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Changes in a Life ~ 2

Toxic & Difficult Relationships -Personality disorders ~ 2

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Toxic & Difficult Relationships -Personality disorders ~ 2

girlbowinginshadow.jpg

 What I am looking for, I already am. But because of (inherited) boundaries to my self perception, I am unable to real-ise that within my self. These boundaries are physical body genetic holding patterns structured in dis-ease or physical, mental and emotional disorders.
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**  Please note

 

     While you may feel these topics 'Don't apply to me', don't over look them. I've read them all and can honestly say, I  have seen 'aspects' of myself here and there throughout various articles. We are all capable of any of these symptoms ~ it's just a matter of degree that determines healthy from unhealthy and/or how disruptive to oneself and/or those involved in a persons life. Becoming aware of these symptoms is helpful for determining if professional help may be necessary for yourself or someone you know who exhibits certain tendencies.

     It is worthwhile reading any of these as it may surprise you to find just how 'over the edge' you may be prone to being .... or already are.  You may find particular areas  that are being expressed in ways you haven't considered before and may want to  do some corrective work on personal issues. Within these articles, you will find problem solving strategies and insights that can be applied to yourself and or others.  While reading these articles, I've had more than one 'ah ha' revelation that I've found very useful for future use in managing difficult relationships with others.  I've also found many ways of handling situations that I've already employed in the past - most just on gut instinct rather than informed knowledge as is being presented here.  Having what I've already done confirmed as being 'correct' has eased my mind in regards to a few things I was unsure of.  

     I wish I had such information readily available many years ago when having to contend with a 'difficult' Mother and brother-in-law. I'm smarter now and have better understandings about a few other  people who continue to touch my life. as well as those whom no longer are a  focus of mine. .. due to now being smarter and wiser.   

     The content of any article on this site is not meant to substitute for professional help and counseling. The diagnosis and treatment of any Psychological Disorder can only be done by professional specifically trained and qualified to do so.  PDPJ 

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ARTICLES WITHIN THIS TOPIC ARE:

1.  Voicelessness: Narcissism

 

2.  Healthy relationships vs. unhealthy

 

3.  Difficult Emotions

 

4. How to End Any Relationship Instantly and Permanently

 

5. Coping with toxic people.

 

6. How do you make sure a relationship with a narcissist is over?

 

7.  The following characteristics are common in verbally abusive relationships:

 

8. Are you involved with a Narcissist?  Take this quiz and find out

 

9. Emotionally Detaching  LOTS of links

 

10. Addictive love relationships

 

11. Are you or your partner addicted to drama?

 

12. Many links to book excerpts dealing with Narcissism & other problem areas.

 

13. Borderline Personality Disorder and Loneliness

 

14. BPD: When Will I Ever Know Who I Am?

 

15  Narcissistic Love

 

16. The Borderline Dance & The Non-Borderlines' Dilemma

 

17. BPD: The past versus here and now

 

18. Borderline Personality Disorder

 

19. Borderline Quandary -- Who AM I?

 

20.  Narcissism FAQ #46: The Dual Role of the False Self

 

21.  Narcissism FAQ #48: The Stripped Ego

 

22.  Narcissism FAQ #41: Narcissistic Signal, Stimulus and Hibernation Mini-Cycles

 

23.   With 5 million Americans suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and another 10 million with the less severe syndrome Destructive Narcissistic Pattern, Loving the Self-Absorbed is a timely book. Author Nina Brown gives readers specific steps for limiting the effect of a partner's narcissistic behavior and getting what they need out of the relationship. She explains the five types of "destructive narcissism" and how to recognize their effects on a relationship.
Loving the Self Absorbed by Nina Brown (Amazon book description)

**MORE THAN 15 NEW LINKS ADDED ON THE LINKS PAGE

 

24.  A Brief Introduction to Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

 

25.  Walking on Eggshells ~ BPD

 

26.  Borderline Personality Disorder Symptom

 

27.   POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)  

 

28.  NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER ~ MSN Group

 

29.  Breaking the compulsive cycle ~ (a funny coincidence)

 

30.  Symptoms of a Difficult Relationship ~ 26 Indicators

 

31.  Getting out of the Toxic Relationship Cycle

 

32.  Three Reasons Your Relationship Will Never Get Better.

 

32.  Conclusion ~ 'It is what it is' I say to myself with a smile. * * (click on this title to read conclusion)

 

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Take 10 minutes to test yourself. This test is amazingly accurate & insightful. Be prepared for some difficult questions, certainly many to make you really examine yourself. Above all, BE HONEST !!

Personality Disorder Test

On a modem? Please give the test a minute to load.

This test, sponsored by 4degreez.com, is meant to help determine whether or not you have a personality disorder. It is not meant to be used as a diagnostic tool, but rather as a tool to give you insight into a potential disorder that may be having a negative impact on your life. If you believe you may be suffering from a personality disorder or any other disorder, you should ask your family doctor to recommend a therapist in your area to meet with.

If you are looking for a personality test that features a professional analysis of your results, try Tickle.com's test.

First, what is a personality disorder?
A personality disorder is basically a set of traits that combine to negatively affect your life. They have a wide range of causes and some are easier to treat than others. This test is set up to look for the ten recongized personality disorders which are Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypal, Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive.

Once again, this test is not meant to be used as a diagnostic tool. Only a trained professional can properly diagnose a personality disorder.

Finally, be honest! This test is completely anonymous, so please be honest otherwise you will not get the proper results.
 
 
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Voicelessness: Narcissism

by Richard Grossman, Ph.D.

Many people spend a  lifetime aggressively trying to protect an injured or vulnerable "self."  Traditionally, psychologists have termed such people "narcissists," but this is a misnomer. To the outside world it appears that these people love themselves. Yet, at their core they don't love themselves--in fact their self barely exists, and what part does exist is deemed worthless. All energy is devoted to inflating the self, like a persistent child trying to blow up a balloon with a hole.

Because they need continuous proof of the significance of their voice, narcissists must find people, particularly important people, to hear and value them. If they are not heard, their childhood wound opens, and they quickly begin to melt away like the Wicked Witch of the West.  This terrifies them.   Narcissists use everyone around them to keep themselves inflated.  Often they find flaws in others and criticize them fiercely, for this further distinguishes them from those who are defective.  Children are ready targets:  narcissists consider children flawed and lacking, and therefore most in need of severe "teaching" and correction.  This negative picture of children is a sad projection of how the narcissist truly feels about his or her inner self before the self-inflation began.  But the narcissist never recognizes this:   they consider their harsh, controlling parenting magnanimous and in the child's best interest.  Spouses receive similar treatment--they exist to admire the narcissist and to remain in the background as an adornment.  Frequently, spouses are subject to the same barrage of criticism.  This can never be effectively countered, because any assertive defense is a threat to the narcissist's wounded "self."   Not surprisingly,  narcissists cannot hear others: spouse, lover, or friends, and especially not children.  They are interested in listening only to the extent that it allows them the opportunity to give advice or share a similar  incident (either better or worse, depending upon which has more impact). Many engage in "sham" listening, appearing to be very attentive because they want to look good.  Usually they are unaware of their deafness--in fact they believe they hear better than anyone else (this belief, of course, is another attempt at self-inflation).   Because of their underlying need for voice and the resultant bluster, narcissists often work their way to the center of their "circle," or the top of their organization.  Indeed, they may be the mentor or guru for others. The second they are snubbed, however, they rage at their "enemy". 

What makes it difficult to help this type of narcissist is their self-deception. The processes used to protect themselves are ingrained from childhood. As a result, they are absolutely unaware of their constant efforts to maintain a viable "self." If they are meeting with success, they are satisfied with life regardless of whether the people around them are happy. Two circumstances bring this type of person to a therapist's office. Sometimes a partner who feels chronically unheard and unseen drags them in. Or, they have met with some failure (often in their career) so that the strategies they previously used to maintain self-esteem suddenly no longer work. In the latter situation, their depression  is profound--like cotton candy, their robust false self dissolves, and one is able to see an accurate picture of their inner sense of worthlessness. 

Can such people be helped? Sometimes. The critical factor is whether they ultimately acknowledge their core problem: that as a child they felt neither seen nor heard (and/or their self was fragile as a result of trauma, genetic predisposition, etc.), and they unconsciously employed self-building strategies to survive. Acknowledging this truth takes much courage, for they must face their underlying lack of self-esteem, their exceptional vulnerability,  and significantly, the damage they have caused others.   Then comes the long and painstaking work of building (or resurrecting) a genuine, non-defensive self in the context of an empathic and caring therapy relationship.

A Note about Narcissism and Genetics:  Is narcissism a genetic disorder?

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Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships are characterized by respect, sharing and trust. They are based on the belief that both partners are equal, that the power and control in the relationship are equally shared. Some of the characteristics of a healthy relationship are:

Respect - listening to one another, valuing each other's opinions, and listening in a non-judgmental manner. Respect also involves attempting to understand and affirm the other's emotions.

Trust and support - supporting each other's goals in life, and respecting each other's right to his/her own feelings, opinions, friends, activities and interest. It is valuing one's partner as an individual.

Honesty and accountability - communicating openly and truthfully, admitting mistakes or being wrong, acknowledging past use of violence, and accepting responsibility for one's self.

Shared responsibility - making family/relationship decisions together, mutually agreeing on a distribution of work which is fair to both partners. If parents, the couple shares parental responsibilities and acts as positive, non-violent role models for the children.

Economic partnership - in marriage or cohabitation, making financial decisions together, and making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements.

Negotiation and fairness - being willing to compromise, accepting change, and seeking mutually satisfying solutions to conflict.

Non-threatening behavior - talking and acting in a way that promotes both partners' feelings of safety in the relationship. Both should feel comfortable and safe in expressing him/herself and in engaging in activities.

 

Is Your Relationship Healthy?
From the Iowa Coalition Against Violence

Quiz I

1.       Can you say what you like or admire about your partner?

2.       Is your partner glad that you have other friends?

3.       Is your partner happy about your accomplishments and ambitions?

4.       Does your partner ask for and respect your opinions?

5.       Does she/he really listen to you?

6.       Can she/he talk about her/his feelings?

7.       Does your partner have a good relationship with her/his family?

8.       Does she/he have good friends?

9.       Does she/he have interests besides you?

10.   Does she/he take responsibility for her/his actions and not blame others for her/his failures?

11.   Does your partner respect your right to make decisions that affect your own life?

12.   Are you and your partner friends? Best friends?

If you answered most of these questions with a yes, you probably are not in a relationship that is likely to become abusive. If you answered no to some or most of these questions you may be in an abusive relationship, please continue with the next set of questions.

Quiz II

1.       When your partner gets angry does she/he break or throw things?

2.       Does your partner lose her/his temper easily?

3.       Is your partner jealous of your friends or family?

4.       Does your partner expect to be told where you have been when you are not with her/him?

5.       Does your partner think you are cheating on her/him if you talk or dance with someone else?

6.       Does your partner drink or take drugs almost every day or go on binges?

7.       Does she/he ridicule, make fun of, or put you down?

8.       Does your partner think there are some situations in which it is okay for a man to hit a woman or a woman to hit a man?

9.       Do you like yourself less than usual when you have been with your partner?

10.   Do you ever find yourself afraid of your partner?

If you answered yes to questions in this group, please be careful and think about your safety.

 

Relationships can be complicated, loving, painful, rewarding, healthy, unhealthy, etc. Different people have different beliefs and values, regarding what makes a "good" relationship. Having said that, the philosophy of the Assault Survivors Advocacy Program is that healthy relationships are those in which the rights of each individual are valued and respected. They are relationships based on equality, rather than power and control. In a healthy relationship, each partner has rights. 

Basic Rights in a Relationship
Adapted from Patricia Evans, 1992, The Verbally Abusive Relationship

The right to emotional support.

The right to be heard by the other and to be responded to with courtesy.

The right to have your own point of view, even if it differs from your partner's.

The right to have your feelings and experiences acknowledged as real.

The right to live free from accusation and blame.

The right to live free from criticism and judgment.

The right to live free from emotional and physical threat.

The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage.

The right to be respectfully asked, rather than ordered.

Boundaries

Boundaries are important in determining the health of a relationship. Boundaries clarify where you stop and where I begin, which problems belong to you and which problems belong to me. What are boundaries? "Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what is not. . . ." (Dr. Henry Cloud)

 

Each of us has boundaries, some of which go unspoken, in many areas of our lives. We set boundaries in regard to physical proximity and touch, the words that are acceptable when we are spoken to, honesty, emotional intimacy (such as how much we self-disclose to others). When one or both people in a relationship have difficulty with boundaries, the relationship suffers. The following guidelines indicate a problem in setting and enforcing boundaries.

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries

Telling all.

Talking at an intimate level on the first meeting.

Falling in love with a new acquaintance.

Falling in love with anyone who reaches out.

Being overwhelmed by a person--preoccupied.

Acting on the first sexual impulse.

Being sexual for partner, not self.

Going against personal values or rights to please others.

Not noticing when someone invades your boundaries.

Not noticing when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries.

Accepting food, gifts, touch, sex that you don't want.

Touching a person without asking.

Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you.

Letting others describe your reality.

Letting others define you.

Believing others can anticipate your needs.

Expecting others to fulfill your needs automatically.

Falling apart so someone will take care of you.

"Co-dependent" Relationships

Co-dependence is a term that has been widely used in the last 10 years to describe relationships without clear boundaries. Although no longer in vogue, the concept of co-dependence provides a useful framework for examining how we interact in relationships with others. Our culture portrays romantic love, in songs, television, and movies, as being a relationship in which the partners are inseparable, are nothing without each other, and one in which each partner derives her/his very sense of self from the other. While portrayed as the ideal, this is actually a description of a very unhealthy relationship.

What is Co-dependency?

My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you.

My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.

Your struggles affect my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your pain.

My mental attention is focused on pleasing you.

My mental attention is focused on protecting you.

My mental attention is focused on manipulation you "to do it my way."

My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.

My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.

My own hobbies and interests are put aside. My time is spent sharing your interests and hobbies.

Your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires as I feel you are a reflection of me.

Your behavior is dictated by my desires, as I feel you are a reflection of me.

I am not aware of how I feel, I am aware of how you feel. I am not aware of what I want, I ask you what I want. If I am not aware, I assume.

The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.

My fear of rejection determines what I say or do.

My fear of your anger determines what I say or do.

I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship.

My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.

I put my values aside in order to connect with you.

I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.

The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours.

 

If this describes you, in your relationships, this is an area for potential growth. Becoming aware of it is the first, and most important step. After awareness comes the opportunity for change. By observing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in relationships, you can identify changes you would like to make. You can start practicing new behaviors. Friends and family members may resist or sabotage your attempts to change. It may be helpful to seek counseling to assist you in making changes in your style of interacting in relationships.

Healthy Love Versus Addictive Love
From Jed Diamond, "Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places"

All of us have a healthy impulse to find love, but addictions take us away from genuine love. A summary of some of the differences between healthy love and addictive love can help us find the genuine love we all seek and desire.

Healthy love develops after we feel secure.
Addictive love tries to create love even though we feel frightened and insecure.

Healthy love is part of the human fabric. They cannot be separated.
Addictive love is highly distilled. We think we can separate "it" from people, whether "it" is sex or romantic intrigue.

Healthy love is unique. There is no "ideal lover."
Addictive love is stereotyped. There is always a certain type we are attracted to.

Healthy love is gentle and comfortable.
Addictive love is tense and combative.

Healthy love encourages us to be ourselves, to be honest from the beginning with who we are, including our faults.
Addictive love encourages secretes. We want to look good and put on an attractive mask.

Healthy love is satisfied with the partner we have.
Addictive love is always looking for more or better.

Healthy love is based on the belief that we want to be together.
Addictive love is based on the belief that we HAVE to be together.

Healthy love teaches that only we can make ourselves happy.
Addictive love expects that other person to make us happy and demands that we try to make them happy.

Healthy love creates life.
Addictive love creates melodrama.
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 **NOTE: This article has many internal links within the text. You may want to read the actual article in order to access them. http://www.innerfrontier.org/Practices/DifficultEmotions.htm

Difficult Emotions

Only the rare high saints achieve a level of being untouched by anger and other difficult emotions. The rest of us must deal with distasteful, even ugly emotional states in ourselves. For a meaningful and satisfying life, and particularly for our spiritual path, our emotional nature matters dearly, serving alternately as an essential help and a severe hindrance. We need the inner skills to manage our troublesome emotions. The bouts of anger and rage, fear, anxiety and timidity, greed, lust and gluttony, envy and jealousy, arrogance, coldness and rigidity, squeamishness and laziness, worry, hurry, and depression all take a toll. They make us pay by destroying the precious energy of our inner life in a wasteful, self-referential cycle. These self-reinforcing emotional descents interpose themselves between us and the people around us. They distract us from working toward our goals.

But emotions are not our enemy: they are us.  Or at least through the process of identification, we believe them to be us. Emotions propel us through life. Our difficult emotions call us to respond to ourselves with kindness, acceptance, and patience. We can learn to neither abandon ourselves to their indulgence, nor to blame ourselves for their arising. Indulging in difficult emotions makes us petty and self-centered, and can even lead to emotional instability requiring professional psychotherapy. The other extreme of unwillingness to face difficult emotions or of condemning them as spiritually impure, leads us to repress them, to refuse and cut off part of ourselves, part of our energy. And ultimately, the repressed energy finds a way to surface, perhaps even more destructively.

With difficult emotions, the most effective spiritual practice, assuming one's readiness to bear it, is to be openly and unflinchingly present to these emotions, to be here within myself in the midst of my inner turmoil, to simply see and not to run away into repression or indulgence, and to not identify with or collapse into them. Such forthright presence brings a subtle but crucial new element to bear in our emotional life. Persisting, eventually our presence grows stable enough, large enough, and strong enough to embrace the whole unexpected catastrophe of our difficult emotions. By choosing to participate in an undefended awareness of what we find most objectionable in ourselves, we set the stage for a gradual transformation of our emotional life. By respecting even what we consider lowest in ourselves, we learn to respect others as well. We clear a path for the higher emotions such as love, kindness, generosity, joy, and compassion.

While presence to and awareness of our difficult emotions forms the first requirement, the second crucial element for working with these states is the willingness to let go of the emotion, to let go of nurturing and dwelling on the cause to which we ascribe the emotion. If, in our mind, we keep chewing over the unpleasant event or situation, then we feed the wrong side in ourselves, giving energy to our downward emotional slide. We need to be willing to let the whole thing go, so that we can live in a higher part of ourselves instead of dwelling in our emotional dungeon of identification, which drains the life-blood out of our spiritual work.

            Transformation of our emotional life remains one of the greatest challenges confronting us on the spiritual path. We so easily fall into our emotional mud. Another step and we sink up to our necks. Our head then enters the fray as a supporting actor, busily thinking and imagining in ways that only worsen our position. Our breathing may grow rapid or shallow, our heart may pound, our shoulders may slump, and our face may flush or tighten. Our entire bodily demeanor reflects and abets the emotional siren. Our consciousness flees, not wanting to face the disaster. And so, we abandon ourselves to the chaotic whims of the torrent. By this time, there is little we can do but ride out the storm, attempting not to inflict any lasting damage. But even in the thick of it, if we can but open one eye, ever so slightly, and see with a modicum of clarity and perhaps even a hint of compassion for ourselves, we set the stage for the next round not to be quite so dark. Perhaps the next time we open an eye a bit earlier in the process, and a bit warmer. Eventually we may see with kindness at the tempest's beginning, at the first flap of the butterfly wings, the triggering event. Then, before the emotional storm clouds gather, we can choose to let it all be, and let it all go. Out of respect for ourselves and for others, we might choose not to allow this wasteful pain to overtake us again. This forms part of the long-term blue-collar work of the path, wherein our hands get dirty and our heart gets cleansed. We become able to be more present, more compassionate, and more joyful.

In practice, we must find a way to "own" our difficult and destructive emotions. Take the example of anger. As long as I inwardly blame another person for "making" me angry, I am feeding my anger. As soon as I see that the anger is mine, that it has arisen in me, that the other person's actions do not directly arouse my anger, but rather find a ready response in me, that someone else might respond without anger, that I am responsible for the anger, then I may decouple my anger from the outward apparent cause. When I am able to see this clearly, the anger subsides rapidly. Then I am free to take or not take appropriate action in response to the outward situation. But my inner life has been spared the cost of allowing the destructive action of anger to continue within me. Notice that owning my anger does not mean pushing it away, repressing it, or disowning it. It means accepting the anger as mine and seeing into the roots of the anger within me. A similar process applies to all our difficult and destructive emotions: not blaming the outer situation, owning the emotion and, finally, letting it go.

Some emotional storms are short-lived, even less than a minute. Others can last for days. Recurrent or chronic difficult emotions that consistently derail us from living a full life, from loving relationships, and from our spiritual practice may require the help of a good psychotherapist. If that describes our situation, then the sooner we seek therapy, the sooner we can move on. We need to be responsible about what we make of our lives, because our precious time is limited.

So if you see the anger or other destructive emotion, understand its causes, see it as baseless and unnecessary, and yet despite all that it still has you, then what? Depending on how thoroughly involved you are, you may be able to turn your attention away in that moment, toward something else. One potentially powerful place, if you have a prayer practice, is to turn to prayer, as deeply, strongly, and genuinely as you can. At that time, rather than ask for relief, we offer our love for the higher. Opening toward the Divine, with intention and heart, can transform your state of difficulty into a state of grace. As a byproduct, prayer releases the energy of the difficult emotion to feed your soul instead of sapping it. Another excellent place to persistently direction your attention is toward the work of sensation and presence.

Another source of help in an emotional storm can come from remembering the purpose of our life, remembering our spiritual path. Destructive emotions are so called precisely because they destroy, at least temporarily, our spiritual possibilities. These emotional upheavals burn our energy and entice us into attitudes and actions that increase our egoism, our sense of separateness. Remembering that all this flows in the opposite direction to where we wish to go can help us do damage control, conserve our rupturing energies, and shift our sights toward the path of purification . Every time we fall into some dark state that causes our inner work to vanish, we get up and start again, sooner rather than later.

And what if even that does not help? You are left bereft. Seeing and inwardly admitting to your enslavement, your powerlessness in the face of your emotional state, can empty you, can breach a hole in the darkness of your ego. Your heart and soul lie in ruins. Such emptiness cleanses your heart. Indeed, this emotional emptiness can lead us toward true spiritual emptiness, toward the inner need and openness that relates us to the Ultimate Source of All. The higher can only enter our emptiness, not our fullness. If our need is strong, and if we can orient that need toward the Sacred, the Response will surely come.

