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By | May 16, 2008 80 Comments

Manage anxiety using understanding and conscious intention

Did you know people actually have two brains? We have a conscious brain that produces thoughts, ideas and intention and we have an automatic, unconscious brain that produces impulses. There are advantages to having two brains. The conscious thinking brain makes us smart and deliberate but the problem is it is slow. On the other hand, the unconscious automatic brain is fast, but the impulses that arise from it are sometimes undesirable. Automatic impulses do not always serve us well.

Have you ever been walking in the woods and seen something that looked like a snake out of the corner of your eye? Notice that your heart pounds and you have that alarmed feeling even before you are aware of having “seen” something. If you had to wait to fully process the image of the snake in order to react defensively, you would likely get bitten. So the mind makes you jump at a few snake-shaped sticks because that way you will be sure to avoid stepping on the real snakes.

The part of the brain that automatically senses threats is the amygdala. The amygdala receives sensory information from every sense. It “filters” this information and automatically “decides” which perceptions represent something that is a threat to safety. Notice that the amygdala is a dynamic or changing structure. If you are relaxed and happy you are less jumpy than if you are “on edge” because you just got into an argument or drank a cup of coffee.

The job of the amygdala is to take its crude sensory perceptions and to energize you to take action to protect yourself. It energizes you because it directly controls your sympathetic nervous system and stimulates the release of stress hormones. Did you know that stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are actually stimulants? The action of adrenalin is similar to that of cocaine. By the way, just like stimulants can be addicting, stress which releases these stimulants can also be “addicting” for some people.

The amygdala is not just a single brain structure. It actually has many parts to it. There are different classes of things we associate with threat and fear. The main two classes of feared situations are social and non-social. There are some very outgoing people who climb mountains and yet are anxious at social gatherings. Similarly there are some socially outgoing people who are easily frightened by heights or other non-social stimuli.

People get their fears two ways. The basic activity level of the amygdala is set by genetics. That is why anxiety disorders run in families. Studies show that timid people suffer from an over active amygdala. Fearfulness can also be acquired because like I said the amygdala is a dynamic structure. PTSD is a disorder where there is an enhanced threat response.

Now here is the important part that you may not have considered. What motivational systems does your amygdala interface most with? What are you likely to do in response to threat? There are people whose amygdala is over-connected to dominance motivation. When they perceive a threat they go on the attack. There are other people whose amygdala is connected to affection motivation so when they perceive a threat, they seek out social support. For others, the anxiety is free floating and they freeze up.

If you want to observe firsthand the amygdala at work, watch the dog behavior shows on Animal Planet. As you may have read, my daughter fosters dogs and so I have had the privilege of seeing threat behaviors and how they create dog dysfunction. The dogs also help us to understand how genetics and experience interact to shape threat responses. First let’s consider the grey hound. These dogs are very fearful but in general their fear system connects with their social affiliation system. As a result, they are on average low in aggression. Both of the grey hounds we fostered ran away from our dachshund. I think these dogs have been specifically bred for non-aggression and that is why they tend to cower when afraid.

This week, we had the good luck to meet the Dog Whisperer of Connecticut he explained to me why some working dogs bite people. The answer as to why some working dogs are vicious has relevance to anxiety in humans so stick with me. My new friend raises dogs who protect us by sniffing out bombs and narcotics in the airports. He showed us some terrific dogs and demonstrated their strong temperaments that make them ideal to do their jobs. The dogs with ideal temperaments have a very strong “play” drive and they like to have fun. But they also have to be sensitive to threat so that they will alert to danger. When they sense danger, they have to be energized to face it playfully. My new friend explained to me that vicious dogs are a by-product of the desire to breed dogs that have both play drive and an adequate threat response. If a dog is easily threatened but doesn’t play it only cowers if it is like a grey hound or aggresses if it is a working dog. So what our instincts tell us to do with our fear is important.

Like people dogs also have two brains, so they can be trained some. However the unconscious brain of a dog is always stronger. If a dog has an overactive amygdala and reactive aggression it will always be potentially dangerous. To help these dogs, we need to keep them in a calm environment or give them medication.

Fortunately people can, through conscious experience modify their genetics. People who are born with social anxiety can use psychological training to reduce and even eliminate their automatic responses. In people the amygdala is dynamic.

