People With Character Disorders: How Aware Are They?

Ever since I posted the articles Don’t They See?  Why the Disturbed Characters in Your Life Don’t Seem to Get It in February of 2011 and They Know What They’re Doing  in August of 2012, I’ve had requests to explore in greater depth the issue of just how aware disturbed characters are about the things they do, how much they appreciate the impact of their behavior on others, and most especially, the level of awareness they have of other people’s feelings, needs, and concerns.  The question of “awareness” is inherently confusing, partly because our understanding of it has been heavily influenced historically by traditional notions about the unconscious mind, and public acceptance of the idea that most human behavior is motivated by factors outside of a person’s conscious awareness.  But as most people who have been involved with a disturbed character know too well, a person can be fully conscious of their behavior and motivations yet not necessarily particularly mindful, attentive, thoughtful, or considerate.  And that’s perhaps at least in part why there always seems to be so much debate about how “aware” disturbed character’s really are.

In today’s post, I’ll be making some general observations about the issue of awareness and reiterating and expanding upon some general principles I’ve written about before in several my online articles on the topic and in all three of my books, In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome.  But in a bit of a departure from the usual course, I’m also going to let the discussion that will likely follow this post serve as a sort of “addendum” to the article, and will join the discussion and reply to comments more frequently and, hopefully, more quickly than is typical.  In that way, perhaps not only will the “awareness” issue be addressed more comprehensively but also any confusion with regard to what it really means for a person to be aware can be cleared up.  And I sincerely hope the discussion will be both robust and ongoing as I will be following up with at least one and possibly two posts on this same topic, often using examples from real cases to illustrate important points.

As those familiar with my work and books already understand, character disturbance exists along a continuum.  At one end of the spectrum is pure neurosis.  By definition, neurosis is a condition in which a person’s internal conflicts (essentially, conflicts between one’s primal urges and the dictates of conscience), gives rise to considerable anxiety that is inadequately mediated by their unconscious defenses, which then cause them various “symptoms” of psychological distress.  Sometimes these symptoms take on a physical form (e.g., ulcers, headaches, etc.) representing a “conversion” of sorts of the person’s underlying anxiety into physical illness.  And if the person were fully “aware” of what was actually at the root of their symptom, they would take corrective action and be rid of it.  But their “defenses” keep them in the dark about things. Neurotic symptoms can also be an outgrowth of the pain of emotional scars from early trauma, memories of which have been long repressed. The only thing the neurotic trauma survivor knows is that they’re miserable and want relief, but they don’t really know what’s at the root of it. In all these cases, the goal in therapy is to help the person get into conscious contact with what has been unconscious, affording them “insight” into the real reasons for their misery (see also:  Insight, Neurosis and Character Disturbance).

At the other end of the continuum is pure character disturbance.  By this I mean that what’s wrong with the person (i.e. the “symptoms” of their psychological disturbance) is not so much the inadequate way they handle the anxiety associated with an internal battle between their conscience and their primal urges but rather with who they are as a person – how they prefer to be – how they like to see themselves – and especially, how they prefer to conduct their relationships with other people.  And in these realms, they are already very much aware (i.e. they know who they are, what they’re doing, and why).  But what always troubles their more neurotic counterparts is why these disturbed characters don’t seem to appreciate the negative impact of their ways on everyone else.  That’s where a distinction between “awareness” and concepts like attentiveness, consideration, thoughtfulness, etc. needs to be made.  While the purely disturbed character might be very much aware, that doesn’t necessarily mean they care all that much about the things most of us want them to care about (I’ve repeated this little rhyming mantra in workshops many times: “They’re aware,.. they just don’t care). 

Now there are in fact a couple of things that can compromise the disturbed character’s level of awareness at any given moment.  For one thing, it’s very rare that someone lies at either extreme end of the neurosis-character disturbed end of the spectrum.  Most neurotics have some degree of character impairment and most disturbed characters are not full-blown psychopaths (i.e., most disturbed characters have at least some degree of both conscience and neurosis).  The other factor is habit.  Personality is an ingrained and habitual style of relating.  And when someone thinks about things and behaves toward others in certain characteristic ways often enough, and especially when they are “comfortable” with these modes of thinking and behaving, their patterns become reflexive or automatic.  This speaks to the issue of “mindfulness.”  A character-impaired person may exhibit a behavior we find abhorrent almost instinctively, without even thinking about it.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re doing and why (i.e. it doesn’t mean that they’re not conscious of their motivation).  Still, they might not be particularly mindful of their behavior or its impact.

I’ve written many times about the biggest mistake therapists not particularly well-versed in the treatment of character disturbance make, and unfortunately, neurotic individuals who’ve gotten involved with a disturbed or disordered character often make the very same mistake.  They think to themselves: “If I can only get him or her to see what they’re doing and how harmful it is, maybe they’d stop.”  The problem is (as I assert in all three books), most of the time, they already see.  It’s hard to imagine they haven’t heard the same feedback from hundreds of sources a thousand times or more in their lifetime.  It’s not that they’re unaware, it’s that they don’t care like we want them to care (they’re not at a level of character maturity to even want to care).  And it’s not that they don’t see, what they’re doing, it’s that they disagree with the alternatives we wish they’d adopt (often they know full well what others want of them, but they’re unwilling) .  So whether you’re a person trying to survive in a relationship with them or a therapist trying to facilitate their character growth, your focus must always remain not on futilely trying to get them to see things differently but rather to put the contingencies firmly into place that pressure them to do things differently.  And once they actually do differently (even just a little), and experience the benefits of so doing, then things like mindfulness, attentiveness, thoughtfulness, and consideration have at least a chance to develop.

Much more to come.  Discussion open.

And, by the way, let me once again announce the debut of Character Matters on UCY.TV this coming Sunday night at 7 pm Eastern Daylight Time.  The program presents a great opportunity for real time discussion.  Here again is the link:  http://ucy.tv/Default.aspx?PID=96&T=Character+Matters 

CharacterMattersFinal

160 thoughts on “People With Character Disorders: How Aware Are They?

  1. Hi there Dr. Simon,
    I am so grateful for this and all of your work. I am just on the brink of discovery as far as Character Disturbance is concerned. The waters feel incredibly choppy, but I hope they are navigable. For years I have known SOMETHING was wrong in my relationship with my husband. But, I have not been able to put my finger on it. I also now see that I am part of the problem! He has had me so tied up in knots, that I have basically allowed a cacophony of shame, fear, guilt and goodness knows what else rule in my heart and in our home!

    That being said, now that I know, I am not exactly sure what to do. I am hoping that folks will share their insight and experience.

    I dare say some folks will shake their heads and want to pat my head and tell me to run. But, I made a commitment to my husband and I want to try to work it out. I love him. We also have two children who love their father very much.

    I have seen one true repentant moment, followed by many months of what I truly thought was contrition. I have also seen a LOT of change in him over the past few years as he tries to submit to a Higher Power. Yet, there are times when he falls back into his CD behavior. Is that a correct term CD behavior, or is that naive, wishful thinking.

    I am different now, too! The difference is, now that I KNOW it’s this type of behavior, I don’t tolerate it. But…but, he is a MUCH better fighter and at times, I get sucked back in to the same ol’ stuff.

    Interestingly, I have not told him about this discovery. I have not shared the term Character Disturbed with him. Because I don’t know if I should. Is that the start? Do I confront him and show him the information? Because, here is the true crux of the thing. I am willing to do that, but I also know that having this information feels like a safety blanket. So, I guess my questions are:
    1) Do I confront/present/share this information?
    2) If so, how?
    3) What should we do if we want to succeed?

    Blessings,
    Becky

  2. Oh Becky I know how you feel when you talk about letting shame, fear, guilt etc rule your head and house. For so many years I lived that way. I was so ashamed I didn’t even speak to my neighbours, the whole craziness of the situation gets into your head and sometimes you find yourself in utter desperation that you react in ways you never thought possible. Before I met my husband I knew everyone in the street, we were all friends. I was confident, felt good about myself. In the years I spent with him and moved away I have never really spoken to my neighbours…except one lovely old lady who knew what was going on and broke the ice and she became a great friend to me. I also know that the stress of living with such a man took a terrible toll on not only my mental health but my physical health as well. Interestingly since the separation many of my physical ailments seem to have disappeared.
    I had considered showing my recently ex Dr Simon’s books but I wasn’t sure how he would accept them. Mainly because he knows what he is but he doesn’t see the need to change and he certainly does not like psychologist etc… He thinks it’s all rubbish really. I think my ex falls into the category of he see’s but he disagrees. Also that he’s aware and he doesn’t care so really it would be a waste of my time. I don’t know if every situation is the same or if there are differing degrees of character disturbance. My CD most definitely falls under the unbridled aggressive but has some sadistic traits, in that he seemed to derive a great deal of pleasure or a high after he had physically assaulted me. Like he was king of the castle and yet he could also be loving, caring and gentle sometimes. Others he can be so emotional and I find myself thinking how can this man be so bad. The violence was spasmodic in that it wasn’t every day, week or month but when it came it was wham! It was like I would fall into this space that yeah…maybe things are beginning to change only to find out it was a false sense of security because each time, the violence escalated to finally a life threatening level and I made the decision to leave for my own safety. It was the fact that he was physically aggressive that really made me think it would be unwise to show him these books. (Perhaps when I’m well away from him I’ll send him copies).
    Every time I have to deal with him now I come back and read something from the books, the blog or videos just to keep my mind on a firm track so yes I know what you mean by keeping them as a safety blanket.
    It’s only since the separation that I can now see just what sort of person I have been dealing with all these years thanks to discovering this information. I really wish I’d stumbled on it earlier but for so many years I really thought I was the problem and spent so much time trying to fix myself. I now realise he was manipulative both covert and overt, I didn’t always see that as it was all under the guise of caring for me and it kept me so confused, he would tell me what he thought I needed to do and I’d think okay and whenever I got to a stage where I started to feel better about myself and started to improve, set goals suddenly he’d start the chaos. Yet I still find it hard to believe that he really knew what he was doing.
    And they do tend to fight harder when you do stand up to them. It’s like a war of attrition…you step up and they go to the next level. I’ve found that out recently every firm stance I take there’s a price to be paid. It keeps me wary of what will come next.
    Worst of all is that much to my own disbelief I still love this man on some level…the nice part of him but I can’t even be sure if that good part of him is even real. That is the most disturbing thing I’ve found in all of this is how can they be so emotional, almost child like and declare how sorry they are for all that they’ve done, that they really love and need you to help them and it all comes to nothing in the end. I do wish you well Becky and maybe others would have a better idea of what is best to do. As it’s a tricky area to navigate through that’s for sure.

    1. Tori…….
      ” That is the most disturbing thing I’ve found in all of this is how can they be so emotional, almost child like and declare how sorry they are for all that they’ve done, that they really love and need you to help them and it all comes to nothing in the end. ”

      It’s called manipulation and acting and doing anything they can to keep the game going. Now I can not speak for your situation but I know it was true in mine.

    2. Tori,
      Thank you for your willingness to expose a bit of yourself. Just reading that someone else understands is profoundly encouraging. I hope I can learn more from you and others.

  3. Hi Dr. Simon: When you speak of “putting contingencies into place to pressure character disordered people to do things differently”, what do you mean? Can you give some examples of contingencies?

    1. Great question, Teresa. Always keep in mind that just as you can’t trust a 4 year old with the keys to your car, you can’t ever let the disturbed character dictate the “terms of engagement” with you. You don’t have to announce, red-flag, or “threaten” anything, just THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS make clear what the limits and boundaries and behavioral expectations you have are. For example, when you’ve confronted an issue and as soon as you start hearing the typical minimizations, blaming, etc., simply disengage and leave the door open for further discussion later. When the other person finally takes the hint and gives at least tacit “assent” to your issue, reinforce them verbally for at least that small step in the right direction. That’s just one example. The contingencies have to do with the expectations you make clear and the consequences you’re willing to impose (both positive and negative) when those expectations are met or not met.

      1. Hi Dr. Simon: Unfortunately disengagement from my relationship with a character disordered family member in my life has led this person to disengage from me. We are now estranged. My disengagement was considered to be an insult and not to be tolerated, so I was given the silent treatment for a long time. At this point, I have chosen not to re-engage with this person after being ignored, marginalized and finally shut down.

        1. Remember the power inherent in your choice. And keep in mind the kinds of engagement and quality of character you have a right to expect from any future relationship partner.

      2. What contingencies could one use for guilt-tripping and shaming? Does one have to have a conversation to lay these out, or is this something that happens by way of casual conversation?

        1. The most effective “contingencies” have less to do with what you say in response to these tactics and more to do with the action you take. Sometimes, the most effective action is simply a “time out” with respect to the conversation – that is, when the blaming and guilting and shaming starts, you simply disengage and walk away, leaving the door open to a further conversation in which there’s no such nonsense. And when and if the other person decides to engage without the tactics, a good verbal reinforcement like: “Gosh, it’s so much more pleasant to work out issues with you when you’re not blaming, shaming and guilting me just to gain leverage.” In fact, it’s probably better to leave out the verbal red-flags about the behaviors, because they know what they’re doing anyway. So a simple thank you and indication of appreciation should really suffice.

      3. Dr. Simon,

        I agree. A lot of the kids I work with often get defensive,when their parents talk about their behaviors. often blaming others. “Uh uh, (other child) did it” But they are kids, they are still learning. When you are dealing with an adult with that behavior, then he is pathologically immature. He won’t like the limit, but TOUGH!
        There are lots of grad school programs up and down the east coast. The students would love to join in the chat room. They would find the situations and reactions very educational.

  4. Dr. Simon;
    I was raised by two amazing CD people. One educated brilliant introvert and one common sense heavy extrovert. There was some physical violence in our home, but much emotional manipulation/abuse. I saw it, felt it, learned it soo well but rejected it in my own life, most of the time. I think against it and behave unlike I was taught towards people who approach me with respect, integrity, kindness, honesty, friendship, etc… BUT, engage me with unkindness, true disrespect, dishonesty etc… and I will make your life bad to the degree you have earned it plus one for good measure. It is not as if I am unaware of my own nuclear capabilities…I am aware, and I do care but HOLY COW if you make it clear to me that the conflict is not solvable within all my reasonable & rational means will the other person so regret engaging me full on. It’s not that I know and don’t care, it is that if I have to get to that level (like someone who intentionally injured one of my own children after I saw it coming and tried everything I knew how to do to diffuse it), it becomes a survival mechanism, It’s you or It’s me..and it’s not going to be me or mine, period. I have multiple degrees, including a doctorate, I am a charitable person, have adopted & fostered children & pets in addition to the ones that came to me the regular way, I am a competent and sought after professional, and NEVER use violence because I never ever have had to go there if I fully use all my other capabilities to end the escalated high level conflict. Most people dont see this part of me, those that can see it (not the receivers of the conduct, just those who can see it) tend to see it as “frightening but awesome”. It really is only an absolute last use…so how crazy am I??