The challenge of emotions is not one of taming or controlling them. We need our emotional engine to be strong and vibrant. Our problem arises from our fractured nature. Our emotions, our mind, our body, and our spirit all push or pull us in different directions. The spiritual challenge calls us to integrate our heart into our whole being. Within that wholeness, all our parts find transformation. Then our true consciousness emerges, not identifying with our painful emotions, letting them pass through without singeing us or our neighbors. Clear seeing of our emotional dramas and traumas in action extricates our sense of self from our narrowly-defined, self-centered emotional pseudo-life and brings us to a wider consciousness. By integrating our emotions into our wholeness, by not identifying or collapsing our sense of self into our emotions, we can rest in the freedom of consciousness and toward the higher emotions, toward the source of love. Furthermore, the whole of our inner work, all rightly conducted spiritual practice contributes toward freeing us, which, in part, means loosening the grip of our difficult emotions. So by working at meditation, prayer, presence, kindness and the rest, we naturally lighten our emotional burden.

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1-12-06 

How to End Any Relationship Instantly and Permanently

By Doug Kelley • September 2005  

"Lack of communication will kill any relationship." —Doug Kelley

   There is a time in just about everyone's life when it becomes necessary to end a relationship that has become toxic or destructive. The relationship may be intimate in nature, such as with a spouse or significant other, or the relationship might be with a friend or family member. It is often very difficult to end the relationship quickly for a number of reasons, whether our own compassion gets in the way or the other person continues to contact us and we respond. One's own codependence is quite often the culprit when trying to end an abusive relationship.

The secret to ending any relationship instantly and permanently is this: "Lack of communication will kill any relationship." This principle can work both ways. In the positive sense, if you don't communicate with those you care about, your relationship will suffer and ultimately die. Conversely, if you want to end a relationship, you simply stop communicating with the person. The instant that you stop communicating, the relationship is over.

This is not "rocket science"; it's just that, from a logical standpoint, so many people have not realized how simple it can be to end a toxic, dysfunctional, or destructive relationship. If you have made the decision to end a bad relationship, then stop communicating with that person in any way, e.g., face-to-face conversation, phone calls, email, etc. This may mean changing your phone number to an unpublished number.  

WHAT IF I LIVE WITH THE PERSON?  

Obviously, if you are currently living with the person, there will be times in which you have to speak. However, "talking" doesn't necessarily mean "communicating." In this case, keep the communication limited to only what is necessary until such time that you can separate. But once you separate, communication of any kind must cease completely.

DOES IT REALLY WORK?

Certain fundamentalist religions—past and present—have known for hundreds of years that to kill a person's relationships, all they had to do was cut them off. For example, hundreds of years ago, the Catholic Church would "excommunicate" a person (cut off communication) and then label him or her a "heretic." This action effectively ended that person's relationships with any and all who professed the same religious beliefs (which was everyone). Of course, during the middle ages, the Catholic Church often went further and killed the person as well. Fortunately, times have changed and now the Catholic Church rarely, if ever, excommunicates anyone, let alone kills them outright.

In modern times, fundamentalist-extremist cult-religions such as Jehovah's Witnesses will "disfellowship" (excommunicate) any who do not comply with the organization's beliefs. This is a control and manipulation tactic that effectively cuts the person off from every friend and family member who is also of the same religion (usually the person's entire circle of friends). This means that the person's former friends and family members will literally turn their heads away and remain silent when encountering the disfellowshipped member. The person is completely and utterly ignored. This shunning and complete lack of communication often results in depression, existential crises, alcoholism, and, in some cases, suicide for the person cut off.*

While this practice of shunning certainly classifies the religion as a cult, it also serves to demonstrate how effective cutting off communication can be. Of course, cutting off communication should be only used for the right purpose, such as toxic, dysfunctional, or destructive relationships (a difference of religious beliefs is not the right purpose. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs without judgment).

YOUR NEXT STEP

In codependent relationships (that often involve substance abuse), the person desiring to end the relationship will often cave into the toxic person's attempts to perpetuate the relationship (such as them being nice and considerate when they were not before). Phone calls are accepted, emails returned, offers to get together, etc., which does nothing other than to re-establish the relationship.

Lack of communication will kill any relationship.

If you desire to end a bad relationship, then stop communicating with that person—immediately and completely. Do not try to explain yourself—for explanations rarely explain; do not take their phone calls, do not return their emails; do not respond to their Instant Messages; do not contact them to "tell them off"—release your need to vent, or vent to someone else. Simply stop communicating completely. The instant you stop communicating is the instant the relationship is over.

Now, give yourself permission to not talk to the person. Take your power back and do the right thing for all concerned, but especially for you.
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1-12-06
 
 COPING WITH TOXIC PEOPLE
By Mike Moore copyright (c) 2000 Mike Moore
http://www.life.ca/moore

In my travels across North America speaking on motivation and human potential I hear the same question asked repeatedly, " How can I become more assertive?" There is no doubt about it, there are people in our lives who are harmful to our health and we don't like it one bit.

I read recently that toxic people make up about ten percent of the population and cause over 50% of all relational damage. For our own well-being and the well-being of those we care about we must learn how to cope with these toxic people at home, at work and at play.

I wrote the following report in response to the question, "How can I learn to cope with the difficult people in my life?" From the reaction I have had to this report it is proving helpful. I do want to say emphatically that what you read here won't do a thing to improve your situation unless you have the courage to use the suggestions given. Go for it! You're worth the effort.

TOXIC PEOPLE...

  • rob us of our dignity.
  • destroy our self confidence.
  • increase our stress levels.
  • destroy our morale.
  • erode our self esteem.
  • foster negativity.
  • decrease productivity.
  • make life hellish.
  • are abusive.
  • are toxic because they can get away with it and it works for them.

HOW TO DEAL WITH TOXIC PEOPLE

Remember that you can't change toxic people, but you can learn to cope with them. Here are some effective strategies to try.

* Always stand at eye level with the person you are confronting. Never have them standing over you looking down.
* Respect the toxic person and always expect respect in return. Settle for nothing less.
* Remain calm.
* Listen attentively.
* Don't argue or interrupt, just listen.
* Don't accuse or judge, just state how you feel.
* If the toxic person tries to verbally bully you, just say, " I don't allow people to treat me this way." Then slowly and calmly walk away.
* When someone is being toxic to you here is a powerful response and one that is easy to use because you don't have to say a word. In the midst of a toxic attack just PAUSE....LOOK AT THE PERSON, WITHOUT EMOTION......TURN AND WALK AWAY. It works!
* Anger is sometimes a valid response.
* If all else fails you might be left with only one option; to separate yourself from the toxic person in your life.

YOU DON'T EXIST TO BE SOMEONE'S PERSONAL GARBAGE DUMP.

Chances are, if you're coming out of a relationship that ended up in a breakup, that you had pre-breakup foresights for which you had subconsciously selected to ignore. There are certain signs that are present in almost every bad relationship, sometimes we do not recognize them until after the relationship is completely over, after the grieving has finally passed, and when we begin to realize that we actually  are starting to feel GOOD...in fact, we feel BETTER THAN EVER!

Now many of you out there will say "Absolutely not. Our relationship was GREAT, then out of the blue they broke up with me." While it  may be likely that this could have been the case, more than likely there were signs of an impending breakup that you chose to not acknowledge. As I have stated before, these signs are often only recognizable once we are out of the relationship, moved passed the grief and started the healing process. We all of a sudden feel this enormous sense of relief! Like the clouds have parted, a ray of sunshine has sparked our souls and a heavy, leaden weight has been lifted off our backs. It is the most refreshing, cleansing, truly wonderful feeling!

That is when you can honestly recognize all those unheeded signs of your doomed relationship that you couldn't see before: Such as: Lack of energy and enthusiasm. Discouragement. Irritability with friends, co-workers, and family members. Avoidance, or dread, in seeing your significant other. Feelings that you gave more than you received. Being self-critical and suddenly lacking feelings of self-confidence. Doubting your adequacy, intelligence, or performance when in the presence of your significant other. Unexplained uneasiness or uncomfortable feelings when you were around your significant other. Feeling as if you were singled out for criticism, but rarely, if ever, acknowledged for things you did well. Feeling as though you had to consistently defend your actions. Feelings that your significant other purposely sponged up all the bad things about you, or your relationship--no matter how minute, no matter if your ex even had to invent problems. Feelings of resentment that others got better treatment, more respect, more time, and/or more positive attention than you from your significant other. Difficulty thinking straight, or focusing on your job. Frequent physical illnesses such as colds, flus, upset stomach, or headaches. Subconscious , or conscience, obsessive habits such as nail biting, over-eating, obsessive dieting, drinking, or drugs. Constant feelings of being forced to take the defense, the need to point out your side and point of view. Sudden, unexplained jealousy over inanimate, insignificant , or unwarranted objects such as his sports game, her hobbies, his interests, his friends, her family, or even their cat.

Hell, doesn't it feel good to be rid of these feelings!?

(Click here for more warning signs of the end of a relationship.)

Identifying your ex (and yourself).

The JUDGE. Continuously complains, advises, and finds fault.

The VICTIM. Sits on his pity-pot, wracked with sympathy for his "woe is me" life.

The KILLJOY. Constant spoilsport. Pessimistic and negative.

The PULVERIZER. Insensitive, arrogant, appears selfish, self-centered and extremely apathetic.

The NEWSMONGER. Rumors and gossip is this persons forte.

The DIRECTOR. A total control freak.

The ILLUSIONIST. Truly a falseheart. Back stabber. Tends to be two-faced, dishonest, and cunning.

The SNUB. Gives you the cold-shoulder. Aloof, disengaged, and distant. Avoids contact.

The CONTENDER.Consistently competing. Takes sides and keeps track tit for tat.

The OLYMPIC GAMER. Always striving for more, never satisfied. Pushes themself to the limit. Tends to over-work.

The JERK. Arrogantly makes crude suggestions. Flirtatious. Untrustworthy. Invading and harassing. Offensive. Unfaithful.

The SILLY PUTTY. Weak-kneed, mealymouthed. Overly eager to please. Can change entire persona to meet another's expectations.

The GREEN-EYED OGRE. Rages with envy. Jealous, over-possessive.Covetous of.

The BANG. Highly explosive personality. Seethes with rage. Easily riled.

The DOWNER. Constantly down-and-out. Needy. Suffocating. Soaks up all you have to give, and rarely, if ever, gives anything back.

The JUDGE. Perfectionalistic. Driven. Bossy. Judgmental. Superiority complex. Arrogant. Criticising. Draining. Instructing. Faultfinder. The Judge comes on as a know-it-all. You will feel like you are constantly being scrutinized. Every fault or flaw that could possibly exist the JUDGE will find it. The Judge tells you how to drive your car, how to change the baby, how to balance your checkbook, and even what clothes to wear. They talk to you as if you were 8-years-old and incapable of understanding beyond a second-grade level. The Judge complains about the way you clean, the way you do the laundry, the television programs you like. They drain you of your energy and make you feel defeated and inadequate. The Judge calls all the shots in your relationship. Their constant criticism will keep you on the defensive 24-seven. They are more like your boss, father, mother, or teacher, than your lover or best friend. Living forever with this person would be similar to spending the rest of your life as an inadequate child.

The VICTIM. Defeatist attitude. Passive. Self-blaming. Totally helpless. Irrational feelings of doom. Brooding. Gloomy. Worry wart. The VICTIM's life can tragically collapse over the simplest of things, such as spilling a glass of milk or forgetting to close the garage door. The Vicyim wallows in self-pity and pooh-poohs any advice of any kind. There is always a reason why a plan couldn't possibly work. The Victim worries over EVERYTHING, and often has insomnia.  They believe they are cursed. They often feel like they are utterly helpless. The VICTIM wouldn't dare risk entering any confrontation, or competition, because they already knows they would be defeated. Staying with the VICTIM will most assuredly drain you of every ounce of your energy. Your days will be cloudy, and your nights will be the dark before the gloom. Your total essence will disappear as you slowly become consumed from caring for this person.

The KILLJOY. Negative-minded. Cynicism. Pessimistic. Discounting. Deflating. Critical. Despondent. Passively hopeless. Rejecting. The KILLJOY will break your spirit and make you feel like "why bother?". They will thrive on bursting your bubble, or raining on your parade. If you want to go back to school The Killjoy will point out a hundred reasons why it wouldn't work. If The Killjoy gets a promotion they just know it's because their company is really planning on going under next spring. You most assuredly won't be able to enjoy a night out at the movies because they think it's a stupid flick and, anyway, they just have this nagging headache. You tend to hide your excitement over things because you know The Killjoy will deflate it in a minute flat. Throw any idea at them and they most likely will find a reason why it won't work. Living with this person would be like trudging through a maze of endless, wearisome dead-ends. Pretty soon your smile will fade and your shoulders will droop. And most assuredly all hope will fade and you will eventually lose your ability to dream. Staying with this person will guarantee you a life of sadness, misery, and drudgery.

The PULVERIZER. Bullying. Arrogant. Know-it-all. Self-righteous. Authoritive. Fiercely independent. Blaming others, not responsible for their own actions. Condescending. Users. Makes friends, or seeks out only those people, that may have something that The PULVERIZER thinks may be gainful to themself. Discards others needs or wants. Boisterous. Obstinate. Stubborn. Offensive and rude. Ignorant. The Pulverizer will always be in the drivers seat, and if you don't jump in quickly they will run right over you.  They are insensitive and will cut you to the bone with their rude insults. They are loud and often embarrassing. You feel that The Pulverizer doesn't really need you for anything, and you often feel unimportant, unappreciated, and easily replaceable. The Pulverizer tends to seek out and befriend only those for whom they believe may benefit them in their own personal gain. You tend to go out of your way to please this person. You feel they are overly judgmental of you and you often feel like a child around them. You have never won an argument, nor convinced this person that their point of view is not always necessarily the ONLY point of view. You are convinced that at any time this person could drop you like a hot potato and never look back. Their sports are more important than you. Their friends are too. And their hobbies. Their dog. Their car. Living with The PULVERIZER is the worst possible place to spend your life. You will never be right, never be special, and never be important. It's highly unlikely that this person will even notice you are there. You will spend your life hiding in the background, waiting and hoping that The PULVERIZER comes out of 'themself 'and notices you there. You will live all week long for that one-second of acknowledgement that The Pulverizer gives you, usually its just a pat on the head ( like you were a good-little-doggy) but by this time you are so starved for attention and acknowledgment that that one pat can melt your heart like an island of velvety roses.

The NEWSMONGER. Gossips. Talks too much. Nosy and intrusive. Lies for no apparent reason. Enjoys destroying others. Plastic and superficial. Self-righteous. The NEWSMONGER will always air every detail of your relationship to all those who will listen. You will feel as though there is nothing sacred or intimate left between you. They are so involved in everyone else's life they have no real clue as to what is actually going on in their own. The Newsmonger belittles you to others, and others to you. You feel you cannot trust them. You always feel like they are keeping a secret from you. If you live with The NEWSMONGER odds are you will never feel like you have a best friend, or confident in this person. You will never be able to share with this person your deepest feelings or emotions. You will feel denied the pleasure of having anyone to turn to, or lean on, and you will end up feeling alone and resentful. This person will never know how to have fun, and will only enjoy themself at the expense of yours and other people's lives.

The DIRECTOR. Offensive. Obstinate, they KNOW their way is the only right way. Intrusive. Obsessed with certain issues. Tries to change everyone around them. Demanding perfection both from themselves and others. Low tolerance to normal human mistakes. Over critical. Sulking and self-centered. Easily aggravated by unimportant issues. Demanding. Inflexible, and unyielding in their way of doing things. The DIRECTOR is an obnoxious control-freak. They want things done their way and do not tolerate well anyone who chooses not to do it their way. The DIRECTOR will constantly be angry with you for the most insignificant of things.  They will tell you what utensil to use when you are frying chicken. They will control the thermostat, the budget, the car maintenance schedule. The Director decides when you go to bed, what television shows you watch, and where you will go on your vacation. The Director tells you what to wear and whom you may associate with. They are the only one that knows how to do anything 'right' and they will never delegate responsibility comfortably to any other living being.  The Director obsesses with details and tends to be overly picky. They have every aspect of your relationship on an agenda, including retirement, child-raising, and residential locations. They have even scheduled your lovemaking. You are often taken back by their rude direct insults to your dress style, housecleaning, job performance, or choice of friends. The director demands from their children, much as a captain of a ship to his crew. Spending your life with The DIRECTOR would be like relinquishing your soul to them. There will be no negotiation in this type of relationship. It will always be their way or the highway. They will try to control every aspect of your life, leaving you with no self-respect, feelings of personal accomplishment, independence, or peace of mind.

The ILLUSIONIST. What you see is not what you get. The ILLUSIONIST is a backstabber. They are deceitful. Conniving. Revengeful. The Illusionist is prone to a passive-aggressive type of personality that will most likely make you want to scream. Just when you think they are smiling and supportive, you find out they are really resentful and angry. The Illusionist tends to be vindictive, and you often feel as though you've been betrayed. You find that you can't ever feel comfortable or trust this person. You feel like they could and would walk all over you if it meant they were attaining their own goals. If you spend your life with this person you most likely will be constantly watching your back. There is an old saying that goes "sleep with your eyes open". Living with the The ILLUSIONIST will base importance on that saying. You will never be able to relax and feel safe or comfortable with this person.

The SNUB. They are impersonal. Indifferent. Excluding.Withdrawn and secretive. Often gives you the cold-shoulder or silent treatment. Shows an apparent lack of emotion. Unresponsive. Rejecting. The SNUB shows little personal interest in your life. You feel as though they are pushing you away or trying to brush you off. The Snub tends to be cliquish. You often feel rejected, and held at arms-length. They tend to withdraw from you and you find you cannot depend on them for anything. They are unresponsive to your needs and wants. Living with this person means living a lonely existence, where you are consistently on the begging end of the relationship. You need and crave love, acceptance, and attention and The SNUB will not be able to deliver those vital needs to you. You will always be wondering what you did wrong and never truly will you feel like you belong or fit in this person's life.

The CONTENDER. Competitive and overly ambitious. Assertive. Envious. Relentless in their pursuit of a goal. Workaholic. An individualist who considers themself apart from all others. Always trying to one-up on others. Grandstanding and boastful. Strategically plans their life as if it were one great big chess game. Tries to win through intimidation. Poor loser. You consistently feel that you have to impress The CONTENDER. They never celebrate your successes but yet you must repeatedly listen to their constant barrages of every achievement they have ever made. They keep score of who has done what in your relationship. Being in a relationship with The CONTENDER is like running a marathon. You will never win an argument. You will never achieve the same level as 'their greatness'. They will wear you out and intimidate you. You eventually will lose your own identity, and subconsciously succumb to their constant demand for acknowledgement of their performances and accomplishments. If you write a short story they will one-up you by writing a novel. You will most likely feel empty after sex with this person, as they inevitably will make sex into an olympic accomplishment of their stamina and expertise, and less an act of love and sharing. You will forever spend your life in intimidation, forcing praises of their accomplishments. Life with this person will be lonely and exhausting, living in the frigid cold of their shadow.

The OLYMPIC GAMER is much like The CONTENDER. They are a tireless workhorse. Driven. Smug in their expertise of certain matters. Never satisfied, always striving for more. Impatient and demanding. Over reacts to their own failures or shortcomings. Restless and agitated. Intimidating. As with The CONTENDER, The OLYMPIC GAMER will wear you out. They will bring their job home from work and you will feel as though you have disappeared into the background. They will ignore you and throw themself into activities, work, or outside hobbies with a vengeance. The OLYMPIC GAMER never seems to be able to relax and you constantly feel uncomfortable, as though you need to entertain them, amuse them, or keep their activity level at a high. You feel like they look down their nose at you for not being as driven. Living your life with this person will be like living in a continuous roller coaster of upheaval and commotion. You will never feel like you can relax. You will feel unimportant and left-out. In the end you will feel defeated and exhausted  from trying to please The OLYMPIC GAMER.

The JERK. Sly. Vain. Overly flirtatious. Always needs to be in the spotlight. Zeroes in on your vulnerability. Power hungry. Opportunistic. Flattering. Over conscious of their clothing attire and image. Flashy. No doubt if you have lived with The JERK you have caught them in the act of lustful leering. They may or may not have confessed to numerous affairs but you can never really quite feel like they are, or have been, monogamous. When out together with this person you subconsciously scan the room for other members of the opposite sex so you can immediately sum up your competition and know who to watch for. They call every member of the opposite sex that they have ever met by their first name. Even if it was only briefly at the Quickie Mart. You sometimes feel embarrassed or offended by their inappropriate remarks of you or others. Living with this person would be like falling asleep on the edge of a cliff. You will never feel safe, comfortable, or good enough. You will feel like you have to constantly measure up, and their need for attention and affirmation will be exhausting. That nagging feeling that they might leave you for another will drain your smile and leave you feeling unloved, unattractive, and insecure. You will never feel quite good enough, as this person will suck the life out of you in their constant search for approval and attention.

The SILLY PUTTY. Superagreeable. Undependable. Overly attached. Compliant. Insecure. Self-blaming. Zeroing in on innocent criticism. Plastic and superficial. Phony. They are like a chameleon that will often change to suit their surroundings. Chances are if you are living with The SILLY PUTTY you sometimes wonder if they have a mind of their own. You feel like you have become this he-is-she unified creature. You find you have to constantly reassure them of your love . You carefully select your words before you speak because they are overly sensitive, taking things way to personally, and they get 'hurt feelings' easily. They are just too damn agreeable and it makes you want to scream. Just once you want an assertive PERSON in bed that is wild with desire for you. Living your life with The SILLY PUTTY would be like living your life in love with yourself. This person has no identity or mind of their own. They have no character. They laugh if you think it's funny. They dislike broccoli because you dislike it. They never make decisions. They'll promise you anything because they are super agreeable, let they  never deliver. You cannot rely on them for anything. You will begin to feel suffocated. You will never be able to sit back in the passenger seat and enjoy the ride, because you will always do the driving. Basically this person is silly putty, absorbing the image of all those they come in contact with.

The GREEN-EYED OGRE. Unsupportive and hurtful. Always angry. Overly competitive. Greedy. Insecure. Low self-esteem. Jealous. Insulting. The GREEN-EYED OGRE constantly compares themself to others. You will find them demeaning , unsupportive, or belittling of your accomplishments. In time you will learn to hide your accomplishments. They find fault in your job, your successes, your accomplishments, your dress style, etc.  They tend to be overly boastful of their accomplishments, and they never let you forget them. The GREEN-EYED OGRE is insecure and non-trusting. They accuse you having affairs outside of the relationship and can dwell on this possibility for endless hours. If you are five-minutes late they demand to know where you were. The GREEN-EYED OGRE insults and cuts down your friends, family, and coworkers. Living with this person will be like walking on eggshells. The GREEN-EYED OGRE can be intimidating and scary. The GREEN-EYED OGRE can often turn physically abusive because they feel the need to 'put you back in your place', which, of course, is beneath them.

