Sanctuary for the Abused

Sunday, October 23, 2016

10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families

Sad child Pictures, Images and Photos

The First Commandment:
Thou shalt reinterpret reality to preserve the perfect fantasy.

Sample Situation: This commandment is designed to hide family secrets. If you saw dad stagger and fall down the basement steps because he was drunk, you can't tell the truth. instead, reality must be interpreted into an acceptable fantasy. "Daddy wasn't drunk; he simply lost his balance and tripped. Poor Daddy."

Application: Even if you see it, it's not real. You must have made a mistake. Therefore, reinterpret what you saw to make it nice and respectable. If you don't, people will think you're and we're all crazy. We wouldn't want them to think that now, would we?

Motto: Always believe the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the dysfunctional truth.

The Second Commandment:
Thou shalt always send mixed messages, especially when it concerns relationships..

Sample Situation: A dominating father tells his child, "I love you. Now beat it and leave me alone."

Application: You don't really know what's true. Either your father loves you or he hates you. Since you never know for sure, you'll never be quite sure if others really mean what they say since those you loved most only spoke in mixed messages. They sounded good, but you couldn't trust them.

Motto: Avoid people and relationships. It's the safe thing to do.

The Third Commandment:
Thou shalt be an adult.

Sample Situation: Children were made to take care of their parents emotionally, physically, or sexually and to meet their parents' "childish" needs for power, attention, sex, and belonging. The children submitted to avoid physical and emotional abandonment by their parents. Children in these environments can't really remember a "childhood." For this reason, children were always expected to be adults.

Application: Being child-like and spontaneous is irresponsible and bad. You must act like an adult at all times and be responsible, even if you're only five years old.

Motto: There's no such thing as child's play. It's all serious stuff.

The Fourth Commandment:
Thou shalt keep secrets from others.

Sample Situation: Daddy has a "secret" that only he and his little girl know. Of course, she can't tell Mommy. If she does, Daddy will hurt you and Mommy might leave and never come back.

Application: A child's most important duty is to protect the image of their parents and family in the community. Watch what you say and be careful not to act funny around other people either. After all, as family we have to protect each other. If you stay quiet, you're loyal. If you can't, we won't love you.

Motto: To really love someone is to show loyalty by protecting their "secrets" at all costs.

The Fifth Commandment:
Thou shalt protect family secrets.

Sample Situation: A member of the family commits suicide. Since this is not acceptable to discuss even in the family, all pictures, memorabilia, and anything else which would indicate that this family member had ever lived here must be discarded. After all, no one in our family would commit suicide, would they???

Application: Our family doesn't have any problems, does it? Even if we did, we don't have to discuss or deal with them. After all, they're not that important. We can simply deny their existence so that we don't have to deal with the grief.

Motto: Life's too painful to have to deal with the pain and the problems. Just ignore them, they'll go away.

The Sixth Commandment:
Thou shalt not feel.

Sample Situation: A child cries because her best friend is moving away. "You shouldn't feel like that. Stop crying!" yells her mother angrily.

Application: Since any display of emotion might betray the family secrets that all is not perfect, all emotions must be repressed and numbed. After all, we're a normal family. We're not like other people who get angry, sad, or afraid.

Motto: Be respectable. After all, respectable people never show their emotions or pain..

The Seventh Commandment:
Thou shalt allow your boundaries to be violated, especially by those who "love" you.

Sample Situation: A child trying to accomplish a task continues to persist and work on it, hoping to gain a sense of accomplishment and approval. "Don't be so stubborn!" mommy says. "Just give up. There' s more important things than that to be done! Now put that stuff away and clean the house so that mommy knows you love her."

Lesson Learned: Anything you want is not worth protecting. Only those you love can tell you what is important and what's not. Quit thinking for yourself and just do what makes everyone else happy..

Motto: Because others are more valuable than you, you don't have the right to maintain your own boundaries or to make decisions.

The Seventh Commandment:
Thou shalt be hyper-vigilant

Sample Situation: A child is constantly reminded how dangerous the world is. People can't be trusted either. Therefore, stay aloof, don't get too close to anybody.

Lesson Learned: The only way to be safe in this world is to be careful and insulate yourself from others. Be careful. Always be on guard They might hurt you. If you need help, don't ask for their help. Do it yourself.

Motto: Always be on your guard. The wise person is always over prepared and distrustful of everyone and everything.

The Eighth Commandments:
Thou shalt not let anyone do anything else for you. Do it all yourself.

Sample Situation: Parents continually remind the child that no one is to be trusted. If they do something for you, they're doing it to manipulate you.

Lesson Learned: Stay aloof and don't make friends with anybody. After all, if you get too close, they'll use, hurt and abuse you. And remember this: nobody does anything for anyone unless they want something from you.

Motto: Do everything yourself.

The Ninth Commandment:
Thou shalt be perfect

Sample Situation: "Just because you got all 'A's on your report card doesn't mean that you couldn't have done better. You're lazy. Now get to work and let's see you get some more 'A+'s'!"

Lesson Learned: If it's not perfect, people won't love you. No matter how good it is, it's never good enough...but keep trying!

Motto: You're only as good as your performance and that's still not good enough!

