Psychiatric “Disorders” and Accountability

More and more often, people are claiming mental “illness” of one type or another as an excuse for bad character and bad behavior. And some of the most notorious bad actors, after having run afoul of the law and finally brought to justice, have claimed victim of a “disorder” status and argued for “treatment” in place of punishment.  There are many reasons for this trend, some of which involve the way psychiatric conditions are categorized and diagnosed.  But the trend of which I speak is deeply disturbing because of what it’s done to erode a sense of personal accountability, which is why I believe the trend so sorely needs to be reversed.

Some fairly egregious examples of the trend so see bad behavior as a manifestation of illness have made headlines over the past couple of years.  The notorious child rapist Ariel Castro, who satisfied his lust for teenage girls by carefully stalking and then abducting three young women, holding them hostage for years, and regularly assaulting them, outrageously claimed it was wrong for others to see him as a “monster” or predator.  Rather, he argued, he was truly “sick,” himself the victim of a severe pornography “addiction.”  Then there were the three drug-dealing teenage thugs caught on their school bus surveillance camera beating a classmate within an inch of his to “teach him a lesson” about “snitching” to school authorities (For more on this case see: Anger Management for Bus Beaters: Justice Misguided?. Their attorneys argued they had “anger management” issues and really needed “therapy” as opposed to punishment (even though, as juveniles, the worst punishment they could receive would grossly pale in comparison to that which would be meted out to adults committing the same crime).  When one famous congressman was caught systematically funneling off hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for personal use, he claimed Bipolar Disorder made him do it.  Another congressman and New York mayoral hopeful claimed that his ongoing lewd “sexting” behavior – even after having supposedly successfully completed treatment was the result of a sexual addiction so strong it wouldn’t release its grip and not the result of willful misconduct on the part of an entitled, grandiose character with an ego the size of the Empire State Building.  Claims that mental illness of some type is really at the root of someone’s willful misbehavior have become so commonplace that many folks have not only lost their outrage that so many make such claims but also have granted these claims a fair degree of plausibility and even legitimacy. This begs the question of whether the concepts of personal responsibility and accountability even exist anymore. Is everyone in fact a victim in one way or another? Is all our behavior merely a product of our biochemistry, our upbringing, our environment, etc.? Are the concepts of right and wrong, crime and punishment simply outdated?  Is everyone a victim, including the perpetrators of despicable acts?

Popular attitudes toward the issue of personal responsibility have been shaped at least in part by deep misunderstandings about the nature of mental disorder. Often, when folks hear the term “disorder,” they infer that a genuine disease process is at work that, in some measure, divorces a person from culpability. But in fact only a handful of clinical conditions can potentially render a person not fully responsible for their behavior. For example, individuals suffering from a delusional psychosis can commit acts — even heinous acts — because their brains (often through no fault of their own) are not functioning normally. And in such cases, an affected individual can lack the capacity both to judge right from wrong and to voluntarily conform to appropriate social norms. The question of culpability, however, gets cloudier when the person has induced such a state through the voluntary ingestion of powerful mind-altering drugs. Similarly, folks in the throes of a severe manic episode have been known to engage in impulsive, reckless acts — even harmful acts — that are out-of-character for them. Again, however, the question of culpability becomes a lot murkier if the hyper-elated state that led to the reckless or injurious behavior was brought on by the voluntary ingestion of “recreational” drugs known to induce the state.

The fact that mental health “disorders” are primarily classified by behavioral description (instead of by the disease process thought to underlie the behavior) only further confuses the issues of personal accountability and culpability. When you read the official diagnostic manual, in far too many cases the “illnesses” cataloged are nothing more than a description of the behavior involved with the word “disorder” tacked on at the end.  As a result, some criminal defense attorneys have even tried to exculpate their clients by claiming that they “suffer” from a “personality disorder” (ironic, because many theorists conceptualize “personality” by definition as a “preferred” style of human interaction). That’s why a lot of the criticism leveled against the official mental disorders classification systems (which differ radically from the generally accepted methods for classifying other medical conditions) is so well-deserved.

Very few individuals I’ve counseled over the years have suffered from clinical syndromes and other problems that were in no way related to their overall style of coping and character.  So, even though I run the risk of overkill, I simply have to assert once more what I have asserted time and time again in my books and online articles: Character is the big issue facing the mental health profession today and has been for some time.  Despite the labels most clinicians all-too-readily slap on those seeking or being referred for “help,” character dysfunction often lies at the root of the presenting problems. 

Not only has the character crisis being witnessed by the industrialized world over the past several decades reached epidemic proportions, but we have become so desensitized to it (or are in such enormous denial about it) and have grown so accustomed to claims that various mental disorders are really to blame for willful misconduct, that the very notion of personal responsibility for behavior is in jeopardy of becoming extinct. Still, it’s my belief that character is and has always been key to responsible social functioning. The fact that character is so severely in decline (for reasons I outline in my book Character Disturbance) should cause for great alarm. When even a true monster like Ariel Castro can claim victim status on the basis of some vague “sickness,” you know the whole concept of mental disorder relieving personal culpability has reached a reprehensibly absurd limit. And when a self-absorbed, haughty, entitled, spoiled brat like Lindsey Lohan can flash fingernails to a judge trying to afford her psychiatric “help” instead of jail time and still come away with minor sanction, you know the entire system of meting out justice has lost it’s bearings. Even folks who have legitimate clinical conditions that sometimes impair their judgement and self-control, but who are otherwise of good character look and behave a whole lot differently than the nefarious characters we so often read about in the news today who act a fool then claim their illness made them do their dastardly deeds. Also, when the clinical conditions of people of good character cause them to behave in an out-of-character manner, they’re the first to be outraged by it and to try to do something about it (as opposed to being pressured by others or, if subjected to legal sanction, being forced by the courts to get help).  Bad actors are just as they appear: deeply flawed characters who need “correction” – not “treatment,” limits and boundaries – not “understanding” (This is one of the main reasons I wrote all three of my books:  The Judas Syndrome, In Sheep’s Clothing, and Character Disturbance). 

We have it within our power to stem the tide of rampant abdication of personal responsibility. A good beginning would be to put an end to the endless “enabling” we’ve been doing in so many sectors of our society by refusing to accept the all-too-frequently invoked “disorder” excuse and holding all people, except for those rare few who are truly mentally compromised, accountable for their behavior. After all, “therapy” was never meant to be a substitute for a well-deserved consequence.

Many thanks for the boatloads of positive mail I got regarding last Sunday night’s Character Matters program (featuring an interview with my brother, a criminal defense attorney).  While a few early moments of the program had technical problems (due to a server outage in the NYC area), I’ve been advised that the podcast and the Youtube reposting of the program have had the dead air time cut out. Because I’m taking the Labor Day weekend off from some much needed R&R, this Sunday night’s program will be a rebroadcast of an earlier program. Still, I hope you’ll tune in.

 

159 thoughts on “Psychiatric “Disorders” and Accountability

  1. Sir,

    Well said. As a retired Advance Practice Nurse/Psychotherapist, I have seen all that you have described, and couldn’t possibly agree with you more on every point you have made. It is high time that the trend towards using labels like “Personality Disorder” as mitigating factors in criminal behavior be looked at much more closely. Watching, in particular, the “revelations” of public figures “caught in the act” that their “disease” abrogates them from responsibility for their actions sickens me, and should be seen for what they are. Excuses and rationalizations having no basis in fact.

    It is high time that these individuals “face the music”, and be forced into taking responsibility for their actions. Responsibility involving punishment for their crimes, not treatment for their “illness”.

    Sincerely,
    Paul R. Laubhan, RN

    1. I have a real problem here – I do not in any way disagree with the fact that “these individuals “face the music”, and be forced into taking responsibility for their actions. Responsibility involving punishment for their crimes” – But I see this more in the context (somewhat barbaric) that unless this way of dealing with the problem is maintained, the “matrix of causal determinants” will be altered, and the disincentive for such acts reduced.

      But at the same time, I think that our notions of “responsibility” and “choice” and “freedom” are primarily delusional – A person will do what they want to do if they are not constrained from doing so – this constraint could be their ethics / morality / conscience, but devoid of those, the other constraints are the socially imposed penalties which have evolved and mutated over human history to facilitate social functioning.

      If someone wants to do something bad, and they can get away with it, they will do the bad thing.. The problem then shifts to why someone wants to do this thing – why they dont gave morality or personal constraint mechanisms – and this comes down to the ‘environmental’ ‘upbringing’ and other factors IMO.

      And here is where the issue of “mental illness” probably kicks in – it can be a formalized ‘container’ for why people are or behave ‘bad’.

      Personally, I cannot see (other than with reference to “spirituality” “good” and “evil”) a way that any person is “responsible” for any action they take – In a purely materialistic deterministic model of the universe, every think that happens must happen.. Its an utterly horrible idea, but I cannot see (other than if our entire understanding of physics is wrong, and the ‘spiritual’/ religious ideas are right – and even then there are the same conflicts)a way that in reality anyone is to blame for anything.

      But, to me, the above is almost irrelevant – we need penalty for crime in order to reduce it, QED.

      However, leaving the underlying “causes” the “mental illness” or “disrupted matrix” without trying to “correct” these is also, IMO, cruel folly.

      An individual who invests so much effort to abuse some other person, to get a few moments of pleasure from witnessing their pain – such an individual is themselves in some kind of hell we cannot imagine. Apart from those obtaining a life sentence, they will be released back into society – Whatever we can do to release them in a more healthy state than they were when they committed the crime, should be done IMO.

      1. You make some insightful and thought-provoking points, Fred. But I must ardently take issue with your statement: “An individual who invests so much effort to abuse some other person, to get a few moments of pleasure from witnessing their pain – such an individual is themselves in some kind of hell we cannot imagine.”

        Such blanket assumptions have not only proved to be often erroneous, but also the doing in of many innocent victims. While what you assert here can SOMETIMES be true, it certainly doesn’t have to be true, and in these days of more rampant character disturbance, it’s unfortunately untrue more often than not.

        1. Dear Dr Simon,
          IMO it makes little difference whether the statement I made is “mostly true” or “mostly wrong” – I actually agree entirely with your perspective – I have been (and to some extent still am) a victim of narcissistic / psychopathic abuse.. I feel that when such individuals can be stopped and prosecuted, they must be subjected to the most severe penalties society can impose..
          And this is where my barbarism kicks in – where all liberalism dissipates – because I actually dont care about what degree of personal responsibility (if any) they hold – I feel that the deterrent aspect justifies any “injustice” the guilty individual may suffer.
          As a line in some song (Dire Straits?) goes – “I may be guilty, that may be true, but id be lying if I said I was to blame” – My view is that, on a cosmic scale, nobody is ever “to blame” – But they can be guilty – Guilt IMO is a social construct essential to human survival and order – and it takes (or should take) a far higher priority than the (mostly unverifiable) personal circumstances resulting any abusive act.
          Most offenders are not, however, detained for life – some will be back on the street in too short a time.. Many are not deterred by their penalty, and many will simply change their tactics, moving from physical abuse to other often equally damaging tactics they cannot go to jail for – in some bad detention facilities they may even learn how to do this from wardens who are psychopaths and know how to play this game.
          This, to me , is the primary (and possibly only) reason why it is essential that the causative mechanisms and possible treatments should be explored and implemented while the scumbag is in detention… Doing this will, I am sure, find some scumbags who are actually sick and suffering individuals for whom treatment will be a relief.
          As for “and in these days of more rampant character disturbance” – There are reasons for this increase – reasons not easily solved. I actually wonder if we need to implement a psychiatry testing program for every individual, perhaps every 5 years, with statutory action for those found to be a big potential risk to others.. But the moment I think that, I revolt against the idea due to its potential for abuse.
          The trouble though is that I dont think society can advance with this kind of “infection” spreading, in fact, I think at some point a complete breakdown in social cohesion must occur if things continue the way they are.
          And the unstoppable abuse by those whose are not physical abusers goes on unabated – even when exposed to the courts in child custody or contact battles.. Despite having evidence of extreme psychological abuse against me by my (2bX) wife, I cannot get her to a psychiatric assessment – All I could do was submit for an assessment to counter her claims that I was disordered – I also did this because she had actually got me to believe that I was sick.

          1. Fred, I wholeheartedly agree with your point about those who are detained but are eventually released. That’s why I devoted a lot of my professional career to designing programs and training staff to do more than just “warehouse” those in confinement but who were, in fact, the most captive audience one could hope for in a rehabilitative effort, especially considering what “leverage” you have over them (with respect to time reductions for good conduct) on the front end until they themselves become “hooked” on the benefits of at least trying out a different course in life.

        2. Sorry Dr Simon,
          I just re-read your reply.. Yes, I see what you are saying – I guess my assumptions are based on my paradigm, and how I would feel if I had somehow committed a gross act without actual intent, in a moment of “madness” – The hell I would be in.
          I think what you are rightly saying is that projecting ‘normal’ constructs onto an individual who is so disordered is a major error. I agree, I was in error.
          A friend of mine was a prominent campaigner for the release of Myra Hindley – I was completely at odds with him over it.. He was convinced she had repented – my angle was that if she was really repentant and felt any responsibility for the anguish she had caused, she would be begging to stay behind bars for the rest of her life, so as to not cause these victims further pain.
          Yeah – And yet I go spouting the same sort of rubbish.. Sorry.

      2. Hi Fred, very interesting points.
        ” I cannot see (other than with reference to “spirituality” “good” and “evil”) a way that any person is “responsible” for any action they take – In a purely materialistic deterministic model of the universe, every think that happens must happen.. Its an utterly horrible idea, but I cannot see (other than if our entire understanding of physics is wrong, and the ‘spiritual’/ religious ideas are right – and even then there are the same conflicts)a way that in reality anyone is to blame for anything.”
        We as humans, with brains and feelings have choices and our choices are either going to support the system as a whole or undermine the system in favor of out individual desires. Solitary creatures don’t have any capacity to care for or nurture but social creatures do. Humans in general are social creatures biologically speaking, so to me it goes against human nature to act purely on self serving desires with no consideration for how it might affect someone else.

        1. I don’t see the universe as a whole having any capacity for decision making, it’s just a series of reactions and has no more ability to choose it’s behavior than a rock has to roll down a hill. Humans are not that way and out of ANY creature (that we know of) on the face of this planet, we have the most ability to choose how we behave and treat others. I’m not saying that we always have a choice in what happens TO us and AROUND us but we do have a choice in how we respond to those things. That being said, this is one of the most insidious ways that a Spath can affect his victim, attacking them in a covertly manipulative and destructive way, weakening them and undermining their ability to respond as they normally would or might if they weren’t being covertly attacked.

          1. I was just taking a look at Reid J Meloy’s book, The Psychopathic Mind and wondering:

            What Dr. Simon’s opinion of his work is and if anyone here has read the book. I’m only reading parts of it at the moment on the “Look Inside” feature of Amazon butPage 19 has some interesting points. Everything I’ve read is interesting, to the best of my ability to understand it. My councilor has talked about this book and the author.

          2. I’ve been a fan of Meloy’s for over twenty-five years. In fact, when he and I were first doing trainings for professionals, we had similar experiences in that our audiences had a hard time accepting the perspectives we advanced. Funny how the years (and a lot of research and experience) can turn idiots into prophets sometimes. And I think I first heard the analogy I so often now use about how differently a cat behaves when it displays readiness to aggress out of fear and defensiveness vs. when it’s stalking prey at one of Reid’s seminars. I don’t know that Reid has a particular gift for writing in terms the average person can understand, but most of his stuff is good. And we share a lot with respect to our professional experiential background as well, so I rarely find him making points I don’t agree with.

          3. Hey Puddle, I just read the page you were referring to and agree yes there is some interesting points. Made me think…and look up some words in psychology dictionary :). It certainly would be interesting to read.

          4. Dr. Simon, the thing i find so significant about his and your long standing views on Covert abusers (psychopaths and the like) is that “The Psychopathic Mind” and your books and others HAVE been around for a significant period of time! So why is it that this information is not more wide spread among therapeutic professionals?? It just boggles my mind that finding the right help after being involved/ violated by one of these types is like looking for a needle in a haystack and seemingly requires a great deal of luck! Thanks for your reply……..as usual!

