The Role of Insight in Promoting Change

As readers of my blog articles and books In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome already know, I specialized in the assessment and treatment of personality and character disturbances for many years before retiring from active practice.  But while dealing with character disturbance was a primary specialty area of mine and required me to develop a radically different treatment approach, I also did a fair amount of traditional insight-oriented psychotherapy with clients who were appropriate for that type of intervention.  In the process I learned a lot about both the importance and limitations of insight when it comes to making important changes in a person’s life.

Traditional therapy approaches have always placed a premium on insight.  That’s partly because the emotional conflicts believed to underlie a persons “neurosis” were presumed to be largely unconscious to them, so helping someone “see” what it was that was really at the root of their problems was the biggest part of relieving their distress.  It has never ceased to amaze me how much insight a person can gain within the context of therapy. And helping someone finally “put all the pieces together” as to how they got to a certain place in life has always been both rewarding and constructive.

I had some really great psychotherapy clients and it was a pleasure to witness them having their proverbial “Aha!” moments. But these clients also taught me an important lesson (a lesson that has also been validated by ample research): most of the time, insight simply isn’t enough when it comes to changing one’s life. And sometimes, the very fact that someone has come to “see” clearly the origins of their self-defeating ways (generally caused by emotional scars from the past) yet continues have difficulty doing things differently can in itself be a source of significant distress. One client aptly put the dilemma: “I now know all-too-well the dumb things I do and why I do them.  I even know what I probably should do instead. So why can’t I seem to make myself do those things? It makes me crazy!” To address that very concern, I began to rely on lessons I’d learned from my work with disturbed characters. Insight is great, I realized, but without challenging dysfunctional thinking and behavior patterns, and most especially, without reinforcing efforts to do things differently, most people will tend to stay “stuck” in old familiar patterns. They might feel better for the few moments they have the opportunity to “vent” during the therapy hour, but that doesn’t mean they experience the joy of truly being free of their past.

As I mention in my books (see, for example, Character Disturbance pp. 30-58) because, despite how it may outwardly appear, disturbed characters generally already have plenty of insight, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as opposed to insight-oriented approaches is the treatment of choice when it comes to character disturbance. But CBT principles also provide some real benefits for non-character impaired folks, especially those who are recovering from toxic relationships and want to address any issues that might make them vulnerable in the future.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be saying more about why insight – for all it’s value – is almost never enough when it comes to making genuine changes in your life.  It’s natural for us to want to “understand,” and it’s sometimes quite satisfying to learn all about the “whys and the wherefores,” but it often takes doing things a whole lot differently and on a consistent basis to really grow in awareness, and that’s where some of the principles of CBT, properly applied, can make a big difference.

Character Matters on Sunday evening at 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT will again be a live broadcast, so I can take your calls.

I’ll be having more to say in the coming weeks about the upcoming “webinar” tentatively planned for September. Many of you have already used the “Contact Dr. Simon” feature to apprise me of your interest in attending and I’ve already put about half the minimum number of attendees we need on the notification list. So, thanks for that and stay tuned for more information.

102 thoughts on “The Role of Insight in Promoting Change

  1. I am really interested in this series the combination of thearapies and how they may work with or even against each other. (if that is your meaning Dr Simon). I do believe in the value of CBT but have often thought that on its own that it doesn’t really fit the bill in some instances. As when in a relationship with my CD husband, I was given CBT therapy by one psychologist and really although I could see the benefits at the time I needed more. As changing your thinking and approach to life’s problems is one thing but while you have another major force in your life messing with your thinking that can counteract any therapy you receive. It certainly did in my case as if you add FEAR into the equation then I think all the benefits of CBT seem to fly out the window.
    I can see even from reading other’s stories on here and I mention Sheri, how it is working and she has so much strength to remain and change the way she approaches her relationship which is so beneficial and empowering. Yet in other instances it may not be so.
    It was only when leaving that I started to see the differences and could make those changes. It was still difficult. Recently I’ve been involved with I guess insight therapy and it bowled me over as to where I was in my healing process, to the point where I feel almost there. I realised I removed and put this man who caused so much chaos in his deserved spot and emotionally he is further removed from me than I thought. That was a great insight I hadn’t realised. Since leaving using CBT is so much easier, I have really been doing it myself and perhaps having such therapy years ago has helped me now in a way it couldn’t back then.
    I still believe a person has to be open fully to CBT, so many are not and as my therapist pointed out to refuse to change oneself is responsibility avoidance.
    For me it was a combination of therapies that have helped me, as well as a desire not to stay in that place that made me vulnerable and I am now at a stage where I feel that I no longer need therapy and my counsellor agrees. That has been wonderful to hear and to be able to acknowledge myself is so empowering.

    1. Tori, “I have really been doing it myself and perhaps having such therapy years ago has helped me now in a way it couldn’t back then.”
      There is no doubt in my mind that being with one of these losers “changes” you and affects you ability to act as you normally would.
      When I think back in my life, there were times that I did CBT therapy on myself in a way like overcoming a fear ( or making it better ) like eye contact with people or assertiveness or other things I made myself start doing. Kind of the ” feel the fear and do it anyhow” type of approach.
      Anyhow, I can see the futility of your position being with a CD and trying to do therapy…….like bailing out a leaky boat that someone else is drilling more holes in? I kind of grieve for that part of us that tried to do our part to make things better because we didn’t know how futile our attempts ultimately were. 🙁 I know where my heart was and that makes me sad.

      1. Wonderful leaky boat analogy Puddle, it’s exactly that isn’t it! I’ll admit that I didn’t tell the psychologist who was giving me CBT back then about the violence in the relationship so really without that information she probably couldn’t expect to give me the correct therapy either!

        I believe that feel fear and do it anyhow approach is great! I’ve done that my whole life, you know when my adult children were younger I helped in their classrooms at school. I was a nervous wreck most of the time yet I forced myself and it made a huge difference as now I work in classrooms! It’s really strange to think on that, how terrified I was back then to coming the full circle! It’s so weird how the mind can work!
        I know it was a serious social anxiety I had back then that caused all my problems.
        But being with a CD changes all the dynamics as whenever you get stronger they are waiting and watching for that right time to bring you right back down to the size they want! Sometimes it’s so subtle other times it’s brutal! Talk about sabotage!
        You’ve come along way Puddle, try not to be sad, rejoice in your new found strength! 🙂 (((((huge hug)))) !!!

  2. One of the things I’ve pondered in all of this, as far as prevention of future problems in a situation such as the one with S-tard, is how you practice a skill ( the B of CBT ) if you are not IN a relationship? How do you practice the relationship self defense and CD detection skills if you are not in a relationshit with one?

    1. That’s a good question Puddle. When we’re young too we think we know better than everyone else when it comes to falling in love! Maybe it’s that hard lesson of life but it can be a tragic lesson to learn. Maybe it is teaching self esteem and empowerment from childhood and in adolescence across the board. In schools, I do know that some schools have introduced confidence building workshops but it seems rather futile if the child goes home to family that is dysfunctional! All that good work goes down the gurgler.

      1. Tori, when you are in love you think you know better than everyone else too. I saw and knew things that were wrong and shared them with therapist, friends, etc…..I sought out others perspectives and sometimes they thought something was wrong, very wrong……but other times they were fooled too. And they were not there with him, in my being, being toyed with and manipulated so they were not “under the influence” and could not fathom the hold he had on my heart……or whatever it was in me he had ahold of. I still, at least right when I typed that…. felt a slight tug on the line. 🙁

      2. So a question in all of this is, can you have healthy self esteem and still be manipulated by way of an old wound? Or by way of an unmet natural human need? Or by way of a vulnerability like illness, loss of a loved one, financial loss, etc? Or maybe through an unrealized and burried trauma? I say yes you can. That’s where it all goes round and round for me……or what if you(me) have a really hard time sorting through things that seem ambiguous? Everything about the situation with him seemed ambiguous! I think I used more brain cells durring that mess, trying to sort it all out, than I lost in all my years of drinking.

