By January 15, 2011 Read More →

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: ‘O like Umbrella,’ and the shut down mechanism

Editor’s note: The following was written by the Lovefraud reader who posts as “Quest.”

As most of us know what its like to be a psychopath victim, I am not going to go into all the details of my relationship with a full-blown psychopathic woman that turned my life into a living hell in just 18 months. What I really want to talk about is the mental effects that this woman was able to inflict upon me without my conscious realisation, gaslighting it’s called.

Just so there is a little background, I am a 55-year-old male and split from my ex psychopath female mate three years ago. We were in a relationship for 18 months. At the time we split up, I knew the relationship was beyond repair, but had very little understanding of what had really happened to make the relationship such a disaster.

Two weeks before I left, I had been on the Internet researching mental disorders and had by chance run into the classification “psychopath.” At the time my real knowledge of the intimate details of the psychopathic condition were pretty limited. Anyway I Googled psychopath and found, and as they say, the rest is history.

What had she done?

Two weeks after leaving I realised that I was now damaged goods. Many times I found myself asking myself, what had this woman done to me and how did she do it??? I read every book I could find on the subject, about 20 in all, but still did not seem to have a satisfactory answer to my question, and certainly no real way of fixing what had been done. Most of the books that seem to have been written about the psychopathic condition tend to deal more with describing the psychopath themselves, which is great, rather than figuring out what exactly has happened to the minds of the victims of these monsters.

So what were my symptoms? Initially it was hard to get a grip of even this concept. On weekends I slept ”˜til noon; on weekdays I had to force myself out of bed to go to work. I was in a state of awareness that I can only describe as being hypervigilant for other psychopaths, or the possibility of them. Basically everyone I met was a potential psychopath until proven otherwise. Paranoia was rampant. I actually feared psychopaths, as I did not understand what this one woman had done to my mental state, or even how she had done it. This left me open and vulnerable to the possibility of running into another psychopath and not knowing how to defend myself. I had no clue as to what I was defending myself against.

As time passed. I learned how to see psychopaths. It was as if a sixth sense had been awakened and I was wired to the symptoms of psychopathy. Any symptom set the alarm bells ringing in my mind. Well, all this knowledge and awareness was great, but I still could not fix the damage. Some days there would be realisations, some days were great, others not so great. Sometimes while in a crowded room I would suddenly be overcome with paranoia and have to leave. What was going on? It was as if my own awareness of myself had somehow been turned off and I did not know where the ON button was.

In the last three years I have talked to many people about psychopathy. Some found it fascinating, some were victims themselves and could recognise what I was talking about. Most did not seem to have a clue as to what I was talking about and basically thought I was nuts.

Spelling error

So ”¦ “O like Umbrella” ”¦ where does that fit in you may ask? Well, one day while at work, I was on the phone talking to an East Indian guy. He was going to buy some products from the company I work for, and we were going to be shipping what he bought to him. Well, the guy’s name was one of those ones that you can’t pronounce or spell. He proceeds to spell his name ”¦ B like Bob, A like Apple, O like Umbrella ”¦”¦”¦ ????????????

He continued to spell but I heard nothing because my mind was stuck on, “O like Umbrella.” What had happened?

Well, while this was happening another part of my awareness had the sudden realisation that I had just been shut down. There was no “O” in “umbrella” and because he had said something that made no sense, my mind had basically shut down. At this point there was a kind of eureka moment, as I realised that that was how psychopaths get into the minds of their victims.

Anyone who has spent any time in an intimate relationship with a psychopath knows that things get very confusing at times. What appears to happen to the victim is a kind of mental shut down that seems to happen at a subconscious level, beyond the normal conscious awareness of the victim. The victim, not realising what is happening, slowly gets lulled into an almost vegetative state where they can hardly recognise themselves. It feels like their very essence or soul has been sucked right out of them, leaving a confused, rudderless entity, almost a zombie.

So what is happening here? Did I just have the ultimate realisation about psychopath victims because I had been able to watch my own mind get shut down by a spelling mistake? The East Indian thought “umbrella” was spelt “ombrella.”


