More on Self-Esteem, Depression, and Bipolar Illness

I’ve been posting on some of the more well known but often misunderstood and misused psychological terms and concepts (See also: Misunderstood and Misused Psychology Terms – Pt 1, Shame, Guilt, Regret, Remorse, and Contrition, Misunderstood Psychology Terms – Pt 2: Personality and Character, Misused Terms Pt 3: Defensive, Dissociation, Dependence, Denial, Misunderstood and Misused Psychology Terms – Pt 4, and Addiction, Codependence, PTSD, Anxiety, and Self-Esteem).  In this week’s article, I’ll be exploring further the concept of self-esteem, which I’ve written about several times before on the blog and in all three of my books In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome, and also addressing some misconceptions about Depression and Bipolar Illness (i.e. Bipolar Disorder).

As I explain in my books and in several other articles (See, for example: Getting It Right About Self-Esteem), self-esteem is not the same thing as self-respect.  And self-respect is not the same thing as healthy self-regard and care.  Moreover, affording someone respect they’r due is not the same as behaving toward them in a civil or humane manner.  The word respect literally means to look again or look back.  It has to do with a retrospective appraisal of one’s actions and, especially, one’s character. Because we live in the age of entitlement, many think of respect as a fundamental right as opposed to something that rightfully need be earned.  Folks with an entitlement mentality often demand respect, even when they’ve habitually conducted themselves in a manner that doesn’t merit it (You can read more about the concept of merit in my books Character Disturbance and The Judas Syndrome).

Crafting a life you can be legitimately proud of (i.e. not being vainly or falsely prideful) and being the kind of person who is truly worthy of respect is what character is all about.  Unfortunately, these days, too many of us are not mindful enough about making the efforts that eventually merit respect.  We also don’t adequately afford recognition to the value of those efforts (Our culture neither adequately recognizes and applauds meritorious conduct nor does it groom us to recognize and applaud it in ourselves).  As creatures of free will, it’s not always easy for us to exercise our wills in the right direction.  So when we do make the more noble choice, we need to not only ensure that we afford ourselves proper recognition but also insist that those in relationships with us demonstrate the respect we have merited.  Now let me be clear, we all have a right to civil and humane treatment.  But we have to earn respect.  And we should be wary of those who fail to afford it when we rightfully deserve it.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about depression these days.  But before I delve into what depression truly is, let me say a few things about what it is not:  Depression is not appropriate and understandable unhappiness about an unfortunate circumstance.  Nor is it the same thing as normal grieving over a loss.  When things happen that hurt us, disappoint us, etc., we’re not suppose to feel elated – that would be an illness of its own. Besides, unhappy feelings about bad things that have come our way – whether invited by our own actions or totally uninvited as the result of misfortune – can be a really constructive personal growth experience.  Too many times these days, doctors are willing to prescribe mood pick-me-ups to folks who really need to pay more attention to the things they’re doing (or permitting) that prompt their negative feelings, which only enables and perpetuates their psychological ill-health.  Depression is far more than any of the things mentioned above.  It’s a clinical illness with distinct symptoms and while it sometimes occurs after exposure to (and in response to) a significant psychological stressor (or series of stressors), it can indeed manifest itself completely “out of the blue,” as the result of an unprompted biochemical imbalance.  The biochemical imbalances associated with depression can also occur as the result of physical illnesses and trauma. The most important thing to remember about depression is, however, that it’s a negative change in mood, ideation, and behavior far in excess of what might be expected as a “normal” degree of despondency over an unhappy turn of events.

Depression can also arise as the insidious consequence of a particular kind of behavior that individuals who’ve been in dysfunctional relationships with impaired characters frequently display.  Victims of abusive, manipulative, exploitative relationships get used to focusing a lot of time and energy externally, constantly wondering what the disturbed character in their lives might do next, what might set him/her off, what mess he/she might create, etc.  And in the face of this trauma victims often experience the anger, frustration, and eventual depression that accompanies feelings of helplessness and powerlessness to make things different (More on this phenomenon can be found in all three of my books and in the article: Empowerment Tools:  Invest Your Energy Where You Have Power).  While restoring better biochemical balances can be helpful, the real key to breaking the grip of depression and securing personal empowerment and joy is re-learning where to focus your attention (i.e. internally as opposed to externally) and mastering the strategies of investing time, energy and personal resources where you have real power: yourself and the actions you’re willing to take on your own behalf.

Perhaps there’s no psychological label as misunderstood or misapplied these days than “bipolar.”  Bipolar Disorder is a genuine clinical illness. It was initially conceptualized as a psychotic level of cyclical mood disturbance (i.e. severe depression or elation), but its definition has changed over time.  Critics argue that it’s also become perhaps one of the most over-diagnosed conditions, for a variety of reasons.  In recent years, we’ve come to distinguish between two primary types of the condition:  Type 1, where the person has had a true manic episode (Mania is a hard not-to-recognize state of hyper-elation and persons in such a state display very telltale signs such as rapid, pressured speech, rapid racing thoughts and ideas, grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, impulsive, reckless, high-risk behavior, etc.) and Type II, where the person may have had depressed periods as well as somewhat abnormally elated periods (called “hypomania) but hasn’t had a full-blown manic episode.

Bipolar Disorder should not be confused with the habitual reckless, impulsive, self-serving and destructive, yet preferred behavior pattern of certain disturbed characters.  Folks suffering from Bipolar Disorder and who don’t also have character disturbances would behave much differently if they could, but can’t because of the severe biochemical imbalance in their brains.  Now the jury is still out about how much certain habitual behavioral styles (i.e. personality predispositions) contribute to both the development and exacerbation of the illness or how much the illness itself, present at lower and harder to detect levels throughout a person’s growth contributes to the development of certain personality disturbances. But having the disease is not the same as being character disturbed (although it’s perfectly possible to be character disturbed and be prone to  or have the illness).  And if you give mood stabilizing medications to someone deficient in self-regulation (i.e. displays impaired impulse control, poor anger and temper management, reckless behavior, etc.), it can indeed make them less volatile, which is why many disturbed characters end up getting labeled as bipolar when their difficulties are not so much a matter of their biochemistry but rather their character.  

I’ll have more to say about these matters and about other commonly misunderstood and misused terms and concepts (especially the many misconceptions surrounding the use of the term “disorder”) in next week’s post. And although there’s a possibility this Sunday’s Character Matters program may be a prerecorded show (I will be recuperating from surgery but hope to be well enough for a live program), I hope to continue the discussion then and welcome any comments or questions from the listeners.  


99 thoughts on “More on Self-Esteem, Depression, and Bipolar Illness

  1. Hello Dr. Simon — here’s wishing you a speedy recovery from your surgery — And my very grateful thanks for your lifetime of trying to help those of us who are struggling to make sense of our lives. We care deeply for you, though we don’t often express it. Peace, hope, and good health to you from Elva and many others!

    1. Elva, I just learned/ read about Dr. Simon’s surgery and was headed over here to wish him well as well.
      SO, Here’s wishing you a very speedy recovery Dr. Simon!

  2. Dr. Simon,
    “… re-learning where to focus your attention (i.e. internally as opposed to externally) and mastering the strategies of investing time, energy and personal resources where you have real power: yourself and the actions you’re willing to take on your own behalf.”
    I have always thought of depression as the experience of being (or believing you are) “between a rock and a hard place”. I concur!

  3. My relationship with this disturbed character which I never became emotionally invested but for a short time I did try yet he couldn’t sell me his faulty bag of goods. What really happened is he became impatient with me and one day he let the mask slip! I went home and thought who is this person really??
    So I started my search on the Internet and ended up ordering Dr. Simons book “In Sheeps Clothing”
    I took Dr. Simons advise and started Plan B. Thank heavens I’m away from him but it wasn’t easy.
    They don’t respect boundaries! I had to stop answering my phone when he continued to call and that was very difficult for me. From everything I have learned and seen from his behavior I am traumatized knowing that there are evil people of this nature. I have been in love before and had my heart broken but
    not by this man. What I’m getting at is that I can’t imagine how traumatic it would be to fall in love with
    someone like that. My heart goes out to you!
    Hope you have a speedy recovery Dr. Simon

  4. Dr Simon best wishes to you for a speedy recovery. I do like your succinct way of summing up depression. So often the way it is diagnosed is so simplistic that just about anyone could have depression. I liken depression to feeling like you have a dark heavy brick in your head that just won’t budge no matter what you do. It flattens your mood completely. Though I do agree focusing your energy on things you can change to empower yourself is indeed the better strategy. I’ve found walking and swimming to be a great way of battling depression. Exercise releases all those endorphins and all of a sudden you feel better about things and your thinking changes. Though just getting out there can be difficult which is where some form of medication can help initially.

