Personality and Character Disorders: When It’s Serious

Because we live in an age of such permissiveness, moral relativism, and most especially, entitlement, character disturbance – at least some degree of character disturbance – is very common.  And as most folks know, having to live or deal with a person who is character disturbed to any degree is always a stressful ordeal.  But if you’re in a relationship with someone with character issues, more than likely the main thing you want to know is whether there’s any hope things can ever change.  And the answer to that almost always lies in how seriously “disordered” the character-impaired individual is.  As I mentioned in last week’s post (see: Personality and Character Disorders: The Continuum Revisited), and have discussed in several other articles as well as my books In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome, character disturbance exists along contiunua of both quality and severity.  And the most seriously disordered characters are those with severe empathy deficits and weak or absent consciences, both of which engender the most malignant form of narcissism, which predisposes a person to use and abuse others without compunction.

Of course, no one is perfect.  We’re all human and make mistakes.  And in our weaknesses, occasionally we do things that hurt others.  Sometimes this is completely unintentional. Sometimes, when we’re in moments of reckless abandon, it’s even intentional.  But what we do when we misbehave matters a lot.  How we regard what we did (or failed to do) and the impact it had on others, and what we oblige ourselves to do to remedy situations and any injury we might have caused is what decency of character is all about.

I’ve written before about the various levels of sorrow a person can have for their wrongdoings (see, for example: Shame, Guilt, Regret, Remorse, and Contrition and What Real Contrition Looks Like).  something bad – see the articles on regret, remorse, and contrition.  If there’s a modicum of character health in a person (i.e. when the person has sufficient capacities for shame, guilt, remorse, etc.), when they hurt someone (whether inadvertantly or in a moment of character abandon, deliberately), they hurt too.  And they don’t just feel bad because they did something they know hurt you.  They hurt precisely because you are hurting.  Knowing you’re in pain is what pains them.  That’s what real empathy-rooted conscientiousness is all about.  And knowing that they’re the cause of that pain is what motivates a person of integrity and conscience to repair the damage. So when you’re tying to figure out how much  hope there is for your relationship with a character-impaired individual, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When they say they’re “sorry” for something, do they subsequently act like they mean it?
  • When they say they accept responsibility, do they behave in a manner suggesting they feel obliged to correct matters or do they still insuinuate that other people, places, and things are partly or mostly to blame for the way they acted?
  • Are they more concerned with what their misbehavior has cost them in some way, or do they appear genuinely distressed by the damage done to another?
  • Most importantly, do you see purposeful, deliberate efforts on their part to repair damage they may have done and to do better in the future?

The most severely disordered characters are not the “hot-headed” types who sometimes let their passions get the better of them and do things they might sometimes later regret but rather the “cold-hearted” sorts who chronically and ruthelessly try to get the better of others.  Can such folks change?  I’m not so sure (and neither is the scientific research on the subject). The concensus these days appears to be that the best you can do is help a person with empathy come to see the practical social value in being more mindful of their behavior and its impact on others.

I know of several folks who have made surface-level changes in their patterns of behavior that are rather striking but who still retain traits that are deeply disturbing. I’m familiar with one person with a truly horrendous past (i.e. predatory behavior, sophisticated crimes, violence, multiple exploitative relationships, etc.), who, in his later years, appeared to come to see the folly in some of his ways and also appeared to significantly reform.  He also came to appreciate the many benefits of conducting himself in a more civil manner. On the surface, he seemed like a totally different guy. But every now and then you’d get a glimpse of his coldness. Sometimes, it seemed he just couldn’t resist the temptation to make a cruel remark or show disdain for someone. While he had indeed modified many aspects of his behavior (and again, primarily for practical, social reasons) he just couldn’t seem to change his internal “stripes.” And while he had some regrets about some things, he still seemed capable of doing things heartless, hurtful little things with no apparent remorse. From my perspective, he lacked the contrition necessary to really change his heart.  For over 10 years, he’s been in a relationship with a truly kind and gentle woman. And to the best of my knowledge, he’s never done anything to hurt her badly. But is she truly safe with him? My gut would say that in the absence of a genuine change of heart, there’s no way that’s truly possible.

Character Matters will be a live program again this Sunday evening at 6 PM CDT, so I can take your calls.

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121 thoughts on “Personality and Character Disorders: When It’s Serious

  1. I notice that with this type, they will have people they don’t act this way with, while with other people they have no problem behaving without morals.

    I tried to figure out why. Then it came to me.

    These people are actually the manipulator’s minions, that the manipulator will use like chess pieces.

    When people try to put boundaries on these people, they will use the people they have charmed to protect them. They will have no problem throwing these people under the bus when it serves their purpose.

    Good stuff, George!

    1. yes that describes a personality I have been struggling with. It would be easy to throw off, but sadly the children i love and nurture, are fathered by him. Sometimes he is like the father thats too good be true, and other time is very why why its try he not good, at all

      1. I think these individuals can be the most ambiguous of the CDMN because they are intelligent. When we teach them to be more mindful and point out their social conduct that alienates, the more we help them to develop and sharpen their skills to deceive.

        This kind woman I would think stays because she loves him and therefore overlooks and is oblivious at times and perhaps naive to his disordered ways. I am sure she serves a useful purpose in that she is his stability that he builds his world and credibility around. Are there things he is dependent on him for. I am sure he may have admirable qualities and is dependable in their relationship.

        But then when she will not or cannot tolerate him or he decides she does not stand up to his needs anymore does he discard her with contempt. I believe the way he thinks about others is a precursor to how he feels about her when she no longer serves his purpose. I question since these individuals do not respect weakness how would he treat her if she became disabled and needed his care. Would we then find out his true colors in regards to “if” he has feelings for her.

        I would love to believe otherwise. I do think there are people that are so dead inside it is impossible for them to change. Their hearts are hardened and only God can unharden ones heart. Individuals in history such as Stalin, Hitler, etc… had spouses, or lovers does that mean they were capable to feel or love certain individuals, or did they have a liking or show of affection which they called love because these individuals fulfilled a need?

        Excellant topic Dr. Simon Thankyou

        1. BTOV: “I question since these individuals do not respect weakness how would he treat her if she became disabled and needed his care. Would we then find out his true colors in regards to “if” he has feelings for her.”

          I’ve been waiting for someone to mention this issue….special needs, acute and chronic illness, disabilities, seniors….is when their true colors shine the brightest. No question in my mind they’d rather see their love one dead. Murder is on their mind, planned as an accident. I can’t even write about the stories, my flashbacks are uncontrollable.

          I don’t need to, you all get it!

          1. Suzi,

            I am so sorry this brought up such painful memories, and I know flashbacks bring the trauma of the assault into the here and now. I can only say I do feel your pain.

            This particular topic rings true but not to the extent if you start reading on how many women and yes men have been murdered by these evil demons and I mean that literally in the terms of when the source is no longer useful to them anymore.

            When someone becomes so consumed in their evilness it is limitless what their minds will think up and justifiably so to fulfill their wants, needs, vengeance, vindictiveness and sick twisted selfish desires. No matter how deranged it will set quite right in their minds. No one is safe at this point.

            The difficulty in this sickness of the soul, these individuals rarely let anyone close to their inner thoughts or should we say the fall of the mask. But there are moments. They may say, do, act a certain way and one would ever have a clue to the true inner workings and thoughts that run through these individuals minds, never truly really knowing them for who they are. It is sad because I don’t think many of them have any idea who they are either except the predator instinct. The real one person died perhaps at birth.

            Many of these individuals are very closed mouthed about what they would do to others. Nonetheless many of these MN still like to hear themselves talking. A tell of a sly MN is to talk in the third party, never saying “I” would do this or that, it is always they, them, anything but never implicate oneself. What part is the braggart garden variety MN or the one that would cross the line. When it comes to vengeance and getting even all bets are off .

            Yes, Suzi enough for now. It makes one want to vomit, of consolation, to an unrepentant it is eternal condemnation to the Lake of Fire.

          2. “When someone becomes so consumed in their evilness it is limitless what their minds will think up and justifiably so to fulfill their wants, needs, vengeance, vindictiveness and sick twisted selfish desires. No matter how deranged it will set quite right in their minds. No one is safe at this point.”

            Truly horrid. It’s especially achy, when someone can tempt others to join against someone goodhearted.

          3. Suzi, BTOV these two comments are spot on! Even to murder on their mind Suzi. It’s terrifying to think and live through. Exactly the man I married to a tee! I so understand the flashbacks, trauma issues they don’t just go away you live with them for the rest of your life. Also in this article and he failed all four of those all important questions. I dare say this is the most important article to be read by all who have had the misfortune to be involved with such an evil character.

          4. Tori,

            So glad you are here, yes, this will be the most informative of all the topics and will have so much to say. I would not be here if not for my faith and trust in Jesus. He alone gives me the strength to persevere and go forward. The evilness that one can do and knowing their capabilities can keep us locked up in a box, their box the world box of fear. But having faith in one greater than all this can give one the courage and wherewithal to go forward.

            The CD would like to keep us under wraps in fear, so they can keep us on their paths of destruction and despair. Let the bells ring loud the truths of this ugly bondage, let the chains be broken. There is strength and power in numbers and the “The Truth will set You Free!”