          5. I’ve asked myself the very same question many times! And I have a lot of untested hypotheses about that. About the only reliable explanation I can give is that the dominant “traditional” models were around for a very long time and not only became deeply ingrained among academics and professionals but also continue to be taught in certain areas of the country and in some very prestigious schools to boot. Also, for some reason, there are a many folks who got into the profession a sort of built-in aversion to the new science. Not sure what that’s all about. And these folks basically grinned and bore it when they studied but then as soon as they got a chance to practice on their own terms, went back to using traditional models.

          6. I discussed with another commenter here time ago(Juliette) how it could be that some folks have tough time digesting different information than what they’re used to.

            We discussed myths. After all, Sigmund Freud got inspiration for his theories from romantic age literature(who had noticed that unconscious factors can try to impede a person’s quest to full enlightement) as well as Shakespeare’s texts(especially Hamlet).

            Still, there have always been stories that show evil as evil, call spade a spade, without explaining it with preconceptions how a person must’ve been badly led astray. Perhaps those preconceptions, that a person must be like us underneath it all, didn’t exist back then. Perhaps they weren’t nearly as strong or wide-spread back then.

            As for examples of evil characters, there’s Haman from the Book of Eshter. There’s Sodom and Gomorrah(I haven’t seen anyone say that sodomites must’ve been terribly wounded). From Greco-Roman mythology there are Tantalos, Lycaon and Clytemnestra. All shown as examples of deliberate human vileness without justifying it with some “noble” reasons. Juliette also gave some examples(for reference, the comments of the article Manipulators and Charm; just scroll down patiently).

            Also, I’ve been wondering about radical evil here and refered many times to Robert Moore’s book Facing the Dragon, which I think does make many great points about human nature nad its difficulties. Now, radical evil, I don’t know what’s come up to confirm or disconfirm its existence, but Moore does mention in his book that even many Jungians don’t seem to be aware about the concept of radical evil. I don’t claim there would be a connection, but I’m not surprised(but I am frustrated) how many folks don’t understand what evil in humans really is like.

            Also, Dr Simon, you did say in the comments of Manipulators and Charm, I quote partially:

            “I think it’s always risky to arm-chair theorize. The most valuable contributions I think we can all make are in sharing our experiences. To formulate general rules and thereby bias our perceptions and world-view in the process is risky, especially in our time. Science is supposed to advance and guide us to the truth of things not by folks gathering evidence that their “theory” is correct but by continually looking for the exceptions to the rule that force the “theorists” to re-think and modify their positions. It’s a principle that I’m afraid even the best scientists have forgotten, if not abandoned.”

          7. Oh, forgot to mention: From Shakespeare’s plays there’s one I think to be the best example of a malignant manipulator: Iago from Othello. There are Iagos among us, after all.

          8. J, you are one deep thinker!! 🙂 I wish I could contribute something in the way of meaningful insights to your comments but I’m not able to. I read them though, and feel like they are out of my league. I’m not very well read.

            But……..
            “Still, there have always been stories that show evil as evil, call spade a spade, without explaining it with preconceptions how a person must’ve been badly led astray. Perhaps those preconceptions, that a person must be like us underneath it all, didn’t exist back then. Perhaps they weren’t nearly as strong or wide-spread back then.”

            I think back in the day, things were SO much different and there was certainly less concern about being politically correct. It was a very harsh world, not a lot of room for hand holding and blaming it on the upbringing. kind of interesting. Sometimes I wonder if a person gets raised up poorly and falls into a bad character by example and is never fortunate enough to have some one come into their life and show them a different way……..well, how do they learn to be different or where is the motivation to be anything other than what you have been shown and have lived so far?

          9. Thank you, Puddle. I don’t consider myself that evolved a thinker. Your words are still welcome.

            Also, from an objective viewpoint it would be unfortunate that someone has gotten entrenched into a wrong habit with no chance of learning differently. Can it be viewed such?

          10. J, I don’t know……I watched a show about a serial killer, Glen Rogers, and the mess of a childhood he grew up in left me just so sad for any child exposed to such a horror story. So I fond myself thinking……”well no wonder the turned out like he did” but then again, I know it really doesn’t fly as any kind of excuse! But I wonder! I look at my brother and between the nature and the nurture problems, the writing was on the wall since he was just a child and it did nothing but compound and get worse. He has never had a solid, positive male role model in his life!

          11. Yes, that’s bad for him. Perhaps he still could have thought to himself whether he’d really want to keep living like this. I can’t see inside his head. Perhaps he did never think of such a question. Perhaps it was so comfortable that other possibilities never came to him. Perhaps he fell in love with his pleasant lies. Maybe he dismissed the whole question.

          12. J, my brother was ornery from early on. I just don’t know how much power or ability someone like him really has to change. He is “better” now than in his past……..I’ve heard that many of them “burn out” somewhat towards middle age.

          13. J, he has never been what I call predatory. Even though he scores VERY high on the PCLR he is someone I would call a sociopath rather than a psychopath because while he is certainly at war with society, i don’t think he has a true desire to do anyone in intentionally. He used to be in trouble with the law BIG TIME, all the time. I don’t think he has had any run ins in quite a long time so that is certainly a sign of “improvement” but he is still VERY manipulative in getting money out of my father and a bold faced liar.

          14. If that’s an “improvement” for him, then he’s low in the pit indeed.

            Again, Dante Alighieri’s version of Satan comes to mind. It’s from the Inferno, the first part of the Divine Comedy. No personality, just mindless evil.

        2. Hi Puddle,
          We are social creatures, and the conflict between self-interest and group dynamics has always been with us.. To me, it cores at the differences which make one person WANT to hurt another, and another finding this idea of causing pain to others abhorrent.. And this is a matter worthy of several books, it has been studied extensively by military planners and sociologists, and exploited.
          And society has always had double standards – these, I think, have just been below the level where they caused major individual conflict.. But perhaps the reason for “these days of more rampant character disturbance” I wonder if the incongruity of these “double standard” has now got to a level where they severely affect susceptible individuals.
          The human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe – both the “hardware” and the “software” – and the environment in which this “computer” must function has changed almost completely in the last 100 years… We have been programmed with expectations undreamed of 100 years ago, and simultaneously subjected to unimagined threats and challenges.
          And the social order in which we advanced and developed (regardless of how barbaric or unjust much of this was) has changed entirely and/or broken down. The last 30 years alone has seen the arrival of a network giving us an open channel to all manner of data, but also all manner of neurological “viruses”
          Alas, in truth, I am destroyed. I can see no hope – no hope for myself, no hope for humanity, no hope for my children – Life has no pleasure for me other than the brief time I get with my children, and if it wasn’t for them needing me and my guilt at even thinking about it, I would have taken an insulin overdose and said “goodbye cruel world” long ago.

          1. Fred, I’m sorry you are so despondent. I can relate as at times in my life it’s all seemed like nothing else could go wrong and then it does. This is the human struggle. I am in a hurry at the moment but will write mor later. ((((( comforting hug to you ))))) puddle.

  2. Thank you Dr. Simon for your articles that clarify the actions of the character disordered. After reading your articles, I feel a sense of calm knowing that someone “gets it”.

    I spent 49 years in a relationship with someone like this. I now see through him. I want nothing to do with him or his new wife. She wants to meet me so we can have family events together. It’s funny that she never wanted to meet me before when she had a illicit relationship with my husband.

    1. Thank you, Noel, for your kind words. My books and online articles are all geared toward not only validating folks who are starting to “get it” but also to give folks a framework as well as the tools to deal with the “phenomenon of our age.”

  3. About your students you mentioned on the podcast – I went to elementary school in a loosey-goosey time in the 1970’s and we had some lax standards. One summer in high school I had to make up a class at a nearby Catholic school. I remember when she first cracked down on my behavior, namely just cutting class, and I was both stunned and RELIEVED to see that the rule actually existed, it was not just some thing people SAID and never followed through on.

  4. i agree and appreciate this article deeply but i must confess a bit of confusion regarding recent research into the human brain. brain scans of those diagnosed with personality disorders have presented a startling lack of brain matter in the area of the human brain that harbor empathy and impulse control, among other things. what of those studies? is it possible we are facing a generation of “humans” who lack the ability to understand how negatively they affect those around them and simply do not care, due to lack of brain matter, about the consequences of their actions? this behavior is not to be mistaken for a total lack of character but rather, a growing epidemic of people who couldn’t possibly care less about the human race as a whole. i have researched personality disorders extensively and have found their behavior to be startlingly textbook. it’s as if they have this “asshole manual” *normal* people are not privy to. as superior and unique as they believe themselves to be, their horrid behavior is shockingly similar.
    what say you?

    1. Great comment Kat! Yes, it is said on several victim sites that it’s as if they all were given the same book and I certainly experienced the feeling of confusion over his seemingly unique set of “rules”. Very lofty expectations of others yet lax set of rules for himself.
      A Hole manual is a perfect term but they fall far below that level when it comes down to it.
      So I do find the whole brain differences very interesting and confusing when it comes to this whole topic. If those connections are not there, or are faulty, then the motivation to do the right thing, be kind, feel remorse, etc is completely different for them. In a sense they are living in a world that is entirely foreign to them and I’ would guess makes as little sense to them as they make to us. VERY weird to think about really and scary. When you add substance abuse, poverty and a poopr economy into the picture it gets even scarier.

      1. This thread is really interesting. I’ve been talking with a socio type friend, who for their own reasons (in large part religious, where God treats him with respect and God treats him with respect) is motivated to be kind, do things right, fit in with socially acceptable norms, but who doesn’t at all feel remorse, guilt, affective empathy…

        In their system of beliefs and thoughts, or Approach to Life, there is either no notion of self-respect or their self-respect is always the same no matter what they do. There are many other odd things. It’s a strange world as Puddle writes. They are more foreign to us than we are to them, because they had to learn to function and get what they want, their game if you will, in a normative world.

        1. I meant God treats him with respect and he treats God with respect — he doesn’t view this as submission to a higher authority though. It’s strange, he has a super rational approach to life, no affective empathy, no guilt, no remorse, no fear of death, no emotional attachments even to his family, a penchant for manipulation and many other traits of character disturbance. But for me I just see him as a different type of personality, one who is not disturbed (because he does not ‘ruin’ people or harm others who have not trespassed some boundary), just very different. And no, I wouldn’t be in a close relationship with him — that’s a different kind of choice.

          1. Dots, From experience, these types talk out their A** . the rreason I mention this is your “friend”‘s comment about God rings like BS to me (please don’t take what I’m saying against YOU!! 🙂 But I’ve known the type of sociopath who speaks of God and their relationship with/ understanding of, etc “God”. and it’s always a little ……..off?
            My imediate thoughts after reading your post were………..I wonder how well she actually knows this person. One thing these types seem to do on a regular basis is define the playing field and make up “boundaries” on the fly and on a whim seemingly so they have an excuse to be offended or to trash another person and feel completely justified in doing so. There is no continuity with them, nothing solid and if this individual sees that you are of some use to him……………for now……….and you ask nothing from him………you very well could stay in his good graces. or not.
            Don’t forget the mask……he may SAY he doesn’t harm others but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t. and to most people other than their intended target, they can pull off the “Mister Nice Guy” routine.

          2. Thanks so much for sharing this, Dots. I’m aware of several cases just like you describe. In one case, a true psychopath with a very chilling predatory history has been in a long term relationship with a woman he treats with some apparent respect and who now, for practical reasons, generally behaves himself. However, just knowing he retains the capacity at any moment to do otherwise because he in fact has no true empathy, capacity for guilt, remorse, etc. is in fact very disturbing. Every now an then this person will give “flashes” of his true self, and I must say, it’s always deeply unnerving. The woman appears happy with him, but I can never bring myself to consider her truly safe or secure.

      2. Dots: So he has the makings of a sociopath, but not the usual modus operandi? I’ve speculated about those before and he seems to be a good example of what I’ve been thinking.

        So he’s not at war with a higher power, but there’s no sense of submission?

      3. I often hear that character disturbed people are that way because of their brains, but I think there is more to the picture. I think our brains can be rewired according to how we use them. If one practices empathy and kindness, I believe that part of the brain will become more developed and complex allowing greater associations between self and others. If one practices any habit negative or positive their brain will develop more connections which I believe will show up on brain scans.

        1. Tera, you can’t strengthen connections that are not there. In other words, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Some brains are more plastic than others, plain and simple. And you can not practice empathy if you can’t feel it. Empathy is almost, for me anyhow, something that just arises, like a physical sensation. I don’t will myself to feel it, i just do. Like crying when someone else is crying……it just happens. AND I’m just having a realization…….I have always been like that, if someone tells me a sad story about something they are sad about, I feel the sadness in myself. Isn’t it interesting…..I never had that happen with Spathtard. He put on some pretty dramatic displays of supposed sadness and I didn’t have the same reaction to his supposed sadness. MAYbe because it was fake? Manipulative?? One time it was almost comical and actually it happened on the last night we were together……….He was crying in the kitchen and I was in the bedroom. I thought I heard him crying but the TV was on but then I did hear him and just stayed in my room. He turned the TV down and started “crying” louder. Pathetic.

          1. Hi Tera & Puddle — sometimes the brain is not all there. Just 2 days ago, I spotted an article about a 24 year old woman in China who went to the doctor complaining of nausea and dizziness. Turned out she had NO cerebellum. If you want to follow up on this google for woman without cerebellum — quite a few news articles. Sometimes the brain can rewire itself, but if it is badly malformed to start with, all the wishing in the world won’t make it “better.” People who are born blind sometimes develop astonishing skill at echo-location and can get around pretty well, and in some cases, apparently the area of the brain normally used for “seeing” is not being used so the adjacent area used for “hearing” expands into the unused area so that hearing abilities are enhanced. Somewhere I have a book (packed in a box) about how if children are neglected or abused during infancy, the amygdala does not develop properly, leading to lack of empathy. And while some sociopaths can mimic empathy and such, likely they will never actually feel empathy as we “normal” people do. Peace and hope from Elva

          2. @Idle: “I don’t will myself to feel it, i just do. Like crying when someone else is crying……it just happens. AND I’m just having a realization…….I have always been like that, if someone tells me a sad story about something they are sad about, I feel the sadness in myself. Isn’t it interesting…..I never had that happen with Spathtard. He put on some pretty dramatic displays of supposed sadness and I didn’t have the same reaction to his supposed sadness. MAYbe because it was fake? ”

            You have an advantage here perhaps – I suffer from extremely mild autistic spectrum disorder – I am “normal” (sub clinical) but was diagnosed with some “unspecified disorder” as a child (before Autism was understood as it is today) and recent tests show a slight aspurgers tendancy. A possible result of this is that I simply cannot differentiate between genuine display of real emotion and all but the most extremely badly acted fake ones – and alas I dont seem to have any of the “protective detachment” ASD’s seem to have – I feel and experience the pain of others, even when this is later shown to have been entirely fake.

            @Tera: “If one practices empathy and kindness, I believe that part of the brain will become more developed and complex allowing greater associations between self and others. If one practices any habit negative or positive their brain will develop more connections which I believe will show up on brain scans.”

            There is a ‘proverb’ is some culture (African I think – I think it was Xhosa) which goes something like this: “Question: If you have a grey dog and a brown dog in a fight, which dog is more likely to win? Answer: the one you feed, train, and exerciser the best.”- This was how the elders described the way to a good healthy mind – Only feed the dog you want to win!
            All fine and well if there is a “good” dog to feed – but what if this “dog” is simply not “wired in” or actually doesn’t exist? Perhaps “normals” are the ones who have “two dogs” – they can choose (within the limits of their causative matrix) which to feed, and at least usually allow some part of the “good dog” to survive – but those with psychopathy only have an entirely selfish, sadistic, brutal dog – and if intelligent, this dog can pretend to be what it chooses if this suits its purposes.
            Perhaps (and I dont know – this is pure guess) it is possible for the “owner” of the 2 dogs to cause the “good” one to die – or for outside influences to kill this dog, and a “could have been normal” becomes a full blown irreversible psychopath.

            My problem is that I have thought I have seen good dogs struggling for life, and got involved – Fallen for the “struggling” owner, been an utter fool, brought children into the world with her, and now the disguise is gone – the good dog either was never there, or was long dead before I arrived.

          3. Fred, I also test fairly high for Aspergers but FAS and Aspergers symptoms can be very similar. I’m 55 and this is the first time I can ever remember not feeling someone else’s sadness when the are tearful. I am convinced that is significant.
            I wish there was something helpful to say Fred. The situation sounds very painful. I’m sure thàt is an understatement. Please direct a question to Dr. Simon or send a contact request throug the link at the bottom of the page. Maybe he can give you some insights.