As the days went by, I often thought about and talked about my revelation. How relevant was it? Would it make a difference? What I began to realize was that I now knew what my psychopathic ex had done to me, SHUT ME DOWN, and also I knew how she did it.

Having a conversation with a psychopath is not like having a normal conversation, especially if you are in a relationship with them. Initially in the early days of the relationship, everything seems normal. As time goes on, however, things tend to slowly become confused. Every conversation turns into a never-ending argument that seems to go round in circles, until the victim just gives up. Nothing is resolved and the arguments become more and more frequent, and more and more confusing.

The victim tries to make sense of what is going on around them. What they don’t realise is, nothing is supposed to make sense. The psychopath is in full attack mode on the victim’s sanity. The psychopath is basically talking nonsense, but the victim is not aware that it is nonsense, or that they are under premeditated attack. As the victim’s mind tries to make sense of the babble, not realising that its not supposed to make sense, because it almost does make sense, some part of the persons thinking processes shuts down. How this really works I am not sure, but I feel as if I am getting close to the realisation of it.

Shut down mechanism

One thing about the “O like Umbrella” incident was that I now had knowledge of how the shut down process works. Now, suddenly, I knew what had been done, shut down, and how it had been done. Suddenly the fear was gone, I now knew what I was defending myself against.

If it doesn’t make sense it’s probably nonsense and you are probably dealing with a psychopath. Because a psychopath is so good at hiding nonsense in amongst sense, most people miss the nonsense. Being aware of this puts the power in the hands of the victim or potential victim. If the victim is aware of the nonsense, it can’t shut them down, I hope. At this point, I at least feel more relaxed than I have in a long time.

So gaslighting shuts the victim down mentally. I feel it is important to realise this, because once a victim is shut down, it will take a long time to wake them up again. I guess the revelation here is realising the relationship between gaslighting and the shut down mechanism. It’s all in the nonsense.

If one can listen to the nonsense and realise that it is indeed nonsense, then theoretically, it will not shut the victim down, hopefully. I have yet to prove this concept. I’ll need to find another psychopath to test the theory.


I could NOT have said it better! You’re growing and learning SO MUCH. I SO appreciate you and your input. It helps me feel like I’m struggling at the same pace with a good friend!!

Thank you for your post!


dear LL,
please please please do not do this to yourself.
one day at a time. Most importantly the S is out of your life. that is and was the most important thing to do.
Now you are you own decsion maker, you will do things only for yourself and your family.. yes there will be good times, bad times, medical problems, but you will take them with a positive mindset, yes we were abused by a S, yes we were tortured, but let us not continue to go back in that phase of misery.
Maybe God is driving your attention to keeping your body healthy, and this will in some way take your mind off the S and the damages incurred from his crap.
my friend once told me ” The Will of God will never take us where the Grace of God cannot protect us”
God will protect us all – have faith and patience my friend.


I know that, Chica.

But I have to be okay with what I’m feeling too……and right now it’s hard.

It just is.

I haven’t given up hope, just venting.

I love that Petitie….”The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot protect us”.

Beautiful. Think I’ll write it down.

(((((((((((((((((((( Petitie ))))))))))))))))))))))))



LL – ”m lost in this one. Do you all know what I mean? I’m walking on unfamiliar ground, completely alone now, and with an illness. ‘ i know exactly what you mean.

a few months before i met the spath I started to get sick, and immediately after i met her i became much more ill. I rode through that ride with her tearing great fucking holes in my life – and was very sick at the end of it. I am much better in the last 2 months, but am still struggling and will be for awhile. i actually thought i was going to die a couple of times last winter.

i had no friends, no support, no family, no money and i was scared shitless – the only way i got through it was one day at a time. My ‘freinds’ lacked the compassion to deal with my spathed and ill self. they were GOOD people, but they had not been called upon by life to develop deep compassion, so they could not be with me. it’s really really painful now, but i let them go. I would not suffer in silence to make others comfortable – not that i could have any way – i was beyond any self control – i was just in raw mind-fucked pain, and cognitively and physically impaired from chemical injuries.

you may feel a huge spiritual void – but you display a growing spiritual integrity.