        1. Puddle that’s really interesting as I just watched an old television show on the brain function (part of my study) and it was really interesting in how quickly the brain can change from a normally healthy functioning brain with no pathological traits to a pathological abnormally function just by an emotional question and back again. It can take seconds for those changes to occur. Now admittedly it was dated so there could well be more information and research on this now but it would stand to reason that if you are in an emotionally manipulative relationship under constant attack it could be quite reasonable to expect some physical damage to your brain and that part of the process of rebuilding is the healing of those physcial aspects. That may well hinder people in their healing too emotionally, I also read that childhood trauma may cause the amygdala to become smaller so that would have quite an impact on healing of emotions.

          1. Tori, that is CRAZY interesting ( no pun intended ). There is something very significant there but I can’t put it together. Something tying into what and how they do what they do Tori.

          2. Puddle I felt the same way reading it, because I recall that esp the amygdala is fairly small in psychopaths too! I’d have to check it as it may have been in Without Conscience but not sure, or in documentary I’ve watched. I know it is significant in the psychopath but even so if one part of the brain is damaged another part can sometimes take over from the damaged part… so from that perspective maybe CBT helps in that kind of physical recovery in another area of the brain to help rekindle emotional health? It really is fascinating learning about this stuff…me at this age a fledgling student ha ha!!

          3. Tori, this is the part I see some connection to the manipulative process in………
            “……..and it was really interesting in how quickly the brain can change from a normally healthy functioning brain with no pathological traits to a pathological abnormally function just by an emotional question and back again….”
            What I find interesting is that Spathtard started the emotional manipulation very early and if this concept applies he did so partly by weird, WTF, off the wall, out of left field actions, responses,, too hard to explain,,,,, things that most definiately generated an emotional response in me. SO, I’m thinking that what they do to emotionally manipulate their victim changes the brain in some significant way that in addition to being emotionally manipulatable also makes the victim more easily manipulated mentally. I’m sure it all ties together somehow because you can’t manipulate someone mentally without affecting them emotionally and visa versa I supose. Idiots
            I see something else here with them too though.

          4. The thing about brain damage sounds like it could help explain these entanglements even better.

            Could it help if we also discussed the ways to help brain recover?

          5. Puddle, you mention “weird, WTF, off the wall, out of left field actions, responses”. I don’t grasp how disorienting they have been and must be, I can only guess and I hope something clicks for you. Preverbal processes? Stimulus brain doesn’t recognize from before, like brain groaning: “Oh no, that doesn’t fit in with my sense of reality”? Lizard brain getting active just in case it could be of concern?

          6. Puddle, I think that could be very much the case. As there could be many points where the brain activity could change considerably, take hormones etc…they have an impact, so add to that manipulation, emotional, physical abuse what is that doing at that particular time to brain function. If the brain automatically senses danger then the person goes into fight/flight mode so in a sense that is what you are living in day to day maybe without really recognising it. I can’t imagine many people thinking logically at times like that, they are thinking survival. So of course you are seeking a way to stay safe and if they can manipulate you and make you believe you are safe then it could well be that at such times you succumb. In a sense it is like training the brain, a form of brainwashing I guess.
            Maybe it’s when you are finally free and brain function returns to normal that you can have a chance at putting the right things in place to heal the brain and yourself. At least then you have the fighting chance, using techniques like CBT and as BTOV says enjoying those beautiful simple things in life, as that would have a huge impact on brain function.

    2. Puddle, they are everywhere. Relatives, people I once thought were friends, acquaintance, co-workers, even strangers… the chances to practice are practically there daily.

      Also, not to avoid this: we are all tainted, and so even otherwise normal people do slip into manipulation at times, and it is a good challenge to help one another face up to it, and do things differently.

      I am one of the people here who is waiting for Dr Simon to wind down telling us what does not work (e.g. “insight”) and teach us what does work. And I mean more than exhortation, I mean real hands on skills. 🙂

      Another interesting thing I am chasing these days is dopamine. I think there is a reason why some people get addicted to power and status so much that they are incessantly self-inflating their image, and incessantly demeaning others. Could be that both give them a dopamine squirt in their brains. Eh?

  3. Yes, I believe that can happen, we really want to think the best of everyone. Pretty amazing, but I never knew what “Boundaries ” were. In fact that is the name of a good book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. The information we receive from this site will help us to see beyond the Masks. I keep asking myself “what is the good I can take from the wreckage” and now with all I have learned am I going to make these the best years of my life. Blessings

    1. Tori, I have read about the studies done on the brain, and I think it is talked about in Hares book. I found for me healing was laughter, just silly, small things, and the enjoyment, tranquility of peace of being out of the loopy, loop. Just to see the beauty in a day, feeling the warm sun, seeing the tiny crocuses poking their tiny shoots out of the ground, a warm hello from a neighbor, the business of the birds at my feeders. Just peace to think my own thoughts, and the right to be wrong without being judged and punished. How amazing the little things, we were never allowed to enjoy. The right to be me and not defined by any other, to love myself and then see that others accept and love me for me. Blessings

      1. Very nice BTOV! 🙂
        He never took any of those types of things away from me, never ever could and really didn’t seem to try to.

      2. I totally agree BTOV, it is those simple pleasures in life that can bring about healing. Those are so essential to wellbeing, even to be able to think your own thoughts, not be judged, wow that is such a great feeling. There are so many motivations to healing. I know that for me it was to survive financially which led me to continue studying so that I can get a job in the future that will help me to be financially independent. Between working part time and studying full time I must admit I don’t often have the time to feel lonely. But I still make time for the little things, they’re so important! 🙂

  4. Dr Simon:

    What are the unbridled, channeled, covert, sadistic and predatory types likely to seem if they ever come to decompensate?

  5. Vera, as I got to know myself and looked at who I called a friend….kinda sad, how little I expected. Yes, BOTV, there are chances everywhere to practice saying what’s okay or not, to simply voice my own opinion, view it as valid, not trying to guess what someone wants me to say. Just say how I feel directly, calmly, kindly and expect someone to listen, respect and care about what I said. Who knew what was out there in the non-CD world?
    My amygdala easily could have been peanut-sized after the emotional and verbal abuse I suffered as a child. I was also starved for hugs, any kind human interaction. After a few months of dating, CD and I moved in together. Thought my parents would be okay, whoops, at Christmas I could come home but not CD. I chose him. One afternoon, close to Christmas, I laid on our bed sobbing at the thought of not being home. CD could hear me from the other room, but no response til I called him. He came in briefly, then left. I finally see why that didn’t set off huge alarm. I had always hidden emotions, they were great fodder for ridicule, so it was pretty easy to excuse away essentially being ignored.
    Then life with CD must have shrunk my amygdala to a grass seed. Maybe that is part of the healing, growing that baby.
    I get on here and babble at times because the loneliness I feel is so deep and painful. I volunteer, I’m taking a class plus 2 more things, but I get so tired at how much work it is to keep going. Everyone from the past is gone, trying to make new friends. Would desparately love a girlfriend to call and talk to about the nothingness that women talk about. Just gets sooo discouraging. I know I have to keep getting involved, finding new ways/places to meet people. Thanks, although I consider myself quite spiritual I am not religious. Myabe having you guys to talk to will help me avoid the whole Lunatic topic, which make me more appealing.