The BANG. Emotionally unstable. Questioning of others motives, cynical. Overly critical. Untrusting. Rude, sometimes making callous comments to others that you find embarrassing. Revengeful. Plotting. Selfish. If you do The BANG wrong, even unintentionally, you can most assuredly expect them to 'get back at you'. You are afraid of this person's temper and it doesn't take much to make them explode and send them into a rampage. You find The BANG has very little empathy for others, and often thinks that people are out to get them. They often have a short fuse and the slightest of setbacks can make this person dangerously explosive. The BANG tends to not trust you and is often suspicious of your actions. They question where you were and who you were with. You have caught them going through your drawers, your purse, your wallet, your pockets, your personal journal. Living with this person would be a life of non-stop tension. You will never be able to relax and will subconsciously find yourself sugar-coating everything you say less you set them off. You will find yourself purposely hiding things from them because you just know "they wouldn't understand". You will be scared to go out with your friends after work, or defy their demands.

The DOWNER. Clingy. Needy. Suffocating. Scared. Guilt-inducing. Consumed by themselves and their own needs. Stifling. Crisis-orientated. The DOWNER can drag you down. You sometimes feel like they are attached to you at the hip and you start to feel suffocated. You feel like they are sponging the life right out from you. Your relationship with The DOWNER never seems to be heading anywhere. You feel guilty when you say no to The DOWNER. Living with The DOWNER will be liking surrendering your total existence to keeping their head above water. They will always have a crisis. They will never notice you or your life as they are so totally absorbed in their own problems. The DOWNER can't be left alone for one minute, and the minute you walk in the door their helplessness will consume your every nerve. They will drain you, slowly, inch by inch, until you feel you have nothing left to give, then The DOWNER will work on your sense of guilt making you feel like the lowest creature-form on this planet for abandoning them in their hour of need. Every hour is an hour of need to them. They feel they have one constant crisis after another and they may cling to you. If you are looking for a knight in shining armour you better look the other way, you'll never find it in The DOWNER.

Most of us will find some similarities either with our own selves, or our exes, and some of the characters listed above. Some of our exes may have only a few of those traits, but I bet that the majority of us can pick out one, or two,  particular characters above that sums up our exes to a tee. (Mine was The PULVERIZER.) I hope that if you found yourself decribed in any of the above that you will seek ways to improve upon yourself. (Please see tips/links for emotional health and self-help at Verve! Online )

By  going over the above list, and being able to recognize the worst traits and characteristics in your ex, you will be able to see exactly where you were heading in your relationship. Friend, you deserve better than that!

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1-12-06
How do you make sure a relationship with a narcissist is over?
 

Answer

One should be careful not to romanticise the narcissist. His remorse is always linked to fears of losing his sources.

Narcissists have no enemies. They have only Sources of Narcissistic Supply. An enemy means attention means supply. One holds sway over one's enemy. If the narcissist has the power to provoke emotions in you – you are still a Source of Supply to him, regardless of WHICH emotions are provoked.

He seeks out his old Sources of Narcissistic Supply when he has absolutely no other NS Sources at his disposal. Narcissists frantically try to recycle their old and wasted sources in such a situation. But the narcissist would NOT do even this had he not felt that he could still successfully extract a modicum of NS from the old source (even to attack the narcissist is to recognise his existence and to attend to him!!!).

If you are an old Source of Narcissistic Supply, first, get over the excitement of seeing him again. It may be flattering, perhaps sexually arousing. Try to overcome these feelings.

Then, simply ignore him. Don't bother to respond in any way to his offer to get together. If he talks to you – keep quiet, don't answer. If he calls you – listen politely and then say goodbye and hang up. Indifference is what the narcissist cannot stand. It indicates a lack of attention and interest that constitutes the kernel of negative NS.

Of course, some narcissists are vindictive - read more about it here.

Based on my book "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"

© 2003 Lidija Rangelovska Narcissus Publications

Nothing is ever over with anyone we encounter in this world. Just seems like it.

No one is just a narcissist--that N guy in your life is or was a person you cared about--I think its best to admit that however difficult that might be-- you really loved someone, for a reason, you saw them as loveable and they were loveable, but they were human, imperfect and hurt you...maybe you invited the hurt in some way or let them hurt you, played the victim...sometimes we unconsciously arrange things so that we fail in our intimate relationships--because a relationship is work, thinking about someone else not ourselves--we want the good things the easy things about a relationship but when it becomes a challenge--of course, for some of us, maybe we cant live in anothers shadow, maybe we have to be ourselves, maybe we need a kind of solitariness--the problem with a romance sometimes I think is that we are swallowed up in it--I was swallowed up by someone for years, was ecstatic with him for years, but we were/are constantly in and out of it because you really cant live like that--I think that I was in love with love, still am, i think a lot of people look for romantic love--for the high--but then you have to work out the details and the devil is in the details... peace and love always cathy

Tell them to "Grow Up" rather sternly!!!! Then,walk out and don't look back.

When you remove them completely from your life. No calls, no emails, absolutely no contact.

I saw him again five years after our final break-up. Oops, I got excited seeing him. The past heartbreak went out the window because somehow I still had a kernel of hope for us. He lied about everything saying he was so together now. It felt like I was in a daze for 1-2 days...by then he'd moved back into my life. Astounding, he almost did it to me again! Ah, but I could not forget the past and the painful lessons I learned. It was a powerful moment for me to realize I just couldn't be his blind, innocent, stupid fool again. I didn't want to gloss over the fact that he was often physically out of control violent. Yes, I still feel love for him. Understanding NPD helps...there's no hope. He's too far gone. Maybe you'll long for him/her forever, but please choose YOU. DON'T LET HIM BACK IN YOUR LIFE!

This should be fun reading for all the other gals that got involved with a narcissist. It will make ya all think that you are not a stupid as I am.. get a load of this. I was involved with a wonderful, intelligent, charming, funny narcissist in the 70's. His name was Joey and he was the love of my life. We were seemingly in love for several years until he decided it was over. In a two sentence letter he wrote:" I am not in love with you anymore and our relationship is over". I was heartbroken and like a sick school girl continued to write to him for another year or so. I guess the acceptance phase clicked in, eventually and as far as I remember, it was over and I married and moved on.

Thirty years later in an impulsive move, I contacted him via email. Within a few weeks, I guess he determined I was a source of supply and he turned on the charm again. He began writing to me every day- ten to thirty emails a day. He was alternating funny, serious, and affectionate and eventually he said that he had never really fallen out of love. He apologized for the hurtful way he ended our relationship years ago and began sending me expensive gifts.

I ignored all the signs- I guess I had never heard of NPD. He bragged about his rituals of bathing and buying expensive soap. He even sent me some expensive body oil.. signs of the somatic narcissist- he bragged that his wife was drop dead gorgeous and how he made sure that she knew he was corresponding with this number one "ex"...he made sure everyone at work knew that he called me and told his secretary to make sure she let my calls come in.. he bragged that he used the "Robb Report" of the best of the best to choose all his purchases: the 7,000 watch, the 100 dollar bottles of wine and on and on. He made sure I knew that he only tolerated the best in everyone and that I was now included in the inner circle..and he told me that no one had ever understood him the way that I did......until he got tired of me and dumped me again. It only took 8 months this time and he actually said that "he felt numb" in the emotions department and was going to have a hard time sustaining the level of connection. From there is was the classic downhill- he was cold- indifferent- and unavailable....

So- for all you gals that are suffering- if you are young- beware that 30 years later the same sick son of a bitch- self absorbed bastard can return and rock your self confidence to the core. Thanks to all the web available chat and faq's I now understand that this is a serious personality disorder and that I need to complete the four stages of healing- but- in the meantime- it give new meaning to the term "my boyfriend is back"...

O I didnt even realise there was a name for it....but now I know. I knew something was seriously wrong with this guy for along time but had no idea what. He came into my life (lovely at first of course)got me all hooked in....proceeded to suck my emotions dry and spit me back out.I thought I was going nuts at times and he definately has shattered my self esteem. For many months just when Im moving on he up and rears himself again and draggs me back in. You wouldnt believe the stuff that comes out of this guys mouth I tell you. He will look you in the eye and blatantly lie without a second thought. I have had conversations with him and then later when I said earlier you said...he would just say ..no i didnt say that ...and you can look at him in disbelief and he will just move on to the next thing. Lucky for me I think he has found a new supply and has gone real quiet....now I have read the above I know he will resurface at some time and Ill be ready to keep the door closed with total disinterest. Whew.... BTW did I mention he forgot to tell me that he already had a partner and new baby at home while he was courting me....Thats a whole other story....but the hurt and pain these people inflict and they never apologise unless they are going to get something out of it... Never give them any emotion...nothing......its the only way to get rid of them

They will let you know...and HOW they will let you know! All the things they have been doing behind your back will now be exposed to try to get rid of you. If you want to end it, good luck because no sooner do you think they're gone when out of the blue you'll recieve a drunken phonecall at 2am asking you to come over. Narcissists appear tough to the victim, but threaten them with someone else who might harm that physical beauty or ego and they just might move on to another conquest.

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1-12-06
 The following characteristics are common in verbally abusive relationships:
bullet In the beginning these relationships are wonderful - you think you finally met your dream person! But, the relationship deteriorates over time. The deterioration can occur over a few months or may take years.
bullet This pattern is opposite from the progression in a "normal" relationship, where people start off slowly and grow to trust and love each other more over time.
bullet Insecure or shy people are most vulnerable to abusive partners. Controlling people are often expert pursuers. They are very big on charm, compliments, gifts, etc. They make you feel as though you are the most special person in the world. During this stage, they really think you are the most special person in the world. They can't be with you enough, can't go out of their way for you enough...until you're hooked. Then the party starts.
bullet There is a breach of boundaries on both sides. Neither the abusive controller nor the codependent victim has a clear sense of where one person begins and the other ends. Neither realizes they have this problem.
bullet The relationship is an emotional roller roaster. There is little peace. Just when things seem to be going well, the angry person somehow manages to pick a fight.
bullet The angry person usually doesn't take responsibility for creating the problem. Somehow, the partner is blamed, or is provoked to lose their temper
bullet When the angry person is bad, they are very, very bad. When they are good, they are very, very good. (They have to be - to make up for all their mis-behavior!)
bullet The angry person pursues when you have pulled back emotionally or are fed up with them.
bullet The angry person does not allow their partner to be angry with them. If you are angry at them, they get even angrier with you.
bullet Many angry people and codependent people are addiction prone. Many evidence problems with drugs or alcohol, sex addiction, gambling, shopping, food, workaholism, etc.
bullet The angry person is emotionally needy and may feel neglected or jealous when their partner spends time with close friends or family members, their stepchildren, even their own children. 
bullet Many angry people get angrier if their partner gets sick. Who will take care of them now?
bullet

Emotional trust and comeradie are lacking. The angry person does not know how to trust and the victim has no basis to trust.

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1-12-06
 
 are you involved with a narcissist?

Is Your Partner a Narcissist? From Loving the Self Absorbed by Dr. Nina Brown
Take this quiz and find out. Based on your knowledge of your partner, answer each of the following using this scale:

5-Always or almost always does this
4-Frequently does this
3-Does this sometimes
2-Seldom does this
1-Never of almost never does this

Quiz:
1. Constantly looks to you to meet their needs
2. Expects you to know what he/she expects, desires, and needs without having to ask for it
3. Gets upset when you are perceived to be critical or blaming
4. Expects you to put his/her needs before your own
5. Seeks attention in indirect ways
6. Expects you to openly admire him/her
7. Acts childish, e.g., sulks or pouts
8. Accuses you of being insensitive or uncaring without cause or notice
9. Finds fault with your friends
10. Becomes angry when challenged or confronted
11. Does not seem to recognize your feelings
12. Uses your disclosures to criticize, blame, or discount you
13. Is controlling
14. Lies, distorts, and misleads
15. Is competitive and uses any means to get what is wanted
16. Has a superior attitude
17. Is contemptuous of you and others
18. Is arrogant
19. Is envious of others
20. Demeans and devalues you
21. Is self-centered and self absorbed
22. Has to be the center of attention
23. Manipulates others to win attention
24. Is impulsive and reckless
25. Boasts and brags
26. Is insensitive to your needs
27. Makes fun of others' mistakes or faults
28. Engages in seductive behavior
29. Is vengeful
30. Expects favors, but does not return them

Total:
126-150-It's likely that your partner is a narcissist
102-125-Your partner has many narcissistic characteristics
78-101-Your partner has some troubling narcissistic traits
54-77-Your partner has few destructive narcissistic traits
30-53-It's unlikely that your partner is a narcissist.

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1-12-06
 

Emotionally Detaching

In 1999, I appeared as an expert on "Oprah" to discuss "The Disease to Please." Oprah said this "disease" - the people-pleasing syndrome - is an issue very important and personal to her. It is a problem that she has struggled long and hard to overcome. And, she believes as I do, that there are epidemic numbers of women - and men, too - plagued by the self-imposed pressure to please others at the expense of their own health and happiness."
Our tribute to the late Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D. Author The Disease to Please, Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome


TIPS FOR RIGHT NOW !! - First-Aid to help in an addictive "I want to call my abuser' crisis 
Tactics to use to get you through this.
Grounding Techniques
http://www.m-a-h.net/support/article-grounding.htm
Survivor Recovery Tips: Things to do In a Crisis
http://www.hopeforhealing.org/tips.html
Beathing Techniques for Stress Times
http://breathmastery.com/bet.htm
FlashCards to help you get through an addictive situation (mentions alcohol, but excellent for us) 
helps focus on the amygdala the brain's addictive centre - Bullets for my Beast
http://www.rational.org/html_bullets/Bullet1.html
Anger Workout
http://www.coping.org/anger/workout.htm#steps

Stop Destructive Arguing Before Bad Things Happen - The Time Out Commitment
http://www.realhope.com/free_tips.php

Detach Yourself to Protect Yourself From Abuse by Peter Griffiths
http://www.lib.sk.ca/booksinfo/DailyHerald/DH1991/dh910928.html

Managing your emotional responses
http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/angermgt.htm
The Victim's Anger
http://www.drirene.com/the.htm

Emotional Detachment - Mentions Borderline Personality Disorder
http://www.bpd411.org/emotionaldetachmentintro.html
http://www.bpd411.org/detach.html

Detachment
http://www.coping.org/control/detach.htm


The Shadow Self (Reiki site)
http://www.reiki.org/reikinews/ShadowSelf.html

Breaking Free of Emotional Bondage
http://www.mtoomey.com/breakingfree.html

10 Signs You're a Sucker for Unhealthy Relationships
http://www.newlife.com/10tips/BT358_sucker_unhealthy _relationship.html

Lessons about Emotional Detachment
http://incestabuse.about.com/library/weekly/aa112502b.htm
Lessons about Emotional Detachment, Part 1 The Incredible Shrinking relatives
http://incestabuse.about.com/cs/mentalhealth/a/emotiondetach.htm

Emotional Detachment
http://www.heartrelationships.com/ARTICLES/Attachment/
attachmentApril19.htm

Emotional Detaching (from an abusive relationship) - The Tears and Healing sites:
http://tearsandhealing.com/
http://tearsandhealing.com/metaphysics-of-detaching.htm
http://tearsandhealing.com/detaching-and-relationship-dimensions.htm
http://tearsandhealing.com/selective-detaching.htm

Personal Responsibility
http://www.coping.org/growth/accept.htm

The Pathology of Love by Dr. Sam Vaknin
http://samvak.tripod.com/lovepathology.html

Characteristics of Addictive Relationships
http://www.ta-tutor.com/webpdf/ram186.pdf

Developing Self-Control
http://www.coping.org/control/selfcont.htm

The Joy of Self Discipline
http://www.wendyhill.com/joy.html
Self Discipline
http://www.more-selfesteem.com/selfdiscipline.htm

Addictive Relationships - Addressing the fear of being alone
http://www.studentaffairs.cmu.edu/counseling/documents/relation.htm

Are You Attracted to "Bad Boys"?
http://www.romanceopedia.com/O-WomenBadBoys.html
http://www.theoryofsex.com/commentary/badboys.html

Inverted Narcissist, Facilitating Narcissism, Malignant Optimism of the Abused, Spouse/Partner of the Narcissist
http://samvak.tripod.com/faq66.html
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal62.html
http://samvak.tripod.com/faq6.html
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal27.html

The Masochistic Personality
http://www.millon.net/Taxonomy/MAS.htm

Sex and Love Addiction by Coralie Scherer, Ph.D. and Al Cooper, Ph.D.M
http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/articles/sex/sexlove.html

Type of Love Addictions
http://www.drirene.com/hot_and_cold_love_addicts.htm

Addictive Relationships
http://www.couns.uiuc.edu/Brochures/addict.htm
http://love-addiction.com/loveaddict34.html

"The Allure Of The Bad Object Eleanore M. Armstrong-Perlman
http://www.rhondafindling.com/articles/theallureofthebadobject.htm

Don't Call that Man!!
http://www.rhondafindling.com/BookExcerpt.htm

Addicted to Love?
http://www.ncpg.com/self4.html

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1-13-06 

Addictive Love Relationships 

There are two fascinating qualities that can enter into our lives or the lives of those we care for at any moment: love and addiction. At first these two may appear to be strange bedfellows: love evokes pleasurable images of couples passionately embracing or tenderly gazing into each others' eyes, while addiction brings up a darker, grim, even desperate image of a person struggling against a part of themselves that is out of control. Yet at their core, they both have in common a profound spiritual yearning: the desire to transcend the self, to experience powerful states of bliss and ecstasy and to merge with and feel a part of something greater than oneself. 

In a rational, left-brain dominated culture such as ours, where opportunities for transformative, visionary experiences are limited (and are even consciously suppressed by some individuals and institutions), love and addiction have become two of the most common vehicles of modern life for experiencing powerful, ecstatic, altered states of consciousness, temporarily removing us from the mundane routines of everyday life and seemingly opening up powerful new dimensions of reality and possibility. With addictions, of course, these new dimensions turn out to be wisps of smoke, mirrors and illusion, as the reality of the addiction eventually crashes down upon the user's life. And even with love, which has its own set of illusions and tricks, we can start out by honoring a strong, compelling inner pull yet end up in pain and isolation. 

Together, however, love and addiction are an even more dangerous combination, feeding multiple illusions and fantasies about who we are and what we are capable of. The dynamic duo of denial and discounting of negative consequences can help us rationalize any unhealthy situation. We may reframe a desire to constantly be with our partner as finally having met our true soul mate. We may rationalize our isolation and avoidance of others as a need to deepen our connection. While our egos may tell us that we are genuinely in love, in reality we may be in need, in lust or in addiction.  

In such relationships people will often say, ''When it's good, it's soooo good! And when it's bad, it's horrible.'' This is because addictive love relationships tend to be melodramatic, roller-coaster characterized by excessive intensity and a lack of personal boundaries. Individual needs, personal friendships or work responsibilities may suffer due to a strong need to merge with the beloved. There is often a need to maintain a constant, close connection with the other person, borne out of an insecurity that if the person is away for too long, they will find someone else more interesting or attractive. Addictive relationships are typically compulsive in nature, using sex and/or togetherness as a way to avoid dealing with each other's genuine feelings. Each person may feel incomplete in and of themselves and constantly look to the other for affirmation and feelings of self-worth. Underlying this addictive process is generally a fear of true closeness or intimacy and an emptiness of self that we seek to fill up with the other person. 

But an interesting process occurs in addictive relationships: they inevitably elicit uncomfortable feelings. Someone begins to feel smothered or sexually objectified. Intense arguments grow out of trivial acts. The lover's touch is suddenly cold, without passion. Or the bad times begin to far outnumber the good ones. While one could conclude at this point that you were merely incompatible, there is a more profound opportunity present. Sometimes it is the pain or confusion that breaks open our hearts, that asks us to look inside, honestly and openly, that opens up the genuine possibility of growth and change. When viewed with non-judgmental awareness and open-hearted receptivity and an understanding of the deeper yearnings that addictive love expresses, love and addiction together can create a powerful opening and path of awakening. 

The first step in creating a healthy, loving intimate connection with another human being is to admit that we may not know much about how to do it. As Buddhist psychologist John Welwood says in his book Journey of the Heart, ''... opening more deeply to our questions is the essential ground of relationship as a path. Honoring the 'I don't know' instead of fighting it can help us discover new possibilities and resources, right in the midst of whatever problem we are facing. This gives us a way of starting fresh again and again... we may feel much safer when we think we have all the answers. But intimate relationships unmask and expose us and bring us face to face with life in all its power and mystery. Unless we are willing to explore the unknown in ourselves and in our relations, we will never advance very far along the path of love.''  

It is only when we surrender to the mystery and power of the unknown in loving connections that we may begin to understand its true nature. When our ego can finally admit that blindly following its attractions leads not to eternal bliss and fulfillment but to isolation, chaos and pain, one can take the first steps toward genuine connection. When we realize that we may be unfairly placing our own individual emotional and spiritual needs onto our partner, we can choose to re-prioritize our activities. Perhaps we need to put attention on becoming a whole person so we don't completely lose ourselves in another. Perhaps we need to meditate, pray or commit to another spiritual practice or spiritual community, to fully honor our need to transcend and connect to something much larger than ourselves, before we can truly love another. 

It was William Shakespeare who said, ''Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies, that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends.'' Let us be thankful for our seething brains and shaping fantasies, which get us out of our cool rational minds, but let us also constructively use the powerful openings they grace us with, to gain a deeper understanding of the true nature of love and spirituality in our lives.
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1-13-06 

Are You or Your Partner Addicted to Drama? 

We are all familiar with chemical addictions to intoxicating substances such as alcohol or cocaine. Sex, work and internet use are also frequently mentioned as aspects of life that can be used addictively. The least recognized addiction in our society, however, may be the addiction to drama which manifests in so many relationships. While drama is a legitimate category of cinema and theater, as an addictive process in relationships it refers to an ongoing dysfunctional need to continually recreate unsafe and unhealthy emotional intensity in one's relationships. 

What is the attraction to drama? The drama addict is hooked on the adrenaline rush of relationships and people that appear wildly exciting in their intensity. But don't confuse these ''exciting'' qualities with love: lots of intense conflict, punctuated with yelling, screaming, throwing things, as well as verbal and physical abuse; frequent dramatic breakups and passionate makeups; ongoing lying and cheating; withholding of truth; betrayal of trust; emotional and/or physical affairs; spying on each other; poor or non-existent boundaries; and racing from the height of ecstasy to the pit of despair in an out-of-control emotional roller coaster. 