          5. I did suffer a dibilitating illness and was in and out of hospital for some time. He was good as long as there were people to perform for and do the work. Once I was home and actually needed his help, he frequently left me hanging. Stood over me watching me bawl in pain after one surgery. I begged for help and comfort. He stood there and stared me down with icy coldness. Never touched me or spoke a word of comfort. The more he is needed, the more he pulls away…unless there is an audience. He made a scene at my family home after my father’s funeral, and sent me hateful, horrible texts, and kept my mother up til 2 am crying – over his feeling ignored and insulted the night she buried her husband and I, my father. No thought for the pain of others. Only himself.

    2. Gary,
      Bingo, you’ve just described how my manipulative CD STBXH used me. And boy am I being thrown under the bus, and stomped.
      Linda

  2. Dr. Simon: “And the most seriously disordered characters are those with severe empathy deficits and weak or absent consciences, both of which engender the most malignant form of narcissism, which predisposes a person to use and abuse others without compunction. Can such folks change? I’m not so sure (and neither is the scientific research on the subject). The concensus these days appears to be that the best you can do is help a person with empathy come to see the practical social value in being more mindful of their behavior and its impact on others.”

    I’m not sure either and I’m no professional. Although in my family and going back in family history at least 125 years my answer is no they cannot change, it’s genetic.

    My gut tells me that we are each born with both an Intelligent quotient [IQ] and an Emotional quotient [EQ]. Neither are a defining part of any particular brain dysfunction, disorder, disability, illness, etc. The low EQ, is something that can be found across the entire human race. Just as the various levels of IQ are found.

    We can teach and train our children common decency and respect, and the social rules of the culture we live in but we cannot teach feelings. We can teach reading, writing and arithmetic but we can’t teach comprehension.

    The lessons of common decency and respect can be used to give, share and give. Or the lessons can used to pretend, perform and mimic, to manipulate, use and abuse.

    Yes, free will is involved in all choices we make but those choices are dependent on what we are born with – both the IQ and the EQ.

    Dr. Simon: “But is she truly safe with him? My gut would say that in the absence of a genuine change of heart, there’s no way that’s truly possible.”

    Again my gut says no. Once a person indicates the dark side of human nature, it’s too late to safely trust there has been a change of heart.

    I truly hope our guts are wrong and that neuro science research eventually offers more hope. If it turns out to be true then I think back to something I think it was Vera who asked: “What are we to do?

    1. “The lessons of common decency and respect can be used to give, share and give. Or the lessons can used to pretend, perform and mimic, to manipulate, use and abuse.”

      Another good point!

      Again, so many themes repeating in the comments over this site, reminding me of other similar good ones…

      How do you tell a DC apologizing when he/she has something to gain from a person genuinely apologizing after a goof? I have “The Devil’s in the details” echoing all over in my head. That’s gotta be it, there’s gotta be something. Please help me?

        1. Suzi,

          Bless you for sharing and no matter how difficult please keep sharing, I will too. “Evil prevails because good men do NOTHING!” These evil minions of Satan himself are sheer unadulterated evil that prevails in our world and our society that has become so shallow and used to atrocities against their fellow man that they can without a conscience sit back and sip their coffee/vintage wine, eat donuts/caviar all the while their fellow man is being murdered, living in squalor, starving to death, being murdered, children being sold into slavery for sex, unimaginable horrors and bondage without an iota of guilt.

          More and more people are interested in watching a ball game, buying a new gizmo, sweeping it under the carpet and turning a blind eye lest they may have to give something, perhaps a penny or their thoughts being interrupted with some unpleasantry than take responsibility and say no and do something, the right thing. Are these individuals any less guilty then the the actual perpetrator? I am talking about crimes against humanity and all of these are. When one gets pleasure out of torturing and judging another and condemns the true victims for bringing on and deserving the inhumane treatment of abuse, verbal and or physical.

          A world where we have learned and is commonplace now days to objectify our fellow brother and sister, mother and father, our children, people as a whole to serve only a purpose to please our needs, otherwise, they are human waste. Will there be a price to pay ? I believe the CD phenomenon is only the tip of the iceberg.

          Not only do these soulless spawn of the devil give their souls to the devil or sell themselves for the scraps of selfie conceit of being “I God”, for a short span in time but will gladly murder the souls of anyone including their own offspring to remain in their false position of being I God.

          Highly suggested reading:
          People of the Lie and Glimpses of the Devil by: Dr. Scott Peck
          Hostage to the Devil by: Malichi Martin
          The Psychopath Next Door by: Hare
          The Myth of Sanity by: Martha Stout
          Why Does He Do That by: Lundy Bancroft
          Stalked by: Karren Parrish
          Emotional Prisoner by: Jose Villegas 111
          (An excellent book rarely mentioned)
          I would encourage you to read how Theodore Bundy justified his murderous rampage. Read how Charles Manson claimed innocence because he was claimed he was never personally present at any of the murder scenes therefore was blameless.

          Learn to keep you eyes and ears wide open because the human predator sure does. Beware, speak the truth always, truth shines light into the dark as a warning beacon from crashing into destruction against the jagged rocks, . Political correctness obfuscates the truth, it twists and uses the communication of language against you, truth will always protect you. Predators hate being in the open and the light of day, they despise witnesses that is why they alienate and seek to divide.

          lways even though we are being indoctinated to be politically correct. n lu\ie of political correctness otherwise we may not have a voice at all.

          1. BOTV,

            Thank you for your words of wisdom.

            It’s truly amazing how the art of communication, just simple words strung together, can strengthen like nothing else.

            It really doesn’t take all that much to accept the fact that HE cares. The simplicity is the beauty of it all.

            Quote: “Evil prevails because good men do NOTHING! Are these individuals any less guilty then the actual perpetrator?”
            No they are not less guilty. HE will judge what no man can adequately judge….the heart. And that judgement includes doing NOTHING. No man can hide the heart from the brightest light of all.

            Quote: “Will there be a price to pay?”
            Yes you bet. Remember who wins the final war….the price has already been paid.

            Quote: “I believe the CD phenomenon is only the tip of the iceberg.”
            The worst is yet to come.

            Quote: “but will gladly murder the souls of anyone including their own offspring”
            Yes, even their own offspring. The days are growing darker.

            The breakdown of the family unit has put a tremendous burden on society. And weakened the threads right down to very core of the greatest of all nations. The foundation of our nation was built on the strength of the family unit and man’s healthy conscience. When the foundation weakens and crumbles all eventually comes tumbling down. Then it rots and decays.

            Oh yes indeed, darker days are ahead.

            Quote: “unimaginable horrors and bondage without an iota of guilt.”
            It’s terrifying how countless many may have already turned to stone. We’re going to be stunned at who and how few show up at the table.

            Quote: “More and more people are interested in watching a ball game, buying a new gizmo,”
            Stuff and more stuff = all false idols.

            Quote: “Political correctness obfuscates the truth”
            PC has certainly turned our free society upside down and done irreparable damage. A sneaky way of reinforcing a lie.

            Society has been dumbed down in a slow but steady brain washing style with all this stuff about political correctness, accept difference and tolerate the intolerant. That’s my $0.02.

            When did all this mess start? How, what, when, where, why? The answer is simple….in the garden, with the first lie. It’s the history of the human race.

            Yes, so simple….that is, if only it wasn’t intertwined with lies. It’s the lies that cause the blindness and thus the downfall.

            That’s what has been written.

      1. Timothy,

        “I’m sorry”, to me, is a meaningless statement. Ask him/her explain what they actually are sorry about. And was it really a “mistake” of judgment or was it a long line of behavior? And is it in DC best interest to “change” only because he’s gotten caught? There has to be action behind that statement for it to be held honest.
        Linda

        1. Linda,

          Agree that “I’m sorry” is meaningless. Ask him/her to explain what they are actually sorry about. You just may get bewildered look from him/her, or in some case a response equivalent to “I’m sorry, I got caught! Next time I will be more careful while stealing!” 😀

          1. I think Linda and AndyD have a point. In explaining the I am sorry learn to read facial and body language. How uncomfortable/comfortable is he in his verbalizing. Does he take full responsibility for the I am sorry and how is it followed up, does he/she blame or act like it was of no consequence putting you in the position of you making to much out of nothing . What is your past experience dealing with this person. Many factors can come into play. Better to be cautious.

            Dealing with the CD isn’t easy, especially when having to discern if one being authentic.

    2. Suzi,
      From personal experiences of several families I have observed. I see there are personalities traits relational to each other in all of the families I am making observations from. All of the individuals you can trace the form of their narcissism CD directly to the family of origin and the treatment of the child at birth. Several who had no attention/nurture to the overly spoiled/nurtured at birth depending on where in the line of birth they were born. This can depend also on the factors of events at play at the time of birth how that particular child may have been treated. Volumes of books taken from research on this have been written.

      I could write pages of my own personal observations I have made in relation to this puzzle piece that everyone is trying to identify. I think scientific research is good, but then, in all these brain pattern tests do we find an excuse for these individuals aberrant behavior. Are we over thinking this?

      Jumping all over the place here. What are we to do? Hold them accountable to the highest standard, no middle ground, no bargaining, no deals, no pampering, spoiling, giving in to their conduct. Otherwise, we feed the monster and the already overly swelled ego be it over esteem or under esteem for themselves they still act in a similar way and that is the me, me, me, trample anyone that gets in the me way.

      In so many ways I am guilty of feeding/enabling these monsters due to the lack of knowledge of who I was dealing with or what I was creating. I thought I was doing the right thing because that is the way I was treated and the tools available to me, therefore, it was OK. However, now I know how wrong I was.