    1. Lulu that loneliness can be so demoralising, it’s good that you are getting out there. You know one thing about those in your past being gone is that new friends get to know the person you are now without all that other stuff. I moved away from everyone I knew and making friends is so difficult. I actually gave my phone number to a lady I’d met and in a way asked her to be my friend…I have never in my life been so open like that and honestly she could have rejected it outright but thankfully she didn’t and she rang me and we have been building a lovely friendship. I had to do that because being older and a single parent I couldn’t always get out to socialise like I would have when I was younger. I now ring her and we will go out to lunch and have those nothing conversations and not once do I talk about my ex. So maybe while you’re out just ask someone you connect with if they want to go out for lunch or coffee and see what happens. You are an exciting lady Lulu, I can imagine that many people would love to be friends with someone who is willing to go para sailing and zip lining. I know I would! You have so much to offer to a friendship. Don’t give up, you will get there! 🙂

  6. Lulu, Spirituality and being religious are two different animals. Putting aside the scientific study of brain shrinkage in trauma victims which is a fact. I believe the core personhood of our soul is covertly being attacked and sucked dry and our inner child is silenced and frightened into a locked room in the recesses of our being so the CD body snatcher can, with intent, knowingly or subconsciously(I believe they know) bury us alive and then live not only our lives through them but their sick distorted lives too, taking as many fatalities as possible along. Sick very sick. What the CD fails to take into account is the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Blessings to all and may God bless and keep you all safe and become the best you could ever have possibly thought possible from your life experience. j

  7. The character disordered don’t want to change. The way they are has become part of their basic personality, so it also might be very hard for them to change. The debate about the psychopath brain is interesting and seems to test the limits of what we know about the mind. If traumatic experience can alter the amygdala, couldn’t repetitive thoughts, actions and moral choices over time have a pronounced effect? Is doing the immoral thing always a result of brain anomalies or are the structural changes the result of doing them? That’s the philsiosphical amd neurological question. What about the spiritual? When somebody knowingly does a cruel or anti-social thing, do they start to resonate with some energetic dark force, external to themselves? In so doing, do they form an unwitting alliance with? If so, pretty ironic that by never choosing to submit to a higher authority of any kind, they default to the most pathetic state of servitude one could possibly imagine.

    1. Your post is similar to some I’ve written here many times, in other words quite theoretical. If you were to ask me, I’d say doing such thing repeatedly affects the brain structure.

      Of course, while I don’t think you are thinking about any literal energetic dark force, I have read and heard some things in people’s speech about how they feel energies, whether it’s the energy of a room full of people at a party or going to an empty room and unexplainably feeling the presence of evil, just to mention a few examples. These experiences of something as if it was external to a subject are very interesting.

      Again, Jung talked about how archetypal configurations form the basic blocks of our mental life. Could that have something to do with what you’re talking about?

      1. Hi J, Am so not a spiritual expert. I am sometimes confused by the use of the word, ‘energy,’ when it comes to describing a similar mood a group of people, are experiencing. If the mood abruptly alters, that is easily explained in a prosaic way, so no need to apply some mysterious etheric quality to it.

        The other use of the word ‘energy’ as applied to highly unusual synchronicities, meaningful coincidences and unique individuals who leave deep and lasting impressions, not so sure. I don’t know if prosaic explanations explain, or explain away something that seems to be truly mysterious — on both ends of the spectrum– the light and the dark. Carl Jung had some insights, it seems, but he, like all of us are constrained by conventions and assumptions as well. A complete picture if what is actually going on here may be beyond our minds to grasp. The best we can do is develop working hypotheses and hope they conform to ultimate reality.

    2. LisaO, if you think about how for example, a virtuoso violinist’s brain shows a significantly higher number of neuron connections and activity in the part of the brain that corresponds with the ability to play a violin, you can extrapolate from there about all kinds of things good and bad. It’s also like a well worn rut or track. As far as resonating with some energetic dark force, I don’t know. The worst of the worst do not seem human to me, that’s for sure. There are many bad and hurtful human behaviors that I would never do myself that I can at least make some sense of if I try, but what the types we talk about do is beyond my ability to comprehend in any way shape or form. It just stops my brain in its tracks as does something like sexually abusing children. It’s just beyond a point that seems explainable in any human realm and that is how I think of them basically, non human animals……. only lower.

      1. Hi Puddle! The violinist comparison is a good one. CD’s do play people like a violin! It’s a great multi purpose expression. And the more they play their violins, in this case their targets, the better they get at it! And repetitive thought buttressed by follow through action, in particular, structures the mind. So, if upon performing an autopsy, the part of the brain responsible for empathy is shrivelled it could create confusion, cause and effect wise. And if the empathy part of the brain is shriveled, there is likely another part of the brain that is denser and over developed, like the violinist.

        As far as dark energies go, taken literally, it’s an open question for me. It probably works as a useful metaphor for some trying to grapple (fruitlessly) with the why’s and wherefore’s of their motivations. Their indifference to us is usually just a reverting to their normal state. Alarming, horrible for us to go through but not outside the bounds of our understanding. But Puddle, you and I and others here, were targeted by the most lethal type; a stealth sadist. And there, the analogy of a cat stalking, hunting, and killing its prey doesn’t quite fit. They take actual glee in confusing the hell out of the mouse and great interest watching how it reacts. When they grow bored of that, they deliver a psychological kill shot designed specifically for the mouse, based on what they know of it’s worst fears.

        Lets feel really lucky we can’t even imagine enjoying someone else’s pain.

    3. LisaO, Great comment and you bring up great questions. Can the CD and I believe they know something is wrong, many have embraced it loved it, despised it etc… But can the addiction and or high they receive, or the fear of, disgust of subjugating, making themselves vulnerable be so frightening they burrow further into the recesses of their disturbed minds.

    4. From your discussions I pick up that brains are used to perceiving certain kinds of people as human and not those, who easily and knowingly cause harm to others.

      1. We are used to perceiving humans as anything else than unscrupulously vile. When we perceive an unscrupulously vile person, it’s often easy to say or think something like “Humans aren’t like that” or “I couldn’t have imagined humans are actually capable of this”.

        1. I would say that is true J. I still can’t believe a lot of things “humans” do besides what I have been through personally. Certain things are just incomprehensible. I don’t know why? I haven’t exactly led a sheltered life but somehow the darker side of life seems to be quite in my face now, like it never was before. Maybe because I’m 100% sober but I have a strong feeling it has more to do with what happened with S-Tard.
          Thanks for explaining.

        2. This doesn’t directly relate to the matter, but please let me explain.

          I remember one time in my army stint when I was to be an assistant duty officer after Sinister Man. I did, of course, confess outright to the training corporal serving as the main duty officer that I didn’t trust Sinister Man. Of course, it must’ve been easy because Sinister Man’s questionable coping skills weren’t all that covert(I might’ve found another way to explain it if they were; who really knows? Digression aside). I told the main duty officer that if something came up, like I wasn’t woken up and SM would later claim he had, there would be a better idea of what had happened. After diplomatically saying “I can’t say that your concern would be founded, but can’t say, either, it would be unfounded” the main duty officer apparently had a little talk with SM. SM would later wake me up. Trouble averted!

          Even less I would trust anyone, who would have literally no problem or next to no problem causing me harm of some kind or another. From an evolutionary standpoint, people needed to be able to assess others, because survival could very well and often did depend on it.