The Tenth Commandment:
Thou shalt not forgive yourself or others.

Sample Situation: "You're always in my way, child! Why do you keep asking me to play with you? Don't you know I played with you last year? Wasn't that enough?! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Go to your room. Don't bother me."

Lesson Learned: The only way I can be forgiven and loved is if I can earn it by being perfect. The guiltier I feel, the harder I must work to gain other's approval. If I make any mistakes, even a small one, they'll reject me or think I'm incompetent or worthless. I'm afraid I will make a mistake, I know I will, I feel so guilty. Therefore, even if I think I can do it, I won't. After all, I could make a mistake and then what would I do? Oh, I could never go back and say I'm sorry!

Motto: Since God doesn't forgive me, I can't forgive you either.

The Ten Commandments Of Dysfunctional Families:
A Summary

The First And Great Commandment Is This:

"Be a "good" person: Be blind, be quiet, be numb, be careful, keep secrets, avoid reality, avoid relationships, don't cry, don't trust, don't feel, be serious, don't talk, don't love and above all, make everyone think you're perfect...even if it makes you feel guilty."

The Second Is Like Unto It:

"Since you're worthless and nobody loves you anyway (including yourself), don't try to change yourself. You're not worth the effort and you couldn't do it if you tried anyway. God won't help you either. So get back where you belong. There's nothing wrong anyway so what's your problem! See, I told you that you were stupid."

Thomas F. Fischer



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Saturday, October 22, 2016


Recovering from Childhood -
Four Blind Alleys and Three Clear Paths 
for Unloved Daughters 

by Peg Streep

“It’s still hard explaining what it was like to people who didn’t experience it. I think most people think I’m exaggerating. I’ve gotten to used to it, over time, but it still stings and recovery is mostly a lonely process..”
                        Adele, age 42

“I have ghost images of my mother, most usually when I want a woman to like me, hire me, or include me in her circle. Nothing I ever did pleased my mother and it made me feel nothing I did was ever good enough. I still feel that way when I seek a woman’s approval.”
                        Sarah, age 56

In the years since I wrote Mean Mothers, I’ve talked to many women about the process of healing from the wounds of childhood.  As a layperson who’s been on this journey herself—and who’s sought professional help—my understanding has been enriched by two important insights.
The first is from A General Theory of Love written by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon. In simple terms, they explain that lack of love has both neurological and psychological consequences:

“ Love, and the lack of it, change the young brain forever….as we now know, most of the nervous system (including the limbic brain) needs exposure to crucial experiences to drive its growth… The lack of an attuned mother is a nonevent for a reptile and shattering injury to the complex and fragile limbic brain of a mammal.”

The second is from Deborah Tannen’s book, You’re Wearing that?Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation:

“This, in the end, may be the crux of a parent’s power over a child: not only to create the world the child lives in but also to dictate how that world is to be interpreted.”   

For me, these two insights in combination—the rather literal shaping of the brain in response to the conditions of an individual’s childhood and the super-sized influence a mother has on a daughter’s understanding of how the world works—capture why recovery can be so elusive.

The unloved daughter’s responses, both automatic and conscious, are different in kind from those of a daughter who has an attuned and loving mother. The unloved daughter grows up not trusting her own experience of events and interactions; she may be confused by the very nature of emotional interactions and her neediness—caused by the shattering injury to which Lewis and his co-authors refer—may make it impossible for her to navigate boundaries in relationships. Often, when she challenges her mother, she will be told that she’s wrong, or too sensitive, or, even more destructively, that what she’s talking about didn’t happen. These events create an internal wellspring of doubt which often yields to an incorrect but seemingly inevitable conclusion: “My mother doesn’t love me because I am unlovable. It’s my fault.”

The lack of love and approval leaves a daughter desperate for both. It’s not surprising that the quest to fill that metaphorical hole in the heart—an expression I have heard many times over and have used myself—can include both destructive and constructive behaviors.  Alas, the journey to recovery may be even more complicated for the daughter who seeks comfort in behaviors that ultimately are dangerous blind alleys.

I’ll detail the blind alleys first and then proceed to what I’ll call the clear paths.

Blind Alleys

1.  Unhealthy relationship to food
In most households, it’s the mother who’s in charge of food—both its preparation and serving—which, when a mother is unloving or manipulative, makes eating a potential locus for control. In her groundbreaking book, The Hungry Self. Kim Chernin detailed and explored the primal connections between food and female identity, as well as mothering and emotional hunger. These connections are both subtle and obvious. In response, a daughter may seize on eating or not eating as something she can control, as a way of countermanding her mother’s vision of the world or her place in it. Some daughters will develop clinically disordered eating while others will simply carry their complicated relationships with food and its connection to self-image into adulthood. In her book. When Food is Love, Geneen Roth (the daughter of a physically abusive mother and an emotionally distant father) explains that disordered eating may be an act of self-protection, a way of armoring the self against pain.

Recent studies exploring the connection between insecure childhood attachment and disordered eating more closely have made some interesting discoveries. For example, Jenna Elgin and Mary Pritchard found that while it was true enough that secure attachment was negatively correlated with disordered eating, not every type of insecure attachment was positively correlated. Only the fearful attachment style (which includes both a negative view of self and a negative view of others) was positively correlated with bulimia but neither the dismissive or preoccupied styles were associated with disordered eating.