    1. I agree exercise is a great way to help. Sometimes I experience symptoms of depression when I kind of just “sit in” my problems and they go around and around in my head and keep them all to myself. Then I start feeling helpless and hopeless. Sometimes just anything that gets me out of my own head and changing my focus can be a great relief and get my thinking refocused in a different direction I really found even taking on a difficult craft project or learning a new song on the keyboard really helps also just reading what others have overcome and what worked for them is a great way to bring back hope and empowerment

      1. Sheri I too think all those things are important. Anything that can bring you out of that dark hole and get you to refocus your mind is essential and is a building block to self improvement. It’s a bit like a chain reaction, start with one thing, add another and before you know it life becomes a little easier. 🙂

        1. Thank you, sometimes it is the only thing I can do until I’ve worked through some of my emotions. Even though I read about how subtle the manipulation, etc can be, it’s like I look back in the past and wonder “How didn’t I see it, why didn’t I look at the big picture and ‘get it’? I get really down on myself and self-critical. I know in my head that none of it was truly my fault, I can see how I enable or “ignored” things and I am trying to not do that anymore and focus on moving forward, I am trying to find fulfillment in other areas of life and stick to my goals. However, even though I know that all in my head and am trying to move forward, sometimes it’s not in my heart yet. Things can get very confusing, so some days it really is just do what I can. Some days are very good, and some days I fall, I get caught up in old thinking and patterns and then I go and blame myself again be not being strong or falling for something. I don’t know it is such a confusing time. Just really working on getting rid of self-defeating messages and taking responsibility ONLY for that which I am truly responsible for, but it is hard – there are so many different messages, that sites like this are really important to keep me grounded. I do know I need to keep working on these things, but some days just doing something where I can feel like I accomplished something, had some fun, or did something nice for myself or someone else is really what gets my through that day.

          1. Sheri, remember… didn’t know what you know now. That realization really helped me not feel stupid or blind. I saw some things too but nothing that SEEMED like that much of a problem. It did but it didn’t. I swear, the whole thing seem like a dream now as if I was drugged.

          2. I do need to keep reminding myself of that. Some days I accept it others i struggle. It really is the information from this site and Dr. Simon’s books that really helped things click into place and sometimes I read certain parts over to keep reminding myself. Learning what helped get others through really helps. It may sound strange but also hearing that others are still struggling and working through things is a process (my counsellor has helped me realize this too) helps me not get too hard on myself because when I have struggles

          3. Sheri those questions you are asking is what we all ask ourselves. It’s like it never really goes away and it comes back to that subtle manipulation. It’s so subtle you’re not meant to see it…that’s their game. I still find it confusing and that keeps me researching because I have to keep reinforcing this knowledge to myself. I find days where I will go over it and wonder why? Why didn’t I see it? Why was he like that? What makes a person do all these things? It’s like even though we know the answers NOW we still find it incomprehensible that these horrible people exist! I will never understand how he could take the emotion of love freely given and would twist it, use it and throw it to the side as if it was a piece of rubbish. I’ll never understand such callousness! Sorry bit emotional, it’s this time of year I think. But Sheri you are doing all the right things and you will back slide it’s all part of the process. It’s so hard but you will succeed I know it you seem like a strong person and keep doing those things that make you feel better, that take care of you. 🙂 As they say it’s one step forward and sometimes two steps back but as long as you keep getting back up and taking those steps forward you will find your peace! ((hugs))! 🙂

          4. I’m not sure if it’s okay to pose this question, it’s not really topic related, however it does tie into the idea of depression. Just looking for a little feedback, now my counselor has told me this is normal – but sometimes I wonder.
            Dr. Simon has written some ideas about integrity, and this last few years, I have began to wonder about mine. I have found myself reacting to situations so unlike my character, I’ve yelled and said some hurtful things, especially those times that he really pushes me to “trust him”. There have been times when I start out calmly trying to express how something he’s said or done has hurt me or gone against something he said he was going to do. He will either nod his head and parrot me, or sometimes worse yet, he’ll just kind-of smile and not respond. I can feel my chest tighten, and I’ll yell or just keep getting angrier and angrier, there’s been a few times I’ve said some hurtful things. Then I walk away and cry, not because of what he has or hasn’t done, but I think to myself “who am I and what have I become” I get so hard on myself for days, it really gets me down. It’s those moments that I have the hardest time pulling myself out of my head, it’s also those times that I have a hard time sticking to my limits and boundaries, it’s like I feel so guilty for what I’ve said or for yelling that it’s like I revert 2 years. Sometimes I think that now I’m the one being verbally abusive, and it’s horrible, it’s really not who I am (I know that even sounds awful, I’ve just said that I’ve been doing it, I really question myself alot)
            Now my counselor has suggested that when I start to feel this way I should take some deep breaths, focus on something visually stimulating in the room, and walk away until my anger level goes down. Sometimes this works, not always.

            Just wondering, can anyone relate to this? If so, what things worked for you, just to keep those emotions in check. I feel like any integrity I strive for is just slipping away.

          5. Sheri I can very much relate! I was subjected to the “parroting” in a relationship and it drove me off the deep end. It’s like there’s nothing you can do or say. I put it down to crazy making. Like you I would say things that I couldn’t believe were coming out of my mouth and then I would descend into a deep depression afterward tortured with guilt. Don’t be hard on yourself as honestly these people will push you and you’re only human. I would suggest take yourself out of the situation and go for a walk when that happens. With parroting you won’t get anywhere, it’s a ploy designed to unhinge you. The “trust me…can’t you see I’m doing so well” got that one too and again it seems like you have to pamper, pat them and polish their ego or something. I often wondered what he expected after all he’d put us through to demand trust usually only into a week of trying…ha and how long did the change last…not long at all. I would explain to him that I wanted to trust him but i needed time to see that he was serious. I mean after a few days or a week they expect you to praise them. Usually you feel tension building and bingo off they go again.
            But that parroting is mental torture as far as I am concerned. It shows how deep their disrespect for you goes and I didn’t get it at the time but I do now. To save your sanity on that one get out of the house and go for a walk, go shopping with friends or maybe the gym or something and pump it out. That’s all I can suggest Sheri but do not be hard on yourself…you know you are not that person, your integrity is in tact…his on the other hand isn’t!

          6. Sheri just wanted to say this is the first time in all I’ve been reading that the subject of parroting has come up and I could tell by reading your post how similar it was to what I experienced. I hadn’t even thought to describe it as parroting I didn’t know how to describe it but it is so apt! I’d be interested to know if others have experienced this as gosh when i think of your words being repeatedly spoken back to you over and over again, or answers with a flat “yes Tori, Yes Tori, Yes Tori” how could you not see red!

          7. Without a doubt,,,,absolutely! But again, for the most part it was done in such a weird way……I can remember thinking,,,,,,” I SAID THAT” ! One time I turned the tables on him and said something to him that he used to do to me,,,,,pure cruelness on his part….I said it to him the next morning after a fight and it about KILLED me to do it. I did it to show him how it felt! He acted like I had shot him or worse! I immediately told him why I did it and I couldn’t even DO it the way he did it…… But he would make scoffing faces at me and then JUMP my case if I had a look of confusion on my face…………because I was confused?!?!?
            All games……all BS…………..and all the while, every day, morning and night unless in a fight…..”I Love you Puddle…..You mean Sooooooo much to me”. BLACH!

          8. they are mimics after all…….actors. this is a way to gain acceptance and trust….pretend to be like the other person. It doesn’t matter in what format….it appeals to the subconscious. your mind recognizes the words as familiar. Just sick. I can look back in retrospect on a couple other situations that were hit and run games so the impact was not so great……….they did the same thing. Hind sight is amazing with a little knowledge under your belt.

          9. Thank you, I’m seeing clearing how this is a tactic now, walking away does help when I’m clear enough to do it. At first when I’d get angry, I didn’t get it, because on the surface it “seemed” like he was agreeing with me. If I’d question as to why he’d just keep repeating me, he would say that he was just “working on his communication skills”. But somehow on the inside, his responses did’t seem quite right. I can also relate to a lot of the things you say puddle, I get a lot of the crying and telling me how much he loves me, how much he appreciates me. It is very difficult to discern, the things that he says in one moment don’t match up to the way he behaves. It took me so long to see it, I spent so much time going by his word and ignoring his actions.