          In addition, on a minor note, it seems to me much like our brains don’t recognize certain types of behaviors as human.

          1. It’s interesting talking from an evolutionary standpoint and then take into a account a socieatal and cultural standpoint as far as assessing human behaviour. As children we are always told to respect our elders (or were) as they were wise and we’d learn from them. To a point we were brainwashed into believing that adults would never hurt us! Sadly it’s not until something bad happens that we start to mistrust, so I think we go against our survival instinct in some respect. I know with my first job I had a terrible boss…manipulative, and perverted POS, he made my life miserable through forms of sexual harrassment. I was 16 and when I finally left he convinced a welfare officer (long story) I had stolen from his business…to protect himself incase I should say something. Honestly I was naive and at that time had no idea how you protect yourself from such a predator. I did tell the officer that what he was accusing me of stealing was given to police from him as a gift? I also said, that if he wanted to accuse me then he should charge me. He didn’t! The thing was he was an upstanding citizen in the community, had his fingers in all sorts of community projects. No one believed me, he eventually came unstuck on a personal level and it was later I found out that those who were friendly with him had told others that his treatment of me was terrible. In those days sexual harassment in the work place wasn’t spoken about and there seemed to be an acceptance that these things just happened. I can tell you I gave my daughter all the information she needed to know when she first started working on the matter…it happened to her too but she knew how to deal with it when it did. So in someway I think natural instincts have been suffocated by society and it’s only when we address them that we start to think differently.

          2. Odd, society seems to suffocate some things as if they just vanish and stop existing when no-one talks about them. Just like denial, fooling oneself to think it a fact that it(whatever it is) is not there. It’s not there and that’s a fact, that’s how I think, so it doesn’t exist. Our old acquaintance denial.

            Then in some repressive nations and cults, language is modified as a part of thought control so that some concepts, like freedom, truly disappear. They don’t even occur to us. Access is lost.

          3. Tori, it really was “accepted” back in the day but it was a general attitude about the man/woman power balance then, generally speaking. And the “men will be men” “boys will be boys” thing. Not that it was ok but it is what it was, you know? Not any more but I think it lingers at a certain level to varying degrees? I really has not been very long since a lot of pretty messed up things were common place. And some still are globally.

  8. Lulu, Wise words from Tori. Loneliness is epidemic and because of the way society and our lives are structured, no one should feel the least bit awkward admitting it. Most people do understand and have been there, for one reason or another. You seem like an interesting intelligent and fun person. If someone DOES reject you, you can just say, “Wow, what an idiot!” Or you could blame it on brain damage, following the thread theme! We WILL see to it, that you get some friends you can giggle with!!

  9. Tori, I have had what was diagnosed as an acute anxiety disorder all of my life. Social anxiety became part of it in my teens. Puberty was not my best friend and ally! I think that P’s, with their superior skills of observation are very attuned to this trait. Beyond that, I think they can easily spot all of the veiling and compensating mechanisms the anxiety riddled use to cope socially, that other people might miss. I have learned so many tricks to deflect attention away from myself when I am feeling uncomfortable. Most people just feel that my questions, that direct attention to them and away from me are purely keen interest. And I AM interested. But they also reduce anxiety. I have other mechanisms I use, too. The P who targeted me very likely understood them all. And don’t they just love shy women?? Tigers on the surface, at times, but very soft and vulnerable underneath it all?

    1. LisaO I can remember when I first started getting severe panic attacks etc… I thought I was going to die. I went to so many doctors unconvinced that it was anxiety! Just when I thought I was on top of everything along came that P into my life and he did know my vulnerabilities. Suddenly I was a mess again. My adult children comment on it, how I seemed to go from being confident to a frightened mess. They couldn’t understand it. I remember before meeting him I was part of a writer’s group and could get up in public and do readings…when I tried doing one when I was involved with him I was a bumbling mess! He really did a number on my self esteem. I never thought I was good enough for him, honestly it wouldn’t have mattered what I did I would still be a nothing to him.
      I think that’s why even the strongest of women, who are so confident in life can come unstuck with these predators, they pinpoint that vulnerability so well.
      One of my unfortunate veiling techniques was to just talk, it was like nervous chatter especially when in situations with his social circles, family and work. I felt so insecure I suppose I figured I could talk my way out of it…not sure! I don’t do that so much now as I felt so embarrassed! Although sometimes a silly thing will escape! It took awhile to overcome the anxiety getting back to work on my own, I would be silent and shake like a leaf. It was awful! Sometimes you just have to keep pushing yourself and work out some plan before hand to ensure you can cope.

      1. Oh Tori,

        Panic attacks…..uggghhhh. Here is hoping you aren’t having to deal with too many of those now. I can relate to a degree but have only experienced anxiety attacks–and those are bad enough! After my husband died I’m pretty sure that, had I not had a few really good friends I would have had actual panic attacks. The year before he died I would have lucid state experiences where I was all alone in the world in some kind of facility for the elderly, wandering around, unable to think. It was the worst feeling of desolation — and probably much like how my mother felt as she spiraled into deep dementia. At the time I thought these lucid experiences were to help me understand how it felt to by my mother. But now, I think they were a preparation for a future I could have faced after husband passed away. Had husband and I not laid a strong social and therapeutic groundwork, to help me deal with his passing, I would be in this desolate space I ‘dreamed’ about and I’m sure panic attacks would have followed.

        Husband and I had no conscious awareness that he was going to die suddenly — but in retrospect, I feel we were both driven by what some would call the hand of God, others would describe as the deep unconscious and others as angels, intuition etc…. Whatever happened there, whoever or whatever was active, saved me.

        It is particularly important to me now to do what I can within limited means to ease the burdens if others, particularly those wandering through life, feeling invisible and maybe inconsequential. And there is nothing like being emotionally mauled and left for dead by a human parasite to leave you feeling this way. In many respects it is worse than going through the death if a loved one, which is grievous enough.

        1. LisaO that’s beautiful that both you and your husband worked together in such a way for me that is a deep love. You are a strong, loving lady and I think it is within you that guidance. I know I’ve felt that someone was looking after me through this and I don’t discount that, like you say whether it is a guardian angel etc I don’t know but I do believe in an inner strength within us that we may not even be consciously aware of and it propels us to get through. I can hear that in your words when you write.

          To have such a deep understanding with your husband is so special that in someway he is still with you too. Your words help a lot LisaO and you seem to see things in that straightforward way that I think is needed when coming out of these situations.
          As for attacks I think it’s more anxiety now, I seem to suffer them before I go to sleep, only minor but am trying to work out whether they have some physical cause but they’re nothing like the attacks I got when I was younger, at times they would render me house bound. I believe CBT helped me back then as I read techniques in a book on anxiety and also that I would force myself to face my fears head on. Mind you, over the years I have wondered if once you beat one form of anxiety if it manifests in other ways. It seems I have had anxiety induced skin conditions and other physical conditions. Drives me crazy to be told by Docs that it is anxiety all the time!

        2. Panic attacks!!! I had never had one, although both of my sons had years of them. Then one day, out of nowhere,I went from zero to being swept up into a tornado of terror. Had no idea what was happening to me. I didn’t have enough awareness to think I was dying. Called one son who talked me through it with great effort. Forever grateful. And, no experiencing them with my sons in no way prepared me for the reality. They are a special kind of hell.

        1. Thanks LisaO, you know sometimes I still can’t bring myself to call him that…others I can! There are things I haven’t mentioned which put him right up there and yet… there’s still a ?

