Getting the Right Kind of Help – Part 2

Among the hundreds of emails and other inquiries I receive every year, by far the most frequent questions I’m asked involve how to secure the right kind of help.  And while those asking such questions often have some kind words to say about how empowering it was to have found my books as well as the numerous articles on this blog and other websites (I would be remiss here without expressing profound gratitude for the powerful word-of-mouth recommendations from readers of my books as well as my blog posts), they often express dismay about the lack of other resources.  Many have tried to get professional help either for themselves or for the person in their life who was causing them grief, only to find the experience both frustrating and unfruitful (I’ve written about this before in the articles:  Getting the Right Kind of Help with Character Disturbance and How to Find a Therapist Who Can Help with Character Disturbance which are posted on another blog).  And because securing the right kind of help can be such a challenge, I thought it worth revisiting some of the most important things to consider when seeking help, whether it be for yourself as a person currently enduring the ordeal of a relationship with a character-impaired individual (or as a an abusive relationship survivor), or you’re trying to salvage a relationship with a character disturbed person whom you believe has some potential to change with the proper therapeutic assistance.  Chief among the things you should consider when seeking help are:

  • A potential therapist’s understanding of the nature of character disturbance.  At the risk of offending some of the professionals who regularly read this blog, providing therapy services to a “neurotic” individual is relatively easy work.  That’s because neurotics most often seek treatment on their own and come into therapy with a lot of motivation to get better (because they’re hurting in some way and are genuinely seeking guidance about how to relieve their pain).  They’re also appreciative of and receptive to constructive guidance. But character dysfunction is an entirely different animal.  The character disturbed individual is generally pressured into seeking help, is quite comfortable with the kind of person they are and therefore comes into the therapy experience predisposed to resist change and especially, authoritative guidance (I give a detailed explanation of the special characteristics of disturbed characters when it comes to therapy in both In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance).  Confronting the disturbed character’s distorted ways of thinking and dysfunctional but preferred ways of behaving is delicate, risky, and tedious business for the therapist.  It’s a highly specialized art and not all therapists are equipped training-wise or emotionally to do it (I give examples of the kind of radical approach needed in Character Disturbance).  And it’s extremely important that the therapist understands what character disturbance is all about and what distinguishes it from other kinds of presenting problems.  All too often today, mental health professionals across all disciplines will pay too much heed to the surface-level complains a client brings in without doing a full assessment of the personality factors that might underly and predispose those complaints.  For that reason, people end up getting all kinds of fancy diagnostic labels and being treated in all sorts of relatively superficial or inadequate ways when the main factor responsible for most of the reported problems stems from the person’s impaired character.  
  • The potential therapist’s understanding of the impact of character disturbance.  Many therapists simply don’t appreciate the kinds of unique trauma folks currently in or who have survived toxic relationships have experienced.  And at times, a therapist might even misinterpret the results of their initial screening and assessment of a victim.  Folks who’ve been traumatized might appear a certain way upon examination that doesn’t really reflect the kind of person they really are, or at least who they were before adapting to their trauma (they’re even likely to perform differently than they would otherwise perform on various psychological assessment instruments they might be given).  So whether a therapist is working with a current victim or a survivor, they need to know how the character disturbed individuals behaviors and tactics have likely impacted the victim and affected their current level of functioning.
  • The potential therapist’s philosophical orientation and preferred mode of therapy.  Sometimes you really need to do your homework here, but you simply can’t be afraid to ask about what your prospective therapist’s therapeutic approach is likely to be.  If you’re a good old-fashioned neurotic with some minor issues and haven’t been scarred by the actions of a manipulative, sadistic psychopath, you’re likely to do just fine in traditional insight-oriented psychotherapy.  But if you’re seeking assistance for your character-impaired partner and all your therapist wants to do is help that person “see” the error of their ways or “process” their feelings (as opposed to confronting their antisocial attitudes and irresponsible behavior patterns), you could be in for a nightmare experience.   And here are some other caveats:
    • Beware of addiction model treatments.  Now there are such things as genuine addictions.  And there are some very good and time-tested models of treatment available when a genuine addiction truly present and is also the principal problem.  But all too often these days habitually bad behavior is conceptualized as addiction and the character issues that underly that habitual misbehavior are ignored.  In such cases, much time and money will be expended with little or no results for the the character impaired individual, and in the process the victimized party in the relationship will actually be subjected to more abuse (I’ll have even more to say on this in a future article and would encourage those who know all-too-well of what I speak here to contribute their comments).
    • Beware of treatment models overly aligned with the medical model.  Character disturbance is hard to treat, even if you’re very well-trained and skilled at it.  Popping a pill to at least ameliorate some annoying manifestations of that disturbance is relatively easier, which is why so many professionals fall into the trap.  It’s much easier (and in the short-term even more effective-appearing) to medicate someone’s penchant for explosive outbursts than it is to address and more permanently change the personality factors that predispose that behavior.  But “managing” some of the more annoying  manifestations of someone’s character deficiency to the point they are “endurable” is never a good long term solution.  And if a character disturbed person is only symptomatically treated, the person in a relationship with them is likely to become even more “tolerant” of their dysfunction (because at least things are more bearable now than they were before) and it will take an even higher level of abuse for them become unnerved enough to come to their senses.
    • Beware of faith-based models that either misinterpret or deliberately ignore or disregard well-validated scientific findings.  We’re asked not to use the name of the unseen, unknowable, force behind the universe’s functioning in a casual or vain manner.  Yet I constantly hear from folks whose faith-based counselors used God and their own weird interpretation of what God was demanding in a particular situation to go against common logic and the findings of substantial scientific research (In The Judas Syndrome I give many examples of well-intended but destructive helping models).  Here’s a simple rule:  If it’s simply impossible to see genuine love and concern in your therapist’s proposal for your healing and well-being, it’s probably unholy.

It’s a shame that getting the right kind of help can be so difficult at times, especially when character disturbance is involved.  But hopefully this and my other articles on the subject will be of some help.  And I’m sure the readers have many stories and experiences to share in this regard that would benefit many who’ve not yet found the assistance they need.

Many thanks for the requests to perform “America My Home” (feel free to share the video links on this site over the holiday) this Memorial Day and don’t forget Character Matters on Sunday at 7 pm Eastern.  It will be a live broadcast despite the holiday, so calls can be taken.

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130 thoughts on “Getting the Right Kind of Help – Part 2

  1. Getting the right help is so crucial. Throughout my life with my now ex I never understood fully what I was living with and I can’t count all the times I went to GP’s convinced something was terribly wrong with me. Only to be told there was nothing medically wrong that they could see that was causing my problems. I would come out a sobbing mess thinking I was insane. The physical pains and other problems seemed to be in my head. Some months before the end of my relationship I had a complete breakdown, I was having anxiety attacks often, had literally no confidence I felt I was a shell of a person. I went to my GP and was so desperate for help. I ended up talking to a psychologist and psychiatrist who told me i had general anxiety disorder and they put me on pills that to tell you the truth let me sleep but left me feeling like I had a hangover all day. In other words they numbed my senses but didn’t work.
    The final violent incident my ex subjected me to was what finally led me back to the GP and I broke down in hysterics and told him about the violence. He immediately got me into a psychologist. Before visiting the psychologist I had spoken to a DV counsellor who actually implied the violence was my fault due to apparent self hatred. She believed if I changed my thinking then my relationship would change… I came away from there thinking gosh this is all my fault. Anyway I went to the psychologist my GP referred and told her the same things I told the other counsellor her firsts words to me were…”there’s nothing wrong with you that getting rid of that idiot won’t fix”. I remember thinking are you sure. Of course I still wanted to save my relationship at that stage and she agreed to see him and see if she could help us.
    Well… I have never seen a man cry such bucket loads of tears but at the same time turn everything around to me… I couldn’t believe it and then when it came for me to talk I couldn’t, I made absolutely no sense at all. Luckily my psychologist knew I was suffering PTSD, and she knew there was no way she could help while I was in that state.
    My next visit alone, she knew what he was, she knew he wouldn’t come back for help. In no uncertain terms she laid it on the line. I needed to be free of him to get my emotional/mental well being back. What she said the first day that there was nothing wrong with me that getting rid of him wouldn’t fix is true. Yes I am still damaged by the experience, I still have some anxiety at night but all the physical pains have gone, the stress of living in fear daily has gone. I still have grieving to do for the family I thought I could have but now I realise how detrimental he was for me. My self esteem could still do with some work but I feel me returning. I look back and can’t believe how this relationship was so bad for me and I didn’t acknowledge it fully. I think at times I knew but still kept doubting myself thinking it was in me. I admit I enabled him, and there were times I don’t think I was rational but unless you know what you’re dealing with you can’t even begin to unravel the mess. I’ve said before that I wish I’d known and had been able to seek out books like Dr Simon’s In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance. I doubt it would have saved my relationship but it would have made me see what I was dealing with and perhaps I would have had the strength to leave earlier.
    I laugh now just thinking how easy it is to hang out the washing, physically I could barely do it when I was with him because of physical pain. Pain caused by how tense and stressed I was living with him. Not to feel that tenseness in your body is so relieving and suddenly everything else falls into place. I feel so much calmer now and it’s wonderful. I still have emotional days and I hope they will lessen but I thank my lucky stars for my psychologist who didn’t muck around and told it like it was… had I have been mucked around by another I would still be thinking I was mentally unstable.

    1. It is great that you got away from that horrible person! My ‘disturbed character’ is a former best friend I’ve known for 50 years. She is now emotionally abusive to me & others, but she always turns it around & blames the other person. I never realized before I read Dr. Simon that a ‘best friend’ could be emotionally abusive, I always thought it was only husbands/boyfriends or parents. I only see/talk to her when I am finishing up a task I agreed to do for her in writing (for pay).

    2. Thanks Tori, its difficult to imagine how in today’s day and age that a DV counsellor can be so stupid! I could really relate to so much of what you just related in your post. What really inspired me was hearing you say just how good it felt to hang out the washing. It reminded me of just how difficult and energy draining life is in that situation. I long to feel that again and it is the light at the end of my tunnel.

      1. Juliette, I never realised that might physical ailments were all tied up in living with his chaos. My mother even commented the other day that since I’ve left him I don’t complain about aches and pains anymore. The funny thing was/or not so funny was when he came to pick up some of his stuff from the house. When he was there, I had told others that he was coming so that I would have some backup just in case but I felt this tenseness come over me and I remembered thinking it was really familiar how I was feeling and I realised it was him, that’s how my body always was when we were together… all those years. I’d had a respite at that time of four months without him and when it returned the moment he was in the house it was a shock to me how different physically I felt. I hope I make sense as some times it is hard to put into words.
        And yes there is light at the end of the tunnel…it takes a while to get there and dodging all the barnacles on the way through.

        1. As i read the cooments it is scary how it is all the same .. with friends , family , beliefs..so much money spent on procedures and examinations to find the illusive cause of the pains the aches and pains . I have been told for 10 years I have PTSD. i have been off work, non functioning person from Anxiety disorder. the phycolosist and phschiatrist, quantum therapy, kineseology, you name it ive done it. It was my fault , my childhood, my self esteem! ( excuse my spelling Im distaught.. need spell check!)they put me on brain numbing meds that gave him more reason to say i was the problem and manipulate me more. just two weeeks ago the GP wanted to admit me for exteme stress. No! every hour of my day is a rollercoaster of highs and lows caused by my husband, whether face to face of via text. love and kindeness then a knife in the side or back… How will any medication or time lying in a stupor doing theraputic art work help!! I’ve done that I know ! i need the stregnth to move on. i have been alone emotionally in this for all this time . friends and particulally his family dont believe their darling son could be this bad so the havent spoken to me for^6 months!! My girls have lost their grAndparents cos they wont allow me in the house. only yhe children, who now have to deal with having to split their loyalties between gran and mom. so they dont go . No doctor has been able to help except to medicate to keep anxiety levels low. Yes the pains go when hes not around!

