have trauma in their developmental years.

    3. I’m adding a few. Should clarify a lot, if these, too, are clarified.

      *Let’s tell the difference between mistrust, actual paranoia AND that combative hypervigilance, when someone is looking for excuses to fight and win.

      *Also, disturbed characters lie to others, but could they lie to themselves without neurosis having any part in it? Is it possible that such a character starts to believe his own lies, because they are so pleasant? Could it tie back to that magical thinking, “I think so, thus it makes things so”?

  6. Yes, it’s very important to not misperceive a situation and for this purpose, it would be very useful to know, as much, as possible, about how to not take one behaviour for another.
    Clarifying the terminology is a very important step, but after all, it should serve to develop assertiveness. Terms sometimes represent very abstract notions, that may or may not exist. If it is a notion, more or less known to describe the existing phenomenon, then it may be the underlying cause for a certain behaviour. Would be so nice to know things like for ex., this and this are present in the behaviour, therefore the underlying cause can only be this, therefore the behaviour is or isn’t say, anxiety-caused acting-out, but a reckless, fully conscious outburst of rage.

    1. Even if such isn’t used as a manipulation tactic, like in the case of that skinhead shouting publicly about his wife, it’s a poorly managed outburst. It’s got some kind of a distorted mindset behind it.

      I discussed this detail about the skinhead when visiting my parents. My father actually said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if such a person would then go home and beat his wife.”

      That’s just one of the more obvious examples.

    2. Margot,
      “Yes, it’s very important to not misperceive a situation and for this purpose, it would be very useful to know, as much, as possible, about how to not take one behaviour for another.”
      It was exactly that concern that kept me thinking there was a chance that the relationshi* would improve and that My concerns were unfounded and that he really did love me and that I was wrong to doubt him. This is why initially I started exploring communication books, thinking it was just some sort of lake of understanding or perception between us………like when I told him his beard hurt my face and i would like him to shave if we were going to be “together”. Really?? I can’t even believe I could interpret that his inability to get that right had anything to do with a communication problem!

  7. Now, what about differences between denial and wishful thinking or just plan being delusional? Perhaps those would be interesting to differentiate, in the CD context and in the general sense.

    Let’s take a less extreme, non-manipulator example:

    Mr X is overly chatty with no sense of situation or timing. He blurts out random, often inappropriate, things, without seeming to realize that’s what he’s doing. He is tone-deaf and can try to jump a conversation into something else, whether it’s relevant or not. Many peers enough clearly show that they find Mr X creepy, obnoxious or repulsive. Some may even have directly told him this, which Mr X doesn’t seem to get to his thick skull. Mr X still acts like he thinks he is popular.

    Furthermore, can we see Mr X having genuinely no self-awareness WITHOUT it having ANYTHING to do with defending against shame or other “fearsome” emotions? Does he habitually block self-awareness, because he’s used to acting like he is and plain doesn’t see reason to change? Is he cognitively used to dismissing all info he dislikes to the point he may not even have a concept of viewing things more objectively and can’t bother to adjust his consciousness? Is it possible he acts on limited info from his favorite source(let’s say he lives with a roommate with similar opinions to him) and is biased against other sources?

    At what can we say Mr X is delusional?

    1. J,The list of possibilities is endless and many situations can be subjectively misinterpreted through the observers own subjective experience, biased personal beliefs and their own issues, neurotic, or otherwise, especially when an example is merely an arbitrary “what if”, hypothetical scenario. There is so much more going on with any one person’s behavior than what is visible on the surface to a casual observer.
      I remember someone giving me an example of this one time that goes like this……..You are driving down the road and see a man violently beating a dog on the side of the road and you immediately conclude that this man is an abusive animal hater. Come to find out that this dog attacked his two year old child just moments earlier. My point being, a person can come up with a laundry list of possible combinations and conclusions for hypothetical situations. That being said, I understand the desire to want to know all the possible reasons people, healthy or otherwise, do what they do! It’s fascinating and compelling and can also be good self defense.

        1. The part I found interesting and thought provoking, The king snake vs the corral snake. I lived somewhere for a while where there were both. I could never keep straight which was which. Animals have an innate “fear”/ caution response around all snakes. I even witnessed my dog react in a bizarre and fearful way to a snake’s shed skin! Some humans are terrified of snakes, my ex husband’s mother was DEATHLY afraid, paralyzing fear literally! but i never have been afraid of them , cautious yes in venomous snake country. But! Here’s the interesting part……where i lived, the venomous snakes were in hibernation during the winter and it was a common thing to just “forget” about them over the Winter until the first one you unexpectedly happened on to in the spring, sunning it’s self. Just SO easy to get complacent and no matter how vigilant you are, even people who have been around these snakes their whole lives get bitten because they are so quiet, and stay hidden most of the time. Many people get bit because the didn’t see, or weren’t able to see, the snake in a hidden location. The analogies are endless it would seem.