      The true changes I have seen is when one took mature , authentic responsibility for themselves. Did they have to experience hard knocks to get there? YES Did others go the same path of hard knocks and still harden their resolve not to change, YES. The events that give rise to change is different for everyone.

      Can they, will they, depends on if they have the resolve to do the grueling work to change, to look inward and admit they are not all that and more, that they are wrong and make mistakes and so do others. Are they willing to ask for forgiveness and in return forgive. To step of their pedastal and become ordinary and accept they are not God

      I believe, in all the final question is Humility vs. Humiliation and when one will rise to the event of being humble. To step off their I/ME/Victim/God created pedestal and become like everyone one else and submit to a higher authority/God then oneself. Then true change may occur.

  3. Good Morning BTOV,

    Thank you for your words and kindness.

    The combination of it all and connecting the dots gives a glimpse into the depth of their darkness. And that darkness can be a terrible place to even take a peek at. As you said “an unrepentant it is eternal condemnation to the Lake of Fire.”

    Sometimes a few words out of their mouth is all it takes to offer a devastating clue into their minds. Oh yes, 99% of the time when they talk about others they are talking about themselves. And the other 1% well I just chalk that up to another lie.

    How does one make logical sense of the illogical nonsense. Beats me. It’s like trying to explain what a upset stomach feels like to a person who has never had an upset stomach.

    Well, you know the last chapter of the good book warns us – we won’t win all the battles, but in the end we win the war.

    Did you say in a previous comment that you got a dog? I’m not sure if it was you. Well, nothing beats the companionship and loyalty of our pets! Listen carefully. Understanding the language of animals and you’ll know the voice of God.

  4. There is lot of emphasis on judging the action to determine if someone has changed. And, rightly so.

    Even before changes show up in action, one can easily determine if character disturbed person has truly changed by watching if blame-shifting and lying is still operational.
    A CD that is putting in effort in reforming, will simply stop blame-shifting and lying right away. And, on some occasions that he/she involves in these tactics, he/she will make correction soon.

    1. Hi Andy,

      Yes, It is said “Actions Speak Louder Than Words.” But under pressure so to speak the CD can keep up a masquerade of change for quite some time and I am talking months before the subtleties and manipulations begin. Yes, actions speak volumes but it has to be consistencies on a massive scale of humility, contriteness, giving etc…. believe me there are many genies in their pockets on reserve for life events that may rock their boat.

      I believe their CD sickness is so ingrained it has been likened to be worse than a heroin addiction, they will do and say anything to keep their lover and obtain a fix. Just beware, I wished and many times am in denial as to how dangerous the CD can become. Do you pet a rabid dog? Can we be lulled into thinking they could be otherwise, because we can’t conceive of how distorted one can be?

    2. Andy D,

      Good points about the blame shifting and lying. Honestly, once you know you’re dealing with a heartless cold CD, I would not give him/her the benefit of my time and heart. They are not worthy of it. In fact, they will harm it. It’s best to just leave them be with their miserable self.
      Linda

  5. When It’s Serious

    Yes, this is the most important of all of Dr. Simon’s articles.

    Abuse in itself is murder, It kills the soul. And abusers need to be regarded as such.

    Sometimes it cold bloodied murder with a weapon. Then sometimes it slow and leaves no marks.

    The mind of evil knows no limits.

    Refusal of medical care
    Refusal to take to the hospital, doctor, emergency room
    Refusal of medications or switching medications around
    Using medication to drug
    Refusal of transportation – drive yourself or walk
    Refusal to pay medical bills
    Denial of food
    Tampering with food – poison
    Or slower acting poisons that destroy the victim’s health
    Denial of safe housing
    Set up a fire hazard
    Set up for electrical shock
    Tampering with gas furnace – gas explosion
    Tampering with vehicles
    Drowning
    Pushing off a cliff
    Pushing down the stairs
    Holding in contempt when victim is sick or not well
    Having to go to work while sick or compromised
    Uses sicknesses as a reason to further attack
    Attempted strangulation, choking, putting hands around neck – This is HIGH risk behavior!

    Or pushing the victim to the point of desperation and suicide

    The list is endless of what lurks in the darkness of evil.

  6. My reaction when I come in contact with these types is to run like hell in the other direction.

    If I have to deal with them, I am guarded and getting away from them as soon as possible.

    That is simple advice but I think it comes down to that.

    I never try to make them see the error in their ways because troublemakers won’t change their incongruent frame if it doesn’t benefit them.

    1. But, some people are married into problem, or even worse born into problem. That is when, we need to determine the seriousness of the problem before bolting. Bolting like a horse with a bursting 1000 fire cracker chain tied to its tail. 🙂

  7. I know people who are married to these types and have parents who are these types.

    I’m not but I had friends like this and worked with these people.

    The second best is to keep your guard up and watch out for seduction strategies.

    When I read about seduction, I didn’t at first think it was relevant to this type but it’s one of their key manipulation strategies.

    Once these people show their true colors they guard stays up.

    On a side note, my friend that were CD that I put my guard up with in my interactions broke off their friendships with me.

    I have a ex friend who was CD and he was extremely generous at times.

    My best friend (who is not CD) and I always talk about the CD friend, and the CD ex friend was actually more generous and helpful than my best friend who is just a normal person with empathy. His bad behavior manifested itself in womanizing so I wasn’t taking the brunt of it.

    But when the time came, he threw me under the bus hard. So I kind of got what I deserved.

    I read these remarks and I think a lot of people feel like fools for being manipulated.

    But I think that is people being to hard on themselves because no one tells you that people are this crazy.

    You just got to learn.

    When I meet this type now, I can just tell by feeling.

    Here is what is weird, they are so alert that they can tell I can tell.

    I can feel that too.

    Haha.

    I love this topic btw.

    1. Hi Andy D and Gary,

      That’s right….no contact or the least amount possible as required by law.

      It’s the best and healthiest outcome. Use your feet and walk away.

      And then teach it to others. Carry the torch.

      But Andy makes a point that puts an all a different twist to the problem. Not all can get out.

      I know that many will debate my stance…..but reality is the truth and the truth is not all can get out.

      How long can one survive living in a cardboard box placed over a heat vent? That’s if you’re lucky to find a vacant heat vent.

      1. It is true some cannot get out. There are many reasons one may have to stay, we do not have all the facts in each individual case to determine that. However, if one ever thinks they are in harms way, by all means leave.

        Sometimes in cases one is able to change their own thinking and patterns or acting or reacting to the CD that knocks them off balance and they just slink into their fantasy world. This may be true of the the older CD that have no where to go themselves.

        In so many ways we or should I say I never realized the personal power I had. If I know what I know today I probably would had stayed given my age and other factors. I really was the glue that held it all together and never had a clue. Oh well, now I struggle alone, am happy and have more peace.

        All in all it was the best decision. The CD have one goal in mind because they are so full of hate and envy and jealousy is to destroy. Their true intent is Soul Murder.

        The CD choose us because we are everything they are not and they live in our bodies so to speak, we are objectified, therefore, they are me and I am them. They take credit for my attributes and how convenient they project all their filth onto me. This is crazy making to the max.

        P.S. Timothy Another good read is by Shengold called Soul Murder
        However it relates more to the pathology of the CD rather than the intent of the CD is to murder their victims soul.

    2. Gary,

      Many times the CD can be very nice and giving, want to make a bet they keep track of whom and what they did and their generosity. This puts you in an IOU position should they have to call in the loan.

      1. My CD STBX always says he paid for everything and I paid for nothing all these years of marriage. “everything” and “nothing”. Really? So juvenile. He constantly tries gaslighting me. It’s so annoying when he tries. Like he really thinks I’m that stupid? And finally, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t “defend” myself anymore to his accusations and false statements. I know my truth, and he is not worth my breath.
        Linda

    3. Gary: ” My best friend (who is not CD) and I always talk about the CD friend, and the CD ex friend was actually more generous and helpful than my best friend who is just a normal person with empathy. His bad behavior manifested itself in womanizing so I wasn’t taking the brunt of it.:

      Beware – Some of the worse of the worst are in “caring” professions.

  8. Gary said: “When I meet this type now, I can just tell by feeling. Here is what is weird, they are so alert that they can tell I can tell. I can feel that too.

    I know what you mean but I’ve never been able to put it into words and explain it. Except maybe a gut feeling. My dogs can tell too!

  9. I went to work early one cool fall morning. Approached the back door of the building which was seldom used by the night shift. At the door laid an elderly women with a dirty torn blanket over her body. Her hands were tied and her mouth was gagged. She had the most beautiful sparkling blue eyes I have ever seen. Around those blue eyes all over her face was the look of fear that never left. She was unable to walk and unable to talk, she was mute. Reason unknown. She passed away at the county home as a Jane Doe and laid to rest in Potter’s Field. Her family or caretaker dumped her, discarded her in the middle of the night.

    She never got out, likely never had a chance. That was over 50 years ago and I still see her beautiful eyes and the fear.

    I meet a women years ago that was disabled and in a wheelchair. Her husband put a loaded gun in her mouth. The police came and took her to the women’s shelter. After all sorts of red tape and loops she got an apartment in an independent living center. The only problem was her husband did not pay his court ordered share of her living expenses. Eventually she had to move back with her husband for food and medical insurance.

    She tried, but—

    Not all, but probably the majority will never make it out. There are many hiding in fear behind the four walls of their homes.

    I’ve got more bad stories than I have good.

  10. Yes, this is an extremely important issue and I am grateful for Dr Simon’s insight. I’ve noticed recently that by changing my behaviour my partner has also changed his. As my boundaries become firmer and I become stronger he becomes more respectful and less abusive.