    1. JEC, I want you on my team!! LOL
      The only thing that concerns me about what you posted is that it sounds kind of like you are judge, jury and executioner but I really don’t know any of the details in the situations. I do find it amazingly frustrating that I am unable to pursue the guy that demolished me legally. I’ve said before that if he would have broken in my home and forcefully raped me, he would either be in jail or dead. But in this scenario, i have no legal recourse and that is such a slap in the face to me I can’t even describe how degrading it feels.
      I do have a few friends in low places from my past, more colorful life but due to MY moral codes and ethics, I would never do anything to harm anyone physically. So then what?? Sounds like you are way more creative than I!

      1. Ahhh Puddle, most people want me on their team, LOL. I am sorry about whatever happened to you. Who knows, maybe someday you will accidently hire me, and then I will be on your team. I usually let Karma take the credit…um, but I know the truth, and I am usually good with that. Peace. JEC

        1. i’ve almost concluded that it’s not worth my time or energy to even bother with exposing him JEC. I can’t even imagine if what happened to me would have happened to a child of mine. I don’t know if i would be able to see straight. It’s so unjust. Few people really “get” it in it’s totality. Some do…..the ones who have already been through it but those that have not…….never will truly get it. It’s like telling someone the stove is hot, untill you touch the flame, hot is just a word.

    2. Some of the nastiest creatures I have had the displeasure of ever having met, have some appealing sides to their personality. But so what? How crazy are they?

    3. Thanks for sharing this. And thanks for contributing to a very necessary discussion. I hope you find resources you need both in the many articles here and in my books.

    4. JEC,
      This comment is perplexing to me. If what you are saying is accurate and I am understanding it correctly, you are taking matters into your own hands in defense of your family. I know for a fact that the legal system is not always affective and often times invalidates the victim in the most incomprehensible ways. Even things like orders of protection, restraining orders, etc…….often have little power to protect someone against very dangerous people who want to harm them.
      JEC doesn’t sound like some hot head, it’s my way or the highway type. I can say that in my situation, it is a slap in my face and adds insult to injury, that there is little I can do to hold Spathtardx, and whoever else knew about what his real intentions were, accountable and to reclaim the money this has cost me. what he did to my mind and heart can’t be recovered and there is no price that can be put on that damage.
      So JEC takes matters into his own hands. In one way I disagree with his position but try to put myself in his shoes, imagining this having happened to my daughter, or someone I loved and cared deeply about, I don’t know what I would do.
      The disgusting thing in all of this is that when Spathtard slandered me, saying that I said I would have him killed, which was a total LIE he had fashioned out of something I said jokingly, that he KNEW was a joke……..Well, I have actually “called off the dogs”! I’ve had a couple of my male friends say that they were going to teach him to never do something like this again. I’m the one who said NO! I will NEVER stoop to his level and approve or encourage anyone to harm ANYone physically. I’m not saying that they would have done anything serious or drastic but they were/ are VERY unhappy with what he has done to me. So his little scapegoating the victim slander game was just another slap in the face to me and who I really am, my integrity, character and what I’m really all about. It hit me at my core and said that he valued NOTHING about me as a person, the good in me that other people in my life with character and integrity see.
      As much as that hurt……it was probably the one thing that really opened my eyes to what and who he really is. No coming back from that one,,,,,,,no excuses or manipulating his way around or out of that. Done…..game over…….

  5. Yes, they’re aware (they have empathy) . . . They just don’t care (they have no compassion).
    The worst of them (IMHO) are VERY aware . . And they DO care, BUT they care to inflict MAXIMUM PAIN on victims/targets.
    For those “sadistically character disordered” people, a high level of empathy/intuition gives them the power and ability to maximally hurt/harm their victims/targets (their goal).
    It’s the definition of EVIL (IMHO)

    1. Reminds me of one passage from Personality Disorders in Modern Life by Theodore Millon. When tells antisocial personality disorder apart from the sadistic one, he says that antisocials don’t care about the personhood of another person whereas sadists do, just so it makes inflicting pain sweeter.

    2. Sarah and Dr. Simon,

      To be empathic is to put yourself, emotionally, in another person’s shoes. Am I right, Dr. Simon? CD people cannot get to the point of understanding and appreciating someone else’s feelings. They are aware other people have feelings. Dr. Simon, you know that classic “Feelings Poster.” Imagine that they see other people as if they were looking out a window at scenery (the other person’s face, their body) pretty scenery, but no depth (to them) Yes, they don’t care, you’re right. All they want to do is “enjoy the scenery.” How’s that for a metaphor. The other person is the actual window and the CD person will
      take advantage to “enjoy the scenery.”

      1. To concern oneself with the feelings of others, to sense their pain, to hurt in your own heart precisely because they hurt in their heart, and to allow your concern for their welfare to influence your conduct is a very different matter from “understanding” or being aware of someone’s else’s feelings. As you move along the spectrum of character disturbance, the further you get toward the extreme end (psychopathy, sociopathy), the more “aware” a person is about the feelings of others but the less they “care.” In fact, the most skilled predators are extremely “aware” of the feelings of others, and use this knowledge to the intended prey’s detriment. And remember, there are even some psychopaths who have the capacity for empathy (even displaying it at times like when something tragic happens to one of their own), but also have the incredible capacity to “compartmentalize” or mentally wall-off all emotion (turning it off like a light switch) when they have predation on their minds. That said, your “garden variety” narcissists are so unconcerned and oblivious to the feelings, rights, and concerns of others, that they simply pay such things no attention. They’re of little perceived importance anyway, especially in light of the fact that only what they want really matters. I think this whole issue of empathy and character disturbance needs more in depth treatment, and I’m going to keep this in mind for future posts.

    3. Hi Sarah, This is the type I was dealing with. Try explaining to just about anybody that you were targeted by a sadist who was trying to destroy you and his wife, for the purpose of entertainment –that the closest emotional relationship you have had in your life was with a person whose goal was to ruin you. People can’t believe it because they have no point of reference.

      A tip off and point of agony for me and what probably ended our relationship was my calling him on the way he was treating his wife. Even though I believed him and thought he was a victim of craziness and domineering behavior, I didn’t like his dishonesty with her and the way he was using her.

      So, he tortured me, in the end and intentionally and very much enjoyed my agony.

      1. Lisa……to really grasp what my situation was is almost impossible for me let alone try to explain it to someone else. I still haven’t teased everything out. No descriptive words that I know encompass what he did and i am almost certain that his mommy and is sister were in on it, just to name a few.

        1. the tipping point for me was when he slandered me about something I KNEW he knew was not true……….it implicated him in So many ways, all the way back to the beginning of the relationshi*. Done! bye bye looser………stay in Mommy’s basement where you belong…..so perfectly fitting.

  6. I want to thank you Dr. Simon, and all of your wonderful commenters. I read In Sheep’s clothing recently and it was a huge paradigm shift for me in how I had been viewing my abuser and his family, all so shiny on the outside and viciousness on the inside. For the past two weeks I have immersed myself in the articles and comments on this blog, and they have helped me tremendously, or so I thought. I had been doing so well, ignoring the snide, subtle, mocking, teasing comments from spouse and MIL…really avoided having them affect me at all, until this morning…I lost it completely. I’m still shaking as I write this, and there’s so much that happened, I don’t know if I have the energy at the moment to spell it all out, but in a nutshell, I was asked to view something on the computer, I then asked a valid question in a very normal way…and all hell broke loose. Swearing, eye rolling, chair pushing, etc. It shouldn’t have, but it caught me by surprise. The problem is, I didn’t stay calm, I felt so unfairly treated that I had to stand up for myself, I didn’t remain emotionless, I verbally let him have it, and I was actually quite proud of my clarity, it was spot on, respectful, but very blunt and honest, and sometimes loud. I didn’t like it at all, it’s not who I am…it brought out, once again, a side of me that is so not who I ‘really am’ that is leaves me feeling even worse than the initial abusive treatment did.
    Speaking to your post Dr. Simon, I made the mistake of telling him he knew what he was doing, that he did this on purpose to sabotage our anniversary, which is tomorrow, once again. He was in shock of course that I could say such a thing, yet every holiday, birthday, event…something like this usually happens. It was after this past Christmas, where it happened a lot, that I finally got your book and my eyes were opened to what was going on. I only wish I hadn’t shared what I’ve learned today, because as previous commenters have said, this new knowledge has been like a safety blanket to me these past few weeks. I have to say though, that usually at this point after one of these experiences, I’m laying in a heap on the floor crying…once I was crying so hard my contact scratched my cornea and I almost lost my eye site. I’ve never been physically abused, ‘just’ emotionally, but I feel like a shell of my former self because of it, and I now have serious health problems from it. I think I lost ground today by exploding to his exploding, I wish I could take it back…because I do believe he is very AWARE, and now has more ammunition to use against me, he already started today…the twisting and turning, deflecting…I stayed on course though, it’s just what to do now. I feel I’m in constant recovery from these episodes. My job requires me to be upbeat and happy, which is getting more and more difficult to do, though once at my job, I’m happy, but with a constant cloud hanging over my head.
    Thank you again to all…it’s been very comforting to know there are those who truly understand out there, blessings to each and everyone of you, you have blessed me tremendously.

    1. Iris so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through. All I can say is try not to be so hard on yourself…I know it’s difficult because I do have trouble myself trying to understand how I could let mine get under my skin and end up exasperated. I’ve always found that whenever I did speak up for myself in a calm and rational manner he would say that I was being aggressive just for telling it as it was.
      As we have separated I have had time to be myself and my friends,son and family have noticed a big difference in my emotional state, they say I seem calmer and much more self assured. I do feel it to and once I am away from the family home I think I will be even better. I’m looking forward to pursuing my dreams without feeling guilty though I am apprehensive and I know it will be tough just being a single parent but for me it is better than staying in the midst of turmoil. This is what I had to do to save myself and my son I certainly don’t say that’s what is good for anyone else. It takes a lot of inner strength navigating through these relationships so take heart from that. 🙂

      1. Thank you Tori…today I got the silent treatment, all day (our 23 anniversary). We only have one computer and he was on it from morning till night, it ‘got under my skin’ and I’m so angry (and exasperated) at him, and I’m so sick and tired of it all…the chaos and drama are just completely unnecessary. I too have been ‘labeled’ as aggressive, and a know it all, for calmly and clearly telling it like it is, he will have none of it, and now I feel aggressive, I’ve been uttering angry things under my breath all day, that’s not me. Usually I’m extremely sad, hurt, and depressed…those things might happen tomorrow, but today was pure anger, I hope that’s a good thing. Maybe I’ve truly,finally had enough, though I’ve been saying that lately every time this happens.
        I’m so glad that you are starting to rediscover your wonderful self again now that you and your son are away. The peace you will have will bring strength, I’m sure, and you’ll be able to thrive without all the constant negativity keeping you chained to the turmoil.
        I wish you and your son the very best as you move forward… and thank you so much for your kind words. ♥

        1. Thanks so much Iris and I think you have every right to feel anger and being angry can be a good thing it helps keep you on your true focus…yourself. I know my psychologist said to me when I went to see her a little on the angry side that she liked the angry me. It was what she had been waiting to see because I was starting to heal and let go. I wasn’t over the top angry just really peeved off!

          You’ll know when enough is enough, it’s a hard step to take especially after 23 years…I was in mine 14 and I really don’t know what I was thinking. I’m off to a place where I know no one I’m not sure if that’s a good thing either but I just want to breathe and let it all wash away somewhere fresh. Mind you I’ve still got to get there, it’s so close I can feel it and I’m scared but who knows what’s waiting for me?

          Maybe you should take yourself out and celebrate an anniversary without him…let him sit and sulk at the computer. Treat yourself. I do wish you peace Iris and thank you too 🙂

          1. Just another thought have you considered talking to a local Domestic Violence shelter or counsellors if you don’t know anyone or have a place to stay. I know the people I’ve spoken to have been absolutely wonderful so kind and caring and they really do support you.
            I feel for you especially with the silence treatment it’s an insidious form of abuse. Stay strong and breathe!

          2. Tori. You sound so full of life, which is a complete reversal to my memories of exchanging viewpoints with you originally on this website. I am very happy for you and wish you every success going forwards 🙂

          3. Tori, I love that your psychologist ‘liked the angry you’! Maybe I’ve been just really peeved off too…today though, I feel a bit calmer, which feels good. I still feel strong too, but I’m extremely tired. I’m hoping this anger does bring healing, the tears and depression haven’t done so yet, maybe I’m turning a new leaf, as you have.
            Funny you say you’re off to a place where you know no one, as I’ve been dreaming lately of packing up and living in a tiny little village far-far away, I’ve even looked at real estate on line…it’s pure fantasy for me, but it looks like you’re actually doing it, though I don’t know how far away you’re moving. The thoughts of going it alone are very scary…but you’ll be going it alone in peace, and you’ll be able to meet people much easier now that you’re free, and allowed to be yourself, you won’t be alone for long…I’m sure it will be very regenerating and healing…’breathing and freshness’ sound absolutely wonderful…I’m slightly jealous! 😉
            I had anticipated that there would be an incident on or before our anniversary, and had thought of doing something for myself…I should have made plans to go somewhere, because once the chaos started, I was in no shape or mood to take myself anywhere. Lesson learned. I did take a nice walk though…the sun came out for about an hour and I took advantage of it, it was a lovely walk, and I took lovely deep breaths…thank you.
            There hasn’t been any physical violence, and I haven’t talked to any shelters yet, but I might try to find a counselor…finances won’t allow for it at the moment though, so Dr. Simon’s work and this forum are my counseling at the moment, and I’m extremely grateful for it. I’m glad you were able to find truly helpful, kind, and caring people to help you…I think that’s rare from what I’ve read, so happy for you. Thanks again for your encouragement…I will continue to breathe and stay strong to the very best of my ability!

        2. Iris,

          (First off, I need to let all of you know that I did not have time to read through all of the comments here. I am primarily responding to the 2 comments Iris posted about the events surrounding her anniversary……)

          Perhaps a visit to Chump Lady web-site is in order…..She primarily deals with cheating, but all the nonsense you described sounds like that is really what is going on with your husband.

          Please take a look at her information and do not be put off by some of the ‘colorful’ language. That blog is a treasure trove of valuable information for any woman who is being mistreated the way you are being mistreated!

          Take a look and you may be shocked but you will be strengthened to endure the ‘stupid’ he is dishing out to you, whether he is cheating or not!

          What you have described is the worst type of abuse–he is abusing the precious soul of the one he promised to love & cherish! And you are NOT at fault…..Heck of a way to ‘celebrate’ your anniversary! THAT alone tells me there is something very crappy going on…..