2. Self-harm
Paradoxically, many emotionally abused or neglected daughters often comment that they wish the maltreatment had been physical because, as one woman put it,” Then, at least, the scars would show and I wouldn’t have to prove their existence to anyone.” It’s been hypothesized that self-harm or cutting is intimately connected to lack of love, another effort both to fill the emptiness and to feel pain which you are able to control. In their book Bodily Harm, Karen Conterio and Wendy Lader write, “ self-injury represents a frantic attempt by someone with low coping skills to ‘mother herself.’ …Bodily care has been transformed into bodily harm: the razor blade becomes the wounding caregiver, a cold but available substitute for the embrace, kiss, or loving touch she truly desires.”  Following up on previous lines of research, Jean-François Bureau and his co-authors looked at specific dimensions of parenting and their relationship to NSSI (non-suicidal self-injury) in young adults. What they found was that among those engaging in self-injury, their descriptions of childhood included portraits of parents who failed to protect them and abdicated their roles as parents, of parents from whom they felt alienated, as well as those who were over-controlling. These parents were generally seen as less caring, untrustworthy, and more difficult to communicate with. Generally, research has confirmed the link between self-harm and emotionally distant or abusive parenting and insecure attachment.

3. Compulsive behaviors
Substance abuse, compulsive shopping, and even sexual promiscuity have been understood as ways of filling the hole in the heart. Unloved daughters may turn to the instantaneous self-soothing and oblivion offered up by alcohol or drugs. In her book, Mothering Ourselves, psychotherapist Evelyn S. Bassoff writes that, “For some, alcohol—which warms, fills, and anesthetizes the inner emptiness or aching—becomes the soothing mother…the alcoholic stupor replaces the sensations of being wafted to a sound sleep in mother’s arms.”  Hope Edelman describes the “emotional hoarding” of those who are unloved and writes, “Back-to-back relationships, overeating, overspending, alcoholism, drug abuse, shoplifting, overachieving—all are her attempts to fill that empty space, to mother herself, to suppress feelings of grief or loneliness, and to get the nurturing she feels she lost or never had.”

4. Hurtful relationships
Research shows that all of us are more likely to choose partners who are more like our parents than not—which is fine if you were raised by loving and attuned parents and not so wonderful if you were not. These relationships are comfort zones—which offer no real emotional comfort but which feel comfortable because we feel the way we did when we were children, living in our mother’s house. They offer no real solace, and, for many unloved daughters, finding ourselves in a relationship like this may prove to be the turning point that propels us to seek help in the form of therapy.

But these blind alleys aren’t the only ways daughters seek to fill the hole in their hearts; many—even those who have been stuck in a blind alley— find the healing they seek and need.

Source: Copyright 2014 Karena Jones
Clear Paths
The hole in the heart can be filled productively with new experiences and voices that tell the unloved daughter that she is worthy, valuable, and lovable. While the experiences of childhood shape us, they need not hobble us and many unloved daughters, by confronting and articulating their past, move into the present and future as loving and loved partners, friends, and mothers. 

1. Earning secure attachment
Even if your upbringing didn’t offer you secure attachment, you can earn secure attachment in adulthood.  Self-understanding is the basis for new interactions and healthy and healing connections to others as various as teachers, mentors, therapists, friends, or lovers. As one woman confided, “My first steps towards healing took place in the company of an older woman, my neighbor, who was kind and understanding. She was the first person in whom I confided my story and by telling her, I broke the silence my mother had imposed me. I heard my voice for the very first time in my conversations with her.”

Being able to make sense of your experience—making it into a coherent and understandable narrative—is the key to earned secure attachment, as posited by Mary Main one of the proponents of attachment theory.  In an important study, Glenn I. Roisman and his co-authors looked at individuals with earned secure attachment in an effort to determine whether or not they were, however, more at risk for depressive symptoms. What they found was that not only were those with earned status (by making coherent sense of their past) involved in romantic relationships of a quality comparable to those with happy childhoods, parented as effectively as those raised in secure environments, but also were at no greater risk for internalizing distress than other secure groups.

2. Re-defining family
For many unloved daughters, creating a “family” on her own terms is part of the journey toward healing; sometimes, it will include distancing herself from her family of origin but not always. More than anything, this is an important act of reinvention, which can take the form of a close-knit circle of friends or getting married and having a child or children herself. In my early twenties, when I was estranged from my mother and single, I made Thanksgiving dinner every year for friends who had nowhere to go or whose families lived far away. Those dinners were one of the first steps I took to claiming earned secure attachment for myself. As one daughter commented: “In adulthood, I have surrounded myself with people I feel safe with. That wasn’t true of my childhood but it is now and it has made a world of difference. This doesn’t mean that everyone always loves everything I do or say, or that no one ever gets critical or ticked off at me. But I always know I am cared for, no matter what.”

3. Mothering the self
Learning how to self-soothe in healthy ways and replace the critical or dismissive maternal voice internalized in your head—the one that tells you that nothing you do is good enough or that you are “less than” a daughter should be—with a message of self-love and an admonition for patience are also important steps toward healing. A therapist can be of enormous help at this juncture. 