    The difference is that I have wanted to change, and do better in my life, whereas he is changing because my behaviour is different – and not because behaving differently is important to him, or in because he feels my pain, or feels remorse for his behaviour. I see that so clearly now and Dr Simon’s work has helped me better understand these dynamics. I don’t believe my partner is changing in any essential sense. But I do believe this statement of Dr Simon’s is pure gold:

    “The concensus these days appears to be that the best you can do is help a person with empathy come to see the practical social value in being more mindful of their behavior and its impact on others.”

    My partner is behaving differently because there is a ‘practical social value’ to him. It’s useful to him and in his best interests. His is an essentially selfish response.

    Thinking like this also reminds me that what’s at the centre of the problem is my behaviour, not his. I am the only one I can change. By taking away the oxygen that ennables his abusive behaviour, I become less of a handmaiden to his wants, and more considerate of the reality of my own being – who I am, what I need, what my objectives in life are. By concentrating more on myself, I grow stronger and his influence over me diminishes. Rather than demand that he respect me, by learning to respect myself and behaving more respectfully towards myself, he follows suit. I find this fascinating.

    1. Stella
      I admire your hard work on improving your self. My question is why do you stay with him? I hope you have a good plan on how to leave him, emotionally and financially. I left my husband of over 30 years and boy has he turned his wrath on me now. I stayed with him for severalonths after making the decision to divorce because there was a high probability he would hurt himself. He was not sorry or remorseful for what he’d done to me. He was sorry for himself. Well low and behold when he got back on his feet and filed for divorce and he is doing all he can now to make life for me intolerable. I often wish I’d lickednhim when he was down because he is legally and financially stomping the hell out of me.
      Linda

      1. Linda, Thanks for your concernm and I’m sorry for your current problems. I would like to explain more about myself and that entails trust. I need to trust I will be supported and not judged. Trust is not easy for me. It’s been very important to me to become stronger within myself. It’s also been a long and difficult journey, which I want to continue, with other people’s care.

        1. I, for one, would never judge you. Everyone’s circumstance is unique and incredibly complicated. I just know, though, first-hand, how living with a CD is miserable and not a healthy environment to be in day in and day out.
          Linda

          1. Hi Linda, Thanks for your understanding response. I found your questions confronting. It was painful to sit and ponder why I stayed. In response to your statement about making plans to leave, I also wondered what you, or others, would think if I said I had no plans. Everybody’s journey is unique and I am looking for a forum in which I am supported for who I am and what I want to achieve. But I agree with you wholeheartedly that living with a CD person is miserable. Their inability to take another person’s feelings into account saps one’s spiritual, moral and physical energy. I have experienced that. I have my own space and am with him on weekends, which makes a huge difference.

      2. Hi Linda, It’s easy to understand why someone would leave a character disordered person, but there are so many valid reasons people stay with them.

        Unlike you and for whatever reason, some CD survivors can’t currently handle being emotionally stomped and financially it might be out of the question.

        I am sure you didn’t mean to judge Stella but often on blogs and forums of this nature, the same types of questions arise and they seem accusatory.

        But… that being said, so happy you are physically separated from your blood sucking tick and yes, it’s too bad that it wasn’t all wrapped up before his fighting spirit returned!

        1. Didn’t sound accusatory to me… just a question. I too am staying with my remaining CD, and don’t mind if people ask. He is my father, turned frail. Hard to close the door in this case. I feel trapped a lot.

          1. Vera,

            Didn’t sound accusatory to me, either. Sometimes simple questions can be taken the wrong way, when on the receiving end, though; particularly if criticism is veiled as a question. Not the case with Linda Forbes, I’m sure, but I have seen it happen on other forums and it can be brutal.

            Your father is VERY lucky to have you looking after him, considering his CD. That would be very very hard to do. Difficult enough when the frail elderly are pleasant!

          2. LisaO: Yeah. It’s pretty horrible. a few weeks ago he stood outside and yelled at me for about half an hour, how I am a horrible criminal, and he’ll sue (for having to send him to the hospital for a few days). Way back, I had hopes that he would get better as he aged, but no, he gets worse. He is less concerned with impression management, does not give a hoot who knows any more. All in all, it’s very stressful. Thank you.

          3. Vera,
            Sorry to hear your predicament of your father. Yes it would be difficult to close he door on a frail father. Through all the hurt and abusive caused by a CD, we are still human and it is against our nature to turn our back on one we care/cared about, especially when they are ill. Yes, I can imagine how trapped you feel. Knowing the tactics a CD uses, though, does give you power to not be drawn into the psychological mess. With that knowledge you can keep your sanity and sense of self.
            Linda

          4. Hi LisaO,

            I agree, there are blogs in which judgements can become harsh, with people implying, or sometimes even saying, there is something wrong with you if you don’t leave, etc. So I greatly appreciated the sensitive manner in which you raised the issue. I am new to this forum and I am looking to see whether I can feel comfortable, safe and supported here, and your responses helped me feel that I might be.

            Hi Vera,

            Sorry to hear about your situation with your father. Is it possible your father is also exhibiting signs of dementia? A character disordered person, who has dementia, would be so tough. If dementia is starting to play a role in his behaviour, can you get any help? Also, thinking of him as having dementia may help you maintain psychological distance – that it’s not you and that his behaviour is a reflection of the ageing process.

        2. Stella and LisaO,

          I must say I went through intensive counseling for a long period to reach the point I’m at. Thank goodness for good health insurance.

          Linda

    2. Hi Stella,

      I admire your tenacity to stay and work it out. If this is what your heart tells you to do you will never ask the question what if. Remember these people respect strength and in taking care of yourself and letting him be responsible for himself the whole relationship changes and becomes more healthy. Either he will realize he has to conform, he will become more difficult or decide to leave.

      In a way and each relationship is different, your taking a more mature stance puts him in the position to act likewise. The ball is in his court and it also depends how CD he is and where he is on the continuum. My prayers are with you.

        1. This is what I would agree with. First reaction (may not be immediate) will be to just work on you from a different angle.

          Once you have started taking care of yourself, and that automatically puts up some defenses in place. Next just may be escalated assault on you. You will need to continue to take care of yourself in assertive way (i.e. hold up your defenses). Then, you can judge the seriousness of character disturbance and decide if it is worth your time and energy.

          1. BTOV and Andy,
            “work you from a different angle” – now that is familiar. My some day to be ex CD and I attended marriage counseling – what I needed to do before I made my decision to leave a long-term marriage – and there were changes, but they were changes that were not genuine. They were “behaviors”. His heart is cold. His spirit is mean. He lies and lives dishonestly. Those things don’t change. His angle was to “behave” in a manner that would be tolerable to me. It didn’t work for me. I could see through it and realize his heart and soul would not change.
            I wish Stella the best and encourage her to make herself as strong as she can possibly be, and to keep educating herself on the traits of this disturbing character flaw. There is a GOOD LIFE OUT THERE! I’m living it – it’s the peace found when not under the thumb of a CD.
            Linda

        2. Hi BTOV,

          Thanks for your validation and understanding, which helped me feel less alone. Being affirmed is so important to me.

          I have done so much for him, and yes, you are absolutely right, ‘letting him be responsible for himself’ is changing the dynamic of our relationship considerably. I have always had poor boundaries and I think that working on stronger boundaries is helping me considerably.
          Behaving more maturely myself is definitely impacting on him.

          I find your expression that the ‘ball is in his court’ interesting. I see it as the ball being well and truly in my court. I want to learn to define what is or is not acceptable behaviour and learn how to clarify that in a way that is not aggressive and is most likely to have beneficial outcomes for all concerned.

          I’m also thinking of what a counsellor said to me many years back: ‘Trust is earned, but respect is offered, because you’re a human being.’ I am beginning to find that when I offer unconditional respect – because he is a human being – he feels more comfortable within himself. He doesn’t feel so attacked and therefore needing to defend himself, and I am more able to speak my truth and stay grounded.

          But I agree with you that from his point of view, it’s all about moves. He will ‘work me from another angle’ as that’s how he is. Thanks, it’s good to be reminded of that, as I have a tendency to ‘forget’ what he’s like.

          As for it being an ongoing battle, that too sparked my interest. I don’t want my life to be defined by an ongoing battle, which is what it has been. It’s exhausting. But I don’t see the battle as being about him. It’s about myself and how I battle with those parts of me that meant I got involved in such a messed up relationship. That’s where the battle has to stop. To do that, I have to become less self-hating, less unforgiving, and more accepting.

          1. Hi Andy,

            I think that what you’re talking about is my needing to protect myself because he may feel threatened by the loss of dominance and control. I agree that that is a very important consideration.

            My partner seems to be on the milder side of the character disordered continuum, so escalation into physical attack is unlikely. But I appreciate your concern.

            Your comments are also helping me think about how, when I wanted to live in my own space, I didn’t say that I couldn’t stand living with, but gave another perfectly acceptable and reason.

            I think that behaving respectfully means knowing how sensitive we all are to criticism or to feeling threatened, and that knowing how not to hit soft spots is vital to establishing harmony. It also involves knowing that such people want and need to win arguments, so it’s important not to enter into arguments with them, but rather give them valid, non-threatening reasons for what you are doing.

            It’s helping me a lot to write about these issues, thanks.