To manage anxiety we must first identify and understand it with our conscious minds. Then we must take conscious steps to face our fears while relaxing our bodies. Repeatedly facing a feared situation causes the amygdala to stop reacting to that situation as threatening. Avoiding a feared situation only reinforces the fear. The amygdala is rewarded by avoidance behavior and senses that it did it did a good job when we avoid.

Now stop a moment to consider how anxiety operates in you personally. Are you like a vicious dog who snaps at everyone when you get wound up? Are you like a grey hound who tries to cope by cozying up to a friend? Or do you just avoid everything and everyone? My friend who is a Buddhist says, “A human life represents a great opportunity because only humans have such a great capacity for choice.” Although the pull of anxious impulses is very strong we humans luckily do not have to be ruled by them. We can use our large intentional brains to make choices. The choices we make will then shape the structure of our unconscious minds.

Next week psychopathic anxiety.


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James

I assume that this amygdale is the cause of our flight or fight responses?

When I feel anxiety coming on I first try to understand the source of it. Much of my anxiety is of the unknown. Like if I am unemployed how long will It take to find a job. If something falls into my lap and I don’t completely understand all the dynamitic of the problem then boom, anxiety sets in. In short most of my anxiety is fear of the unknown. Ways that I try to deal with this is by telling myself not to worry (yes, I know doesn’t always works) then I will try (faith) to give it to God and ask him for strength and understanding of this unknown problem. Another method is too use biorhythm. In short controlled breathing, heart rate and so on. Of course biorhythm can only work in a relaxed conscious state of mind. Anxiety is a source of stress and we all know stress is a true killer. Aggression I know releases these hormones (adrenalin and cortical) which the body quickly uses up. So with that in mind, I try to be assertive which allow “smaller” doses of these hormones, which can then be more, controlled. Also when we are aggressive we lose some control the event and over ourselves. But when being assertive we can maintain some sense of control of the situation and allow the other (threat) person the ability/opportunity to do the same.

Well again your writing is very insightful and helpful. Thank you!

TrishNJ

This is all very interesting to me….myself I can say I have had all three responses to stress…I’ve been angry…I’ve looked for support and I have frozen up….there was a time in my life where I spent 6 months in bed with depression/anxiety and PTSD.

Life can be a tough lesson to learn…but we are human beings and we having the unconscious brain and the conscious brain….now have the added responsibility to use the conscious brain to learn about the unconscious….otherwise life would be disasterous….because dominance modivation would ultimately win…..We need natural born leaders…but we also need the followers….TV’s dog whisperer says there are 7 followers to each dog pack leader…..and a dog’s bad behavior is all about anxiety….because they need the pack leader to be the human caretaker in their lives…the food giver. Unfortunately alot of dog owners are not pack leaders….they are followers…..and again all followers with no leader….potentially disasterous. Again like all the “sages” say….balance is the key….but in this situation balance is 7-1…..in the human world we see, for instance, in a school room 1 teacher per 20 students. Some argue that there should be less students per teacher. But for aruguments sake 1 in 20 is balance.

Now, to get back to the conscious brain that humans have…..and the responsibility we have as a race. It is the very essence that make humans the highest animal on the planet….and therefore the most responsible….so if a human being is a sociopath….are we to say they because they have no conscience they are not human…they are pure animal! I’m not sure if they have no conscionce or if they do and choose not to engage…..They are very intelligent.

Personally I have learned about a sociopath after being involved with one or two…..but I am too, very intelligent….but I was raised by an intelligent family with good morals. My family stressed education, hard work, family and God. There is no question in my mind, my heart and my soul what is the proper way to live.

However…a sociopaths damage is very deep…..after being afflicted by the first one….the father of my daughter…who dragged me in and out of the family court system…as he promissed he would distroy me….I faught his lies and manipulation for years…..which began the damage to my family…and I learned some of the tools of the sociopath who kicked me to the curb….and I got sick….depressed and on the edge with my nerves! Then after all of that I met the 2nd sociopath who I thought was lifting me out of the gutter but instead “attempted” to crush me even further into the curb and his boots were very sharp…what he didn’t count on was the brain and the spiritual connection God had given to me….these were two men without conscience…who didn’t care at all about mine or my daughters life….There was no “love” for us! It was all about them and power…….