  10. Hi Tori, am so happy you are learning new ways of coping! The P who targeted me ended it just before I was almost on my way to get a divorce from my husband, many years ago now. So, he didn’t have a chance to work his magic on my self esteem. He just threatened my peace of mind by shocking me to the core. I am sure he did a huge number on his former wife, though. It wasn’t hard for him to use her as part of his pity play. I never met her but heard she was mirror gazing, hell on wheels. Conceit is a poor substitute for real confidence, a starved ego seeking nourishment. And she would have needed it, living with such a skilled deceiver. I know now he must have made her feel like a zero. He so convincingly described it as being the complete opposite. I hear since she left him she has flourished in a huge way. I am so happy she got away. We all improve in so many ways when we are free of them.

    As far as nervous chatter goes–doesn’t it feel a little like you are like a fish building a bubble nest of words to hide in? That’s the mental image I get!

  11. Warning! 🙂 – a long post!

    Insights into our own behaviour are important, but when you are in the moment, it seems the amygdala goes into “freeze” mode and shuts down.

    A couple of weeks ago I met up with my brother (the CA in my life) for supper (he comes to town about every 3 months for business).

    Since reading In Sheep’s Clothing this past summer, I’ve limited my contact with him to supper on Sundays, whereas before I felt “obligated” (‘cause otherwise I wasn’t being a good little sister) to spend most of Saturday with him – museum, lunch, then meet up for supper, then even more time on Sundays with him.
    I’ve also been very distant and cool with him and refuse to engage in any discussion about anything substantive, lessening the fuel for his manipulative rantings (he’s 67 years old, a Ph.D. and very verbally astute and skillful at getting his way).

    So this time I decide that one step in setting a boundary was to tell him I no longer wish to be called by a nickname he uses for me. (He’s told his partner not to call me that nickname, only he’s allowed to – does it sound rather proprietary and possessive? The nickname has bugged me for the longest time but I never was at the point where I could put up with his sneering/ refusal/verbal gymnastics or other stuff he’d throw at me.

    However, I think his tactic now is to agree, as Dr. Simon has put it – “give assent”. So I tell him I no longer wish to be called ______. He immediately agrees. Then asks if he could know why I have been acting the way I have.

    So I tell him I no longer will accept his behaviour – I stuttered and stammered and was not as firm as I would have liked to be. (I was in fact shaking inside, stomach in knots, and kept telling myself: just say this, it’s time, take whatever he has to throw at you, and be done with it. Sounds like such a small thing but I’ve been so conditioned over the years, my amygdala is in “freeze” mode most of the time I’m with him)

    Well, Dr. Simon is sure right – CAs can read us like a book. I was ready for a battle, had all kinds of things to say (or not say) for his verbal onslaughts, and he went straight to victim mode, and is practically on the verge of tears:

    “I thought everything was fine, how come you’re springing this on me now, you never said anything before in all these years, and now all of a sudden you tell me this?”

    (Really? It’s MY fault?)

    So I’m not sure if I should have said this or not, maybe I just gave him more fuel for the fire, but I said:
    “I never dared because I was too nervous about your reaction.”

    Well, he just acted gobsmacked.

    Then the excuses started: it’s a normal way of acting in a relationship, there are always disagreements, he learned that it’s okay to argue and argue passionately about something when he was getting his Ph.D., no one would ever take anything personally.

    At least to that I didn’t give in:
    “I’m not talking about disagreements. I know and witness healthy relationships and their ways of arguing about issues they disagree with. I’m talking about behaviour, sneers, insults, outbursts of rage when you need to get your way and shut the other person down.”

    “Oh yeah?” he says – again, looking like he’s about to cry. “Like when?”

    I know Dr. Simon says to remain in the present moment, and my brother is getting me off on a tangent, but I gave him one example (I froze and couldn’t think of others).
    I won’t post our whole conversation, but it was about some money-saving tips on roaming charges and phone cards. A friend was with me at the time.
    I said something like: “This is what you need to do ….”
    Suddenly I’m face-to-face with an enraged outburst:

    “Don’t you lecture me!” he’s literally red-faced with anger.

    I was shocked silent. My friend gets up to go to the bathroom.

    Maybe she thought she’d give him a chance to apologize to me.
    But, stupidly, at that time, I was the one who apologized to him. I thought I needed to calm him down.

    When I think back on that now!

    Anyway, back to my conversation: I tell my brother the above, up to the part about his becoming enraged and wanting to shut me up.

    He just stares at me.

    Me: “So, do you remember? Or is this just normal behaviour for you?”

    Him: “I just don’t know what to say, I never wanted to offend you.”
    (I know he’s not acknowledging anything.)

    Me: “I know you’re going to say whatever you can to switch this around and shift the blame.”

    Him (now he has tears in his eyes): “Oh right I get it. Nothing is going to make a difference. I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and that’s just the way it is. You spring this on me and there’s nothing I can do.”

    That’s when I knew – thanks to Dr. Simon and your comments here on this forum: I’m wasting my time. He’s not responsible because I didn’t speak up beforehand.

    He’s also not responsible when I have spoken up and he becomes enraged and angry; that’s normal behavior. (One time when he was complaining I made the “mistake” of saying: “be grateful for the great career and nice house you have”, which resulted in a verbal whipping that left me shaking – and again, stupidly, apologetic to him.

    He’s not to blame when he’s sneering and insulting, because I’m too sensitive or easily offended. Pretty big double standard.

    However, I’m surprised how ingrained is the habit to want to acquiesce and blame myself and “make it all better”, despite everything I’ve learned here.

    I started to feel guilty at upsetting him! But I kept remembering Dr. Simon’s writing about how neurotics acquiesce and feel guilty too easily.

    So even though I think he expected me to apologize after he almost turned on the tears, I resisted the inclination to do so, thanks again to you guys here and Dr. Simon.

    However, I also didn’t want to spend much more time in the restaurant with him. So I was quite aware that I may have been feeding into his manipulations even while I was saying:

    “Look, in the future, if you start behaving in a way I don’t find acceptable, I’ll do this: “ (I make a silly gesture)
    He laughed, “yeah, that’s good. You know, I just didn’t want to offend you.”
    But I also knew that he has no intention of really changing. In his mind he’s diverted attention onto me, as being the one who is offended.

    I know this post is way too long – it’s just such a relief to know there are people who “get it” out there.

    1. Not too long for me, GG, and being the neurotic I am, I feel the need to apologize before I continue, it is so comforting to read some one else’s story. Time out to make sure you know I’m not glad it happened. My sister is borderline, anything you wrote could have been one of the bizarre convos we had. How can a rational person even begin to respond when what they say is so unpredictable, illogical? Your intention, like mine, I would guess is to be understood, then work towards having a good relationship. Ooowwww, laughing at your sincere feelings and words. Way worse than dismissive, so belittling. Oh, how many times had sis said I was too sensitive. Blame, blame and blame some more. One of my favorite stories about her was when she had a picture of herself and said how much she disliked it. I looked and sincerely said that I thought it was a good picture. She was so angry, snapped at me, “I said it was an ugly picture!” How do respond to something like that?

  12. It’s okay – a short post this time 
    LisaO, you say: “If traumatic experience can alter the amygdala, couldn’t repetitive thoughts, actions and moral choices over time have a pronounced effect? Is doing the immoral thing always a result of brain anomalies or are the structural changes the result of doing them? That’s the philsiosphical amd neurological question.” I’m in the process of reading Dr. Norman Doidge’s books: ‘The Brain that Changes Itself’ and ‘The Brain’s Way of Healing”. The study of neuroplasticity is fascinating (and encouraging), because the brain can indeed “rewire” itself and Dr. Doidge gives many examples and studies that show how this comes about. I don’t believe we are fated to be handicapped by our traumas, the brain will find a way to compensate for what is lacking. It’s certainly not easy, but considering what our collective experiences have already enabled us to survive, I definitely think it is do-able for most of us here.