  11. Hey guys looking for a little bit of advice about my ma. I believe that she has ‘paranoid personality disorder’. She will emotionally manipulate to try and get me to prioritise her over others and she always thinks others are out to get her. They always have a negative agenda behind any actions. She takes alot of things way too personally. Once, she took a comment that a 10 year old said to her to heart. She lost custody of me when I was 9 myself after I had been taken into foster care for 2.5 years. My dad won full custody and she lost all her rights. The 10 year old is the daughter of her friend and one they visited her and the 10 year old asked her why I didn’t live with her. This 10 year old happens to be a kid I babysit and have a great relationship with as her father is my godafather. She developed an opinion that the child was ‘disturbed’ and said it to hurt her. I was disgusted that she interpreted this child curiosity into something negative. Even if it was negatively tinged, she was 10 years old!! Anyway, this was brought up I believe because I had developed a relationship with the child as a mentor over the years and my mum was jealous.
    This story is typical of my mum. There are many other examples. The most hurtful is when I finished university I had been living on campus and I got a job and moved in with my friends brother, renting a room from him. I agreed with my mum that her place would become my security place in case I needed it, as I wasn’t going back to my dads for another reason. At the time I thought this would improve our relationship. Anyways, it was recession time and I was made redundant very quickly and I was broke. I had to move. I asked her if I could move in temporarily and she said no. She said if I stopped speaking to my dad then I could (she lost custody to him hates him and has always been bitter). She used something bad that he did that I told her to guilt trip me also. Because he was also messed up like she was but in a different way, accept he isn’t disordered and manipulative like her pathology! That made me very angry with her.
    I was helped at that time by my godfather and she told him not to help me because when I was younger I didn’t follow her advice and beg for social housing like she did (btw I would not have got it I wasn’t ‘vulnerable’ enough’) plus I rejected it. I told her I wasn’t interested in council estate housing as I grew up on one and hated it.
    Anyway, skip to now and over the years I have been back and forth talking to her and not. I am now pregnant and do want her to have access to her grandchild I feel guilty that she wouldn’t. I have asked her to admit her disorder and she has written me a letter. In the letter she said ‘I have a disorder that was caused by your father and social services’. She also thinks that *I* have a mental health problem, mainly because in a recent conversation I lost my temper with her (after months of peace grrr). I am training to be a counsellor, early in my training and she questions my ability to do this (of course). She says she wants contact with me and her grand child but she doesn’t know what to do and she has said before that she’ll ‘never change’. So I have replied with some ‘suggestions” that we can agree on together for the future. The main one being that she has ot get treatment for her disorder. The likely hood of this happening of course, is slim, since she blames her ‘disorder’ on other people. Even if a situation did cause her disorder, she has been becoming paranoid and manipulative for years now and she still needs to do something about it.

      1. Yes, that is my thinking most of the time. Yet I feel very, very guilty. I can’t imagine sitting my daughter down and saying grand ma can’t be around us and having to explain it to her in the future. It’s a horrible feeling. I guess I just think if my mum starts to take some accountability then I can deal with her as she will be trying to change. But that’s probably a pipe dream. My list of suggestions to her will probably not go too well and I have decided this is my last ditch attempt. She is ‘apparently’ going to court for her housing issue (in the uk the government is cutting benefits and one of those is housing, she has had to move to a smaller flat from 2 bedroom to 1 but hasn’t) this means she is in arrears and I don’t know the full story but if she had not taken on housing offered to her then they would deem her as making herself homeless. Remember, she’s on benefits she has no money and no job. The only person in our family who could help her is my great aunt. There isn’t really anyone else, except for a few friends of hers maybe.. I am worried about this scenario, but selfishly if she does move in with the aunt then she’ll end up being around somewhat as I am close to this aunt. . I won’t be free of her. So exhuasting.

        1. Nk,

          “I guess I just think if my mum starts to take some accountability then I can deal with her as she will be trying to change. But that’s probably a pipe dream.”
          Yes. It IS a pipe dream. A 60+ year old who hasn’t taken responsibility so far, will not get any better. Unless she get some really hard lessons that knock and put the sensibility back in place in her head.
          Be shameless and guiltfree about protecting your daughter from her. If you are on good terms, warn your aunt too, to avoid responsibility of an irresponsible person.

          1. I like to think that her up coming troubles will help push her into leaving the victimhood behind. But who knows.
            She has responded to the terms I suggested. With two long emails with vitriol and accusations and not willing to discuss anything rationally. The most cutting comment she said. Is ‘ You and your father forced and manipulated me into seeing you when I was quite stable and getting on with my life’ – When I was 9 I left foster care (2.5 years) and my dad won full custody. She lost visitation. I started asking to see her and when I was 11 after seeing me in the street she went to court to win back visitation. We began seeing each other.
            She is also obsessed in thinking that I am ‘ill’ and need medication. I have had depression in the past. That seems to be the perfect projection or response from someone who refuses to admit their own disorder. She did say that her practitioners say she’s in recovery. I’m not sure if this is true or they truly know what she is. But she has improved some stuff over the years. But her paranoid thinking about me and in general continues.

      2. I’d only have contact with her in small doses, very small. Otherwise, you’ll end up agitated and miserable. Being away from a CD now, after such a long time, I realize what a time and life waster these people are. Family or not family, they don’t ever have your best interests, or really care. They are not worthy of you.
        Linda

  12. BTOV
    “But then when she will not or cannot tolerate him or he decides she does not stand up to his needs anymore does he discard her with contempt. I believe the way he thinks about others is a precursor to how he feels about her when she no longer serves his purpose. I question since these individuals do not respect weakness how would he treat her if she became disabled and needed his care. Would we then find out his true colors in regards to “if” he has feelings for her.”

    Married 40 years to a diagnosed bpd. It has taken me so long to realize what the problem actually was with him. In answer to your question, I am all but disabled now and in my case he will care for me it he is to gain something from it. Otherwise I am on my own with my home, which needs repair, to care for inside and out, as well as not always being able to walk. If he feels like he can spare the time from a job he has no need of he might take me for treatments or fill scripts, but if he is one of those moods forget it. In my case he cares for me in public, if others are in our home and there it stops

    1. damn. I feel like people around my mother have only just in the last 5 years worked out her disorder. at least yours is diagnosed. my mother refuses to be diagnosed.

      1. Nk, I also had a difficult mother, so my heart goes out to you. The anxiety, guilt, confusion and exhaustion you describe – all this I know too well – so though our situations are different, our experience is the same.

        Guilt is a terrible burden on the mind. If you can work on the guilt, and loosen its hold on you, then energy will be freed up for problem solving and greater clarity of thinking. For me, guilt involves the feeling that I’ve done something wrong for which I should be punished. Anxiety involves the feeling that I will be punished. The confusion I felt is related to not knowing what I was going to be punished for, and knowing what to do or whether I could cope with the challenges life had thrown me. Exhaustion is an inevitable outcome.

        Try and be kind to yourself. I did not find that easy. Try to look after yourself. See if you can give yourself permission to rest. This involves taking time out from other people’s problems. Grow into your own self, and your own hopes for this new little life coming into the world. Be good to yourself and them. Start with what you can control. Even if you just have one tiny thought each day that you are going to love your child and be happy together – that’s what’s important – and that little thought and feeling may flower and take you in all sorts of positive directions.

        Your mother’s problems are huge. You can’t solve them. You can only solve your own problems. I think you have to learn to be compassionate towards your own guilt, that you aren’t a good daughter, or could be a better one, or are to blame for all her problems. Blaming her for your guilt won’t work. It’s there in your mind now. You’ve got to own the guilt and work with it, so that you can free yourself from it.

        The guilt in your mind is the problem. That’s what’s driving the situation. I hope you don’t mind my saying that. I had to do a lot of meditation and work on myself to get to the point that I saw the issues more clearly. But if what I’m saying doesn’t resonate with you, just ignore it. 🙂

        1. Thanks for your reply. It has touched me.
          I do feel guilty. But I don’t really know what I feel guilty about. Do I feel that it’s my fault she is the way she in my subconscious? I have discussed with therapist many times how I have felt responsible for both my parents. Now my mothers spiel has been with me is that she knows best and I have to prioritise her I’ve explained to her many times that the authority she tries to claim never existed and never will.
          I don’t want to give you the impression that she has been controlling my life emotionally for the last 3 years because I have had minimal contact with her and have benefited immensely, up until recently where I agreed to work on things with her so she could be in her grand child’s life. Which has failed. If I’m truly honest I think that she really never loved me in the first place, I think she saw me an extension of herself and a weapon to use against the world. The world realised this and took me away from her. So she blamed me for everything.

          1. Sometimes I wish she would literally disappear and I wouldn’t have any worry about her or concern. Sounds harsh, but its that way.

          2. Hi Nk,

            I certainly didn’t get the impression that your mother was controlling you for the last three years – not at all. 🙂 I got the impression of a strong minded, caring person who has done a great deal to take care of herself. I admire that.

            I admire the way you moved away from your mother in order to do that and that you are trying again to have her in your life. I also admire the way you are reaching out and seeking assistance for the challenges that your mother presents now. I think all of that is terrific.

            In terms of guilt, it might be helpful to stand back and accept that, at this point in time, you don’t know why you feel guilty. That may help your mind relax a little around the issue. Often if you go chasing after answers, things just get stressful, and the mind shuts down. In my case, yes, I felt terribly guilty that I was to blame for my mother’s behaviour. But such thoughts and feelings didn’t go away overnight. I did a lot of therapy and got involved in meditation and it all helped.