Drama addiction is so supported and even honored in our media that it has become transparent for many people. Portrayals of relationships in the movies and soap operas often involve a degree of lying, deception, affairs and general dysfunction in far greater proportion than exists in real lives. And nowhere is this expressed more blatantly than on talk shows, often seen as the lowest common denominator of sensationalistic programming. 

We had a fascinating glimpse into the inner world of television talk shows last year when we were invited to be expert guests on a national talk show that was to discuss healthy ways for couples to handle infidelity. We made it clear that we would not participate in a sensationalistic show and we were reassured repeatedly that this would be a quality show where issues about infidelity would be discussed in a healthy manner. We were briefed ahead of time about the guests scheduled to appear on the show and felt comfortable with the setup. Once we were in the studio, however, the host and producer of the show kept changing the format and even changing the guests. And just two minutes before we were to go on, we were informed of a ''slight change'' whereby the entire show was totally changed, resulting in the exact kind of sensationalistic show we said we wouldn't be part of. We ended up walking off the show, much to the consternation of the producer, who tried in vain to manipulate us through guilt, intimidation and even verbal abuse into staying and doing the show. 

In the meantime, we felt betrayed and lied to. Not even one part of what we were told ahead of time was part of the actual show that aired. Out on the street, we came upon an angry group of ''guests'' who never appeared on the actual show, though they were all told they would be. We and all the other guests had willingly participated in an unhealthy dramatic relationship, lured by the promise of our 15 minutes of fame. And when it was over, everyone felt cheap and used, angry and empty. 

This is precisely what happens in relationships characterized by drama addiction. People in these relationships have very little capacity for empathic sharing and selfless companionship, both of which are essential qualities in genuine love. Dramatic love relationships are essentially self-serving and when the person can no longer supply the necessary ''high,'' they are abandoned. In the end, the people involved feel isolated, alone, their emotional needs unmet. But they quickly move on, to find the next trigger for their addiction and to distract and numb themselves from the pain and emptiness inside. 

When someone feels a need to continually create drama in their lives and relationships, this is often a compensation for an underlying emptiness or depression in their lives. Often such people have not yet connected with their true life purpose or inner aliveness. In fact, they may only feel alive when they get that familiar adrenaline rush that lets them know they have created another messy situation. Other people who create dramatic relationships may have successfully dealt with other addictions and have transferred their need for excitement and intensity to relationships. 

If you recognize yourself as a drama addict, examine the types of relationships you have created in the present and past. Did you mistake intensity or need or lust or drama for love? What did you do to promote the drama? How did you handle conflict in yourself and your partner? What information did you withhold? What provoking remarks or behavior did you engage in? 

If you come from drama in your family, your brain is preset to resonate with feelings of chemistry and infatuation with someone from a similar background. Once you understand that what you thought was love is really drama addiction, your journey of healing and path to genuine love can begin. Slow down and de-intensify your next relationship. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Recognize that true love is not a consistently intense feeling but rather a series of actions, hundreds and thousands of small repeated kindnesses, many of which may not be as dramatic or intoxicating as running out of your home and slamming the door at 3 am during a fight. But the cumulative effect of these repeated kindnesses is a powerful, deep, reciprocal loving connection, where you can truly get - and give - the love your heart most deeply yearns for. And that is ultimately the most exciting love of all.

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1-15-06
Many links to book excerpts
 

Chapter Two: Uniqueness And Intimacy, Part 2
Excerpted from Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisit
The narcissist is almost always the third kind of communicator. This, obviously, is a gross over-simplification. Still, this profile provides an insight into the mating mechanism of the narcissist. With the narcissist, the whole sexual timetable is

Chapter Two: Uniqueness And Intimacy, Part 4
Excerpted from Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisit
DESTROYING THE FRUSTRATING OBJECT. Other narcissists choose to destroy the object that gives them so much grief by provoking in them feelings of inadequacy and frustration. They display obsessive, blind animosity and engage in a compulsive acts of

Chapter Two: Uniqueness And Intimacy, Part 3
Excerpted from Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisit
Having fulfilled their function (by listening to the narcissist, by asking his advice in an ego-inflating manner) — other people would do best to vanish until needed next time. The narcissist would feel drained if asked to reciprocate.

Introducton
Excerpted from Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisit
We all love ourselves. That seems to be such an instinctively true statement that we do not bother to examine it more thoroughly. In our daily lives – in love, in business, in other areas of life – we act on this premise. Yet, upon closer insp

Chapter Two: Uniqueness And Intimacy
Excerpted from Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisit
Uniqueness and intimacy are strong rivals. First, intimacy implies a certain acquaintance of the partner with privileged information. Such partially or wholly withheld information leads to a sense of superiority and mystery, which vanishes with disclosure

Chapter One: Being Special
Excerpted from Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisit
We all fear to lose our identity and our uniqueness. We seem to be acutely aware of this fear in a crowd of people. Far from the madding crowd is not only the title of a book it is also an apt description of one of the most ancient recoil mechanisms.

Introducton, Part 2
Excerpted from Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisit
This is such a crucial matter, that the narcissist cannot take chances. He would rather be mistaken — then null and void. He would rather discern disapproval and unjustified criticism where there is none — then face the consequences of being c

Introducton, Part 3
Excerpted from Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisit
This division of labour between parents and children is vital both to development and to proper adaptation. The child must feel, in a functional family, that he can share his experiences without being defensive and that the feedback that he is likely to g

 Personality Disorders
Each of us has a personality or group of characteristics (called traits) which influence the way we think, feel & behave and makes us a unique individual. Someone may be described as having a 'personality disorder' if their personal characteristics

 Trauma
Excerpted from I'm Sorry: Repairing a Hurtful Relationship
Psychiatric illnesses can occur as a result of trauma. Have you ever suffered a traumatic event in your life? People who suffer traumatic life events such as abuse, disaster, abduction, or the ravages of war can also adopt irrational thought processes due

 A New Paradigm in Clearing Old Issues: Energy Psychology
We are energetic beings, lattice works of force fields. Our bodies have a profound electrical nature. Shuffle your feet across a carpet and then touch an item made of metal. We feel it! Our electrical systems are vital to our health. About 5000 years ago

 Learn as much as possible about how your brain works
Excerpted from Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential
This is the most important factor in getting smart and staying smart. In order to do this, you don't have to become a neurologist or subscribe to scholarly journals on neuroscience (the study of the brain at every operating level ranging from everyday

 Are Your Emotions True or False?
Excerpted from The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program to Take Charge of Your Emotions-Today
We're in a bad mood epidemic, but Julia Ross's plan provides a natural cure. Drawing on thirty years of experience, she presents breakthrough solutions to overcoming depression, anxiety, irritability, stress, and other negative emotional states

 Integrating Psychology and Spirituality
Excerpted from Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation
Can the meditative traditions of Buddhism be integrated with the practice of Western psychology? John Welwood's latest book addresses this question with new comprehensiveness and depth, building on the innovative psychospiritual approach of his six

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1-15-06
 
 

BPD: The Loneliest Inner Child?

By A. J. Mahari
Consumer: Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality.org

A.J. Mahari, of Canada, is professional freelance writer who is a survivor of sexual abuse, and a person who has recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder.

www.aspergeradults.ca

Borderline Personality Disorder and Loneliness

Everyone has an inner child. Do those diagnosed with BPD have the loneliest inner children? Often those with BPD abandon and re-abandon their aching and terrified inner children over and over again which in large part is the reason for so much of what is dubbed "borderline behaviour". I urge borderlines to make the choice to get to know and to free their inner children. It is a vital part of healing.

"But sometimes I am like the tree that stands over a grave, a leafy tree full grown who has lived out that particular dream which the dead boy around whom its roots are pressing lost through his sad moods and poems." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

"The child wants simple things. It wants to be listened to. It wants to be loved... It may not even know the words, but it wants its rights protected and its self-respect unviolated. It needs you to be there." -- Ron Kutrz

We all have an inner-child. In fact some people feel as if they have many inner-children (this is not to say that one has Multiple Personality Disorder at all by the way) Each of these inner children, according to Cathryn L. Taylor, M.A., M.F.C.C, in her book, "The Inner Child Workbook: What to do with your past when it just won't go away", we have many inner children, one child for each developmental stage. An inner child for infancy, one for toddlerhood, one for middle childhood, and so on.

Taylor writes in her book; "Who are the children within? They are the voices inside you that carry the feelings you were unable to express as a child. They carry your fear, anger, shame, and despair. They also carry your excitement, joy, happiness, and love, but many of us have had to deny those feelings as well. Whether you were ignored, belittled, or abused, you learned very early that it was not SAFE to FEEL. You learned that to FEEL meant to be vulnerable adn to be vulnerable meant that you might not survive. Because you wanted to survive, you learned not to FEEL."

The Inner Child Explained

Taylor writes in her book, "The Inner Child Workbook", "Change often begins with the child because a child embodies the process of change. In his anthology "Reclaiming the Inner Child", editor Jeremiah Abrams says that the 'inner child is the carrier of our personal stories, the vehicle for our memories of both the actual child and an idealized child from the past. It is the truly alive quality of being within us. It is the soul, our experiencer throughout the cycles of life. It is the sufferer. And it is the bearer of renewal through rebirth, appearing in our lives whenever we detach and open to change."

"It is no wonder that we return to the child to find the solution to the reduction of emotional pain. ... now, as you seek change in yourselves, you once again return to the child. But this time you return to the child within."

According to Charles Whitfield, author of "Healing the Child Within", the concept of the inner child has been around for over two thousand years. Carl Jung called it the divine child, Emmett Fox called it the wonder child. Psychotherapists Alice Miller and Donald Winnicott refer to the inner child as the true self

In Borderline Personality Disorder, (BPD) we see evidenced through common behaviour associated with this personality disorder much of the inner child coming through the adult. There is often a painful dissociation between the two. Those with BPD also have a very difficult time even contemplating being vulnerable and the result is that they end up denying their inner child over and over again to the point where they actually take on the role of their past abusers or a caretaker who could not meet their developmental needs and continually re-abuse themselves. Much of this self-abuse is aimed at avoidance of the actual pain that sits under (often subconsciously) their experienced symptomology or pathology, the BPD itself. Continuing to ignore this little aspect of you and all the pain and terror that sits inside of him/her will make change and healing virtually impossible.

I cannot remember a more threatening thing, in therapy, then when I was confronted by a therapist who decided that I'd better learn about the reality of this child within. It was in private therapy, one on one, this therapist would not even let me talk, at all! She would hush me every time I tried to talk, and that was often. She would insist instead that I draw pictures. I was not amused, to say the least. Try as I might to not go there, I ended up going there. The results were very powerful and looking back those extremely frustrating (at the time) therapy sessions were pivatol in my healing journey because it was in and through those pictures that my inner child finally began to feel safe enough to emerge, to make herself "known" to me.

It was also through inner child work that I was able, some 13 years ago to stop cutting and self-abusing myself in other ways as well. There is such power in welcoming in this little girl or boy that so needs you to parent and re-parent him/her now. Believe, me, I know it can be scary, but the rewards far outweigh staying stuck with the terror of resistance.

Anyone who was not able, for whatever reason, to have their developmental needs met in each stage of personal development will benefit from inner child work. However, I believe that borderlines specifically can benefit even more than the average because there is so much about BPD that is so self-abusive, self-punishing, re-shaming and so forth. Finding your way to your inner child and acknowledging that vulnerability is the way to truly begin to heal. This very same feared vulnerability, by the way, does become a cherished strength down the road. It does not remain this terrifying place in which one just continues to berrate oneself for daring to feel something.

If you have not yet tapped in to your inner child or inner children you may be aware on some level of very young screaming pain that there are no words for. This is your inner child trying to get your attention. Until I recognized and began to work with my inner child (a process that goes on even today) I was not able to feel safe at all anywhere, ever. Welcoming in your inner child will, over time, teach you ways through which you can learn to feel safe. You will come to better understand why you haven't felt safe for so many years. Just imagine a 3 year old, let loose on one side of an 8 lane highway, as he/she starts to cross you have to feel utter terror. You would know if you saw this that you would need to RUN to the aid of this lost little one. You would know that this 3 year old does not have the ability to keep him/herself safe around all of this traffic blowing by. The same can be said of your inner child, at any age, and if you have BPD, you are emotionally standing at the side of an 8 lane highway, which essentially represents your emotions and your need to cross this highway is your need to emotionally mature, to establish your identity, to know who you are and to grow up. Run to your own aid here, just as you would to the 3 year old standing at the edge of the 8 lane highway and about to wonder out into traffic.

Taylor writes in her book, "The Inner Child Workbook", "The inner child embodies the characteristics of the innocent part of the self. But as you continue your internal work, you soon discover that there is more than one voice crying out for help. These voices represent different sets of needs that require unique and age-appropriate responses. Some emerge at a particular age, others appear carrying certain feelings. But distinct differences between them do become apparent. That is why I use the plural -- inner children ... What you do not master in childhood reappears in your lives as inappropriate responses to people, places, or things. It is these inappropriate responses that cause you discomfort. They are outgrowths of the pain and fear experienced in childhood when basic needs were not filled. Learning what you need to learn in each childhood stage [of development] is contingent upon your needs being met. You need to feel safe with your caretakers and receive the support necessary to accomplish the other tasks that accompany each stage of development ... life does not stop because you are unable to master these tasks. It continues, and you survive by developing faulty ways of responding to others and to the events that take place in your lives.

When you are a child the "faulty" or maladapative behaviours serve the purpose of keeping you safe (in some measure of what that means to each of us) and ensure that you continue to survive albeit without the needs being met that you need to have met to be healthy. When you get older, as an adult, you are locked into these behaviours (until you learn to make new choices and changes). These behaviours then express your fear of love, your inability to say no, your shame, your critical thinking in a patterned way that interferes with your ability to perform (at work or in your career) and drastically affects your ability to form and to keep any measure of stable, consistent and congruent relating.

So much of the behaviour that borderlines continue to cycle through, over and over again, is NOT age-appropriate or situationally-appropriate. This is one of the key things about borderline behaviour that often escapes both the borderline and those around him/her. Whether or not you yet realize or want to admit this, the behaviour that you continue to perpetuate that continues to hurt you and cause you to lose job after job and relationship after relationship (intimate or friendships) and keeps you effectively alienated from any sense of your true self, wants, likes, dislikes, beliefs etc, is a choice. You chose it years ago in the void that was a lack of what you needed in the first place. It will take an active decision on your part, now, in order to you to open up to the kind of change and new choices that WILL make healing from BPD possible.

Just as the title of John Bradshaw's book, "Home Coming: Reclaming an Championing Your Inner Child" suggests it is primarily through this inner child work that you can indeed welcome yourself home to who you really are.

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1-15-06
 

BPD: When Will I Ever Know Who I Am?

By A. J. Mahari

Consumer: Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality.org

The search for "real", "true", "authentic self" can be a very long and painful one for those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is an angst riddled journey that many do not get past. The lack of "authentic self" is a testament to the inability of those with BPD to mature emotionally. This emotional immaturity is very painful and for many devastates their attempts to find their real selves in meaningful and consistent enough ways that foster the kind of growth and work that is required to recover from BPD.

I receive a lot of questions from those with BPD about finding themselves and about knowing who they really are. As most who have begun to heal and who know BPD from the inside out can attest to, one of the most difficult aspects of this personality disorder is the lack of self, the abyss of lack where otherwise healthy individuals have a strong sense and understanding of who they are.

It is from this lack of self that borderline behaviour stems. So much of what borderlines do and say -- the seemingly endless self-destructive behaviour and behaviour toward others that is, to say the least, very painful and abusive -- is the result of stunted emotional development. Without the emotional development that those without personality disorders have those with BPD are left to flail in a parallel world where all that is true for them (from the past) in the here and now is situationally unrelated in the here and now for those who do not have BPD (non-borderlines).

Lacking a working sense of "true self" and an equal lack of understanding of "true self" borderlines who often are constantly triggered back into their pasts living at best very fragmented (dissociative) "reality" in what is essentially a lost "here and now" borderlines live in a different emotional universe.

For those with BPD it is not at all uncommon to not know who you are. Even trying to grasp what knowing who you are might really mean is very difficult. Borderlines experience life from a "false self" that was created when as young children they were overwhelmed with pain by events or circumstances, perceived or real that left them feeling helpless and victimized. Feeling helpless and victimized in the past was a "normal" reaction. However it is the playing out of the "repetition compulsion" of early life events that is a large part of what stunts emotional growth to the point of the development of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Early life events are replayed out in repetition compulsions in an attempt to resolve conflict that is usually housed deep within the subconscious. This is the root cause of projection, projection-identification, transference, and the like. It is the borderline constantly re-living events by giving home to this unresolved conflict on those around him or her in the here and now.

In the process of recovering from BPD finding one's "true" or "authentic" self is a key element.

For those with BPD who are actively working to recover, coming to know who you are is a gift that unfolds when the time is right in the healing process. In the meantime, however, we usually know something about who we are, to some extent or other. But, not to the extent that those who do not have a personality disorder know this about themselves.

What is crucial, I believe, is beginning to explore and practice self-acceptance even before one knows who he/she is. This might sound impossible or confusing but it can be done. In fact, if you don't come to some basic understanding of being kind and caring with yourself now it can prevent you from getting to that "authentic self" that awaits your discovery and longs for your comfort, nurture and love.

Don't hold out self-acceptance and self-love until you KNOW who you are. Part of coming to that understanding is loving yourself and accepting yourself for who you know yourself to be right now -- or even the absence of that self-knowledge - if that makes sense?

This can be very challenging for those with BPD however because often the pervasive feeling about one's "self" is overwhelmed with the core beliefs that one is too damaged, too broken, too unworthy to be found, and known let alone loved by self or others.

Knowing who you really are has all to do with knowing what you value, what you want in life or out of life, what you can and cannot give, what your needs are, what your boundaries are - and the meeting of those needs in healthy constructive ways. Therefore there are practical measures that can be tangibly known in your search for self.

Dr. Phil's book, "Self Matters" addresses most of what I've tried to express from the experiential side of the loss of authentic self as experienced through BPD and other personality disorders. Dr. Phil's book (watch for my review here soon by the way) gives a working formula for how to find your "authentic self".

I also believe that for those of us who have (or have had) BPD and/or other personality disorders to some extent who we really are and our understanding of that is an on-going process and can be expected to be over our lifetimes.

It is a painful process because it involves maturing emotionally in ways that we "should" have been able to had things been different in our lives at the ages and stages of life that most experience and achieve emotional maturation. Doing this outside of those "age-appropriate" times creates a whole set of other challenges that make it difficult to build and sustain relationships and create equally as many challenges in terms of work and careers.

Knowing that you are seeking to mature in ways that you weren't able to at past junctions in your life creates a lot of grief that must be worked through on the road to the search for "self".

Key in the search for authentic self (who one really is) is brutal honesty and a willingness to forgive oneself.

In order to achieve a lasting and working sense of self and identity it is necessary also to achieve some measure of consistency. Consistency in how one relates to self and how one relates to others.

The more we learn about ourselves, our needs, etc the more we can then relate, react and act from that sense of emerging self.

For example, if I know that I value respect - receiving it and giving it to others (so as not to judge or devalue self or others) than I must treat everyone with this respect even when others don't treat me that way. What I mean here is that I must hold this value consistently in my will, intent and actions. Failure to do so is then a failure to be who I really am.

When one is still trying to identify needs, wants, values etc in search of who they really are it is important that one continue to try to answer these questions:

  • Who have I been and why?
  • Who am I right now?
  • Who do I really want to be?
  • How can I be that person?
  • What do I need to do to be that person?

And live by this assertion:

I am walking down the road to the me that I want to be. I need to give myself the gift of patience and understanding.

The good news in all this lostness is that you get to decide who you really are/can become. You can define yourself. You do not have to be defined forever by your past.

In the past most of us had to protect against tremendous pain and hurt that we experienced and/or perceived in and through our experiences. This means that we have used many mechanisms to defend ourselves. It could be argued that a large part of BPD in and of itself is a defense mechanism against being hurt any further. Of course the perpetuation of borderline beliefs and patters does, in reality, cause more pain, but to those caught up in the patterns of active BPD this is usually the furthest thing from their understanding.

The very nature of this personality disorder is such that it leaves those who have it buried so deeply within the defense mechanisms trying to protect "self" that a "self" really doesn't ever get to emerge as such. What, instead emerges is a "false self".

Make sure that as you work to define who you really are that you are accepting of all that you have been or haven't yet been able to be. Forgive your mistakes. Take an inventory of all the people you may have hurt. Make amends wherever you can. Those amends need to extend profoundly to yourself.

I am on a healing journey and I am not the person I used to be. I will let go of any and all shame associated with the person that I became in response to what I had to do to survive my understanding of the pain and losses that I have suffered.

I am not who I once was. I am healing. I am not yet the all of the person that I hope to be. In the meantime the me that I am is all that I have and I will do all I can to love, esteem, respect, nurture and love this me.

This quest to know who you really are is a challenging and painful one. It requires that you be brutally honest with yourself and any therapist you work with. It means not being ashamed to shed light on the darkest aspects of the "false self" that through BPD has become your persona.

Keep walking down the road to who you want to be. Make this your mantra. Live by it. Let it fill the hole that exists where your "true self" longs to be until such times as you discover that "true self" enough to fill this void with who you, in fact, really are.

I believe that the road is life-long. We can come to know who we essentially are. But with many years of disordered personality behind us I don't believe that our "authentic selves" are destinations. Finding your "authentic self" and learning to consistently be that personification of who you are is really more about a life long journey of discovery and recovery. Don't just expect to arrive "there" one day. Realize rather that each step you take to heal and to know more about yourself is you unfolding who you really are.

A.J. Mahari, of Canada, is professional freelance writer who is a survivor of sexual abuse, and a person who has recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder.

www.aspergeradults.

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1-15-06
 

Narcissistic Love
Excerpted from
If Love Could Think: Using Your Mind to Guide Your Heart

Book Description

A groundbreaking book about why the one thing we all fear-ambivalence-is the one thing we must accept to find lasting love.

If Love Could Think is an entertaining and practical book that addresses with warmth and intelligence the age-old question relevant to any stage of a relationship: why does love go wrong, and what can we do to make it right?

After many years of treating patients with relationship problems, psychologist Alon Gratch has identified seven common patterns of failed love. These patterns include, for example, narcissistic love, when a person has so idealized the partner and the relationship that they can't possibly continue to measure up; one-way love, when a person loves someone who doesn't return that love; triangular love, when a third party, be it a mother, an affair, or a job is involved in the relationship; and forbidden love, the kind of relationship that is generally off-limits, such as when a teacher dates a student. In If Love Could Think, Gratch shows us that all of these patterns stem from one fundamental problem-our own ambivalence.