    1. I believe that GG. It certainly gives a better understanding to CBT and how that can have positive outcomes for people. Mind you I still believe you have to remove yourself from the negative influences to achieve those results and to have a certain degree of self efficacy as well. It also highlights the importance of the role of genuine remorse for actions in CD’s as we all know they fake their concern for others for impression management purposes, so without that genuine concern for others how can they change their ways of thinking. It’s certainly an eye opener once you delve into this area and so fascinating. I mean if children who have had half their brain removed can learn to walk and talk wow… there is hope for many sufferers of mental disorders.

    2. Hi again GG, Good point. I’m thinking that acting on cruel impulses, and knowingly so, can change at any time. It’s a matter of will, regardless of brain structure. It is probably more difficulty for people to change if their brain is wired around being afraid. But it is definitely possible. Fear is the strongest emotion…I think. Neuro-plasticity…like that!

        1. Great video Puddle, so interesting especially the environmental aspects on brain development. I used to sing lullabies and rock my children to sleep every night when they were babies, and used to dance and sing with them during the day. Can you believe I had many say I was spoiling them! I just loved it, it was only last year my son asked me what was the lullaby I used to sing to him…it was so sweet he remembered! That would have the same effect no doubt like the paint brush. Just shows everything we do and how we treat our children and each other has an impact on the brain how it develops. So much to take in, even the effects of Ritalin, now that’s rather scary when so many children are taking that drug. Honestly there are cases when I really don’t see any difference in children’s behaviour after taking Ritalin, if anything their behaviour is exactly the same. Makes me wonder?? Also the effect of anti-depressants as you tend to think they’re helping heal the brain. He’s an excellent speaker too! Thanks for linking that Puddle!

          1. Tori, I thought the parts about the paint brushes was so fascinating. And that was exactly how Spathtard hooked me. He went right to that primal unmet baby need of mine the very first night by “just wanting to hold me”! What a jerk. I also think of that family I’ve spoken about, that had no money but was dripping in love, there was SO much touch given to their kids, physical and emotional. SO much engagement with them on all levels. Just amazing. I’ve also read about primitive tribes and the way their children are “handled”, think about it! Like monkey babies and gorillas? I don’t think those babies every loose contact with their mothers until they are ready to. There is an interesting book about child rearing in primitive tribes called “The Continum Concept”. I read it with great interest a long time ago.

          2. I thought about that aspect too with the paint brushes. I remember when you were talking about touch with regard to the spath. Mine being exactly the same. That holding too I can relate to that one…he often said “all I want to do is hold you that’s all I need.” Makes me squirm now. Hold me and if you don’t I’ll attack you!

          3. Jeeeeez Tori 🙁 I’m sorry you understand. I love what you wrot about singing to your son. Just so beautifully sweet! 🙂

  13. Oh GG, I had to smile reading your post. I have had the most frustrating interactions with people who will never ever admit to being offensive or wrong. If you take it and take it, because you love them and then confront them with it, you always get the blame deflected back at you, one way or the other. How about the, “it’s like walking on eggshells being around you!”

    My brother used to come over and not respect the fact that he was in my house, not his. It used to drive me crazy. The last time he was here, a few months ago, he overheated something in the microwave and it blew up. If that wasn’t funny enough, his attempts to clean it up were really hilarious. Just take a wet dish cloth, drag it around a bit and, Voila! Clean!!? Notsomuch! I didn’t say anything for a number of reasons… Mainly that I so rarely have to deal with it much anymore. And he is making improvements…by limiting his interactions with me.

    In the past, if I mentioned that he should try to be more aware of what he is doing, he wanted clear examples. If I gave him clear examples, then I was, “taking notes.” He is so absent minded it is pretty hilarious but he is also absent minded about how he treats people at times. Once when he was in MY house, he smoked some pot. In the morning I found a little bitty end of a joint, and chucked it in the fireplace. When he found out what I had done, in my own house, he glared at me and said, “don’t EVER do that again!” Huh??? Throw garbage away, in my place?

    Your bro sounds like a prima Donna who has lofty ideas about himself. If you are anything like me, you have put up with waaayyyyyy too much. Sounds like you have always been there for him. Let me guess, you have had major problems before and he is absent for you, literally, or in spirit? If so, par for the course. If this type doesn’t find your problem intriguing or can’t use it as an entree to some kind of intellectual exploration, well, they’re not connected.

    You understand that if you set limits with him, he could very well drift away. My brother has. Very sad but it has to be done. I love my brother, but I can’t accept this kind of treatment.

    1. just wanted to endorse your statement of “How about the, “it’s like walking on eggshells being around you!”” … can’t tell you how many times the CDs have used that on me.

      1. That was one of the first things Spathtard said in my home when he started “moving in”.
        ” I feel like I’m walking on egg shells here”, which of course sets you up to not want them to feel that way, which of course sets the stage for YOU to feel like you are walking on egg shells IN YOUR OWN HOME! I tried to float every request of him down to his highness on an over inflated feather pillow!! I’m sure he took great delight in watching that process unfold.

        1. Is there anyone on here who did not have the phrase, walking on eggshells, thrown at them constantly? It’s very effective! I find kind of humorous actually. Do they take some sort of correspondence course to learn techniques? Trying to think if there are any more actions or phrases that were repetitive.

          1. I have to say I never had that said to me and for a long time I didn’t think I was walking on eggshells in the relationship. That seems to be the feeling some victims get and I just didn’t feel that daily at all. It was only recently when I was talking about some incidents to a counsellor and she said ” so the classic walking on eggshells scenario” I asked why she thought that, and she said because I never knew what was coming. That was spot on because I didn’t know when he would react violently, when he would twist something I said. Yes there was a cycle when I look back but I can see how it was that I wasn’t aware of it. He was unpredictable. The tension that was constantly in my body was I think the walking on egg shells part for me. As all those physical ailments came directly from stress and me turning inward all my anxieties. I don’t have that anymore, and once when in his presence after separation I noticed it return, it felt so familiar and yet alien. I realised then how much of an impact living with that man had on me physically by his very nature.

  14. LisaO, you are spot on! I took care of my mother when she was ill, and my brother lived here in the city for a year when he was on sabbatical. He never once visited her spontaneously of his accord, and the one time I dared ask him to come over for ONE evening so that I could go out, I got a speech about how she should be in a home for the elderly, and that he was speaking out of love for me (!) I managed to blurt out “that is a terrible thing to say”, and he said something like, “oh, okay”, then got his partner to come over for the evening that I needed help. Isn’t it horrible how alike our experiences are? As Lulu mentioned, at least we know we’re not alone in this. Much of what has been posted here by others also applies to me, the shutting down of emotions when young, not being allowed to have my own feelings, that getting rightfully angry over something was wrong, etc. etc.

    I think you’re also right, LisaO, in that he may drift away. It’s no longer so enjoyable for him to interact with me. There’s another stupid incident lately of him not sending photos of a trip he’s on (I’ll save that one for another post), but now I’m so aware of his tactics that I’m not surprised. Still hurt at the depth of his callousness, ’cause for us neurotics, it’s so difficult to wrap our heads around that kind of self-absorption and totally indifference to others. But not surprised at what he does!

    (I wish we could all get together for a group hug!)