Your triangulations realization was a breakthrough. All that hard work is paying off! It’s very clear, now that you mention it, and the new victim takes the place of the previous wife, just like Petite said.
You speak of ALONENESS and feeling UNSUPPORTED. I know exactly what you mean. That is how I was and still am. There is also the possibility that we are addicted to being someone else’s plaything. Like puppets who no longer have anyone pulling the strings, we just flop. That’s how I feel about my own situation. And in a way, it mirrors what spaths do. They need a constant source of supply or they feel empty. I know the problem, I just don’t know the solution.

I think of it as a type of immaturity. We are like kids on a playground. No one likes to be the lone kid who doesn’t get to play with anyone else. Adults can stand alone but kids can’t. LL, we’re going to grow up soon. We’ll do it together.

The list OneJoy made for Akita seems like a good place to rest for now. You need to pamper yourself as much as you can. Treat yourself the way you would want someone else to treat you.

You asked about my counseling intake. It was not that great. He was nice but very young and knew nothing about sociopaths. I may end up teaching him. But I will give him a chance. He says he wants to “be there” for me. Well, I think he is mostly practicing his empathy skills.

One Steppers,

If there was a journal that I could have written that describes the pain and loneliness I’m feeling, I would have put your post into it. Right down to a T. It’s SCARY to feel this way. I feel so disconnected right now from exPos, from everyone else in my life…one of my friends on facebook, who is really sick from cancer herself, said that I needed to dump MORE toxicity from my life, not verbatim, but those that cannot support need to GO…for my own health and well being. Which creates MORE aloneness……….

I miss my spath right now, thinking he’s onto greener pastures and I”m left with all the bullshit…the leftovers of what he was in my life, trying to deal with that, as well as coping with an illness, is almost more than I can emotionally bear……

Why does God test this way after you’ve been through so many?
Why would a merciful God allow this kind of pain? I don’t even know how to reach God anymore. I feel completely disemboweled on so many levels right now…..


Give him a chance. If he’s open to learning from you, TEACH. But it’s also important that you can learn from him too. Mine is also A LOT younger than I….although he’s REALLY good because he bothered to study personality disorders, abusive men and trauma victims, has worked with them all and teaches classes to other Pscyhologists/psychiatrists on these issues….particularly trauma survivors… doesn’t mean yours CAN”T learn from you…I brought the betrayal bond with me to therapy. Therapist asked about it, flippped through it (I like the charts, he said lol!), said he would read it and maybe we could work through the book together, now THAT is a great therapist.

I”m very very blessed.

I’m concerned for you in that he knew NOTHING about sociopaths. I think a basic knowledge is better. It’s up to you though. I don’t know how you feel about it…perhaps a session or two more will help you define it better…..

Thanks for understanding Sky. Yea, addicted to being someone else’s plaything…….

Unfortunately, that has made me very sick, I think….all the stress………the years and years of hypervigilance and anxiety…


This thread isn’t loading for many of us anymore. We’re going to need to move to a shorter thread…

Hi Sky,
you are right, we were addicted to be puppets of someone, for someone to love us, yearn for us and we fell into the hands of deceit.
what is the solution – listen to readers at LF who have dealt with these jerks and have important take home messages for us, look at the good inside ourselves and remind ourselves that we can feel good and do not need the lovebombing and words from these jerks telling us that we are good, worthwhile etc.

Hi LL,
I know you are at your lowest points now and all seems so dismal.
Look at it this way – God has sent you an angel in the form a good therapist, many angels on the LF site to lift you every time you feel low, you don’t know how blessed you are to have a therapist who tells you”call me whenever you feel donw”
Also this medical problem is God’s way of making you look at the big picture “your health” As just talking to us, posting on LF and therapy may not be enough, he is directing you to the bigger problem, so as to make the misery with S die a natural death faster than you expect it too.
have patience, have faith, things will be brighter for you. They already are – with the progress you have made on NC.
Consider yourself lucky to have a good therapist in contrast to some here who have no access to therapy.
stay positive dear LL.

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