        1. Why?
          This is a highly recommended book that I myself have not read but my PTSD counselor knows the person who wrote it. I really want to get it but……
          Dangerous Instincts : When Your Gut Feelings Betray You. Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D.

  8. Well, all the links shared have good info.

    Your book recommendations also seems interesting.

    Now, I recall two books we’ve talked about: Stalking the Soul by Marie France-Hirigoyen(which I have read) and Emotional Rape Syndrome by Michael Fox(which I haven’t read, but have eyed on Amazon).

    Dr Simon, I sincerely believe these books make great additional resources for upcoming book. Would you please read them, too?

  9. Some thoughts about old psychological theories(like Freudian and Jungian ones):

    Don’t they suppose that people are under control of some mysterious unconscious entities? Also, I’ve read things about radical evil and the spiritual warfare against evil. Could the concept of radical evil be explored, what it is about and what it fails to take into account?

    I just find it weird that there’s been a concept of radical evil, but somehow evil consciousness has been so misunderstood. Is there any explanation to that?

    1. J, I am not familiar with the notion of “radical evil” but some things I’ve heard of, stories, things that make what I experienced look like a day in the park, sure do seem like something that would fall under a category called this. I need to look it up?

      1. Really, where did you get that “I need to look it up”? Have I misrepresented myself somewhere?

        I’m full of thoughts about the nature of humanity in general. I don’t wish to lead you or anyone else to see the world as oh-so-utterly evil. I don’t suppose I’m leading anyone.

        Let’s face it, the world is full of horrible stuff. No amount of worrying about it can change it. I don’t think we are literally horrifying or upsetting ourselves as REBTers like Ellis seem to think. There is something to it: There are some little things we can do.

        1. “Really, where did you get that “I need to look it up”? Have I misrepresented myself somewhere?”

          I was merely saying that I should look it up because I’m not familiar with the term. It was a statement in the form of a question. No offense J! :) None taken, none intended.

  10. 1.This is a great thread, full of references and questions and some answers.

    2. In addition to the confusion and subtleties of terms it is hard to interpret someone’s behavior on the basis of a few incidences. Also, as claimed in ” Why does he do that?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men”, it’s a myth that emotions drive abuse, it’s beliefs and attitudes, a point Dr. Simon often makes. I really got alot out of reading that book.

    3. so there’s a danger that analyzing someone’s behavior from a psychological point of view is a distraction to facing the real problems one might have with that person. However, I do find it so interesting to look at psychology like the questions here, but more from a theoretical side, rather than practical (my pov).

    4.”And yes, I do buy an idea, that some disordered are sub-species, not completely humans,”

    I do not advocate that pov. I don’t see what good it does to consider some people as less than human.

    1. I don’t know. Considering sociopaths do real damage, it’s good to stay away from them, obviously. Although, thinking of it, many people want to see people like themselves. It must be hard to accept that some people are NOT the kind of people around whom it’s good to stick.

      There’s such schizophrenic standard I’m seeing with humans: On one hand there can be a “bad guy”, whether he’s actually guilty or just a scapegoat, people enjoy pointing the finger when they “get” who’s “the source of troubles” and banishing the outcast.

      Then there’s giving too much benefit of a doubt to someone, who’s committed some vile thing. See how schizophrenic this is?

      1. J, I have gotten much from reading your posts. You have put a great deal of thought and energy into the subject. Have you thought of writing a book?

        1. I agree that often it’s the weakness of giving people the benefit of the doubt that allows sociopaths and some other aggressive or abusive people to do more harm. Some people need to be locked up to keep society safe, some people need to be avoided to keep one’s self safe, and these people do not get the benefit of the doubt.
        2. But at the same time I’ve got a huge personal issue with dehumanizing anyone. It’s not necessary to dehumanize someone to put them in jail. I think stirring dehumanization into the pot just makes for more dehumanization (which is often what sociopaths are up to when they harm others).
        3. Part of it I guess is that my parents lived through the Holocaust. Then you see what a culture of dehumanization can do. I get an emotional reaction whenever I read that some people are not human or a sub-species or are monsters…

      2. Thank you, Dots. I didn’t quite know my writings are that insightful.

        Perhaps I could write a book, when I gather far more information and study more subjects. Thanks for encouragement.