  15. And Tori, you wrote: “being the neurotic I am, I feel the need to apologize before I continue, it is so comforting to read some one else’s story. Time out to make sure you know I’m not glad it happened.” Absolutely no need to apologize – from one neurotic to another, I get it. I really do! 🙂

  16. And that’s why I love you guys, you get it, you accept me for me. No explanations necessary. I will be forever grateful for all that you have done for me already. People get me I’m letting hose words pour through my soul. Not even my therapist of many years, who was outstanding, the one who shared with mr Dr. Simon’s article on divorcing a CD, really knew the depth and chaos of life with a CD. But each of you do. I am not alone!!!

  17. Just reading through some of the posts here again, and a couple of things really resonated with me.

    LisaO, you said: “I have learned so many tricks to deflect attention away from myself when I am feeling uncomfortable. Most people just feel that my questions, that direct attention to them and away from me are purely keen interest. And I AM interested. But they also reduce anxiety.”

    I totally understand.

    A few years ago a woman I know said to me that every time she’d ask me a question that would involve divulging pieces of myself (she was very open about all kinds of things in her life and past childhood issues), I’d turn the attention onto something else. I too felt anxious, kind of naked when talking about myself.

    In a way, I don’t think I even knew what was going on inside me, not merely coping with my brother (though I was in huge denial about his manipulative personality at the time), but just in getting to know who I am and what I’m all about. I felt as though there was no “me” – I only reflected what I was seeing around me. Not sure if that makes sense, but if anyone can get it, it’s you guys 

    And Lulu, you mentioned: “there are chances everywhere to practice saying what’s okay or not, to simply voice my own opinion, view it as valid, not trying to guess what someone wants me to say. Just say how I feel directly, calmly, kindly and expect someone to listen, respect and care about what I said.”

    For various reasons I was like that also, I’d sometimes be surprised at how others seemed able to just speak up about their opinion, likes, dislikes, very matter-of-factly, calmly, and expect to, at least, be heard. I’d usually find myself agreeing or going along with others, and if someone disagreed with me, I’d just clam up, as though I didn’t deserve my opinion.

    It’s eerie how similar our experiences have been.

    And Puddle, I’ve bookmarked that youtube video and will have a look at it tomorrow, at least part of it. Thanks for posting it.

  18. Hello! A quick random post… I find that when there’s a horrific tragedy brought on by a person who probably had a disordered character, there is so much confusion… Right now, the tragedy is the Germanwings flight that was deliberately crashed in the French Alps. I don’t “comment” on articles much, but when I do, it’s usually something like one of those articles where the writer is reporting on these things. Right now it’s “Co-pilot was on antidepressants!” and “Airline hid its knowledge about co-pilot’s depression!”
    Was the co-pilot a disturbed character? NPD? Depressed? Suicidal? Who really knows. But people have to hear the word “Character Disurbed” to start applying it accurately…
    If you like Dr. Simon’s work and it has changed everything for you, I would encourage you to post his name/books in the comments sections. I am always surprised at the crazy amount of thumbs up I get when I do this. Spread the word…

  19. I am curious, have any of you ever given the CD in your life a copy of Dr. Simons book and if so what was their response?

    1. I was tempted, way back. No way!!!! Giving away what we know?! Giving him a chance to scheme to undermine us based on that? Ha.

      I did give away my learnings about NVC (non-violent comm.) thinking he could use it with me. Haha. He got really annoyed with the whole thing, refused to learn it, and figured out some ways to use it against me.

      Discretion is the better part of valor, here.

    2. I have wondered this same thing. I have also wondered if it would be recommended or discouraged by Dr. Simon? Others?

      Great question!

      1. I gave/ recommended other books, pre my discovery of Dr. Simons books, and it was a total waste of time. The way I see it now is that if they thought they needed a book or personal help of any kind they would already be reading/ getting it. The garden variety screwed up person with “issues” might benifit but the type I was entangled with would only scoff at it and as Vera said, find a way to use it against you. My opinion.

  20. Hello again everyone,
    I have been lucky so far it looks like the CD in my life has moved on after stalking, phone text & calls
    although I realize they can pop back up. Dr. Simons site and books helped me get through this most
    difficult time and I highly recommend no contact, read & learn everything about their tactics so you know what measures to protect yourself. This information from Dr Simon & others had me very well informed and because he thought I was so dumb but as it turns out I was 2 steps ahead of him..for instance my rejection turned into his discard..(one might think) After reading so much his behavior was humorously
    predicdable even though I was very fearful and at times paranoid.

    Why is it that some never realize the complete void of the CD’s conscience? My friend whom is of a highly neurotic compassionate, good natured person just can’t completely grasp the CD. She says she does and then gets sucked back into a CD’s friendship (he’s her neighbor & x boyfriend that keeps her as a friend) and he’s been her only boyfriend in 20 yrs & he’s had many girlfriends. She continues to be abused…so she has finally sold her house and is moving away and I think she’s sad that she won’t be there for him to abuse even though she says she’s glad to get away. When she sets a boundary with him he stops calling her and then after so much time goes by she calls him. She can’t stand not having things (relationships) wrapped up in neat little packages with bows and it doesn’t happen that way with CD’s unless you want to be taken advantage of. How can I help my friend? When I had the CD in my life
    she thought I was over reacting! Believe me I was not! I’m not being clear… this is a CD in my friends life and not the one I was having problems with.

  21. A more general psychological question.

    Since not every coping skill is defensive and there is more active coping(doing something about things), is it possible for doing nothing to be a coping style without there being anything defensive about it?

    1. Hmmm…I guess that could be a possibility, an emotional and physical punching bag, all contained inside a neat package, only problem, gets a little lopsided and lumpy overtime, slight wear on the jacket too. Oh, btw the link in the chain might get weak, be careful of that. Otherwise, depending on the individual, biggest bang for the buck get the high quality one if you expect it to last a lifetime. Or, are we talking Dr. Lobotomy, or SOUL MURDER!!!!!!!

  22. Jumping around for a bit. Things I’ve wondered about as I’ve been reading the posts. Like, could someone have a healthy self- esteem and fall prey to a CD? Has anyone felt like they were mentally, psychologically healthy and a CD still was able to tap into an old wound? Was “your” CD an equal opportunity jerk, or were you special and the only puppet at the end of his/her strings. “Mine” was so arrogant and antagonistic that he never kept a friend for long. Don’t know about lying but wouldn’t surprise me. Can a CD have a real relationship with anyone or is that who they are totally?
    GG, I hope you are now able to, or at least working towards being able to say how you feel and expect to be respected. Which, of course, doesn’t mean always agreed with. When you get there, when you know that what you have to say is valuable, it’s a beautiful thing.
    i’m not sure how anything like a book could be helpful with a CD. They are aware of behaviors so they can get better at individualizing their schemes, but that’s for their satisfaction, nothing to do with caring about their victim. They blame, twist, lie, nothing told me CD wanted to care about me ever.
    Another question I’ve had: neither CD nor I had love for the other from the start. Does anyone feel their CD loved them, then it got twisted? Also, I’m curious about how does someone continue to love CD once you’ve removed the facade and seen them for who they truly are? No judgment, just curious.
    It seems that at least most of us have figured out that No Contact is the only way to go, which is doing nothing. I don’t see that as defensive at all. There is no danger that I would get sucked back into a relationship, my deal is not wanting to give him an invitation to be cruel. I am sad that he cannot be civil, but he is what he is, so I’ve shut down all means of contact. He wants to wallow in his rage and spew venom, I want to have a good, productive, happy life. Ugly from anyone just doesn’t fit into my life any more.