With his trademark combination of depth and humor, and using many individual stories as engaging examples, Gratch walks us through the ways we get stuck in these patterns. In each case we are looking for perfect or ideal love. Every pattern creates an obstacle so we don't have to face our own ambivalence about the relationship or the other person. But humans aren't perfect, so no matter how wonderful love can be, there is no such thing as pure love. Ambivalence implies the existence not only of love but also of anger, disapproval, or disappointment. As Dr. Gratch shows, there are really only two choices: accept ambivalence as part of any loving relationship, or continue to repeat the patterns of illusory love. Happily, using a simple yet powerful three-step approach, If Love Could Think helps readers to use their own minds to break these patterns of failed relationships and find real and lasting love.

Excerpt
——————

Chapter 1

There was nothing Echo would ever say more gladly, "Let us get together!"

— Ovid

We are all familiar with the story of Narcissus, the beautiful youth who fell in love with his own reflection in the pool. But we are less familiar with the story of his partner, Echo, the young nymph who was cursed by the gods to only be able to repeat, never initiate, speech. At one point, when Echo-whose heart was never deterred by her beloved's self-absorption-came upon Narcissus and heard him uttering words of love, she naturally repeated his words. To the outside observer this would surely look like a mutual love fest. The truth, of course, was that Narcissus was talking to his own reflection in the pool and that Echo was merely being an audio version of that reflective pool. But even more interesting, Narcissus and Echo were themselves fooled by this house of mirrors: since from where she stood she couldn't see the reflection in the pool, Echo thought Narcissus was talking to her, while Narcissus-his gaze transfixed by his own image in the pool-took Echo's voice to be that of his beloved reflection, whose lips clearly moved to the same words of love.

It's probably no coincidence that Narcissus is far better known than Echo. After all, seeking the limelight is what he's all about. When you think about it, though, the character of Echo is no stranger to us either. The feminists see her in the supportive role of the traditional wife, the woman behind the man. And pop psychologists describe her as the codependent or the enabler-the selfless spouse who takes care, and unwittingly participates in the undoing, of her selfishly self-destructive partner (Narcissus ended up dying of starvation because he wouldn't leave his reflection). But what's less known about Echo and her contemporary versions is that even though she appears to be Narcissus's opposite, she is actually every bit as narcissistic as he is. Traditionally, women in our culture were socialized to support and respect, if not obey, their men. They were supposed to attain high self- esteem not through an external achievement of their own but rather through the nurturing of others. In terms of child rearing, there may well be a biological predisposition for this in women-more so than in men. The point is that even as our society evolves, many women still make themselves feel good about themselves by making others feel good about themselves. In other words, their selfish need is to be selfless. Their narcissism lies in the fact that they need to be needed-regardless of whether or not the other person actually needs them. So their narcissism, while harder to detect, is just as pronounced as a man's might be.

In Narcissistic Love, the couple's dynamic often follows these gender-based forms of narcissism. The man is out there building Trump Towers, and the woman applauds and supports the effort by taking care of the home and by looking good in his arms. In a dating context, notwithstanding all the changes brought about by the women's movement, the same assumption might be operating within the couple; that is, the man is the gifted, brilliant, important player-the lawyer, banker, architect, actor, doctor, or artist-whose work, mission, or schedule takes precedence over the woman's, regardless of her work, career, or other overtly selfish desires. As upsetting as this might be to contemplate in this day and age, many women with significant achievements do not feel good about themselves-that is, they suffer from low self-esteem-if they are not needed by a partner or a child and if they are not socially pleasing to others.

These gender dynamics are not as rigid or fixed as you might expect, and as we shall see, they can flip. In addition, many people-men and women-follow a love path that takes them from a relationship in which they are the Echo to one in which they are the Narcissus, before finally ending up somewhere in the middle.


Step One: Recognizing Your Pattern

While we usually think of "pathological" narcissism as a form of excessive self-love, the truth is almost the opposite. Driven by unconscious low self-esteem or self-hate, the narcissist strives to feel good about himself by exaggerating and showing off his achievement, power, or beauty. In addition, the more consciously self-hating or low-self-esteem individual is just as much of a narcissist, for he too is self-involved in his relentless quest to feel good about himself. It is thus more accurate to think of narcissism as the self-centeredness resulting from our efforts to regulate our self-esteem. It is also important to appreciate that narcissism is not only a pathological condition but also a necessary and potentially positive aspect of psychological development. In motivating us to be productive or to please others, the drive to attain high self-esteem actually facilitates growth. Of course, when extreme, and under certain conditions, it does become a debilitating problem.

Similarly, narcissism plays an important positive and negative role in the phenomenon of falling in love. Since our self-esteem evolves from early childhood and onward out of the experience of being loved, when we fall in love it is immediately engaged. If our love is reciprocated we feel valued; if not, we feel inadequate. And because maintaining a high self-esteem is so crucial to our sense of well-being, our narcissism employs various defense mechanisms to that end. Chief among these and most relevant to the experience of falling in love is the defense of idealization. The emotional generosity we feel when we fall in love is made possible by the way we idealize our partner. This idealization enables us to ignore his imperfections, to believe we have finally met our soul mate, and to trust that he will not betray or abandon us. We often don't really know this person when we fall in love and we have no factual basis to justify this attitude. But it nonetheless makes us feel valued, vital, and special-amid a vast sea of humanity in relation to which we are quite ordinary, unseen, and inconsequential. In short, idealization makes us feel good about ourselves, directly when we are idealized, or indirectly when we idealize someone else and bask in his reflection.

In lasting, more or less "healthy" relationships, this type of idealization is present sometimes-often dominating the early phases of a relationship, the "honeymoon" period, when we are also in love with love. But with time it is informed by the process of getting to know the other person. Diluted in some ways, enriched in others, it is influenced by the reality of the partner's mind and body and by the accumulated history of our togetherness. While a kernel of the early idealization must remain if love's to last, the intensity and expansiveness of the initial falling in love are ultimately inconsistent with lasting intimacy. This is so because if we cannot show our less attractive qualities and have them registered as such by the other person, we aren't quite known to him and therefore are loved only superficially, which is what Narcissistic Love is all about. In the best-case scenario of Narcissistic Love we fall in love with something in the person, fixate our gaze on it and insist that's the whole person. As a result, we don't really get to know our partner up front, which often means we later find out he has some kind of a secret or unspoken life.

One of my patients, an attractive, articulate woman in her late twenties, nonetheless came across as somewhat fragmented or lacking in focus and self-confidence. In childhood, she was very close to her mother, but her father was absent, literally because at some point her parents divorced but also emotionally because he was, as she put it, "a nonentity." On top of being quiet and withdrawn, he was also somewhat infantile and naive, often making stupid jokes or mumbling irrelevant things. Finally, he was also a "failure," as he was unemployed during much of the patient's childhood. None of this bothered the patient, she would always say. "Since I never had a relationship with him in the first place, I don't have feelings about him one way or another." But of course, as I would always tell her, her lack of relationship with her father was the most critical aspect of her relationship with her father. In other words, it's not really possible to not have a relationship with one's parent-at least in fantasy. At the very least, the parent's absence is always a huge presence in the person's mind and in his or her intimate relationships. For this patient, the absence made itself present in a series of relationships with idealized, narcissistic men.

Like many in her place, this woman would consciously and consistently choose men who were anything but her father: professional, smart, passionate, sensitive, and good listeners-in short, men who appeared to be perfect and whom, unlike her father, she could easily idealize. The problem is, not only is no one perfect, but also those who appear to be are usually even less perfect than the rest of us. For example, one of her relationships was with a young lawyer who worked as a legal-aid attorney in a public agency. He was assertive and smart, as you might expect from someone in his field, but also idealistic about his work, which involved advocating for poor inner-city folk. He was also very attractive in a boyish sort of way. He was affectionate and considerate and he enjoyed talking about family and relationship issues. Finally, he was fun-loving and always up for traveling and socializing.

The relationship started with intimate talks into the night, long daily phone conversations, open and frequent sexual exploration, and mutual proclamations that this was different from any other relationships they'd had. After a month they practically moved in together, though Kevin would occasionally go back to his place. Yet a couple of months later, Kevin started talking about needing some time to wind down on his own from his stressful, demanding job, as well as "needing some space." This seemed reasonable enough to my patient, so they agreed they would spend less time together during week nights. Correspondingly, however, sex became less frequent and a few times Kevin couldn't get an erection. But even then he continued to talk about their relationship, his anxieties, and his wish for the relationship to work out. "It really has nothing to do with you," he said. "It's my issue." And he went further, saying his need for space was probably a reaction to having been raised by a smothering, overprotective mother. And he was interested in my patient's feelings, wanting to make sure she didn't personalize it.

Even though Kevin was pulling back, my patient continued to feel he was very special indeed. He took responsibility for his problems, validated her feelings, and, unlike most men, was truly communicative. So while she was constantly feeling his absence-even when he was there she was beginning to worry that he wanted to get away-she "decided" not to be needy but rather to help him gets his needs met. When they made plans she would sensitively ask if he was sure he didn't want to do his own thing, and she would sometimes bring him dinner and then leave or would spend time with him on the weekends accompanying him while he ran his errands. In addition, when they spent nights together she would always accommodate his sexual requests. It wasn't only that she wanted to make it easier for him to be with her; it was also that she truly enjoyed every minute she spent with him. "He is so knowledgeable and insightful," she told me. "And he opened so many intellectual and emo- tional doors for me that it's hard for me to imagine not being with him."

About the Author:

Alon Gratch, Ph.D., is the author of If Men Could Talk: Translating the Secret Language of Men, which has been published in more than twenty countries.

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1-15-06 

The Borderline Dance & The Non-Borderlines' Dilemma

By A. J. Mahari

Consumer: Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality.org

I talk about the dance of the borderline and the dilemma of the non-borderline. (person who does not have BPD but has a loved one with BPD) The borderline dance is one of survival for the borderline and the non-borderline's dilemma is one of survival for the non-borderline.

The Dance of the Borderline can be defined as the projective-identification/transference of their identity to the extent that they do not know it on to someone else. What does this mean? It means that when the borderline in your life is sad, or hurt or afraid, rather than feel those feelings, as the non-borderline would, the borderline will turn on you in an effort to have you hold, act out and be the very feelings that they cannot hold, handle or cope with. It is a sub-conscious way to have mirrored back to self all that one feels but refuses to feel. It is essentially, the borderline trying to put distance between him or herself and his/her own pain. Little do most borderlines realize that in effect what they are really doing when they act out and push people away and erect walls to 'protect' them is wall themselves in with the pain. There is no relief from pain to be found in casting it out to those or to the world around you. The walls that a borderline builds will wall that borderline in and threaten to drown him/her in his/her own pain. The non-borderline who does not have any boundaries is at risk of being sealed into that borderline wall of agony.

It is through this dance that the borderline often sets him/herself up to continually re-experience what feels familiar. As most borderlines have a tremendous fear of abandonment the behavior that they engage in often is the reason why people turn away, sooner or later, to maintain their own sanity. Yet when it is reasonable to leave or to take space (to a non-borderline) the borderline (usually not taking any personal responsibility) will blame you and will experience your taking space or your leaving as abandonment.

The borderline is in a very painful and real world of his or her own. Emotionally, it is a world that exists in parallel to the world of the "averagely healthy". Despite a usually above average intelligence and an often charming initial presentation most borderlines are emotionally vastly different from how they are intellectually. The discrepancy between a borderline's general ability to think and his/her emotional capacity is often an internal schism between self-known and self-unknown that is wider than the grand canyon. It is world that is run by terror and fear and often by the triggered-dissociations from the past of the borderline.

The Dance of the Borderline is experienced by the non-borderline when all of sudden, yet again, they have become the focus of the borderline's pain, rage, anger, unmet needs, wants, demands, helplessness and so on. Question I've been asked a lot of late in email is, "How do I not go there? How can I set a boundary? What do I do when he/she starts it all over again? Why is this happening?

So there is the borderline prone to repeatedly engaging in a deceptive dance of demanding devastation and the non-borderline who cannot get into the head (understand the motivation) of the borderline. Herein lies the dilemma of the non-borderline.

The Non-Borderline's Dilemma is realized when he/she comes to the inevitable conclusion that he/she has to effect some change for themselves. There comes the realization that a choice has to be made. The choice is one that most often feels like, and is, a choice between equally unfavourable and disagreeable alternatives. This is the projected out predicament in which the borderline (to a degree) has lived within all of his/her life without knowing if fully. It is this similar dilemma/dynamic or predicament that is the fuel of the borderline dance in the first place. So you see the borderline and the non-borderline, in some ways, are not so far apart. The experience of each is painful. The experience of each is real. What each non-borderline must realize within this dilemma however, is that they have the tools necessary to take care of themselves. The non-borderline has the ability (not limited emotionally by a personality disorder) to responsibly react to what is not working for them or to what is hurting them.

Borderlines due to the very nature of the personality disorder are not that emotionally/psychologically free to choose (until they've had quite a bit of successful therapy and worked through much of these issues.)

So, you are in a relationship with a borderline and you have reached this stage of dilemma. You want the relationship to survive. You have all sorts of mixed feelings toward this borderline in your life, what are you to do? The first thing you must do is decide what it is that you cannot live with anymore. Once you've identified that, you will then have the rather difficult task of communicating that to the borderline in your life. Before you communicate what your limits and boundaries are make sure that you are prepared to back them up. If you are not, or you do not you will experience the dance times one hundred and the borderline in your life will generate more chaos than before.

So, you've identified the problem, you have decided what your limits and boundaries are, you have a plan of action ready to implement and consistently stick to. At this point it's time to talk to the borderline in your life. As you do this -- remember, you must speak only to your experience and not to his/her behavior. This will be the beginning of a difficult and painful process whether things work out or not. As with any dilemma know that your pain is real and that pain is a natural part of change. Your pain does not have to cause you to doubt that you are doing what you need to do for yourself.

The non-borderline must communicate honestly, fairly and consistently with the borderline knowing full well that you cannot have any control, effect or say on how the borderline in your life will choose to react or behave.

The only way to not be engaged in the dance of the borderline is to identify, communicate and follow through with your boundaries. Your message in words and in action must be clear. If for example, the borderline in your life is demanding something from you that you cannot give, it is reasonable that you answer the demand calmly with a statement about how you feel and why you cannot do what you are being asked or manipulated to do. Then make a clear statement that you are not going to continue to engage in the conflict or issue. If the borderline continues to press or escalates his/her behavior then you have to disengage in whatever way you have set out as the way that you will do this. For example, if you made it clear you will leave the house for an hour or that you will take a half hour alone somewhere in the house then you must do this.

If you are finding that you have set boundaries and limits and that you have communicated them and acted upon them only to meet with more and more conflict, abuse, hostility etc then it is time to consider space. In order for you to take care of yourself and have your needs met, your boundaries and limits need to be respected. This is often next to impossible for many borderlines (not yet in therapy or refusing to get help). If the borderline in your life is not getting help, won't go get help, is in total denial, and will not respect your personhood then the choice you have to make in order to maintain your own sanity is one of space and distance, for a time, or altogether.

As someone who has gone through this from the side of having borderline personality disorder I can honestly say that it took my losing people from my life before I could incorporate certain changes. If you are staying in a relationship or continually caving or surrendering to "have peace" only to find that is not "right", or "good enough" for the borderline in your life either: you are doing NO ONE a favour by staying in that situation. You have to decide whether you are willing to remain a hostage anymore or not. Do you want your freedom enough? Yes in the pursuit of your disengaging the dance and your attaining your freedom you will hurt. The borderline will hurt. If life and recovery have taught me anything it's that you cannot grow and change without feeling pain. Let your pain motivate you to learn the lesson, whether you are a borderline or a non-borderline.

Often we, borderline or non-borderline have to lose in order to gain. We have to grieve in order to grow. We have to say good-bye in order to say hello to ourselves and to subsequent others in our lives. No one of us can change for another. No one of us can control another. Relationships are complicated and hard enough. For the borderline they are not truly possible until the borderline learns to relate to "self". Until the borderline learns to relate to "self" he/she will always be relating over and over again to "self" through "other". This reality pushes the "other" away. It also is why the borderline tries to take hostages. If the borderline (in throes of BPD) only knows "self" through "other" and "other" goes away the experience is one as real and painful as "death of self" -- annihilation. The end of a relationship to a borderline can be like a death of "self" as was known in "other". The end of a relationship for a non-borderline or averagely "healthy" person is a very sad, painful loss but it is not the loss of self. In fact, when a non-borderline leaves a borderline they often experience a very healthy and welcoming "re-birth" of "self".

If you are borderline it is up to you to take responsibility for yourself and to learn to respect the limits and boundaries of others. If you are borderline you need to find yourself and to live through that "self" and not project that lost "self" onto others. If you are a non-borderline you need to be realistic with yourself and not accept anything less than basic human courtesy and respect.

The Dance of the Borderline, the tune of which can only be heard by a borderline is music that a non-borderline cannot truly hear or appreciate. You live in one world, separated from itself, worlds over-lapping, yet not touching, worlds in parallel. Borderlines need to stop the dance and the non- borderlines need to end their dilemmas. Whether this can be done in tandem or whether you have to let go and do it alone, only each of you can decide. Each one of us in this world has a responsibility to ourselves. We cannot extend any real love to another until we learn to love "self", borderline or not.

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1-15-06 

BPD: The past versus here and now

By A. J. Mahari

Consumer: Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality.org

Borderlines are often living their pasts in their "here and now's". There is a high cost to this. Life will pass you by. It is important to confront and work through your past to be fully alive in your present. That is the way to find yourself and to find some measure of happiness.

One major issue for anyone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is the reality of the presence of the past in the here and now.

The past is often more a part of a borderline's present-day reality than the present itself. Why? The answer has all to do with triggers and unmet needs. When you have unmet needs stacked up from your past along with trauma and or unpleasant and negative experiences overwhelming you from your past your here and now suffers, as do you.

What keeps the past so alive is not facing your feelings. This coupled with thinking as if you are "back there" adds to the cognitive distortions that you allow yourself to continue to live in. It is what you think that dictates what you do. Not the other way around. You are responsible for both what you think and for what you do.

In order to move out of the past and into your here and now you must learn to change the way you think and the way you act and or re-act to life. No matter how much pain any one of us has suffered in the past we don't have to continue to live our lives back there with that pain and fear. Letting go can feel very scary too but it is so freeing. Letting go is a choice. In order to let go of your past you will need to go through the feelings that you have and work them through in therapy. It took years for you to build up the fears and feelings and ways of behaving that you know have. It will take some time to unlearn these and then to learn new ways of thinking, feeling and acting.

Often borderlines will experience triggers. Things in the here and now that are just like situations and or experiences from the past that were very painful and or traumatic. It is here that the real work must be done. Each time one is triggered, it is crucial to work through the reality that what you are feeling from the past, while very real, is not necessary in the present. When you were a young child and you could not take care of yourself or protect yourself, you may well have been the victim of abuse and violence and or neglect. Now, however, in your present, you are an adult. This means that you can (or you can learn) to take care of yourself. You do not have to be re-victimized unless you allow that to happen. It is all a matter of not playing out and re-playing out past patterns. It is difficult and painful to make changes to these ingrained patterns but it is not only possible but necessary if you are to leave your past behind you.

Living in the here and now is much more satisfying. It is also much more managable. Taking the time to distinguish between the past and the here and now can mean the difference between a successful and pleasurable experience with others or a conflictual and painful experience with others. Remember, only you can be the adult that you are and take care of yourself. Others really can't do this for you. Even if it seems they are willing to try, in time, your seeking to be taken care of by someone else will stress if not end friendships and relationships.

The past can only live on if you let it. Your past can produce real pain and flashbacks for you in the here and now. The challenge that you face is not so much trying to control that but letting it happen and then taking care of yourself in response to it. The past truly only has the power (now) that you give to it. Refuse to continue to give your past more power than your here and now. The difference in giving the "now" power is that you will find yourself and know yourself and learn to believe in yourself. Do not let your life be defined by your past anymore or by those in your past who so let you down or hurt you and who defined you in abusive and unfair ways.

Step into each day secure in the knowledge that each time you grapple with the past in your present you are taking a big step forward and a freeing step to changing your life for the better.

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1-16-06 
Borderline Personality Disorder

By A.J. Mahari,

Consumer: Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality.org


"The defining criteria of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is: a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts, "as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by
  • alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  • identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self; or sense of long-term goals; or career choices, types of friends desired or values preferred
  • impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging: for example; spending, sex, substance abuse, and binge eating.
  • recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior affective instability: marked shifts from baseline mood to depression, irritability, or anxiety, usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days
  • chronic feelings of emptiness
  • inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger; frequent displays of temper
  • transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

It should be noted that many of the traits associated as being BPD traits are commonly found in the general population as well. The line is drawn between the average and the Borderline Personality Disorder person by the number of characteristics listed above that effect them along with the severity or intensity of that affect.

In Borderline Personality Disorder, like DID (MPD), there is a likelihood of a trauma history: "Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and early parental loss or separation are more common in the childhood histories of those with Borderline Personality Disorder."

Borderline Personality Disorder Expounded Upon

Borderline Personality Disorder is a very extensive and pervasive disorder in the lives of those who have it and the lives of those who care and or love them and in the lives of those who treat them.

I do feel, however, as a healing borderline, that borderline individuals are often looked at in as black and white a way by significant others and clinicians as is true of the view of the borderline toward them. Living with the pain and the cognitive distortions of borderline personality disorder, (BPD) does not have to be a life sentence. I have found through my own experience that growth, change and healing are very possible. They come with a high price though. One must be dedicated to this process in order to successfully journey through it. It is not a short or simple process but it is one that is frought with much pain. I have often wondered and tried, though not too successfully, really, to compare what has been the most painful aspects of BPD for me:

  1. Having it,
  2. Living with it, or
  3. Healing from it.

It is somewhat of a toss up really in that there is pain involved with all three aspects of experience.

I do firmly believe though that no matter how much pain one has to work through, endure and learn how to hold in healing, living with BPD, is by far much more painful when there is not active work and treatment to change, grow, heal and manage one's symptoms.

BPD, no doubt needs to be better defined than it currently is. I also am very concerned that many clinicians do not think it is necessary or that it would be beneficial to tell their clients or patients that they, in fact, have been diagnosed with BPD. I know in my case, finding out the diagnosis was the beginning of a long process of slow learning about just what it meant and involved. It was this educational process, both on my own, and in therapy, that helped to me to, piece by piece, come to terms with what BPD is, what it means to me and for me in my life, its legacy in my life, and what was required in order for me to change my life.