We tend to forget about being spiritual beings too…..we talk about being human here….scientific study has recently confirmed one of Einsteins theorys of parallell universes….I’ve recently watched it in a documentary on the science channel…..the numbers equate….we do have parallell universes….they say energy exists in one of them….God is light! Need I say any more…..I am a massage therapist who studies the healing process of prayer and bringing light into the session! That is what kept me alive….and that was from God…..so for all people out there who are suffering from the affects of a sociopath….with God you will perservere…because there is an order and there are rules to follow….and God has revealed his rules to many who have tapped into the parallell universe…the sages…the profits….the healers…I believe God gave us all a conscience…..some have opted to depress it so there is only a thread left…..it is everyones responsibility to find balance. To loose your conscience is to loose “love” to loose love is to loose your soul……..and the sages….the profits and healers know there is a “hell”….is it permanent or not….that doesn’t matter to me…..staying out of it matters to me!

Ox Drover

Thank for your this article Dr. L. I am currently re-reading “Emotional Intelligence” which goes into this part of brain reactions to danger.

Dr. Daniel Goleman, who wrote the book, states that because the amygdala (the more primitive part of the brain) gets a sensory message a micro-second before the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) our “over emotional” reactions to perceived threats is because the amygdala jumps to conclusions on partial evidence.

He goes on to state “Small wonder we can have so little insight into the murk of our more explosive emotions, especially while they still hold us in thrall. The Amygdala can react in a delirium of rage or fear before the cortex knows what is going on because such raw emotion is triggered independent of, and prior to thought.”

He also quoted some studies that showed that the amygdala holds “emotional memories” separate from and possibly not even perceived by the rest of the brain. (PTSD?)

The biological aspects of our reactions to perceived threats are very interesting to me. When I was in school years ago, there was a researcher at the VA in Ft. Roots, at Little Rock, AR associated with the University medical school there who bred two races of dogs (starting with one litter) one was very aggressive and the other group were totally fearful of any and everything. His research sparked my interest in the heritability of aggression and I culled out aggressive and nervous animals and their offspring in my cattle herd over the years.

I think it is so important that we understand our own biological quirks as well as our own emotional and thinking responses in order to use our logical brains in the best way to take care of our emotional selves.

Thank you for this very interesting post.

Ox Drover

Trish,

I think we posted at the same time, your post is quite good, and I totally agree about the spiritual aspect of our healing. The mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of our healing are all separate, yet all one, I think.

To neglect one of those aspects leaves us, I think, not whole. James made a great analogy on another thread that we are like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, with the feeling that we have no brain, no heart and no courage—they are there, we just don’t know that they are. When we “find” these “lost” parts we become complete! The Ps somehow convince us that THEY know that we do not have these things, and somehow we come to accept their assessment. It is only when we get away from them (NC if possible) that we can start to look for and find our “missing parts” and put ourselves back together–complete. Whole.

Thank you.

TrishNJ

Thank you OxDrover,

you have given so much to my healing…and I thank Donna Anderson for this web site and for being where she is today….because since I have met her…my life has opened up…levels….and I thank Dr. Laine Leedom for giving of her time and education to me and others so we can grow…and I thank God first and foremost…In the truth is God! Don’t ever forget that! Through everything I have been through I always knew that the truth would prevail….even when the lies seemed to be winning….I knew eventually the truth would prevail! I think deep down inside we all have this knowledge.

When I was in the deepest of deep pain and suffering…I felt I had lost everything….but I never lost “God”….I thought I was close to death…than I would soon have cancer and die….I was angry because I was a good person and I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me…I had to leave and be alone….and fight without the support of family….they were in a different world than me….if I had stayed around them I would have died….because as low as I was…there was absolutely no support….and I am sure that they had had enough of watching my pain….they could not even imagine the pain I was in…..they do not even know the things I know and all of you know about this pain…..in the end my life was between me and God. I could have died! And I am so sure that some of you know that feeling! But I prayed and I ask God for life so I can have a relationship with my daughter again! This picture is not complete yet! It is just begining to unfold!

James

Trish

Good point between the spiritual and the physical connection we should have. Some sense of balance is the main theme for many religions. Like lets say the ling and yang concept? Research has showed that if a person is emotionally healthy then the body benefit’s too. I believe that if we are spiritually healthy, our emotions benefit. Kind of a give and take.