          Careful what you do with the anger, though. Use it to find solutions for YOU! Do not use the anger to avenge any of the poo he has dumped on you. That is HIS poo….Let him wallow in it!

          Also, check out the blog by Natalie Lue at Baggage Reclaim.

          It was actually all due to reading and learning about the information from Dr. Simon that allowed me to get the benefit from the blogs I just mentioned to you. LOVE you, Dr. Simon!

          I went through so much abuse, garbage and crap from my husband; he did so much of what you have revealed has happened to you.

          One of the biggest break-throughs to my being able to break free from the mental,verbal & emotional abuse was Dr. Simon’s work. He is awesome!

          Please do not let your husband destroy your soul!

          Hang tough, Iris, Hang Tough!!

          1. I’m also familiar with those sites, and would recommend them as well. I hope everyone will give them a look. Both ladies have a wonderful way of describing the experience of living with an arse.

          2. Einstine, KBugg, I read a little bit of Baggage Reclaim last night and it was very good. I need her mind and voice implanted in my head. Things like what she says to say just don’t come to me. Great site. Thanks for the recommendation.

          3. KBugg, thank you so much for these recommendations and for your encouragement, though I don’t believe there is cheating going on in ‘that’ sense…this happens on birthdays, and pretty much any and every holiday, not to mention when I’ve wanted to have people over, even if it was his own family. If there is cheating going on it’s with golf and football. But I did check out the sites and really found them another great resource to dive into. I read through quite a bit on Nat’s site already and it’s uncanny the things I related to…always amazes me when kindred situations are discovered, how absolutely similar they can be.
            I’m sorry you’ve been through the ringer with your husband, but so glad that you’ve ‘broken free’. I feel I too am on that path as well…just learning the ropes so to speak, and meeting people like you, and those here, are helping to give me the strength I need to keep ‘hanging tough’ on to those ropes, which I think I am doing. Thanks again so much…I appreciate the care and concern greatly! Blessings…♥

    2. Iris, please, I know it’s hard but don’t beat yourself up for anything like this……they DO this, the instigate and provoke. There is aggressive anger and reactive anger and when someone pushes your buttons or is intentionally abusive, you as a human being reacted. Have you at least considered a separation? Some time for yourself to get your feet under you and regain some strength? They SUCK it out of you in the most insidious ways.
      I’m so sorry you are in such pain, i understand completely.

      1. Hello Puddle, thank you for the encouragement…I was starting to do the ‘did I over react’ thing a bit, and your reminder about the instigating and provoking they do got me back on track and I logically played the scene out again in my head and knew I wasn’t to blame…he provoked me, I could have said ‘the sky is blue’ and he would have turned on me, he was ready to fight.
        And your reminder about the difference between aggressive anger and reactive anger has hit home…it brought tears to my eyes. As I mentioned in my reply to Tori, I’ve been so unbelievably angry all day (as well as yesterday), but I now know I’m reacting to the horrible treatment I’ve received and don’t feel as guilty about it, though it still feels terrible. I’m in a ‘how dare he’ mood and I don’t know where it’s going to lead me. Yesterday I told him he should be ashamed of himself, several times…and I almost said it again today but there was absolutely no communication today, and when I had the opportunity as we passed each other, the thought of talking to him made me sick, I couldn’t. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, I’m sure it will be the same all over again. The same thing happened after Christmas, we barely talked for a at least a month. I did say a ton yesterday though, but strongly suspect it did no good.
        And yes, I have considered separating recently…I just don’t know how I’d go about it, I need to think about it carefully. Our finances are in a very precarious state, and I have no one I could stay with…I’m very alone.
        Thank you for your understanding Puddle, I’m so sorry for all that you’ve gone through though, that helped to produce such understanding. ♥

    3. Iris,
      I can’t offer any advice, because I too, am just beginning to understand this. However, I can empathize. Just having the knowledge is empowering, and recognizing an aggressor’s tactics as such seems to be the key. From what I understand, I don’t believe we should just “take it” either. One of my aggressors tactics is brandishing anger. That isn’t acceptable, in my opinion. So, I have said, “When you are calm and have gained your self-control, we will talk.”

      Recently, I asked him if the kids and I could do something that would cost quite a bit of money. He immediately bowed up and said something like,”You just did _______, why do you need to do this.” I explained why and the benefits for our family etc. He said, “Whatever, you are going to do what you want anyway! You always do what you want.” This is 1) not true 2) a tactic 3) one that has been successful in the past. So, in order to try and use what I perceive as insight from Dr. Simon (but, I still feel SUPER unsure if I am doing it right!) I said, “You said, (restated what he said) so, I am going to take that as a, ‘yes’. Therefore we will go. He looked at me and said, “Fine!” Then proceeded to try the silent treatment over a course of two days. I continued to speak with him about daily things so as not to fall into the trap. Then, he made a snide comment about money (which in the past I would start to feel guilty about and maybe forgo what we had intended) for the thing for the children and myself. I reiterated that 1) It is good for our family. 2) I had accepted his response as approval 3) We have plenty of money to cover it. Now, in the past, he has also gone a step further, playing upon MY conscience about giving to the poor, having excess, wanting to give our money away etc. But, he didn’t do that this time. Because he is starting to see that I won’t allow it.

      Another thing I am doing is telling him, “You are not even invested in ______, you just want to win.” This has been very eye-opening to him. Several times he has stopped and I can see the wheels turning, NOT in a “How can I find a new method to taker her down” kind of way, rather a, “Huh, I AM just fighting to win.”

      WOW–I don’t know if you needed or even wanted ANY of that. I pray that there was something in there that was helpful to you. If not, I am sorry for high jacking your post!!!

      1. Hi Becky, you didn’t ‘highjack my post’ at all, I appreciate your perspective greatly, and wish I could go back in time, read your post, and then respond to the ‘brandished anger’ I was blindsided with yesterday…if only. But since I couldn’t do that, standing up for myself was the way I went, but I don’t believe it did any good, and I’m left feeling shattered…again. Funny thing is, ever since I read Dr. Simon’s book, I have been answering back in a manner I was proud of, and wasn’t letting his immature behavior affect me. I felt stronger and more able to cope…but maybe that’s why I though I could stand up for myself yesterday, he was storming out like I had done and said something worthy of that behavior, and I just couldn’t let it go. His ‘tactics’ prolonged the ‘discussion’ into hours though instead of us just dealing with the main issue and being done with it, he tried to veer us all over the place, with me as the villain, but I did my best to steer us back to the main topic, over and over and over again. I became very angry during the process though, and still feel so angry. I mentioned in my comment to Tori that we haven’t spoken all day today, I’m getting the silent treatment now…and I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him at all because of it, not even about the mundane. I feel like treating him as if he doesn’t exist, which is how he’s treating me (not very mature, I know)…I hate feeling like this, and I’m angry that he brought it about, and that I wasn’t able to stop it, or ignore it. I was probably more vulnerable because this was our anniversary weekend…it’s almost like he provoked me to act in this way so he would have a good excuse to avoid the anniversary…what a waste of precious time.
        When someone lashes out and then leaves…what’s one to do? I guess I could have said ‘when you have gained your self control, we can revisit this’, I could have said that even though he was leaving now that I think about it, especially since I had been very normal and calm initially…again, if only.
        You carefully not allowing your husbands inappropriate behaviors to dictate the dynamics of your family any longer is very admirable Becky…and from the sound of it, you’re doing marvelously, even if you are a bit unsure. I wish I would have kept my cool and stayed above it all, instead of trying to get him to see the ‘error of his ways’.
        Thank you again, there was much here that was helpful, and I know I’ll be returning again and again to yours and the other reply’s for strength and guidance, they’ve all been very helpful, and comforting.
        Blessings…and continued peaceful strength to you and everyone else who is trying to move forward with all that they are learning here, may we all succeed…and have hope and delight once again fill our hearts. ♥
        (I hope I haven’t rambled too much, and that what I’ve written makes sense, it’s late and I’m very tired)

        1. Iris, please stop punishing yourself for not handling it perfectly. You are learning and that is what is important. So what if you didn’t do something perfectly……that is how we learn. Your eyes are open now so use this time to LEARN.,,,,,,,,watch and learn. I wish I would have known what exactly was going on when I was still with him. So the next time you will be more ready.
          You more then likely have years for frustration and anger that have accumulated with this “man”. Please know that it is inside you and needs to come out. Maybe some kind of physical exercise that you can release it with would help? Then you would have a better chance of responding rather than reacting. Just do not berate yourself anymore…..please! Do not expect that dealing with one of these creatures will be easy or come naturally to you.

          1. Thanks Puddle…your comment is so spot on in so many ways. I need to remind myself constantly that I’m still learning, and be okay with that, and yes, I think I might be more ready next time, which might be sooner than later as he said he wanted to talk later this evening when I got home…we’ll see what happens. I think I did let loose a ton of built up frustration, so I’m thinking tonight will be much more calm, as I feel calmer today. I did get out and try to walk off my anger yesterday…and it helped. I also cleaned the house like crazy to keep busy, that’s one good thing that came out of it all…a clean house.
            I’ll try to be kinder to myself…your support and encouragement are helping me very much in doing that, I appreciate both greatly.

        2. Hi Iris. I wanted to comment about the conversation you had where your husband wouldn’t stay on topic and made it impossible for the main problem to be discussed or solved. What you described is called a circle conversation. An abuser doesn’t want this topic to go anywhere. It’s a game that helps him/her avoid accountability for their own words and actions. It’s not something you can win, so don’t try. He will win at all costs and enjoy his victory. It’s the kind of conversation that warrants the walking away and keeping the door open approach. Be angry if you want to, we all have to get it out. Just don’t do it in front of him. It will only confirm to him that he’s won. If you’re still making a plan, keep it yourself or tell only someone you can trust until you are ready to take the big step. If this single mother of 2 can get away from her ASPD ex hubby, so can you. The words you’ve received above is great advice. Check for patterns in his behavior and yours. There are always patterns. When someone asks me how I did it and how I still do it, I say “one day at a time.” Don’t beat yourself up. What’s happening is not your fault. My prayers are with you. You are stronger than you think!

    4. Thank YOU, not only for sharing, but also for the validating words. I sincerely hope you find in my books and on this blog the resources you need to help empower your life.

      1. I already have Dr. Simon…and I’m looking forward to reading your other two books, and soon, I know they too will be a great resource of strength and comfort.
        Bless you for all that you’re doing to help those of us who are teetering on the edge, you’re keeping us from falling off the cliff, and simultaneously, helping us learn how to climb as well.

    5. Iris, you sound just like me. I’m just now finding all these resources and wondering where they’ve been the last 22 years of my life. A book that is helping me deal with MY anger (over the insanity I live with every day) is The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner. I am trying to break out of the relational patterns my husband and I are in – and it is making him very, very angry, sullen, and revengeful. In a passive way, of course. You know? So he looks amazing, and I look like a nasty, angry woman that he so kindly puts up with. Everyone I’ve tried to get help from locally believes HIM because he is such a “nice guy.” I can relate to so much of what you are writing. Know that you are not alone.

      1. Natalie, keep doing what you are doing. I have been looking for answers like you for years and I have finally gained the answers and tools I needed so long ago, since I have read Dr Simon’s two books and used this amazing site to begin to take the steps I could have years ago but just didn’t know how to. It really is good to know we are not alone.

      2. Natalie,,,,,Please don’t make the mistake of judging YOUR anger as something that needs to be dealt with in a situation like this. It is there for a reason and that reason is,,,,,,to light a fire under your arse. You SHOULD be angry when someone’s crazy making manipulations create an insane situation.
        And yes……they are all such nice guys……as long as you are of value to them (in so many different ways),,,,,they wear a mask for all to see as long as you are of value to them in some kind of measurable way. Mind numbing reality isn’t it??

  7. I used to try to control myself, and found that “punching back twice as hard”, is much more effective. They are bullies, and that’s the way you respond to a bully (IMHO). So don’t be hard on yourself. You know they’re crazy/aggressive/manipulative and the only sane response to an aggressive person, is a bigger more aggressive response. Instead of defending yourself . . Push back (twice as hard) by blaming them for “whatever” . . . being abusive/lying/character disordered etc. But, you can only do this if it’s physically safe.

    1. Sarah, I wish i would have had the understanding and knowledge I have now when I was still involved with him and i would have pushed back……HARD! Only towards the very end of the very end did was I able to start calling a spade a spade (spath).

      1. The other choice is to just walk away. I don’t see much point at calling them anything. They will only turn it around on you again and again and again.

    2. Depends on the manipulator I would say……as a cautionary message. Problem with hitting back hard at someone who wants to win at all costs….could be disastrous. What works for you is what works for you but my wife is a fighter….and will employ every tool in her armoury in so doing. What works best for me is to (a) be firm, and (b) force her into ‘proving’ or confirming what are her intentions. If, for example, it is possible for her to state her wishes in front of witnesses (of course, not always possible), she finds it more difficult to later deny or reword what she claims to has committed to previously.

      1. Btw, perhaps a Freudian slip in my use of the word ‘force’……which should be taken to mean more assertively encourage 😉

      2. Hi Danny, by saying that i would have hit back hard, I mean that I would have said and done things quite differently. I look back on that time and see myself like some kind of fish that was stunned by a predator. I just can’t believe how confused I was, how hooked and clueless about what was really going on. I actually may pursue this legally at this point as it has cost me THOUSANDS of dollars trying to keep myself above water emotionally.

    3. Sarah, I feel as though I did punch back hard yesterday…but I don’t know how affective it was. It felt good and right at the time because I was standing up for myself and saying things with such clarity, and I believe, correctness…but the response I received was as if I was the bully.
      To use up so much precious energy for nothing is unbelievably draining…and I feel even more a shell of myself for it. I felt like I was saying constructive things in a straightforward manner, but he was just into making sure things stayed destructive and destroyed, with me as the culprit. He was so offended and shocked that I could say or think certain things…then of course, that’s where he tried to take the conversation. So very twisted.
      I do still feel angry though, and I’m praying that some good will come out of it, like being able as Puddle says keep calling ‘a spade a spade’.
      Thank you for helping me to keep feeling tougher than I feel (if that makes sense)! 🙂

      1. Iris, Engaging with him on his terms will only deplete you further. When he pulls this crap he is engaging you in his game. The way I see it now,,,,the best thing to do is to not play his game. in as short and concise a way as you possibly can…..communicate to him that you are not interested in playing his game. I’m not saying to use those words though. Something like ” I don’t like to be spoken to this way” and YOU walk away. it is not your job in life to educate him on how to be a real man and a decent human being. Let HIM figure that out! Rat’s in a maze can figure out how to get to the cheese for crying out loud!! LOL! Just communicate that you are not going to be his verbal punching bag and immediately go do something else, ANYTHING else…..something you DO enjoy.
        So this is just a suggestion. how does it feel/ sound to you?