          1. Cathy………This sounds lit a very VERY typical situation although they all have their individual twists and turns. Im sorry you feel so badly and understand how that can impact your ability to do just about anything! I would consider, if at all possible, getting off any meds unless it’s a mild antidepressant. find something to do, that is enjoyable to you, to ease your anxiety levels. Walking for me is good this way or sea glass hunting or zoning out on a favorite movie. There is also yoga which is incredibly good for every part of you,,,,,,physically, energetically, mentally, emotionally. It moves energy in your body and stimulates all of the “feel good” hormones. It could just be a very easy beginners level class,,,,,,mostly stretching but SOMEthing that makes you feel good. Something that has nothing to do with that jerk.
            I don’t know how I made it through this Cathy, there was a time about a year ago and several times before that, that I really didn’t think I would. I can remember people on web sites telling me I would and I was not believing them AT ALL!
            Can you identify what is causing you this extreme anxiety?

          2. thanks for the quick reply!!I have been taking more charge of myself. i went off the heavy meds last year but the doctor wanted me to go back on. right now i just take a sleeping tablet and some natural adrenal support. medically i feel better. i also walk and run while my daughter do ballet 3 times a week. no adult class unfortunately. ive seen evry possible movie!! i have last 10kg since the major problems started. but people say i look so much better than i have in a long time. No Impainful inflamtion from stress thats why!
            my businees partner and my husband are/ were very much the same. so i dealt with protecting myself at home and at work every day which made me a very agressive defensive person to live with. therefore the anxiety. i left the partnership with no money just to get away from the domineering manipulative partner. not realising until recentlythat i was using the same emotions to protect myself from my husband.

            yes its a process. not something you can talk to just anyone about, friends OR family or even the children because they all have their own relationship with S . he has hurt them aall and i have had to seive through people i can rely on. withouthout them putting how they feel about the situation first. I dont need to hear how shattered and hurt they are he is no longer their friend, .. i am demandinding it must be my time to hurt , grieve and cry. not have to worry about their feelings.
            So yes I am looking after myself. And my two girls ..Quite selfishly. i do whats best for me and them. see people when we have to and a few because we want to.. And then when i see him i crumble into a ball of mixed emotions feeling love and wanting him to come back. then i have to make myself strong again. sometimes after 1 day . sometimes after a week! i keep busy because of these days.

    3. Hi i have only just foud this site after looking thro the net at avoindance syndrome and reponsiblity avoidence. I Cannot believe how true to my life everything is right Tori”s “mental Breakdown”to how his family has rejected ME a the problem. He left me for someone else 3 months ago because he said he could not talk my unstableness anymore. He Blamed my medication for his behavoiur -Had to get away to be ableto cope with me- I thought i was to Blame for many years. That i made him sad, angry, withdrawn. I did everything in my power to assist and do things “right”. Floated his failed businees ventures 3 times – Im now in major debt because its all in my name and he feels no responsiblity for the millions owing. Raised two beautiful daughters to be ready for the world , homeschooled like he wanted. bought him expensive sports cars in my name because thtas what he isisted on. he didnt pay a cent towards it. made excuses for his attitude abd behavouir in company. Covered everything over with a LOve Blanket .
      Over the past two months I have seen a diiferent sidde to life. Realising that it’s not Me!! it’s him. its not the two years of meds, it’s the twenty two years of me letting him manipulate me. !! right to today he can still do it to me. he has not paid for the rent or utilities for this month so we were disconnected yesterday. He has just been past and defensively tried to blame me for not doing it when at least that was in His name! he is living quite comfrtably for free with the other woman < wining and dining, with no concideration for his children! i reacted .. i wish i didnt because now im the mad one again . i had been reading the website before he came . and yes he is all those things.! that is why i was looking up Avoiding Reponsiblity. Avoiding me means he doesnt have the responsibilty of the family. avoiding all family and freinds means he doesnt get critisized. He also has avoided lawyers judgement letters and summonses for his business debt which he has run up . My problem now! We married COP!
      i have been tryig to convince myself that this is a toxic relationship but i love him too. Though who i love i dont know..I have spent the past 6 months trying to save my marriage. i dont think i will stop but i have been thinking of moving on completely with my own life. away from him in this small town where he has many people who think he is an awesome guy and i am jus a blood sucking dragon lady ( real spoken words)
      the way he made me cry now by his unconcern for our welfare because ""he doesnt have time, cant remember such stuff" means all the love i have for him means nothing . hewants things his way. I'm not sure i can do this but i am more ready than i was last month. and finding this website which convinces me it's not ME has been a great help. Thanks so much doctor and all the participants.

      1. Cathy, welcome and i’m sorry you (and everyone of course) have been hurt and deceived and betrayed. The moment the light bulb comes on and you realize things you didn’t realize before, when all the puzzle pieces start coming together (and this is a long process) is such a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand it is heart breakingly sad and any other word you can imaging along those lines to swallow all the bitter pills you didn’t even know were covertly being shoved down your throat. On the other hand, there is so much relief and validation knowing at last it was NOT YOU!! You were playing a game that you didn’t know was a game and by a completely different set of rules that put you in a position of loosing right from the start. What an incredible waste of time!
        Please remember that this is a process and what you see one day will be doubled the next day and so on and so on and so on. This is just my opinion and I’m not giving you advise because I can’t. I don’t know you, your husband, etc. But as long as you feel physically safe and are not in danger, I would sit tight inside yourself and watch, observe and not make any sudden movements, like a rabbit does when danger is near. Evaluate your situation and hold your cards close. DO NOT confront him with what you are learning, just watch and wait. You can continue to read and gain information in the mean time which will help you understand what you are seeing.
        It’s hard to believe at first because you are still under their “love blanket”/ spell and the chemicals and hormones in your body will still make you crave him but you WILL come to a point where letting go will be VERY easy. Not until you REALLY get it, and again,,,,,that is a process.
        Hang in there Cathy

          1. Sorry Just read my comment. My language and spelling is terrible. not normally i promise.

          2. Cathy, Puddle,

            I just had this image of a super ‘hero’ covering someone with their cape to ‘protect’ them. Isn’t it just
            the very essence of manipulation. “I’ve got you covered” takes on a whole new meaning! As does
            the expression, “Everything is Under Control”. In the inverted reality of life with a CD person every
            thing is turned upside down and comforting actions and expressions become menacing.

            The crucial difference in the inverted CD environment is we are not being helped by a super-hero, but
            damaged by a super-‘zero’!

          3. LOVE it LisaO!! Super-Zero!! There just needs to be a book with all of these terms! On love Fraud there was a “thread” (?) going for a while that was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Comic relief of course but holy crow! It was a HOOT! It was something to do with what Spaths really mean when they say something and we all took the ball and ran with it. I probably have some of them coppied somewhere because they were just SO good! I really really needed it at the time too…….to laugh at him for the idiotic looser he really is.

      2. Also Cathy……discontinue any thoughts about “letting him” manipulate you. Manipulation is by it’s very nature not in the control of the victim……that’s why it works. Do NOT underestimate the countless methods that can be used by them without your knowledge or consent. You may have “known” something wasn’t right, you may have had a gut feeling at one time or another but they have SO many ways of working around anything you might think or feel that is not 100% positive about them.

        1. Puddle, Instead of boyfRiend, how about boyFIEND? Feel free to add on, one and all.

          I am so in laugh with the manipulator. I really laugh all of them.

  2. The DV counsellor said the violence was due to your self hatred. Right. Did he think your x was beating you until your morale improved? That’s so awful.

    Just imagining your ex at the next therapist and marveling at what an undignified pantomime you and she had to endure. A grown man trying to imitate a normal human being. So bizarre. Huge red flag when men sob ‘uncontrollably’.

    Happy for you that you are out of that relationsnit.

    Another source of malpractice are the growing legions of self-styled therapists hanging their shingle out, online, on interactive forums.

    There is nothing quite like being psychologically mauled by some of the witless wonders who are there to ‘help’ you.

    NEVER, repeat NEVER should anybody frequent a site dispensing advice unless it is presided over by a professional, or at the very least a wise unmasked individual–imho!!

    1. A psychologist (Masters degree) told me to think of her as my mother (at a cost of $160 per hour). My mother was a mean drunk who passed out drunk every single night since I was 10 years old, but never missed a day of work. I think some ‘therapists’ just make stuff up. I never went back to her.

    2. LisaO I wasn’t impressed with that DV counsellor, I have since heard from another woman friend who went to the same place that she met with a similar outcome on her situation. Apparently she didn’t fit the stereotypical domestic violence victim which too was said to me. She actually said, “you’re not the kind of person we see here.” I think back and can’t believe it because we all know that no one is immune to abuse so it really is not a good way to start out in a counselling session. As already you’re being labelled and feeling like you must be wrong.

      I’m so glad I had a good psychologist in the end as I came away feeling that I could move on, that I was okay and could make a life for myself. It made a world of difference to my outlook on my future. I took her advice and through every step of my journey I still hear her words and that gives me strength to keep going.
      I think to staying away from those self styled therapists is good advice. Really get some feedback or check out who you speak with in counselling, find out their credentials and how they work. Bad counselling can really mess you up when you’re already vulnerable.

      1. AMEN! I was told by a “relationship coach” that I had trust issues and that improving out sexual relatioship and opening myself to him would help him connect to me emotionally. That men come to intimacy through sex and woman come to sex through intimacy and that I was pushing intimacy away because i was having a hard time opening to him sexually………..I can’t even get what she said right!! Anyhow, she was W R O N G! He had no interest in a intimate or sexual relationship with me let alone a sexually intimate relationship. He wanted a mommy who would take care of him while he took care of his own sexual needs what ever those were (other than me pleasuring him).
        it’s a;most comical to think of all the books she recommended I/we read about spiritually sexual relationships, AS IF!!

        1. Oh dear just shows you how some therapists stay glued to a text book diagnosis doesn’t it…as if somehow everyone is fundamentally all the same. Sex for these people is a conquest, a power thing or an ego booster has nothing at all to do with intimacy.

    3. I found a great therapist through the free program at my job (3 free visits). After I described my DC friend (I didn’t realize she was DC at the time), the first thing the therapist said was “why do you want to have any kind of relationship with this person?”. She put words to what I was thinking but couldn’t define. When I described something that happened with the DC, the therapist said, “that is really crazy”. I knew it in my mind but was relieved to hear it from a professional. Later I found out that mutual friends felt the same as me, which was a total surprise!

      1. Rosemary it’s often the way that you’ll find someone who will feel the same way about a person if you just open up. It is difficult though. My good friends husband thought there was something odd about my ex the first time he met him. I was only told that recently. I was surprised too because everyone else thought him a charming, lovely person. Oh the facade was so well constructed and I never thought to reveal the truth. I believed it also. What I am also starting to find as I think back is how much he mirrored my ideals too. He took on my beliefs or at least interests and yet he never really was interested in them at all. He just pretended. I know there are some even in my family who wouldn’t believe what I’ve said he did or they might but would still think him wonderful…he had that effect on people. He charmed everyone, and revelled in the compliments he would get…so sometimes you would be very doubtful about even raising a concern with another mutual friend because the act they put on can be so convincing you wouldn’t be believed.
        Personally I think his act goes on with his entire family. They all think him a darling but I think they’re in their own denial. It’s such a well constructed plot they have, I mean my mind boggles that people go around deceiving people like this and yet I know it’s true.