I have experienced borderline personality disorder to be a nightmare riddled with pain and angst. For 35 years it controlled my life. In the last 11 years I have been taking that control back and reclaiming myself, the self that was lost to and through so much as a child. I have gradually been able to take the walls down and to among other things, learn that boundaries, while essential, do not have to be brick walls. I have also learned that I do not have to control or manipulate those around me, or the environment around me in order to feel and be safe. I have learned that I am indeed an adult and not a child. I have brought my emotional maturation process along which has enabled me to learn the many key concepts that are neccessary to take one's life back from this very profound, pervasive and prolific personality disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder does not have to be a life sentence!

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1-16-06 

Borderline Quandary -- Who AM I?

By A.J. Mahari,

Consumer: Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality.org

A look at what one must do in order to reclaim one's true self and to answer the question: Who am I? Answering this question is the way to reclaim your lost stable sense of identity. It is a cornerstone in healing from BPD.

Central to the healing or recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder is the reclamation of identity. A major part of having this personality disorder is not having a stable sense of identity. This is, in and of itself, alone, a very painful place to be. Until a certain degree of emotional maturation and growth takes place borderlines are, to varying degrees, dissociated from "true self".

This dissociation from your "true-self" took place when you were (or when you perceived that were) hurt, abandoned, neglected, etc. It was your way of coping. Borderlines, somewhere in those formative years of personality development have their developmental processes interrupted by their experiences. You literally somewhere along the line decided to place the pain, the rage, the anger, the hurt beside yourself -- outside of yourself. That was the time or the day that you lost yourself. You can reclaim yourself -- find yourself and build a strong stable sense of identity now. Lacking a stable sense of identity leaves people feeling very lost. It also severely affects one's ability to trust him/herself. When you can't trust yourself you cannot really trust anyone else either. When you don't know who you are how can you possibly know what you want or what you need? Not knowing who you are also makes it next to impossible to know who you'd like to know and what you'd like to do in and with your life.

When I was borderline I was, for all intents and purposes whoever I was with. I was, for the most part, whoever would let me project onto them -- as I shifted my personal responsibility for myself, my safety, and my emotions onto them. I was then expecting others to meet my needs for me. As if others could somehow better identify what I needed that I could not identify for myself? I did not have a stable or well-developed sense of who I was. I was dissociated from the anger that this lack of self creates. Looking back, however, I was profoundly angry and profoundly sad at this loss of myself. It seems that I knew myself to some extent when I was younger. Though, the person I was then was all about trying to please my father. Somewhere around the age of 8 or 9 it's like I just got lost. I took a free-fall. I abdicated to "other". I, in effect, hurt too much to be who I was. (The first "other" was my father and for years to come everyone else I tried to relate to was "my father".)Other kids were learning how to relate more and more to each other and defining the activities that they wanted to participate in and I was feeling less like "I" everyday. I was more and more unsure about what I liked and what I wanted to do, everyday. This progressively got worse and as I went through my adolescent years I was totally lost. I tried my best to skip school, to isolate, to push people away. I did not know who I was, what I liked, what I wanted or what I needed. This would persist and in fact get worse over time for the next 15 years of my life. (Until I did the work to let go of my father and to re-define myself without him and to accept the loss that I was never able to please him or to be close with him. We did not ever have a healthy relationship. I had to decide to let it go -- grieve and move on.)

I spent a lot of time watching television and eating. I spent a lot of time watching life literally pass me by out the window. Without a clear sense of myself -- of who I was -- I was just drifting through life like a log in a river -- aimlessly floating. The pain grew with each passing day. For many years I wasn't aware of the source of this pain. I tried to attach it to whatever I thought was wrong in my life or to whomever displeased me in my life. And when I had no stable sense of identity everyone who I came into contact with, in one way or another, sooner or later would displease me. I was so displeased with my lack of self that I projected that onto to the world.

I was lost to self. I was unsure of who I was. I was lost in terms of what I "should" be or what I "should" do with my life. Grandiose dreams alternated with my defeated sense of incompetence. Years went by and I still did not know who I was.

How does one answer the question: Who I am?

The way to finding yourself is through your emotions. Much to the dismay of Descartes, who said, "I think, therefore I am." who we are, when we've been diagnosed with BPD has far more to do with what we feel than it does with what we think.

Thinking is very important but in the throes of BPD much of one's thinking is cognitively distorted. Borderline thinking is also often so intellectual as to totally block out one's emotions. In order to find yourself and a stable sense of identity you must find a balance between your thinking and your feeling. You must learn to think and to feel in between the black and the white of borderline reality.

Who you are is so tied to what you have experienced and to how what you experienced left you feeling about yourself. Who you are is also very tied (until you unwind it and heal it) to what others said to you or about you. If you were constantly criticized or put down then you likely have developed a sense of yourself as an incompetent person who is not "good enough".

To reclaim our individual identities and to build a strong foundation upon which our personhood and identity is defined and understood we must be able to answer the following consistently:

  1. What do I value? What are my values?
  2. Am I telling and living the truth? Telling lies will only serve to further see you lose yourself. Deceit and manipulation are defense mechanisms but they also make it impossible for you to know who you "really" are. They are the tools of the false self.
  3. If I am lying or misrepresenting the truth why am I doing this?
  4. What do I like about myself? What don't I like about myself? Why?
  5. Have I cleared my head and my heart of any and all "old tapes"? Am I thinking for myself and trying to define myself based upon my own quest for this understanding of self or am I still seeking to define myself based upon how others have defined me in the past?
  6. How do I feel about myself? Do I like myself? Can I accept myself? If you do not accept and like and learn to love yourself you will not be able to like, accept and love others from any stable sense of self because you will still be looking to them to define you.
  7. Have I felt and dealt with my pain? Have I grieved for my losses and disappointments? Am I willing to work them through and let them go? If you are holding onto past hurts and pains, injustices, abuse, tapes, etc you are keeping yourself invested in being who others wanted or needed you to be. Often this means that you are choosing to remain enmeshed in others as opposed to truly getting to know who you are.
  8. How do I want to represent myself? How do I want others to see me and experience me? Do I need to continue to perpetuate my old hurts and neglect or abuse by turning others against me so that I can continue to hide from myself?
  9. Are you willing to face your pain? Until we do the work, our pain will encompass who we "really" are. You cannot access your true self until you walk through the pain and learn to release it in healthy ways.
  10. Why do I stay invested in hurting myself? Do I not hurt enough? This is the point at which you need to start to listen to that "inner-child" aspect of yourself and integrate his/her hurts into your NOW consciousness. You cannot heal and get to know your self by holding your pain outside of your "self".
  11. Do you feel that you are worthy of being respected, loved and cared for or about? If you cannot feel this way about yourself than truly neither can anyone else.
  12. Am I ready to take personal responsibility? Am I ready to be held accountable for my actions and my words? Are you ready to live your truth in the here and now and let go of the past?
  13. Am I ready to acknowledge that whether or not I get better will largely be up to me? I have the ability and the responsibility to make choices and decisions. This is part of what being me really means in life.
  14. Am I ready to lay down the maladaptive defenses that only serve to keep me separated from my self? Are you ready to learn new and healthier ways to cope and to relate to self and others?
  15. Do I want to get and be well? Or am I still more invested in the secondary gains of remaining sick. Do I really want to know myself and take responsibility for myself or do I want to continue to live through others and to hurt myself in what is an absence of acknowledging who "I" am.

To find your "self" and to build a stable sense of identity you must act always from a place of integrity. You must make an informed choice to step onto the path of truth and to walk that path no matter how much it hurts. It is very difficult at first. It, like anything else, does get easier over time.

Borderline Personality Disorder has stolen your identity. If you want to reclaim yourself -- and to know WHO YOU ARE -- then you must make the choice to face your pain and to do the work. It means changing how you think, how you feel and how you act. It means dedicating yourself to truth, honesty, integrity and to learning to cope with being the vulnerable, hurting soul that you are. No more bravado. No more games. To answer the question: Who Am I -- a borderline must give up the games, the lies, the manipulations, the focus on "other", the giving away personal power and personal responsibility to "other" and the secondary gains (For more on Secondary Gains see next article) of helplessness and of being needy and must look inside where your true self awaits the arrival of your love, devotion and support.

Having Borderline Personality Disorder is not a life sentence. It means (among other things) that you have not fully developed your identity. It means that you have been alienated from yourself, most often, by what has happened to you and or how you have perceived and interpreted what has happened to you in your life thus far. You are free, you really are free, to write a new life-script -- one that enables you to find the answers the question: Who Am I?

As you answer that question, you will be healing from Borderline Personality Disorder. Refuse to abandon yourself any longer. Instead learn to be there for yourself. You really can and will find YOU when you want to badly enough.

Today, I am no longer borderline. I know who I am. I know what I like and what I don't like. I take care of myself. I meet my own needs. I do not look to "others" to do this for me or to define me anymore. Yes, in all truth, the journey to my own identity has been very painful. It has also been equally, if not more so, rewarding.

Dare to define yourself. Be courageous. Your life, happiness and a such a wonderful sense of PEACE await your self-discovery. It is a most worthwhile journey. Make the choice or the decision today, if you haven't already to walk the path to the discovery and awareness of your true identity -- keep walking down the road to the YOU that you WANT to be.

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1-16-06

Narcissism FAQ #46: The Dual Role of the False Self

Question:

Your theories contain nothing new. You just rename theoretical constructs offered by Adler, Erikson and, above all, by Karen Horney.

Answer:

I beg to differ. I think that I was able to introduce new concepts and, through them, hopefully, shed new light on the pernicious condition called malignant narcissism.

To illustrate, let me consider the False Self versus the True Self. Both are old concepts. The False (Idealised) Self (-Image) was well described by Horney, for instance. Still, "my" concept of False Self is different.

I believe that once formed and functioning, the False Self stifles the growth of the True Self and paralyses it. Henceforth, the True Self is virtually non-existent and plays no role (active or passive) in the conscious life of the narcissist. Moreover, I do not believe in the ability to "resuscitate" it through therapy. It is not only a question of alienation, as Horney observed. She said that because the Idealised (=False) Self sets impossible goals to attain – the results are frustration and self hate which grow with every setback or failure. I assign the constant sadistic judgement, the self-berating, the suicidal ideation to another source: to an idealised, sadistic, Superego. There is no conflict between the True Self and the False Self. First, the True Self is much too weak to engage in any kind of activity (let alone be in conflict with the overbearing False). Second, the False Self is adaptive (though maladaptive). It helps the True Self to cope with the world. Without the False Self, the True Self would be subjected to so much hurt that it will disintegrate. This happens to narcissists who go through a life crisis: their False Ego becomes dysfunctional and they experience a harrowing feeling of annulment.

The False Self has many functions, described at great length below. The two most important are:

  1. It serves as a decoy, it "attracts the fire". It is a proxy for the True Self. It is tough and hard and can absorb any amount of pain, hurt and negative emotions without so much as flinching. By externalising it, the child develops immunity to the indifference, manipulation, sadism, or exploitation – in short: to the abuse – inflicted on him by his parents (or by other Primary Objects in his life). It is a shell, protecting him, rendering him invisible and omnipotent at the same time.
  2. The False Self is misrepresented by the narcissist as his True Self. The narcissist is saying, in effect: "I am not who you think that I am. I am someone else. I am that (False) Self. Therefore, I deserve a better, painless, more considerate treatment." The False Self, thus, is a contraption intended to alter the attitude of the (human) environment towards the narcissist.

These roles are crucial to survival and to the proper psychological functioning of the narcissist. The False Self is by far more important to the narcissist than his dilapidated, dysfunctional, True Self. As opposed to the neo-Freudians, I do not think that the two are part of a continuum. I do not think that healthy people have a "milder" case of False Self which differs from its pathological equivalent in that it is more realistic and closer to the True Self. I do think that even healthy people have a mask (Guffman), a persona (Jung) which they CONSCIOUSLY present to the outside world. This is a far cry from the False Self which is mostly unconscious, depends on the maintenance of an image but is not synonymous with it and is compulsive.

I think that the False Self is a reaction to pathological circumstances (maybe even a healthy reaction). But its dynamics make it predominate, devour the psyche and prey upon both the True Self and the efficient, flexible functioning of the personality.

That the Narcissist possesses a prominent False Self as well as a suppressed and dilapidated True Self is common knowledge. Yet, how intertwined and inseparable are these two? Do they interact? How do they influence each other? And what behaviours can be attributed squarely to one or the other of these protagonists? Moreover, does the False Self assume traits and attributes of the True Self in order to deceive?

Let's start by referring to an oft-occurring question:

Why are narcissists not prone to suicide? Simple: they died a long time ago. They are the true zombies of the world.

Many researchers and scholars and therapists tried to grapple with the void at the core of the Narcissist. The common view is that the remnants of the True Self are so ossified, shredded, cowed into submission and repressed - that, for all practical purposes, they are functionless and useless. In treating the Narcissist, the therapist often tries to invent a healthy self, rather than build upon the distorted wreckage strewn across the Narcissist's psyche.

But what of the rare glimpses of True Self that those who interact with Narcissists keep reporting?

If the pathological narcissistic element is but one of many other disorders - the True Self may well have survived. Gradations and shades of narcissism make up the narcissistic spectrum. Narcissistic traits (overlay) are often co-diagnosed with other disorders (co-morbidity).

Some people have a narcissistic personality - but NOT NPD! These distinctions are important. A person may well appear to be a narcissist - but is not, in the strict, psychiatric, sense of the word.

In a full-fledged Narcissist, the False Self IMITATES the True Self.

To do so artfully, it deploys two mechanisms:

RE-INTERPRETATION

It causes the Narcissist to re-interpret certain emotions and reactions in a flattering, True Self-compatible, light. A Narcissist may, for instance, interpret FEAR - as compassion. If the Narcissist hurts someone he fears ( e.g., an authority figure) - he may feel bad afterwards and interpret his discomfort as EMPATHY and COMPASSION. To be afraid is humiliating - to be compassionate is commendable and earns the narcissist social acceptance and understanding.

EMULATION

The Narcissist is possessed of an uncanny ability to psychologically penetrate others. Often, this gift is abused and put at the service of the narcissist's control freakery and sadism. The Narcissist uses it liberally to annihilate the natural defences of his victims by faking unprecedented, almost inhuman, empathy.

This capacity is coupled with the Narcissist's ability to frighteningly imitate emotions and their attendant behaviours. The Narcissist possesses "emotional resonance tables". He keeps records of every action and reaction, every utterance and consequence, every datum provided by others regarding their state of mind and emotional make-up. From these, he then constructs a set of formulas, which often result in impeccably and eerily accurate renditions of emotional behaviour. This can be enormously deceiving.

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1-16-06 

Narcissism FAQ #48: The Stripped Ego

Sam Vaknin is the author of Consumer
Narcissistic Personality Disorder


Question:

Sometimes you say that the Narcissist's True Self has relegated its functions to the outside world - and sometimes you say that it is not in touch with the outside world (or that only the False Self is in touch with it). How do you settle this apparent contradiction?

Answer:

The True Self in a narcissist is introverted. It just lost all its functions. In healthy people, Ego functions are generated from the inside, from the Ego. In narcissists, the Ego is dormant, comatose. The narcissist needs the input of the outside world to perform the most basic Ego functions (e.g., "recognition" of the world, setting boundaries, differentiation, self-esteem and regulation of a sense of self-worth). Only the False Self gets in touch with the world. The True Self is isolated, repressed, unconscious, a shadow.

Forcing an encounter upon these two is, in my view, not only impossible but also counterproductive and dangerously destabilising. The Narcissistic Disorder is adaptive and functional, though rigid and self-defeating. The alternative to this (mal)adaptation would have been destructive, possibly lethal (suicidal). This bottled up poison is bound to resurface if contact is made between other structures of the personality and the Ego (True Self).

That a structure is unconscious does not automatically mean that it is conflict-generating, or that it is in conflict, nor that it has the potential to engage in conflict. The True Self and the False Self are out of touch.

One defies the very existence of the other. We must not forget that the False Self pretends to be the ONLY self. Also it is extremely useful (adaptive). Rather than risking (indeed) constant conflict – the narcissist chooses a solution of "disengagement".

The classical Ego, the one proposed by Freud, is partly conscious and partly preconscious and unconscious. Chez-le narcissist, the Ego is completely submerged. The preconscious and conscious parts are detached (rather, torn) from it by early traumas and form the False Ego. Whereas the Ego in healthy people is constantly compared to the Ego Ideal by the Superego, the narcissist is characterised by a different type of psychodynamics. The narcissist's False Self serves as a buffer and as a shock absorber between the True Ego and the sadistic, punishing, immature Superego.

The narcissist's Ego cannot develop because it is deprived of contact with the outside world and, therefore, has to endure no development-inducing conflict. The False Self is rigid. The result is that the narcissist is unable to respond and to adapt to threats, illnesses, and to other life crises and circumstances. He is totally rigid and prone to be broken rather than bent by life's trials and tribulations.

The Ego remembers, evaluates, plans, responds to the world and acts in it and on it. It is the locus of the "executive functions" of the personality. It integrates the inner world with the outer world, the Id with the Superego. It acts under a "reality principle" rather than a "pleasure principle". This means that it is in charge of delaying satisfaction and gratification. It postpones acts intended to secure such gratification until they can be carried out both safely and successfully. The Ego is, therefore, in an ungrateful position. Unfulfilled desires produce unease and anxiety. Reckless fulfilment of desires is diametrically opposed to self-preservation. The Ego has to mediate these tensions. In an effort to thwart anxiety, the Ego invents defence mechanisms. On the one hand the Ego channels fundamental drives. It has to "speak their language". It must have a primitive, infantile, component. On the other hand, the Ego is in charge of negotiating with the outside world and of securing the realistically best obtainable bargain for its client, the Id. These intellectual and perceptual functions are supervised by the exceptionally strict court of the Superego.

Persons with a strong Ego can objectively apprehend both the world and themselves. In other words, they are possessed of insight. They are able to contemplate longer time spans, plan, forecast and schedule. They choose decisively among alternatives and follow their resolve. They are aware of the existence of their drives, but control them and direct them to socially acceptable or socially useful channels. They resist pressures – social or other. They choose their course and pursue it. The weaker Ego is more like a child. Impulsive, immediate, its perception of self and reality distorted, it is incapable of productive work. The narcissist is an even more extreme case, that of a non-existent Ego. The narcissist has a fake, substitute "Ego". This is why his energy is drained. He spends most of it on maintaining, protecting and preserving the warped, unrealistic images of his (False) Self and of his (fake) world. The narcissist is a person exhausted by his own absence.

The healthy Ego preserves some sense of continuity and consistency. It serves as a point of reference. It relates events of the past to the actions of the present and to the plans of the future. It incorporates memory, anticipation, imagination and intellect. It defines where the individual ends and the world begins. Though not coextensive with the body or with the personality, it is a close approximation. In the narcissistic condition, all these functions are relegated to the False Ego. Its halo of falsity attaches to all of them. The narcissist is bound to develop false memories, conjure up false fantasies, anticipate the unrealistic and work his intellect to justify them. The falsity of the False Self is dual: not only is it not "the real thing" – it also operates on false premises. It provides a false gauge and evaluation of the world. It falsely and inefficiently regulates the drives. It fails to thwart anxiety on many an occasion.

The False Self provides a false sense of continuity and of a "personal centre". It weaves an enchanted and grandiose fable as a substitute. The narcissist, as a result, gravitates out of his self and into a plot, a narrative, a story. He continuously feels that he is a character in a film, a fraudulent invention, or a con artist to be momentarily exposed and summarily socially executed. Moreover, The narcissist cannot be consistent or coherent. His False Self is in pursuit of ulterior goals (mostly of Narcissistic Supply). The narcissist has no boundaries because his Ego is not sufficiently defined or fully differentiated. The only constancy is his feeling of diffusion or of annulment. This is especially true in life crises, when the False Ego ceases to function.

From the developmental point of view, all this is easily accounted for. The child reacts to stimuli, both internal and external. He cannot, however, control, alter, or anticipate them. He develops mechanisms for controlling the resulting tensions and anxieties. His pursuit of mastery of his environment is compulsive. He is obsessively involved in seeking means to obtain gratification. Any delay in his actions and responses forces him to tolerate added tension and anxiety. It is very surprising that the child learns to separate stimulus and response and delay the latter. This miracle has to do with the development of intellectual skills, on the one hand and with the socialisation process, on the other hand.

The intellect is a representation of the world. Through it, the Ego can examine reality vicariously and not suffer the consequences of possible errors. It can fantasise or project the consequences of various courses of action and decide on the future directions necessary to achieve its ends and the accompanying satisfaction. The intellect is what makes the child believe in the accuracy and high probability of his anticipation and predictions. It is through the intellect that the concepts of the "law of nature" and "predictability through order" are introduced. Causality and consistency are all mediated through the intellect.

But the intellect must have an emotional complement. The picture of the world emerges from experience and is not imposed upon it. Socialisation has a verbal-communicative element but if not coupled with a strong emotional component, it remains a dead letter. An example: the child is likely to learn from his parents and from other adults in his environment that the world is a predictable, law abiding place. However, if his Primary Objects (most importantly, his mother) behave in a capricious, discriminating, unpredictable, unlawful, abusive, or indifferent manner – the conflict between cognition and emotion will be powerful and is bound to paralyse the Ego functions of the child. The accumulation and retention of past events is a prerequisite for both thinking and judgement. Both are impaired if past events contradict the content of the Superego and the lessons of the socialisation process.

It is here that narcissists are victims. They suffer from a glaring discrepancy between the preaching and the acting of the adult figures in their lives. Once victimised, they swear "no more". They are out to victimise the world. And as a decoy, they present to the world their False Self. But they fall prey to their own devices. Internally impoverished and undernourished, isolated and cushioned to the point of suffocation – the True Ego degenerates and decays. The narcissist wakes up one day to find that he is at the mercy of his False Self as much as his victims are.

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1-16-06 

Narcissism FAQ #41: Narcissistic Signal, Stimulus and Hibernation Mini-Cycles

Sam Vaknin is the author of Consumer
Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Question:

I know a Narcissist intimately. Sometimes he is hyperactive, full of ideas, optimism, plans. At other times, he is hypoactive, almost zombie-like.

Answer:

You are witnessing to the narcissistic signal-stimulus-hibernation mini-cycle. In the Essay I described the euphoric and dysphoric cycles. These are LIFE cycles. They are longer, all encompassing, all consuming and all-pervasive. They are different from manic-depressive cycles (in the Bipolar Disorder) in that they are reactive, caused by easily identifiable external events or circumstances. For instance: the narcissist reacts with dysphoria and anhedonia to a loss of the Pathological Narcissistic Space, or to major life crises (financial problems, divorce, imprisonment, loss of social status and peer appreciation, etc.).