            Same with the “trust me” idea, I’ve started telling him that I would like to trust him, but I’m going to trust his actions and not is words. I have have just realized that when he parrots or even gives assent that he’s subtly finding ways to actually turn it around on me. In the past, he would flat out say “I can’t believe you don’t trust me,”, or “if you’d just forgive me, then you’d feel better,” or “have you tried to pray to God, he will help you get over this,” or “if you respected me more, than you’d see how much I love you”, or “don’t feel (think) that way, etc, etc, etc.

            Now he’s changed the way he talks, so for a long while I actually thought that his attitudes were changing and was even more confused why his behavior was still so hurtful. Then I realized that the parroting and assenting was just a more subtle way of doing the say way. Nodding and repeating back to me, I’ve realized is either him trying to push my buttons, or maybe not even listening. The assenting is things like, “I understand that you see me as a liar”, “I can see how you feel that way, but…”, “You’re such faithful person, it must pain you when you react to my this way,”, “I can understand how you don’t trust me,” etc, etc, etc. For a long time I’d think…wow, he is starting to listen. But now I look back and realize that he’s still basically saying the same things as before, they just got more subtle. So now when I hear them I understand where the internal struggle or doubt within me comes from … I am learning to trust my gut.

            The walking away, going for a drive, etc has been helping (he used to follow me, to continue on … but he actually has stopped doing that).

            Funny thing is I was serving at a supper last night, and one of the ladies there was telling me (she has a different situation, but there are times that she needs to “snap” herself out of it), her counselor told her to wear an elastic band on her wrist all the time, and when she feels herself getting emotionally over-loaded to give her wrist a small snap with the elastic band to remind her of what she’s supposed to be doing … I think I’m going to give it a try.

          10. Sheri, The elastic band is an old trick and is tied in somehow to buddhist monks swatting their students with sticks (from what I’ve read). I don’t think it is a bad idea at all and will hopefully keep your mind in check and retrain your brain. You are in a very different situation than I was because you are still with this person and figuring it out to this degree and learning, etc. I could never explain the process I went through but did not fully “GET IT” till it was over, done, finished and even then it took a LONG time for me to fully “GET IT”. I’m still putting the two and two’s together and there are a LOT of them.
            When a person is still exposed to the psychopathic manipulator and has not FULLY understood and seen what is going on, there are just SO many dynamics interacting that keep them invested…… is hard to walk away from something you were tricked into thinking was real, met your needs in ways that nothing ever had,,,,,,, to try to put that all into words that would make sense is so frustrating because I don’t think i can put into words what I saw yet didn’t see, felt but didn’t know. So many times I had my legs get kicked out from under me by the same person who helped me back up. How weekend I had become which only made it all foggier and harder to sort through and see. It wasn’t a matter of not wanting to see and know the truth, I couldn’t conceive of the truth and the “I love you’s” just undermined my ability to really make a firm call. I do remember saying “I need actions, not words” He had a response for that….”this is the way I show love”…….now I think, WHAT? REALLY?? But at the time, that “stopped me” and sent me back into “well maybe mode”. what if this IS the way he shows love…….OMG!! Just such a mind screw, SUCH a mind screw. Half the time my best friend was ready to punch him and the other half she was happy for us/ me because I was so sure that things were taking a turn for the better because that is what he led me to believe and I WANTED to believe that. It hurts me so much to think I was SO hooked, so blindly taken in.
            There are many many levels to our psyche and I see now how someone can get hooked at a very deep level, a primal level, and see things on another level but not be able to override the deeper one. This POS hooked me in a place so old and so woundedly vulnerable, just so so deep……no one had EVER gone there with me and he allowed me to think that place was finally safe with HIM. Then he ripped out the hook and spit in the gaping wound.
            Regarding your integrity,,,,,,I don’t know what to say. There are many ways to look at that issue. You have knowledge now so that should help you make choices that can encompass your integrity as well. but i wouldn’t spend one minute berating yourself for anything done under the influence of a sociopathic and covert manipulator. They know what they are doing, why they are doing it and what they hope to get out of it and are skilled at attaining just that even if it’s just getting you to supposedly betray yourself by saying something they will hold over your head till the end. When someone is in that position they are being chipped away at from the foundation. the was may be standing but the structure is becoming more and more compromised. Cracks start to show, a window that used to open doesn’t work right now, the doors bind and the basement is flooded with emotion. ALL of this is affecting YOU, not them………not one ounce of it is affecting them and in fact they are growing stronger.
            Hang in there Sheri and KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN, watch, listen, learn and base your decisions and course of action accordingly.
            A word of warning here…………do not confront this “man” directly with your suspicions or threaten him or what ever. None of us have any way of knowing what this “man” is really all about or capable of and certainly if you know or think you are in danger of harm, you need to take that VERY seriously and seek some “on the ground” help from your community. These types can be volatile and ruthless when they are “found out” and challenged. Just be careful.

      2. What helps me is knitting sweaters for dogs rescued from puppy mills. People might think it sounds silly, but it lets me focus on helping animals who have suffered emotional & physical abuse their entire lives. I’ve donated about 30 so far. I have been seeing a doctor & taking meds for years. Swimming several times a week also helped me greatly years ago, but I don’t have access to a pool anymore.

        1. That’s lovely Rosemary, not silly at all and good therapy for you and the puppies you’ve helped. It’s beautiful and I thank you for giving me a smile today. I do hope one day you get access to a swimming pool again because I agree swimming is a wonderful way to keep focussed. I wish you well! 🙂

  5. I totally agree with Dr. Simon when it comes to the difference between self-esteem and self-respect. I do agree that everyone needs to have a healthy self-regard. But in today’s society most children are taught to have an over-inflated self-esteem or ego. Very little is taught about self-respect and very much is taught about self-esteem. I noticed when my children were elementary school age there was so much focus on self-esteem and making sure everyone “feels” great about themselves, so no one feels left out or feelings get “hurt”. On some level this is great, but sometimes it gets ridiculous.

    For example, there we two boys in my daughters grade 8 class that were severe verbal bullies. They were being extremely racist and sexist towards some of the other students. Every parent were individually called in, and the police were called in to talk to the whole class. They decided that they didn’t want to single out these two boys because it might “hurt” there feelings, so instead they decided that the whole class was EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE. The principle actually told me “they though that singling out these two boys (the racists, sexists, and bullies) because it would damage their ‘self-esteem.’

    It is literally being taught to our young children, in the school systems, to have an over-inflated idea of themselves no matter what they do. I’ve also notices that schools have stopped giving rightful consequences for wrongful actions. As in the case of the bullies, I do agree that society in general is responsible for taking a stand for social injustice, education ,etc. But saying that the whole class is EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE and, that these bullies received the same consequences as the whole class is really ridiculous.

    This is only one instance, there have been other, less serious things that have arose concerning the type of messages our children are being fed now-a-days. As a parent it is very hard to counter-act this, although I don’t stop trying.

    Dr. Simon, I, as well, wish you a speedy recovery! Just at a time that I was at my lowest, actually thinking I was going crazy, I found your book and it actually changed my way of thinking – it was your book was that which started me in the direction of making better choices for myself.

    It was through your writings that I was able to get out of the “depression” to realize that the only one I could change was me … although I still have my moments of attempting to / hoping for change with the DC in my life, those moments get further and further apart, and I am learning to take it easy on myself when I fall back into old patterns.

    So thank you again.

    1. Sheri,
      “… schools have stopped giving rightful consequences for wrongful actions.” Not just schools – this attitude is found elsewhere. People permit bad behaviour for all sorts of reasons and schools are no different.
      “…the type of messages our children are being fed now-a-days. As a parent it is very hard to counter-act this…” Parents can demonstrate alternative values at home to their children – it is at home where the children are most strongly influenced, IMO.