          4. Fred, When Spathtard did his “crying” displays…..I felt something different, I felt weird. I comforted him but something was missing. One time though something felt/ seemed different and I don’t know why…..Ugh! The confusion of that whole mess…..it’s just so hard to put into words or focus now….like a dream you know you had but can’t quite remember all the details? or a nightmare that you want to get out of your head but can’t? Like that!

    2. Kat: Indeed, that’s a very interesting thing right there. Could it complicate matters? With that happening alongside all these characters claiming to have disorders they don’t really have, I’d think it would complicate matters. Unless I’m missing something, that is.

      1. Dots and Kat, we’ve started to call a socio type personality (no empathy, remorse, guilt, clear notion of self-respect) and who harms others, and would be unambigously diagnosed with ASPD, a ‘malpath’.

        It seems that all socio type personality types look at life as a game, but the end goals are different. This persons says it is easy to ruin people and not much of a challenge. Their preference is to help people. Right now our word for him is mythopath but probably another word is better, like benopath.

        So the idea is that people who are malpaths can recover, whilst keeping their general approach to life but changing their end goals in their game. They will never develop emotions like empathy or guilt, but they can change their attitudes and behaviors.

        So imagine a person who was once diagnosed with aspd but is not anymore. Unless one excludes the possibility that this could ever happen. And from my point of view, it is stupid and unscientific to assume all such people are incurable.

        So I think crisply defined words are important and may help to lessen confusion rather than enhance it.

        And Puddle, there is no sense of submission. God created him, so he is in that sense a higher power, but they speak to each other as equals.

        1. my friend is someone I interact anonymously with on a sociopath forum. Of course socios type people love to play games involving deception and lying. But if one looks at the whole of their remarks, and they write a lot, one can decide whether their pov represents a consistent and genuine one. I am Dots on that forum for now. there’s a great deal of exchange of information there amongst all different types of personalities. One can start at:
          http://www.sociopathworld.com/2014/08/change-and-pure-evil.html#comment-form

          once the number of comments gets to be more than 200 you have to press ‘load more’ toward the bottom to see all of them. Sometimes more than once.

      2. Kat — I’ve wondered the same thing. I too have been studying mental health for years. In particular, there is a new field of study — epigenetics. Just the other day, on sciencedaily.com, on Aug. 25, 2014, an article titled “Exposure to toxins makes great granddaughters more susceptible to stress, rat study shows.” If you pull that article up, it has several other related articles listed down the right side of the page. Obviously it would not be possible to replicate the study using humans, it would be unethical. I have a stack of print outs about 2″ high about epigenetics and how stress, poor diet going back generations,exposure to 2nd or 3rd hand cigarette smoke, etc., affects the fetus / infant / toddler. I hope that Dr. Simon can touch on this topic sometime.

        J, thank you for your kind words about my last post. Hope you are finding some useful information. And just yesterday, I found another book you might like — author is Barbara Sher. Title is “Live the life you love in ten easy step-by-step lessons.” I remember hearing her interviewed years ago, what she said made sense. Her books are listed on Amazon, you can check out the reviews to see which ones might be useful to you. Peace and hope to all from Elva

    3. Kat, one of the reasons the brain research is so confusing (not to mention the principal fact that such research is truly in its infancy) is that it’s so riddled with bias and illogic when it comes to the interpretation of results. The human brain is an amazingly plastic organ whose very structure is not only influenced by constitutional endowment but also quite heavily by shaping experiences. Your question about the generations of humans we might be witnessing, therefore, has just as much to do with the dramatic rise we’ve seen in constitutional (i.e. genetic, hormonal, environmentally-induced structural damage, etc.) irregularities in humans (Witness: the dramatic rise in autistic spectrum disorders) as it does the sociocultural influences on character development, all of which affect how the brain shapes itself and functions.

  5. Hi!
    This is my second post here, here is my first: http://www.drgeorgesimon.com/narcissism-and-relational-abuse-both-active-and-passive/
    I’ve been reading this blog for two days now and feel like what I’m reading was written about me. Today I’m very depressed and in a state of horror and shock that what I suspected about my ex all along is absolutely true–but also much relief that I’m not the crazy one–or at least that my PTSD and depression is most likely the result of having lived in such an abusive relationship for 28 years (as well as being raised by a NPD mother). I’ve identified my ex as a combination of covert aggressive and unbridled aggressive, and my mother mostly channeled aggressive. I’m also experiencing a great deal of grief over all the years lost and allowing myself to be victimized, always hoping he would “change.” I was just a mark for him. He even called me that once himself–a “mark.” He actually said, “you’ll never be successful or happy in the world because you’re gullible and just a mark.”
    On topic, my ex has used various forms of mental illness as a handy excuse for his abusive behavior–particularly bipolar disorder. Indeed he is now getting disability for his “mental illness.” I finally kicked him to the curb a year ago, but am so damaged by his years of abuse (and before that at the hands of my mother) that I’m literally afraid of everything–and feel like my whole life has been a failure and I was just put on earth to be a victim. Where do I go from here? I’m no longer young (55 yrs old) and I feel like the best years of my life I wasted on this loser.
    Emotionally, I think I’m awakening from a state of numbness. I heard or read somewhere once that when you become used to an abusive situation, the abnormal becomes “normal” to you and you learn to “adapt.” For many of us, I think adapting means forgetting how to feel anything because it’s too dangerous. As a child, I wasn’t allowed to even have emotions and in my marriage, my emotions were invalid or “stupid” so I learned to turn them off. It’s as if I’m awakening from some nightmare and realizing how horrifying it really was, and that’s extremely depressing.
    Sorry this isn’t more on topic, but I’m exhausted from this realization and at the same time fascinated and relieved by it. Dr. Simon has created an incredible blog and I can’t wait to read his books. I feel like this is the beginning of a real life…maybe….but it’s hard to trust anything. I’m taking baby steps. Right now immersing myself in this new knowledge about the true nature of the people in my life who were supposed to love and care for me the most. Where do I go from here?
    Sorry this doesn’t make more sense. There I go with the “sorries.” I feel like I always have to apologize for my very existence…
    I hope it makes sense. I feel like some of your stories could have been my own.

    1. Welcome Lucky Otter — you are NOT alone and you are welcome here.

      I too had a narcissistic PD “mother,” who continually told me I was stupid. My ex-husband continually questioned my judgment — because I was “just a woman.” He was not nearly as bad as your ex-husband was, but I was so glad when my divorce was finalized, 23 years ago now.

      Here is a bit of emotional first aid that might possibly help you. When under stress, your body uses up all the B & C vitamins available, leaving you feeling shaky. You will need to take those in extra amounts, because they are water soluble and your body will excrete whatever it does not use immediately. For lots more information about what vitamins and minerals your body needs, see the section on stress in Phyllis Balch’s book, “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” 5th edition is the latest one. It costs $30.00, and you may not want to spend that much on a book. Your public library should be able to help or if there is a health food store near you, they probably have a copy you could look at.

      Posting here and getting some of the anger and other feelings of worthlessness can help. Maybe keep a journal, handwritten. If you can, get outside and go for a walk, preferably where there are trees and other greenery. If you can’t get outside, you can substitute calendar pictures of mountains, lakes, forests, gardens, etc. You can take a “mini-vacation” by imagining yourself walking in the scenery, smelling the flowers, watching and listening to the waves roll up on the beach. Possibilities are endless. If you haven’t happened to see it already, Martha Stout’s book, The sociopath next door, is very good.

      Yes, these are only first aid techniques, but 10 or 15 minutes spent in imagining yourself in a peaceful place does wonders in helping you to tackle whatever comes up next in your life.

      I’m just days from turning 74, I work full-time, I take care to stay healthy, God has helped me to “keep on truckin’.” It can be all too easy to feel sorry for yourself, so try to focus on the things in your life that are good. Keep a little journal by your bed, every day try to find 2 or 3 good things that happened to you that day and record them in your notebook — you found this website, you are now physically free of your ex (I think?), you saw a rainbow. There are good things in everyone’s life,try to focus on those. I’ve been where you are, and your life is NOT over. There will come a day when you see someone who is down and discouraged and you can give that person some words of encouragement because you have been there and endured. Visit greatday.com every day for a brief uplifting motivational thought for that day.

      Know that we here care for you — Peace and hope to you from Elva

    2. LuckyOtter. Fantastically written personal perspective that could also have been almost word for word my personal experience/s. Not submitted in vain, I can assure you, and very valuable to the general experience of many on here. A great many thanks and I wish you well 🙂

    3. Hi Lucky Otter, as others have said you are not alone and you should never feel sorry. I can understand all your feelings, the numbness, adapting to life with abusers and coming out of it wondering will I ever feel again? Also the loss of a whole life. I have felt all those things, I remembered crying in the car while driving thinking would I ever feel anything ever again. It scared me so much at the time and sometimes still does. I haven’t been out of it a year yet and like you I’ve taken baby steps forward. I can’t see myself ever trusting someone again to have a relationship…not at this stage but I have noticed and hope you will too that little things happen along the way to healing. Things you are not fully conscious of all the time but they are empowering moments. Simple things like making your own decisions, you just do them without thinking one day…and then you think Wow… I can do this and there’s a moment of tears when you think why couldn’t I have done this before but it is the mark of the new you and the subtle erasing of theirs. I hope this makes sense and that you can start to feel like the you, you were supposed to be. I do wish you all the best on your new journey to a new life, it’s scary but exciting at the same time, no matter how old you are… take care and hugs to you! 🙂

  6. Thanks, Elva. Those are all good suggestions, and I’m already taking lots of Vitamin C, I’ll add B vitamins as well. I have ordered two of Dr. Simon’s books (Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disorders)since those are the two I see quoted the most. I did see The Sociopath Next Door listed as a suggestion at Amazon and later on I’ll check that out too.

    I will definitely keep posting here–journaling seems like a chore, but once I get started I’m sure it won’t seem like that much of one, especially if I keep the notebook next to my bed. Right now though, breathing seems like a chore, LOL.

    Thanks for your encouraging words. I’m getting a lot of encouragement from reading everyone’s posts, and reading the articles on this blog. Since he was also a substance abuser, I’m also attending Al-Anon meetings. I know they don’t address the main issue(s), but they do help some. They also keep me from holing up in my house and isolating, something I have a tendency to do when I’m depressed/overwhelmed.

    1. Hi LuckyOtter,,,,,,,,,I completly understand the shock you are experiencing and it is a process coming to terms with the truth, and not a pleasant one but after 28 years you are ready. What I really want to say to you is this, PLEASE do not spend one more moment feeling badly about yourself because you “allowed” this to happen. You allowed nothing. You were manipulated, emotionally and mentally abused and are no less of a victim than if you had been raped by a stranger. You are at the very beginning of this discovery process and will come to understand it all much better in time. Please be kind to yourself in anyway you can and do whatever you can to get support from people who understand. Don’t be dissuaded if you come across people who don’t understand. That is VERY common. It’s something you can not understand if you have not experienced it.
      There are good people here and you will be heard and listened to and supported. Hang in there and I think it’s wonderful that you have taken the steps that you have.
      It’s SO common for people to say so many of the things you have said in your posts, especially the part about reading other peoples stories and thinking they could be describing exactly your own story.

  7. LuckyOtter, you’re 55? You are a young spring chicken and you have so much life ahead of you! I am so happy to hear you are finding your way out of a bad situation and out of a fog. Your new life is beginning:) I have read so much on these topics and I must say that Dr. Simon is the one who nails it the best. You are about to see things with such clarity it will blow you away. So glad you are getting his books. People borrow them from my desk at work regularly… I don’t even know who has Sheep’s Clothing right now! Take care and best of luck!

  8. I’m very grateful for all your replies and encouragement. I do have a long road ahead, but your support gives me hope.

    I do have a question regarding narcissist self-love that’s been confusing me. In older psychiatric literature, it was believed narcissists, in spite of their arrogant behavior, actually had very low self esteem, and built elaborate psychological structures (defense mechanisms) to protect/hide that fragile ego, hence the “phoniness” and inability to take criticism, tendency to attack others, etc. They lived in mortal fear their elaborate “mask” would be taken down and expose their true self, which deep inside they believed was lacking and/or non existent.

    Newer theories believe the narcissist actually has a huge ego and loves themselves too much. So take their narcissism at face value–it’s not a defense mechanism. What confuses me about this is that people with high self esteem feel confident enough in themselves to be able to reach out to and love others genuinely without fear of being hurt or exposed. Secure they are loveable, they have no need to put on a mask or manipulate others to get what they want. That’s why people with high self esteem are usually people who others feel comfortable around (not just drawn to). Most of the narcissists I know (and I know quite a few, unfortunately) had absolutely horrific childhoods (my NPD ex’s mother was a narcissist herself, and his father was just never around; my NPD mother was sexually abused and left home at 15 to escape). My ex has gone through bouts of severe depression (I absolutely believe he is bipolar but also NPD). I have never known a “happy” narcissist. I don’t see any way these people actually love themselves, arrogant and superior as they may act. I don’t think it’s possible to love yourself “too much”–I would think a genuine love for self would lead to more genuine love for others. They can be their genuine selves without all the masks and trappings of fake superiority and manipulations because they know how to get what they want by honest and ethical means in a way that doesn’t hurt others.

    Maybe I’m missing something, because this view has been largely rejected by the psychiatric community. But I do wonder why this is so. How can a narcissist genuinely love themselves and act the way they do? I don’t really understand.

    1. I must say, LuckyOtter, your comment here bespeaks the main reason for both my 3 books and my numerous articles. I sure hope you find in them and in all the wonderful sharing by the commentators on the blog the information you need to gain new insights and a new and more empowering perspective.

  9. One more thing I want to add. Isn’t it possible the reason why narcissists can’t be “cured” by traditional means or at all because the mask/psychological protective structures they have built work so well the real self cannot be reached? Or more likely, that the nature of their protective mechanisms (extreme defensiveness to the point they must act superior and attack others so their vulnerable core isn’t revealed) makes reaching that core next to impossible?

    1. Lucky Otter, the core of the issue, in my opinion, is self esteem vs self respect. I believe that the sign of self love is self respect and when you respect and love yourself, it carries over to your ability to respect and love others. With an aggressive manipulator, covert aggressive, psychopath, malignant narcissist, etc,,,,,,,there is no true, solid self to love therefore no ability to love themselves or others. My experiences have shown that they have no self love or self respect but are dripping in self esteem, entitlement, duping delight and hold the rest of the world to much higher standards then they hold themselves. I think this is the “dehumanizing” aspect Elva speaks of in her comment.
      They don’t have a core true self, vulnerable or not and I believe they are immune to vulnerability. I do think they can be humiliated though through exposure. They don’t care about anything else, not in the way most people understand being able to care for or about another person. Any and everything you might do will be turned around on you and you will be vilified and scapegoated.
      This is just my very brief opinion.

  10. Hi LuckyOtter — It is my belief that NPDs think the rest of us “ordinary” mortals are only to be used for whatever will prop up their “superiority.” I don’t claim any expertise here, I only have my experience of a “mother” who was NPD. If you haven’t happened across it already, go to narcissists-suck.blogspot.com. I just checked it to be sure I had the right URL. Here are a couple of quotes: “In the end, the narcissist is always after all the attention in the room.” “The ongoing problem is that narcissists dehumanize _us_. And then abuse us accordingly.” The site has extensive archives, you might check out some of her earlier posts. I read through all of it + the comments, took me about 3 weeks.

    I went no contact with my female biological parent in 1958. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Why? because I was not allowed to be a person, I was her “possession” and if everything I did was not up to her standards, or did not reflect glory onto her, I was severely punished.
    She made scenes everywhere we went, demanding that she be respected. When we occasionally ate out at a restaurant, she always berated the poor waitress because the salt shaker was not properly placed, or some such minor thing. I wanted to crawl under the table and hide — she always made so much noise that everyone in the room was looking at her.

    I feel sorry for NPDs, as I would for someone infected with Ebola virus, But, I don’t want to be around them.

    Don’t know if any of this helps, but when you have time, visit the website mentioned above and read at least a bit of it.