But the narcissist constantly endures similar, though much shorter and much weaker, cycles. He has brief periods of mania. Then he can be entertaining, charming, and charismatic. Then he is "full of ideas and plans", attractive and leader-like. In the manic phase, he is restless (often insomniac), full of pent up energy, explosive, dramatic, creative, an excellent performer and manager. Suddenly, and often for no apparent reason, he becomes subdued, depressed, devoid of energy, pessimistic, even "zombie-like". He oversleeps, his eating patterns change, he is slow and pays no attention to his external appearance or to the impression that he leaves on others. The contrast is very sharp and striking. While in the manic phase, the narcissist is talkative – in the depressive phase he is passively-aggressively silent. He vacillates between being imaginative and being dull, being social and being anti-social, being obsessed with time and achievement and lying in bed for hours, being a leader and being led.

These mini-cycles, though outwardly manic-depressive (or cyclothimic) – are not. They are the result of subtle fluctuations in the volatile flow of Narcissistic Supply.

The narcissist is addicted to Narcissistic Supply: admiration, adoration, approval, attention and so on. All his activities, thoughts, plans, aspirations, inspiration, daydreams – in short, all the aspects of his life – are dedicated to the securing of a relatively stable and predictable flow of such supply. He even resorts to Secondary Narcissistic Supply Sources (a spouse, his colleagues, or his business - SNSS) in order to "accumulate" a reserve of past Narcissistic Supply for times of short supply. The SNSS serve to smooth and regulate the vicissitudes of the supply emanating from the Primary Narcissistic Supply Sources (PNSS). The process of obtaining and securing Narcissistic Supply, in the first place, is complex and multi-phased.

To jump start it, the narcissist emits a "narcissistic signal". It is a message – written, verbal, behavioural – intended to foster the generation of Narcissistic Supply. The narcissist may send letters to magazines, offering to write for them (for free, if need be). He may dress, behave, or make statements intended to elicit admiration (or attention). He may consistently and continuously describe himself in glamorous and flattering terms (or, conversely, berate himself in order to be contradicted by others). Anything would do – just so as to become well known and to impress people. Narcissistic signals are emitted whenever an important element changes in a narcissist's life: his workplace, his domicile, his position, or his spouse. It is intended to re-establish the equilibrium between outside uncertainty (which inevitably follows such changes) and inner uncertainty (which is the result of the disruption of the patterns and flows of Narcissistic Supply caused by said changes).

The narcissistic signal should, ideally, be answered to by a "narcissistic stimulus". This is a positive sign or response from other people indicating their willingness to swallow the narcissistic bait and to provide the narcissist with Narcissistic Supply. Such a stimulus brings the narcissist back to life. It energises him. Once more, he becomes a fountain of ideas, plans, schedules, visions and dreams. The narcissistic stimulus pushes the narcissist into the manic phase of the mini-cycle.

The "narcissistic signal" is preceded by a depressive phase. To obtain Narcissistic Supply, the narcissist has to toil. He has to work hard to create sources of supply (PNSS, SNSS) and to maintain them. These are demanding tasks. They are often very tiring. Exhaustion plays a major role in the mini-cycles. His energy depleted, his creativity at its end, his resources stretched to the maximum – the narcissist reposes, "plays dead", withdraws from life. This is the phase of "narcissistic hibernation". This is the depressive part of the mini-cycle.

The narcissist invariably goes into narcissistic hibernation before the emission of a "narcissistic signal". He does so in order to gather the energies that he knows are going to be needed in the later phases. He surveys the terrain, in an effort to determine the richest and most rewarding sources, veins and venues of Narcissistic Supply. He contemplates the possible structures of the various signals, in order to ensure that the most effective one is emitted. On the other hand, he invariably enters the manic phase of the mini-cycle whenever in receipt of the narcissistic stimulus. He is then ready to confront the great amount of labour facing him in the pursuit of Narcissistic Supply.

Thus, caught between mini-cycles of mania and depression and bigger cycles of euphoria and dysphoria – the narcissist leads his turbulent life. It is no wonder that he gradually develops into a paranoid. It is easy to feel persecuted and at the mercy of forces mysterious, capricious and powerful – when this, indeed, is the case.

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1-16-06 

A Brief Introduction to Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

By Sam Vaknin, PhD
Sam Vaknin is the author of Consumer
Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five or more of the following:
  1. is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention
  2. interaction with others is often characterized by INAPPROPRIATE SEXUALLY SEDUCTIVE or provocative behavior (very rare with a narcissist - SV)
  3. displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions
  4. Consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self
  5. Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail
  6. Shows self dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
  7. Is suggestible, i.e. easily influenced by others or circumstances
  8. Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are"

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1-16-06
 
 Walking on Eggshells

Walking on eggshells describes a sense of feeling it is necessary to maintain an abnormally high level of vigilance, or an unusually high level of caution in a particular situation.

Usually the phrase is used to describe a tense and dysfunctional relationship with another person - as in "Mary walks on eggshells whenever Sam is around."

When you are in a relationship with someone who has borderline personality disorder, it is very common to be in a nearly constant state of hyper-vigilance around that person.

You may feel this state of vigilance is necessary because you hope that by being very careful in all that you say and do, their raging or "crazy making" behavior might be reduced or avoided.

You may feel that if you can 'just get it right' the relationship will be okay once again.

You may feel (or you may have been told) that all the problems are your fault, and that all the issues in the relationship are because of your behavior.

These self-blaming attitudes are often vigorously reinforced by the BP in your life.

According to the BP, the fault never lies with them or their behavior – you are the only one that needs work!

We have all seen the nature shows on television where the prairie dog regularly pokes his head up out of the hole to keep watch for coyotes or eagles.

Vigilance can be a good thing, particularly when one is in real danger. However, if we feel we must continuously 'poke our heads out of the hole' in our closest relationships, we may not be able to regularly give ourselves the rest that is necessary to maintaining our physical and mental health.

Maintaining this hyper-vigilant state over a long period of time leads to very high levels of stress.

When you feel you must guard your every statement, justify your every decision, exercise caution before doing anything, and pay close and continuous attention to everything around you there is no room left in your life to experience joy!

Nor will your own needs for nurturing, companionship and personal growth be met.

Because your attentions are so focused on your BPs emotions, your own may narrow down to nearly nothing.

Your natural and healthy joyful behaviors (laughing, playing jokes, being spontaneous) may be reduced or even eliminated.

You may find that you are so controlled by your BP's reactions to your behaviors, thoughts and actions, that you choose to unduly limit your choices.

Your own needs are delayed time and time again, but are often never fulfilled.

Everyone walks on eggshells from time to time in order to preserve the peace in their lives. The question becomes, "how much walking on eggshells is good for me and those around me? When does it become dysfunctional and unhealthy, or even dangerous?"

If you live with someone who has borderline personality disorder, walking on eggshells has probably become part of the 'background' of your life. It s just one more way that the person with the disorder controls your behavior, leading to unhealthy dynamics in the relationship itself, and stress related problems in general.

During periods of peace and calm, you may find yourself anxiously wondering when the next storm will hit, knowing that it may be unexpected and totally out of the blue.

Like walking on something thin and fragile, you fear that a single misstep or mistake will cause the floor to lose its stability and crumble, letting you fall into the chaos the disorder creates.

You watch your BP for signs of approval or disapproval of your every word, every thought, every action, and every behavior.

You are afraid that the BP in your life will go crazy and harm or even kill yourself or others.

This constant state of fear may even trigger violent reoccurring nightmares.

If you feel that what you do or say has the power to cause the borderline in your life to behave in a more 'normal' manner, this is the beginning of a major problem.

It is important for you to realize that you are a sane person in an insane situation.

You didn't cause it, you can't control it and you certainly cannot cure it.

You can't prevent raging.

You can't put off crazy behavior forever.

You are entitled to a little peace in your life and to your own reality.

So, in a nutshell, what is "walking on eggshells?"

Walking on eggshells is stuffing your feelings down into a tight little ball while doing your best to keep a calm mask on your face.

It's wondering where the person you used to be has gone, and if he or she will ever return.

Walking on eggshells is feeling absolutely helpless and worthless.

It is seeing your self-esteem traumatized, damaged or even destroyed over the course of your relationship with the BP.

Walking on eggshells is refusing to set clear boundaries and consequences for hurtful behaviors with the BP in your life.

It is allowing them to do things and say things that you'd never allow anyone else to do or say to you to your children.

It is allowing this because you know the emotional price you will pay if you don't.

Walking on Eggshells is beginning to believe what the BP tells you about what you did, why you did it, what you were thinking and believing, despite your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors telling you differently.

It is beginning to doubt whether you even know what reality is anymore.

Walking on eggshells is feeling dread at the thought of going home when you've been out.

It is looking for excuses to stay away longer, or to find any reason to avoid going home to the uncertainty. It's the conflict of 'feeling free' when you escape from the crazy making for a little while, and the guilt you feel for feeling 'free' from the person you love so much.

Walking on Eggshells is doing or saying what ever the BP in your life tells you to do or say, just to get through the chaos, to get back some form of 'normalcy' in your life just so you can continue to function on some minimal level.

Walking on eggshells is making excuses for his or her behavior, whether it's their terrible childhood, their addictions, or a past romance that went sour. It's minimizing the damage they are doing to you, to your self and to your family and friends.

Walking on Eggshells means avoiding people the BP in your life doesn't like, stopping activities that he or she doesn't approve of.

It's the shrinking down of your social circle to just you and the BP or just the few other people that the BP may like or approve of.

It's the feeling that you'll do or say anything - anything - the BP wants you to do or say, just to get some rest.

It is wanting desperately to figure out what you have to do to make the raging, the splitting, the blaming and the controlling go away 'just for a little while.'

Walking on eggshells is the feeling that you cannot talk about what is happening to you with family or friends because the BP tells you that this is disloyal to them or a betrayal of the relationship.

Walking on eggshells is knowing that you have no privacy, no space that is yours in this relationship.

Walking on eggshells is knowing that if you ever finally achieve some sense of balance, some sense of 'we're going to make it after all' that the rules will change once more.

It is knowing that when this happens, according to the BP in your life, it is all YOUR fault.

Walking on eggshells is the feeling that maybe, just maybe, death itself is walking around in your life, an uninvited guest - and that the you that you used to be has died and no one even noticed or cared. Not even you yourself.

Walking on eggshells is the feeling of fear and tension that compels you to protect your BPSO and keep your life on an even keel.

Walking on eggshells is being afraid to say what you really think or feel, or even acknowledging your own feelings to yourself.

Walking on eggshells is keeping bad news to yourself.

Walking on eggshells is being afraid to ask your BPSO to do anything or made any decisions.

Walking on eggshells is feeling that you have a ticking bomb in the house and any false move will make it explode.

So, how do you avoid walking on eggshells?

First, let go of the fear of raging. If you can't let go of the fear, it is an indication that you are really not safe. If you are in real danger, the only solution is a geographical one. Make a safety plan and get out.

Understand that you can't control the raging. It's not a response to what you do. It's part of the disorder.

Speak clearly, calmly and slowly.

Maintain YOUR version of reality, while being as validating as possible.

Lower your expectations that the person is going to act rationally. It isn't going to happen. At least not overnight.

You aren't perfect. Recognize this. From time to time you will make a real mistake. When you do make a mistake own it. Don't own the raging response, that isn't yours.

Be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself.

Remember that it is ok to leave when your BPSO is raging. Recognize that a geographical solution may trigger abandonment fears, but it's still a good solution.

Do whatever you need to do to maintain your safety and that of anyone else in the situation.

Be good to yourself. You deserve an occasional break. Do something fun.

- Deedee, Kelly and Teresa

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2-5-06

Borderline Personality Disorder Symptom

While a person with depression or bipolar disorder typically endures the same mood for weeks, a person with BPD may experience intense bouts of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last only hours, or at most a day.

  • These may be associated with episodes of impulsive aggression, self-injury, and drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Distortions in cognition and sense of self can lead to frequent changes in long-term goals, career plans, jobs, friendships, gender identity, and values.
  • Sometimes people with BPD view themselves as fundamentally bad, or unworthy. They may feel unfairly misunderstood or mistreated, bored, empty, and have little idea who they are.
  • recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  • Such symptoms are most acute when people with BPD feel isolated and lacking in social support, and may result in frantic efforts to avoid being alone.

People with BPD often have highly unstable patterns of social relationships. While they can develop intense but stormy attachments, their attitudes towards family, friends, and loved ones may suddenly shift from idealization (great admiration and love) to devaluation (intense anger and dislike). Thus, they may form an immediate attachment and idealize the other person, but when a slight separation or conflict occurs, they switch unexpectedly to the other extreme and angrily accuse the other person of not caring for them at all.

Even with family members, individuals with BPD are highly sensitive to rejection, reacting with anger and distress to such mild separations as a vacation, a business trip, or a sudden change in plans. These fears of abandonment seem to be related to difficulties feeling emotionally connected to important persons when they are physically absent, leaving the individual with BPD feeling lost and perhaps worthless. Suicide threats and attempts may occur along with anger at perceived abandonment and disappointments.

People with BPD exhibit other impulsive behaviors, such as:

  • Excessive spending,
  • Binge eating and
  • Risky sex.

BPD often occurs together with other psychiatric problems, particularly bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and other personality disorders.

Symptomatic criteria of borderline personality disorder

Abbreviated criterion for emotionally unstable and for borderline personality disorders
ICD-10
Emotionally unstable personality disorder
DSM-IV
Borderline personality Disorder
Borderline type
Disturbed or uncertain self image Identity disturbance
Intense and unstable relationships Intense and unstable relationships
Efforts to avoid abandonment Efforts to avoid abandonment
Recurrent threats or acts of self-harm Recurrent suicidal behaviour
Chronic feelings of emptiness Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Transient stress related paranoid ideation
Impulsive Type
Impulsive Impulsive
Liability to anger and violence Difficulty controlling anger
Unstable, capricious mood Affective instability
Quarrelsome -
Difficulty maintaining a course of action -

Borderline Personality Disorder Symptom - A person with BPD may experience intense bouts of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last only hours, or at most a day.

What are the Borderline Personality Disorder Cause?

Borderline Personality Disorder BPD - is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior.

Borderline Personality Disorder Medication and Treatment - Pharmacological treatments are often prescribed based on specific target symptoms shown by the individual patient.

Test for Borderline Personality Disorder - Data from the first prospective, longitudinal study of BPD, which began in the early 1990s, is expected to reveal how treatment affects the course of the illness.

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2-5-06
 
 POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)  

by Dr. Manaan Kar Ray

A combination of psychological and biological etiological processes  along with the person's psychological history, the nature of the trauma, and the availability of posttrauma support go on to decide the absence or presence of PTSD symptoms in a person after a traumatic event. The risk factors have been enumerated beneath, however it must be borne in mind that someone without risk factors who is exposed to a traumatic event ,may also develop symptoms.

Demographic Risk Factors:

  • Women being at a greater risk than men
  • Black and Hispanic being at a greater risk than Caucasian

Pretrauma Risk Factors include:

  • previous trauma (childhood sexual or physical abuse)
  • childhood separation from parents
  • family instability
  • a predisposing mental health condition (anxiety or depression)
  • the type and severity of the traumatic event
  • lack of adequate and competent support for the person after the trauma. 

The psychological history of a person may include risk factors for developing PTSD after a traumatic event:

  • Borderline personality and/or dependent personality disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Neuroticism
  • Pre-existing negative beliefs
  • Previous trauma

People with borderline personality disorder often have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and parental loss or separation. Dependent personality disorder is characterized by low self-esteem, fear of separation, and the excessive need to be cared for by others. All of these features may predispose someone for PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event.

People who have experienced previous trauma(s) are at risk for developing PTSD. Repeated exposure to trauma causes hyperactive release of stress hormones, which may be instrumental in creating symptoms of PTSD.

Trauma-Related Risk Factors
The severity, duration, proximity to (direct or witnessed), and type of traumatic event are the most significant risk factors for developing PTSD. Directly experienced traumatic events include the following examples:

  • Combat
  • Kidnapping
  • Natural disasters (e.g., fire, tornado, earthquake)
  • Catastrophic accident (e.g., auto, airplane, mining)
  • Violent sexual assault
  • Violent physical assault

Witnessed traumatic events include the following examples:

  • Seeing another person violently killed or injured
  • Unexpectedly seeing a dead body or body parts

Whether or not the event was perpetrated in a sadistic manner (e.g., torture, rape) occurred accidentally (e.g., fire), or occurred as an "act of God" can affect whether a person develops PTSD and whether the disorder is acute, chronic, or has a delayed onset of symptoms.

Posttrauma Risk Factors
Symptoms and duration of PTSD may be more severe if there is a lack of support from family and/or community. For instance, a rape victim who either is blamed for the assault or not believed (e.g., in the case of rape by a family member) may be at greater risk for developing PTSD.

Symptoms & Complications:

Symptoms of PTSD are generally of three types:

  • Intrusive (Re-experiencing the trauma)
    • Recurrent recollections associated with distress
    • Intrusive emotions and memories
    • Dissociative states
    • Flashbacks
    • Nightmares and night terrors
    • Avoidant
    • Avoiding emotions
    • Avoiding relationships
    • Avoiding responsibility for others
    • Avoiding situations that are reminiscent of the traumatic event
    • Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
    • Diminished interest or participation in activities
    • Restricted range of affect
    • Sense of foreshortened future
  • Hyperarousal
    • Exaggerated startle reaction
    • Explosive outbursts
    • Extreme vigilance
    • Irritability
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Panic symptoms
    • Sleep disturbance

Re-experiencing symptoms:

One set of PTSD symptoms involves persistent and distressing re-experiencing of the traumatic event in one or more ways. In these symptoms, the trauma comes back to the PTSD sufferer in some way, through memories, dreams, or distress in response to reminders of the trauma. A more extreme example of this is "flashbacks," where individuals feel as if they are reliving the traumatic experience. For example, the sounds and images of combat often comprise the content of flashbacks experienced by military veterans. Flashbacks can be triggered by ordinary stimuli such as a low-flying airplane or a loud noise, anything that brings to mind an aspect of the event. PTSD is distinguished from "normal" remembering of past events by the fact that re-experiencing memories of the trauma(s) are unwanted, occur involuntarily, elicit distressing emotions, and disrupt the functioning and quality of life of the individual. PTSD may even give rise to dissociative symptoms including psychic numbing, depersonalization, and amnesia.

Avoidance and numbing symptoms:

A second set of PTSD symptoms involves persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and numbing of general responsiveness. These symptoms involve avoiding reminders of the trauma. Reminders can be internal cues, such as thoughts or feelings about the trauma, and/or external stimuli in the environment that spark unpleasant memories and feelings. To this limited extent, PTSD is not unlike a phobia, where the individual goes to considerable length to avoid stimuli that provoke emotional distress. PTSD symptoms also involve more general symptoms of impairment, such as pervasive emotional numbness, feeling "out of sync" with others, or a lack of expectation for future goals being met, due to their trauma experiences.

Symptoms of increased arousal:

This set of symptoms is represented by persistent symptoms of increased arousal not present before the trauma. These symptoms can be apparent in difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, a hypervigililant watchfulness, and/or an exaggerated startle response. Individuals suffering from PTSD experience heightened physiological activation, which may occur in a general way, even while at rest. More typically, this activation is evident as excessive reaction to specific stressors that are directly or symbolically reminiscent of the trauma. This set of symptoms is often, but not always, linked to reliving of the traumatic event. For example, sleep disturbance may be caused by nightmares, intrusive memories may interfere with concentration, and excessive watchfulness may reflect concerns about preventing recurrence of a traumatic event that may be similar to that previously endured.

Complications:

Complications develop in people with chronic PTSD and delayed onset PTSD. These include the following:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse or dependence
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Depression and increased risk for suicide
  • Divorce and separation
  • Guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Panic attacks
  • Phobias
  • Unemployment

In 1988, it was estimated that 40% of Vietnam veterans had problems with drug abuse, and almost one-half of these veterans had been divorced at least once.

Phobias of objects, situations, or environments that remind the person of the event often develop as complications of PTSD.

Panic attacks can be triggered by stimuli reminiscent of the event.

People with chronic PTSD and complications often become unemployed because severe symptoms interfere with their ability to perform their jobs and function socially in the workplace.

Diagnosis
There is no laboratory test for PTSD. The diagnosis is based on the clinical history of the patient and the occurrence of a traumatic event. A diagnosis of PTSD cannot be made without a clear history of a traumatic event.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) specifies the symptoms and criteria for PSTD in its Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders:

Diagnostic Criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder :

  1. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:
    1. The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.
    2. The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.
  2. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways:
    1. Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.
    2. Recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.
    3. Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur.
    4. Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
    5. Physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
  3. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
    1. Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma.
    2. Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
    3. Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
    4. Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
    5. Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
    6. Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
    7. Sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)
  4. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following:
    1. Difficulty falling or staying asleep
    2. Irritability or outbursts of anger
    3. Difficulty concentrating
    4. Hypervigilance
    5. Exaggerated startle response
  5. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than 1 month.
  6. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

APA. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. 1994. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Several semistructured interviews assess the DSM IV criteria for PTSD like Structured Clinical Interview for DSM IV (SCID), And the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM IV (AIDS-IV).  Another tool used to evaluate symptoms of PTSD is the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), a self-reporting questionnaire that assesses the nature of trauma, the patient's current condition, and the prognosis. The CAPS also helps identify associated conditions or complications, such as guilt and an impaired sense of surroundings.

Differential Diagnosis:

Other conditions cause many of the symptoms experienced in PTSD and these conditions must be ruled out. Additionally, conditions such as substance abuse and depression develop as complications of PTSD. Ultimately, the distinguishing factor is the fact that the patient has experienced a severe trauma.

Some of the conditions that must be ruled out include the following:

  • Acute stress disorder (duration of upto 4 weeks)
  • Adjustment disorder (less severe stressor or different symptom pattern)
  • Mood disorder or other anxiety disorder (symptoms of avoidance, numbing, or hyperarousal present before exposure to the stresor)
  • Other disorders with intrusive thoughts or perceptual disturbances (e.g. obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, other psychotic disorder)
  • Substance abuse or dependence disorder

Furthermore, malingerers — that is, people who falsely claim to be traumatized—sometimes feign PTSD symptoms in order to win money in a court case as compensation for "emotional suffering."

Course:

The course of PTSD is often determined on when the person begins to experience symptoms.