        “you see what a culture of dehumanization can do.”

        That also is interesting to think of. When it’s a culture of dehumanization, like in Nazi Germany, it doesn’t make sense that nearly everyone would be aggressor personalities. I do recommend a book by Robert L. Moore, Facing the Dragon. It handles various ways how those “grandiose” energies of the Great Self can manifest in destructive ways and wreak havoc with humanity. Among them is so-called malignant tribalism, which leads to dehumanizing others, who are not “my special tribe”.

        1. and wreak havoc with one’s self too, J. Thanks for the recommendation. I started reading it on google books — he’s got a unique approach to good and evil and how people live their lives.

        2. Please ponder my words here.

          From Moore’s mention of spirit complexes, Dots, I also got interested in reading the chapter handling those(Psychological Foundation of Belief in Spirits) in volume eight of Jung’s writings, Structure and Dynamics of Psyche.

          I tell, Dots, in a bit what you can do with this information. After all, if one is in terrible psychic pain, couldn’t these collective contents, spirit complexes, also add to agony?

          While autonomous complexes from personal complexes(also refered to as soul-complexes) should be integrated, autonomous complexes from collective unconscious, spirit complexes, feel alien and uncanny(though fascinating) and must NOT be integrated, because they destroy the ego.


          Like Jung mentions, we do, despite supposedly being rationalistic and secular, have certain sensations near haunted houses. I have, many times, thought about “supernatural” occurrences and thought up rational explanations for them like “his thoughts ran away with him”, “he made up an explanation for an irrational intuition” etc. Obviously there must be cognitive, biological and otherwise natural, rational explanations for such. Still, think about it, just a little bit, that irrational sense of “supernatural” seems to be somewhere deep inside.


          I’m partly going over same thoughts I’ve gone through before. This is simply what it seems like to me. It seems like evil is thought of like it’s a supernatural, inhuman entity or something similar. Is it seen as some power that also lurks in the unconscious? That would imply what Jesus thought, that “they don’t know what they’re doing”, which we know is false. An evil person couldn’t act with such destructive efficiency if he didn’t know.


          Then again, people do a lot of fighting in general. I ponder, really do. Does supposed radical evil tempts us to other-destructive activies like genocide and mutually destructive ones like war? Maybe those undisciplined people, who truly just want to gratify themselves at others’ expense, can serve as catalysts in the midst of it all, if circumstances favor.


          I’ve heard of people, laymen, talking about irresponsibly acting people as such. There haven’t been such whitewashing in those cases. A person, who acts in an irresponsible, callous, despicable way is seen for what they are. Evil’s not just a force that possesses a person like a spirit and causes mental illness. Evil’s in doing. You’d think that was obvious, but doesn’t seem so to many professionals. Heck, even a person, who’s not wantonly aggressive can find his fighting instict go into overdrive.*

          *On the flipside, if someone is inordinately passive, I’ve gotten the impression they can really lack self-esteem AND self-respect, even get depressed.


          Still, I’ve noticed myself so far in my life how good it is to be able to let psychic energy just flow, wisdoms of mindfulness. Letting that energy flow, could it be that we also need to be mindful when we get those “supernatural” sensations, intuitions and hunches? You, Puddle, said you’ve gotten that a few times when on a walk late.

          It’s good to know what it is, a spirit complex, alien content from collective unconscious. I think this could come up ALSO when someone’s suffered abuse. DON’T INTEGRATE THE SPIRIT COMPLEX. It’s dangerous in its own right.

          1. J, it is interesting……the creepy feeling in occasion. I wonder if it isn’t because of some thoughts going on that are not fully recognized? Associations being made automatically with something seen in a movie or a past fear, scare or just a long ago story someone told me. In a way, we are taught to be afraid of things like the dark…..the boogie man is out there, etc.
            I’ve heard that restless souls who have not moved on get stuck here and are too attached to this world to let go.

          2. “I’ve heard that restless souls who have not moved on get stuck here and are too attached to this world to let go.”

            Could you clarify? I’m not quite copying you.

  11. I await eagerly for your following posts on this topic, as my character disturbed husband is looking into rehab center right now. I don’t feel it will do him any good, since he plans on only getting help in getting the drugs out of his system and not address the underlying problem that facilitated the drug use in the first place. But he won’t talk and when he talks its half truths or vague answers heavy with excuses.
    He has been using what many consider to be the worst drug and administers it in the worst way possible. Healthy, sane individuals struggle to stop using, what hope does my stubborn, black-and-white thinking, “I’m always right and know better than you” husband have?

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