    2. Sheri I work in schools and for the most part I’ve found in those that I’ve worked at the bullies are held responsible for their own actions. Though must say that at times I am dismayed by the total disrespect shown to teachers by some students. I think it is indicative of this character disturbance crisis. When we were at school we would never have dared to back chat, swear or call teacher’s names or any elders for that matter. Now it something that seems teachers have to deal with on a daily basis. Right now I work with a student who I thought may have been aspergers but don’t think so now (though I am no expert) but he is quite violent and I’ve had to put myself in harms way so he could not violently attack another student. It is scary stuff to see such a level of violence at such a young age.
      To tell you the truth I was severely bullied at high school it was extremely violent to the point where they threatened to kill me. No one, teachers, parents did anything. It was like these bullies were in the too hard basket to control. The principal at the time said it was unfortunate that I had been singled out by these students as they were the worst students in the school and there was little he could do! I left that school and totally forgot about that bullying (which went on for months) I must have put it away deep inside myself as I was only 12 at the time and these kids were all 16 and over who were bullying me. It resurfaced a few months before I left my ex…there was an anti bullying month on a community writing project I was involved in. After reading stories I had an emotional melt down… but suffice to say I do believe that has had an impact on me throughout life though I may not have been conscious of it. Now I’m a bit teary as I really do wonder…not sure why i bought it up but really I’d love to see effective programs in school that could be beneficial in changing children’s behaviour patterns at an early age particularly if they show bullying behaviours. We can’t just put these kids into the too hard basket! Once they become adults change seems to be impossible!

      1. Tori,
        I am sorry you experienced bullying at such a tender age. I hope you have gained something meaningful from it, despite the difficulties experienced. Bullying is unacceptable behaviour.

      2. Tori, I am sorry to hear about the bullying you experienced, It does sound like it had impacted you greatly.

        I think there is a lot more focus on anti-bullying in society, but a lot less that teachers can do about it, I do understand what you are saying that it is very difficult for teachers. In our school system most of the policies have come from up-high where they don’t even have any contact with the kids, and have left the teachers “stuck” in how they can deal with abusive situations among the children. When you say, “but he is quite violent and I’ve had to put myself in harms way so he could not violently attack another student.” I am very sorry for that, but I do commend you for sacrificing your safety to assist someone who may not have been able to protect themselves. A lot of our teachers are not happy with a lot of the policies set down, but to keep their job they must comply.

        I also think effective school programs, parenting educations, and effective ways to treat bullying situations would be greatly beneficial. I think everyone (including the bullies) know that the behavior is wrong. However, we are often taught to empathize with the bullies and make excuses for them, there are a lot of attempts to prevent the bullying, but I don’t think teachers, parents, etc are given much information on what to do once the bullying situation has taken place and how to effectively administer change in the “bully” (before it’s too late).

        1. Thank you Sheri 🙂 I do agree that it seems to be very difficult in trying to find effective ways in dealing with bullying in schools. Whatever the solutions it really needs a commitment between schools, students and parents to work together to bring about the changes. You’re right in that the information required isn’t there in how to like you say to administer that change.

          1. I think too Sheri that it’s such a complex area and the extent of the problem too. It seems to be getting worse and it is most likely that sense of entitlement in society as a whole that is fuelling it? I don’t know? I feel for teacher’s as they have so much on their plate and it seems they almost need a psychology degree as well to deal with the behavioural problems they have to face each day as well.

          2. Hi there,
            Tori so sorry for your experience! I agree it is complex this whole childhood bullying thing.
            Our schools have implemented this program:
            I think it’s great. It doesn’t cover everything and it isn’t perfect. It does give kids some good perspectives on bullying to consider, and it does give them some good words/language to use for things they may experience or feelings they may have.

            I like that they teach that bullying behavior needs “quick, swift consequences”.
            I think it could be even a little tougher in that way- there’s less of that and more of “fill people’s buckets with kind words”
            While I like the idea of bucket filling, we all know that the narcissistically inclined do not need fluffy praise/compliments (that don’t pertain to their character development…)

          3. Thanks Linda, I’ve just had a look at the website it seems very informative. I liked the empowerment part of it too and that it is community responsive which I really think is important. I will have to read it in more detail but thank you so much. 🙂

          4. Hi Tori {{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}} to you……sorry, I’barely able to keep my eyes open, let alone string words that make sense together. I do want to express my “I
            m sorries” about this bullying you experienced. It shows you how long something that traumatizes you can last in your system. Even unrecognized it can be operating underneath the surface which is yet another reason someone’s comments recently were not appreciated by me. We never know what kind of trauma might be hidden below the surface of someone’s make up, or why it may be easier for some to move on than others, or………………..fill in the blank.

          5. Our school system as well has implemented “Anti-bullying” programs, which on the surface are based on bullying prevention, which is great. I think the the concept behind their idea is great and had good intentions, however their primary focus is “bullying is everyone’s responsibility”, which I understand the concept behind the idea that bullying needs to be prevented by a society as a whole. However, they’ve gone so far with this concept that when one child in the class is bullying, the whole class are expected to be responsible for it (example, the student that didn’t stop it when they saw it, the student who responded to the bullying behavior inappropriately, the student who isn’t being empathetic to the bully, etc) face an equally severe consequence as the bully themselves; and we also have implemented in our school system that a teacher cannot enforce a consequence unless the parent gives them permission to. So in the case of the boys who were saying some hurtful racial and sexist comments, did not face any extra consequences than the rest of the class, which was basically our community/school liaison police officer discussing the harmfulness of bullying to the entire class. As for one of the bully’s parents, their attitude was “oh well, boys will be boys”

            It can be frustrating as a parent, I did tell my daughter that it was not fair, but sometimes the world just works that way. Also, she gets frustrated with me, when she needs to face a consequence for her behaviors at school, I typically work with the teacher to make sure this plays out in our home (ex. when the teacher informed me she was not doing her work in class and she would have to stay after school, I agreed … I also confiscated her ipod/computer time until she was putting an effort into her schooling on a consistent basis). However she will often come home complaining that it’s not fair, because not all the students “have to” follow the consequences because their parents are not assisting the teacher or agreeing to the set consequence.

          6. Sheri………it seems to me that the whole system……….the WHOLE system is broken and on so many levels. Seems like the place to have the most influence over a child is at home as a parent, no? Buuuuut…….parents are both working,,,,,,,,why??? because THEIR value system is out of whack and they put STUFF above quality child rearing. So the child is moer influenced by others (school, friends, etc etc. etc…..)… seems like an inextricable mess!
            So what? This school program that wants the children to police the children?? WHAT about that makes sense? Children need adults to do that because they are not qualified to by the sheer lack of experience and maturity. PLUS, it could well mean their life. What was the movie? Lord of the Flies? I only saw a small part of it but it comes to mind in a scary way!
            Man oh Man! I feel for parents these days……(probably all days but… does seem worse than ever. Times are just so different that when I was raised. Plenty went wrong then too but this is really bad now.

        2. Aww thank you Puddle 🙂 It’s so true what you say, as you never know what will bring a hidden hurt to the surface. It really knocked me when that happened as i really thought it had never impacted on me at all! I think the reason for it surfacing at that time was probably the situation I was in and maybe my mind was unconsciously joining up the dots as when that meltdown happened I did confront my ex on his behaviour toward me but now I realise I went about it the wrong way as I framed it as if there was something wrong with me and was really upset. I certainly didn’t stand up for myself! It’s all a learning curve no matter what stage of your life you learn it! I think I may take myself outside and do some therapeutic gardening. 🙂 Thanks Puddle Love Ya! 😉

  6. Sheri,
    Thanks for story about how all of the kids in the classroom are, in a sense, reprimanded for the bullying of a couple of kids. Poor practice and not even in compliance with the Geneva convention–if the school was a prison camp!

  7. Readers and commentators,

    I regret I have not been feeling up to adequately attending to issues that have surfaced recently with regard to comments.

    It’s been quite some time now since I asked the blog managers to remove the requirement that all comments be held for approval and possibly edited before posting. I did that because the activity on the blog had become so high and also because the general quality of the comments and the apparent character of the commentators was so uncommonly and refreshingly high that I saw no need for tight oversight and many potential benefits to allowing folks to post comments readily.

    I do not want to have to go back to having every comment held for approval. But I also can’t permit the kind of insensitivity and cat fighting that’s characterized some of the more recent posts to continue. Therefore, I’m going to start earmarking some comments for approval before they post. And I’ll be doing some editing of comments when necessary. I’ll make it clear when comments have been edited, and if necessary, why. On occasion, I might provide direct feedback to a commentator about the reasons for editing a post, especially if such editing is frequent.

    It might take some time before these new parameters get firmly into place. Again, I apologize for not feeling up to tending to these matters sooner.