Immediate Onset:

  • Better response to treatment
  • Better prognosis (i.e., less severe symptoms)
  • Fewer associated symptoms or complications
  • Symptoms are resolved within 6 months

Delayed Onset:

  • Associated symptoms and conditions develop
  • Condition more likely to become chronic
  • Possible repressed memories
  • Worse prognosis

People who experience trauma sometimes repress their memories of the event to avoid the pain of thinking about or remembering them. These so-called repressed memories sometimes resurface during therapy or may be triggered by something in everyday experience that reminds the patient of the traumatic event.

Working with repressed memories in therapy is controversial, because many therapists doubt their validity and accuracy. Repressed memories are typically retrieved during hypnosis, which many psychiatrists consider an unreliable tool for memory exploration.

About 50% of those who have acute onset of symptoms recover within 6 months. Roughly 30% develop chronic symptoms that may affect them for the rest of their lives. Others experience intermittent periods of symptom severity and remission.

Treatment -- Psychotherapy: 

link to read the rest of this article:  http://tinyurl.com/aszpm~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2-5-06
 
 A great site full of information !


http://groups.msn.com/NARCISSISTICPERSONALITYDISORDER

NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
A Learning, Resource and Discussion Group
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2-5-06
 
    **** Note: The names used in this article about Chapter 1 are the actual names used by the Authoress and cannot be changed  :) 

Breaking the Compulsive Cycle
by Rhonda Findling

Chapter 1

Sheila, an attractive twenty-seven year old computer programmer, sat in her apartment staring at the telephone. She yearned to call Tom, a handsome life insurance salesman she had been dating for the past six months.

Initially, Sheila had thought Tom was perfect. He was charming, ambitious, and attentive. Eventually, after a romantic dinner in an expensive French restaurant, Shelia got up the nerve to ask Tom about their future. He heart sank when he said he did not see himself marrying her. He suggested they should start dating other people. Hurt and angry that he didn't want to marry her, Sheila told Tom she didn't think they should see each other any more.

Now Sheila felt alone and desperate. She wanted to be with Tom on any terms. His terms. She couldn't bear the thought of life without him. She felt as if it was all her fault. If only she could undo that conversation, maybe they would still be together. She had to speak to him.

She dialed his number hoping he was home. His answering machine came on. She hung up. She decided to wait and call later. She tried to keep busy doing housework, but she couldn't stop thinking of him so she went back and dialed again. Again the machine answered. She started dialing every fifteen minutes for over two hours. She knew she was out of control. She was like a junkie writhing in pain for a fix, but she couldn't seem to help herself. She couldn't bear the thought of not seeing Tom any more.

We can all relate to Sheila and how she feels, because we have all been through this emotional scenario to some degree. The symptoms are painfully familiar: The fear of losing control, the yearning to hear his voice again. You know your behavior is out of control, yet you are unable to put the brakes on the continuous stream of telephone calls. You don't know what to do.

What is it that makes us feel our emotional stability is to shaken that we will go to any lengths to get him to come back? Why can't we just let go?

Let's look at a few components that lead women down this path. Abandonment is among one of our most primal fears. To be abandoned as a child is to die. A child cannot survive without the nurturing of adults -- depending on our individual histories, that fear remains within us to some degree.

As adults, if we are abandoned by someone to whom we look for love and support, childhood fear of abandonment is triggered. The result is an activation of the childhood fear which, coupled with the present threat of abandonment, can generate intense fear and panic. Our ability to reason rationally may be so affected that all we experience is the terror of the abandonment.

When we feel abandoned, we can feel panic over suddenly being alone, together with a feeling of rejection. These painful feelings can trigger clinging behavior. Clinging is any behavior that demonstrates holding on, not letting go. This can be exemplified by activities ranging from a compulsive phone call to showing up at his apartment or place of work without advance warning. Or writing him a continuous stream of letters,or e mails even though he hasn't responded to any of your previous contacts.

When a woman is in a clinging state, she can become so desperate she will resort to behavior that is humiliating and bordering on masochistic. Nancy was so upset when her boyfriend wouldn't see her anymore that she went to his house, fell to her knees, and begged him to take her back. She told me that when she was actually groveling on her knees, she care nothing for her pride or self-respect – all that mattered was her belief that she couldn't live without him.

Marcy went to her ex-boyfriend's apartment building and told the doorman to ring his bell upstairs. The ex-boyfriend responded that he didn't want her to come up. She became distraught and told the doorman she wouldn't leave the lobby until her boyfriend came down to speak to her. The doorman threatened to call the police, but in her desperation, she wouldn't leave. Eventually, the police did arrive and she skulked away, terribly humiliated and ashamed.

The pain and humiliation these women endured is not uncommon. Many women, even those you wouldn't suspect perhaps due to their success, fame and/or beauty, have experienced what Marcy, Nancy and Sheila went through.

Wanting to compulsively call your ex or cling to him when you know the relationship is over can serve to mask or anesthetize your feelings of aloneness, hurt, and pain. The same concept applies to women who are presently in a relationship or dating someone new and afraid they'll never hear from him again. When you compulsively call a man due to your own fear of abandonment, there can be a pleasurable rush of adrenaline with the anticipation of seeing him or just hearing his voice. But this rush is just a temporary fix. The true road to emotional freedom is to feel the pain of his absence and work through the pain by yourself or with support.

If there is any hope of the relationship being salvaged, or you want to keep the relationship you presently have, then it's important to remember that desperate clinging behavior causes most men to distance themselves even further. Acting desperate and needy makes you look like you feel unlovable and that you're grateful any man is paying attention to you.

If a man has his own issues about intimacy and closeness your clinging will make him feel closed in and claustrophobic because he feels has no room to breathe from your relentless trying to get him to prove that he's not going to leave you Your clinging also makes you look emotionally hungry making him feel that he'll have to endlessly supply you with the reassuring love you're in such desperate need of which seems like a large job for anyone

Its human nature to have a hard time falling in love with someone who's bombarding you with phone calls A desperate, clinging woman doesn't leave a man a chance to long and yearn for her. She s so available he doesn't have the space to fantasize about her or miss her which unfortunately is sometimes what falling in love is all about.

Desperately clinging can lead to a vicious cycle. The more he distances, the more you cling. He distances further, you cling more desperately.

Even with this insight and knowledge, the urge to cling can be irresistible. You know with your rational mind that your behavior isn't appropriate, but you are driven by a compulsion you feel you can't control. You feel actual discomfort when you don't carry out the compulsive act.

What is the healthy thing to do when you're having a compulsive, irresistible urge to call a man? First, give yourself permission to experience the tension and your feelings. Tolerate them until they pass. And they will pass. Feelings are just temporary. That's the trick – to feel you feelings, and to not act them out. It will take a great deal of self-discipline and work. It's easier to feel something, give in to your feelings and act out. Holding in your feelings, experiencing the feelings, and not acting them out is known as containing your feelings.

A warning: You will feel tension when you are in the process of containing your feelings. You'll probably want relief from the tension because you'll actually be uncomfortable. This discomfort will drive you to want to call him, because what you want is immediate gratification from the release of tension, Remember however, the anguish and pain you may have to go through if he rejects you, or you don't get the response you yearn for.

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Toni, one of the women in my group, had a list of friends she would call when she was overwhelmed by the urge of wanting to contact her ex-boyfriend. Helen, another group member, would go to a gym and work out when she wanted to make a call. If the gym was closed, she'd just go out and run. Barbara went to the movies. Soon, everyone in my support group had a list of things to do when they got the overpowering impulse to call that man.

It is of paramount importance for you to understand that just because you contain your feelings, you should not prevent yourself from expressing feelings to others. People such as a trusted non-judgmental friend of support group can be especially helpful, as is a qualified therapist. If you absolutely must wing it alone, then do so with the assurance that other women have done it and so can you. Not the best situation, but certainly possible to do.

The whole point of resisting the urge to call a man you have broken up with and share your feelings with him is to avoid the risk of getting rejected, hurt, and humiliated. Every time you get rejected you reinforce any feelings of unlovability or desperation you might be struggling with.

And even if he does respond to your call positively, you may feel momentarily comforted and closer to him, but soon the anguish will return, because you're still not together and then – you'll have to work through your feelings of loss again, doubling your amount of work.

Going through the pain without him may seem like passing through a crucible of fire, but if you Don't Call That Man, you'll feel triumphant and confident of your own inner resources.

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2-5-06
 
Codependency: Dysfunctional Family - "Responsible Child" - "Family Hero" , "Acting out child" - "Scapegoat" , "Placater" - "Mascot" - "Caretaker" , "Adjuster" - "Lost Child" By Robert Burney
Codependency: What is Codependency? - Codependency and Codependent Relationships Series 1 - This dance of Codependency is a dance of dysfunctional relationships - of relationships that do not work to meet our needs. That does not mean just romantic relationships, or family relationships, or even human relationships in general. By Robert Burney
Codependency: Codependent Relationships Dynamics, Part One - In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then - as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation - we lower the drawbridge and invite them in. By Robert Burney
Codependency: Codependent Relationships Dynamics, Part Two - As long as we believe that someone else has the power to make us happy then we are setting ourselves up to be victims" One of the biggest problems with relationships in this society is that the context we approach them from is too small. We were taught that getting the relationship is the goal. By Robert Burney
Codependency: Codependent Relationships Dynamics, Part Three - “I spent most of my life doing the Serenity prayer backwards, that is, trying to change the external things over which I had no control - other people and life events mostly - and taking no responsibility (except shaming and blaming myself) for my own internal process - over which I can have some degree of control. Having some control is not a bad thing; trying to control something or somebody over which I have no control is what is dysfunctional.” By Robert Burney

Codependency: Codependent Relationships Dynamics, Part Four - “We are all carrying around repressed pain, terror, shame, and rage energy from our childhood's By Robert Burney

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Symptoms of a Difficult Relationship

26 Indications You Just Might Be In A Difficult or Troubled Relationship

When relationships become troubled, they are usually so for predictable reasons. Common themes are: women (yes, it usually is women) who “love” too much, who believe any man is better than no man; men and women who are in relationships where too much happened too soon and then things turned out very differently than expected; men and women who feel trapped in an abusive cycle or in a dead-end marriage who feel helpless at the prospect of making necessary, radical changes, and men and women who discover that “love” (not the real thing of course) really is blind (and deaf and mute).

Always, with matters of the heart, let your head take the lead. Always speak up, even when speaking up puts the relationship in jeopardy. Always know that too much too soon is a sign of danger ahead. Always take the action required for your safety and well-being. Always be suspicious when someone who says they love you, wants to speak for you, decide things for you and gives you the impression that you are not quite capable of being a full person without their benevolent assistance. It is of course equally troubling when someone suggests they are not capable of being a complete person without your benevolent assistance.

Here are some ways (apart from those included above) that you might be in a difficult or troubled relationship:

1. You’re so used to walking on eggshells it feels like your world is covered in them!
2. You know that no matter how innocent or insignificant a disagreement might be it will get magnified out of all proportion.
3. You wish you could say something but when you do you, the payback is so grilling, grueling and eternal that silence is preferable.
4. Innocent statements are misinterpreted, misquoted and repeated incorrectly forever.
5. You whisper under your breath what you’d really like to scream loudly for the world to hear.
6. If you are silent you are avoiding conflict.
7. If you speak up or speak out you are “looking for trouble” or being unnecessarily confrontational or argumentative.
8. You have to watch your every word, smile, frown and subtle rolling of the eye since miniscule actions on your part carries super-sized meaning for your partner.
9. You tiptoe around hiding your wants, dreams and ambitions.
10. You tolerate behavior from your significant other that you’d not tolerate from anyone else.
11. You fear fallout (divorce, separation) and yet want one. You’ve thought being abducted would be a better alternative than your current setup.
12. You fight about everything. There’s never a straight line between two simple desires of destinations. Everything is made more complex because jealousies, tensions and well-remembered history come between you when making the most simple of decisions.
13. You feel trapped by what is supposed to be love but have second thoughts (actually you’ve had a million thoughts!) about how love is supposed to feel.
14. You are usually wrong about everything and are repeatedly told you are stupid.
15. When you admit fault, even stupidity, you are at fault or weak for admitting it.
16. When you are right you are wrong for being right, then, when it clear you are right, you think you are perfect and trying to show others up.
17. In your “intimate” world white is black, black is white and the water is very murky. Up is down: down is up. Seeing happy couples makes you suspicious about what they must be hiding.
18. Your innocence is faked and you are told your innocence hiding real guilt.
19. Pointing out obvious errors or flaws in your partner is interpreted as entrapment.
20. Loving your partner (in their preferred manner) is not only emotionally exhausting it is impossible.
21. You are physically burned out and emotionally drained from trying to carry emotional needs of someone who cannot or will not take responsibility for meeting their own needs.
22. You secretly wish your partner would find someone else but then you wouldn’t want what you have endured visited on an enemy.
23. You are accused of seeing someone, of being unfaithful, or desertion when you pursue the most innocent of activities.
24. Your most innocent personal pursuits (reading, choosing when you go to bed, visiting friends, being with your family, shopping alone) are a waste of time or held under suspicion because you are choosing time away from your “partner.”
25. Your partner can do nothing alone and cannot fathom that you would want to anything that does not include them.
26. It feels like you are “sharing” life with an emotional piranha and yet, for some unfathomable reason you stay and feel unable to escape.

No one can abuse you without your cooperation. Put a stop to it today. If you are in danger, do everything it takes to get yourself to safety. Leave your husband if it is necessary. It is better to be safe than dead, free than “abducted” in the name of marriage. There are things more important than marriage – like patience, honor, respect, freedom, goodness and peace. If he says he loves you but you detect none of love’s qualities and are living in danger and fear, do whatever it takes to secure your safety. If you do not stand up to an abusive person, the abuse will accelerate and patterns establish themselves ever more firmly. Turn around begins within the heart and a good place to start is with a few simple decisions:

Take the Pledge of A Growing Person

I am a person with a history to be respected, a present to enjoy and a future to build. I am fully capable of living my life to the full. I do not need a man or a woman to make me complete although a respectful, equal and mutual relationship will enlarge my life. I will not be sidetracked by unhealthy relationships again. I will not build friendships, go out with, or become intimate with anyone who does not regard me with utmost respect. I want equality, honesty and trust in my relationships. I am better off single, alone and lonely than I am “sharing” my life with a man or woman who lies to me, cheats on me and disrespects me. I will start to move my life in a healthy direction despite the difficult hurdles that are in my path.

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Getting out of the Toxic Relationship Cycle

Many of us desire love and intimacy but find our way blocked by the fear of getting hurt, the worry of commitment and the dread of abandonment — in short, by anxiety. Behavior patterns that are neither too close to trigger fusion anxiety, nor too distant to trigger separation anxiety form the boundaries of our relationship comfort zone. Because they were determined in our childhood, these boundaries seldom expand without conscious awareness, and they tend to create patterns that can lead to a toxic relationship cycle.

In a toxic relationship cycle, power struggles are endlessly re-enacted without any resolution: Intimacy inevitably begets conflicts and leads to anxiety. In turn, conflict and anxiety lead to arguments, hurt feelings and withdrawal ("the silent treatment" and "being in the doghouse"). While withdrawal might bring momentary relief, eventually it turns into loneliness and isolation, triggering anxiety about abandonment. This separation anxiety leads to new overtures and renewed intimacy. The intimacy relieves the separation anxiety and is followed by a "honeymoon" period as the couple traverses their comfort zone. Before long, however, the increasing closeness triggers fusion anxiety for one or both parties. Conflict ensues, and the cycle repeats once again.

Unless couples become conscious of such patterns and change them, chronic conflict eventually undermines the positive elements of the relationship. Some couples spend a lifetime bickering, nagging and criticizing each other without ever resolving anything. Some couples withdraw permanently, ending the painful conflict by divorcing. Many other couples choose to avoid conflict by retreating from the challenge of marriage into an "arrangement," living separate lives under the same roof.

Many of the conflicts in our relationships are the product of different comfort zone settings. When one person is reaching the boundary of their comfort zone and is already experiencing fusion anxiety, the other person may just be reaching a desirable depth of intimacy. As the first person reverses direction and heads back into their comfort zone, their partner experiences abandonment; their mutual anxiety explodes and accusations fly.

For far too many of us, lack of awareness about the role of anxiety in our intimate relationships dooms us to these kinds of hurtful, repetitive encounters. But if we are willing to face our own anxiety we can transform a comfort zone relationship into a healthy, growing relationship, one characterized by a mutually-reinforcing process of growth. One phase of this positive cycle strengthens the growth of our selfhood, the other phase deepens our sense of couplehood.

The key to changing a static comfort zone relationship into a dynamic, growing relationship lies primarily in how we handle conflict. We can train ourselves to stop in the midst of conflict — or at the least, immediately afterward — and engage in a process of self-awareness. We can do this by asking ourselves, "What triggered this conflict? What am I anxious about? How am I feeling threatened?"

Asking these questions allows us to use our relationship as a path to self-knowledge and deeper serenity. Intimate relationships arouse our deepest anxieties and therefore, when used intelligently, can help us grow personally and spiritually in a most remarkable way.

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Toxic Hope- Three Reasons Your Relationship Will Never Get Better.

 L.A. couples therapist featured in Time Magazine uses unique approach to marriage therapy including the acceptance that things won't change.

 

(PRWEB) January 11, 2005 -- Marc Sadoff, MSW, BCD a Los Angeles couples psychotherapist featured in Time Magazine says, "Some relationships are worth saving because they can improve. Others will never improve. Mr. Sadoff says his approach using fiv...

 

 

(PRWEB) January 11, 2005 -- There are three reasons that your relationship cannot improve, even though you keep thinking it will. These are primary problems that are so influential that they are an obstacle that must be cleared before real progress in the relationship is possible.

#1 Someone is frequently dishonest and that person is unwilling to identify that behavior as an individual problem that he or she wants to work on. An ongoing affair whether it is known or secret.

#2 Psychological or medical disorders that are not treated. These include: depression, manic depression, attention deficit disorder, PMS or menopause disorders, post traumatic stress and anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive or post-traumatic stress disorder. Post traumatic Stress is often a result of abusive, neglectful or violent experiences in childhood. These can experiences can profoundly affect how someone later experiences issues of trust and conflict in current relationships. If symptoms from any of these illnesses are present and the person is unwilling to get treatment for it then there is a much reduced prospect for significant change in the relationship. First things first.

#3 One partner uses physical violence or emotional intimidation and is unwilling to say that this is an individual problem that s/he wants to work on separately from the relationship.

Saying, "I'm sorry. It won't happen again." is a good thing to hear from your partner. More importantly though is whether the intimidation ceases. The frequency, intensity or duration should be getting better. If it doesn't then you may have 'Toxic Hope.' Toxic hope is waiting for someone to change when there is no realistic reason to believe that it will happen. Battered women, or men, who keep hoping something will change, perhaps even when their partner has never even admitted that they have a control problem; are in toxic hope. thing is commitments from the Coming Together for Life workbook, and even though there is a fair effort made; the frequency and magnitude of the continuing offenses are severe enough that the other partner does not feel safe enough to continue within the relationship. We emphasize 'progress, not perfection' so the issue isn't that slips or mistakes are made. The important thing is does the person eventually recognize his or her responsibility in the conflict and can the person show some concern for how that affects you. Or, if one person is unable to reasonably follow the guidelines and is not willing to seek further help.

What do I mean when I say "an individual problem that he or she is willing to work on separate from the relationship?" Or what is meant by getting 'further help'? A person can work on the issues they struggle with alone by reading books on the subject of violence or lying but few people are able to do this without the help of others. Using the help of others could mean going to a professional therapist who specializes in the area that needs work or it can mean going to a self -help group for that particular problem. If physical violence is the problem then my recommendation is to attend a professionally led anger management or domestic violence group. Having worked for ten years in these groups I can say that the men are pleasantly surprised that they can learn useful methods that benefit their relationships. For most of the men it is the first time that they are exposed to the principle that being vulnerable will not result in being hurt.

* One partner refuses to ever consider forgiving the other for some past wrong committed by the other, even when that partner has humbly asked for forgiveness.

* Alcohol or drug dependence or abuse (prescribed medicines too!) Other addictions such as food, sex, spending, gambling or work are huge impediments to progress in a relationship which are sometimes overlooked or simply denied.

The workbook is a great tool to benchmark progress in changing your relationhip. If there is physical violence in your relationship you really should get some outside help. You may use the principles in the manual to progress as a couple, but if one person becomes violent, even once, then it is that person's responsibility to get professional help for his or her problem of violence. You can use the agreements of the manual in a way (agreement #5) that has the person commiting to get professional help if the behavior can't be controlled. Still it's very helpful to get the input of professionals, such as those listed in red below.

* Leaving a psychologically violent or abusive relationship. If you feel scared that you will be hurt, pursued or injured if you leave then trust your feelings and seek help from a women's shelter or hotline before taking action. Talk with them and consider the advice or recommendations that is given to you. The most dangerous time, physically, for the abused wife (or husband) is at the time of separating. There were armchair quarterbacks saying Nicole Brown Simpson should have left O.J. and divorced him. She was leaving him! It was then that she was killed.

If you are physically abused by your partner call 1 800 978-3600 to talk to a domestic violence counselor to learn about resources in your area. You are not alone! If violence is occuring in your home then break the isolation. And for the person whose anger is out of control, please seek the competent help of anger management specialists. Why wait for a neighbor's phone call to initiate your criminal record? Do something courageous and positive NOW! Seek the help of professionals who can help you. Stop saying "I'm sorry." and take some real steps toward repeating what probably happened in the family you grew up in.

Checklist Before You Leave:
If you have done these things then you can leave knowing that you did everything you could before deciding for sure to leave. These do not apply if there is violence, addiction, continuing adultery or unrepentent lying in the relationship. Things to think about when you consider ending a relationship:

- When your partner apologizes does s/he mention both what s/he did and how s/he's hurt you?
- If any form of physical control, intimidation or violence occurs, does it get justified (ie. "I wouldn't have done it if you didn't....")?
- If apologies are made is there reference made to the person's intention about changing future behavior, or is there further justification for the disrespectful behavior?
- Are you growing in this relationship?
- Is the other person growing in this relationship? Is there improvement? It's a process. Is there an expressed willingness to grow? Or are you assuming your partner wants to change his/her behavior and attitudes. Remember we're looking for 'Progress and not Perfection'...the rest of the list of things to consider is contained in the manual.)

The three questions to ask yourself that will help you really know if you should leave the relationship ..... are contained in the
http://www.RealHope.com workbook. Newly available immediately in a downloadable .pdf file.

Marc Sadoff, MSW, BCD
PACIFIC SKILLS TRAINING CO.
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You are listening to TEMPTATION by Billy Joel

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