        1. Interesting that during the beginning of the involvement with Spathtardx who’s first name is Jeffrey, a male friend of mine kept refereeing to him as Jeffrey Dhamer. and then later, another male friend kept calling him Norman (Baits). I laughed it off but it was certainly a sign.
          Another friend asked me to not bring him to their house again, another friend/ acquaintance said he gave her the creeps, several former bar acquaintances found him “creepy and a weirdo”. Other’s can see it because they are not under their manipulative spell.

          1. Creepy stuff Puddle… I wish someone had said to me earlier that they felt something wasn’t quite right with him but all my friends thought he was a keeper. The red flags were all there but I just waved them away. Only one of his mates told me to steer clear of him. He said I was too nice to be hurt! Oh I wish I hadn’t waved that one away. Would have made world of difference to me and my life now.

    4. Thnaks for the comment, the love blanket was me covering all his faults with love. just ignoring them. never addressing them . everthing is ok, perfect for appearance sake… it was / is exhausting. but..you are right. it freaks him out now. HE finds it menacing.
      i have a process im working through of Positve Thinking . works most times. No matter what happens i try to be positve…. or else I go for a run . i make sure i look like im “going somewhere”everyday and am trying to get my laugh back. it has been such a long time since i laughed my girls and i got a fright the first time i really laughed out loud. thouht i was having a hysteria attack!!lol so when he sees me im smiling, looking well and he’s confused!! i wont say that is evry day, every time but i try…

      1. Cathy, I must have taken “love blanket” another way. I was thinking you meant that he would turn on the charm/ I love you BS. That’s what the love blanket was in my situation………make nice and rope her back in. “I love you honey”, “were good together honey”……………..Really honey???? Where are you now honey if you really thought we were so good together, lying sack.

      2. Oh Cathy I feel for you, I know what you mean trying to get your laugh back. It will come back but it will take a while. I actually had a good old fashioned laugh with my son a week or so ago…it was a free laugh, my laugh and when it happened it stunned me as I hadn’t heard it like that for so long.
        It’s hard what you’re going through you lose so much…even the companionship of his family. Don’t expect them to see him for what he is, they’re probably lost in denial of their own. I know my ex’s are. It’s easier to believe there’s something wrong with you/me (for that matter). I have been weepy these last days as I realise the toll the abuse has had on my entire family and the splits it has caused.
        I was called unstable and then as you say the continued abuse…push and pull. Kindness, then cruelty of which was the worst I’d experienced at his hands… Stay strong Cathy. You’re doing all the right things…getting out and trying to stay positive. It’s a hard road, I’ve been separated nearly 7 months but sometimes it feels like only yesterday. Everyday brings yet another scenario to deal with as he tries yet another way to get at me so be prepared. The light is there (a tired saying I know) but it is… I never thought I’d get to where I am when I was in the beginning stages but I kept going one step at a time(another one you get sick of but true) and now finally I have a job to start next week… another step to my freedom. You’ll get there. Stay strong and keep doing those positive things! 🙂

  3. Luckily for me when I visited the DV the woman knew exactly what I was talking about and advised me very well. Although I wasn’t dragging in a disturbed character to manipulate the
    counselor. My problem is my best friend thinks I’m over reacting to the possible stalking that
    I can’t prove and he is trying to manipulate her. I don’t think I would need a counselor if there
    were people who understood the nature of these characters. I had found Dr. Simons book.
    I just needed someone to talk to that understood but I guess thats what I’m doing on Dr. Simons
    site and I’m getting support from everyone here. Thank You

    I’m curious has anyone seen the German Movie called Martha Martha?

    1. I’m 63 years old & learned more from Dr. Simon than all the other psychologists/psychiatrists/therapists put together that I’ve seen in my life. Dr. Simon ‘nailed it’. I no longer think my emotionally abusive former best friend as being ‘defensive’ because she had a bad experience as a teenager, now I understand she just wants to crush anyone who dares to not agree with her. She even criticized me for using 2 clicks on the PC when I could have used 1 click! That’s really crazy!

      1. That’s funny Rosemary…the ex would have thought the double-click was a personal assault of some sort. An act of criticism and defiance. Crazy doesn’t begin to cover it.

        Geez, I’m so glad that’s over!

  4. I spent over a decade in therapy for PTSD caused by character disordered people who took advantage of me. Today however, I am part of a woman’s resiliency group and giving back to women who are early in their recovery.

    The question I keep getting in the group is, how did I get to this point, especially when the anxiety is so high it’s too difficult to read the self help books. My response is this: Connect with strong but soft caring compassionate women including a therapist who will embrace you, educate you, and help protect you emotionally as you detach from your toxic people and start to grow into a healthier woman. I am also well now because I had an intuitive friend who recognized the wolf in sheep’s clothing, and she held my hand the whole way as I fully detached from the last toxic person who weaved her way into my life.

    We do need to be careful about who we trust going through all this. There are people in this world who seem to sniff out the most vulnerable and in a very covert way, pretend to have our backs. What happened to me is that a very intelligent, very talented chameleon weaved her way into my life, pointing out all the dysfunction around me, and in the end, her intentions were malevolent. I dodged a bullet there, because of an intuitive friend and Dr Simon’s book ‘In Sheep’s Clothing’. From then on, everything started to fall into place, like all the pieces of the puzzle finally came together and I could breath so much easier.

    The recognizing and detaching was a complex and painful process for me and it took many years to finally get it. My mind was very distorted way back then, but these days when I look back, I see things so clearly. As high empathy albeit neurotic women, we tend to take on the suffering of those around us at a huge cost to ourselves. I am a long term helping professional, and I do still feel things very deeply. But I can relate to the statements about character disordered people sobbing uncontrollably, pushing every one of our sympathy buttons, guilt buttons, panic buttons, obligatory buttons, etc and now as I recognize them, I still feel compassion for them but now I move on. Not healthy for me, Ba-bye.

    I entered my therapy journey many years ago sick and suicidal, with anxiety so high I fleed my home for several weeks. Psychic pain is far worse than any physical pain I’ve ever experienced and I longed for it to end. But today, after many years of hard work on all this, I can proudly say I am free of all depression, anxiety, panic, and toxic people. Instead, I love and respect myself, and love and respect those I allow to be a part of my life. I’d say I’ve learned to be a good gate keeper.

    For those struggling with all this, keep up the fight. You are so worth it, and you will get there too.

    1. That’s wonderful to hear DM that you are free of depression, anxiety and those toxic people. It gives hope to all that that one day is there somewhere in the future.

      I do wonder how the CD’s can put on the crying act so over the top. I remembered looking at him thinking for a man who danced in glee because he’d terrified me into a crumbling fearful mess on the floor, these tears just don’t make any sense at all. LisaO said pantomime that’s how it was…pathetic really.

      1. CD people are only about themselves, never about you, & they do anything they can to manipulate you – compliments, tears, drama, urgency, nagging, insisting they are the expert, etc. The CD who was in my life put on crying performances at dinner parties, sobbing about how bad she felt for something that happened to me when I was a kid, I immediately realized it was just a way for her to get attention for herself. The situation she made such a fuss over was not a big issue for me, just for her!

    2. A former ‘best friend’ of 50 years was the toxic person in my life. I never thought a friend could be emotionally abusive till I read Dr. Simon. I’ve detatched myself from her as much as possible (I have a written obligation to do some computer work for her). I wait 24 hours before replying to her text/email/voicemail. If she calls, I let it go to voicemail. I reply only if she asks a question, never if she just tells me something. There is no point telling people like this how much they hurt you, they just blame you, I’ve learned that the hard way. Just cut them out of your life.

  5. I have cut a casual friend out of my life recently. Confronted her, after I caught her in a humongous lie, told her I was going No Contact and intend to keep it that way. She tried to rook me into long email discussions that started out with I am so sorry…..you feel that way. That’s all I needed. Never again. And sob at the drop of a hat, monopolize conversations, engage in dramatics of all kinds. Yuk.

    They’re called ‘frenemies’ and you don’t want them in your life. You did the right thing, Rosemary.

  6. As far as therapists go, the ones that can’t tell a garden variety screw-up, from a self centered disordered type , or think that every awful person out there is “in pain” are to be avoided. What bugs me is how free will and intention gets limited consideration. CD’s can easily manipulate any professional along the lines of that faulty reasoning.

    As far as traditional psychiatrists go, they just sit there, don’t say anything. It feels like a really boring job interview or a bad date without dinner and no liquor to kill the pain. After you finish talking for 50 minutes they pull out their prescription pad. Nice work if you can get it!

  7. I was familiar with narcissist, antisocial but Dr. Simon zeroed in on the covert aggressive. The
    more I think about this I realize it takes great courage to put this information out there. These
    types can be very powerful respected people in our communities. A lot of people wouldn’t want
    to go there.

  8. I think one of the most frustrating things for me was when a well meaning Christian offered their help in the words of “You haven’t really forgiven that person” when in fact, the want was there, what they failed to see was the triggers. That was one big pitfall that held me back for awhile. I started understanding what forgiveness is and what it isn’t and also respecting my journey knowing that I was going to have some very bad days to come (triggers/flashbacks).
    I avoid people like the plague who use forgiveness as a cure all. All though our walk in the healing and understanding should bring us to a place where we can let go and forgive, it will not work if forced because that person may need to know something important, lesson, so they do not become victims so easily.
    Also knowing that true forgiveness doesn’t mean what they did was OK nor that we had to forget nor that we have to reconcile with that person.
    Those are areas where well meaning Christians can confuse, and hurt with what they think is good advice.
    Also, those who think if you have everyone smiling, all is OK. I avoid them also because you miss the Jokers in your life because even Joker had a smile on his face as he was committing crimes.
    I am still not sure if we have the right diagnosis. But I am trusting myself more to know when to bail and try something else as this isn’t working.

    1. Yes Hopey, Just like Ned Flanders! Everything is wonderfully, underfully, underful….NOT…. with these types of relligious types. Then one day they find themselves faced with a reality situation and they crumble.

  9. Your article is spot on but how does one find such a person in their own area. I believe such deep insight is crucial, but rare. I spent a whole year and thousands of dollars at one psychologist because my husband had me totally convinced I needed professional help.
    After the first couple of visits,the psychologist asked if my husband could attend. I agreed even though I knew Lundy Bancroft very much frowned on it, I thought maybe my case was different because I was convinced I was to blame. The very first words out of my husband’s mouth were,
    ” I’m done with her, I’m only sticking around until the kids are grown, if she wants to get another man right now, she’s welcome to it”. I had never heard these words from him before so I was in shock, which in turn got me labeled as reactive. He did tell me I had great parenting and marital insight but that i lacked the support, and after a whole year of hearing each week like a broken record I heard “Just remember, you are a person of worth and value” He wouldn’t even touch emotional abuse when I questioned it, saying we shouldn’t label him. It was a total waste of time and money, so I quit. I can’t waste anymore more money. I need someone who will hear me. The deepest part of me.
    I have ordered “Character Disturbance”. I am fairly certain my husband was raised this way and since I wasn’t I am scared my children have been raised like this, due to the fact that everyitme I tried to parent my children, he would get in my face, or teach them to defy me behind my back.
    Sorry if this is too long

    1. Hi there REM, I am actually working with someone on the phone because I couldn’t find someone who could wrap their head around the nature of his disturbedness (new word).
      She GETS IS and actually goes to court with people (women mostly of course) who are in divorce situations with these pigs and who have gone over the deep end. Why?? because judges don’t get it either. I can give Dr. Simon her name on his contact channel if you are interested. I’m not sure if she is available though. I can not say enough good things about her.
      HA! ONE of the councilors we went to, the first one, said that I needed to learn to trust Spathtard and when I questioned her as to how I was going to trust him when so many things had happened (most of which I couldn’t even describe and some of which I didn’t even KNOW about yet) she admonished me for not stepping out of the past. The first meeting we had we had all agreed that we were not going to talk about the past unless it applied to now and that we were going to start from where we were and not drag the past into the present. Why I agreed to this in the first place I have no clue other than I believe I was on pain killers at the time from a surgery I had been through (laughing at this). SO, when I asked her how I was supposed to trust someone who basically I didn’t trust I was chastised for breaking the agreement, the rest of the session is a blur and I left in tears with Spathtards comforting arm around me. “it’s ok Puddle……we can find someone else. want to get something to eat? I love you Honey.”
      Abreviated version, btw……..