    Peace and hope from Elva

  11. So if basically the narcissist doesn’t have a core self–it’s as if they don’t have a soul! That’s chilling. Could that really be true? *shudders* I read a book some years ago called “People of the Lie”–the author identified these “evil” people as “malignant narcissists” and I remember immediately identifying my mother as one. At the time I was probably in denial about my now-ex being one also. There’s something very reptilian about some narcissists. I never believed my mother really loved me or even had the capacity to love anyone. Everything about her was calculated and meant to impress/demean others. How I wound up with a husband who turned out to be the same monster in different clothing is beyond me. When I look at him now I see the same reptilian stare. I have nightmares about him. How did I not see it? Are the abused somehow attracted to people who can abuse them in the same way again? And why? This is why I can no longer trust anyone, or even trust my own instincts about people when I meet them. I keep people at arm’s distance and won’t let them get too close. It’s why I never want to be in another relationship.

    1. Hi again — I believe that in some cases these predators can somehow sense when we have been soul-wounded and weakened and they choose to prey on us, just as wolves take down the sickly, weak ones of the reindeer herd. I fully agree with your stand that you will never again choose to be in a relationship — I feel the same way. But if you do keep reading and studying, you can learn to pick out their tactics. I learned from Martha Stout’s sociopath book that what they want from you is your pity, then they can manipulate you. So when someone I’ve only just met starts in on a personal “pity party” I’m immediately on guard. Every single person I know has been through difficulties in life — illness, divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job, on & on. But survivors keep going, losers whine “poor me.”

      Keep studying, it will come easier. It takes time to heal, so as Puddle said, be kind to yourself. Cry occasionally if you need to, crying helps to release a healing hormone. We are all cheering you onward and upward, and again, welcome, everyone here has been through hard experiences. Peace and hope from Elva

      1. Elva,,,,,,,,
        “Cry occasionally if you need to, crying helps to release a healing hormone. ”

        This was almost compulsory for me and I had always had a very hard time crying in front of people. This broke that wide open because I was SO deeply hurt, on such a primal level, there was no stopping it. For my situation, I always had a hard time crying unless I was being held intimately so guess what Spathtard did from day one?? Made a POINT of holding me. It was bizarre and it turned me on my head because it was so odd, but I loved it and missed it more than I can describe when we had our break ups. So like a drug addict, I craved his hugs and physical presence and kept going back for fix after fix. I think he felt nothing but distain for me because I could be so easily drawn back into the web……………..that I didn’t know was a web.
        Yes Lucky Otter, feel your feelings as intensely and deeply as you can no matter how painful. It will help you detoxify and move through the aftermath of this.

        1. “felt nothing but disdain” A side digression: What might sociopaths feel about other sociopaths? I guess there would still be no real respect. They don’t even have self-respect.

        2. Another pondering, a result of random meditating: Could it be why sociopaths like ruining and destroying people of integrity? Does it affirm in a sociopath’s mind that integrity indeed doesn’t matter and it’s all predatory games?

          1. I think they enjoy covertly pushing people into behaviors that justify their own piss poor performance and once someone has been manipulated, emotionally abused and gaslighted to a certain point…….it’s not difficult. Even the nicest dog will bite when it’s injured.I’m not sure how to explain this exactly though. An example would be……the male neglects the female’s sexual and emotional needs, making it seem like it’s her fault of course, and then if she seeks intimacy elsewhere or starts to back off on wanting to satisfy him…….in between the sheets…..he has the excuse to have anything he wants elsewhere and blames it on her even though HE is the one who covertly crated the situation. This is something that I have a hard time putting into words. I’m almost sure Spathtard was getting something somewhere else other than from me and I’m sure he justified in in some backwards twisted up way. I think they take GREAT pleasure in reducing their victims to as low of a level as possible and LOVE to say, think……nah nah nah nah naaaah nah……..SEE!!!! You aren’t aren’t all that great!! Spathtard made a federal case out of ridiculous things……like me dropping his belongings off in front of his mothers house with no prior warning. Like a woman scorned never does these things?? It happens all the time in a variety of ways but he made it out to be a HUGE faux pas. Never mind the fact that the reason I did it that day on very short notice is because a friend of mine was available from his normal job and has a truck so, bam……we did it. And, I had gone no contact at that point so the last thing I was going to do was email, call, etc and tell him I would be dumping all his crap off in front of Mommy’s house that afternoon. Too bad, so sad….deal with it Spathtard! In the realm of injuries incurred from your little game, I’d say you came out smelling like a rose, relatively speaking. I’m sure he concocted quite the little “poor me” story from that……oh that Puddle…..see how she is??

          2. ” pushing people into behaviors that justify their own piss poor performance” When one does as one pleases, trying to behave must be a full-time job, eh?

            “made a federal case out of ridiculous things” I’ve read about so-called serial bullies making mountains out of molehills, flying into histrionics and all kinds of stuff. One would think people would notice. Can’t making a huge deal out of nothing get a person to come across as an ***? Don’t they embarrass themselves doing it so openly?

    2. they are reptilian. They live in that part of their brain. “People of the Lie” is an older book and it was a little heavy for me but still it was worth reading. Right now I’m reading “The Emotional Rape Syndrome and it is amazing even though the author is a little off target about the abuser’s motivations and kind of goes off on some tangents that are not about relationships. it’s VERY good.
      You will find that though Lucky Otter, there are so many opinions and theories about these types. Also there is a huge black hole in the therapy world. Dr. Simon will mention this time and time again,,,,,,,,,what is actually going on behind these abusers is not what traditional therapists have been trained to think, look for, spot. In other words a huge portion of the therapeutic field is ill equipped to help the victims who so desperately need help. The more you can read the better and it will all start coming together. It’s so compelling to want to understand how and why a person can do the things these losers do to other people. The frustrating part for me is that I don’t think I will EVER understand no mater how many explanations I read.

    3. “This is why I can no longer trust anyone, or even trust my own instincts about people when I meet them. I keep people at arm’s distance and won’t let them get too close. It’s why I never want to be in another relationship.”
      And you shouldn’t trust anyone.,,,,,,,,,not blindly. This is a lesson to be learned and learned well,,,,,,,trust should NEVER be given freely, only earned and trustworthiness is something someone proves through consistently demonstrating solid respectful behaviors over a period of time.

    4. I think what happens is that those of us from dysfunctional backgrounds are so used to dysfunctional people that it dulls our reactions to dysfunctional behaviors. So what may be a bright red flag to some people looks pastel pink? But no matter, these types are beyond dysfunctional. Red flags don’t mean the same thing when it comes to them anyhow and they have a strange, uncanny way of getting to to see the red flags are green. They are masters of manipulation plain and simple. If you knew what and who they really are you would never spend one minute in their company. We show them who we really are, they hide behind a mask. We unknowingly hand them our heart which they will use to sharpen the knife they will eventually cut it open with. With them the end comes before the beginning because they know exactly what they are doing. Someone told me on another web site that the hardest part for her was to realize that the whole thing was doomed from the start and no matter what she did it was an exercise in futility.
      I feel the same way.

  12. I’ll definitely check up the website you mentioned. I’ve been educating myself on all this for three days–it’s fascinating and scary!

  13. OMG!! I just read this on that Narcissists Suck site and froze:

    All malignant narcissists are parasitical.
    They need people around them from whom they can steal what they need. Their need for people is desperate, yet their desperate need presents a conundrum for them. Their need for people runs counter to their even more desperate need to not appear like they need anything from anyone, especially you! Never forget, they are gods in their own estimation which means that even while they steal, demand or extort what they need from you they will trash you for giving it. The more they need you the more you will be subjected to their loathing. It is paradoxical unless you understand what the hell is really going on. Which is what I’m describing for you now.

    This…explains…so much. Thank you.

    1. Lucky Otter,,,,,,,, her site (NS) is VERY powerful and she is amazing. Also check out Psychopaths and Love….very good articles.

  14. About the crying….it’s weird. I was never able to cry in all the years I had to put up with this loser. No matter how bad things got, oh yes, I would rage, throw things, cuss, and beg for mercy…but never cry. I couldn’t cry. Instinctively I knew showing that vulnerable part of myself was too dangerous. So I shut it off. Soon the only way I could cry was vicariously–you know, watching a sad movie, a cheesy commercial that somehow brings on the waterworks. But cry for myself or my situation? Couldn’t do it. I was numb most of the time, with the only emotions coming through to my consciousness being anger and fear. Base, survival emotions.
    Only in these past few days, reading this blog and others, have I actually felt the grief and loss of myself and lost opportunities and have been balling like a baby! It’s self pity but a good kind of self pity, and the tears do seem healing so I welcome them when they come. A couple of years ago a friend who remembers me when we were in college and hadn’t seen me for many years said I seemed dead, like a part of my soul was gone. I didn’t know what she meant at the time, but it makes perfect sense now. I don’t think my soul died, but it was sleeping. I think it’s similar to what concentration camp survivors or soldiers experience in combat–they shut off their emotions because that’s the only way they can survive the conditions they’re forced to be in and deal with the things they see. Tears are a luxury we can afford when we’re out of the life and death situations we’ve escaped from–they serve no purpose in the midst of the life threatening situation.

  15. I have been reading “In Sheep’s clothing” and just found this website.I have been and still am really confused..but I think my eyes are opening. A few years ago ,the pastor at the church that I’ve been attending, retired. The new pastor seemed really nice but something nagged at me. I dismissed it and later went to him for counseling, when I was struggling with some personal issues.He listened and seemed to genuinely care and want to help.We have some issues in common and I felt that he understood and I trusted him.I realize that I can be too trusting sometimes.when I became more involved in church activities, I began to see that I wasn’t comfortable with some of the ways that he dealt with people/problems.He never directly lied to anyone ,that I knew of, but skirted around things when confronted.He admits to being sensitive, and I guess I felt that that and the fact that he had issues at another church, made him defensive.I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I felt bad whenever I felt angry with him and doubted myself..I’ve never met anyone like this and i couldn’t understand some of his actions.. I found Dr. Simon’s book when someone mentioned manipulation..(I started questioning)many people have left the church, but many others defend him..I have felt a little sick and disillusioned in what I have read so far. I’m thinking maybe he is CA and feel angry that I didn’t see/maybe was in denial about this..also creeped out that I trusted him and talked to him..not sure if i can trust my judgement.. not sure what to think

    1. Hello Irene and welcome! I’ve had some experience with 2 pastors, 1 has NPD, the other (who is one of my former customers and a retired pastor) was CA. When you have time, google for narcissistic pastors. LOTS of articles available. One in particular just now caught my attention. Using the quotation marks, google for “How to identify a narcissist pastor” church law campaign. If your gut is telling you something is wrong in your church, pay attention.

      Romans 16:17 says: “And now I implore you, my brothers, to keep a watchful eye on those who cause trouble and make difficulties among you, in plain opposition to the teaching you have been given, and steer clear of them. Such men do not really serve our Lord Christ at all but are utterly self-centered. Yet with their plausible and attractive arguments they deceive those who are too simple-hearted to see through them.” (Phillips translation, The New Testament in Modern English) If you want to check out other translation, go to biblegateway.com — 40+ English translations, plus French, Spanish, German, etc.
      It can be hard to leave a congregation where you have friends, but if it is your spiritual health at stake, pray for God’s guidance.
      Hope some of this will help — Peace and Hope from Elva

      1. Thanks Elva, just checked out the church Law campaign one..wow was kind of shaken..thought about a conversation that I had with him today..it started out with him suggesting that a leadership position that i had been nominated for was not a good “fit” for my personality and extolling my creativity in other areas. When I said that I wanted to think/pray about it, he suddenly changed and said that he wouldn’t support me getting the position and said that it would be a conflict,because i have loyalties to people that he has issues with..he said it more diplomatically but basic gist..was so blown away..was a bit teary..I’ve been told that I always try to see the good in people..a bit naive.. I guess time to “grow up”..many of the people at my church are like family..I don’t really want to leave..will pray about it..again many thanks.

    2. Irene, the confusion you still feel is unfortunately common, but things will become clearer. I trust my 3 books and the blog articles will help bring the clarity you need but I also trust you’ll find the experiences and wisdom shared by all the commentators to be of equal if not even greater value in that regard. Hopefully, your contributions will also help others looking for answers.

  16. Welcome, Irene! I’m new here myself. I just ordered In Sheep’s Clothing and CD. From what I’ve read, a lot of narcissists are attracted to the clergy and high positions in churches–they can cloak themselves in self righteousness and religiosity and their motives will not be questioned. I think we see a lot of narcissism in politics too. Of course, most clergy are not narcissistic but some are. You are fortunate to have a 6th sense about this–listen to it.

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m a narcissist myself. I seem to have a few N charactertistics–particularly envy. :O I hope I’m not but sometimes I wonder. I don’t seem to fit most of the DSM profile though. I guess everyone has some N traits…?

  17. I can think of one narcissist who has actually provided a fantastic public service–there’s an online book called “Malignant Self Love.” Most of you have probably heard of it.
    It’s author, Sam Vaknin, is a self-identified narcissist. I’ve read the online version (I’m not sure if it’s free or not anymore but it used to be) and it’s very comprehensive if a little cumbersome and verbose. Obviously this guy has a lot of insight into his disorder and has a desire to help others deal with people like himself. Maybe his narcissism isn’t really of the malignant sort.

    1. I know of Sam Vaknin, too. There is some stuff about dealing with narcissists, but also a lot of stuff going into detailed mental dynamics. Sure, it’s fascinating to read. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to accomplish, perhaps it drives home how different malignant narcissists truly are from normal people. Perhaps it does imply how we tend to assume them to be similar to us. With disturbed characters in general, we seem to like to see them more like us than they actually are.

      Interestingly, Vaknin does claim things that might be misleading. For example, in one article of his, he claims psychopaths to be anxious. Now, to me it sounds like the different kind of anxious than a person willing to get to safety from intuited danger. That’s just me, though. I do doubt that a psychopath would be anxious. Perhaps upon realizing that he/she could die, perhaps then, but not in the way neurotics are and not nearly to the same degree AT BEST. Think of it as a hunter realizing he’s at the danger of being attacked by a cleverer predator.

      Now, I’m not saying Vaknin would be trying to be misleading(although I’m not discounting the possibility). Vaknin’s been known for a fraud he commited and now he profits from writing about narcissism he has.

      In the document by Ian Walker, I, Psychopath, Vaknin claims to be a psychopath(I’m not sure whether he really is or not, but he does play professionals alright). He also verbally assaults Walker, who acts as a camera man, before at one point giving a calm description of how bullying works.

      I’m not saying you shouldn’t read Vaknin’s writings. Simply have enough critical eye when doing so. Never assume that a person is like you just because they are like you or a little bit like you in some regard.

      1. J, I saw some of the “movie” with Vaknin. it made me feel embarrassed for him and at times I had the same feeling about Spathtard’s displays. I felt embarrassed and angry at the same time. I don’t know why…..it’s kind of am odd combination of feelings. Maybe the anger was over a subconscious recognition that I was being manipulated. But looking back now, it all seems so low level and amateur and i can’t believe I didn’t see through it in a crystal clear way. I think that is a human bias though………You can’t imaging someone would be acting this way on purpose so you just kind of go with it.

        1. Vaknin is a convicted swindler who tries to cast NPD as an affliction as opposed to a freely chosen and preferred style of relating. The mixed feelings you had are typical when encountering master manipulators and con artists like this guy. Note to all commentators: Please don’t refer anybody to Vaknin’s site or to his book. Thanks.

        2. I’m sorry, Dr Simon. Better steer away from Vaknin altogether.

          It amazes me how Vaknin downright admits he’s a narcissist and apparently that’s to fool others to think he wants to ruin things for narcissists or anything like that.

          Vaknin subtly uses language. He claims narcissists are aliens(unlike a person, who CHOOSES to act as one does). That’s just one subtle thing. Whatever Vaknin hopes to accomplish with his writings(perhaps just to get money), better steer clear completely.

          1. Thanks J. And the “alien” thing has some minor merit. I think what Vaknin is trying to describe there is the “different creature” characteristic of the most malignantly narcissistic characters – psychopaths – who think of themselves as superior albeit very different creatures from us lower humans – you know, the ones with consciences! And as I see it, this man is much more than your average narcissist. Probably a very high functioning slick psychopath.

          2. I recall reading some of his stuff on the Net a long time ago. I did wonder about the narcissism thing and didn’t understand how all those detailed descriptions were supposed to help anyone.