One thing that I learned while I served in the arm forces was that “there is no atheist in a fox hole”. Taking this concept and belief I believe that when we go thru this “toxic” relationship with our sociopathic abuser. That sometime during and/or after we may discover/rediscover our belief system. Attending to our spiritual nature that we might have let lay down on the sideway or just ignored. A spiritual reawaking or discovery. Can I say? That maybe this is just another blessing from having suffered so much from our ex s?

Another comment on your post about parallel universes. Not sure if you mean that there (wish I saw the documentary) is two universes which is different when it comes to the law of the cosmos i.e. that gravity might work with a new and/or altered law? Anyway I am getting off the point. You see I too believe that Einstein’s theory on energy is also correct. That energy can’t be destroyed but only changed or altered. Many people believe that we have a soul correct? And that we might live on in some other form after we die. We know that when a person/animal dies the body loses 21 grams of weight. That (which I believe is) our “soul” and/or spiritually being is free when our bodies die. Okay then if “energy” can’t be destroyed only changed or altered. And then believing that our soul/spiritual being is energy that can’t be destroyed only changed or altered. Then with this hypostasis were does this energy go?

I know I am getting off the main theme of this post but this really bugs me. So with that stated I am sorry. One last story that I would like to share.

A little boy builds a wall of sticks around a caterpillar and set the sticks on fire. When the incest felt the heat crawled to each side of the wall only to find that all sides of it on fire. Knowing that escape was impossible crawled to the middle of its burning prison and then looked up. Moral of the story would be that sometimes the only hope for salvation is in God.

Beverly

No-one can take your soul, your energy. The energy is all enduring and infinite. One cannot say ‘where’ it goes, the ‘where’ question is too limited for the expansiveness that the soul feels and travels. We can only explain and converse in our limited way. The soul is ‘housed’ in the body as a transist vehicle and affected by life events, but not eradicated. Energy cannot be destroyed, but transmuted and transformed.

TrishNJ

ugh….only a sociopath would build a burning wall of sticks around a caterpillar….but I get the analogy James!

look for the documentary….unfortunately I am not a scientist…but I believe in scientists….and their quest for truth…..I have just taken the leap of faith

And you don’t need to apologise for getting off the main theme….it’s all a discussion for the purpose of mending our broken health…so there

Ox Drover

Going back to James’ wonderful Wizard of Oz analogy—theycould only take our brains, our hearts, and our courage IF WE ALLOW IT—all we have to do to get them back is to BELIEVE we can—then do it!

Holy Smokes, I love this website! You people are wonderful! Youre insight, intelligence, your fierce, beautiful hearts & minds have offered tremendous support and healing for me. I can’t even express the depth of appreciation I feel for each and every one of you. I’ve been reading LoveFraud for months now, going all the way back in the archives to read all the harrowing stories you all wrote. I have cried buckets of tears for the unbelievable (yet actual) life’s experiences many of you have suffered. And continued to suffer until you each said..”that’s it!! I’ve had enough of your soul sucking!!” BRAVO!! Although I realize the road to your own individual liberations from cruelty and pain were bumpy, pot hole ridden and hazardous to travel, you succeeded. And continue to do so.

I’ve had MANY runins with Ns, Ps (bio father was P) and the whole frikkin spectrum of personality disorders. They just take, take, take, demand, demand, devalue until youre standing frozen in one place, bewildered, lost, in total despair and confusion. The screwed up men I’ve know just wanted me to be this sweet, pretty little package only there for their pleasure and amusement. They absolutely did NOT wish for me to have any of my own thoughts or ideas. I was there to serve their needs and bullocks to my own (Im not from the UK..I love saying that word!..haha)!! Pagh! I am here to say that I too have had MORE than enough and I refuse to surrender myself to their vicious crap ever again!

Most graciously I say, The Creater blessed me with fire to go along with a soft heart. Otherwise I think I would have succumbed years ago to my own anguish. But, with mind, body, and soul I reached out to him with humility asking for succour from these evil beings in sheeps clothing who walk amongst us. And…he did!! Wasn’t instantaneous, which i knew because he granted us free will and we are responsible for the choices we make in life. But I am spiritually reawakened and renewed and continue to grow more & more through prayer, this fantastic website, informative books on personality disorders, and inspirational/spiritual books as well.

Thank you!! Thank you!! Readers/commentors on Lovefraud. All of amaze me with your strength and wonderful, caring hearts. I see how even though some of you are still working through your own disillusionment & pain caused by childhood traumas and then a P, you STILL take the time to comfort others. You are truly beautiful people. 🙂

Ox Drover

Welcome, Jane…glad you are on the road to healing and I hope that Donna’s website has been as much comfort to you as it has been to me.