  8. Growing up I was bullied by my older sister and it was a strange thing how I loved and looked up to her in spite of it. When she left home I realized a freedom and began to grow in a positive way. I had a wonderful friend that I connected with (like a sister). When my sister returned home for a visit she put me down in a way that she had always done and my friend stepped in and defended me. I had never felt real love before because my parents weren’t completely aware. Bullying can have a life long effect on your
    self esteem but you can get beyond it. I distanced myself from her and have had loving people in my life.
    I think the early bullying helped me recognize the DC for what he was the day his mask slipped.
    He said something so mean spirited and I thought I’m getting away from him.
    I do have a point of reference and I know what real love feels like.

    1. Jenny that’s so wonderful that you have a point of reference…knowing what real love feels like! It’s so beautiful.

      I honestly thought that bullying episode in my younger years hadn’t effected me but through all that’s happened throughout my life I now believe it must have. I was painfully shy as a child and as a young adult. I hated that, being shy made me feel so awkward. I have read shyness is an inherited gene but again that is another thing that I think makes you vulnerable and sensitive to bullies. It impacts so much on your self esteem and climbing up can be difficult. I’m so glad you were able to get away from your DC. Best wishes to you! 🙂

      1. Tori, another similarity….shyness. Me too, horrible. I now see it might have been FASD related, maybe. Like I never knew what to say in the moment, felt pressured to “preform” correctly, etc. but I do think there might be another aspect to it as well. I’d never heard of the shy gene. I know it’s deep with me. I was and still am a huge blusher? THAT was torture as a kid!

          1. It was horrible Tori, yeah? I would blush…feel myself blushing or have someone point out that I was blushing, and then BLUSH like I can’t even describe. I just wanted to melt into the floor! Sound familiar?? If you are a blusher, I know it does!
            My mother was an in your face, say the right thing, do the right thing kind of gal who would push me into position to be a glowing reflection of herself. She and I were SO not cut from the same cloth and I just didn’t have the temperament or nature to do or be what she wanted. It was a head on collision with disappointment for her, time after time after time. I think at a young age I did try but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear. I was way to sensitive and shy to play the outgoing little social butterfly role she took to effortlessly. I could write a book on this topic alone. In some ways I feel very sad for her because I absolutely know that her life and our family turned out nothing like she thought it would. I would have to say, almost the opposite. I think she “loved” me but how can you really love a child you secretly wish were different (in many ways).
            There are hidden dynamics in adoptive parent/ children relationships, it’s very sad. When you take a person who has some significant problem markers and just throw them into an adoptive parent roll with no preparation or forewarning, it does not turn out well. Of course back then? No one really knew about things like this, FASD was unheard of, no one disclosed that my BioMom was an alcoholic. It really was the perfect storm of disfunction. So many interacting dynamics. So, where does one trauma end and the next begin I wonder….
            Sorry….. All that from blushing? Geeeesh!

          2. Puddle YES, YES, YES and can relate to having to be the ideal daughter and pursue a mother’s wishes…most definitely YES! Gosh when I think on everything it’s no wonder I was shy and awkward. Everything had to be so perfect for public impressions and to live out her dreams. There’s so much hidden in that mother daughter dynamic. That’s a whole other pandora’s box. Don’t be sorry Puddle, I hope it hasn’t brought up too much emotional trauma for you. It’s a bit like little pieces of a huge puzzle come out of the woodwork all the time. The process of nailing them together to get a full picture. I’d love to give you the biggest hug in person but know I’m sending you one (( HUG)).

  9. Jenny, It’s true that some of the worst experiences, in our past, can work for us in the future. Sad for you that you had such a tough time with sister but you dodged a mean spirited CD individual, as a consequence.

    I had to stand up to my father who, by modern standards, was on the physically violent side and was really insulting. But he wasn’t vindictive and mean spirited. He acted out of frustration and anger. The thing that spared me from the P was my willingness to stand up to him, as I did my father. What impacted me so greatly was how mean this person was once his mask slipped. I still find it hard to believe. My father, who could have been apprehended, years ago, had nothing on the CD. Pure mental torture and then glee at the pain he caused.

    1. “I had to stand up to my father who, by modern standards, was on the physically violent side and was really insulting. But he wasn’t vindictive and mean spirited. He acted out of frustration and anger.”

      I find these details interesting, LisaO. Obviously there are distinct patterns and the pattern in your father was different from an actively power-hungry CD.

      What you tell about your father brings to mind Controlling People By Patricia Evans. Evans does overestimate, by a long stretch, the role of abuse in an abuser’s own childhood or how such a person is disconnected from feeling, sensate and intuitive functions or has a dissociative disorder.

      However, if you read Evans’ books with a VERY critical eye, it makes sense that some people simply don’t have a mature ability to cope with stressors or frustrations. Perhaps those include a “loved” one not living up to expectations that are not in touch with reality. An example from Verbally Abusive Relationship comes to mind, about wondering aloud where a tool is, a partner answering and a man snapping: “I wasn’t asking you!”

      (Apologies for inaccurate quoting. I lent a female friend some books, among them Dr Simon’s books, Bully in sight by Tim Field, Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen, Verbally Abusive Relationship by Evans, which I just mentioned and a few books about Emotional Vampires by Albert Bernstein.)

    2. LisaO,

      Please let me shorten this a bit. The core thought in my post is: I see it that even some people, who aren’t actively calculating or grandiosely entitled, lack “a mature ability to cope with stressors or frustrations”.

      What do you folks think?

      1. J, You have just described my poor father. He was not a grown-up, in some crucial areas. But he didn’t play mind games, didn’t have malicious intent. He was just completely frustrated that his kids appeared to be broken and that maybe if he whacked them like a malfunctioning toaster, they would work! I don’t know what you would call this type of personality, but it is typical of my parent’s generation. If you want a good cause for the peace, love, dove, generation gap, baby boomer generation–this would be one of them!

        1. LOL! LisaO…..When I read J’s comment earlier I thought of your father and TRIED to write a response referencing him but it evaporated into the internet ethers. The toaster is a good one, of course I feel WRONG for laughing but it’s a good one.

  10. Thank you Tori , I still have struggles feeling like I don’t measure up but my sister had or as I see it
    everything going for her (like a loving little sister) and more. She took her life at the age of 50 and I’m so sorry things ended up that way. I don’t have a lot of friends but it seemed she did but she burned so many. I had a marriage that ended up in divorce because of ignorance, immaturity, financial strain and a background
    of dysfunction from both sides.. If this makes any sense….there was love but mix all that in with a certain 3rd party and what should have been a lasting marriage gets in serious trouble. I’m talking about a marriage with 2 people that have lots of dysfunction but by no means a treacherous DC. No I haven’t had
    a fantasy life or I don’t think I would have ever gotten mixed up with this DC male “Buddy”. I was lonely
    and have a difficult time financially. Know who you are!
    LisaO, Pls forgive my grammatical errors I’m sure there are many. Could you give some examples
    of how you stood up to him? Everything I read says just get away.
    I am also at risk of losing a good friend because of him. She is a wonderful loving person that can’t understand what’s going on and me trying to explain just makes me seem off. He has his high beam on
    me and she’s all he can get to me without doing something illegal.

    1. Hi Jenny,

      I wasn’t clear in my response. So sorry you thought I was criticising you! I was referring to my own grammatical errors in response to Sheri’s tale about bullies in classroom. Sometimes when I am posting my grammar has me saying the exact opposit of what I am trying to say. You’re really clear in what you are describing and my heart goes out to you. I will think about your questions and write a response as soon as I am able. Know that your situation isn’t unique. Mine was similar. Anybody dealing with a person who seems to have crawled right out of a nightmare, deserves support, love and understanding.

      My very best to you, Jenny.

    2. Jenny I’m so sorry to hear about your sister and what you’ve been through. Such tragic circumstances and my heart goes out to you. It must have been so tough for you. Try not to be so hard on yourself though, coming through such emotional circumstances makes us vulnerable and being lonely and struggling financially are such huge stressors.