            Whatever he wants to accomplish, whether it’s driving mistrustful, abused victims to fever pitch to see narcissists everywhere, some scheme that only makes sense if you’re him and have lived as him with his all history or just getting money, how people want to trust his word is beyond me.

            I guess the fantasy of one of “them” suddenly seeing the light and “helping us” must be of huge pull.

          3. Frankly, whenever I read about his descriptions of his “illness,” I always found myself asking myself: “Is he really complaining or is he bragging?”

          4. Probably subtle bragging as much as descriptions of bullying and abuse as craftmanship.

            I always did note, both reading and watching his videos, that he always seems comfortable with the kind of person he is. What really would get him to even consider being a different kind of a person? I don’t think a stint in prison would do that for a true malignant narcissist.

          5. If I had to think of a counterpart to Vaknin, some come to mind:

            *Werner Erhard, founder of a cult masquerading as a self-help human potential movement, est, later known as the Forum; making money by brainwashing people

            *Mahesh, known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; a deceased leader of the Transcendental Meditation movement(read: cult), who amassed a mass following, albeit harming many people financially and psychologically in the process (for reference, see the movie David wants to fly on Youtube)

      2. Interesting thought, absolutely. Do some CDs do it publicly without caring if they embarrass themselves in the process? Must be brazenness.

        1. If it gets them what they want, yes! But that brazen approach might not work for all of them J because they might want something different than Vaknin wants.

    2. To quote Ian Walker(see the film from YouTube, part 8, at the mark of 7:20): “Maybe I’m a slow learner, but even after all this time with Sam, I’m still astounded by his capacity for coldhearted cruelty. Minutes after his onslaught against me in the hotel lobby, he can calmly slip into the third-person and dissect the whole incident, getting us some useful tips on bullying at the same time.”

      Vaknin: “”Your body was flooded instantly with adrenalin and its relatives like norepinephrine … Now when these moments pervade the bloodstream, your brain reacts. It shuts down certain centers and activates others. This is called the stress reaction, or stress syndrome, actually. Then when the abuse recedes, the adrenalin levels begin to drop. As they drop, the entire system goes into mayhem. So what bullies usually do, they start and stop, start and stop. That achieves the maximal stress syndrome, and this is the great secret of bullying. Never overdo it. Small doses. The victim will do the rest. – Although you are shaking much less [now] … I must do something about that.” Not a complete quote(I copypasted it), but in the video Sam Vaknin says more about this. Not sure how scientifically accurate this is. Perhaps someone could confirm this?

    3. To me Vaknin’s description brings to mind a part from the book Emotional Vampires By Albert Bernstein. I mention it for the umpteenth time here. Any of you, who’d read it, know the part about crude bullies and their attacks. How Bernstein advises to deal with such may not solve everything, but it’s something we all, you and me, could and should absorb as many times as necessary.

      What can we learn even more deeply here? Crude and/or abusive attacks aren’t rational. They are purposefully assaultive or impulsively irrational and immature(Patricia Evan’s concept of Just Plain Nonsense, anyone?). In the latter case, such poorly managed outbursts, explosions or high-octane dramas alsocome from disturbed thinking, far from being a defense.

      1. Thanks J, plenty of food for thought there.I saw Spathtard put on several shows and they were embarrassingly amateurish and pathetic looking back on it now. I was fooled then but not entirely? It’s kind of like how you feel when you see and bug you have never seen before and it has odd behaviors,,,,,you study it and try to make sense of it.
        I’m not exactly sure if his outbursts were poorly managed (maybe some of the time) or just poorly acted. I think I may have seen both.

      2. Another side of the matter to study, when it comes to verbal assaults

        Patricia Evans tells about an interesting side of verbal abuse that’s not so obvious as it sounds. She calls it JPS(just plain nonsense).

        Of course, Evans having the kind of theory she has about controlling people, she thinks that whenever a controller has an outburst like that, they’re saying what bothers them. They can’t control themselves and they don’t have mental boundaries between what they think and another person. E.g., if they say “You must really want to get uppity on me!”, it’s that they think another person wants to get uppity on them.

        Now, how could we think of this in the light of newer knowledge?

        1)First and foremost, it’s planned or impromptu manipulative maneuver.

        2)It can be, again, a poorly managed, irrational and immature outburst that comes from ingrained disturbed thinking and beliefs that make a person like they are.

        3)A power freak really is so delusional. They’ve gotten way too grandiose or they also happen to have some brain chemistry dysfunction.

        4)They happen to have some other issue complicating their functioning as a person, like some actual trauma or neurosis(after all, neurosis and CD are a continuum).* **

        *Doesn’t trauma accentuate the fighting style of CDs?

        ** I haven’t heard of instances of CDs suffering trauma in the hands of other CDs, but those do happen, right?

        5)They’ve consumed drugs.

  18. Hello all — Irene, when you have time, read 1st and 2nd Timothy (Paul’s instructions to a new young pastor, and compare those instructions with the way your pastor acts. For me, it would be an enormous red flag that he has “issues” with some of his congregants, and that he apparently criticized you when you said you wanted to think/pray about the position under discussion. You know best what gifts God has given you to work with, as I did, and the NPD music minister constantly criticized me, no matter what I did, though members of the congregation, including the head pastor, frequently thanked me for providing good music. Your pastor will be happy with you if you kow-tow to him and reflect all glory to him, when by rights, all praise and thanks should be to God our heavenly father. Who does your pastor honor in his daily life and in the way he deals with his congregants? Just some things to think about and ask for God’s guidance.

    Again, welcome and hope we can help you sort out your feelings. Peace and hope from Elva

  19. Hi Lucky Otter, I’ve only just been able to go through the comments here. I want to respond to Elva’s advice several posts up about keeping a journal/diary. I think she’s spot-on about how it can help. I also relate to what you said initially about not showing feelings – I too as a child was told “don’t say anything” or “you don’t feel that way”, and on and on. My father was alcoholic, my mother coped by joining a fundamentalist cult, and my brother, ever since I can remember, is a covert-aggressive.
    About the journal: I stumbled across a book almost the same time I discovered Dr. Simon’s two books (Sheep’s Clothing and CD), which has helped immensely:

    “Writing as a Way of Healing – How telling our stories transforms our lives”, by Louise DeSalvo.
    I mentioned this book on the Counselling Resource site, and am re-posting here part of what I wrote there:

    Writing, although not therapy, is therapeutic. DeSalvo emphasizes the process of how to go about writing one’s experiences so that it is not just rambling or stream-of-consciousness:

    “[Writing] can help us heal. It can enable us to accomplish that shift in perspective marked by acceptance, authenticity, depth, serenity, and wisdom that is the hallmark of genuine healing.”

    Her experience as a writing teacher has been with people who were raped, tortured, assaulted, victimized by sexism, racism, incest, etc., and she says:

    “All have been profoundly changed by writing. Their work does not make their pain disappear, but they say they have a different relationship to it.”

    She quotes what poet Audre Lord said: “You’ll always have the pain, so you may as well use it.”

    For me personally, going through her writing exercises has helped me start getting a grip on redirecting my focus, as Dr. Simon puts it, and focusing inward and changing what I can change.

    Facing the pain and working through it is much easier for me with these writing exercises. I hope it can help you and others. (I first got the book from the library, then ordered it online, I think it was about $17)

    1. GG thank you for mentioning this book. I will certainly get myself a copy. I have always believed using writing and art is a great way to heal and have used poetry for the most part trying to cope with my grief and loss through this situation. I tried writing a journal and must admit I found it too painful sometimes to recall things. Though I have written about my journey of coming out of the relationship to where I am now. I’ve also used the power of the pen, writing to politicians and written other submissions to put my voice to others in the hope that changes can be made. That seems really important to me as on some level this has to mean something.
      I’ve read so many things on grief and loss and for the most part they deal with the loss of a loved one who has passed away. Though the grieving is similar and the feelings are the same there is something very different about grieving the loss of a relationship due to abuse by a disordered person. For instance in one book I read it said, “the memories maybe painful initially but once you have grieved you can look over your life and know you were loved.” I completely unravelled at that point emotionally as that won’t happen for me. I wasn’t loved, I was manipulated, abused violently and emotionally. My whole relationship was based on something that was never real. Puddle has said often so articulately that that is the hardest part to deal with and in the grieving process it is almost too much to bear. It makes it difficult to write about and face. Maybe the book you mentioned may help as I would love to see more articles or books written on the grieving of leaving such toxic relationships. Through this site from the articles and comments of others who have lived through this I now know just what I was living with and that does give comfort but dealing with that and coming to terms with what has happened and the complexity of the loss is sometimes very torturous. Thanks again GG I will be looking for this book immediately. 🙂

  20. As the ex-wife of a child molester, I *used* to call him a sex addict (which is what he liked calling himself). But the court-appointed treatment program said he must be called a “sex offender.” In just 2 words, that says it all. It doesn’t really matter why he molests children, just that he does. He was part of the program for many years. They considered him bright and manipulative, an expert at psycho-babble who needed a strong therapist. He was described as “confounding” to the team due to his candid admission of offending behavior, along with his cognitive distortion about his own actions. Eventually he was labeled as a “treatment failure,” and dropped out of the program.

  21. …In the same way, I think NPD/BPD people perhaps should be identified as abusers, manipulators, parasites, predators, etc. They might be helped by therapy, but you’ll never get someone who scores a 10 out of 10 on the abusiveness scale to get down to a 0. Sure, you might get them down to a 7 or 8, but they still are a danger to those around them. I don’t think they are motivated to change. They don’t think anything is wrong with them. At the core, my ex-husband is a charming con-man. He’s been able to muddle through for 50+ years, and doesn’t see the need for real gut-wrenching psychotherapy (even though he’s got a Masters in marriage and family therapy).

    1. I think its a ‘stretch’ to compare a BPD to and NPD. I am BPD, a male one, who was diagnosed. Why?- for a long time I knew ‘something was just not right’. I am however hardly a ‘predator’ since my ‘cognitive empathy’ is not that good, as compared to an NPD or Psychopath. I can be difficult, but have enough ‘other good empathy’ to know when I have made mistakes and take ownership of them. Abusive, rarely. Have I been a victim of emotional ‘manipulation’ and abuse by a NARC/Psychopath – YES- for 1.5 years. I am writing a book about that experience and my own recovery from BPD. Can I manipulate? Sure, but compared to others, including ‘normal’ people- no worse or no better.

      While I am a higher functioning Borderline, I still carry many of the negative attributes of the mental disorder, yet through hard work, DBT- people can improve. But please, do not call us predators- I was a co dependent with a predator- and that’s an experience I will never forget.

      1. Great points to make here, Skybuzz. There’s unfortunately far too much misunderstanding about BPD, some of which is due to the professional community’s failures in conceptualization and categorization. I’ll actually be posting on this syndrome tomorrow in the first part of a series of articles. I’ll look forward to any other comments you have.

      2. Yes, it would be nice to be able to identify predators, BUT, who will bell the cat? As many commenters have noted, it’s hard to find a really good therapist, many of them just don’t get it, or are easily manipulated by the predators. And as Skybuzz noted, some of us have problems, but are working hard to overcome various mental issues. I am probably a borderline Asperger’s syndrome case, albeit a high-functioning one. It’s hard enough trying to get along without having a “scarlet letter” on our foreheads.

        I believe a better way to go is continued education — Linda keeps the books available on her desk, I keep mine handy in my shop and show them to anyone who might be interested — law enforcement personnel, attorneys, therapists, etc. Unfortunately, the state of the American educational system is mostly not good, so it is up to us who have been through the wars to continue telling anyone who will listen, keep studying, learn what the symptoms look like. Not easy, but doable. Peace and hope from Elva

      3. Skybuzz, Why do you say you were codependent with a predator? What makes you think you were codependent? If you were being manipulated, toyed with, abused, gaslighted, deceived, etc, etc, etc…………YOU were not the problem, they were. If this person truly was a predator……don’t underestimate the power they can covertly exercise over the victim and how that can affect the victim’s behavior. Their behavior(covert manipulative aggression/ abuse) can create your behavior (subconscious defensive reaction).
        Welcome! 🙂

    2. Borderline personalities seem to be a varied bunch, with different personality traits dominating. BPD doesn’t make anyone a predator.

      There have been some books using NPD and BPD as parallels. That may have fed the erroneous thought.

    3. Thanks for sharing your comments on the abuser in your life. You make some good points. But be careful about painting with a broad brush on personality types. The comment from Skybuzz fairly addresses this, I think. And look for some of my own points about BPD in the upcoming series of posts.

  22. Dr Simon lately in my work I’ve come across two children under the age of 10 who both quite emphatically said to me, “Look I have anger management issues, I have to take tablets.” I was trying to diffuse situations they were involved in at the time with other children. Immediately I thought someone, a professional has labelled these children and so before they have even began to understand their own personalities and how to deal with life on a discovery level they have been given an excuse for their anger. It is somehow acceptable because they have this label so therefore others should also accept their behaviour. I tried to explain in the situation they were in they had a choice on how they could behave. One was quite accepting, the other not so. It makes it difficult when trying address just simple altercations between children to make a change because they have been labelled at such an early age, and enabled to continue such behaviour. I just think how sad it was and that it almost seems like a neglect of duty of care on some level almost as if these children go into the too hard basket, so lets slap a label on them and give them a pill. I just don’t think we give children an opportunity to learn how to deal with their anger and how to solve problems if we continue to see it as a disorder as you point out so often in your articles. I just wonder how it got to this point.

  23. First of all thank you Dr. Simon for the kind words- I will surely be back, and am looking forward to seeing your post on Borderline Personality.

    Thanks for the welcome, Puddle.
    I now realize this so called ‘predator’ had been ‘stalking’ me on line for awhile at a dating site. I do not blame myself for getting involved with such a person, however in the end it made me look at myself in the mirror real hard to understand what happened to me. I have been in therapy for three years- it was not until a year ago, that they finally changed by diagnoses to BPD.

    The relationship with the NPD- and I have identified all nine of the DSM traits! Ended over 3.5 years ago. Nonetheless the ambient abuse, ‘gas lighting’ other forms of devaluing, did leave a pretty deep scar, that at times makes me angry today. What validated me was that I met another victim of the NPD or Psychopath- this target almost lost $800,000 to the predator!

    I have moved on-I will never forget however. I had met rather egocentric people before in my life in the past, had a casual encounter with someone many years ago that I know suspect as being a narcissist.

    But the ‘deadly’ relationship I was sucked into, at a very vulnerable point of my life, left me almost dead.
    Borderlines have no sense of self, who they are, what they want, its a truly devastating disorder to so many men and women. We basically have no skin- I have 7 out of nine traits from the DSM. Ever be with someone who has no true sense of who they are, then some stress they encounter, triggers them to go into severe disassociation? I would not wish BPD anyone. What’s intriguing is that Narcissist’s and Psychopath’s like us- its easy to see why? For me DBT and recovery from BPD has empowered me, do believe in myself, demand respect from others, and never ever become involved with a predator again.

  24. Skybuzz………{{{ Internet HUG }}} to you!! 🙂
    I’m sorry you had this happen, I really am. It’s hard on anyone y=but when you have a built in vulnerability and someone takes advantage, it’s even worse. I will say that they don’t even need that door to be open though……they have a way of squeezing through just about any crack and if anyone ever thinks “it will never happen to ME”! they better think twice because we are all vulnerable unless we absolutely KNOW what these types are and how they operate. It really does help when you are able to know that it’s not just you and that you are just another victim of someones abuse because they are so adept at spinning things back on the victim. I was fortunate enough to have some validation like that in my situation as well and if it were not for that and reading others stories that rang so true to my own experience I don’t know what the outcome would have been, much worse I’m sure.
    I think it is wonderful and highly admirable that you are doing this work for yourself and taking control over yourself and your future. I wish you continued success Skybuzz!

  25. While Vaknin’s writings are interesting, I agree with others, including Dr. Simon, that he may well be “justifying” or making excuses for his own malignant narcissism by casting himself and others with the disorder as victims who can’t help what they do because of their “self hatred” when evidence seems to show self hatred is not the problem with them at all though self-respect may be. Ns may not be able to help the way they treat others but are perfectly aware of the difference between right and wrong–they simply don’t care. They have no desire to change. This was evidenced by my ex–a malignant narcissist extraordinaire and one of the most evil people I have ever known in my life. To think I spent 28 years sucking up to his manipulations and game playing due to fear makes me sick inside. But it’s made me do a lot of thinking about myself and the reasons why I’ve always been such an easy mark for these sort of creatures (I’m not sure they’re actually human)and held in thrall to them for long periods of time.