            See if you can get to the point and say that ‘it’s okay to feel guilty – it’s completely normal in the circumstances – there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling it – it’s exactly what happens when you get that kind of mothering.’ That might help.

            I’m suggesting that you stay open to the guilt and confusion, and see if you can continue to live your own life, exactly as you’ve been doing. Be good to yourself and your baby and let the guilt come and go, as it will. Also see if you can accept that you are not like your mother. You will not behave to your baby as she has behaved to you. Something in you knows that what she did and is still doing is wrong and that you are moving away from the territory she inhabits. She isn’t you. You are not her. You have different values and they are important to you.

            I greatly empathise with your wish that your mother would just go away. I had the same wish throughout my life. My mother passed away recently, and after all the tears I shed while she was alive, I didn’t shed a tear when she died. I was able to stay calm and focused, and said to a friend, ‘When a good mother goes, you feel grief. When a bad mother goes, you feel relieved.’

            I think it’s also important for you to validate that when you are away from your mother, you start doing really well but when you bring her back into your life a lot of unresolved thoughts and feelings such as guilt etc, flood back into your life. That too is totally normal and there’s nothing wrong with you at all.

            Being around your mother is stirring up deep and profound forces in your mind – these involve memories and behaviours that will start to control your behaviour. Remember, she was there, just as she is now, when you were tiny and your brain was just starting its own journey into life. Be compassionate towards yourself for this.

            Be compassionate about what you are trying to achieve now. You have a strong moral and virtuous wish that your mother know her grand-child. That’s beautiful and fantastic and so understandable – every mother wants that for their child – a family that they can belong to.

            But also be wise about how much you can achieve. You will probably never want to let your mother baby-sit for instance. Or, you may feel in the end that you aren’t strong enough to cope with your mother at this time in your life. Nobody can tell you what to do. Only you can know what’s best for yourself – that’s the process of wisdom unfolding in you.

            One last thought: You can learn from this process. You can learn that when you are in the vicinity of people like your mother certain thoughts, feelings and behaviours will get triggered. When you are with different kinds of people – good people like you – other outcomes eventuate.

            This isn’t just about your mother, as other people who behave like your mother, are going to trigger exactly the same reactions that your mother is triggering now. So even if you never see your mother again, you can thank yourself for learning a very powerful lesson by involving her in your life this time round – before your baby is born. You have learned how powerful the maternal presence is in a person’s mind and how you have brought courage and good will to dealing with its effects in your life.

            Go well…

  13. Thank you so much your posts are both extremely informative and relative to what I experienced over a nine year period of time. My question is why do this types of character disturbed individuals (and I have known two very close to me that are both on the upper level of the contiunua), choose the gentle, sweet individuals that love them? Is it because they have the ulteria motive of being able to take advantage of their need to please? Is it because they feel they can pull the wool over these peoples eyes so get away with behaviour others would classify as unnaceptable? is it the ultimate power and control over someone? Is it that they really do love these personal qualities and because of their own deficiencies they, like leeches want to be like that? I waited and hoped and begged for change however, now I realise way to late that it was never going too. So I agree, that depending on the level of severity of the disturbance change may be possible but that at the very, very low end. As I have learned after all this time living with hope for change was a waste of my life and all the damage that was done to myself as a person and my life (and still is two years on), in unimaginable. To live with hope is still believing in these characters. The only belief and hope that needs to be understood by the suffering people in this situation is finding the strength within themselves to hope and believe in themselves enough, to pack up and leave as soon as is safe and possible.

    1. They always pick those with vulnerabilities. And sweet and gentle individuals are ever so easy to mess with…

      Welcome, Daisy. 🙂

      1. Vera,

        I think they choose us for the very deficits they are lacking. Even though we tend to be sweet and gentle always working and thinking about others needs. We also, are very strong individuals where they are weak. Otherwise, who could so patiently put up with them. My mother-in-law told me dozens of times not to give into him and I helped him to be selfish by not saying NO. Now I see she was right.

    2. Daisy,

      “My question is why do this types of character disturbed individuals, choose the gentle, sweet individuals…”

      Hmm… they are easy target, I guess.
      A tiger will definitely have a strong preference for soft plump slow moving hare. Sorry if it offends you, but that is plain simple truth when it comes to self-centered aggressive people. 🙂

      Understanding human nature that such people exists is half the battle won. Next is protecting yourself from such people.

      Since, you are very likely moving on. Please do make yourself a harder target for your protection in future. Do not venture out again in relationship with your eyes closed. Nice people have habit of running into nasty people repeatedly. Read around other blogs in this website, there are few articles that you’ll find useful.

    3. Daisy,

      Well said. And in answer to your question why do they pick the individuals they do to manipulate, here is a quote from one of Dr. Simon’s articles:
      “Sometimes it’s the most decent things about us – things that it would behoove us never to change – that make us vulnerable to the most character-impaired.” I don’t feel bad about who I am. But boy am I aware now.
      Linda

      1. Daisy,

        I think it’s also important to factor in Dr Simon’s argument that “neurotic” people tend to be targets for character disordered people. Looked at that way, people with certain problems – such as being too conscientious and willing to please, needy, dependent etc – are open to being abused.

        I believe there’s a danger in thinking that “I’m okay” whereas “they are evil.” Such black and white thinking isn’t helpful, as it obscures the real issues that are contributing to the dynamic of abuse.

        So, own the beautiful qualities of sweetness and gentleness that you have and don’t let go of or diminish the many other lovely qualities that you have, but allow them also to flourish. Work on your strengths and value them. Work also on your weaknesses – which we all have – and then you will be less open to abuse in future.

  14. Came across this website while looking for information on personality disorders and if there were cases on biological disorders, as I seem to be dealing with a family (neighbor(s))(multiple generations) with a pension for harassment – and actually seem to get off on it. While not strictly limited to the family, but those around them as well – criminal behavior such as the theft of an item; “rape” commentary; destruction of property is laughed/partied about constantly. With several partners, acting in conjunction like Bonnie and Clyde, like two halves of a whole almost in the commentary’s and types of harassment they seem to get off on.
    When I bring items to their attention, the responses seem to mirror all of the bullet points – lack of remorse or shame for actions; manipulative; deliberate actions/commentary meant to inflict pain or suffering; commentary of how “smart” they are, with comments of how stupid others are in comparison or superior/”powerful”/”I’m God” than thou type attitude; with how they enjoy and plan on continuing indefinitely; with recent years, ridicule of any semblance of an apology or mocking even the word “sorry” on a near daily basis. What’s disturbing is that even the small children have the same look or attitude as the older generation, and at such a young age. (I assume it’s because I hear them right along with the parents – while the parents/friends are partying over “rape”, “kill”, lewd commentary, etc. with comments of how to “toughen her up” or how they’re “helping”, because according to them “she’s too sweet” or “cutesy”)
    They have been at it for over 10 years, and nothing seems to prevent them from continuing. If anything, they seem even more pleased in recent months.

    1. Why do these kindsa disturbing, nightmarish folks have to exist?

      No reason, really. They just get that way. Awful. Something should be done about those, but I’m not sure what exactly.

  15. I think what makes their behavior so insidious and makes us doubt our perception, is CD’s have an uncanny ability to charm and convince others of their “innocence”.

    When dealing with these people – because of their easy ability to deceive – we have the added problem of not obtaining the support we need from friends and family to break free. We are already doubting our perception, so it is confusing and frightening to never receive validation for what is happening in our life from people close to us. It’s not their fault. They are being deceived just like we were. But, it hurts.

    The covert CD will NOT allow others to see the abuse. We are all alone in their distorted reality. It’s no wonder we question ourselves and ask “Am I imaging this?” It’s surreal.

    1. Jean, I thought it might be easiest if I put our three posts in order:

      Hi Jean,

      So much of what you said, and the way in which you said it, resonated with me. Thank-you.

      ‘An uncanny ability to convince others of their innocence’ – definitely – and yes it is uncanny and describes my partner perfectly. He so fundamentally believes in his own innocence that I have found it hard to hold onto my perceptions of what is happening, exactly as you describe.

      ‘We are all alone in their distorted reality.’ That’s a beautiful evocation of what it feels like and your descriptions are helping me realise how important it is for me to understand and forgive myself for getting so heavily involved in somebody else’s distortions. I see too that the innocence is part of the distortion and involves the creation of a reality in which they can live comfortably, but which cannot be comfortable for somebody who comes near it.

      Stella,

      I think that my soon to be ex (of 40 years) really believes in his own innocence also. It is crazymaking behavior when you confront them with the facts but they can somehow twist the truth and You end up feeling guilty. Or that it’s your fault. At least that’s what mine does to me.

      I’m almost 60 – after being in this twisted environment since I was 18, I know I am unable to stand up to him. I will probably never be able to. I have to stay No Contact – which doesn’t always work in a small town.

      Hi Jean,

      I too am almost 60 with my partnership of 20 years duration. I have also known the crazy-making behaviour that you write about, so that I ended up feeling guilty, with all the problems my fault. We have that in common too, and with many other people I suspect, sadly.

      I don’t think it is possible to ‘stand’ up to such people in the sense of making them see reason or the error of their ways. I’ve tried that. It doesn’t work and so much of my effort has been a terrible, tragic waste of time. They simply lack the empathy that is required to engage in such ways. But I do think it is possible to engage with them differently and this involves accepting who they are and how they function.

      I say this in the hope of being helpful, given your small town environment. I have learned, oh so slowly, that if I speak respectfully to my partner, without threatening him with criticism or demands that he change, then his behaviour towards me alters. I don’t think he is changing ‘essentially’ in his character, but it does seem as if it’s in his best interests to treat me more respectfully.