        1. Puddle, your suggestion sounds perfect, and I actually used some of those exact words on Saturday…I said I wouldn’t be his verbal punching bag any longer, and that he had to figure it out, I couldn’t do it for him. He said there wasn’t anything to do about it…and I asked him why he thought he was above it all, growing, learning, changing…he said he wasn’t.
          I wonder if that will come up tonight. I think I’m learning how to respond better here…let’s see what happens in the heat of the moment, I will be thinking of you and everyone else here, standing behind me and coaching me along, like I had a little microphone in my ear…I’m smiling as I think of that scenario!

      2. IMHO . . . When you punch back – don’t do it to convince him you are right or to change him. (You KNOW you are right and you KNOW he won’t/can’t change). Punch back with the “firm conviction” that you are right, and that anything he says is in response pure BS, manipulative, aggressive, and not even worth listening to for one second. You can say to him “you’re aggressive, you’re manipulative, and whatever you say is not worth listening to” . . (again, say punch back only if it’s physically safe to do so.)

        1. Don’t forget too that sometimes “punching back” is all about you being able to keep things straight in your head while they’re trying to make you crazy. Don’t be afraid to use the same phrases over again when they apply. You know him best. Do what works for you.

  8. Why is it seemingly out of the question that we simply disengage with people like this? I know a lot of people will say, “Well, I have to work with them.” Not true. If the disturbed personality is functioning in the workplace, you will not be the only one to have noticed their behavior. If enough of their colleagues take concerns about them to management – even if the disturbed person is a supervisor – it will eventually become more of a problem to keep the person than to let them go. In the case of a family member, it may be harder to disengage but it can be done and SHOULD be, if their behavior upsets the family character. It may be just my advancing years but I don’t see the benefit in feeling a compulsion to get along with everybody in the world. It’s not possible, to begin with, and my best efforts are better used in nurturing my relationships with people who appreciate the relationships. If people KNOW they’re behaving in ways that are abhorrent to those around them but simply don’t care, you can give that a scientific name, if you like, but it still boils down to self-indulgence and callousness. It is not the responsibility of society to adapt to or coddle misfits. If they choose that lifestyle, let them understand that the consequences of their actions are to be isolated and ignored.

    1. Steve, it’s not always they easy or simple I’m afraid, especially when they are manipulating people covertly. Usually by the time you really figure out what they are/ have been doing, you have already sustained serious damage. I didn’t really KNOW what he was/ had been doing until months after we broke up for example.

      1. This is true Puddle. I imagine Steve to be referring to more the continual engaging in pointless discussions, trading backwards and forwards…..round and round and round…….denials, counter accusations, proving and re-proving. All completely pointless activity. The one who cares less can often hold the more power. Walk away would be my advice.
        Yet covert aggression is a different matter altogether imv. Best to call them for what you know they are doing…..and then walk away.

    2. Very well put might I offer Steve Brody. A sense of perspective is often needed in exchanges like these. What you suggest is very difficult, in fact probably the most difficult thing to do but if successful it can be hugely beneficial and is wonderfully empowering. I personally have not really experienced manipulation in the workplace however have been on the receiving end of it for far too long in the family setting. I have expended far too much energy explaining things, and clarifying and making clear and re-clarifying and re-explaining……to someone who I’ve since realised had absolutely zero interest in anything I had to say. Their only desire was in creating the conflict and remaining in it for as long as possible. It took a long while (far too long tbh) for me to realise that. And, yes, almost overnight, the CA has all but lost their power – the codependency has been broken and I can see my wife is confused by this current state of affairs. She quite literally doesn’t know what to do. So, yes, I think that in reality, breaking the codependency cycle is incredibly challenging, this is definitely what we should be seeking to do.

  9. Puddle, Take comfort in the fact that HE is disordered, has a big problem (no conscience, inability to love /care for another etc.), and will never change and wiil always have FALSE relationships.
    You are sane, and can go on to have a happy REAL life.

    1. Thanks Sarah, I wish that was actually comforting. I’m not quite there yet. I might talk tough (?) but I still hurt so much inside over this. I seemingly can only take small bites of this at a time……coming to grips with the reality of it is the most painful thing I have ever had to digest……..on many levels and in many ways.

      1. Puddle, my word for the year has been ‘REALITY’…it has kept me going, painfully sometimes. Gretchen Rubin from the Happiness Project did a post on picking a ‘word for the year’ at the beginning of the year. At first it didn’t strike me as something I would do, but then the word ‘reality’ hit me like a ton of bricks…and it stuck. I repeat it to myself often so I won’t be duped as often, and it has helped.
        When I finally realized the true ‘reality’ of what was going on with my husband, I was overcome with grief and actually went, I believe, through a mourning process. Facing the truth of what and who he is has been very, very difficult…and sad. How I wish I had kept my cool yesterday…and remembered the ‘reality’ of who I was dealing with. I’m praying that good comes out of it somehow. xo

        1. Again Iris…….it’s pointless to wish you had done something differently yesterday. I am almost 100% sure you will have another chance. 🙁
          Think of this as any skill…….you rarely do it perfectly the first time. AND in the case of these types, don’t be surprised if the tactics and situations change with no warning……that is meant to catch you off guard. OK, try to think of it this way…….every time you are caught off guard and REact, you are feeding them a treat. No more treats. keep that in the forefront of your mind. Communicate that you do not like the way you are being talked to, treated, it feels bad, i’m tired of feeling bad. Then walk away, leave if you must.
          After saying that…….do you feel like you are safe? This is important. Is your physical safety of any concern to you? Did I miss a post that already explained this ? I get kind of confused between different peoples posts. If you feel like you are in danger you need help from an outside qualified group.

          1. Puddle, this will be easy for me to do as I have a little senior dog who tries to get treats out of me all day and I am well versed in telling her ‘no, these are not good for you!’.
            I do feel physically safe, thanks for asking…he’s never been violent that way, just emotionally violent.
            I know, there’s so much info exchanged here…sometimes it gets confusing, I have to read things several times…which so far has been very helpful and reassuring.
            Thanks again coach…xo

          2. Iris………..hang in there! You can do it. If things get tight you can always walk away by saying ” i need to think about what you have just said because I’m not sure how I feel about it”. Or just ask him “why are you speaking to me like this? but not in a whining pleading way but in a curious way.

  10. I believe part of the reason it is so hard to overcome the hurt is because we are angry at ourselves for not defending or taking care of ourselves. At least in my cae that is true. I know when their behavior is crazy, and am angry at myself for not taking care to protect myself and making the right choices . . i.e., no contact or punching back (verbally) twice as hard.

    1. This i have come to see clearly………there is no defending yourself is a situation like I was in. It’s all hidden and twisted into something i couldn’t defend against. and things changed and…………all too much to explain. I still haven’t come to terms with it entirely and it’s been over a year since we broke up and almost a year since No Contact.
      My example stands: A friend of mine had inoperable brain cancer, 21 lesions at the time of diagnosis. The type of brain cancer he had was a metastasized form of cancer and had started somewhere else in his body and gone undetected until it “moved” to his brain and caused him enough trouble that he went in to the doctor. I think that is the clearest example of what MY situation was all about. Spathtardx and his covert intentions were the original cancer that I didn’t know was there. The relationship was doomed from the start but he was the only one who knew that. I was like a little hamster on a wheel, running running running but going nowhere as he sat back, quite amused I’m sure. I wonder how long she will chase after my line of BS? I’m tired of this hamster…..she needs fed and looked after,,,,,too hard. Now how will I get rid of it? this one’s not like the others…….hmmmmm……such a dilemma.
      By the time the Spath lesions had formed in my brain I was weakened which sets up a whole other dynamic in the victim. Just too much to take in and explain all at once……

  11. I think sometimes you have to play it safe with these people. I know the times I stood up to the aggression (only verbally) I was always shaking and ready to run, so he knew I was terrified so it didn’t always work out so well. When you’re dealing with someone who is potentially violent I think to err on the side of caution for your own safety.
    I wonder a lot about the cycle of violence that a lot of domestic violence services talk about…that honeymoon after violence or outburst, then the pressure cooker when things start to build and then the snap once more…at what time would you put your contingencies into place? As if this is true of these people at anytime you do stand up for yourself and say it’s unacceptable (which they don’t see due to their own core beliefs) it’s almost like bringing on the snap sooner. This seems to be well documented with victims who have done such a thing because they knew it was coming anyway.
    I am not always convinced there is always a cycle either. I know in my case as I look back when the violence came I wasn’t always expecting it…sometimes one moment in love next…well!
    If the character disturbed person is so aware and cunning they would want to keep you from expecting it in some way…or maybe that’s the more insidious of the character disturbed those who know the game they want to play and still protect their precious self image. Just something that has plagued my thoughts since leaving this whole game of manipulation.

    1. Tori,
      “I am not always convinced there is always a cycle either. I know in my case as I look back when the violence came I wasn’t always expecting it…sometimes one moment in love next…well!
      If the character disturbed person is so aware and cunning they would want to keep you from expecting it in some way…or maybe that’s the more insidious of the character disturbed those who know the game they want to play and still protect their precious self image. Just something that has plagued my thoughts since leaving this whole game of manipulation.”

      The abuse comes at a time of their own choosing period. I’m sure I will never understand why he did what he did when he did but I’m sure there was plenty of factors he weighed out in his timing. Hmmmmm……..do I really want to be by myself tonight? P is away and I can’t go party with him, I wouldn’t mind getting some tomorrow…..hmmmmm…….decisions decisions. Sometimes it wouldn’t take much for him to change from Jekyll to Hiyde . I suspect that the more he wanted to go off and do something or someone, the faster he would manufacture a problem and consequential blow up in order to have an excuse.
      They only care about their “self image” in order to get what they want. If they have tired of you or no longer want anything from you or can no longer get what they wanted from you, you will see the real monster behind the mask.

      1. Puddle I believe you’re right, it does come with their choosing and what they want to accomplish by using the violence. It certainly seems that way for me too. Mine seemed to be too calculating at times as if he planned it for a while and was just waiting for the right time to explode so he could have an excuse and as you say get what HE WANTED!

        1. Tori, exactly the way I see it now but of course it was MY fault. It’s just sick. He has no clue what he has done to me. I don’t mean that he didn’t mean to do what he did or that he could or would be sorry for it……just that he has no idea how deeply his little toddler/ adolescent game has affected me. How does a person come to terms with the fact that they were deceived and consequently raped by someone they loved but the person they loved was never real? He was not the person he said he was. He did not have the feelings he said he did. He did not mean the promises he made. He lied overtly and covertly.
          Someone told me that this is a chemical withdrawal that I’m going through, and i believe that may be true partially but it’s also a mental nightmare of things I have no ability to understand. there isn’t one thing about the entire time I was with him that i don’t wish I could forget now. I’ve NEVER had that in a relationship break up.

        2. This discussion on ‘when, why, where’ the blow-ups occur brought back some memories. I would also like to ask Dr. Simon to comment.

          The CD seemed to absolutely CRAVE being the victim and would set the ball rolling to satisfy this in. Usually, it would consist of me sitting in the den minding my own business when he would storm in ranting-and-raving about some imaged slight. Then he would storm off, or leave for a Doctor’s appointment without me, then go to all his friends and start garnering sympathy for what a selfish, unthoughtful, callous, uncaring beeyatch I was. I got my head wrapped around the term, “pathology”, when I realized he was 100 percent buying into his own narrative.

          Dr. Simon….this need to be the long suffering victim of incredibly vicious people….what IS that? Other than that, he was the textbook case of a narcissist.

          1. Most of the time, when this kind of “act” is staged, there’s really no “need” to be or feel the victim involved at all. Rather, it’s the script they engage in before going on the warpath. And they don’t necessarily have to convince themselves or “buy into” their own narrative. It’s simply a way to pump themselves up and get ready for the rowdy (often drunken rampage) they wanted to go on in the first place. And the blow-up is not prompted by any distorted memory or feelings of victimization, but rather simply being denied something they want. It’s normal for two year olds to throw tantrums. Some adult CDs simply never learned to stop.

          2. This has been my overwhelming experience. The household can be completely peaceful then the ‘victim’ would suddenly burst into the room interrogating me on all sorts of matters/issues, immediately demanding answers, then further claiming to be denied information she should have been told about. And if I did answer her questions, then she would claim that I have been (a) lying, or (b) intentionally withholding information which should have been communicated to her earlier (“why didn’t I know anything about this?” or “why do you think so little of me so as not to tell me anything”….about x, y or z?). All totally staged – all totally engineered, usually with crocdile tears, to emphasise in front of others that she is the ‘victim’.

          3. But Danny? What if you were being left out of decisions that the CA is making or having important information withheld from you or you are asking a question that pertains to a long standing issues that is being ignored by the CA? In my situation, there was never a good time to bring things up so of course when I did bring something up, even in the best possible way, a simple question….”Spathtard, do you think of me like a buddy…….you know, not really romantically”? he goes off into a lecture about how Christmas eve is a totally inappropriate time to do this…….blah blah blah…….you would think that in one of these relationship books you read Puddle, it would say something about not bringing things up on…..blah blah blah…….! I ruined HIS Christmas! I made a mess of the entire Holliday…..worst Christmas EVER! because I asked one question. Yeah…..the Holliday was ruined. It had nothing to do with the drama scene he displayed like a bad soap opera. And then told me I could choke to death for all he cared when I said I would drop the food he had prepared for the next day off at his mothers porch……said he would call the sherif’s department if I set one foot on their (mommy’s and his?) property!!!! Can you imagine?? calling the sherif and having them ask you what the nature of your emergency is?? My girlfriend dropped a breakfast casserole off on the front porch of my Mommys house!! LOLOLOL! disgusting. But I’m the one who made a f’ing mess of Christmas. Never mind that I spent the entire day by the woodstove after torquing something in my hip when he shoved past me in the coat room, pushing me out of the way. he ALWAYS attributed these bizarre nefarious motivations to my actions……projecting his twisted motivations on to me??

          4. I completely agree with Dr. Simon, however I would like to add from my own experience that it’s their ego that needs to be stroked and pampered before the war path. My ex would do it for several reasons. Sympathy from others can get him things that he wants (served by others), helpful information from others who bought into the stories, get others to spy on you, get others angry at you that can sabotage something you are trying to accomplish, ruin YOUR reputation, gather others to convince you that YOUR wrong/crazy/etc… Anything he can do to set you up and punish you for not getting what he wanted. He did it so he could be reassured in some small way that I deserved whatever he had planned.