  10. I came to this website after reading the blog “chumplady’ who speaks highly of Dr Simon.

    I have been involved with a man for almost 5 years – i was able to physically separate myself from him after 3 but have often succumbed to his constant please to give him another chance.

    After the first year his life has completely unraveled. I’ve caught him in many lies, he takes responsibility for nothing and his livelihood and finances are a disaster as a result of his own actions, in large part how he treats others.

    It feels like he only pulls me closer in order to get a clearer verbal shot at me. I feel like i am his poison container and he loves to direct his venom toward me and i’m supposed to pretend these outbursts or accusations have never occurred.

    We went for marital counseling. My main problem, I naively thought, was one of communication. He NEVER lets me finish a thought. Sometimes I barely get a word out and then he shouts over me.

    He will ask me a loaded question, always something on the order of ‘when did you stop beating your wife’, and like the good neurotic when i feel compelled to defend myself, i barely get the first few words out and then suddenly he all i hear is his voice. I rarely get past the words, ‘its b/c i felt…..’.

    In counseling, when it was his turn to air his grievances, which were legend, I listened. However, when it was my turn to respond, he became really agitated. you could see his face turn red after only a minute and he started tapping his foot. Once in a session he got up from the chair and started coming toward mine. The last time i had him in there, the therapist who is a PHD and has been in practice over 20 years had to Stand up and was screaming at the top of her lungs – STOP STOP STOP.

    She actually wound up writing me a beautiful letter saying she felt that she failed me b/c his behavior was so crazy making and aggressive within only a few minutes she felt she lost control of herself and the session. Her remarks were, “if all of your communications with him are like this, i can see how frustrated and depressed you must be”

    he will say the most vile things to me, ‘shut the ** up, I don’t want to hear what you have to say’ or a situation where he is clearly at fault and acting inappropriately somehow always comes back with me being the guilty party. It’s as though everything he does it some how viewed in a mirror image and its basically all me. And he is the injured party.

    The therapist told me she thought he had narcissistic personality disorder.

    However kind it was of her to apologize for ‘failing me’, this does not really help me.

    I desperately want to know why someone like me, who , has raised a family, is completely self sufficient with a business and friends and doesn’t have this experience in any of my other relationships, would feel compelled over and over again, to try to be heard by someone who is obviously character disordered.

    It concerns me that i wouldn’t equate this person with something on the same magnitude as putting my hand on an open flame.

    it is so frustrating to me to watch myself take the bait over and over – like lucy moving the football on Charlie Brown.

    Obviously, there’s been lots of damage done.

    Case in point, while having dinner in restaurant, he suddenly started berating me about some ancient history. When i started to explain, i heard ‘shut up, i don’t want to hear what you think. Don’t you know you sound like a babbling idiot?” I got up and left.

    Then the minute i got into the car, i received several voice mails, how dare you get up and leave me in a restaurant. And my instinct is to respond by saying “it didn’t happen like this….. don’t you remember saying to me SHUT UP, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANYTHING YOU HAVE TO SAY, before i walked out of the restaurant ??????

    Why do i feel compelled to be heard to explain?

    Again, i understand he has a real problem. I’m more concerned about myself who sees myself falling into the trap and want to understand why i do this to myself rather than just say – he’s an impossible lunatic.

    sorry to go on so long. I am just frustrated beyond belief mostly with myself and i’m grateful for any insight

    1. Destiny, I really feel for you and I know how you must be feeling. I felt the same way, here I was running my own business, had brought two children up who were great, accomplished human beings chasing careers. Here I was with this man who outwardly supported me bu inwardly resented me. He hated that I was running my own business and went about trying to destroy that with his outrageous behaviours. Any job I had it was like he either directly or indirectly ruined and when I was down feeling like I was losing myself he was there to nuture and care about me. I must say he wasn’t as verbally aggressive as your man seems to be but he was physically so.
      I asked myself the same questions you are asking. As we do know ourselves and our strengths so why do we put up with these things in our personal relationships. I guess if you’ve been reading Dr Simon’s books now they may help you get some insight to the issues that unfortunately came too late for me with regards to dealing with him within the relationship.
      I guess that’s why I hate those terms co-dependency as you realise you’re not in that situation because you have an inner strength to try to succeed on your own feet within this crazy relationship. I think it comes down to loving someone that you want to be heard. That’s only natural in a relationship. The problem is he doesn’t want to hear you he’s only interested in him. End of story and there’s nothing you can do really. One of Dr Simon’s lines comes to mind “he’s aware, he just doesn’t care.” That’s how it was for me too. Only mine acted like he was listening and I always thought there was a chance, he just pretended while inside he was fuming. Keep your strength Destiny and I hope things get better for you.

  11. My son, who just turned 18 and is graduating from high school is involved with a 16 year old manipulator. I have been guiding him, pointing out some of her tactics (make him jealous, making all his decisions for him, convinced him his long term girl friend was emotionally abusive, he has blocked the ex-girlfriend from his phone but new girlfriend shows up at his games with her ex boyfriends, etc) but he doesn’t see it. He thinks she is caring. He is accepted into a great college in the fall and says he is breaking it off when he leaves for college. I just saw a text between the two of them about him possibly not leaving in the fall! He went from being in love with one girl to sacrificing his future in one month and he doesn’t see that this doesn’t make sense. I have not been saying alot, thinking he needs to learn a lesson and figure this out for himself. I have suggested seeing a counselor and he doesn’t want to. I have decided to make him go to a therapist and I have a call into Christian Counseling center. We are leaving town for most of the summer in one month, which is why I have been letting this thing go. I am starting to get concerned that another month with this girl and she will be pregnant! Which is what a concerned adult warned me of with this girl. Do I go ahead with insisting on the counselor visit knowing we leave soon or limit his contact with her for the next month?

    1. Hi Vic, I can imagine how frightened you are for your son, I had the exact thing happen with my son when he was 17 and the manipulator girl was 16. I saw her manipulativene personality right from the word go and kept telling my son what she would likely do next. I pointed out to him, how disrespectful she was to her poor neurotic Mother as evidence of her narcissism. It got so bad that I too was terrified she would get herself pregnant just to cling to and control him more. What I did was start interacting with her Mother, this really threw her sense of control off balance. I welcomed her Mother into my home for coffee so that we could be on the same page with this relationship between the two youngsters. The girl didn’t like it and often insisted she be present. This gave me the opportunity to point out to her, how rude she was to her Mother, in front of my son, who got to see a different side to her at these occassions. She would try very hard to stay controlled and come across all sweet but the kinds of things I was saying were not what she was used to, so she would unravel sometimes. She would keep my son up all night txting and creating psychodrama he had to get involved in. He started feeling aggressive towards the guys she told him had harmed her and becoming unravelled himself, taking days off school. Right at the stage when she was actually starting to do his head in, I managed to get him to agree to an experiment. I got him to agree to not respond to her txt’s and calls for 24 hrs and sit back and watch her true character malice and manipulation come out. I told him the next thing she was going to do was suggest that her period was late to get his attention. Then when he didn’t reply to that, she would come out with venom that would escalate in intensity. That’s exactly what she did! He saw that I had been right all along. I kept telling him that there were so many lovely girls out there that deserved him and that he could have a relationship of virtue with. Rather than say ‘see I was right’ when it happened, I hugged him and reminded him that he is an attractive, caring, sensitive and gentle man, who deserves to be cherished and that girls like that will see him coming a mile off in the future and that it was up to him to make sure that he protects himself from being manipulated by recognizing the signs early on and not dismissing them as love. When she did the late period drama, I immediately rang her Mother who told me she wasn’t even due yet! I hope that helps a little.

      1. Btw, one of the reasons I knew she was trouble among many others, was that my son confided in me that she said she ‘hated condoms’, he was very concerned about this and she told him that she had done that ‘hundreds’ of times and not gotten pregnant. Alarm Bells!!! They do have to learn from their own experiences, however one’s like these warrant careful, calculated and patient intervention for your son’s own good in my opinion. I always maintain the connection of unconditional love without judgement with my teenagers. It is a very difficult thing to do in reality but it’s times like these when it really matters and makes a difference.

      2. Juliette, Thanks so much for the advice. Her mother is part of the problem. She is a stage mom and the concerned adult thinks the mother is behind this “match up”. The girl asked me to have coffee to get to know her, I said no, I don’t have coffee with kids. I want to stay out of my son’s teen romance. The mother e-mailed and demanded I have coffee with her daughter. I do love your test and may have to resort to that. I have some relationship repairing to do with my son before I try something like that. I have been trying the unconditional love without judgement, but failing – ugh! This girl is causing so much drama in my life, I have disrespected my son a few times. Really trying to work on that one. We are dealing with tons of stressors in our life at the moment, way more than anyone family can handle. Divorce, house on the market, don’t know where we are going to live, graduation, broke up with “true love” of over two years, going away to college, needs to break away from me to go off on his own….I am going to insist on counseling. This is too much for anyone to handle. Hoping that helps to repair our usually good relationship. Thanks again.

        1. Vic, that is indeed a great deal of stress for you both, especially you. Life gets like a triage department during times like that and all we can do is focus on the step right in front of us. My heart goes out to you.

  12. I sometimes write stories about my experiences. I posted another on this site once. I cannot remember where though. It was called the Puerto Rican Man.
    This one is called BaBoundaries and is about a therapist.

    BaBoundaries

    -Have you ever read anything on boundaries she asks me. I answer yes I have I have read several things on boundaries. But have you read this book. No I haven’t but what is your point. I want her to tell me although I do already know what she is getting at.
    You see she feels violated be me. I did not agree with her insight into what I was feeling thinking or motivated by. I had not meant to offend her it is just that I do know what it is that I am thinking or feeling and I know how I am motivated. Yet I can see that she is offended. She lets me know. She tells me that I keep telling her she is wrong. I tell her I do not mean to offend her. I have let her know more than once. I try to explain. I begin to feel like a broken record.
    I feel stuck. The further in this goes the worse things have become. I know though that it will not be easy to change this. There will be resistance to it. My Ex is very pleased with her and he will want to keep our daughter with her. She is so helpful in achieving his goals. So I try for understanding and communication. I discuss the concerns I am having. She is injured though and has made up her mind she does not want to hear me. She tells me my “energy” does not feel inviting. I ask her then what should I be doing give me input so that I can understand. What should I be doing? She does not tell me. It is just that you know…… she wants me to understand that I am controlling, I am vindictive, I twist every thing around and always make it someone else’s fault that I am desperate that I am lonely. She knows that because she has been told by my child my ex-husband and by his attorney. So she needs me to understand that I am the cause of the problem. She shares information with them they are a team. She has developed a good raport with them her confidence is boosted she has a job to do. She feels powerful.