      I know what you mean by trying to get to you through friends, recently I have had to worry about that as I set a firm boundary with my ex and let him know I wouldn’t accept his veiled attempts at intimidation (he would face legal consequences) and then suddenly he’s contacting family and an old friend contacts me out of the blue…and says something that sent me reeling inside (though I managed to keep it under control). It was odd and I have to trust my gut on this one. It’s difficult to explain to friends who only see that lovely side of the DC, they can’t understand what’s happened. It’s because of that facade these DC put up it makes it impossible for others to believe you. Their impression management is so perfectly constructed. I don’t know what advice to give other than like you have said “know who you are” and stay strong. I do hope your friend sees through him eventually. I wish you all the best through this tough time and be kind to you and take care! 🙂

    3. Hi Jenny, I stood up to my father by passively resisting him. I didn’t do anything outrageous, I simply refused to clean my room. That was it. It drove him out of his mind because there was nothing he could do to me to make me yield. He kept hitting me and trying to humiliate me but it never seemed to sink in that there was no way it was going to work. He was brutal by today’s standards and I just couldn’t tolerate it. He started hitting to control when I was a sensitive kid of four or five years old. I was a sweet little girl, very compliant and loving, according to my mother, so I can’t really tell you what I did to deserve this other than maybe running around too much in the house. It didn’t come right out of the blue. He had some reason, I guess. I can remember being in such physical pain, during one of these episodes that I would nearly black out…so it was pretty severe. It made me feel loathsome about myself and yet it didn’t happen very often. Maybe 2 or 3 times a year. My father would always hug me afterward, tell me he loved me and that he ‘spanked’ me so I would grow up to be a good person. Yikes! These were no ordinary spankings. I think he may have sincerely thought he was doing the right thing. I just remember the effect was growing up afraid, hyper vigilant, always guarded.

      My life was impossibly difficult at the time the P targeted me. He promised to be a special friend to help me through several kinds of awful and to repair some of the psychological damage I had suffered at the hands of my father. He managed to do an end run around my intuition. I was a very wounded, pretty destroyed person when he started to work on me. He built me up. I FELT loved by a man for the first time in my life. Plus and more than anything, I felt like I was okay, just the way I was. I was worth something. I could drop my guard and just relax. He very purposely dismantled my defences.

      It was my husband who helped me get over this. He recognized this was no ordinary, ‘fling, affair’ He blamed himself. He and I had some amazing arguments. “it’s my fault,” “No, it’s my fault.” etc…I remember lying in bed, crying and my husband waking up and repeating over and over, “It’s not your fault, You are a good person.” He would repeat this like a mantra. The P brought us closer together. My husband wasn’t neurotypical but he was such a beautiful human being. His last year was an amazing triumph in extending change as far as he could within a personality that was confined by the inflexible parameters of his brain. His soul wasn’t confined, in the same way. And now…it is truly free and he can express his love and kindness, I like to think. What a great heart.

      I have never written this up before and am crying thinking of my husband and how kind he was. He just had such a terrible time trying to express it.

      So Jenny, I told P, right from the outset that I would never back down, be cowed by him. Of course his choice of control, for me, as I felt like a total non-entity, was to give me the silent treatment. I didn’t tolerate it. I told him that if he ever felt moved to do this to me, as a way to control me, that he should keep walking and NEVER contact me again. So, he chose this method of discard…of course. A person has to assume when dealing with CDs, particularly the stealthy and highly observant type that they will find a way to do the most damage when they exit.

      I didn’t tolerate being beaten by father and sure as heck wasn’t going to put up with silence as a control mechanism or all of the other myriad subtle maneuvers they pull. You have to be very vocal and clear with this type. And then get away if you can. However, once you tear their mask off, by demanding clarity from them and setting boundaries, they will likely back off.

      1. Wow LisaO… know you have one of the most interesting and unusual stories and I wish I was there to give you a hug. Thank you for writing this up……..and I’m again without words about your husband…..I think the two of you are just, well………I don’t even have words AGAIN! I can’t imagine a child being able to stand up to abuse like that and knowing they had to do it because it was wrong. I’m wondering what your father experienced as a child like this……..was he doing what he knew, had been shown and fell back on in his frustration? I’m by no means saying it would be an excuse but if you read Loyde DeMause (SP) writings on child rearing in this and other cultures, which went on in the not so distant past as a matter of “standard” practice, corporal punishment was more the norm than the exception to the rule. It just breaks my heart to picture you as little LisaO in that horrific position. So SO sad. And honestly, I tear up picturing your father hugging you afterwards and in my heart believe his remorse was genuine. I know we are of a similar age and I’m not really sure what was common back then in the way of help for those types of “issues”………I just don’t know.
        Regardless LisaO, you have my sympathy and empathy for ALL you have been through,,,,,,with your father, the bastard P and the loss of your dear husband, may he rest in peace.
        Healing Hug to you LisaO

      2. LisaO your husband sounds like he was an amazing man and very caring despite his challenges. So sorry for what you went through as a child but I admire your tenacity at standing up to your father and CD. To be able to do that as a child, knowing what you’d suffer that takes a certain courage.

        Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

  11. Tori, it is like LisaO says our situation isn’t that unique. We must stay strong and develope an inner strength and find support from knowledgeable people like Dr. Simon and others with their own experiences. Realizing our part in the involvement with the disordered character can help us grow to
    be more wise against our vulnerability. Being shy can be refreshing in today’s world.

    1. Jenny, Tori, Puddle,

      Thank you so much for all of your kind and supportive comments! I just want to quick share with you that the P wasn’t able to damage me, to the extent he could have. I dodged a bullet. I had no way of knowing at the time that simple assertiveness, on my part, was making him very angry. I learned later, through a friend, that he enjoyed blindsiding me with the discard.

      I had no clue that he was even angry. In retrospect, both my late husband and I felt that he could have been angling for a big pay day and was furious when I dashed his plans by not agreeing to take my husband to cleaners. Husband and I were talking and in counselling all through this process.

      I was pretty destroyed by the stealth sadism but got over that part pretty well. It took 3 months or thereabouts. One of the toughest things I went through, post P, was getting past treatment of mods on interactive help forum. They cast me as a Jezobel who was merely jilted by somebody who had ‘changed his mind.’ They ignored the fact that he didn’t just pursue me, he hounded me mercilessly, love bombed me to within an inch of my life. I had been friends with P, who has an amazing public persona, for almost a decade before I was targeted. I thought so so highly of him because he was incredibly ‘kind’ so very people savvy, very warm. He understood my feelings of almost complete social isolation. When he told me how alone his wife made him feel and said that we were ‘both struggling in our mate’s shadows’ I figured he was being sincere– even though I didn’t feel overshadowed. I felt so sorry for him. He described his wife in a very unflattering way and very believably so.

      Here is a perfect description of a mind screw. He told me one afternoon that he’d had a wonderful morning. Great breakfast with wife. They discussed his upcoming birthday. His wife wasn’t sure what day or month it fell on. Then without skipping a beat, he mentioned the other topics of conversation! What wife doesn’t know the exact date or month of their husband’s birthday? The entire conversation was designed to make me feel even sorrier for him and have even greater antipathy for his wife.

      Boy, was he skilled! I can’t imagine living with somebody this awful, who has such a great mask.

  12. In Bully in sight, Tim Field says that signs of trauma are normal effects of prolonged abuse.

    AND! He also goes so far as to state this: If you’ve been on receiving end of prolonged abuse and DON’T (actually) have any effects AT ALL, there probably is something wrong with a person.

    What kind of thing would it have to be in a person if they received abuse and had ACTUALLY NO any overt or covert repercussions? Does anyone here have any idea?

    1. Those are good questions, too, Jenny.

      Field’s statement randomly came to mind. Yes, one would think even a tenacious aggressor could get traumatized under circumstances X and Y.

      So, the question’s more complex.

      1.CAN we know for sure, in any way, if a person with no effects from abuse actually isn’t effected?

      2.HOW can we know?

      3.If it actually can be proved to be so, what various explanations can there be for such a phenomenon?

      P.S.I e-mailed a similar question to Counselling Resource just a few moments ago. Mentioning this just in case you, Dr Simon, or some colleague gets it.

    2. Damn, I’m being unclear.

      In those questions I refer to a bullied/abused person without LITERALLY ANY effects of trauma.

      Has a case like this ever been observed in actuality?

      1. J, I have so many thoughts and questions about this whole topic and I wish I had more ability to participate in the discussion right now. Not ignoring 🙂

      2. J that’s interesting because I’ve known someone who seemed to be able to move on after an abusive relationship and just get on with their lives and seem to have no after effects. Is that what you are referring to? Mind you that same person also offerred that they gave as good as they got! I’m not sure how one interprets that… they were in an equally abusive relationship? They are extremely resilient, a fighter attitude? So don’t know if that that applies. All I know is they certainly don’t seem to have any trauma, whether or not it will surface at a later date who can tell. And was it really an equally abusive relationship? Again, who really knows the dynamics at play?