Ox Drover

Free,

Being “emotional” isn’t a bad thing at all, it is when we let our “emotions” rule us, like a runaway horse that can’t see to the left or right, but just plunges blindly on and “over the cliff,” that emotions become problematic.

Do you remember the old question when we were kids, about what happens when the “immovable object is pushed by the irresistable force?” Well, something has to give! LOL

I’m still “very emotional”—I cry at Lassie movies, weddings, funerals, and at happy times too—but not the gut wrenching sobs of continual grief any more. I also laugh spontaneously, and get gushy at a litter of new kittens or the pasture full of calves and foals. I wouldn’t trade that for the “sterile” inner life of the P or the negativity of others I know. Viva la emotions!

James

“Hah! Just realised the wicked witch was a sociopath!!!”

OMG, your right!!!! free and her her flying monkeys are her minions.

Run Dorothy! Run!!!

James

All That I can say is what a different its been without my ex sociopath.

If you knew me during my time spent with my ex sociopath.

You would have ask yourself “what wrong with this guy”

If you knew me during the break up with my ex sociopath

You would have ask yourself “Man, stay away from this guy, he is weird!”

If you knew me today, you might ask yourself, “he is a honest person, I might want to get to know him better”.

I went from denial……
to despair……
then to the bright warm feeling of hope!

All I want to say is thank you all and each one of you for being there for me and Thank you Lord for never leaving my side, not once! Even when I only saw One set of footprints in the sand….

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND

~One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

~ Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. ~

~In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. ~

~ Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints. ~

~ This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. ~

~So I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always.~

~But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”~

~The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you.”~

Mary Stevenson

James

Welcome Jane,

Yes. I agree that LoveFraud is the best web site That I have ever found. Were else can a person go to get information, education and help in the healing process. LoveFraud is a God send for me. Insomuch that I come here to

Cry
learn
listen
understand
heal
and grow….

With that stated thank you all that allows LoveFraud to be all that it can be!

Free:

I’m with you on the emotional person thing. To the point where my therapist suggested I look up Williams Syndrome because he thinks maybe I have it. It’s a genetic anomaly where part of chromosome seven is broken off and a person ends up with certain distinctive facial features and a real disparity in learning ability – great with words, awful with math and spatial stuff – or other learning disabilities.

With Williams, a person is characterized by being over-friendly, overly emotive, overly empathetic and filled with anxiety. There are other things, too, both physical and emotional, that fit me.

I cry at everything too. The girls used to make fun of me for it, when they were growing up, because I’d cry over Santa at the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, cry at all their own musical events (so cute and growing up so much each year), cry at sad things…

Have never really been ashamed of it, although it is a wee bit embarrassing from time to time because people not like that just don’t GET IT. My closest friend – who is rapidly becoming not my closest friend by her actions and statements -is pretty hard-nosed. So are the only two men I’ve ever had real long term r’ships with – both of them very cold people.

Why?? That’s what needs figuring out. Why on earth would someone like that be attracted to men who are completely out of touch with their own emotions?

Watching House last night I was really struck by House telling the really emotional, caring Cameron that she has a need to “fix” things, that she cannot accept situations that are lacking in hope, and that is why she is attracted to House, because he is “damaged” and that it is not love that propels her, but her own “need.”

I recognized that in me, as he said it. All my life, conflating love and need, bringing my neediness down on the people I love by being a rescuer. And that doing this, while trained into me, was not really part of love — just part of what I learned, growing up. My role in the family, the singular way I have of controlling situations – by care-taking. And it is a form of being controlling, even though it doesn’t appear that way to the outside world.

To take the blame. To be the rescuer. To care-take on everyone, rather than letting them just BE. My way of trying to make things the way I want them – fixed.

Then having kids of my own, I did it to them in a way, too: always taking up the slack, always trying to hold up the relationship at all costs, always active rather than just appreciating them for who they are completely and letting them flounder – not jumping in to rescue.

And while I think it stems from certain really good characteristics, caring, having empathy, it also comes with its shadow, as Jung would say.

My “shadow” self is desperately afraid of expressing anger, of not doing enough. My shadow believes she is not lovable or enough just by existing, so I do these overt good deeds out of both a sense of love and caring but with a subconscious desire to have someone return them.