  12. Thank you Danny… I feel very different as I am almost free and that cloud is lifting. Maybe the real me is starting to emerge once more. 🙂 I’ve been very lucky with the support I’ve received from friends, family and people who I’ve made contact with through support services and the professional help. My doctor was so wonderful too when I initially went to see him virtually distraught. He helped put a lot of things in place for me. I think breaking the silence was the best thing I ever did for myself. I really do urge people to reach out and ask for help as it gives you that courage to start again. Thanks again Danny and I hope you keep going strong too! 🙂

  13. My “mother” was clearly CD. I terminated the relationship with her (NC’d) many decades ago, long before the internet, the advent of the Self-Help industry etc. From that time forward through the ensuing decades until her physical death, she attempted to destroy me in every.possible.way. She knew EXACTLY what she was doing, her behavior was organized, targeted, intentional and unrelenting. She was a one-person Terrorist Organization. A CD with virtually unlimited financial resources can purchase any service they desire-and I do mean ANY. When I was finally able to confirm her physical death, I was profoundly relieved. There were times when I was certain she would outlive me and there is a plethora of evidence to confirm this outcome-my death-was her desired goal. How dare I politely but firmly walk away and quietly close that door-forever?! DNA is NOT a “Get Out of Jail Free” Card. As adults, we are responsible for our choices and our actions. I was well aware of her pathology from an early age; post NC, it became so florid she confirmed my decision repeatedly and in spectacular fashion.
    If, as adults, you have difficulty dealing with the reality of your chosen relationship with a Character Disordered individual, think about what it’s like to be a child and be raised by one of these freaks. Consider additionally the power of the word “Mother” in society at large: It purchases instant credibility for them *even when the “child” is an ADULT.* Legal recourse is limited both in practice and practicality although I am pleased to see the advent of Stalking laws. However, their effectiveness in my situation remains questionable.
    Thanks, Dr. Simon for your work. No doubt you’re helping countless people by opening their eyes to REALITY. What people chose to do with that reality-as painful as it may be-is entirely up to them. Taking even one small step in terms of restoring your most primal right to self-preservation is the first step towards restoring the rest of you and your life. Life was *not* meant to be a Life Sentence. Reading, gathering information helps frame the “problem” and regardless of the massive self-doubt the CD individual has inculcated in you, NO, it’s NOT YOU. If a child can figure this out and find their way out, so can you. If no one believes you? So what: They’re not living your hell-you are. And YOU ABSOLUTELY DO MATTER.
    Best wishes to everyone who has had the misfortune of having a CD person in your life from the little old widow broad in the back of the room.
    Many thanks again, Dr. Simon.
    TW

    1. Thank YOU for such kind words, and for sharing. Your comments on personal responsibility – whatever the influence of DNA or one’s environment – are very well put.

    2. Tundra woman, What a wonderful post, so many good points about “mother”. You are right…..that word carries a lot of weight and others judge you harshly if you dare to speak up and against abusive treatment from your mother. I understand this completely.
      “Honor your father and mother”? Well what if your being abused and or neglected by one or both? Then what? Honor them anyhow? Unfortunately not all children do “figure it out.” AND when you are being covertly abused through various means it’s extremely hard to figure it out.

    3. I don’t even know where to start with this one…it’s so difficult to point the finger at the mother who causes so much harm because people have such a hard time believing that a mother could treat a child so destructively.
      I know of someone who had two cd+ parents, she did die, and I believe the stress she endured all her life from her family might have partially contributed to it. She did have other physical ailments but they were minor, not death inducing, but they probably made her slightly more fragile. She was young when she passed, and had suffered greatly, emotionally. She never knew true peace. The abuse was many times subtle, but continual. She started reacting almost continually to it as well, which made the abuse worse, as she was then blamed and viewed as the ‘troubled one’. It’s all so sad. The truth of what was going on was just starting to get recognized right before she died, it had been so smoothly covered up for so long, but some were starting to see…it was just too late. I’ve never spoken of this, and I’m even nervous writing about it, but I think it’s so important that people recognize this issue and be careful of what could be the cause of someone’s somewhat unstable behavior, which I know goes against what we’re learning here a bit, but I wish I had seen what was going on sooner. She was desperate to be free from her turmoil, and didn’t know why she was acting certain ways. Maybe that’s the key, she cared about how she was acting and was seeking help to understand, where as ‘others’ don’t give their behavior a second thought and keep on with it, no matter what the destruction…she didn’t do that, she cared.
      I’m glad you made it out alive and safe Tundra Woman, and that you are strong, and most of all, that you truly know how much you do matter now. Thank you for posting this.

      1. Iris……this is so true. I identify with everything you say. Covertly destructive behaviour is imv a wickedly criminal act, perpetrated on a victim. I wish there was a way to bring those guilty to justice.

      2. Absolutely Iris. The abuser always looks like the stable, ‘sane’ one where the abused resembles a basket case. To say these abusers are toxic doesn’t BEGIN to cover the damage they do to those who get caught up in their orbit.

        Gone are the automatic assumptions about who’s crazy and who’s not. There’s been a few times when I’ve recognized that someones “problem” lay in the company they keep. Half the time, they’re so distraught and mixed up that they don’t even see it. Really sad.

    4. Lovely words Tundra Woman. Well said!
      A few personal examples….

      If ever we would have an argument, or if I was to so little as disagree with her on a particular matter, my wife would go round the house and turn over, face down, every photo with my picture on it.

      I would walk into the bedroom and find my bed clothes thrown/strewn on the floor. If/when challenged, she would either deny or say she had forgotten to pick them up when she was making the bed tidy (strangely enough, I would never forget when I was making the bed tidy).

      Let’s say I woke early in the morning and took the clothes out from the washing machine to hang them on the washing line to dry. My wife would get up later, then upon noticing the clothes out back on the line, would remove every item, attempt to supposedly ‘straighten’ it, then reposition with the clothes peg. She would do this to EVERY item of clothing.

      Let’s say I was working quietly in a room…..watching TV or in my office working, the door open. She would look into the room, look at me, say nothing, then close the door tight leaving me in the room on my own. So In response I would get up from my seat, open the door, and return to whatever I was doing. She would then come back 2 minutes later and do the same thing.

      There are other things I could mention, all done in response to a perceived personal slight. Does that constitute psychological abuse, do you think?

      1. DANNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow!!!! I now have a clearer picture of your situation. So sad…..she is a child. it would be sad if she was truly trying to acknowledge her shortcomings and change but in the absence of that…..how annoying! I felt irritated just reading it!

      2. Yes Danny, IMO. There’s a million ways to denigrate another without using verbal communication. I believe it’s something like 85% of human communication is non-verbal. (Dr. Simon will hopefully fix this % if I’m off here.)
        My post above was the very annotated synopsis of growing up and young adult life with a CD “mother” and I did not mean to infer it is in any way easy for any of us to make sense of or get away from these people. I sincerely apologize if I appeared to be making light in some way of the herculean task of freeing oneself from a CD individual. Bruises fade. Broken bones mend. Burns scar over. It is the psychological mind-f***ery that leaves the longest Legacy, no?
        Dr. Simon, you have a veritable gold mine of info here-what is the problem with the Mental Health folks etc. who just.don’t.get.it? I’m not at all holding you responsible-that was a rhetorical question. The lack of information disseminated on CDs and so much of what I read is just plain nuts when dealing with a CD: “Communication Skills,” “Using I Statements” just hands them more ammo. Telling them how you feel guarantees they will increase their abuse in that particular area. “Boundaries” are Targets of Opportunity. “You *must* forgive!” Um, no, you don’t. I will tarnish my non-existant halo further: I have never “forgiven” my “mother.” (GASP!!!) When I mention this, the result is a collective flaming by the PC-ers, the religious, the “Cult of Nice-ers,” the Social Networkers who read somewhere that “forgiveness is NECESSARY!!!” to “Heal.” (ohhh, all the buzz words) Otherwise I am: “Angry,” “Bitter,” “Going to Hell” and-well, you get the idea. I am instantly condemned.
        In this remote, impoverished area we did not get the internet until the last few years. As I read, every place I looked was touting “Forgiveness” of your abuser as essential to a healthy, happy life. Huh? This *NEVER even crossed my radar*-what does this say about me?! I pondered this-alot. Here’s the best way I can explain this glaring “deficiency:” Would I forgive a bear for being a bear? A wolf for being a wolf? Of course not! My “mother” was a Predator. She was who she was. (shrug) Acceptance is not forgiveness: I know and have lived the difference.
        My feet-and my head-are firmly placed in Reality. I can not begin to convey how fortunate I truly am. I have loved and been loved WELL. Still do. My life has been such an adventure, I continue to enjoy people and nature to this day. I now (a few strokes later) volunteer from home working with combat vets as I worked with Viet Nam combat vets for decades. Just as all life is finite and all people have something that is uniquely their’s to give back to this world, do not allow the CD in your world to dim your light-ever. How has Dr. Simon become such a light in this world of CDs? He *knows* WHO he is. He *loves* WHAT he does. Yet, look at the population he deals with on a daily basis-can you imagine dealing with as many CDs as he does?! And not feel totally defeated? Or mind-f***ed?
        I have donated my body to medical science when I die. No wake, funeral etc. just a long transport to a large medical facility where they can do what they please with it. (I smile to think how assiduously I’ve avoided medical people throughout life and in death, they can have it, I’m done with it.) In turn, I get a free roast and toast/cremation so to the people who are telling me I’m going to hell for not “Forgiving,” I’ve got a head-start on that one 😉 The Ecology people would probably applaud that decision. The medical students and researchers, well, there’s a few parts missing so I’m not too sure what they’ll think-a refund?! The Funerary people? Not.so.much: NO big $$ for them.
        My point? See what happens when you make decisions based on what *other* people think? Someone isn’t gonna be happy. Better them (the abuser) than you (the abused.)
        You all are suffering horribly-and unnecessarily in the sense that it’s NOT about YOU, but indeed, it is highly personal. Your CD person has customized their treatment of you to target your very humanness: Your conscience, your integrity, all of your “positives” are turned against you. But here’s the deal: It would NOT matter WHO YOU WERE/ARE: No one escapes a personal/professional relationship with a CD individual unscathed. (Leaving aside Dr. Simon who has a firm grasp on self and CDs.) They don’t have a clue about who you are beyond those lovely qualities of your very personhood they can exploit. Yes, they will treat *everyone* the same way given an opportunity-not just you. You are a Tool in their world. As Dr. Simon points out, they do NOT think the same way we do at all. Please, let that sink in. You are dealing with someone with a Criminal Mindset regardless of whether or not they even received so much as a speeding ticket. You have experienced how they save their worst abuses for behind closed doors. Is that consciousness of GUILT? HELL NO! That’s consciousness of not wanting to get caught or be held accountable, period the end.
        So I will shut up now, and thank you all for contributing. I apologize for minimizing in any way the pain these human-LIKE Predators have inflicted on you and your loved ones. Yes, it’s horrible, it’s unfair, it’s an abomination etc. Just please BELIEVE that little spark of you that’s left that knows it’s not you: Your light can never shine if someone is determined to bash in/destroy your very humanity.
        And that’s exactly what they’re doing. Intentionally. Yeah-OUCH. The shame and all the approbation you can heap on them is their’s alone. They received it the old-fashioned way: THEY EARNED IT.<Yes, I know that's not PC, but some immutable personal Truths just aren't;)
        TW

        1. Well said Tundra Woman! I’m Catholic and had a big struggle with forgiveness. As a result I’ve done a lot of research about it online, through books, and through my priest. After my priest got through the mandatory just gotta forgive speech I think they’re all required to spout, we got down to the nitty gritty of it. 1) Forgiveness isn’t a requirement to get into heaven. 2) Forgiveness doesn’t make the offenders words or actions okay. 3)Forgiveness is a lot more difficult when the offender isn’t sorry. 4) When the offender isn’t sorry, you are not obligated to forgive. 5) Acceptance is a form of forgiveness and doesn’t mean the offender’s words or action are okay. It just means you were able to come to terms with what has happened or who someone is and have allowed yourself to move on. 6) There is no timetable for forgiveness. 7) Lack or forgiveness is a sin when it is used as a weapon or a person choses not to forgive because they want revenge (to stay angry which leads to hate).

      3. I always thought that the perceived slights were part and parcel of their bad spirit. Anything you were doing that wasn’t kissing their arse, was being openly hostile and disdainful. You must, therefore, be punished. And they do that every way they can think of, 24/7.

        The people on the extreme end of the CA spectrum hold everyone in contempt. Especially their partners. Hatefulness is intoxicating to them.

        1. I agree completely. It’s not about anything or anyone else. It is ALL about them. THEY choose to be the judge. THEY choose to be the jury. THEY choose to be the executioner. They seek approval from no one. If 100 people were to tell them they were wrong, they’d still be right. And THEY enjoy it. It fulfils some sick twisted ‘vendetta’ driven need within themselves……until they get bored and will seek to invent some other perceived slight and will repeat the process ad infinitum. It has very little, if anything, to do with their target victim, other than the person/family member/spouse/child possibly not yielding to (or even so little as questioning) the CA’s desire for outright power and control. You put it so refreshingly accurate.

          1. I was accused of being the one who was controlling….EVERYTHING was turned around on me. Requests for an equal and intimate relationship turns into a pity ploy of “I can’t do anything right”………too exhausting to even retell all of it!

        2. “I always thought that the perceived slights were part and parcel of their bad spirit. Anything you were doing that wasn’t kissing their arse, was being openly hostile and disdainful. You must, therefore, be punished. And they do that every way they can think of, 24/7.”
          I felt like a mouse on the ground with the cat waiting above me……waiting for one false move. He said something to me once that was so off base, I made a confused, trying to remember what was actually said face, and he JUMPED me saying that look is unacceptable!!!! I was then doubly stunned and confused. He acted SO above it all.

          1. It’s all an act…..everything they are and do is an act and once you actually KNOW what they are doing, you can also see (or I can) how bad of an actor they are. At the time, I had a weird feeling…I felt awkward or embarrassed to confront him sometimes. I really don’t know how to explain it. Seems that so much of what the involvement brings with it is so foreign and surreal that in the moment I was stunned. I have an overwhelming image of me with a completely confused and bewildered look on my face. That is how I felt anyhow, just worn down and lost, so tired and drained by him and his games. So in love with good fake spath and so confused by bad sapth. The good fake spath seemed so gentile, timid in a way, kind, fun, etc…….bad spath was arrogant, demeaning, dismissive, entitled……..
            Now everything about him just feels dirty and pitiful. I can’t imagine how a 48 year old manboy could even come close to feeling good about the hole he has dug himself into. At least Mommy is there for him.