  26. The problem I’m having right now is that I’m suddenly suspecting almost everyone of being N–due to not trusting anyone’s motives–but more likely some of these people may actually be borderline or histrionic personalities–which have traits in common with the narcissist. Or some may just be normal people who have garden variety narcissistic traits (I think all of us do to some degree or another). I’ve been questioning whether my own daughter (age 21) may have inherited malignant narcissism but I actually think she has BPD or even HPD–her behavior is erratic and uncontrolled–she’s the classic “drama queen”–she is very impulsive, emotional, and has trouble thinking things through before acting. I think her N father has a lot to do with this. I know she doesn’t have APD because she does have a conscience and often regrets her impulsive actions when she has to face he consequences or when her outbursts hurt someone.

  27. The person that validated me who was was involved with the same malignant Narcissist, seem to fit the same general psychological profile of many targets. He was somewhat vulnerable like me. Highly educated (going for an Ed D. came from a prominent family. He was slightly insecure (and he had no reason to be) very compassionate (like me) and was recovering from the death of a beloved partner. At the time of the relationship was living in a remote area, since then has moved to an urban area.

    As puddle said, no one is really immune from these individuals, no matter how smart they may be. They can fool anyone. It seems many clinician’s do not have the ‘practical experience’ to truly understand what NPD behavior is. My Psychiatrist told me that ‘personal experience’ is the best education, saying its ‘very difficult’ to ‘spot one’ in causal interactions. You can read about NPD and Psychopathy in books, however the best way to learn about them is through a personal experience.

    I read Robert Hares book ‘Without Conscious’ and even he was fooled once by a Psychopath, that’s how clever these predators can be. Hare simply says, ‘know yourself’ every weakness you have- if you do not have this kind of insight into yourself- becoming a victim is a possibility.

    The mental health agency I received help counseling from had little experience helping those abused by narcissists. They said I was a ‘unique case’ having in depth knowledge about NARCS!

    Public awareness and education are the best methods available to protect people, as well as basic street smarts and personal understanding of ‘thyself’ . Once they find a target, they pursue it relentlessly, sadly they usually get what they want.

    1. I think the biggest indicator to me in retrospect was the shallow affect and the flattery. And I totally agree with the notion that unless you have experienced this, you can not grasp it. You can hear about it and read about it but there has to be something experiential to refer what you are reading and hearing back to. I STILL can’t completely grasp that it’s real and i’m the one it happened to. I hesitate to speak about it to people because I am very aware of what it must sound like and what their thoughts are. I do know a couple of people in “real life” who have been through this in their past and know that I’m not just off my rocker! In fact, one friend of mine came to the realization that her ex-husband is a Spath from my forwarding her articles to read that I had come across. She was not exactly shocked but had never had a word to explain what had happened to her. She was more concerned about her kids finding out that their father was a psychopath than anything else.
      LuckyOtter, I know what you mean about seeing everyone as suspect for some serious disorder. I think it’s actually a good thing and part of the waking up to reality. There is no way to take care of yourself in life if you are unaware of the reason to. As much as I was harmed by this experience, I’m grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained. Better late then never. You can’t set a boundary to protect your self if you don’t know what the consequences could be if you don’t.
      I have to learn SOMEhow to hold myself back. I don’t know how to be guarded in the moment and things seem to fall out of my mouth. It’s very frustrating because I don’t seem to be any better at this now then I was before this happened. And if I’m nervous or uncomfortable it just gets worse. Its like this freeform disclosure compulsion. Not good.
      In regards to knowing yourself, they also prey on basic human needs and desires, not just weakness or vulnerability so again,,,,everyone is a potential target. It might not be a romantic involvement, it could be a business arrangement, a person you hire…..etc… I wish they would all just go away to whatever planet they escaped from!

  28. Hi Puddle, when you wrote above: “I STILL can’t completely grasp that it’s real and I’m the one it happened to”, I found myself nodding my head about thinking something similar just this afternoon. I was going over some of Dr. Simon’s words in Character Disturbance today and actually writing out things for me to say to my brother next time we meet up; I commented once before about him being a classic CA and has an arsenal of put-downs, insults and jabs to use and I get tongue-tied trying to deflect them all.

    However, some of the comments on this blog and scenarios Dr. Simon outlines in his books gives me “ammunition“. I was rehearsing some things out loud, to prime myself for our next encounter, and suddenly I thought: “this sounds so blunt and mean, how can I be like this” – yet it was just stuff like “I’m not going to tolerate this anymore” or “I know you’re going to use all kinds of tactics to justify your behavior or ignore what I’m saying, but I’m not having any of it”.

    I thought: “I can’t believe I have to speak like this to someone – I’d be a weeping heap of beat-up emotions if someone talked to me like that”, and this in spite of his nastiness towards me ever since I can remember (and I’m 57).

    Even with the first-hand experience of dealing with these types of personalities, it’s hard as neurotics to stop playing nice with everyone, which is exactly what those sinister characters prey on.

    What a learning curve this is. I feel so badly for those of you living with such character disturbed people and imagining the horrible stress you must be under (yup, true neurotic here).

    1. GG, I can relate to what you say here very well. Especially about having to speak so firmly to someone. It is so very difficult for me to assertively confront someone!!! It’s hard for me to explain. It’s not that I don’t think I have a right to it’s that I don’t know how to find the words for the situation in the right timing. I have so many ways to get it wrong. My mind just overloads with all the incoming information and possible replies and they the situation hits a wall. I had to say something to someone a couple weeks ago about my brother. The person had violated my confidence by saying something to my brother that turned into my brother calling me, bitching me out….drunk….at 11:30 at night. I said what I wanted to say and the persons response was….I’m sorry, we all make mistakes, I’ll try to do better in the future. Well, this is an attorney and I’ve had similar things happen in the past with him and the response has always been the same. but where do you go from there. There are SO many factors involved, so many things to take into consideration,,,,,,,I just dropped it and said….Ok. I’m thinking I shouldn’t even have to be confronting this person about this….he is an attorney! his voice messages say “please leave a confidential message……….”. I get all squirmy inside thinking about how to deal with this in a way that it doesn’t happen again. He has the upper hand in that I don’t really have a clue what is reasonable to expect in the situation! Ugggh!
      I am trying to get this better but Again, there are always things contributing to situations that have to be taken into consideration. I have someone helping me move right now and something went wrong the other day. So I think I have to say something but I also value her help and we are sort of friends too and she is working for me but she is also in a very bad place in HER life right now……… And I try to say something but I know she is offended by it or is taking it personally, I just don’t know how to strike the balance. and then something comes out of my mouth that I know is off track and i get nervous because I know that didn’t sound the way I meant it or reflect what I was trying to say…….. It is just as messed up in my head and worse as all of what I just wrote. And then, when it’s all said and done……it comes to me, I should have just said this. The dashboard got scratched the other day so lets not put anything up in the front of the car anymore. it hurts my brain and it is mentally exhausting and you are right GG, it is this attempt to be nice that these losers prey on but it is our nature! And I think now, looking back on the whole mess with Spathtard, I had a LOT of anger towards him because it seemed like he was forcing me into being “mean” by his lack of responsibility. Of course I didn’t understand ANY of it at the time and was so mired in utter confusion that I was barely functioning.
      I don’t know what the answer is GG…..I don’t know how to asses things like this in the moment and handle it appropriately and a Spath always knows how to switch it up just enough if they see you are getting a foothold.

  29. Hi Puddle, it seems that a lot of us neurotics are in the same boat. But as for the attorney friend, he/she should absolutely not have said anything. I would expect confidentiality to extend even more to a friendship, not just in business dealings where it has to be legally spelled out. And I find it hard also when people’s feelings are hurt or they get offended, but I think Dr. Simon has pointed out (and others also), that we are not responsible for other people’s feelings and reactions. If they have a lot going on in their lives, well, so do we, right? I’m sure you didn’t say anything mean to the friend helping you move, but sometimes in our heads we make it out to be so much worse because we’re almost enmeshed in other people’s feelings and wanting to make sure everything is fine.

    As neurotics we need to work on confrontation – I am trying to do it in tiny little steps; confrontation isn’t even the word – just speaking up about things that are almost innocuous, like when a long-winded cousin calls me. I’d either avoid answering the phone at all, or end up spending way too much time listening to her. (We’re good listeners, aren’t we?) Now I’m practicing: “Sorry but I can’t talk right now, when is a good time for me to call you? For me it would be _________ or _________.” I feel it’s such a small thing it’s almost pathetic, but that seems to be where I’m at. And then I think of all the others who have no problem at all blurting out whatever they want and wonder why I’m so tongue-tied.

    Our brains do shut down in one sense in the face of this kind of stress. James Pennebaker in his book: “Opening up, the healing power of expressing emotions” calls it lower-level thinking, and we focus just on survival. I guess it harks back to our evolutionary past, so shutting up in the face of verbal onslaughts is a way to survive the situation. If we can do something like just take a couple of deep breaths, and slow down our fight or flight response, we can process higher level thinking and more closely respond to what we actually feel.
    Of course, I’m really good at writing it all down but putting into practice … 🙂

    What I enjoy about this forum is the chance to explore these ideas and have a place to share my experiences and how I’ve done, good or not quite good, but at least making an effort.
    And I’ve learned a lot from you Puddle, just in the short time I’ve visited this blog. What you’ve been and are going through is helpful and insightful for the rest of us just beginning to get a grasp on what the h-ll has happened to us.

    1. Thanks GG, I think there is a lot of good information and good advise here and yes,,,,,easier said than done!! It all SOUNDS so simple! but in practice,,,, not so much. I can sense thing about people too, their receptiveness? And I also sense when it’s not safe to say something and then there is the dreaded….”no I didn’t, yes you did”! I might get off on the right foot but hit a wall that there is no climbing over! Something just drains out of me,,,,,I don’t know. I can tell you this….if it’s an in your face totally no question about it “offense” I’m on it with no problem. It’s not like I don;t know how to put my foot down, it’s just that other situations are so ambiguous.

  30. Speaking of accountability…

    As a retired psychologist and former teacher who spent my career working with children, I completely agree with Dr. Simon’s concept that, “…current culture allows disturbed people to reach adulthood without proper socialization.”

    Only I would take it a a step further and assert that current culture on a mass scale promotes improper socialization during childhood resulting in disturbed, manipulative and exploitive adults who otherwise could have been well-adjusted, responsible, and pro-social people.

    Let me be clear that I am a behaviorist and have great respect for Learning Theory. I believe that for most people nurture has much more influence than nature on character development and personality, and I also believe that our culture of entitlement and hedonism has made the job of being an effective parent incredibly difficult.

    The two most common factors I observed during my thirty years in the trenches with problematic children were (1)they had not been consistently required to face natural and age appropriate consequences, and (2) they had consistently observed adults modeling manipulative, exploitive, or aggressive behavior in response to conflict or they had doormat parents who did not know how to set consistent and appropriate limits and boundaries. They had not learned adequate empathy, consideration, and reciprocity. They were brought up to believe that the whole world revolved around them and that rules can be ‘flexible’ if one can accumulate power or some kind of manipulative advantage to make that happen.

    The truly sad thing today is that too many well meaning parents have no clue that catering, overprotecting and enabling their children to avoid taking personal responsibility for their own choices and behavior produces individuals who range from bratty and obnoxious to outright dangerous.

    The rearing of a responsible child, needs to start very early and to be done in such a way that whatever problem the child has caused is consistently and with empathy put right back upon that child’s shoulders for him to solve–and to solve in such a way that the solution does not cause a problem for anyone else. If damage has been done the child’s self-generated solution must have an element of restitution. The child is not allowed to go back to the “scene of the crime” until he acknowledges that his behavior was inappropriate or hurtful, exhibits remorse, and he solves his problem in a well thought out and pro-social manner.

    This can be done in an age appropriate manner from toddlerhood on. It is not about punishment (which if severe only causes a child to become sneaky and devious) but about learning to think–to think about how our own behavior can affect others and ourselves in detrimental ways and to find solutions that are win-win.

    Some of the best resources I found for helping parents and educators teach responsibility and to foster true self-esteem in children come from work done by Jim Fay (in conjunction with Foster Cline, M.D,) of the Love and Logic Institute.

    This little CD is a masterpiece of guidance for parents who want to rear cooperative, responsible children and enjoy themselves in the process.

    http://www.loveandlogic.com/p-132-four-steps-to-responsibility-cd.aspx

    Among their other resources I also enjoyed:

    http://www.amazon.com/From-Innocence-Entitlement-Logic-Tragedy/dp/1930429746

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ7e3fhYI_w

  31. Dr Simon,
    Many thanks for taking the time to engage with us on this forum – I read “Wolves in sheep’s clothing” many years ago, but my paradigm at the time probably prevented me from accepting many truths in it – I was reading it as an academic, not as someone with personal experience. I think its time for me to go and get your books again!
    Thanks also to others here for sharing and trying to help, and I wish you happiness. I have a tendency to get too involved in on-line forums and use this to escape, but end up hogging the show – I am going to leave now, read the books, see if I can find any way forward, and that will determine where I end up.. I may be back, and may not.
    I do not know if there is any “outside” help, whether this is just a physical universe governed by deterministic laws that must apply to everything, including thoughts and choices- or whether there is any “spiritual” component – I am inclined to think the former – but certainly wouldn’t say no to any offers of prayer or whatever for my children (and me).
    Thanks again,
    Fred

    1. Thanks for this comment, Fred. And I trust you’ll find the updated version of ISC as well as my other 2 books helpful in grasping a new and more empowering framework. Perhaps nothing is as insidious as the “unintended consequences” of having our outdated models retaining such blanket acceptance long after the age of “neurosis” passed us by and ushered in the age of character disturbance. I hope you stick around. There’s lots to learn and you obviously have much to share.

    2. Fred, please don’t be concerned about “hogging the show” because you are not and if someone has a need to share and vent and just communicate with people who understand their experience because they too have been through it, then that is why this site is here in the first place.
      But if you do decide to leave, I wish you the best and hope you get the help you need to get sone peace.
      Lake

    3. No one’s hogging the show here.

      It’s great to share your thoughts, because it may help to take together different observations. It can help understand how each of us see reality and how much of that is in perception and how much in objective reality.

      I myself, in the earliest days I was here, would write, on the spur of the moment, many poorly organized, clunky-sounding passages that tried to express three or five thoughts per sentence. These writings, I’m aware, would’ve been more appropriate as private scribbles(which I do a lot anyways). Then again, I’ve gotten a lot better.

      Even though many of my thoughts don’t relate directly to character disturbance, I wish to understand the nature of our reality(how esoteric-sounding, I know; if you just read it and don’t think) through what I’ve read, heard and seen.

      We are here to share what we’ve read, heard and seen. Perhaps Dr Simon even gets a lot of material out of these discussions(likw I hope he gets out of my ‘contributions’).

      1. Thank you both, Puddle and J (And Dr S.)
        Apart from the reasons I gave for ‘dropping out’ I have others – perhaps “disordered”.. I have various ‘models’ of ‘reality’, but only one seems to be nearly unarguable and valid
        – I think I made a huge personal mistake in trying to find “the truth” and scientifically deconstructing my beliefs – I fear that I may have found the truth, and I now wish I could return to the state of innocence and ignorance, wish I could be fooled by the delusion humanity needs to keep in order to have any motivating “meaning”.
        And when I get into debates, I will inevitable refer back to this “truth”, and doing this doesn’t help anyone. Someone who believes, for example, in divine love protecting and guiding them, is better off than me who is inclined to determinism – even someone who believes that they have some power by using mystical hocus-pocus or reading tea leafs is probably better off than I am. I tend to go all earnestly into the science and end up sometimes getting through – end up showing contradictions in peoples belief system that they cannot ignore – and also do this incessantly to myself.
        And it serves no good purpose – so what if its “the truth”? So what if its “objective”? – If (as in my case) this “truth” leads to loss of hope, or destroys the delusion of free will or “meaning” or “purpose”.