    Of course I am to blame for some of this. Since I am unwilling to believe I am the above. While far from perfect I know myself to be someone who is compassionate, reasonable, fair, logical and quick to apologize or take accountability. In asserting this though I just prove her point……..I just want to control I will not listen. She wants to talk about her feelings. I let her. She feels put upon by me. She tells me she feels I use up all the time we are together. What the heck I think. I do not think this is supposed to be about her. I strive for communication but she does not want to shift from her opinion. She is angry she is resentful she acts out in passive aggressive ways. Always letting me know that she feels she holds some power over me. It gives her the confidence to behave as she does. As I speak she pretends to fall asleep. I am thinking hm…..I am putting out a Benjamin for this……to get kicked around by someone who is dumping their personal issues on me. She most definitely thinks I am stupid and so emotionally damaged that this will make a difference. She wants me to know how unimportant I am, so much so that she feels she should take a nap while I am paying her. How childish how immature how completely unethical I think to myself.
    She talks to me about her children and their struggles with her. They do not like the way she delivers her messages to them etc….. her children are adults. She speaks about her pain with her children and how it is not her fault that her son wants nothing to do with her he is adopted and has an attachment disorder. I feel bad for her after all I am a mother too. We have a meeting of the minds, we always do when I am empathizing or boosting her.
    As time goes on I realize that things wont change. She has found that she can exert herself over me she has power over my child and will without regard to her use her. She sits with a content look on her face as my child tells me off. My child looks to her for signals and approval in her behavior with me.
    I am upset I am becoming emotional I am falling into depression. My poor poor baby girl I think. A game of keep away is being played and she is the ball. Yet she is a willing participant. She does not know though. She is too young. There is a reward for her behavior………approval and praise at her maturity and ability to stand up to her mother.
    My daughter does not know (although she may feel it at a gut level) that she is being controlled and manipulated she is too young too empowered against me. My stomach is twisted in knots. I feel depressed for days after every meeting.
    I tell her no more. I will not come in again. Stay away from my daughter I ask her. She lets me know that she will ignore my request. I let her know that she is furthering the damage to my daughter and to our relationship and that she is not to have anything further to do with her. She is whispering she loves me while I try and speak to her. She does this often. How twisted I think to myself. I begin bringing a recorder to my sessions with her. After all who would believe me over the initials behind her name.
    I tell her again to stay away from my daughter. She will continue to see her against my wishes for over a year. While she was not court ordered for therapy it took a court order to have her stop seeing my daughter.
    Who cares that my daughter will be deprived of a loving, nurturing, confident mother at an age when it is so important for her. Who cares enough for my daughter?
    You need to read this book, read this book she says. I think to myself YOU read the book. I check myself and my thought; I say instead, no, I will not read the book. I share the recording with my therapist and as she hears it she says “ I think SHE needs to read that book on boundaries” . I am glad I shared.

    PS the current reconciliation therapist also struggles with ego and triangulation. The difference is I have learned and as sad as it is too say…….I will play the game in order to try and save my child.

    1. I so feel for you Einstein..I had to do twenty five years of some kind of engagement in the game in order to give my four children the best chance in the darkness that enveloped us all. They do grow up and they are our living witnesses. They remember and the proof is in the pudding, so to speak when they grow up. They become adults with their own minds. They judge us on our unconditionally loving actions. My ex really tried to twist my two middle boys minds against me for alot of years. Telling them I was crazy and under a spell of Satan, (he is religion obsessed as well as abusive and cruel to children, animals, a pyromaniac and heavily into guns, weapons and survivalism and conspiracy theories…the list goes on) I used to be so afraid for them when they were younger. All the while, I just kept on being who I was and when they started asking questions to me about why he did such and such, or why he says such and such…I tried my best to always be outwardly loving and encouraging in my approach to their relationship to him. Now that they are older they see him with adult eyes, I didn’t even have to show them because they grew up with a bigger light (me) shining into the darkness that he is and could tell the difference without me having to say anything, I can see all this with hindsight now and things turned out to be even better for them than my worst fears when they were younger, which consumed me with sadness, rage and terror during those days. My kids are 28, 25, 24 and 18 now. They all made it to be decent human beings, compassionate, they all have a vocation and know how to love. Just keep on being you, they remember.

      1. “Telling them I was crazy and under a spell of Satan, (he is religion obsessed as well as abusive and cruel to children, animals, a pyromaniac and heavily into guns, weapons and survivalism and conspiracy theories…the list goes on)”
        Juliette……no disrespect here but I laughed out loud when I read this description of your ex. What a lovely man!
        Again, your children are SO fortunate to have had you guide them through having him as their father. Hugs to you Juliette! 🙂

      2. Sorry if I’ve made a mistake here. I’m not sure if E, e and Einstein are one, two or three different people. Can someone clarify for me please? 🙂

        1. I am E and I think also e. My mistake. I am not Einstein though.

          I will be more careful and use E.
          I have been reading Dr. Simon for years, I just do not post often. My story is much like everyone else who has been caught in a web with a CD.
          Thank you all for sharing your stories. They provide inspiration.

      3. Juliette,

        “They grew up with a bigger light(me) shining into the darkness..”

        I love this! I have eight children and, although the youngest two are not to a point of fully understanding what they have lived through, all of them are in support of their dad being gone forever. They are 29, 27, 23, 21, 19, 17, 13 and 9.

        Somehow, by the grace of God, I’ve raised loyal, compassionate, loving children who recognize their dad for who he is; a verbally abusive and cruel man.

        I still wake up at night worrying about the repercussions of the childhood I allowed them to have. I’ve apologized to them for not recognizing their dads lies and, thus, prolonging the pain of living with their dad but they saw the multiple separations over the years and they witnessed me seeking help from useless church leaders and, somehow, they “get” it.

        Now, we are under church leadership that is like a protective huddle around us. These men recognize that my husband is a psychopath. My kids feel loved and protected AND vindicated by these realistic, earthy and godly men!

        Through it all, my kids have continued to love God which, to me, is such a miracle.

        I just can’t believe that God has brought me out of 32 years of a nightmare of a marriage and given my kids and I freedom!

  13. E, What a nightmare…..I’m sorry. You really sound on top of things though. I’m not sugar coating the nightmare, just applauding your insight and inner strength to face such a frustrating situation. Kudos!

    1. Puddle thank you.
      I had amazing role models growing up. I am fortunate to be able to draw from that strength.
      Once when I was a child my mother made hear the words to a song. She wanted me to know them, here is a part of the words…..” you can bend but never break me cuz it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal”…”yes I am wise but its wisdom born of pain….. yes ive paid the price but look how much ive gained if I have to I can do anything”. I do not know your age so if you have never heard the song it is, I am Woman by Helen Reddy(don’t know the spelling for sure.
      I often miss her my mother. She passed away 16 years ago. I am grateful to be able to draw from her teaching.

      1. E, you are a lucky woman a thousand times over. You had a good mother, I’m “envious” but celebrate your good fortune with you!

  14. Hi Vic,

    It’s pretty disastrous that your son has become the object of a CD’s affections. However, as a Mom, particularly, the more you say against her, the more he may be magnetized towards her. That’s kind of a rule of thumb for normal relationships, for relationships between anyone who has something resembling a P bond or a mutual infatuation with an N, it is times ten!!

    I hope the Christian Counsellors don’t suggest abstinence as a way of coping with the girl, to him. Because, as we all know, even if it works, abstinence makes the heart grow fonder. Absence may, too. But seeing as he is a guy and young, chances are he will find another squeeze if he manages to get himself to college.

    You have armed him with basic information and that is all you can do. What a crumby situation to be in, for you. The warning that she might get pregnant might scare him straight!

    1. LisaO, thanks for your advice. I am trying to stop saying anything negative. We are dealing with a ton of stress right now and not on top of my game! The counselor was very helpful. The abstinence thing becomes a big deal with him being 18 and her 16. There is a new video out in movie theaters about a “child” doesn’t have the ability to consent to sex. The problem with turning 18 – you can get arrested for your actions! Trying to make him aware of the consequences of his actions. They just got a whole lot bigger now that he is 18.

  15. E,

    That is one of the odder stories I have read about counselors. I hope you are getting help with your loneliness. We are social animals and if we are socially isolated, for whatever reason, we don’t thrive and can become very depressed. I am so sorry that you have this to deal with, along with ongoing problems with your family.
    One of the virtues of a good therapist is not generalizing from the specifics of their own personal experience too much. We all have to operate from a counter-intuitive perspective at times. A lot of the time when we get an ‘instant read’ on a situation it’s because the surface dynamics are similar to what we have gone through ourselves.

    We don’t have to rely on ‘subtle’ hints that we are misinterpreting the situation, because whoever is communicating the problem to us, will usually say, or shout, “Hey, whoa, that’s not right. No, you are incorrect here!!”

    From MY own personal experience–and I have encountered a lot of it from one person in my life in the last decade—this isn’t enough. They insist that they have a much better take on your own life than you do. And yes…they are often such aggressive personalities that they will illicit others to ‘back them up’. It is beyond freaking belief. It’s bad enough when family does this, but a counselor???OMG!!

    1. LisaO,
      Thank you for your words of encouragement.
      I miss my daughter very much. I am not experiencing loneliness and was not then. I have as much need of solitude as I do socialization. I frankly enjoy both. Loneliness is an emotion that luckily I have not had to deal with. This had been projected through my ex, as it is only his desire/fantasy. Fortunately this therapist is out of the picture. Although as I stated it took a court order to keep her away from my daughter.
      The recordings were what helped me put the situation in perspective, and helped me to verify the gaslighting and crazy making behaviors this therapist was engaging in with me. Had I not had those recordings to review…..I may of doubted my perceptions….since she is the professional.

  16. CRAZY psychiatrist story:

    Had one sit me in a ‘special vibrating chair’ when I was in my early 20’s, to help ‘relax’ me. He told me that women sometimes became ‘so relaxed’ in the special chair they would experience orgasm. Now, you would think, given that knowledge, that a decent human being might leave the room. But noooooo…therapist sat and stared at me intently for several minutes. I guess I wasn’t relaxed enough because all I felt was extreme embarrassment. He then gave me a strong anti-psychotic drug that started to kick in just after I left the office. I had to take the bus home and nearly got hit by a truck, was dizzy disoriented, etc…Very dangerous situation.

    He wanted to treat me for sexual dysfunction. I wasn’t sexually dysfunctional. That’s not why I was seeing him.

    He wanted to talk about transgender issues. I don’t have transgender problems. He was fascinated with transvestism and wanted to talk about it. He pulled that right out of his ass. I never wanted to discuss sex. He kept bringing it up. Ewww….

    I saw him three times and he told me that I was just sooooo…beautiful each time.

    I had NO psychotic symptoms. None. I didn’t hear voices. I didn’t think in conspiratorial terms. Ummm..what else. I just totally lacked psychosis. Why did he give me an ‘anti-psychotic’?

    I haven’t thought about this ever before but seeing as it was so disorienting and nearly knocked me out, on the way home, I think it was intended to take effect in his office. The chair didn’t work…maybe this pill will!!

    1. very crazy story LisaO! Scaryputic chair.

      I was seeing a psychiatrist once to monitor the antidepressant i was on after being
      mis-medicated by the GP I was seeing. After about there months or so I told him I really thought I was done and wouldn’t be coming back anymore. He broke into tears and told me how much he looked forward to our visits, among a few other things I really can’t remember all that well at this point. Talk about an awkward moment!

    2. LisaO, what an outrageous violation of the theraputic relationship! You are probably right about the chair and the pill too. The thing about people labelled as psychotic is that everything they say is able to be constructed as a delusion too. I’m so glad you got out of there and survived to tell the tale. Let it be a warning to all those who think psychiatry is the answer.