    1. Lulu, I was deeply in love with my CD, and as much as I hate to admit it I will still get a tug now. I don’t exactly hate him but I certainly don’t like him now. That’s the painful thing to grieve, people who haven’t been through it just can’t understand how you can love someone who was so awful to you. I thought he loved me, sometimes I really did, the touching, the compliments interceded with all the subtle put downs, covert bs and the rest!
      I doubt he ever loved me. And yeah an equal opportunity but then again not…everything was all over the place. It’s a game, guess which way I am today!

      1. Tori, ouch. I really relate to your post…..again. That part really makes my sad still. Sad and more, it’s such a strange mixture of conflicting emotions. 🙁

  23. Yay Lulu!!! Do you have any idea how much better you are sounding? I think you have made enormous progress since you first posted here.

    I do have to say that going NC is not “doing nothing” in my opinion. It’s setting boundaries. When someone trespasses over boundaries I have set, I will act, there will be consequences. I don’t go looking for trouble, but if it comes to me, I will rev up my bulldozer, etc. Cheers to you, Peace and hope from Elva

  24. Tori, Like going to war and never the same. I admire your honesty, and humanity, read or check out Dr. Victor Frankl. I think it is better to love than to never have loved otherwise, it would be a world of Them’s, That’s and It’s. For some CD I do think they have moments of their true selves, inner emotions that seep through, but are short lived by need for their next selfish fix of false pride and envy, etc…. In no way am I suggesting getting caught up with a one armed bandit. Everything Dr. Simon has shared regarding the CD is so true. Tori, I pray for all the CD in my life, that they experience a “Paul” moment and that has been very healing. Today, I will lay it at the foot of the cross. Blessings to all.

    1. Thanks BTOV, I will check out Dr Victor Frankl, and yes I think I agree it’s better to have loved than not loved but whoa the pain. One reason I don’t feel so sure I’d like to try again… but who knows I still have a way to go. 🙂

    2. BTOV,

      Are you doing any better? You last response to me made it seem like you were in a huge distress. What did you mean to say?

    3. Thankyou BTOV had a brain lapse there…I’ve been actually intending to read Dr Victor Frankl’s book and now that you’ve mentioned him here I will check it off my to read list. 🙂

        1. J I don’t know what you mean when you say how do I know? The brain lapse thing was just that at first I didn’t recall Dr Victor Frankl but I had read about him last year, that’s all…forgetful moment!

  25. Now read some latest comments that I at least suppose refer to my question.

    I can see how you would think it to refer to No Contact, which is a different thing than I meant.

    Let’s face it, if one doesn’t do anything about problems when one should, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s defensive. At least I don’t believe that. I have read some comments refering to how someone seems to think everything works itself out.

    Thus I don’t think that coping is either active or defensive as a dichotomy.

  26. I escaped. Thank GOD … and my inner strength, faith and hope. I can’t believe the amount of deceitful manipulation of the truth, half truth cons and blatant lies I tolerated for almost 2 years! NEVER again, especially now that I KNOW I was dealing with a highly abusive sexual predator, who evidently targeted me over 20 years ago, only to recently make me aware I was in his cross-hairs. I have a strong feeling I am not the only target, in the past, or even more recently, as I actually witnessed him in action, up close and PERSONALLY!!!

    He WILL continue this behavior, especially as he has afforded himself, through even more deceitful means, as a respectable person of integrity, AND he is in a position of power, to which I suspect he has “used” more than once.

    I KNOW better, NOW, FINALLY, especially after his promise of a moving out and divorce dates passed, and there was no change; I started backing away after realizing that almost EVERYTHING he said to me opposed his behavior. I bided my instincts MUCH too long to have staved off any suffering from misplaced faith and trust in his intent, as a DIRECT result of his dishonest words, as he had ACTED honorably for over the 20 years that I knew him on a professional level, yet never intimately, until he pounced on me just before my flight out of the state.

    I am NOW, FINALLY, SO VERY relieved by his absence, the absence of the stresses he put me through with his horribly abusive tone and continued deceit, all for his selfish sexual gratification, even buying me a phone “to have meaningful communication”, as he would put it … turns out, that “meaningful comm turned out to be a meaningful CON where phone sex was solicited on almost every call, then threatening to take away the phone when I rejected his abusive DEMANDS to “BE THERE WHEN I CALL YOU”, when prior to my decision, I yearned for his presence, then finally I realized, it was the PRESENCE OF HIS LIES and DECEIT that I BELIEVED AND LOVED, NOT, the ACTUALLY BEHAVIOR, or what little of a person he actually was!

    RUN! GET OUT NOW! Don’t miss ONE DAY of your life, because I GUARANTEE it is a life FAR BETTER WITHOUT THAT ABUSER IN IT! I prefer being alone to being abused, and then I realized, I’m NOT alone — people were afraid to come around because they noted a controlled behavior, prior to my “decision” to get out. Take that chance to improve your life. You can;t do half way, and lie to yourself. You have to just walk away, stp reading his emails, block them, his number, don’t listen to messages, don;t “Return his calls or emails, unless there is legal or other real business. If he CAN be decent, then engage him on a VERY SIMPLE basis … NO EMOTION or “I miss you” etc. or if you say it, say it matter-of-factly, because otherwise you will be feeding a sadistic narcissist who LOVES hearing about HIS POWER OVER YOU!!!

    I didn’t realize how many people I missed out on … truly WONDERFUL people from whom my abuser isolated me…and he also kept me from allowing myself to show the best parts of me and my life. He didn’t care, because they didn’t fit HIS NEFARIOUS AGENDAE that had NOTHING to do with honorable living,although ALL of his words would tell you otherwise, so WATCH OUT LADIES, he’s STILL OUT THERE, flying around, without a care in the world, but exhibiting deceitful behavior to the contrary! WATCH THE BEHAVIOR!!! (Thanks Dr. SIMON!!:D)

    I only have these recommendations: Realize you only have ONE LIFE! It’s YOURS – don’t let ANYONE take it away from you, or allow yourself to take away from it.

    Don’t succumb to abusive and/or manipulative language, gestures, gaslighting, even from yourself, the person to whom you should be most honest, respectful, respectable and considerate about your own behavior, and adjust whatever is necessary about the parameters of your life to survive in the most honorable and decent means possible.

    Straighten out your life. If you can’t, then you are doing something wrong. Get professional help. If you can’t find help, reach out and contact news outlets and ask others what resources are available. Talk to people without telling them “the story.”

    Realize that your were “defeated” by a creepy loser, then realize that he (or she, in case you guys are dealing with this too), HAS to lie and deceive, because they are NOT WORTH THE TRUTH! And THEN REALIZE, you were NOT competing in the CREEP CATEGORY TO BEGIN WITH! You accidentally MISPLACED yourself, temporarily, until you WISED UP and REALIZED YOU ERE IN THE WRONG LINE!

    Get FACTS about what is available in your area, and start and/or join a group that deals with these types of issues.

    You can also post ads and make inquiries at your local library. Most importantly, DISCONNECT from the abuser, entirely and completely … forever! Realize that YOUR LIFE is worth so much more than you allowed your abuser to project it as a worthless image, and feeling.

    Remember THIS: DIS CON NECT!!! (The analogy is, “diss the abusive CON, before he hangs you by the neck!)

      1. Wow Sophie, You are totally forgiven the typos! Hey, were we targeted by same guy? Is your experience recent? The fiend didn’t get phone sex or the real thing from me either, though. Yuk huh? So sorry you had this awful experience.

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