      For me, this has meant changing radically in the way in which I relate to him. I tend to speak less, but hopefully say more. I think, ultimately, it comes down to self-respect. If you know yourself, and if you treat yourself with self-respect, in the deepest most profound parts of your heart and mind, then others will follow suit. You will be so strong in yourself, so caring for who you are – honouring all your good qualities in a way that is gracious and dignified – that there is no room for others to make a dent into your sense of self or your sanity.

    2. Thanks Jean for your insightful comments.

      I am new to this forum and I am looking to see whether I can feel comfortable, safe and supported here, and your responses helped me feel that I might be.

      For the past 15 years, that I have been aware of anyway, my spouse has kept his mask of deception on…only I know what he is really like….but then again…I always am doubting my own perceptions of how evil (and dangerous) he is. I have documented many of our conversations over the last ten years, where he talks about serial killers, rape….this is toooo difficult and I don’t feel safe either leaving or staying.

      Monnette

  16. Hi vera,

    Hope you are doing OK. It’s not easy that’s for sure.

    In my situation he seems to have gotten worse with age. He seems to have let his guard down. But then I don’t know, maybe it’s me. I’m so worn out from the buildup of it all over the years and a life wasted.

    There is no good memories to fall back on that helps one through when there has been a life of abuse in the background…only more fears. And then there’s that same old stuff that I’ve always felt – trapped, alone, isolated.

    He recently had a total knee transplant and got furious because I hid the car keys. Well he used his walker as a weapon – terrified me, found the keys, got in the car and drove right smack into the garage door. Then dragged himself back into the house and yelled, kicked, screamed for his ice packs….took me a while to find the ice, I was “slowly” hiding the walker!

    My tolerance level is at an all-time low. I run a simple errand and people are just so rude and inconsiderate. Salesclerks are like a bunch of robots with name tags. I wonder where are all the friendly people that can talk in complete sentences and smile.

    Well I just keep telling myself that I don’t have to try so hard, so I don’t.

  17. BTOV,

    When I said I’d read it’s not really about being vulnerable, but about being receptive, here’s my thought.

    We are receptive to something – even when we think we are closed. At one point I was cynical as heck, partly due to being manipulated and realizing it on instinctual level, partly because some folks I’d met seemed so messed-up(though not to the level Kay describes above), partly because I couldn’t seem to find some folks worth connecting with(so many dullards uninterested in things outside their very limited and impoverished little worlds or cynics, who think(?) nothing’s worth anything), partly because of some other stuff that doesn’t fit here and would take a lot of digressions, meanderings, ramblings and nitpickings to explain.

    Hey ho, for time being I got too receptive with a certain neo-advaita teacher’s fatalist writings. It was after reading criticism about this teacher’s encouragement of his students to indulge in irresponsible behavior, because “it’s destiny”, that I got it into perspective. Also, he actually mentions at one point that the destiny of the “body-mind organism” of a psychopath is to do evil things. Sounds dismissively casual to me.

    But it seems to me we are always receptive to something.

      1. Ok…

        I find it hard to imagine anyone could go on without absorbing any influences whatsoever.

        Whether something’s helpful or not, true or lies, whatever’s absorbed can close a person off from other things, make less receptive. It’s a problem when someone’s influenced by e.g. a message that nothing matters. They might be more inclined to believe that it doesn’t matter to try to do anything to change things for the better, for oneself or others. Where would that lead?

        That’s just one example.

        Or what are you getting at with that?

        1. BTOV,

          I don’t claim you’ve suggested it would be a snap of fingers. I think you’ve also said outright many times it isn’t, as for what I’ve seen.

          It takes helluva lot work to build strong internal structures.

          But until that can happen, it seems to be budding characters should also have luck. Lemme explain.

          A while back I took part in a convo with Suzi and Susie Q about brainwashing. After all, Dr Simon mentions that in Mindset of terror -article. What was mentioned in this convo was that Charles Manson used drugs to brainwash. It’s even scarier if indeed a person can be brainwashed to be a psychopath.

          But brainwashing is a real thing and a terrifyingly effective weapon. Just ask Chinese communists.

          1. Timothy,
            Don’t have time to respond now. Let me have time to go back to the convo and if you can recall in which topic I will read. Thanks

          2. Timothy,

            Some time has passed, can you tell me what we are trying to define in our discussion. I do have books on brainwashing. Thank you

          3. So this begun from that one thing I read, that it’s not vulnerability in relationships, but receptivity. Then I got to the thought that we’re always receptive to something. Then this got to how a person’s thinking can be influenced.

            And I think I’d appreciate a book list on the topic of brainwashing, too. That would be fantastic. Perhaps others here would appreciate it, too.

  18. Hi Monnette,

    “That is the hard part, when you “get it”, but don’t know what to do next. My spouse constantly talks about serial killers and murders.”
    And that’s the terrifying part – I have found that often times what they talk about, read, watch on TV and do on the computer etc. are all clues into their thought process. I also found clues during his rages, where he’d blurt out a few words.

    And what to do next is rarely easy to sort out. By the time I “got it” I had already been deeply imbedded in his trap – children, money, employment, transportation, isolation, no family or friends, poor health, medical care etc. Then add outside reasons poor counseling, poor economy, overburdened social services. These and many more are all things that play into their trap.

    It was extremely difficult for me to understand that the character disordered think differently than me. If I had understood what the trap looked like then I would not of been so easily trapped. It’s the same way with a fox – if the fox knows what a trap looks like I cannot trap the fox.

    The character disordered camouflage their traps with lies. And lies are like mice – you never find just one.

    Learn as much as you can as fast as you can. The deeper the trap the more difficult it is to get out.

    Protect yourself. Listen to your gut.

    No matter what way we look at it, in the end they destroy our soul.

    1. Well said Suzi, Just listen, maybe ask a few nice questions, get them talking and they tell you so much of their inner landscape. I never had a clue mind like this existed. I really like the comment about the mice.

    2. Thanks Suzi,

      I am sorry that your situation has been difficult (certainly an understatement) in dealing with a CD as well.

      It has been YEARS of trying to please (yes…enabling), trying to understand, learning of the various personality/character disorders, and finally coming to the realization that my spouse has PPD. Somehow, someway…I don’t how yet, I will get out and he will get caught for a crime…I am sure of that.

      Until then, I continue to make my plan of escape and rely on GOD..

      Monnette

      1. Hi Monnette,

        You be sure to protect yourself and don’t give up on your plans.

        Keep it a secret and be real careful who you trust.

  19. I see God’s name was mentioned in a post and it got me to thinking about another trap –

    So, I just want to send a message to all who are reading this and believe that God hates divorce – Well, we were given the wrong message.

    Another one of those misquoted Bible verses. Legalism is at play here. Here’s the truth – God hates divorce because of the reasons for divorce. He hates the abuse not the divorce.

  20. Mary Schneider: “Once I was home and actually needed his help, he frequently left me hanging. Stood over me watching me bawl in pain after one surgery. I begged for help and comfort. He stood there and stared me down with icy coldness. Never touched me or spoke a word of comfort. The more he is needed, the more he pulls away…unless there is an audience.”

    It just doesn’t sound possible – it doesn’t make any sense. Who would turn their back on a love one in time of health issues or the death of another family member or any other crisis? What kind of human being would do such a thing? And who would believe such a story?

    Well it’s the truth and they do! And they do it every time with great ease – every time! And they lose absolutely no sleep over the situation. You will dehydrate before they bring you a glass of water.

    I often wonder if the medical profession understands all of this when we are under their care. Are they trained to understand the dynamics of abuse and the red flags to look for? It’s been my experience that they don’t have the foggiest idea and they can make the situation even worse, dangerously worse. They are simply more enablers out to save the world.

    The ending is always the same – the liars come up smelling like a rose in front of others.

    It just doesn’t sound possible – but it’s the truth and it’s terrifying!

  21. A few months back I shared on this forum one of the many examples of the manipulative behavior of my stepdaughter.
    I tried to even applied a little bit of humor, because I felt shy about explaining how bad the situation was turning.
    As today, my youngest stepdaughter (who is 28 years old) has been living in our house for 8 months, after she became homeless on April. She has a son that is 8 years old. I love the kid a lot. I took care of him for about two years (from 2 to 4) when my stepdaughter was absolutely out of control.
    My husband and I were paying for her rent for years. She moved 6 times in less than 4 years and we were always there for her. I do it basically for solidarity with my husband, but the truth is that I am very tired.
    I was suffering a very dangerous illness during the last two years, then we told her to find a way to pay her bills and live by herself. During my illness she never (and I mean never) tried to help or even pretend that she was concerned about my health. She dropped her son off in our house every weekend and took off.
    When I started coming back on my feet she came with the story of the homelessness, expecting that we would pay again for her apartment, but we couldn’t.
    She said her stay in our house will be for 3 months or less. We are in 8 months and counting.
    This young lady doesn’t work nor she has any intention to find a job. But that is not the worst part.
    During the last two months she went in a campaign of defamation, trying to create tensions between my and my oldest stepdaughter, who is in fact not my husband’s daughter, but his ex-wife’s.
    This second stepdaughter is a psychologist (!!!!) and by all the meanings (I am sorry for saying this) doesn’t show signs of sanity.
    As my husband and I are seniors and teachers, and when Friday comes we are really tired, sometimes we are not in the mood of babysitting on that day. Well, the oldest daughter has two kids: a 4 years old and a new born. A few weeks back, she wanted the youngest sister to babysit her kids in our house, or for the sake of clarity SHE DECIDED without consulting us that her sister would babysit her kids in our house.
    My husband and I said that we should be asked, then the oldest daughter (fueled by the youngest) showed up in our house yelling that I was a (FILL THE BLANK), because I didn’t love her kids as I love the kid that live with us.
    The story took Shakespearian dimensions when my husband had to put her on the door. Then the husband of this oldest daughter (the psychologist) showed up 20 minutes later asking for an explanation. He is a huge guy (6″8) and of course you would think that is something to be concerned about. Quite the opposite: This young man is suffering PTSD and broke down in tears in the middle of the conversation, saying that he could not take anymore that kind of situation.
    The youngest daughter (who created the misunderstanding in the first place) witnessed ordeal without a drop of guilt. She never apologized for telling her sister that she didn’t asked us if was OK to babysit her kids in our house on that Friday.
    On top of everything, I found out (because she said it) that she would not babysit her sister’s kids at her house, because in the past she has stolen items from her sister’s house.
    The thing is: My husband is absolutely trapped in the manipulations of his daughters and I have neither the health nor the will to take it anymore.
    He will retired next year and I have no idea what the future will look like, because I lack the strength that I had before.
    I will appreciate your thoughts or questions, because I need urgent advice.
    Thank you so much!