    3. Wow, that therapist was/is a predator.
      What is sad/scary……there are so many like him. I am so glad you got away.

  17. Puddle, He started crying when you left?
    That’s kind of sad weird and funny all at the same time. So many odd and rotten counseling experiences we have endured . They’re theraputrid.

    1. Theraputrid…..good one. Yes, crying. It was bizarre LisaO, just one of those things that you can’t believe is happening and you wish SO badly it wasn’t? Awkward. He wasn’t sobbing by any stretch but he had to compose himself and i thought…….yes……I think it’s time to discontinue counseling now! He was a really nice guy and I don’t mean anything against him personally, just in reference to an odd experience. He was the first person to spot FASD in me and asked if anyone had ever mentioned it to me, that he thought it might be behind many of the things I was describing to him. I almost feel bad even talking about his reaction because he was so nice and good to me. But it was weird and if it had happened at a time when I was more fragile it would have really up’ed the ante.

      1. Puddle that does sound strange and awkward. He maybe had some BaBoundaries issues himself. We are all human, including our therapists. Some of my stories have brought tears to the eyes of my therapists and I could see one so filled with justified rage towards one of my abusers once, that she had to get a handle on before we continued the session. What a difficult job it must be for the good ones to listen to all our stuff, for hours on end every day, one patient after another and stay emotionally and mentally healthy. No wonder some start acting insane. Then there are those like LisaO’s vibrating chair episode that maybe go into the profession in the first place for easy picking of their victims. Higher IQ manipulators, playing with their toys and getting paid for it!

        1. Juliette, me too:
          “and I could see one so filled with justified rage towards one of my abusers once, that she had to get a handle on before we continued the session.”
          Some guy I was “seeing” or had been seeing, actually i now see that he is a Spath. anyhow, I went to see her and was talking about something he had written me and she had to stop because she was so angry. She actually knew the guy and was friends with his wife but she had to stop and just breathe for a couple minutes. Kind of like when I went to see her with my mom.

  18. Dr Simon, my current therapist is a clinical psych with a PhD. When I met her I asked her about the topic of her thesis, she said it was about ‘self-disclosure of the therapist as an effective theraputic tool’. I’m guessing that she has some unique perspective on this and most likely a balanced viewpoint on the idea too, because she is a wonderful person and a very skilled therapist. She does self disclose a little, just as we all do when we make friends and build rapport with people. It does make me feel understood and less judged in relation to me feeling like a lunatic in front of this amazingly together woman. People seem more likely to trust us when we self disclose. I learned this in nursing studies too, but we have to find the right kind of balance too. This is how manipulators often find our weak spots and utilize them, including some of the horrific examples on this blog. I’m wondering how you approach this in your work with people and if you have any interesting insights regarding self disclosure.

    1. Juliette, Yes, the proper balance is important. I was seeing a therapist a LONG time ago and one more recently (after the Spathtard), both of which did almost NOTHING but tell me endless stories and “examples” of their own. I felt like the only reason for me being there was to introduce a new topic for them to talk about! Its not a good sign if YOU end up feeling like the therapist……….which I did! I kind of laugh about it now, picturing myself sitting there nodding and saying, “I see”, while taking notes! And how did that make you feel??

      1. Puddle, Lol, that’s exactly how it feels. If you think about it self disclosure is what makes us feel we can trust people and it shows us that they are fit to give us the advice or empathy we seek. Much like the kind of thing going on here in Dr Simon’s blog. So it is a good thing if our therapist displays some humanity and not just stick to the theoretical approach. Yes there must be a balance. When your therapist felt angry, did you feel on some level that she had bonded with you in a way that made you feel good? Perhaps good therapists practice mirroring those emotions we don’t feel able to express or perhaps they are genuinely angry that someone hurt a person they have come to love (in a healthy way). I would rather someone not fake emotions to me though. When I saw the anger in her face and body language it made me feel validated and I knew that she really believed me.

        1. Juliette, my “angry therapist” was an amazing person. She was an energy worker and had so much integrity it makes my head spin just thinking of her now. Too much to even tell here but when I saw that she was angry and the way she expressed that and then dealt with her anger was so impressive i will never forget it. She meditates for two hours EVERY morning as part of her spiritual path. That is why she regrouped the way she did.
          It was validating to me because I realized that it was’t just me……I wasn’t making it up, I wasn’t making a mountain out of a mole hill. The things I had been reacting to were legitimate issues! I should have called her up early on when things started going wrong with Spathtard. I should have counseled with HER!

  19. That’s awful LisaO what that therapist did…very disturbing. I haven’t had anything like that but did have one try to trick me into answering a sexual question. It was a real manipulation and I felt very angry. I never went back. There was no need to trick a client. Besides I wanted him to counsel my children at the time. It ended up causing a major emotional upheaval in my son. He became very angry and ended up destroying his room and refusing to go to school after the session. I rang the psychologist back for help and got pretty much nothing. He caused it and then wasn’t going to take responsibility for what he unleashed. Another reason I didn’t go back and one BIG reason why I decided I would never make my children go to counselling again unless they wanted to or felt ready. I don’t think children are equipped with the emotionally maturity to deal with some of their deepest feelings and to realise that a child has reacted badly (which my son did in his office and I took him home in his traumatised state, hence the destruction of his room) and then take no responsibility is a lack of care in my opinion. This man was supposed to be the leading child psychologist in the area.
    I also had one who liked to use her white board with diagrams, she didn’t want to listen to anything. I think she liked playing teacher and then the session would end with me in a room with relaxing music. I only went to three sessions with her and they were all the same. As for self disclosure Julliete I went to another counsellor once who ended up telling me all about her relationship, we discussed very little of mine. (never went back to her either…a complete waste of money.)

    1. Bad therapy is hard enough when we are adults seeking therapy,
      it can make you feel insane. When someone does that to one of our children it multiples that feeling.

      1. Ha! I just remembered something. When I was a very young teenager, my mother took me to the gynecologist (WHY????????) any how he would not allow her to be in the exam room and I remember him telling me he had to examine my breasts!!!! at 13?? odd……
        it kind of tells you a little about my mother though……that she would allow me to be left alone with this dr. at 13 for a gyno exam? sorry……off topic.

    2. Tori, Mmm, I’m starting to realize that this kind of abuse of power is all too uncommon, hearing these stories. I didn’t have a pap smear for 20 years after a horrific degrading experience with a obgyn in my twenties, who decided to humiliate, hurt me (with his instruments!)and punish me when he heard I had been a homebirth Mum. Before finding my current psychologist I visited a woman like the one you describe too. Going on and on too much about her own Father issues while I paid her 170.00 per hour to listen. I stopped after 3 sessions because my gut told me that she was basically entertaining herself. Like you say, a complete waste of money, in fact it’s really a form of robbery! I can really understand your reluctance to seek therapy for your son after that experience. I didn’t seek therapy for my children either because there were four of them and I was in no position to afford it, I became their therapist and I felt like the blind leading the blind. There seems to be two differing theoretical approaches to ptsd and trauma therapy from what I’ve gathered. Some therapists go for the approach that digging up all the dirt and working through it, is best to integrate it into our new narrative. ie CBT. Others seem to believe that it’s best not to do that, that reliving it all just goes against the numbing process,, which is the mind’s own way of allowing us to function and should be left that way. Personally, I believe that CBT is the best long term solution. As for our children I have no experience other than witnessing friends of mine who have sought therapy for their kids. With the right therapist it really does make a significant difference but easier said than done. The good child psychologists I’ve witnessed over the years seem to get the kids to draw and imagine an alternative ending to various traumatic situations. For example I saw the drawings that my friend’s daughter brought home of ‘dream’ scenarios where a protective Fairy Godmother came and changed the situation to one where she was safe. It seems they use the child’s capacity of vivid imagination to rewrite the scenarios and give them archetypal symbols in their subconscious that they can draw on when they feel anxious or have nightmares. This particular child psychologist was provided by child protective services and the one they preferred to use for court order therapy for children. The girl was 10 and I saw that she really benefitted from her relationship with this woman over time. Her little brother who was 8 was also seeing her and seemed to become much less anxious during the time he was seeing her. Their estranged Father was a member of the Heirarchy of an outlaw motorcycle gang and a sadistic psychopath who was abusing them in every way possible except (direct physical sexual abuse), during his contact visits. Children of manipulators and various ‘paths’ are so terrified to disclose anything and become protective of Mum becoming upset. It’s so important for us to facilitate that safe space in our relationships with them to be able to disclose what they are experiencing. Then we have to learn to handle that in front of them and say the ‘right’ thing when it happens whatever that is. I have no idea how I ever coped with all that when I look back now, without having the guidance of a child therapist. I played with them alot, we made huge cubbies that stayed up in the house for days, we read books with happy and intense fantasy themes, like the Chronicles of Narnia, Charlotte’s Web, all the Roald Dahl books, we planted seeds and watched them grow, we baked, did craft, we made murals on the bedroom walls with coloured pencils. My 10 year old son had a nervous breakdown. I kept him off school for 5 weeks and cried with him and rocked him like a baby for hours and hours sometimes, we chopped wood with axes and shouted all our rage out, then carried and threw blocks of wood while shouting swear words. We pretended we were power rangers, we pretended we were Hercules and Xena saving all the people who were being abused, we had parties just for ourselves for no particular reason and birthday parties that were fun and full of games. I just became a child with them really when I look back, escaping into fantasy with them because there was little else I could afford financially and it was too terrifying to leave the house. We all survived. The two monsters that are their Father’s are growing into lonely old men now. My heart goes out to every woman who has had children to a monster, it seems like a life sentence when you are going through it but it really does get better, slowly but surely.

      1. Juliette, again……your children were so lucky to have a mum like you! What you describe would be my pick of a mother figure.
        And again, the experience you describe with the dr……It just boggles my mind! The cruelty! because you were a home birth mum???? It doesn’t even make sense that a dr would hurt someone, and after the fact, for having their children at home!

        1. Thankyou Puddle..again! I had really responsible homebirths with registered midwifes and my gp was present at the first. He was a sadistic miogynist and his whole world was threatened and invalidated by women who defied his belief in the control he had over women’s bodies. Two of my homebirth Mum buddies at the time were sterilized by him under general anaesthesia for ‘unforseen’ complications, one had an ectopic pregnancy and ended up with a hysterectomy, the other had cysts on one of her ovaries and woke up with a radical hysterectomy with no ovaries! He was the only obgyn in the rural area where we lived. He hated all earth Mothers and wanted to punish them. Sick, bow-tie wearing, weak excuse for a man. I hope he has had his karma by now.

          1. Oops that was meant to say misogynist. I think I’m feeling afraid of judgement, but I need to say that I’ve never been a Biker Chick! I met the friend with the OMG Dad later in life and she had long separated from her Spath. For obvious reasons, we found we had some things in common!

          2. Juliette……..first of all my best friend in the state I used to live in was a biker chick, former biker chick……she’s older now and has been such a help to me during this whole Spathcapade, a very wise woman. They do have their reputation though and sometimes very well deserved but maybe no more so than any other group of people,,,,,,,good and bad. 🙂
            speaking of removing reproductive organs, sounds like that “doctor” needs a couple of his removed………and to have his credentials checked. Just horrible stories…..
            Hugs to you Juliette, you home birth mum you! I think it’s wonderful. Not without risk but hospital births are not without risk either. Men who HATE women? Really?? It’s so bizarre. I can understand having issues around women or men or dogs or whatever but to that extreme level?? I once again don’t “get it”!!

  20. I went to an md for a simple sore throat when I was in my twenties. He insisted on giving me a gyno exam. Weird. I then found out that he was known for giving all of his patients this exam. If you went in for an earache or skin rash you got the same treatment.