        I am going to stop here. I believed things that were entirely untrue, I felt (and feel) things that have no basis in any reality, I have lived with someone for many years without there being any common reality, felt a connection which could never have been there, loved this person probably more than I have loved any other (and am still grieving) had children with them who are beautiful people slipping into her control and I am unable to do anything.. And have this overwhelming feeling of utter powerlessness and utter depression which makes even typing this a mammoth effort.
        And I feel that anything I write can only spread this darkness.
        And it feels so self-focused it makes me feel some disgust for myself – I see people who’s entire lives have been swept away in a moment through natural disaster or acts of “war”, people with no recourse to law or help, and I see them continuing – I see people who were abducted as children managing to get their lives back together,yet I cannot see hope for mine if I dont manage to get reasonable access to them. All I want is for my life to end – and this must be because I am a weak selfish A**hole.

        1. Fred. I wish I could speak to you real time. You are facing some of the same things anyone who has had their head and heart stomped into the ground and then goes looking for an explanation for how such a thing could happen at the hands of someone they loved and supposedly loved them faces. It is VERY destabilizing. I would like to say however that the discovery of one truth/ reality does not negate others. Because we have discovered how bad bad can be does not mean that the good in the world, in people, in nature, does not exist or isn’t real.
          I hate Internet hugs because they seem over used sometimes but some are real and heart felt. I’m sending you a real one and want you to know that I can relate to just about everything you have expressed here.
          Puddle

          1. Fred, at the risk of sounding trite or like I’m repeating rhetoric, here goes…….It is not that we have to like reality. Human nature likes what feels good and dislikes and resists what feels bad. We are programed with that but as we mature and live life and get a broader and broader experience base, it becomes inevitable that we have to learn to accept the bad along with the good, like it or not. This is the basic tenant in any 12 step group out there. We do have some choice in how we interact with things that we dislike…..we can either accept that it is part of reality and do the best we can to either make a positive change regarding the situation or trust that if we let it go, things will take the course they were going to take. Resisting reality only keeps us locked into wanting it to be different than what it is and that is mental and emotional torture.
            I don’t want to sound insensitive to your struggles Fred because I hear that you are hurting deeply over this. There is nothing wrong or “dark” about being in pain, hurting, being angry, etc…….. you are expressing how you feel and I can relate to everything you have expressed. I just want you to know that at the darkest point of what I have experienced in my personal situation with Spathtard, I never thought I could or would get through it intact but I have. Yes it still hurts and if I had the ability I would wipe the whole mess out of my life and memory but I don’t. I have accepted that Spathtard is a POS, user and abuser, I got used and abused, treated with contempt and distain, that I loved someone who never existed other than in his words and my mind. I don’t like it one bit and it has been a horrible pill to swallow but swallow it I have.
            In spite of everything I went through I still am me and still love and care about people in my life, my pets, my family, nature, birds, animals, plants, etc…..I still have a curious spirit that loves to explore and learn and understand and laugh. He couldn’t touch want is real about me and it is still intact.
            So, without knowing all the details of your life and what you have been through, I just want you to know that inspire of this, there is a light at the end of the very dark tunnel and things have a way of working out better in the long run than we can imagine now. I am not discounting your pain Fred……to the contrary…..I encourage you to fully feel your feelings no mater what they are, but I would also “advise” you to the best of your ability, to find things that uplift you and bring you deep joy. I don’t know what that might look like for you. For me it is my pets, nature, gardening and a profound sense of wonder about the natural world around me. Invest in the things that are part of YOU and have always been part of you. Keep those things intact because those are the things that will feed you and keep you going.

          2. Puddle that’s a beautiful post. Filled with wisdom and uplifting. There are days when I feel I have found me again and then days when I feel lost but we do have to accept bad things happen and do our best to keep going. So difficult that it is, allowing ourselves to feel the pain but remember the good things are still there waiting to be found once again. Thanks Puddle. 🙂

          3. Hi Tori 🙂
            Im afraid the wisdom in my post is secondhand and so much easier to say than do but seemingly it is inevitable that it really is the only answer. I still can be brought to tears over what happened when I type something about how painful this has been for me. I know that the feelings this has brought on were already there at varying levels, the worst of it from a VERY old and deep place. I don’t agree that I “drew this into my life” because I still had places to heal or any kind of “victim blaming” BS, no more than i drew an auto accident or robbery or rape into my life because I didn’t get held enough as a baby. I do think there were things about me and my life style that left the door unlocked but the fact that a POS like Spathtardx walked through the door and trashed some of my most treasured items is squarely on him. There are plenty of people in this world who treat the wounded with kindness and compassion and don’t take advantage of opportunities to exploit someone who is vulnerable in ANY way. Robbers rob because THEY want something you have not because you are sick or old or vulnerable and just because your door is locked doesn’t mean they won’t bust out a window, come in, unlock the door themselves and then clean you out.
            The problem I see in getting over one of these entanglements is that it is so disorienting and such a departure from other hurtful experiences in your past that is compels you to try to understand what exactly happened and it’s like trying to understand something that never existed in the first place or landed in your world from a different planet or speaks a different language.

            {{{{{HUGS Tori}}}}}

          4. Puddle, everything you say is how it is…I beat myself up at times about getting involved, particularly because I took not just myself but my children into that environment. I was their protector and I let them down. I have to live with that and try my best to make amends. But no I didn’t ask for it, I never thought he would mistreat me in the way that he did. Anyway I wrote this poem a week ago, I had a rather empowering moment…of course had a little back slide recently as you do with the grief and loss but reread it today and I thought yeah I’m still on the road. I just have to expect some detours that aren’t exactly easy to navigate. I just thought I’d share it, that morning felt quite special.

            Realisation of Arrival

            The morning brought with it the aroma
            Of the night shower
            Droplets reflecting the smiling sun
            I drove through the bush
            Watching clouds play shadow puppets on the hills
            A glorious morning stage
            Cows congregate beneath the palm tree
            A tropical retreat
            And I drove, sweet blossoms on the wind
            Breathed on the wind through my open window
            I felt the world
            I could go anywhere
            Be anyone
            I tripped on strings of violins
            Becoming the music

            My pen inks of change on pages penned
            There is power, my power, theirs
            I dream these women to drive this road
            On this morning
            Or tomorrow morning
            Even next year
            Leave fear in that rear-view mirror and never see it reflected back again

            It’s in the smile of this morning
            And a road that can lead anywhere
            Sweeping through my new landscape
            My arrival is sweet freedom
            In the lifting of silence
            I’m on the road

            Also this article by Dr Simon was particularly helpful, especially having to “Fake it to make it” as that’s how I’ve felt sometimes…like I put on a front that Yeah I’m doing so well while at times inside I am crumbling but I do believe it helps to put that front up even at the worst times and keep moving.
            http://counsellingresource.com/features/2014/08/25/secrets-of-letting-go/
            🙂

      2. Okay, I’m used to some of the philosophical discussions, too, and I’m not in any way negating your pain.

        My thought is this: Truth shows things as they are so that we can find a way from there.

  32. Yeah- thanks Puddle and J .. Your words have been helpful in focusing me more – Ive had heartache and pain before, was divorced >20 years ago from my first wife (in fact, first lover – married at 19) when she left me with my 2 young children for someone else.
    But at least we stayed in contact, the children saw her whenever she or they wanted – there was much pain, but no hatred and no games and no abuse, and my children are adults with their own children.
    And at that event, although extremely painful and sudden, there was a common reality. This time its been slow and tortuous – Been fighting to make sense of it since about 2008, hearing accusations I had no connection to but were in a “context” that made “sense” (sometimes) – Being attacked for things that were obviously delusional, but at the time seriously made me question my sanity – Telling me I had “memory problems” when I had no recollection of offensive things “I had said” – things so far removed from who I am as to be impossible unless I was seriously disordered and had no memory of these “states” – So my Diabetes was blamed “You go hypo at night and become a monster” – So I go to my doctor and have no trace of nocturnal hypos… But still the penny doesn’t drop.
    Its dropped now.
    This one is different –
    Yes, the pain is there, the loss – but that’s not whats killing me.
    “Invest in the things that are part of YOU and have always been part of you. Keep those things intact because those are the things that will feed you and keep you going.”
    Thanks – You are right.. I almost cannot relate myself to many of those things now – one by one they were the things that have been targeted or banned or disallowed over the last 14 years,and I let her do it.
    “Truth shows things as they are so that we can find a way from there.”
    Thanks –

    1. Fred,
      ““Invest in the things that are part of YOU and have always been part of you. Keep those things intact because those are the things that will feed you and keep you going.”
      Thanks – You are right.. I almost cannot relate myself to many of those things now – one by one they were the things that have been targeted or banned or disallowed over the last 14 years,and I let her do it.”
      It will take some time Fred and some of what you used to be and enjoy might not fit anymore but there ail be things to replace those,,,,,,,you will see, just be open to opportunities and see where they take you. Give yourself some time to come to terms with all of this and stay open.

  33. I think these monstrous destructive people do even more damage than on just a ‘personal’ level – I think they actually damage our social evolution and advance of civilization..
    Good ideas and causes – particularly controversial ones – get hijacked by psychopaths and other malignants –
    This struck me when I saw a headline in a British paper “The price of political correctness” –
    A gang of psychos had abused and raped and exploited many young women over many years,and despite there being many alerts and much evidence, the local authorities did nothing – the police lost critical evidence and didn’t care (I wonder how many psycho’s were in that force and actually facilitating the abuse) – These psychos KNEW that anti-racist attitudes and legislation and “political correctness” could serve them, and they fully exploited this to their advantage.
    – And in so doing, they not only wrecked the lives of their victims, they also wrecked mechanisms specifically “engineered” to reduce racism and inhibit racist psychos from abusing “others” on these grounds.
    The same I think is true for other “good” social changes – Feminism now hosts a covern of psychopaths who specifically target families with children – I know this frompersonal experience – My first wife was drawn by a “spiritual teacher” at her meditation / circle dance class – this lesbian and my wife got into a relationship and broke our family, I got custody of my two daughers, but during a contact visit, one of my children was sexually interfered with by this woman (my daughter only disclosed this to me years later, long after my ex-wife had seen there was “something not quite right” with her partner.)
    This woman had obtained all the clearances required to interact with / counsel children and her and some friends turned out to have a long history of moving from family to family, breaking them up, and preying on the children – But sadly there was never enough evidence for the system to take action (although I actually wonder if this wasn’t another case of PC inhibition) – And when I printed “tracts” warning about these people, and placed these in schools and doctors surgeries and public places, and posted them to everyone I could think of, I was nearly arrested. At least I got the one womans child clearances revoked.
    At that time I never thought in terms of “psychopath” or “narcissist” – I never experienced them, to me they were just criminals, and if I could have had them “hanged by the neck until dead” I would probably have voted for that, despite my prior abhorrence for capital punishment.
    And this is what these people do – Even the “best” most “liberal” “empathic” “caring” person, when confronted by the results of their actions or (particularly) exposed to their abuse, can become “corrupted” or “degraded”..
    Things I think and feel now would have utterly appalled me five years ago – The fascist idea of compulsory psychiatric assessment for every adult, and the isolation of these parasites, would have filled me with horror and outrage.. But I think these kind of thoughts now – they share a place with thought that these people are also “victims” – and the two paradigms battle each other incessantly.
    Have these parasites been at work over the centuries, holding back our development, causing the wars and suffering we have endured? Have psychos like Lenin ‘derailed’ ideas and social structures which might have evolved into something good for humanity?
    Are these “people” actually people?
    Perhaps its me who’s mad.
    Fred.

    1. Fred,,,,,,,awesome post! I’m so sorry to hear of your encounters with these types. I can completely understand your outrage and personally can not imagine what I would do if I was in a position like yours where children were victimized.actually I can imagine because just reading your story made me realize what my reaction would be. A friend of Spathtard’s is able to share custody of his two children and it’s absolutely beyond my ability to understand why that isn’t stopped. He drinks, does drugs, passes out, feeds his kid frozen peas claiming they are pea soup,,,,,,which she hates anyhow then passes out on the couch with the bowl of frozen peas in his lap…..and his two kids…..where?? he is a total waste of air,,,,it’s a horrible thing to see.
      So this story was told to me by the mother……and if it were me, I would jerk those kids out from under him immediately! And who knows what kind of other people slither in and out of his place with the kids around? It’s just disturbing………….and it gets passed down another generation by example at the very least.
      I don’t think the worst of them are worthy of being called people or humans actually. They possess none of the tail tell signs of a human. they are just SO different,,,,,and that, in and of it’s self, is a way to manipulate the victim to be, indirectly. When you encounter someTHING that is so strangely different than what you have experienced in the past, its difficult to know that it’s dangerous. I compare it to tsunami victims……the ones saw the strange spectacle and knew what was happening ran for the hills. The ones who didn’t stood there watching in aw…………….until they got plowed under by the wave.

    2. That’s a great analogy, Puddle.

      Also, Fred, I think that makes sense. I don’t know how many actually keep fighting and defying intending to damage the very things keeping our society together and how many simply do that to get what they want, no thought or care to anything else, but it adds up.

  34. It’s amazing the variety of how wrong people can go. So many ways

    We have irresponsible covert aggressors aiming to get away with as little responsibility and as much power as possible, undermining people, who actually want to contribute. We have petty tyrants getting a kick of their use of power to intimidate. There’s a lot of emotional abuse in relationships, when emotionally immature people want to have a superior position in a relationship that’s just another opportunity to demonstrate their fighting skills(For reference, both for the petty tyrant and subtle emotional abuser, Stalking the Soul By Marie-France Hirigoyen).

    We have people trying to get away with little learning, because they feel so entitled to getting everything on the silver platter. Could that be the reason behind much of the incompetence in any area of work? I don’t know how much there’s incompetence, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot of it and this proved to be a link.

    The late Tim Field wrote about serial bullies. He noted that many bullies are often either incompetent or competent only in a very Limited area. Often soft skills, people skills and empathic skills are poor(I understand that not all bullies set out to bully, but with their immaturity, poorly handled aggression and poor empathy they end up bullying, too). One of the reasons driving bullying behaviors is to hide their incompetence. Instead of bothering to develop skills, they improve their deceptions. Again, in the process people, who wish to do good work and contribute or just live in peace and get by, are undermined and destroyed and their faith in giving more of themselves is damaged. That’s potential lost.

    Some people break the law, some prefer to pervert or exploit the law. Some like to tyrannize others by encouraging shame, which wouldn’t work on a genuinely bad person.

    There are scammers, who want to be rich, others’ ruined lives be damned. Many MLM pyramid schemes lure in people with promises of success and one egregious case appealing to people being impressionable had a spokesman take his baby son for all to see with him, Lion King style. Poor baby. Hope the luck is good and takes him to better people to raise him.

    There is even one self-proclaimed doctor(emphasizing “self-proclaimed” here), who claims to have the cure for answer and is secretly a sexual predator, who’s abused plenty of women. He even misled an actress promote him, until the actress apparently caught on thanks to an online article and disengaged. Two internet anti-scam vigilantes(Salty Droid and Omri Shabat), who’s sites I’ve read, have done great job of exposing these kinds of vile people.

    I’ve also read about a case of neglicent homicides in Sedona. Heard of the man called James Arthur Ray? People followed him for promise of rare, secret information. Three of the participants Ray was supposed to mentor died and Ray was nowhere to be found at the time. He’s at it again. No amends made, nothing really.

    There’s Sam Vaknin, who I don’t know exactly what he’s after. Does he want to make money? Confuse vulnerable people suffering from mistrust and mislead them into seeing narcissists everywhere ? Get cult following? Discourage narcissists from ever changing? Who knows? What some people do well is keep people guessing. If there is no clear answer, it may be good to keep in mind. They probably want to keep you guessing. Whether it adds to a bigger goal or not, doesn’t, matter. A goal or just because, doesn’t matter. We couldn’t even guess.

    There are frauds that are easy to fall for, because they present themselves as self-help. There are groups like est and its spinoffs Insight and Landmark Forum masquerading as personal growth and self-help movements, filling people’s head with rubbish for a cult’s gain.

    Cults recruit vulnerable people as well as careless people, people with holes to fill well with a good tasty belief system, idealistic people and people after a communion with that special group(refering to Robert Moore’s Facing the Dragon here; one ways in which grandiose energies of the great Self can play with us is by being projected into a group we belong to). There’s not just one type of person that can find their way to a cult. There are psychopathic power seekers, other aggressor personalities and fanatic visionaires as cults leaders. Brainwashed cultists can aggressively recruit more members. Some cults even train their members to lie as well as harass and aggress against anyone, who “threatens” a cult.