          1. I’m not sure of that Tori because a good mind screwing can be traumatic. Fear COULD be part of that but not necessarily. In my opinion, the aftermath of realization has been the most traumatic part of this. The “during” part was bad and the strategic withdrawals and withholdings created some fear of loss, probably triggered some old fear of loss stuff and I know the push pull crazy nature of it all was traumatizing me but it was the discovery and the digestion of the truth of who/ what this POS really isn’t that has been the most traumatic. At a certain level I was totally fooled.

          2. Actually Puddle, you are absolutely right! I wasn’t thinking along those lines and yes all those mind games and yes the aftermath of emotional abuse is traumatic and all part of it. Don’t know what I was thinking must have been the heat to make me not see that! The trauma of the lie that was your life is extremely difficult. I guess I was thinking of that hypervigilant state when you live with fear they will come knocking etc… I still have some fear for my personal safety. It’s been so long now I think that is not so much a reality anymore but I still have a lingering fear. I don’t go around checking each and every noise anymore but I do make sure doors etc are locked. My son is still very vigilant with that as well.

          3. {{{{Tori}}}} I’m so sorry you live with that fear. I hate that for you 🙁 By the way……it’s a good thing to make sure your doors are locked no matter…..just a slight peace of mind. My experience pales in comparison to yours in several ways, shorter less violent, in a way it’s all relative though, but the fact is that this is a life altering thing to go through. It up ends our sense of reality so dramatically…….there are so many unseen consequences, hidden damage, things that were there in us that are gone, distrust that was never there before, and innocence lost forever in a way.
            I always urge caution on any victim’s website but also recommend reading this article…

          4. (((Hugs Puddle))) Funnily enough I was reading an article on Love Fraud last night…a story so similar to mine by one of the writers there I almost fell over. Even down to the over top false tears they cried. (mine was an expert at that) It was so illustrative of how manipulative these people are. Like you I had so many proclamations of love, so many ways in which he could make me feel special and then all the time it was one big deception. Thanks for that article and posting the comments by another from that site as it is good to be reminded. Sounds strange to be reminded as if you REALLY need to be…but especially at these times of the year you do. When there’s all this love and family festive stuff around it really hits hard emotionally. I am struggling a bit but have to keep the realisation that he was a BAD person who pretended to do good things so as to keep up his deception. That pretense is so important for them so it makes others not believe you when you try to tell them what really happened. Every situation is different in length of time, the extent of violence or emotional manipulations etc but it all has a severe impact as you say it’s all relative. Last Sunday I listened to Dr Simon’s character matters and something he said sent a shudder down my spine…it was when THEY seem to believe their own lies you’ve got to RUN away as far as you can. Or words to that effect. I often got the feeling he really believed his own lies but then who knows??

          5. Hi {{{{{Tori}}}}}, Wouldn’t it be funny, since it seems like often times our words of our experiences and feelings come out of each other’s heads….if that was my post on LF? LOL! anyhow………I think(?) they do believe their own lies to a degree and in a certain way because they think they are God’s gift and can do no wrong. That article and AnnettePK’s comments to Jenna23 really was just so concise. I’m glad you found it helpful.
            SO, I’m reading a book right now and so far so good. It was recommended to me by my counselor who actually knows the woman who wrote it, yadda yadda yadda! Mary Ellen O’Tool, Dangerous Instincts and I can recommend it based on what I’ve read so far. She makes some very interesting points about WHY we can get tricked, how our “intuition” can be wrong and how our instincts can actually cause us to run right into trouble rather than away. She also has a system is assessing situations and people to help to try to prevent things like this from happening in the future, right? At the same time she does say that we are all more vulnerable than we realize and that our vulnerabilities can change based on MANY things. I’m working my way through it as bast as I can and figure it can’t hurt. I don’t know if you can find it Tori, I’m not sure what your resources are in your area. Please let me know. and to everyone else as well and Dr. Simon, I think this book could provide some interesting discussion.

      3. Thanks, Tori.

        I have a hunch there could, for example, be a neurological anomaly in place, but it’s just that, a hunch.

      4. J, perhaps if the bullying is of short duration and there is no ‘love’ bond between the bully and bullied, it would be possible to escape pretty much unscathed.

        But forming an emotional bond implies that damage has to occur when it is broken. It’s implicit in the definition. A ‘normal’ person couldn’t be classed as such, otherwise. What is interesting is death doesn’t necessarily damage a bond. Betrayal does. Odd, but now I know it’s true. I still feel connected to my husband. Love doesn’t vanish. I feel my husband and I are bonded forever, in some way…but that’s a whole other discussion!

        1. Death isn’t a personal attack against you. People die because for whatever reason, it’s their time to go. Betrayal is personal. I think you can even betray someone and not do it to intentionally hurt and destroy someone, those are the broken bonds that have a chance of being repaired but the type of betrayal we are all painfully familiar with comes with a side order of desire to do the most damage possible. Idiots! An interesting thing is that I have a desire to humiliate Spathtard and honestly i feel justified. I’ve never felt this before. I have wanted to prove someone wrong before, someone who say……did and said something they were so sure of and I knew it was dead wrong but that is not at all what I’m talking about. This has more to do with exposing his as the POS he really is. I’m having a VERY hard time letting go of that. I won’t betray my values in the process though, won’t harm anyone, etc……but to see him with egg on his face would make all of this at least a little easier to swallow. Truth of the matter is, there are plenty of people in this little community who have a fairly good picture and opinion of who “his highness” really is and what he is really all about. I ran into someone the other day who made me feel really good. He asked me why I never come into the place I used to hang out and I said, well……I don’t drink any more for one. He said,,,,,,,come anyhow, I’ll buy you a Shrilly Temple! (Sweet!!) and then I said,,,,,,,,”And I have no desire to run into Spathtard AT ALL”! He said, he never goes in there any more anyhow, nobody likes him. We didn’t like him BEFORE!” Well, I thought that was a nice thing to say to me and he isn’t the first. But,,,,,,,I have no desire to be around people drinking so it’s all a mute point anyhow but still…………………
          LisaO, That’s so beautiful about your feelings of connection with your husband, just lovely. 🙂 sigh………

          1. Thank you, Puddle.

            I like the way you word your experience. A desire to extract justice through humiliation is understandable. I have read long passage on forums warning people not to do this as it can backfire badly. I agree with that…. It can. What I find annoying is the judgement that often accompanies these warnings. Anybody who has been duped, particularly if they find out the predator enjoyed their pain and confusion, is understandably going to be ‘out for blood’ for a time. These feelings do fade with time. In my imagination I beat the predator up….just once. What’s interesting is how useful it was as a catharsis for me but how completely useless, in my mind, it was for him. I imagined his reaction. He didn’t learn a thing. These people don’t learn a damned thing–ever. Retaliation is usually just wasted effort. Having said that I feel deep in my gut both your and my P’s are going to target so somebody someday with very poor impulse control.. and a gun. I just feel, deep down, his behavior puts both of them at risk.

    3. Yes, indeed, Puddle and Tori, yes indeed.

      I was frankly surprised by the mention of ”good” mind screwing. Idolize, devalue. Hook, abandon. Whatever you want to call that process. Very insidious. Ghastly.

      So, to refer back to my original questions, what kind of neurological anomaly would it have to be for there to be trauma when trauma would be expected? At least I think it has to be a neurological anomaly.

      What if this detail gave some clues to how to survive better in this cruel world?

      1. Elva, I just wanted to be sure you made it through our little “situation” last week. Happy to know you are ok. Puddle

      2. Hi J, May I ask what you are basing this question on?

        “what kind of neurological anomaly would it have to be for there to be (no) trauma when trauma would be expected? At least I think it has to be a neurological anomaly.”

        I can’t help but go back to my usual thoughts around a question like this, that being how many endless possibilities and varieties of these encounters there are. BUT, if someone is abused, and i mean truly abused, they MAY be able to get through it IF they have people in their life who can help them process it and understand it. However, the one almost negates the other in a way because part of an abuser’s modus operandi is to isolate the victim. Then again, maybe in the aftermath this person was fortunate enough to actually find decent support to work through things. I went through easily 6- 8 months of crying out for help I could not seemingly find. Thinking back on the whole mess? It is absolutely the most unbelievable series of bad going on worse going on horrific chain of events that leaves me in utter amazement that I survived ALL of it. When you add this other thick layer of getting tangled up with the wrong council and then getting tangled up with a disordered council and then with an even WORSE council, while already feeling like you are hemorrhaging and desperate to find someone who can stop the bleeding???? I was so in jeopardy of utter collapse. Emotional, mental, physical…………I just caught myself shaking my head as I typed this…….truly unreal.
        So, my point being,,,,,,,,,if someone was able to get the proper help, then maybe the after affects would be less severe and not linger as long. This is the premise behind getting guidance councilors to school children who have witnessed a tragic event as soon as possible. I have heard it said before, I don’t remember where or who said it and I hope it wasn’t “Dr.” Phill, It’s not what happens TO you that scars you, it’s not having the ability to process and digest it.