    I think this kind of manipulation by the medical community was VERY common back then. Nowadays, not so much. It happens, but information is more freely available about medical abuse. And there are sites where doctors are graded and commented upon, so there is more transparency all around.

    My experiences with weird practitioners in many different fields, over the years, have not been traumatic, just a bit confusing.

    Now, if I had kids who I felt were being damaged by a therapist, or if i figured the therapist was disrupting bonds, scapegoating, generalizing from her own experiences, too much, I can’t imagine HOW I would handle it and how upsetting it would be. I feel I have had some awful things to go through but I have never had the uniquely awful experience of seeing my child suffer at the hands of the misinformed or incompetent.

    What torture that must be!

    1. part of what is so hard to process about these types is their boldness!! Like they don’t even care if they get caught. Maybe because they are usually so used to and adept at lying they just think they can always get around it if they do get caught. So glad they don’t all manage to get around it.

  21. LisaO, it would be horrible IF you were engaged enough with your children for it to even register. Back when this happened with the Gyno exam, it was in the era that doctors were gods and people just followed along with just about anything they were told. I suppose it’s still like that to some degree but more people ask questions now I think?

  22. Juliette,

    What a superb mother you are! We should all be as lucky as your kids! I am sure you have more than offset the damage their fathers have done. Working out anger frustration and sadness through myth is the best application of fairy tales. And CS Lewis has the most exquisite understanding of the heart and mind. The Chronickes of Narnia were a superb choice for your children.

    I have a special feeling for Lewis. I feel reading him, as a child, was so fundamental to my moral sense. As an adult I went further and read everything he wrote for adults. Whenever I picked up his books I felt I was in dialogue with somebody who had deep understanding. I haven’t had as strong a sense of this with any other writer.

    1. LisaO, thankyou so much for those words of encouragement, sorry I missed this post of yours earlier, getting caught up in Elliot’s manifesto probably! He really is an amazing writer, I agree. I wish I had read his books as a child too. During that time I bought all the books I remembered had influenced me in that way and read them to the children at bedtime. They were all experiencing nightmares and it kind of filled their minds with things that captivated their imaginations in a good way. For an hour or so before they fell asleep I would read the new chapter with emotional and dramatic emphasis, I really enjoyed it too! We would all pile on to my bed and when the youngest would fall asleep, the older ones would urge me to keep going. Then they would get to hear the revision of the night before whilst they youngest caught up. It made bedtime something they looked forward to and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. The nightmares ended too.

  23. Cathy, your writing and spelling are fine. I know when I have a lot to say and am enthusiastically trying to say it my spelling and grammar are haywire. If I am tired on top of that… Oh boy

  24. For all you folks, who are healing, or have healed, what are your opinions on meditation and its effectiveness? To be more specific, what are your opinions on mindfulness and mantra meditations?

    1. J, I do see the value in mindfulness during the healing process because during these entanglements the Spath did everything he could to make us feel so bad about ourselves. so I think it’s important to be able to “see” what we are thinking and examine the validity of it. When someone is telling you directly or indirectly that you are unimportant and not worth the effort it would take to please you, it’s all too easy to really wonder if you ARE worth the effort. Very subtle thoughts can operate without detection if you don’t keep an eye on things so being mindful and aware can’t be a bad thing, right? It doesn’t mean you have to be consumed or caught up with yourself, just aware.

  25. J,

    If you are able to meditate, it’s a wonderful way to take a vacation from the day to day stress, all of us have to contend with. That kind of vacation can help reorient us and help us regain perspective or have our perspective sharpened.

    I would draw a sharp distinction between using it as a way to relax and meditating hours a day, as part of a lifestyle. When I was in my 20’s I used to meditate automatically, go into a mild trance state as a response to stress. I was a bliss junkie. Further to that, I felt I was behind bullet proof glass and wasn’t relating to people in an authentic way. I ‘loved’ everybody. I had to take strong measures to quit meditating because I feel that part of the job of being human is to engage in the great human drama.

    Truth be told a lot of ‘gentle souls’ aren’t detached from desire, they are detached, period. All that ‘love’ and ‘compassion’ is bogus. They just feel good. They’re high on their own brain hormones, from meditating. If you have a problem that requires actual real mindfulness, careful emotional analysis, and some intellectual rigor, you will be frustrated when trying to engage the disengaged.

    The New Age with its focus on mindfulness and meditation and it’s roots in Buddhism, particularly Zen Buddhism is about emptying the mind in an attempt to achieve enlightenment. It is a personal journey without a strong emphasis on the interpersonal realm. The zen expressions designed to address anything on that level seem to me to be more about deflection than reflection.

    I think that in some ways, Eastern philosophy filtered through Western culture produces an even more atomized, LESS compassionate society…,, but on the surface it looks all good. Again, the reality is somewhat inverted.

    1. LisaO, Very well put. I call the new age posers the “I’m well” people. I HATE IT when people say that! It just sets me off for some reason. It always sounds very superficial but it’s what you say when someone asks you how you are……..”I’m well” and you have to say it in a certain tone of voice and act like you are reflecting on the state of you “in the moment”. GAG.
      J, I would imagine that meditation is a great healing tool if you are able to do it and if it is congruent with your personal make up, for some it’s not. Yoga is meditation actually but a physical form of it. It’s a way to sharpen your focus and watch the racing thoughts that endlessly go unchecked. I just know that I was so completely depleted it felt like someone had turned me off………I couldn’t self motivate for much more than getting the very basics in order.

      1. I AM well. The Buddha didn’t, woops! DID not use contractions, Grasshopper. This is often followed by a radiant smile that says, “I eat kale and mung beans, have an above average income and I genuinely LOVE myself and that is the be all and end all.”

        1. it’s pretty clear to me that an exBF of mine who immersed himself in the study of Zen Buddhism absolutely LOVES to throw Zen Koans out to his “followers”/ unenlightened friends so that he can secretly plays the role of some wise sage. I’m sure he delights in there panicked efforts as the neophytes struggle to gain understanding of the true nature of their undisciplined minds so that they too can be as emotionally detached and in the moment as he is so that they to can treat others like carp with impunity.

      1. J, I describe it something like this…Narcissism packaged as magnetism and the law of attraction..yes of course you are the centre of the universe, your universe, you can have all you want, who told you that you couldn’t?…. I haven’t felt safe enough to meditate for years. I do attempt as much as possible to practice mindfulness or self monitoring as Dr Simon puts it. I need alot more therapy in order to allow my defenses to drop and intrusive images to go back in their box where they belong, these days. I’m sure many people find it very helpful and I’ve read that compassion meditation actually changes the brainwaves and levels of stress hormones. That’s the main one I’ve practiced, compassion meditation towards those I wanted to lex talionize!

        1. Juliette, yoga is a great alternative to sitting meditation and actually is a form of meditation but using your body. Also walking meditation is a wonderful alternative to sitting meditation awesome.

  26. I know this article is from last year but just had to describe my experience with therapists, yes that is plural.

    About 5 years ago after a particularly outrageous rage event, x agreed to go to therapy with me.

    We met with therapist 3 times, all she focused on was his alcohol use and when I mentioned that the behavior was pretty consistent whether drinking or not, I was ignored.

    Our last appointment, x refused to go because of his rage the night before. I went alone, I was able to be completely open and honest with therapist. Her reaction was to tell me that she would never see him again and that if I got a divorce she would me more than happy to work with me.

    I had to go home and tell this angry man that his therapist broke up with him. I was afraid, thought he would rage. No, he laughed, thought it was funny.

    Second therapist, on my own after he left the first time. She was good and really awful. She would validate my thoughts,”you know this is not normal???” then she would shame me in group for still feeling pain and missing him. This was only 3 weeks after he had left me. I never went back. I think she had some issues of her own.

    The last was just okay. He was good with helping me to see what abuse is and would actually play act it with me to help me respond in the moment. I found that helpful with the freeze response. He was also seeing x and just did not see the extent of the problem. He also just focused on alcohol use. At this time though x was not drinking for about 6 months. Of course x lied about his thoughts and feelings and actions, pretty hard to help someone that does that. Although I was telling the truth and the therapist just seemed to gloss over some of the worst of it. Like the night x beat me, it just got passed over like it was nothing. Just realizing that now.

    I am a little hesitant about therapy now. Even if I could afford it, $4700 deductible! It is hard to expose your pain and have it discounted, get over it, especially by a therapist.

    1. Freedom, I can so understand your frustration with therapy, I also would like to commend you that you were able to realize that what was being told to you in therapy wasn’t right and that you were able to trust your instincts concerning what you knew was truly the issue. I find that a lot of the therapy I received over the years only further added to all of the things that I had experienced. It’s difficult to realize that all the pain was only further enabled by people that you expected would help. There are good therapists out there that can help in this type of situation, and then there are one’s that are naive about how a disturbed person operates. I don’t want to discount therapy or group support, but it can be a very discouraging process to find the right therapist, especially if you are having to spend so much money in the meantime.

      I am sorry that your pain and experiences have been discounted, I think the most important thing for a survivor is to be validated. I know for me, most of my experiences were discounted within my marriage, turned back around on me and what I should or shouldn’t be doing … then to have a therapist or someone who’s supposed to help do the same thing, it’s almost like experiencing the abuse all over again. And it’s not just therapy, I read a lot of books and articles that are meant to help that only further caused me to doubt or take responsibility for things that I had no place taking responsibility for.

      Don’t give up, keep posting here. I have found that this is a great place to be heard, to have your experiences validated, to learn what other people do the get through. This is a great site and there are a few other great ones to that I regularly read that really help me a lot. I’m not sure if you’re christian or not, but there’s a great site cryingoutforjustice.com that deals with different topics and experiences of abuse that really helped validate some of the things I was thinking and seeing. Another site that really helped me, I especially like to read this one to remind myself what he is when I start to feel like I’m lonely and I miss the “pretend” relationship that we once had, abuseandrelationships.com.

      For me now, if I find a web-site or get a book, as soon as it starts making excuses for the abuser, or starts putting any of the responsibility for the abuse onto me, I put the book away or get off of the site. Trust your gut, (concerning what you read or any kind of help or therapy your receive) if you are feeling attacked or discounted in any way, than it’s not for you.

      1. Sheri and Freedom, great posts. Very insightful and on target about further abuse from uneducated and ignorant therapists. They are regurgitating old beliefs and rhetoric that is not appropriate to a covert manipulator/ abuser and it’s so damaging. Again, in addition to the need for these people to be educated in this area, there should be a list of pointed questions to screen for this right from the start of any couples counciling attempt. There are such lists on the Internet for crying out loud, you would think that a therapist could take the iniative and save the victim money and more turmoil??

        1. Thank you, I agree that there should be certain things or “signs”that therapists ask and look for. It’s just a minor thing. But I remember one therapy visit my hb and I had a few years back where the therapist asked me to give an example of how my hb doesn’t consider what I say. So I gave a minimized example of him buying me flowers, now I know most women would love to have flowers bought for them….I don’t. I have been telling my hb not to buy me flowers as gifts, but he continues to do it. So the therapist asked him why, and he gave such a sincere sounding reason and expressed how it hurts his feelings that I don’t like flowers and how he really just loves to buy them for me. So the therapist proceeds to tell me that I need to learn to express more appreciation and then asks me to choose a kind of flower I do like so that my hb can buy me that flower and I can practice not being so unappreciative. So that’s how the session ended, the therapist seeming satisfied that he resolved an issue and my husband satisfied that he once again managed to look like he was the loving husband and I was the unappreciative overly critical wife.