    There are extremist groups and right-wing parties with fanatic ideologies.

    There’s a group almost like what would probably come to mind from “Devil worshipper”: the Order of the Nine Angles, a group that has caused concern within the Satanist scene, the scene of the unpopular minority. A fascist group, O9A espouses a superman ideology, how things should we harder for us just to weed out the unworthy and leave the strong stronger in service of “sinister dialectic”. There is rhetoric about personal development and the greater destiny and it’s ghastly(and if you find it so, it’s supposed to be your problem with a reactive mind; creepy and disturbing). The movement seems to be for doing the dirty work for Neo-Nazis, upsetting the foundations of a society of “mundanes”. Some fundamentalists can get fuel from a neo-Nazi Satanist movement, according to Diane Vera. Room for influence? “Proof” for their beliefs?

    Not to mention, how many power freaks are there in different sects and movements?

    Sometimes, it seems, more moderate, rationaland reasonable members are driven out, bullied out, smoked out or faded out as the more vocal, extreme members or sly, conniving, seductive people gain more and more space to influence.

    There are areas with high levels of crime, aggression and predatory aggression. There’s wanton misbehavior, there are people being reckless, when they should know better.

    The last examples here aren’t anywhere near as extreme as others I’ve given here, but people can be so lacking in controls or so uncivilized or otherwise not appreciative of becoming a contributor, if they give any thought to it all. Some seem to be so content in living trashy lives. As examples I can think of two things a pal of mine told me once. When younger, he’d lived in a town in southern Finland for a few months. Around many corners there were skinheads hanging around. While they weren’t predatory or anything like that, it’s still pretty scary to walk in such an area. He’d even once seen one skinhead crush a beer can in his fist and yell that his wife is a whore.

    Another example is him seeing two men ferociously fighting in the midnight, in the middle of a road, and swearing to kill each other.

    Indeed, there are so many ways people can go wrong, but to think that all these local problems can add up.

  35. “Confuse vulnerable people suffering from mistrust and mislead them into seeing narcissists everywhere ? Get cult following? Discourage narcissists from ever changing? Who knows? What some people do well is keep people guessing. If there is no clear answer, it may be good to keep in mind.” – J

    Real confusing –

    I do fear that I am seeing psychos and narcs where these are just ‘normals’ having a bad day.. I dont like my paradigm shift and what comes with it…. I know that any group identification which leads people to see “the other” as sub-human is a mechanism commonly employed to get people to take awful action against “the other” .. Hitler used it, Stalin used it, The Apartheid regime used it, The Israeli Defense force and corrupt Rabbis use it (“One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail”)..

    I think perhaps I prefer being a victim rather than take the chance of being with those deceived into believing innocent people are monsters with no value.

    The problem is that I also know that if the real monsters aren’t inhibited, my children and many innocent victims will be easy prey for them.

    Where is a wise, caring God when one needs ‘him’ ? LOL – Because the wisdom required to “weigh in the balances” and take the right actions (and have the power to take such actions) is beyond the capability of any human.

  36. “Discourage narcissists from ever changing? ”
    Is this not a key issue – Can true Narcs and / or psychos ever change?
    And doesn’t this also raise the difficult questions – “What made them that way?” “Are they sick and therefore not fully responsible?” “Is there an ‘infection mechanism’ and if so, what is it?”
    Seems to me that, like Ebola, we may be at a critical ‘cusp’ if “infection” is involved.
    I never saw things in terms of “disorders” or “mental illness” before – I saw things in terms of “good” and “evil” – Even after I saw that my christian beliefs were nonsensical, it was still about what I saw as “right” and “wrong”.
    I fought Apartheid for many years in SA before being forced to leave the country – was shot at and arrested and placed under house arrest, friends of mine died in the struggle. Looking back, I must have encountered many vile psychopaths – They allowed for example black and colored children to only swim at beaches which were massively unsafe (the good beaches were reserved for whites) and dozens of children drowned every season.
    But I look at SA today, and psychopathy is rampant – gangs of those who were the victims of psychopath abuse now commit horrendous acts. I remember back before Nelson’s release, being at a protest over the shooting of miners – standing next to a man who would later be in government, and being shot at …
    This same man, a great friend at the time, allowed (instructed?) the police to shoot at miners a few years ago.
    Is psychopathy infectious? Are victims in danger of becoming psychos themselves?
    Thank god for the few people like dear Desmond Tutu who shine brightly despite having been subject to abuse from psychos.

  37. J –
    Sorry, I never commented on your post – It was excellent and covered a huge sub-set of related issues.. I dont personally do any looking at sects or the kind of groups you talk about.. Been there 😉
    But yes, I can see these are powerful tools for manipulators.

  38. Oh, one other thing… Real sorry to be dumping my stuff here, but the shift in my perspectives – recognizing psychopaths from my past who influenced my life – its causing me to replay and re-evaluate.. Things that left me with discomfort I couldnt explain..
    An example of this was after the fall of apartheid, there was the “Truth and reconciliation commission” where abused and abusers were on “trial” – But there was no mechanism for “judgment” – No penalty.
    I watched a couple of people I had known personally “confess” a tiny portion of their evil, I watched their “remorse” – And I watched dumbfounded as victims forgave them..
    I could not understand how forgiveness was extracted so easily – how these abusers could walk free.. I love Bishop Desmond Tutu – I knew him personally, he is perhaps the one person who has been an anchor for any remaining faith I have in humanity.. I felt that it must be me who was “at fault” – me who was “spiritually deficient”.
    But now I realize that Desmond, on that occasion, was a fool. These psychos (as I now identify them) had no remorse, they left the court exactly the same as they entered it.
    And loud and clear, the new South Africa announced to its population that psychopaths can get away with ANYTHING.
    For years I have had this deep feeling that something big must have gone wrong..
    It wasn’t me who was “unspiritual” – it was that sadly, on this occasion, Desmond was too spiritually minded to be any earthly good!

  39. Thank you, Fred, for all these. I don’t think the psychopathy is “infectious” in itself. Perhaps it’s just that when people have little controls or inhibitions and such an opportunity presents themselves, they are good(bad?) to go.

    It’s been said here before that abusers do like to push others into debasing behaviors. It heightens the feeling of power and justifies their own piss-poor behavior. Could it also reinforce the “okay-ness” of an abuser’s behavior in an abuser’s mind?

    Having read the late Tim Field’s stuff, it recounts many forms in which serial bullying can take form. A bully can convert a workplace department into a gang of helpers, comprising of those, who have as few qualms as the arch bully, and those, who are coerced under the threat of losing their jobs or becoming bullied and harassed themselves. The latter ones can easily serve as scapegoats if a gang of bullies is in danger of being exposed. I guess such mobbing is just one way such group dynamic can manifest.

    Someone here also posted a link about sociopaths, empaths and great tools of sociopaths, apaths. Apaths can switch off, dim down or mute their conscience for time being. I think they can go on knowingly without realizing what a sociopath would do to them once they’ve stopped being useful.

    Some of it could be akin to ISIS recruiting people, who want to have a feeling of belonging and mission. People, who could serve better under the power of their own faith, their own self-realization, are brainwashed into following an ideal and forsake themselves for it. As I recall the Neo-Jungian analyst Robert L. Moore saying in one online article, fine men are offered a demonic, cultic vision.

  40. Now that I think about my earlier words more, Fred, let me re-articulate:

    The purpose of information should be empowerment through clarity. Some people can subtly muddle up information to confuse different issues and avoid people getting proper clarity. For example, people, who already are mistrusting because of a bad encounter, could be pushed into even stronger, more pervasive mistrust. Another possibility I can think of is leading someone into more ready for counter-aggression. Then again, this is just theorizing(unless actually can give examples).

    Also, shouldn’t spirituality help us do earthly good?

  41. “Also, shouldn’t spirituality help us do earthly good?”
    Yes J – I believe it should… In fact that quote was self parody, because back when I was in S.A. and a believer, I was accused of being “So spiritually minded I was no earthly good” and “So open minded my brains had all fallen out”
    LOL 😉
    At the time I argued vehemently that such ideas were nonsense- that “spirituality” (for me at that time) was doing what I felt Jesus would do in the same situation..
    Sadly though, people can assign whatever they want to this kind of belief system – They could think that Jesus would damn the unrighteous to hell, when I was thinking he would lend a helping hand, they would see a completely different picture, many believing that only whites were truly humans with souls, and therefore salvation didnt apply to those “animals”.
    I got turned off by the church, and joined the CP and ANC – And came to see “purely spiritual” ideas as debilitating – came to see that there are times when not judging doesnt prevent you or any other innocent from being judged and damned by some psycho, when turning the other cheek can be fatal, and when not shooting some child murdering white cop was cowardice not restraint.
    And I lost my way – I still saw (and see) Desmond’s way as the better way – but it doesnt seem to work.. Just as Ghandi’s way, whilst wonderful, didnt REALLY work, did it?
    And I now wonder if the reason these ways dont work is because psychos arent touched by them –

    1. You’re on to something. Please keep commenting here.

      I feel commenting on different matters where I deem fit, even though they aren’t directly related to character disturbance or surviving evil people, has been a great thinking exercise.

      We share what we’ve observed and think what it could mean.

      Personally I made a mistake when I first started posting here. I made the mistake of trying to catch every single random thought while writing. I’d done the same in a creative writing class earler, I just hadn’t realized what I was doing. I was too accustomed to that. My earliest writings here were similar. They were overly generalized, exaggerated, clobbered together, poorly organized, over-intellectualized, repetitious, rambling, meandering word salad. It would’ve been more appropriate in a private journal. What would sound great in my head ended up looking stilted once I got it down. Whatever thought I’d try expressing ended up getting lost in action. Frustrating, for sure. So I’ve adjusted my consciousness(in regards to not just this blog, but generally speaking) and managed to let things come out more naturally.

      Discussing different matters can help you come up with more and more thoughts on life in general. You can even come up with new thoughts on how we can do better in life. Humans in general do a lot of fighting and I’ve actually tried to encourage discussion in different contextes as well. Humanity in general is flawed in so many ways. I don’t delude myself that just talking would solve anything, but we can help ourselves become better, at least.

    2. Traditional theories seem to think that deep down everyone’s the same when this in fact is not the case. They’re the great example of looking at things from a very limited perspective. They don’t look into how humans tend to fight a lot. The context is limited.

      One woman once told me during a computer course how she thinks people are better off studying several different points of view and several different life philosophies. I agree with her, because it makes sense.

      1. J, I find this very interesting, the notion that traditional BELIEFS can affect so much and in a negative way. For instance, I think it makes a tremendous difference WHY someone does what they do, what is behind their behavior, performance in life, in school, etc. Like a CD person “forgetting” your birthday vs a neurotic person FORGETTING your birthday. CD = Manipulation, intentional hurtfulness, etc. Neurotic = they forgot!
        I know for a fact that someone who is affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and who’s brain was damaged by exposure to alcohol in utero may under perform in school and have varying degrees of other issues in life as a result of how their brain developed. So, I don’t think they should get a “free pass” in life but I do think that if the base reason for their underperformance is because their brain has problems processing information, storing it and retrieving it, they need someone to educate them in a different way than someone who doesn’t have it would. I say all of that because I am such a person and I struggled in school to the point of giving up. No one knew that I had FAS so the expectations on me were essentially unrealistic. Getting to my point here………………how do you treat someone for anything if you don’t know what it really is you are dealing with? So someone comes into the doctors office with a limp and there are so many different things that could have caused the limp. It could be cancer in the home, a broken leg, a sprain, a pinched nerve, etc, etc,,,,,,, so you HAVE to get to the bottom of what caused the limp before you can treat it. You wouldn’t immediately assume that this person has a broken leg and needs a cast. and if the only reason you ever learned for someone having a limp was that they had a pinched nerve, you might send someone home without a cast and dismiss their pain.
        Maybe not the best example but my point is this, people interpret life through their own understanding, experience, and knowledge…….clearly in the realm of character disturbance and psychopaths,,,,,this can be a huge problem.
        Anyhow I think in certain situations it IS important to look beyond the behavior and see how and why a person is doing what they are doing. That is my problem with CBT therapy The “C” part is not the same for everyone and therefor the “B” part may be extremely difficult for some people to change and the expectations that they will may be unrealistic and cause a great deal of frustration for the patient and the therapist.
        There is a phrase in regards to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome……… “Can’t, not won’t”. I don’t agree with it in the extreme but it does illustrate that change is hard for someone who’s brain is damaged in a way that severely limits it’s ability TO change.

        Fred,,,,,interesting point about judging.

    3. What you describe, Fred, like not judging and turning the other cheek, shows how narrow points of view are. On the other extreme, there are actually paranoid personalities, who see threats everywhere, resort to pre-emptive “defensive” aggression(how defensive is paranoid aggression anyway, really?) and end up doing as much harm as psychopaths.

      Then again, just knowing doesn’t equal self-development. Aggressors know who and what they are, but don’t want to change. Dr Simon’s also described it in other contextes(for example, that article Beyond Self-Awareness: Self-Development).

      Where self-actualization exactly fits in I don’t figure. Then again, mind itself isn’t a mathemathical equation or a mechanical structure. It has various explanations for it that all make sense in their own way, like cognitive, Jungian, neuroscientific and sociocultural.

      Theodore Roosevelt’s been quoted saying: “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” Can a person, who’s educated in finesse, but not in empathy, relatedness, conscience, morality or considering others’ rights, be considered self-actualized?

    4. Fred and Puddle, let me quote Mastery by Robert Greene. That’s a book I can’t shut up about(well I can, but I think it’s good to mention it).

      “Some people do not become aware of inclinations or future career paths in their childhood, but instead are made painfully aware of their limitations.”(pg.43) Noting how such people can internalize criticisms of others, Greene goes on with an anecdote about Temple Grandin.

      Greene then clarifies key points: “When you are faced with deficiencies instead of strengths and inclinations, this is the strategy you must assume: ignore your weaknesses and resist the temptation to be more like others.” ” – (D)irect yourself toward small things you’re good at” and “concentrate on becoming proficient at these simple and immediate skills.” From that base, Greene says, you can expand to other pursuits.

      “Understand: Your Life’s Task does not always appear to you through some grand or promising inclination. It can appear in the guise of your deficiencies, making you focus on the one or two things that you are inevitably good at.” “This strategy applies as well to any setbacks and difficulties we may experience. In such moments, it is generally WISE to stick to the few things we know and do well, and to reestablish our confidence.”

      There you go. 🙂

      1. Ah,,,,,great advise and i see the wisdom of it in my own life…..but somehow it’s never really paid off in “the big picture”. I have many skills but they are like micro skills and they apply mostly to me keeping me on track and in life. My boring passion in life is keeping house. It’s old fashion and boring but I L O V E to putter around the hacienda and do the typically “woman of the house” stuff. Keep up with a household.

        ” In such moments, it is generally WISE to stick to the few things we know and do well, and to reestablish our confidence.”
        This reminds me of a saying that goes a long way back……….”Jack of all trades, master of none”! 🙂
        But, that was a serious side effect of the mess with Spathtard. It turned me so upside down it made it very hard for me to find the familiar things about myself that used to keep me going, things I had been developing and discovering for years and years. I don’t think anyone who has never been through something like this could understand how bizarrely disorienting it can be.

      2. You do some things well and they could also relate to other things you do well and know well? Anything you can do to make things work better.

        You said, Puddle, that your brain has its limitations. Perhaps that relates to finding out how it works. Writing down self-observations in a notebook perhaps? Finding someone you’ve researched to be a great helper? Just a few guesses.

        1. J, you are sweet to offer suggestions and I appreciate your input. My situation is hard to describe at best. I actually do have someone , as of a few months ago, who is helping me but it is not the best match because of her own issues in life and her career. Writing things down? Probably not going to work for me but I’m not sure what you mean.
          Thanks J!! 🙂

  42. I agree with a lot what you have written on this topic including “Holding manipulators and other disturbed characters accountable for their choices and actions is a must.”

    How can we do this? How can one spouse do it with another spouse?

    How can we do this with adolescents or relatives?

    1. This is exactly what my books In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance are all about. The principles are outlined there and examples given. If, after reading the material, you still have questions about application of the principles, feel free to contact me through the back channel using the “Contact Dr. Simon” feature.

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