Giving voice to what actually happened in your childhood is part of self-mothering because it gets you out from under the code of denial imposed on you and allows you to develop an inner voice that is truthful, strong, and reliable. Permitting yourself to acknowledge your pain, frustration, and anger with your mother and her treatment of you is a necessary part of the process—both in terms of stilling the critical or dismissive maternal voice and growing your own inner voice. Grieving may be part of the process as well as mourning the loss of what you needed and never had.

Learning to be kind to yourself, as well as patient—as your mother wasn’t—is also part of self-mothering.  All of this takes time—there’s no magic wand to replace the acceptance and love you lacked with a sense of self-acceptance—but it can be accomplished. Talk to yourself as you wish you’d been spoken to by your own mother, and cut yourself slack as necessary. Acknowledge the process, applaud the steps forward, and accept the steps backwards. The hole doesn’t vanish but it gets smaller and smaller, and has a different context.

Copyright© Peg Streep 2014

READ MY NEW BOOK: Mastering the Art of Quitting: Why It Matters in Life, Love, and Work
READ Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt

Lewis, Thomas, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon. A General Theory of Love. New York: Vintage Books, 2001.

Tannen, Deborah. You’re Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006.

 Chernin, Kim. The Hungry Self. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Bassoff, Evelyn. Mothering Ourselves: Help and Healing for Adult Daughters, New York; Plume Books, 1992.

Roth, Geneen. When Food is Love: The Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy. New York: Plume Books, 1992.

Conterio, Karen and Wendy Lader. Bodily Harm.  New York: Hyperion Books, 1998.

 Bureau, Lean-François, Jodi Martin, Nathalie Freynet, Alexane Alie Porier, Marie-France Lafontaine, and Paula Cloutier, “Perceived Dimensions of Parenting and Non-suicidal Self-inury in Young Adults, Journal of Youth and Adolescence  (2010), 39, 484-494.

Edelman, Hope. Motherless Daughters. New York: Delta Books, 1994.

 Roisman, Glenn I, Elena Padron, L. Alan Sroufe, and Byron Egeland, “Earned-Secure Attachment Status in Retrospect and Prospect,” Child Development (2002), vol. 73, no. 4, 1204-1219.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

The Sexual Relationship with a Narcissist

The sexual relationship with the narcissist is most peculiar. Narcissists are exhibitionists and sex is just one further means of being admired to her or him.

Intimacy does not exist and you will frequently feel used. The narcissist will demand that you subdue yourself. Your own sexual preferences will be boycotted or twisted.

Narcissists have a strong tendency to sexually abuse a partner and sometimes children. Here is a list of SOME of these abusive behaviors (these are not true in all cases; nor do ALL have to be present for it to be NPD):

* You are prohibited from masturbating or feel good about your own body under the threat of punishment

* You are being made to watch porn although you don't want to

* You are not allowed any sexual gratification yourself

* The narcissist pretends to be sexual (desirous) for you but is after her/ his gratification only

* Your sexual past is being torn apart or made fun of

* You are being told that all you want is sex (although you know this is not the case, however sex is central to the narcissist)

* The narcissist instigates sex (like telling you erotic things and sending you pictures or emails which are sexual) but then decides last minute that nothing is to take place; or simply demands abusive sex

* The narcissist abuses you while you are asleep (sleep rape)

* You are being raped (coerced verbally or emotionally - includes "I love you") on a regular basis

* You are feeling humiliated and yet the narcissist claims that (s)he has been humiliated

* The narcissist finds it funny when you get hurt and enjoys it when you get hurt, this can be physically or emotionally

* The narcissist instigates and turns everything into a sexual game

* The narcissist demands prolonged sex way above the limit you can handle nor want to

* The narcissist tells you that you want to have sexual relations with everybody -- although the narcissist has a strong tendency to flirt with others and to be infidel

* You are being told off for the fact that you were flirting with someone although you are not flirting at all

* The narcissist makes fun of your sexuality in front of others (e.g. you have a small penis or small breasts)

* The narcissist demands sex when you make it clear that you don't want to

* The narcissist has to try out everything possible

* The narcissist is an exhibitionist and will want sex in public and dresses inappropriately at home and or elsewhere

There is another form of sexual abuse with Narcissists (and other Pathologicals). In fact, so I believe, it is the most common one, and hence it took me so long to get it. This form of abuse comes in four stages:

* Firstly, the victim will be forced to reveal her or his sexual preferences and experiences to the perpetrator.

* Secondly, the perpetrator will condition the victim to direct her or his entire sexuality towards the perpetrator. At this stage, the sexual relationship is intense.

* Thirdly, the perpetrator reduces the intensity of the sexual relationship dramatically, so that the victim is in constant sexual need. (Sexual Hyperarousal)

* Fourthly, the perpetrator grants inproper sexual gratification in order to maintain the sexual need of the victim. Now, the victim, who is (sexually) dependent on the perpetrator, can be humiliated, manipulated and used.

Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bill of Rights for Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic Violence Victim Bill of Rights

* You have the right NOT to be abused.

* You have the right to anger over past abuse.