          And I seem to be the one leaving thinking, wait a minute wouldn’t a decent therapist wonder why someone keeps on insisting on doing something the other person doesn’t like and then getting angry that the other person doesn’t appreciate it. Wouldn’t that be a red flag that there’s something wrong with the persons thinking patterns and not buy into the “loving and wonderful” explanations instead of turning into a character defect and blaming me

          I know this seems minor and almost silly but it’s just a small example of how even a therapist can enable and reinforce a disturbed characters way of blaming the victim and their entitled thinking. And because I am slightly neurotic, i went home and tried harder to be more appreciative and less critical.

          And all I think now, we drove two hours each way and paid one hundred dollars per hour so I could have someone encourage my hb to further avoid responsibility and blame me for yet another thing. I get angry just thinking about it

          1. I can completely understand Sheri. I can remember saying things that bothered me but could actually here how ridiculous they sounded to the therapist. Like they sounded trivial and small when I said them because I “knew” they were……………….alone, by themselves, taken out of context to the rest of the picture. I also had a hard time being able to even come up with things “now” that had happened “then”. I just couldn’t remember them in context in the office with him there, her there, after what ever we talked about when we got there,,,,,,,,,,,so hard to explain. And of course he was sweet as sugar on the way there………. He got SO angry with me one time because the therapist “guessed” that one of the issues over the previous week had been about sex?? He blamed me that I had made HER so uncomfortable that she had to ask if it had something to do with sex. I was like………….WHAT?? She’s a frigging relationship counselor! Do you really think the topic of sex would a) make her uncomfortable? and b) be something that should not be and is not something that gets talked about ALL the time in a relationship councilors office? It was just off the wall and one of those things that was more than likely manufactured to start a fight so he could, whatever. I don’t know how many times I have thought to myself, “if I would have known what that idiot was doing, I would have said _____” in response. I have a real hard time with the whole hind site thing. Really aggravating to see how I tiptoed around the loser because x, y and z……primarily out of character for me.
            Honestly, we never went to counseling for long enough to really judge the attempts in an entirely accurate way but there were three attempts and judging by the things that were said in the initial stages it was not going to be beneficial to anyone but his highness and I’m sure he has used his “willingness” to even go in some self serving way. OMG, that whole memory just brought up some SERIOUS anger and disgust!

          2. Oh Sheri,
            I am so sorry but this kind of made me laugh. I know exactly what you mean. Your husband’s flowers were a “this’ll shut her up bouquet”. That was readily apparent and annoying to you, but to anybody else, not so much. It really is a “you had to be there,” for an outsider, or to a therapist unschooled in highly manipulative types.

          3. Ok, and here’s the funny thing, for years I’ve been saying that I’d rather have comic books (I know it sounds weird, but I like comic books). So if he really has to buy me something he could get me a comic…they last forever, are a lot less expensive than flowers, would be something I like and don’t buy for myself because they seem like a silky thing to get myself (I am a 41 year old woman after all). These are the things I’ve told him. And his response..,that seems silly and what would other people think about him if he bought hide comics! Really!?!

            But here’s what really got me, instead of the therapist asking me what I’d want or like. He encouraged me to choose a kind of flower for my hb to get me, that way HE would feel good by buying something for ME that HE liked to buy me…does that even make sense? Then I’m the one walking out of therapy thinking I’m an overly critical, unappreciative bag, which is exactly what my hb has been telling me for years. So marital counselling worked great for him.

          4. Sheri! I hear you! He did all kinds of things I didn’t want him to do and would not do the things I wanted him to do. I understand why now but that’s not the point…….the point is that the therapist should have been taking me by the collar and saying, Puddle, it sounds to me like this man is a psychopath and here’s why, this will never end well, they are toxic in a way that no other toxic man in your life has ever been and they do nothing but leave a trail of distruction in their wake. You may even loose your life to this person Bgor home and read this book, answer this list of questions an glue yourself to the Discovery ID Chanel when ever he is not there. Also, in order to help you answer these questions, here is a list of web sites that you might gain some insight from.
            I know my involvement with Spathtard pales in comparison to the length of time most of you were INvolved but rest assured the damage he did was severe, amazingly so given my usual resilience to relationship terminations, even an initial one with him. He knew which artery to cut, no doubt.

          5. I was told I need to ask for what I want and then told, this is his way of loving you be grateful. Sheri, I could write a book on the therapeutic balls that were dropped. I’m sure he was quite amused by all of it.

    2. Freedom I think if you can find a therapist that you can trust and you are seeking therapy just for yourself then that is really important. I think it’s imperative to help you get through the trauma. The problem is that therapists come in all sorts of guises as well…imagine someone with bad CD traits as therapist, what kind of power do they wield over a vulnerable client! Also depending on their own core beliefs how they were brought up and bingo what a disaster for any poor soul who is looking for help. Any therapist who glosses over violence or says that you’ve somehow contributed to the violence that was inflicted upon you is to be avoided. It’s unacceptable period.

  27. It’s amazing to me that there were so many things I knew and saw about Spathtard even early on but didn’t know what to do with them and certainly didn’t know the potential of what those pieces would look like when they were put together, how serious the situation would become.

  28. I can relate so well to that Puddle, seeing things but not knowing what to do with them. Perhaps it was because we viewed things through our own eyes. Misinterpreted the motivation because we could never act that way without extreme pain behind it?

    I am having a specific action of x that is really bothering me. I just cannot seem to let it go. I just don’t know how to defuse the anger and hurt of this one. I am putting this out here because I need some help with it. Is it just time???

    I was abused as a child by 2 male family members. I confided in x, he was the first person that I felt safe enough to tell.

    He started and affair in 2012 and left me the day I found out. Then after he moved home, he told me that he told the other woman about this.

    This just makes me so angry, so hurt. He used my pain, my trust, to gain empathy or whatever was his goal. He used my pain to justify his actions! He used this, exposed this not just to a friend or family member but to the person he was betraying me with! I feel like I was exposed to an enemy!

    To make it worse, she was horrible, a truly cruel person. She would text me to hurt me.

    I just cannot let this go!

    His only response when I got upset about this was, “she didn’t really care”. He had no concept of how deep this betrayal felt.

    I am having a hard time resisting sending some of these articles to him. I won’t but I sure want to. I want him to know that I see through him, I want him to know what he really it. Then though, he already does know. He just doesn’t care, it serves him because he gets what he wants and really doesn’t care about the consequences.

    He is very odd in emotional or should I say emotionless behavior. He would admit, “yes I did that” but with nothing more! I would always listen and think “and???” waiting for that expression of feeling. It never came.

    I long for the day when he is not the first thought when I wake. I long for the day when I just don’t hurt anymore.

    1. Hi Freedom — what he is, is garbage. What a despicable thing to do, to tell a woman with whom he was having an affair. And her!!! she stinks to high heaven. But please hang on to your temper, don’t send him anything, you will only waste your time. I just heard on the news again, that when people are going through the aftermath of a breakup (this was the ordinary kind, though it still hurts) the healing comes faster when you can talk it out with someone you can trust. All my sympathy to you, it’s alright to cry when you need to, it releases healing hormones. I remember going out in the woods and yelling because I felt my circumstances were so unfair — though certainly not as bad as you have had it. Peace and hope from Elva

      1. Hi again Freedom — just thought of another way to help yourself get rid of negative feelings. I think it was Puddle who said that her counselor had suggested to her that she write letters to the jerk and tell him just what she thought of him. BUT do NOT mail the letters. Write however many you need to. For myself, I prayed that God would take all the negative feelings out of my mind, because they were eating me alive. And He did just that. Again, all my sympathy to you, hang in there, we are all pulling for you. Peace and hope from Elva

        1. Actually, the thing that helped me the most (and I still do it occasionally) is saying and sometimes screaming everything and anything that comes out of my mind and mouth when I’m driving in my car alone. I can’t do it if my pets are in the car because it would scare the crap out of them! It gets pretty graphic. I could NEVER promise that if i was to run into him again, in public, and he were to greet me the way he did a year or so ago, it wouldn’t get ugly again. He seemingly though I would respond to him as if nothing had happened and I would accept his manipulative, parasitic abusive crap “with levity and a smile”……… a quote from a fellow survivor. He was wrong. The only thing he assured in the humiliation he bestowed on me is that nothing could humiliate me more, including my own retaliatory public rants and outbursts! I am in a MOOD!

    2. Wow. You need to be angry. My husband used the sexual abuse I experienced as a child as the reason for all of our sexual problems and would make comments about it to manipulate me. I have done some serious therapy and have truly done the hard work of overcoming.

      Be angry, not only did he break your trust by having an affair but he further proved how low he is by telling that person about something you shared with him. I’d like to say he’s not worth the anger. But wow that was really low of him. Write a letter, burn it in your sink. Be angry and then do something wonderful just for you. I have a few different playlists that I listen to in times like these. I start with my “angry” music, sing along and shout it out. Then I move on to my “sad” music and have a good cry. And then I like to finish it off with some uplifting music that I like to listen to while painting, crocheting, giving myself a facial or anything that I like to do just for me. It helps, don’t know if it would work for you. I kept having to try different things to get me through the rough spots until I found something that seems to work,

      1. Hi Freedom — I agree with Sheri here. At 6 months, you’ve been hurting this far, now it’s time to say “You piece of excrement!!! I did NOT deserve to be treated like that!!” Or whatever feels right for you to say. Talk out loud, write letters, go someplace where you can scream, yell, let it out. And also, as Sheri says, it’s important to do something good for yourself. Ice cream cone, maybe? Fudge brownie? Bubble bath? whatever treat will help you feel a bit better about yourself. Peace and hope from Elva

      2. Oh Sheri,,,,,,don’t get me started about MY “sexual problems” within the relationshi* with Spathtard, who apparently though the mere presence of his highness should elicit a spontaneous orgasm. Seriously,,,,,,more BS. As if you just jump in a car and expect it to go without even turning the key? I REALLY got ripped off in THAT department. More games………

  29. Right therapist can make huge difference.

    I have determination for doing right and reasonable things, and open enough for reasonable sensible discussions for alternatives. I do not get swayed by small tantrums from my wife. So, she quickly took to bigger ones. Once she threatened suicide… took a blade and locked herself in the bathroom. I just told her that at 25 she is old enough to be responsible for herself. After 10-15 minutes she quietly came out (it is different matter she later claimed that she was actually about to do herself in and even had small cut in that process). After a gap of many months, she again threatened suicide… this time she took a gulp from a phenyl based common house cleaning liquid and locked herself in a room with the bottle. This time I panicked. Had to plead her to open the door. Took her to emergency in hospital. After 2-3 hours in the ICU, she wanted to go back home as she does not like hospital (this part is true, she really does not like hospital, and at the age of 25 she did not like old age, and planned to die on her retirement day at the age of 60). My later behaviour made it sufficiently clear that same threat won’t work next time.
    8 year fast forward, and no more suicide attempts, I was discussing it with my therapist. And, she asked, “How much your wife did ACTUALLY drink?” My face was like “WHAT!?” Considering all other evidences, last “suicide attempt” was very likely just another sham with bit more realism thrown in.

    That ghoul probably did not even make a serious attempt. And, it took me 8 years to realize that. Of course, asking her is pointless. But, I just might ask her, in case she comes back in my life.

    Some other therapist might have seen deep abandonment fear in my wife and taken me for long neurotic ride.

    PS: And, so much for my childhood trauma. I was sexually abused once, at 4-5 year age. I have grown past it decades ago. Now, I feel that if I mention this to some therapist, he will probably rub his hand in glee and think “oh boy, now I am in business”. And, I know well enough to say, “Sorry buddy, you are still out of business!” 🙂

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