    5. Well said!!
      CD as “one-person Terrorist Organization”.
      It will be great if someone can make a cartoon of it. Ha ha. 😀

  14. BTW- I’m still waiting to have ‘the talk’…it hasn’t happened due to now two late work nights for both, but at least this evening it was acknowledged that we still will talk, last night it was just ignored. Mundane things were brought up (by him)…but nothing more, it was frustrating, but I was too tired (and sick) to deal with it. I do feel calmer now though, and ready.
    We’ll see what tomorrow brings…xo

    1. We finally talked, it went well as I stayed very detached and calm, so different from past ‘conversations’. He’s willing to finally, after 23 yrs. give counseling a try. I feel so drained…after the anger, I became sad, now I’m trying to muster up energy to continue. I think he sees the difference in me, his efforts are different at the moment…being that there are some efforts. Thank you again to everyone for your comments, to Danny & Einstein too, it’s made such a difference to have the constructive encouragement and support, I’ve never had that before, it’s been very healing and strengthening..

      And Dr. Simon, I was wondering if by now you have any resources for seeking counselors. I’ve read your posts from a couple of years ago about finding proper help and know at the time there wasn’t a directory, but is there such a thing now? I was overwhelmed when I started searching, and I don’t want to waste money or time with the wrong person. I’d appreciate any guidance on this, but if you are not able to, I will use your directions in your previous posts. I’m willing to take the time to find the right person and not waste this opportunity. Thank you…

      1. Hi Iris. Very happy that you had opportunity to talk through your feelings. It sounds as though you are at least feeling listened to and this to my mind is an important first step to regaining some balance in your relationship. My suggestion would be to continue to trust your instincts and be firm and undeterred in making clear how the actions of your husband make you feel. I hope the counselling is successful and wish you both well.

        1. Hello Danny, and thank you for the encouragement…and the reminders to trust my instincts, and to stay firm and undeterred. It’s all so tiring though. I have a CD mother and MIL as well, and it’s seems to be a constant balancing act, very draining.
          I truly hope that counseling will help, though I mention to spouse that he could be trying to learn about his anger issues…or anything, on his own as well. That hasn’t happened though, which is frustrating…I’m doing all the work, it’s very one sided.
          All the best to you in your situation…your comments have given me hope, for at least for having some measure of control and sanity down the line. 😉

      2. Iris, Hang tough. For me counseling was a waste because he was no more honest in the sessions than he was out of the sessions and I was completely worn down and confused.
        I am NOT saying that will be the case for you and I wish you the best possible outcome, I really do. I didn’t know what you are learning now, going into counseling attempts with Spathtardx and don’t I wish I did!?!
        Have you checked out Lundy Bancroft’s web site? “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

        1. Yep, counselling was largely pointless for me too. Wife did her homework. She had rehearsed what so say, to feign victimhood, even interrogating me with a multitude of questions (keep the focus away from her), she would totally monopolise the whole occasion. The counsellor was mostly rubbish…..bowing to her every wish to say “one further thing I’d like to express” or ask me another question about something that has supposedly upset her. Wife spoke for 97.5% of the meeting, lleaving me the dregs. Hopeless!!!

          1. Danny, I will say this,,,,,,the counselor was Not asking the right questions period and I know we didn’t give it enough time. I was so confused the entire time. I didn’t understand her train of approach AT ALL, I couldn’t keep up, we were pi**ing away a LOT of money that he didn’t have (supposedly). It just all added up to a waste of time and money. As I read somewhere, when there is abuse and neglect present in a relationshi*, there is no where to go for the victim because all of the victim’s behavior and reality and efforts are being undermined by the abuser. DUH! Counseling only has any real value when both people have a vested interest and desire in the success of the relationship. And, as usual, the one who has the greatest investment has the most to loose. This has been proven proven proven in Spathtards actions since the whole mess ended. Off he goes, back to his retarded adolescent drinking lifestyle in Mommy’s basement while I’m doing everything I possibly can to barely keep my head above water.

          2. If he would have given a carp, he would have spoken up right from the get go and said to her, ” I have violated Puddle’s trust repeatedly and I don’t know how to repair this. Or, he could have rattled off a host of things about me that supposedly bothered him, or voiced his supposed dissatisfactions with the relationshi*, all things I never heard anything specific about unless thrown in my face during an argument to divert the attention off of his egregiously poor performance in the relationshi*. Plain and simple it was all BS from the start……he saw me as nothing more than a toy and a convenient one at that, a chump, and he played me like that the entire time. My ignorance and gullibility and investment and his manipulations worked perfectly to keep the game going until he tired of it and I wised up enough to take the fun out of it. Like a friend of mine says……the expectation is that you “take your abusive treatment and their game with levity and a smile”. I did not. I became like a mouse that a cat has batted around too many times and no longer entices the cat.
            I know I didn’t KNOW what he was doing until long after we split up and even then I was so hooked I still couldn’t wrap my head around it. I STILL can’t entirely. Denial and ignorance of something so horrific I’ve only been able to take it in one small bite at a time. It’s like swallowing broken glass. Not that he doesn’t know he hurt me, I’m sure that pleases him greatly, but he has NO CONCEPT of how deeply he hurt me.

        2. Trying to hang tough Puddle…really, really exhausted, and I became sick too, I think from all the turmoil, my body just had enough. It’s tough to deal with this stuff when under the weather, but plugging along. I hate how much time this takes away from just living life, that really bothers me. Whether it’s the now dyer mood that takes away motivation and incentive, or the constant thought process that keeps all else at bay…it’s not fair (I know I’m whining a bit, sorry).
          I actually have checked out Lundy’s website http://www.lundybancroft.com/ recently, but it’s different than the one you mentioned. His website was helpful, but the stories there broke my heart…so much sadness, abuse, and horrible court system difficulties for so many, very troubling.
          I will check out more thoroughly the one you mentioned here…it seems to correlate with a book of his which sounds very interesting and helpful.
          Thanks again Puddle, and I’m sorry that therapy had been such a terrible experience for you, that’s what I’m worried about happening to us. We’ll see…xo

          1. thank you Iris! I lost track of the comments and replies somehow…….didn’t see your post. It is SO draining………. {{ Hugs to you }}

      3. No, unfortunately, there’s still no formal resource. But many therapists now at least claim expertise in the area of personality/character disturbance and the impact of a CD relationship on “normal” neurotic folks. And many also tout familiarity with and adherence to CBT principles. But beware, as I say in a couple of the articles on the subject, too many therapists know that to say they do CBT is the right answer, but in practice, they leave the “B” (i.e. behavior-specific part of the therapy) part out of their treatment planning. So ask questions. And for a better idea about what questions to ask, and what it means to adequately include behavioral components in CBT treatment, see my article at this link: http://counsellingresource.com/features/2014/03/03/b-in-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/

        1. Thank you Dr. Simon…very helpful information. It’s nice to have some specific guidelines on what to ask and look for, and I’ll check out the link/article…greatly appreciated.
          I’m surprised a bit that therapists would leave out that very important part of the treatment plan though, sounds like parents that don’t want to hold their children accountable for their behavior, seems these therapists don’t think their patients should be held accountable either…or maybe it’s just to intimidating for them…curious situation.
          Thanks again…

          1. Thanks, Iris. And it’s not so much that behavior isn’t part of most therapist’s main concern. It’s just that doing behavior-specific therapy is not only a specialized mode of intervention but also one that most therapists have an inherent distaste for. Adding the cognitive component to behavior therapy was meant to be an “enhancement” of the procedure. But because of the natural comfort most therapists have with doing cognitive therapy, they almost always neglect working within the behavioral paradigm. I’ll give some examples of this in a future post.

  15. Hi All, my heart goes out to everyone.

    I’m an adult adoptee who was raised by a suspected Narcissistic mother and enabling [albeit weekend alcoholic] father. I later married a guy who became abusive, as well as involved in criminal activity for profit. I was in my mid 40’s before I had my ah-ha moment, all the pieces started to fit together.

    Moving forward is a challenge like no other. I really have no idea who I am, or where I fit in. Despite terminating the relationships with my mother and husband several years ago I’m still stuck in the madness. Living with disordered personalities has created ongoing situations that leave me wondering if I’ll ever be free. Rationally I see the pattern and accept what’s happened, but practically I struggle everyday.

    So many red flags over the years, but being adopted meant being “grateful” for everything, no questions asked, and never bite the hand that feeds. I had no rights, I was “chosen”, saved from a life that I never knew, what more did I want?! My married life was much the same, do as I was told, be subservient and submissive, who was I to deserve a life of my own?! What a crazy making mess…

    Dr. Simon’s articles are phenomenal! Finally someone who get’s it!

    1. Hi Sandy. You aren’t alone. I was born in that exact same situation, and I went through the same things. I had written off my parents when I was nineteen, only to have my abusive ex husband bring my son over there to try to get us back in their family. He only did it for the money. I am forty six, and I have a terrific relationship with my kids, whom I raised with respect, I have been completely honest to my parents, who are now trying to get ME to forgive THEM, and I have had no contact with my kids father for the last decade. I also wonder where my place in the world is. I find myself feeling like I lost an entire lifetime, and I don’t know where to start up again! The fact that my kids are off in college have really drudged up these feelings.

      1. Holy crow! Lisa, Sandy…….ME TOO!! Adopted….narcissistic adopted mother, weak ineffectual father, sociopathic adopted brother! I relate so strongly to what you are saying, both of you, and probably one of the hardest, most painful, deeply saddening things about this nightmare with Spathtardx, is loosing someone i had really REALLY bonded to……the betrayal…..horrible. I loved loving him and loved being with him but even though I KNEW something was very wrong, I had no idea how wrong.

        1. basically what he did is to take my deepest most primal wound, slice it open and defecate in it without blinking an eye.

        2. Lisa & Puddle, it’s both sad and comforting to know we’re not alone.
          Lisa – sounds like we have much in common, including 2 beautiful [well adjusted] grown children with lives of their own. My dad passed away when I was 21, but my N mother who I haven’t spoken to in 8+ years recently tried to guilt me back into her insanity by sending me a card about “forgiveness.”

          Puddle – my younger adoptive brother grew up to be a homeless alcoholic, he died 4 years ago when he stepped off a curb and was hit by a car while he was severely intoxicated. He had obvious troubles even as a toddler.
          Adoption is a blessing for some and a heartbreaking tragedy for others… I’m really glad to have stumbled upon this site and found people who understand – hugs to you both, and anyone else like us xo

          1. Sandy, (Lisa), My whole story is just TOO complicated to retell here. oddly enough, I was hit by a car while drinking…..same exact scenario, exactly! only I was just busted up really bad. You have my sympathy about your brother, in all ways. This is just bizarre, the similarities……just shaking my head in amazement!

      2. Wow, Lisa….Sandy……People who are not adopted will never understand The enormity of what it means to be adopted, especially into a dysfunctional family. In my case I also had an alcoholic bio Mom and have a certain degree of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). My adoptive parents had no business raising a dog let alone two adopted children. Neither one of them are BAD people, just not good parents. I “love” them both but not exactly a loving relationship to put it mildly. A real mess is what it was.
        My heart goes out to both of you…

  16. Hey everyone. Reading your stories gives me perspective, and my heart goes out to each one of you.

    I had a very recent experience that was so blinding, and incredibly heart breaking. This individual could really sense, feel, and understand people- only to use all their insecurities and pain against them. I had no idea what I was in for. I only knew this guy a month and a half- but that was enough to receive/witness very harsh verbal abuse. Anytime anyone said anything positive or nice about something/one else, he belittled it or them. If you disagreed with him, you were in for a verbal lashing. The worst part, is that when he was nice, it was beautiful. Charming, charismatic, brilliant artist. He could make you feel understood, ‘seen’ in the deepest sense…all very alluring. Then, you find out what is really there- a hidden agenda, and all sorts of manipulations to get exactly what he wants.

    I’m not sure how I could have avoided it- and I’m sad that I didn’t not stop the contact more quickly. He had me doubting myself down to an art, and my already weakened self-esteem sank lower. In the future, you can be sure- no body is walking over me like that again. I feel like I have the understanding/information now, to back myself up- and the courage to be strong in myself.

    1. Starplucker, Count your lucky stars 🙂 that your learning experience was the cliff note version! You have learned a valuable lesson. I’ve said this so many times before but it really does seem to sum it up in short order………..the strings card they hold in their hand is the FACT that most people do not know and can not conceive that “people” like them are actually out there. I’m 54, have led a very colorful life and I had no clue. I’m STILL having a hard time really accepting it.
      “I’m not sure how I could have avoided it- and I’m sad that I didn’t not stop the contact more quickly. ”
      You couldn’t have stopped it Starplucker! You didn’t know. PERIOD! And they can set the hook in you faster than you can imagine which starts a whole huge cascade of chemical and hormonal reactions that act like a drug in your system. it is a form of rape and it’s called rape by deception or fraud. Mine had a domestic violence history that I found out about MONTHS into the relationshi*, like 7-8 months and even then he lied and minimized the real story.
      SO, now and only now, you can and will avoid losers like this in the future. The real key is time……….taking your time, becoming friends and really REALLY getting to know someone at a safe emotional distance first.
      🙂

  17. I have a question for Dr. Simon, and the forum, if anyone would like to weigh in. I have read the book In Sheep’s Clothing, and found it hugely informative. I’ve also read a lot of really useful information on this site. However, I’m a little unclear on the “gray area” in the middle of the spectrum between neurotics and character disordered individuals. It seems like the closer you get to the middle of the spectrum, the harder it might be to distinguish between a neurotic and a character disordered person, and personally, I’m intrigued by the dramatic dynamics that might occur in this zone; the manipulative “mashups” if you will. Cases of mistaken identity? Garden variety covert aggressives that thought they were preying on a neurotic but found they had snared a sociopath instead? Neurotics with a long history of parental manipulation who don’t behave as predictably as other neurotics, or things along those lines? I guess my question is, is it always a one way relationship, or are there cases where both parties can have covertly aggressive traits/behaviors? Thanks!

    1. Heygirl, there are probably countless varieties of relationship mixmatchmixups! ENDLESS!!

      “Garden variety covert aggressives that thought they were preying on a neurotic but found they had snared a sociopath instead?”

      Your “garden variety” CA sounds like a psychopath to me. Anyone who is “preying on” another person is definitely at the high end of the continuum.

      Having said that, the “grey area” in the continuum, neurotic at one end, Psychopath at the other, is kind of mysterious to me too!
      Even at the Psychopathic end of the continuum there is a continuum, as in not all psychopaths are serial killers……Spathtardx wasn’t, as far as I know. I would not be at all surprised to find out he was though.

    2. Heh. The way I am picturing the line is like this:

      psychotic breakdown <— utter doormats <— neurotics character-disordered belligerents —> malignantly narcissistic and psychopathic —> criminally psychopathic

      Dunno how this agrees with Dr Simon’s. Not an expert, here. But I’ve used such a chart with someone recently and immediately she got it.