* You have a right to choose to change the situation.

* You have a right to freedom from fear of abuse.

* You have a right to request and expect assistance from police or social agencies.

* You have a right to share your feelings and not be isolated from others.

* You have a right to want a better role model of communication for yourself and your children.

* You have a right to be treated like an adult.

* You have a right to leave the abusive environment.

* You have a right to privacy.

* You have a right to express your own thoughts and feelings.

* You have a right to develop your individual talents and abilities without harrasssment.

* You have a right to legally prosecute the abusing spouse.

* You have a right not to be perfect.

(Adapted from; Victimology: An International Journal., Vol. 2 1977-78, No. 3-4, p.550)

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Narcissists & Psychopaths Cause PTSD for their Victims

by Tim Field

How do the PTSD symptoms resulting from a Narcissist or Psychopath's abuse and bullying meet the criteria in DSM-IV?

A. The prolonged (chronic) negative stress resulting from dealing with a narcissist or psychopath has lead to threat of loss of job, career, health, livelihood, often also resulting in threat to marriage and family life. The family are the unseen victims.

A.1.One of the key symptoms of prolonged negative stress is reactive depression; this causes the balance of the mind to be disturbed, leading first to thoughts of, then attempts at, and ultimately, suicide.

A.2.The target of the narcissist or psychopath may be unaware that they are being exploited, and even when they do realize (there's usually a moment of enlightenment as the person realizes that the criticisms and tactics of control, etc are invalid) - victims often cannot bring themselves to believe they are dealing with a disordered personality who lacks a conscience and does not share the same moral values as themselves.

Naivety is the great enemy. The target is bewildered, confused, frightened, angry - and after enlightenment, very angry.

B.1. The target experiences regular intrusive violent visualizations and replays of events and conversations; often, the endings of these replays are altered in favour of the target.

B.2. Sleeplessness, nightmares and replays are a common feature.

B.3. The events are constantly relived; night-time and sleep do not bring relief as it becomes impossible to switch the brain off. Such sleep as is achieved is non-restorative and people wake up as tired, and often more tired, than when they went to bed.

B.4. Fear, horror, chronic anxiety, and panic attacks are triggered by any reminder of the experience, e.g.receiving threatening letters or email from the narcissist or psychopath or their friends, their family or attorneys. Additionally postings on online boards or sites about the victim by the abuser (often to try to make the victim look like the abusive one!) can add to these triggers and health related issues tremendously.]

B.5. Panic attacks, palpitations, sweating, trembling, vomitting, binge eating or forgetting to eat, ditto.

Criteria B4 and B5 manifest themselves as immediate physical and mental paralysis in response to any reminder of the narcissist or prospect being forced to take action against the narcissist.

C. Physical numbness (toes, fingertips, lips) is common, as is emotional numbness (especially inability to feel joy). Sufferers report that their spark has gone out and, even years later, find they just cannot get motivated about anything.

C.1. The target tries harder and harder to avoid saying or doing anything which reminds them of the horror of the exploitation.

C.2. Almost all Victims report impaired memory; this may be partly due to suppressing horrific memories, and partly due to damage to the hippocampus, an area of the brain linked to learning and memory.

C.3. the person becomes obsessed with resolving the experience which takes over their life, eclipsing and excluding almost every other interest.

C.4. Feelings of withdrawal and isolation are common; the person just wants to be on their own and solitude is sought.

C.5. Emotional numbness, including inability to feel joy (anhedonia) and deadening of loving feelings towards others are commonly reported. One fears never being able to feel love again.

C.6. The target becomes very gloomy and senses a foreshortened career - usually with justification. Many targets ultimately have severe psychiatric injury, severely impaired health.

D.1. Sleep becomes almost impossible, despite the constant fatigue; such sleep as is obtained tends to be unsatisfying, unrefreshing and non-restorative. On waking, the person often feels more tired than when they went to bed. Depressive feelings are worst early in the morning. Feelings of vulnerability may be heightened overnight.

D.2. The person has an extremely short fuse and is often permanently irritated, especially by small insignificant events. The person frequently visualises a violent solution, e.g. arranging an accident for, or murdering the narcissist; the resultant feelings of guilt tend to hinder progress in recovery.

D.3. Concentration is impaired to the point of precluding preparation for legal action, study, work, or search for work.

D.4. The person is on constant alert because their fight or flight mechanism has become permanently activated.

D.5. The person has become hypersensitized and now unwittingly and inappropriately perceives almost any remark as critical.

E. Recovery from a narcissist experience is measured in years. Some people never fully recover.  Long term and repeated damage by disordered persons become C-PTSD.
F. For many, social life ceases and work becomes impossible.  Many develop autoimmune diseases such as lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic pain or adrenal fatigue and even become totally disabled.

THERAPY can and does help. But it takes a lot of time and work.  The longer you wait to get help & treatment, the deeper the damage and the more difficult to heal or manage.  Hang in there!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Abusive Relationships & Toxic Guilt

by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W

I believe that most of us, especially those of us who have mental health disorders, feel guilt in situations where we have no business whatsoever feeling guilt.

It is easy to just look at our behavior, the situation and ourselves and say "I'm guilty! I am ashamed." Now let's back up a bit here.