        1. Hi Puddle, so sorry it took so long for you to find the right help. It’s so important in those early stages and it’s amazing how many even professionals who don’t understand all the ramifications. I can hear the pain in your words. I don’t know what to say but I understand how intense that initial crisis period is…and how you get through that is so important for your future healing. Knowing too what you are dealing with is crucial and that’s difficult to really get a handle on in the beginning. I’ve found that those I’ve spoken to don’t ever really pinpoint the person you’ve been living with and i understand that from a professional point of view, it’s more like they skirt around terms. You’ve got to fill in the blanks almost and that is frustrating. I know the essence is to help your client to help themselves to get through their issues but really understanding how that other person in your life worked on you is part of that whole process. I don’t think you always get that in consultations. (Am I making sense here) It’s only been through books like Dr Simon’s and sites like this one that I have really been able to see things about who I lived with and how he operated. I find I take stuff from here and fill in those blanks and work with counsellors on the other aspects. I don’t know if it’s the only way to go but sometimes I would love one to say he was this blah blah and that’s why you are confused. More point blank than fluffing around it. That in someways would be more helpful to work on both aspects so you can get from point a to point b and they continue to move on in the best way possible.

          1. I can totally relate to what you are saying. For the first year when things started to really become clear, when I would say to the counselor that I was reading material on narcissism and living with a narcissist, he actually told me that it wasn’t a good idea to “label” my hb, to not read too much into what was going on. Also when I had asked for help in how to find support amongst friends or family, church groups, etc. The counselor actually told me that since this was a problem with my hb I needed to be careful and use discretion because it would be wrong for me to “talk about him behind his back, we wouldn’t want people to get the wrong impression about him.” (this was the counselor that he and I saw together). I have found better help now, on my own. But you are right that the initial phases have been very hard, it is through these type of websites that have really helped me, however it can be a process finding this help and confusing filling in the blanks because there are so many opposing messages out there. (Even one of the books that I read about living with a narcissist basically said that we need to deal with our own narcissism and empathize with the narcissist in our life). I think, though, a big part of me being able to accept who he is, that I am not going to change him, and to be able to make a way for myself, to move in a direction to only deal with what I can change (me), is being empowered by be able to clearly see who he is and what he is continually doing, to have clear knowledge about his character, I think before someone can truly deal with themselves and to make the best of what they have they need to completely know what it is they are dealing with.
            But it’s been 2 1/2 years since his “addiction” was made known, and then it took me about 1 year to realize that there was truly more going on. There are still so many confusing and mixed messages out there. That for the survivor it can be really difficult just to get that solid footing to live with the reality of what really is happening.
            Not sure if this made sense, but even 1 1/2 years later there are still so many mixed messages. A person really has to find that which gives them the most help/hope, and kind of leave the rest of the info alone, but often it is such a huge learning process.

      3. The basic question here is:

        What kind of neurological or other anomaly would a person have if prolonged abuse didn’t lead to any kind of trauma?

        Then, dividing into sub-questions(if that’s a word):

        1.CAN we know for sure, in any way, if a person with no effects from abuse actually isn’t effected?

        2.HOW can we know?

        3.If it actually can be proved to be so, what various explanations can there be for such a phenomenon?

        Yes, it’s pretty much a passing remark by Tim Field in Bully in sight; There supposedly is something wrong with a person if abuse doesn’t have any effect whatsoever.

        But it’s a small detail that intrigues me, an anomaly.

        1. The person you are describing J sounds like a psychopath. Someone could abuse them, perhaps in retaliation and they would be mildly affected if at all. Just my opinion. I REALLY hope you can read the book, Dangerous Instincts. You will be impressed. It is fascinating in so many ways yet I will warn everyone, it is quite graphic and could be triggering for some. This woman does not pull any punches and her descriptions of psychopaths and severly disordered people is without a doubt the best I’ve read. She is an associate of Dr. Robert Hare’s and a former FBI profiler. She has interviewed many serial killers and if this book doesn’t get your attention and keep it nothing will. It is truly a jaw dropper, eye opener and in my opinion should be required reading for any parent and high school student……..along wit Dr. Simons books of course.

          1. J you’ve posed interesting questions and I must admit I am with Puddle in that what you were describing was a psychopath. But you did get me thinking as I thought about families in which violent crime etc is the norm. If you were born into such a situation where violence, abuse and such a lack of empathy then it would stand to reason that the part of the brain that holds empathy, deep emotion would not grow (if that’s the right way of saying it). We learn things at school and through life and our brain develops. If that learning capacity is stunted wouldn’t that form a degree of psychopathy in an individual? Also, core beliefs of such families would also play a part in that people are there to be exploited. Go against the norm you would be punished severely. You learn the code by which that family operates and stick with it because you would have no choice. Also genetics would play a role because psychopathy would have to on some level run in such families, I would think (though being just an everyday person I am just guessing) . Another thing too in such situations when two or more psychopaths could be in the same family then on some level wouldn’t what normal people would consider traumatic…such a family would think on some hideous level that violence and such horrendous behaviour would be… well I hate to use the word enjoyable as it seems impossible to me but that would seem to be how it would be. It would be only in the getting out of that situation maybe after years and with help from a professional that the other part of the brain might develop and then suddenly trauma could come to the surface.

            Puddle thanks for the recommendation of that book I did check it out and might buy it for myself too. It def sounds interesting.

        2. Thanks for recommendation. Have to check it out sometime.

          *Yes, being a psychopath. I’ve also gotten the impression that there are people with psychopathic neurology, who still don’t act like psychopaths.

          *Delusions, whether it’s a result on uncalled-for brain chemistry disorder, grandiose entitlement getting to one’s head, a personality disorder(like the paranoid one) or other mental disorder? I take it that delusion doesn’t cease to be even when reality clearly shows otherwise. “Ordinary” self-deception and self-lies can, but not delusion.

          1. As in Delusions of grander?
            Someone could be more resilient if they are extremely developed and self actualized I suppose. Also someone who is better at intellectualizing experiences and less emotional perhaps. Maybe someone who has a very good support system, close family and friends (although I know a fellow victim like this and she was CRUSHED by the man who trashed her)…….there are just so many variables in a hypothetical case. I

          1. J, today’s article, (which should post around 6:30 pm EST, will begin to address these very questions. And there will be more discussion on these issues i the two subsequent posts. Stay tuned!

  13. Sheri and anyone who is interested………Please read this article and PLEAS read “AnnettePK’s” 3-4 replies to” jenna23″below it, dated Dec. 17. AnnettePK just did an amazing job of putting “them” into words. I think everyone should copy, paste and print her words, hang them up in every room of the house. Amazing………

  14. LisaO,
    I just read your post on what you did to stand up to your Father and the P. It sounds like you’ve
    worked your fathers abuse out with time and maturity. The P’s or DC’s we all talk about are so similar .
    There was just blogging about fear and I am having a tough time with sleep and nightmares, I wake
    up remembering some of these twisted dreams I’m having and it is messing with my emotional health.
    My relationship with the P never progressed into love are anything emotional.. I tried for a short time
    and thought ok this man is helping me so much maybe I could care for him but I started seeing who he
    was (red flags). The scary part is I couldn’t get him to go away and finally I had to get aggressive and when he realized nothing was ever going to work it turned into sort of a discard or I identified it as one
    from reading about the patterns. I’m ok but it’s shocking…recognizing. The discard was getting a women
    to sell her home and move 6 states away and live with him. This was back to back. I’m still afraid because there was some stalking in the end. I bet there was a Love Bomb and she fell for it.
    In my opinion I don’t think you can educate people until after the fact.

      1. Elva, I just wanted to be sure you made it through our little “situation” last week. Happy to know you are ok. Puddle

  15. When speaking of abuse and mental illness, respect is never an “entitlement” issue. The only entitlement about respect is punishment for those that disrespect. BASIC HUMAN respect is something that a healthy human will always allow another. What you may be referring to as respect, is actually something called DEFERENCE. There are different levels of respect. Honor, for example, is not the same thing as respect.

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