      1. Oops. This is weird, but my chart got mangled. Trying again:

        psychotic breakdown <— utter doormats <— neurotics character-disordered belligerents —> malignantly narcissistic and psychopathic —> criminally psychopathic

          1. The schema keeps deleting the middle of the spectrum: the normal and sane people, whoever they are!

    3. Here’s the thing with folks who fall between the middle of the spectrum and the far CD end: Whenever there’s significant character disturbance (i.e. when someone lies at least in the middle of the spectrum) you simply have to stop considering the neurotic part and deal squarely with the character issues. Therapists make this mistake also. They sense a little neurosis present and then want to work with that because it’s an easier “foot in the door” so to speak with respect to building a relationship. But when character issues are present, even to a moderate degree, it can really create havoc within a relationship. So, the first step is to confront the character issues directly and to address both the behaviors of concern as well as the “stinking thinking” that accompanies and predisposes those behaviors. When the destructive “style” of behavior is thwarted, any underlying “neurosis” will come to the fore. And that neurosis can be dealt with but ONLY after behavior is firmly under control. Relationship partners need not make the same mistake that many therapists do. When character issues are present, they take precedence. Get your mind (and heart) off the neurotic issues (i.e., the bad parenting, the early trauma, the self-image and esteem issues, etc.). That all can be dealt with once the character issues have been solidly tackled and resolved.

      1. Dr. Simon……What you are saying reminds me of something I read a while back about relationships, that as long as there is abuse in a relationship any attempts to address any other issues in the relationship are futile. Something to that affect anyhow. I want to say it was something In one of Lundy Bancroft’s books.
        My analogy was, if you have a hole in the boat and think you can just keep trying to bail the water out, eventually it will sink…….especially if only one of the people in the boat is bailing and the other person is doing nothing but poking more holes in the bottom of the boat!

    4. Well, character can get warped so many ways. Forms of poor character can range from immaturity all the way to utter evil.

  18. Thanks to Puddle and Vera for their input, and to Dr. Simon for the explanation. So do two character disordered people ever end up involved with each other, or is that pretty uncommon?

      1. I think Spathtardx’s whole living situation at Mommy’s house is a nest of character disturbance Dr. Simon. The whole family. What do you do when you come to realize that you have no idea who the person you were involved with really is or what he might be capable of, including his family?? I can honestly say that not a day goes by that I don’t have a pit of my stomach feeling about this. I have never felt like this before in my life.

  19. How aware are they? The thing that targeted me would say and write things like,

    “I broke into my school, threw all the school books into the yard and burned them when I was 7 years old. I wonder why I did that? Hmmm…do you have any idea? You have such insight into the human psyche.”

    “I tortured my dog I really loved once, when I was a little boy. I wonder whatever possessed me.”

    “My father could be so insulting. He called me anti-social when I was growing up. I wonder why he did that? Why do you think he said that? It really hurt me.”

    Other than admitting he wet the bed, he seems to know the key symptoms of psychopathy in childhood and he was testing me out to figure out if I had even the slightest inkling of what he was.

    I actually did know these were symptomatic, but I figured it was just coincidental, as he was so ‘kind’.

    “My wife hurt me, once again, by telling me I had zero empathy.”

    So yes, he knew what he was, he was aware. Do they use fake emotions to control? For sure. They are some of the best actors out there. If they can fake cry, they can fake getting angry.

    1. LisaO, I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are the “best actors out there”. I will say this again and again……….the strongest card in their hand is the fact that the victim is unaware of these creatures and their tactics. Reviewing my situation in hind sight shows me just how bad of an actor he was……………….but he sure knew I was falling for his carp at the time, questioning yes but understanding, no. If i would have understood I was being manipulated and especially to the degree I was duped, I wouldn’t have stayed with him for a day and certainly wouldn’t have loved someone who I KNEW was lying through his teeth and talking out of his bumm.
      Yeah LisaO, I would say he was testing testing testing…….telling you without TELLING you.
      Spathtardx sent me the link to that song, “Now Your Just Somebody That I Used To Know” and assured me that the reason he sent it to me had nothing to do with us, he just thought it was a cool song and video. this was about 8 months or so before the big discard/ break up. If I were to still be in contact with him i would say to him……..”Now your just somebody that I never knew”. What a loser.
      Mine was SUPPOSEDLY molested by his father, a TRUE mama’s boy, many many many red flags, multiple divorces, but the way he spun everything coupled with my ignorance of his true nature and his pathological lies (covert and overt),,,,,,,,,I didn’t have a clue that the red flags meant what they turned out to mean. But he dangled “truths” in front of my face,,,,,just like you are saying, I see that now.

      1. Puddle, You have no idea how much the ‘x’ at the end of spathtard, comforts me!!

        You’re so right and thanks for the qualification. Some of them are bad actors. I would say mine wasn’t the best actor, either. The gaps in their acting, we unconsciously fill in with who WE are, not who THEY are—while we are being love-bombed.

        And as they mirror us quite convincingly, in attitudes and likes, dislikes, which is conveyed in speech, when emotional mirroring is necessary, we tend to gloss over what doesn’t quite mesh correctly.

        1. It’s the most complex thing to try to describe but I very often felt embarrassed for him because of the way he expressed himself. I chalked it up to him being a guy and maybe having a hard time expressing his emotions. I mean what do you say to someone who expresses himself in a way that you feel is peculiar? people are all different, guys are different that women,,,,,,,,I DIDN”T KNOW IT WAS ALL A JOKE! I mean he left snotty nose stuff on my shirt, bed, Unreal!

        2. OK,,,,,,our last night together as a “couple”, the kick off to the big break up…………..we had a fight because I asked him a friggin question that he didn’t want to answer (clearly), so he scapegoated me and turned the tables by berating me for asking such a question on Christmas Eve………His Highness announced (proclaimed) that the evening was “irreparably ruined” and stomped out the door. I assumed he was leaving as usual in one of his melodramatic displays so I shut off the stove/ food, turned off the christmas lights and went to bed. I was so exhausted by this point, on so many levels I didn’t even engage with his carp. So about 15 minutes go by and i hear the door open and the TV come on and then…….faintly hear him crying. OK………..I’m not sure I hear him crying but kind of and normally I would rush out and want to straighten everything out, wrap my arms around the big lug’s shoulders and forgive and forget but I sat tight. So what does he do?? Turns the TV down and cries louder. At that point there was no way I was getting up and going to him………..so he comes into the bedroom and makes pouty face and ask him to sit down on the bed……I used to hate it when he would stand over me,,,,,,,I always felt very uncomfortable with him towering over me but see now that it is a very subtle form of dominance. I can’t tell you how many times I asked him to sit down next to me or come lie down or similar requests. Anyhow,,,,,,,it all devolved even further with me shooting my mouth off at something lame he said and off he went. So much more to the story……
          I can’t even describe how much I wanted to be wrong about all the things I ended up discovering and figuring out. There is still a part of my that want’s to be wrong and I still cry typing that. So much emotional conflict like that. How could I possible still have tears of sadness over that loser? How can you miss someone who isn’t even real?? I miss loving “him” and I really did love him, as much as you can love an illusion anyhow.

  20. Dr. Simon,

    Hi! Question. Is a “sex addict’ actually a person with NO SENSE of Character or is that person addicted to climaxing
    or both? Others say there are chemical components to the other addictions, but what about (supposed) “sex addiction.” Is my example, in the other chat room, a ‘sex addict?” or someone who just doesn’t give a shit about anyone he has contact with?

  21. I have a question for Dr Simon in regard to a CD’s awareness and manipulating the family court system. How do you shine a light on a person with a character disturbance? How do you make others (i.e. evaluator’s, attorney’s, judges, therapists) aware that the problem they see is what the person is manipulating them to see by using blaming, deflecting, false accusations and double bind’s (not to mention flat out lying). You know what they are doing, they are perfectly aware they are using the system to manipulate and control you, but they co-opt professionals to help their cause and I have found that it is not only difficult, but damn near impossible to wade through all the “problems that you are causing” and shine light on the problem that is being cause by the person who is disturbed. I used to tell my friends it was like being invited to a mudfight, only you decided you didn’t want to participate (but you were legally or emotionally (for the sake of the children) required to show up. As you stood by the puddle while no one is watching, the person starting all this jumps in, rolls around and jumps out. Then starts flagging everyone down and pointing at you and yelling about how much mud you have flung (while you stand there open mouthed with a few specks of mud on you from the splashing they did) on them. Suddenly, you find that you are the one on trial, and being condemned for something you did not do. You know what they did. They know what they did but they are controlling the appearances and everything you do makes you look bad. Yes, true colors are shown in the end (which in my experience takes about a year for those who are actually looking) but by then it’s too late to protect the children. How do you speed up the process and shine a spotlight on the character disturbances that are the real problem?

    1. Docfordogs, You could try finding an advocate who would attend hearings with you. It would have to be someone who specializes in the field and has credentials to prove it. You might contact Dr. Robert Hare and see if he knows of anyone in your area or one of his associates. I am working with someone who is the type of professional I’m speaking about, she is my trauma councilor. If you want, I can ask her if she has any ideas. You could contact Dr. Simon on his back channel if you are interested. I have an apt. with her tomorrow and I wll ask if she is aware of any other professionals who do what she does. The thing is, I’m not sure if she does family court cases. I will ask though.
      I’m so sorry you are in this position, it must be so frustrating and aggravating. Not a day goes by that I don’t think to myself, I’m SO glad I didn’t marry or have children with that pig. I feel so sorry for the women who did. SO sorry.

    2. Docfordogs, the best… fastest way, as you have asked, to make any sense to the court system (which is soooo flawed), I know, is to put your children into counselling with someone experienced in this area, at your own expense and have a professional to call on and give expert opinion about. If your children are suffering at the hands of a CA, they will benefit from the therapy and you will have a professional opinion to document it. At the end of the day, the court only cares about the children and the impact that this behaviour of the CA is having on them. They see this stuff every day, try to remember that. I have experience as an advocate in the Family Court in Australia for almost 20 years for both the Mother and the Father’s side. The parent who looks like they are trying to look to the long term amicable relationship for the child’s happy future is the one who gets more respect. The court imagines with whom time is spend and how it must feel to spend time with the person who just wrote this affidavit full of mud to the other parent. Get what I’m saying? Having said that I truly do understand your predicament and the court is bound by the rules and regulations and laws that are in place. Justice is for those that can afford it,,,,,this includes the Family Court and the children it is supposed to protect. Are you in Australia?

      1. The reason I asked if you were in Oz is that I have absolutely no experience or knowledge of any system overseas and perhaps Dr Simon may have a much better idea of the kind of system you are experiencing where you are. I imagine so if that’s the case.

      2. Thanks for the advise and support. This all happened between 4-8 years ago with my son. During that time, I put him in therapy with a therapist that was supposed to be expert at dealing with teenagers and high conflict custody battles. It was 3 years after the divorce and the kids and I had been very happy with minimal involvement from their dad until the ex decided he didn’t want to pay child support anymore, so he stopped paying and filed for custody. Unfortunately, the therapist focused on my son and mine’s “broken relationship” and not on the fact that the only reason our relationship was broken was due to the bad mouthing, bribing and lying my Ex was doing to our son. Yet I was forced to focus on “my son’s reality” where I neglected him, forced him to take care of his younger sister, never drove him to his hockey practices or games, and kept removing him from classes that he needed to graduate in the AP placement studies. What really was happening was that I drove him to practices the majority of the time, the only time I did not was if I was working. He did have to make a few of his own meals as I had to pick him up right after work to get him to practice. He did not interact or even stay home alone with his sister (he bullied her I did not trust him alone with her). His father (actually the father’s girlfriend) removed him from the classes at school without my knowledge and told him to lie to me about it. Last but not least, I apparently “kept him from seeing his father” when in reality his father didn’t show for visitation or dropped him off early. So the therapist focused on what I was doing wrong…. And wanted me to try harder to drive him to practices, and make him dinner etc, stop taking him out of important classes (even after I showed her the withdrawal slip from school that had the girlfriends signature on it)…. Mostly she wanted me to allow him to see his father…. Only I couldn’t do any better than I already was doing… And yet I was the one who was labeled uncooperative and in denial of the situation. It took the therapist over a year to see what my ex was doing. Yet she said she could not address the situation of lying and manipulation by my ex and what she called his “cluster B” issues because she was bound by the court to “fix our broken relationship” and not to comment on what the father was doing. (which didn’t really make since to me). So, long story short (or maybe not 😉 ). 2 social studies, and one really crappy psychological study later, I lost custody of my son. At that time the only way to even see my son at all was to give up primary custody and get court orders for visitation because the ex was denying me any access to my son, planning vacations and special things when he was supposed to see me, sending my son out to my car and having him slam the door after saying he never wants to see me again, etc. I did however retain primary custody of my daughter. But the ex got what he wanted and did not have to pay child support anymore (although he kept bragging to everyone that he was going to win at all costs and have me pay him child support, so he didn’t get exactly what he wanted) My relationship with my son which once was very very close (but I’m strictly his parent not his friend) prior to all this has never been the same. I worked for years with his therapist who never would address what his father did to him and how it affected him and instead focused on giving my son a voice. Last year the CA was very underhanded about buying a house and moving 1500 miles away. The timing of is was suspicious in that my son all of the sudden in the fall of his senior year decided to go to college in a state he’s never been to only 3 months after the Ex and his wife bought the house. I did not find out about the purchase or the move until 9 months after the purchase. The wife moved up there 3 months after they bought the house, and my son and his father moved the week after our son graduated in the spring. It was always a fight to see my son as his father would tell him once he turned 18 he didn’t have to see me anymore…. He turned 18 prior to high school graduation and the visitation specifically states until graduated. I fought for right of first refusal since my ex was out of town every week. He found loopholes and called in distant relatives to stay in his house while he was gone because there was a caveat in the orders that he could stay with family. The kids didn’t even know these people. And of course the ex fought to have the stepmother be included as family in that loophole, he stated that the stepmom has as much legal right as I do and they even posed her as my son’s mother to school and teachers. Anyway. I’ve lost my son. Not completely. And there is hope of reconnecting when he gets older… We still talk occasionally and I realize at his age he is doing his own thing in college anyway. But, I don’t know if that relationship will ever be a good one.
        Having said all that, this is really about my daughter. I am going to court next week to try and get child support for her. It’s been a year since my son graduated and I have had no support for her. I am worried that the ex will go for custody again. She has been seeing a therapist for 7 years that I think gets what her dad does to me through her. She definitely gets that the relationship between my daughter and her father is not a close one. My daughter was seriously neglected by him (if he took our son occasionally, he would take her even less) And she does not seem to crave his affection like our son did. I believe that currently, I have the support system to keep her that I didn’t have years ago for my son. BUT the evaluations done and especially the psychological study was such a bad experience, They gave the CA validation and credit for all his “trials” with me… I would like to know, if he does go for custody how to get his character disturbances brought to light better. One evaluator saw glimpses of his character and wrote about some concerns, but did not do anything about how much the CA was manipulating our son (other than suggest therapy for our son) The psychologist bought the CAs story hook line and sinker and diagnosed me with major depression and paranoia even though I had normal MMPI scores (and I could contribute most of my “symptoms” of fatigue and being tired to uncontrolled hypothyroidism by showing thyroid testing every 3 months over the last 2 years and abnormal results every time), and said the CA was just highly masculine when his MMPI scores were off somewhat. Sorry to write so much. It may seem as though I haven’t let go of what happened, but I have and have resigned myself to the best relationship possible with my son. I am just so fearful for my daughter.
        We are in Texas, not Australia. I realize that mostly it has to do with the training of the person doing the evaluations. I also realize that there are misguided (intentional and unintentional) persons doing a job they have no business doing. So, how do I identify a good evaluator, and if I don’t get one, how do I explain what is happening before it’s too late, like it was for my son? (some of the antics are so ridiculous that even I have a hard time believing the stories to be true) I need to be prepared for what may happen if he is ordered to pay child support again. And whatever he does it is with the apparent (to me anyway) intention of making me pay….