When I say look at ourselves, it might benefit most of us to look a little deeper. We are complex, complicated creatures and our motivation for doing or not doing something is not just based on our personality, our will, etc.

What do I mean? Let me give you an example of something that may help you see this picture more clearly.

I have been seeing a man who is extremely emotionally and verbally abusive. Now of course I was not aware of his abuse issues at first but I will admit that I saw red flags right from the start.

Mind you, I have trained staff in domestic violence, etc.

The situation I recently faced was a history of ten months seeing this guy, addicted to him, and no matter how much I complained to him about his behavior, I kept going back. I would continue to go back into a little denial that really he is not abusive and that one day we will have a wonderful relationship. I had a very difficult time facing reality because like any addiction, I would occasionally get what I call "adrenalin shots." These "shots" kept me hooked in a situation that I could not get out of. I could not get out of this relationship.

I did notice as I worked harder to get out, he trumped up his abuse. Finally the emotional abuse became so bad that I just could no longer take the abuse he threw at me.

Again I wrote him an email kindly asking him to end this thing between us as it was killing me and that I was having a difficult time getting out. Now imagine an abuser and their personality and their agenda. Would he kindly assist me in this? Of course not.

Of course I knew it was my responsibility to get out I noticed that every time I tried to get out I felt sick. I prayed and prayed to God and asked Him to assist me, started journaling, which did help by the way, but I couldn't get out and if I got close to getting out he knew just how to suck me back in. Wonderful words he would say - tell me just what I needed to hear.

Abuse of any kind decreases your self-esteem and for me I felt like my mind was literally being twisted. His behavior did NOT make sense and the more he did strange stuff, the more twisted I felt.

During this time I felt TREMENDOUS guilt that I could not leave the relationship. It was humiliating to keep enduring his abuse. Every one told me he was playing head games with me, playing with me, etc. This knowledge was very difficult to assimilate and I so needed to believe that he truly loved and cared about me and that I was special to him. I felt I couldn't face any other reality, as it was too painful.

One day I was eating lunch and watching a movie on television in the midst of all the craziness. In the movie the husband was verbally, emotionally and physically abusing his wife. Two times in the movie he said to her, "I own you." The first time it went over my head but the second time he said that to her my jaw dropped and I probably looked shocked, like I had seen a ghost.

My father repeatedly told me he owned me when I was growing up. I never understood that. Once in high school I remember him telling me how he wanted my hair cut. I kindly said I wanted it cut differently and he in no uncertain terms told me I belonged to him, I was his property and he will do with me what he likes.

I had many times questioned whether my dad was verbally and emotionally abusive to me for many years but I never got to the point where I completely came out of denial until now.

I think we are more inclined to unconsciously look for the environment we were raised in, even if it was abusive. We are familiar with that environment and a non-abusive environment is strange.

People that have been abused don't see a lot of the red flags that others see because that way of life for them I normal. Many of us feel that love is pain.

It is vital to remember when you look back on your life or you are currently facing a situation where you are unhappy with your behavior, that you are struggling so much due to your history of abuse. You may appear "weak" and unable to get out of that situation without outside help. It says nothing about your character but everything about your past.

So it is that in my opinion we go to therapy and learn what "normal" is so that we can behave more and more that way and be attracted to healthy people.

Experiencing guilt is not looking at the entire picture and is inappropriate in many cases.

There is "good" guilt that motivates us to do the right thing but in these situations we are experiencing toxic shame. Many of us feel we are bad all the way to the core.

Should we crucify our parents for our issues now? No. They may have done the best they can. Take a look at their family of origin.

We are always responsible for our behavior however and we are responsible to get help if we feel like we are drowning.

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shared by Barbara at 12:08 AM 14 comments


Monday, October 17, 2016

The Health Effects of Domestic Violence

The effects of violence on a victim's health are severe. In addition to the immediate injuries from the assault, battered women may suffer from chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, psychosomatic symptoms, and eating problems. Although psychological abuse is often considered less severe than physical violence, health care providers and advocates around the world are increasingly recognizing that all forms of domestic violence can have devastating physical and emotional health effects. Domestic violence is associated with mental health problems such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

Women who are abused suffer an increased risk of unplanned or early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. As trauma victims, they are also at an increased risk of substance abuse. According to a U.S. study, women who experience intimate partner abuse are three times more likely to have gynecological problems than non-abused women.
From Violence Against Women: Effects on Reproductive Health, Outlook, vol. 20, no. 1 (September 2002).

Women are particularly vulnerable to attacks when pregnant, and thus may more often experience medical difficulties in their pregnancies. Recent research has called for increased study of pregnancy associated deaths. "Pregnancy associated deaths" are "deaths occurring to women who have been pregnant within the previous year." A study conducted by researchers in Maryland of 247 pregnancy associated deaths found that the leading cause of death was homicide. The researchers have called for "enhanced surveillance" of pregnancy associated deaths and additional research focusing more specifically on the role of domestic violence. From Nancy K.D. Lemon, Health Watch, in Domestic Violence Report, vol. 8, no. 5, 69, 69 (June/July 2003) (citing Isabelle L. Horon & Diana Cheng, Enhanced Surveillance for Pregnancy-Associated Mortality—Maryland, 1993-1998, in JAMA vol. 285, no. 11, 1455 (21 March 2001)).