    1. How about moving away? 🙂

      But it is urgent you set firm boundaries. This does not come easy to any of us, Marianne. But it can be learned. If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will? And you’ve enabled your husband all along, and now you find you can’t. You need to set a boundary with him as well. Decide what you will and won’t do for this young woman, and then do it. You can explain to her, but if that would just add stress, there is no need, and you avoid getting drawn into an argument about it. Just say how it’s going to be, and back it up with your own actions. Be prepared with consequences when she does not heed those boundaries.

      And learn as you go along. She will show you what works and what doesn’t. And when you set a consequence, and it does not work, no problem. That’s a minor set back only. Learn from it and set another one, a better one, with greater chance of working.

      Most of all, you need to stop the chaos. This is your life, your house, and there is absolutely no need for you to tolerate the chaos other people bring in. Set the rules that you feel right about. Then follow through. It will be hard, because you are in the enabling rut, so much of the work is changing yourself. Getting a psychologist who is savvy to this sort of behavior and who can support you is also a good move, if you can afford it. I only needed three sessions to get it, the rest is practice. You go grrl! (Hug.)

      1. Vera,
        I have seen your answer on December 17th, days after you wrote it. It seems that God has his timing.
        I was just praying for clarity, because I was thinking that “maybe I can take it for a little longer”. OMG.
        There is always a feeling of guilt in not been that nice, quiet, always-yes yes yes person.
        I told my husband that his daughter is not welcomed anymore in our house, as no apology and no signs of regret or change have showed up.
        The answer was: “But what about the Holidays”.
        Then I saw the full picture and asked back: What about MY Holidays, honoring and respecting your wife and reclaiming our space and life?
        He will be asking her to move out on Friday, maybe to the house of one of her friends. We will be paying whatever it costs, and this is OK with me, since peace is priceless.
        He is so scared of asking her to leave, that my head was filled with guilt and the idea of giving up, but your words have given me strength.
        I am the abused person here and they have no concern about my health or wellbeing.
        Enough is enough.
        Thank you so much.

      2. Vera,

        “learn as you go along. She will show you what works and what doesn’t. And when you set a consequence, and it does not work, no problem. That’s a minor set back only. Learn from it and set another one, a better one, with greater chance of working.”

        Rich discussions have such problems that any individual insights tend to drown. Thanks for pointing this out. It’s too easy to think that because X didn’t work, I mustn’t know the hell out of a paper bag. Well, not so, something must give.

  22. I know life has often come down to this for me. I have had to face that either I will continue giving up my life and sanity for others and die…or I will have to stop doing this and live. Seems I am unable to stop while my strength is dissipating, because I always think I can continue. But when it is gone, it is GONE. And after that, it isn’t a matter of being able to do just “one more thing” becauze I simply CAN NOT. The choice is basically made for me in the form of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Why I can’t be wiser along the way, and protect myself from getting to this point by laying down and keeping healthy boundaries, I don’t know. Maybe I think God is going to step in and do a miracle. But I think we know we ought to ket the consequences fall where they may for people, as He does…but we think we know better or don’t have the strength to enforce good boundaries and want to avoid conflict. These people have demonstrated that they will repeatedly and without conscience “suck us dry like vampires.” We are wise to stop offering our jugulars.

    1. Mary Schneider: “These people have demonstrated that they will repeatedly and without conscience “suck us dry like vampires. We are wise to stop offering our jugulars.”

      That pretty much sums it all up – without conscience so we need to stop.

      BOTV: “Think about it, in many cases they then have the power over life or death. No worse than the wolf taking down the weak in the herd of sheep.”

      During times of illness and/or our senior years we are easier targets and they are indeed dangerous. They don’t care if we die.

      Marianne: “This second stepdaughter is a psychologist (!!!!) and by all the meanings (I am sorry for saying this) doesn’t show signs of sanity.”

      CD’s come in all shapes and sizes and wearing all sorts of hats. It’s alarming, they’re everywhere!

      There’s a fine line between being prudent and being paranoid – I think I’ve crossed the line – I don’t know who to trust anymore.

      1. Suzi:
        A perfect trust test would be asking yourself: There is any chance of ME doing THIS to another person?
        If the answer is NO, then do not trust the person who harmed you.
        And IMO is not paranoia, is applying the Golden Rule of life.
        Take the present drama in my household as an example. I have no doubt about the wrongdoing of these young ladies, because I asked that question to myself: There is any scenario where I would go to my Dad’s house, yelling at him as a possessed, because I WANT my kids to be there on Friday at 2:00 pm? The answer is NO. No way that I even dream about disrespecting one of my parents because they did not fulfilled my wishes (and they were divorced since I was 10, and I also had a stepmom… then I know the situation).

        1. Marianne,

          “A perfect trust test would be asking yourself: There is any chance of ME doing THIS to another person? If the answer is NO, then do not trust the person who harmed you.”

          Yep, that’s a good question to ask myself. I like that idea! Besides family issues – yikes, that means I have to find a new eye surgeon and a new veterinarian.

          Gee, these characters are everywhere! Oh no, now my paranoia has kicked in again!

  23. Suzi:
    A perfect trust test would be asking yourself: There is any chance of ME doing THIS to another person?
    If the answer is NO, then do not trust the person who harmed you.
    And IMO is not paranoia, is applying the Golden Rule of life.
    Take the present drama in my household as an example. I have no doubt about the wrongdoing of these young ladies, because I asked that question to myself: There is any scenario where I would go to my Dad’s house, yelling at him as a possessed, because I WANT my kids to be there on Friday at 2:00 pm? The answer is NO. No way that I even dream about disrespecting one of my parents because they did not fulfilled my wishes (and they were divorced since I was 10, and I also had a stepmom… then I know the situation).

    1. Marianne,

      I thought you might be interested in a book I thought was good and it might be beneficial for your sanity. It is called: BOUNDRIES by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Are you able to get away by yourself for a time just to regroup your thoughts and strength?

      It does not sound like healthy environment for everyone involved including the two adult miscreants. Just because the one has a doctorate doesn’t mean they have any common sense, wisdom or ethical/moral decency. It is good to help family when they truly need it but when it comes to helping them continue their bad behavior because they are trying to lay a guilt trip on you is very wrong. The sad part is duo fold because we have the child involved too.

      Are you able to find a supportive therapist that can help you with decision making in first your best interest, because your health will deteriorate even faster the older you get and LOL recouping after you have been drained dry. Did you ever think the reason both of the daughters are tag teaming is they would like you out of the way than old day is butter in their hands and after that its just a matter of time for him.

      I hate to say this but I was at a very low point and very ill, a by standing party said “Did it ever occur to you they (adult children) may want you dead.” I hate to say this, this world is so evil, I put nothing pass individuals especially when your gut is churning and red flags are flying, its not me seeing the flags its bystanders. Looking back in time I see the flags too. I am so sorry this is a reality for so many of us now days.
      Blessings

      1. BTOV :
        You hit the nail on the head. Of course they want my out, as their father’s retirement time is getting closer. My husband had also two years of poor health from 2012 to 2014 and his children didn’t show up even once when I had to take him to the ER (and being very sick myself, it was not an easy task). I took care of him every single day and now he is back on his feet and very healthy. I took care of myself with NO help, and now that we are in better shape, they are in full attack mode.
        Because I love my husband and I don’t want even think in the possibility of loosing him, I absolutely rejected the idea of a Life Insurance. That is not in my book.
        And yes, I can go away for a while, and you are the 4th person (out of 4) that has said the same thing: my doctor, my best friend, the head of counselors of the High School where we both teach, and now you. I have received the same advice from them, and it seems now pretty obvious that is the only solution, since you don’t know me in person or have witnessed the situation “live”, and your idea is exactly the same as theirs’.
        Thanks for your answer and advice.
        Blessings for you as well.

      2. As a side note:
        Please forgive my writing. I become really anxious when I have to tell the story or make a comment about this ordeal.

        1. Marianne,

          No one cares about your writing, the main thing is you are pro-active and here. I usually, am always tired, in pain and in a hurry and rarely proof read my post. Lots of goof ups its OK
          You take very good care and blessings

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