        1. Docfordogs, please don’t apologize for reaching out and for loving your kids. This site and Dr Simon is a haven for people like us. I so so feel for you darl (Australian term of endearment!) Big Hug to you. I’ve seen it before, I know what you are saying and I imagine he will have a much harder time convincing the court to take custody of your daughter after all this time, the status quo being very little contact and little meaningful relationship. Unlike the first episode you endured, this time if he does go for custody, it will be more obvious it is financially motivated. I hope Dr Simon can give you some good advice, I’m sure he has counseled many people in your situation and he may have a better idea of what the law is like in your state. If not, you always have this site to use for support without having to feel that no one believes you. If it helps, my children are 18, 24, 25 & 27. They have survived an enormous amount of manipulation and trauma and during their early twenties when they start to form their own adult brains and minds, they started to see things with their own judgement. We have a long time to live the relationship with our kids, much longer than their childhood and adolescence. If your son knows you love him and you keep reminding him of that, hopefully he will come to realize just how much one day. Even if it’s when he has his own children, one day he will look back. You are a strong woman I can tell from your writing. Your time will come, it always does. 🙂

          1. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Sometimes I think I’m paranoid… But then I look back and realize it’s not paranoia if there really is someone out to get ya 😉

      3. “The court imagines with whom time is spend and how it must feel to spend time with the person who just wrote this affidavit full of mud to the other parent.”

        My issue of the “covert-aggressor” was that he is very cunning in his fight. He flings mud on himself and claims I did it. To listen to him you would think he is an involved, sympathetic, caring, father who wants his children to have a relationship with their poor delusional, mentally unstable mother. He’s very very good at impression management.

        For example, he stated (in his statements to the evaluators)that he had to pick up the children every day from after school care because I would come home and go straight to bed when I got off work. (this claim was long after we were divorced.). So I would get asked why I would not pick up the children after school or from their aftercare program. I explained that my son was in middle school and walked home with his best friend and had a key to the house. So he was there when I got home. [Unless his grades weren’t up to par and then he had to walk from school to my work (1 mile) and do his homework here until his grades were better.] I would pick up my daughter every day from aftercare from school on the way home and then I produced the signature records to prove that I was the one signing her out from the aftercare program (they also proved that he was not taking her at his assigned visitation.) The CA would come back and say that he allowed me to sign the discharge sheets because he thought it would get me more involved with the children. Which makes no sense whatsoever, but they seemed if not completely believe him, then at least not to discount his “concerns”. And it was put in the evaluations that I needed to be more involved in the children’s lives.

        Another claim of the CA was that he had to call the police to enforce visitation. Geographically we lived 2 miles from each other with the children’s schools side by side in almost the exact center distance and my work very close to his house. What happened was, that he drove to my house, (our son was out of town with his hockey team, so not home) pulled up my driveway and according to my neighbors, made a phone call from the driveway of my house at 4pm. I work until 6pm and he had to pass by my place of work and the school where my daughter was to get to my driveway. No attempt was made to contact the school or contact me at work by him or police. No police showed up at my house. So when I explained the situation to the evaluators, and explained the unusual “efforts” on his behalf to collect our daughter, they questioned him. According to him, I had told him that he was to pick her up after school at my house. Yet, that excuse makes no sense if you know the geography, the consistency of my work schedule and the consistency of the aftercare schedule. But again, they did not discount his concern and discussed with me the importance of encouraging our children to have a relationship with him and made a point to put in the evaluations that I seemed uncooperative at times about transitions.

        One last scenario, and the one that really made me angry, was that he claimed to the psychologist that I tried to commit suicide twice while we were together. The CA apparently explained how I tried to slit my wrists, he claimed he took away the knife and locked me in a closet until I calmed down. The second time, I allegedly swallowed a bunch of over the counter pills and he said he stuck his finger down my throat and made me throw them up. I did not know about these accusations until the final psychological report came out and they were written in the report. I was asked by the psychologist if I ever have tried to commit suicide, to which my answer was (and is still even with the crap I’ve been through) no. The report stated that I was in denial of the severity of my depression given the fact that I did not admit to any suicide attempts. To me his stories are way fishy even at the surface. Who has a spouse that tries to commit suicide and there is no record of emergency services being called? Why no hospital records? Why no therapy or treatment records. If you look a little deeper, who has a lock on the outside of a closet door? If you know me well, and what I do, you’ll note that I have access to scalpels and euthanasia solution and all sorts of pills. So why a knife and OTC pills (cant remember which ones he claimed I took) Also if you were real close to me you’d know, I take little to no medications because I am sensitive to it and at that time I wasn’t even taking ibuprofen because it upset my stomach. And you’d also know that I had a good friend whose father committed suicide while we were in high school and I firmly believe that suicide should never be an option…. I saw what it did to him and his family and it was devastating to all involved.

        Yet I was the one in denial. The suicide attempts were fabricated, not to mention not even very good fabrications. Yet somehow he comes across as the caring father who only cares about what my actions are doing to the children and he is the hero for saving them. It’s very mind twisting….

        1. Docfordogs, I’m getting the picture..Sounds like you are suffering at the hands of a very skilled impression manager and professionals who are completely blind to it. Mind twisting indeed. I raised my kids without child support to avoid what you are experiencing. Long story… but it worked for me and for the children when all was said and done. Was it just?.. No.. Was it extremely difficult at times?..Very much so. Did I cry when the gas got turned off?… Frequently….Did I ‘win’ in the end?…Absolutely, hands down, no doubt about it.

          1. Thank you Juliette for your kind words. You sound like you went through hell as well. I admire you for not taking child support. I’ve been without it for 5 years, and before that there was a 6 months period where he just stopped paying. It is so difficult to juggle financially. I’m so glad you won in the end. Children are so much more precious than money, I wish I had that option originally. But the child support was set and the CA decided that he needed the kids in order to win (most was money, the rest was the new gf/wife who in her statement to evaluators “was a much better mother than I was”. I thought about not going after child support with my daughter. I think if the CA still lived 2 miles away I would not have done it. But the CA moved 1500 miles away and taking custody of a child and moving her away from family and friends and her home would be very difficult. I think that’s a battle where I can hold my own even with his impression management skills. I went back and forth for a while about whether to poke that bear with a stick and finally decided that it might be worth it.

            Physical distance from a CA is absolutely wonderful! No more monthly parent facilitator meetings with all the false accusations, blaming, lying and “concerns”. There are still issues but they are very remote. I still get the subtle shaming and guilting but those stopped getting to me a long long time ago when I recognized what he was. This last year has been pure heaven for both my daughter and me. I wish you and your children well.

  22. I’m not sure at all that some people with personality disorders are aware, at least not fully. I think people may have severe underlying issues that they can’t express.

    Before calling people “evil” and the like I would say to consider that to them, there may genuinely be a reason to say this / that / whatever. That isn’t to say they are acting well at all, or normally, or that people should stay with them. But I would always assume “evil” and “good” are choices that people make consciously.

    I’m married to a woman with a bipolar disorder and occasionally, she can be extremely manipulative. If there is any problem at all that she causes (it happens, people are human) she will almost 100% of the time blame it on others, insult them for being upset by it, or, lie and totally ignore that it happened. It’s very hard to have a “normal” relationship this way. She will spin things into being other peoples “fault” which of course causes disputes where none are required. And during said disputes, she will become abusive, and, very infrequently, violent.

    It’s the insults, really, that I view as being manipulative, particularly when they reach “that point” where they are very personal and hurtful, and it is about something that /they themselves have done/, and its possible to end up in a very confused, upset, state wishing you had not asked if they’d taken the rubbish out that day. Anything can escalate.

    Of course, when her mood cycles into a low, it happens much more commonly.

    Is she aware of it? I don’t think she is. I think some (all?) disorders affect how people see the world – and other people in it – and to her, a simple, easily solved problem can be the end of the world. It may cause some weird panic in her that she did it, which she will defend against by blaming it on others.

    There is much more to it then this, oh good god yes.

    Mine might not be anywhere near as bad as others, but I have been physically threatened with a weapon, told several times a week that I am useless, not fit to be in a relationship, etc, etc, how if I leave, she will destroy my relationships with my friends and family, how she will kill herself if I leave, and how her past relationships were perfect wonderful and amazing.

    Actually, looking at all that, I am in a terrible, abusive relationship with a mentally ill woman aren’t I? The stigma of being a man being abused by a woman is absolutely, 100% true and very very few people will believe it happens, but it certainly can.

    I feel … confused a lot of the time and it’s difficult to be motivated to lead a normal life now. I do not feel she is aware of what she does at all, I do not feel that she is evil, and I sympathise with others that are in a relationship they just cannot leave. It is extremely difficult when bad behaviour slowly ramps up over time to expect life to be any better on leaving.

    Try to find joy in things, force yourself to be sociable, and GET OUT. They may not be evil but that doesn’t mean you need the abuse.

    1. zed – you just sent chills up my spine with that one. Totally agree with you on your first paragraph without repeating BUT CD’s don’t have a personality problem although some may. They have a problem with their characters. They don’t usually do things they are unaware of – they are fully aware of it.

      Your wife sounds an awful lot like a friend of mine (ex friend). I’ve written quite a bit about here in previous posts here. I tossed and turned with pondering the is she/isn’t she thing for a good while. I am still not certain if she is CD or just personality disordered to this day. Some days I feel certain she is CD yet after reading things like your comment – I relate to that extremely well btw.

      The mind boggling thing about my friend is she does appear to have empathy that is not an act but she also appears to be able to switch it on and off again depending on the situation which is more CD. But at certain times genuine empathy does creep in but usually only regarding her cats. Never people. This is one of the most perturbing parts.

      The excuses, the blame, the hostility and paranoia are never ending. There will always be something never a day went by without a complaint about some ridiculous nonsense you would not ordinarily consider giving the time of day to i.e. “what is that shoe doing over there – I put it here (and she’ll point to somewhere else maybe only 6 inches away). I think somebody’s moved it on purpose – who would that be” as she’s looking around suspiciously………………….she’ll look at me or anybody else and basically accuse them of moving the shoe deliberately. In order to?? pick a fight I suppose. Yes confrontational and dramatic and not in a Histrionic way either. Suspicious and paranoid way as if everybody is out to get her. If they aren’t then they owe her their life or something…..she makes damn sure they know it though. I have pegged her before of having Paranoid PD but I just can’t be sure. It’s the empathy switch on/switch off thing that bothers me. She doesn’t appear to be cold and calculating, she is more hairline trigger.

      She’s never attacked me with a weapon but I asked her quite casually one day what something of mine was doing in the bin and for that, after a torrent of abuse, she tried to throw me down the stairs. I do think she is aware of what she is doing but in a discombobulated way. She appears to frustrate herself but takes it out on others. I could write for years about my experiences with her.

      I think Dr Simon and Robert Hare could seriously debate her for years. I’ve known her for 40 years and before I sorted myself out (became a responsible human being who cares for others and all life on this planet and beyond) I am now even more confused about her than I previously was for most of those 40 years.

      After serious consideration and NO CONTACT for a good while – I’ve parked her in the “TOO HARD” basket. The older she gets the worse she gets it seems. At any rate I’ll never step in front of her again unless fully armed with a psychiatrist and a Rottweiler.

      1. zed and Eudoxia

        Zed I’m sorry you have to deal with yours still. It is exhausting and frustrating.
        I still don’t believe they are worth our time, dealing with all the issues they create. It leads to an unhealthy lifestyle, the stress they exude on those who have to live and deal with them.
        I think we have points in our lives where we just keep trying to get along with these people and for reasons we’ve dedicated ourselves to them.
        I’ll never have a mate, ever again, who is a difficult CD. There are too many kind, gentle, easy-going people to share a life with than to stay with the energy-sucking negative people.
        I’m still trying to divorce mine – getting closer. I’ll tell you, it’s hard to live with them and extremely difficult to divorce one that is set on sucking a person dry and enjoying the fight.

        1. Lucy and Zed – I can’t agree with you more Lucy. Even just reading about their habitual behavior/s and they are usually all the same or similar are enough to make me feel physically ill. Emotional injury is debilitating and I would go so far as to say life threatening. Continual emotional abuse disrupts our immune system function and our circadian rhythm. I wonder how many nervous breakdowns and attempted and completed suicides CDs are responsible for. In saying that we are all responsible for ourselves and the quality of our own experiences. However, those who are not sufficiently character developed or strong people can be easily overwhelmed and drained by these people. Even those of us who are quite strong people become debilitated quickly if we don’t recognise it early on. I should have on many occasions picked up on many different red flags but given my predisposition to attracting CDs into my life over the past few years I’ve honed my skills in dealing with them now – you can’t not and knowledge certainly helps and is empowering. It also allows us to lean and grow in order to become better people.

          zed – you are in a very difficult situation but sound like you still care for her and she sounds a lot like my ex friend. We can wast a lot of time giving CDs the benefit of the doubt it can also drain us. Many of us make the mistake of a. thinking we can help them and b. giving them the benefit of the doubt in assuming they are like us with empathy and compassion – WRONG. I would strongly suggest you contact Dr Simon directly and inquire about therapists in your area who are very familiar with CDs. If they are not then there is absolutely no point in seeing one. If your wife has already been diagnosed with Bi-polar then having a chat to a proper professional in order to get her assessed properly for character disturbance might be a good idea, albeit I know this is difficult getting them to do this. But if you are going to stay with her you will need to be very strict on what you will allow and what you will not. She needs help but traditional therapy doesn’t work on CDs and as Dr Simon points out in his books and blogs – it’s the behavior that needs to be addressed. Bi-polar and character disturbance aren’t quite the same yet a CD could have Bi-polar – that makes me shudder.

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