Other studies have shown that there are significant obstetric risk factors associated with domestic violence. Abused women are more likely to have a history of sexually transmitted disease infections, vaginal and cervical infections, kidney infections and bleeding during pregnancy, all of which are risk factors for pregnant women. Abused women are more likely to delay prenatal care and are less likely to receive antenatal care. In fact, "[i]ntimate partner abuse during pregnancy may be a more significant risk factor for pregnancy complications than other conditions for which pregnant women are routinely screened, such as hypertension and diabetes." From Violence Against Women: Effects on Reproductive Health, Outlook, vol. 20, no. 1 (September 2002).

As discussed in more detail in the section on marital rape, in many countries, marriage is believed to grant men unconditional sexual access to their wives, and to permit the use of violence if their wives do not comply. Women's lack of sexual autonomy in these situations puts them at risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Recent research in Nicaragua, for example, suggests that domestic abuse increases the likelihood that women will have many children and found that abused women were twice as likely to have four or more children. From Ending Violence Against Women, in Population Reports, vol. 7, no. 4 (December 1999).

Domestic violence can be fatal; women are both intentionally murdered by their partners and lose their life as a result of injuries inflicted by them. In particular, recent studies in the United States have focused on choking or strangulation, a tactic often used by batterers. Because choking or strangulation rarely leaves vivid external physical marks, police may not recognize the victim's need for medical assistance or the seriousness of the violence. Injuries resulting from choking or strangulation can often be lethal; such injuries "may appear mild initially but they can kill the victim within 36 hours." From When Abusers Choke Their Victims, Violence Against Women 22-5 (Joan Zorza ed., 2002).

In addition to the danger of death from injury or intentional homicides, research also indicates that women who are abused may be more likely to commit suicide. The Family Violence Prevention Fund, reporting on a 1995 study, stated that 29% of all women in the United States who attempted suicide were battered. UNICEF reports that a "close correlation between domestic violence and suicide has been established based on studies in the United States, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Peru, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Suicide is 12 times as likely to have been attempted by a woman who has been abused than by one who has not." From UNICEF, Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls, 6 Innocenti Digest 1, 4 (2000).

The World Health Organization's Factsheet and Violence Against Women: Health Consequences detail the health consequences of violence against women around the world. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the Family Violence Prevention Fund provides an excellent overview of the health effects of domestic violence on women and children.

For a list of research and reports on the health effects of domestic violence, click here.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Destroying the Lives of Others

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Narcissists expect and demand that the ones nearest and dearest to them, tolerate, admire, love, and cater to their needs. They expect others to be at their immediate disposal. Their behavior is obnoxious, aloof and indifferent and they fully realize this. Narcissists test the mental limits of people's patience. Individuals in a relationship with a narcissist feel something is not “quite right,” and many seek answers to the unsettling experience of day to day contact with a narcissist.

Narcissistic individuals do not tend to be physically abusive although there are some out there that are. Their worst weapon is their mouth. With their mouth they spit verbal negations and dispense emotional abuse. Their vocal cords are their method of attempting to control others.

Narcissists do not have the emotional capacity to provide support or understanding to others. There are numerous defense mechanisms which narcissists use to confuse and unbalance those around them. Organization is unknown to narcissistic individuals and they avoid future plans if it concerns pleasing another for some reason not evident to them.

They do not want anyone thinking highly of them for several reasons. First, their sense of self as special, unique and deserving keeps them grounded at maintenance level in their relationships. Maintenance level is just enough, just in time to keep the folly of the relationship moving forward, but just enough and no more. To expend more energy on the relationship would cause others to feel some degree of predictability in the whole affair. Contributing to the happiness of the ones they already envy for having the ability to feel love is not a an activity in which narcissists wish to participate.

Second, if another thinks highly of the narcissist then there are expectations which that person has that the narcissist must fulfill. The narcissist, however, does not intend to fill anyone's expectations except that of his/her own.

Happiness, joy, and the effort to please others is not normally undertaken by the narcissist except in the beginning or potential ending of a relationship. At either of these points, the narcissist may be charming, helpful, pleasing, and amusing beyond imagination. But, this effort is only used to obtain a new narcissistic supply source or to win back the affection of an important source if abandonment appears eminent. At all other times, the narcissist believes his/her presence, is clearly and abundantly sufficient to maintain the loyalty, trust, affection and respect of those which the narcissist already considers his/her object. So, the narcissist will postpone, withhold or procrastinate the continuing efforts that are essential to maintaining any kind of meaningful relationship. A narcissistic person is unable to fake the emotion of love for another for a long period of time. This impairs the capacity for a committed relationship with a narcissist. Therefore, marital instability and promiscuity are prominent in those with NPD.

Narcissists can perform obligations in the global areas of their lives and with strangers quite well. But, with those individuals they have already captured, they find the expenditure of civil treatment taxing to their mental reserve and not really necessary. They routinely display to their captured objects their worst traits. These may include abuse of alcohol, sex, verbal negations or other behaviors that tend to keep people at a distance and not allow any close interpersonal strength to develop. This is evident in the narcissists relationships with their wives/husbands, girlfriends/boyfriends, children, brothers, and sisters.

Narcissists will never accept the blame for anything that happens in a relationship. They are quite ready to blame the other person involved. They expect to be the center of attention in a relationship and demand their every wish be fulfilled by their partner.

Don't expect the narcissist to get better with age. By the time they are old they have pushed everyone who has ever tried to care about them away. Their narcissistic characteristics also seem to increase after the death of parents or loss of others that have exerted some type of control over them.

A relationship with a narcissist can at times be fun and invigorating. After the relationship has come to an end, for the non-disordered, there maybe a feeling of let down or boredom. A relationship with a narcissist is like a roller coaster ride--there are extreme highs and lows. Be thankful the relationship has ended. The best advice for anyone who is presently involved with a narcissist is to RUN! The relationship won't get better. Also, it's better to get out before the narcissist snatches away all your self-esteem. Remember, their worst weapon is their mouth.

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shared by Barbara at 12:12 AM 19 comments


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Psychopath: Desire Driven, Untamed Nature

Our bundle of wishes drives us out of the bunk in the morning, well most of us anyway. We all have our own unique bundle that motivates us to act. No two bundles are identical, similar is as close as it gets.An act correlated to a wish or wishes in your bundle is far more satisfying than one out of sync. We are out here driving around acting on our desires and bumping into to each other all the time.

One of the most crucial characteristics we all must appreciate about bundle of wishes is that predators’ bundles are untamed.

Your chances of crashing into a predator, such as a rapist, pedophile, stalker, con artist, or the like, should be expected. Preparation is crucial to avoid a head on collision.

Awareness of a predator’s presence before you crash into them is far better then after. I learned my awareness the hard way, only after a destructive collision. Some driving lessons will help you maneuver around them.

What makes predators different is known. Their ability to mask this difference depends on your ignorance.

So what is different? Basically two things: the nature of their bundle and their lack of restraint for acting on a wish in their bundle. Predators have an untamed bundle of wishes.

Have you ever done something mean spirited and afterwards you wish you hadn’t? Two things happen as a result: guilt and behavior modification. You feel so darn guilty that you correct your behavior in the future.

Now consider the act of a predator. They do not experience guilt, thus no behavior modification in their future. No guilt equates to repetitive inappropriate behavior. No restraint by guilt sets them apart.

Two factors of our restraint are inhibition and empathy.

Inhibition arises because we feel our action might hurt somebody else. May not be true, but in our assessment we feel it is true. We do not act on this wish.

The second aspect is empathy. This is the ability to identify with someone else’s feeling. Here we assess a desire to act from the standpoint of another. If we decide our act will effect someone else in a negative way, we will not do it.

A predator has a desire and acts without this assessment. They do not have this ability. Research indicates they never will.

A predator’s bundle of wishes fall in the legal or criminal realm. A predator that is driven by legal desire is extremely pervasive and rarely identified. Criminal predators cause society’s greatest fear and when caught our legal system is designed to remove them, at least for a while.

Both types are dreadfully destructive. Personally I fear the legal variety because their impact is left unchecked. They cause significant harm to those that unwittingly get close to them.

Wake up all you domestic violence victims! If your spouse’s bundle of wishes is untamed, they do not change.

Where I place my greatest fear is irrelevant. What is relevant is a predator’s desire is either unfathomable to you (criminal) or in your mean spirited category (legal). Your fear comes from what you do not understand.

Why anybody would want to sexually assault a woman or molest a child is beyond our power of reason. Sorry to say that some wishes in some predators’ bundles are pure evil.

That they are acted upon is another predator difference. We can never be certain about the nature of somebody else’s bundle. Observing and realizing an action arising out of their lack of constraint indicates possible predator presence.

Remember we all slip up occasionally. No body is perfect. An occasional act that is mean spirited is normal. Beware of the ones who repeat the same behavior under similar circumatances.

Without inhibition and empathy some relatively innocuous behaviors can give off clues to indicate the necessity to steer clear.

As you drive down the road of your life be on the lookout for an untamed bundle of wishes.



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shared by Barbara at 12:20 AM 2 comments


Friday, October 14, 2016

Migraines Could be Caused by Abuse

Researchers from the American Headache Society's Women's Issues Section Research Consortium found that incidence of childhood maltreatment, especially emotional abuse and neglect, are prevalent in migraine patients.

The study also found that migraine patients reporting childhood emotional or physical abuse and/or neglect had a significantly higher number of comorbid pain conditions compared with those without a history of maltreatment.

Both population- and clinic-based studies have demonstrated an association between childhood maltreatment and an increased risk of migraine chronification years later.

A total of 1348 patients diagnosed with migraine completed the surveys. Researchers found migraine sufferers who reported childhood emotional abuse or physical neglect had a significantly higher incidence of comorbid pain conditions compared with those without a history of maltreatment.

In the study population, 61% had at least 1 comorbid pain condition and 58% reported experiencing childhood trauma either by abuse or neglect. The number of different maltreatment types suffered in childhood correlated with the number of comorbid pain in adulthood.


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shared by Barbara at 12:18 AM 3 comments