Expectations, and those that cannot ever be met because even if they were, I’d be liable to think someone were just “paying back” rather than showing love.

I can’t expect everyone to act like I do. In fact, that’s not really honoring who they are as individuals, by trying to “fix” every situation or issue, mine, ours or theirs, or to catch them whenever they fall.

Accepting them as they are really requires me to accept even the parts of myself that make me uncomfortable – anger, bad treatment, being overly relied-upon to pick up the slack, even the controlling nature of being a “fixer.”

I also suspect this is why I am attracted to certain types of men, because they are not fixers, not rescuers, and they have the ability to let things exist without trying to know all the answers or the outcomes ahead of time.

Ox Drover

If you look at the “plot” of any great play, movie, story, fairy tale, etc. there is ALWAYS a psychopath in every story. Some of these stories are 100s of years old—there are stories of psychopaths in the Bible and stories of enablers—there are stories of how victims tested their persecutors to see if the persecutors had changed their behavior and repented.

Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, when he found them years later when he was second to the pharaoh, he didn’t immediately say “Oh, brothers, it’s me!” He first tested them to see if they were the same men who had sold him off–to see if they had learned and changed. He had already forgiven them in his heart, but he wanted to see what kind of men they had become before he resumed any relationship with them.

Then King David with his psychopathic son Absalom. David enabled this man for years, and didn’t stop his narcissistic behavior or his plots against the throne–even when Absalom went to war against him, David told his generals to be “gentle with the young man”—-

Jezebel was obviously a psychopath. Delilah, and various kings and others. The Bible is filled with stories of people who messed up their personal lives as well as spiritual lives because they were either psychopaths or enabled them.

The amazing thing about King David to me is that though he had many faults–murder, adultery etc. when his sins were pointed out to him HE DID NOT BLAME THEM ON SOMEONE ELSE, but repented and CHANGED HIS WAYS. Even with the horrible things he had done (though typical of a king of his time) God still said “he is a man after my own heart”—

No matter what we have done, we can change our ways, improve and grow if we are willing to accept responsibility for our behavior.

We can quit being fixers without losing our compassion for someone.

What for example, would you think of a mother who was so upset every time her toddler fell and bumped its head that she decided she just couldn’t take seeing these bruises, so she would CARRY that child where ever it wanted to go so it would NEVER experience the pain of falling and bumping its head?

Well, when the child was 100 pounds and she was still carrying it on her back so it wouldn’t bump its head learning to walk—of course we can easily see that i s outrageous, but yet in smaller ways we try to take away the pain that goes with growth, and when we do we take away the growth as well.

There comes a point too, that when someone (any role) in the family becomes so counter productive to the family or relationship that it is like they are chopping holes in the bottom of the family “canoe”—you can bail and bail but if they are allowed to sit there with their ax and continue to chop holes in the bottom of the canoe, you can’t paddle, you can’t bail, and you can’t repair the “canoe” fast enough to keep it afloat. The ONLY option you have at that time is to toss them overboard or sink with them.

Can you look at families you know where one “bad” child (a psychopath) is continually enabled for years by a parent who keeps putting up bail money, paying for rehab after rehab, etc. to the point that the parents are pauper-ed and emotionally destroyed? I only have to look as far as my mirror, though I never went bail or rehab, I did continue to emotionally pauper myself for my psychopathic son. His only appreciation was to try to have me killed for my trouble because I cut him out of my will when I saw the truth finally.

Making a conscious decision that I will not enable others ever again—and then “monitoring myself” to see that I don’t fall back into this pattern which “seems natural” to me was one of the first steps toward healing. “I’m gonna let the kid learn to walk–even if he bumps his head over and over.” I can’t help him by carrying him everywhere.

I’m “gonna set boundaries” for people in my life–close friends and family as well as those not so close. If I don’t, I might as well have my first tattoo—right across my forehead that says j “walk on me.” Or on my back that says “door mat.”

Yet, I don’t want to go overboard in the opposite direction and start being like the psychopaths–everything’s all about me. I need to find that balance between caring and self preservation.

Miss Manners (Judith Martin) says “one of the major mistakes people make is that they think manners are only for the expression of happy ideas. There’s a while range of behavior that can be expressed in a mannerly way. That’s what civilization is all about, doing it in a mannerly and not an antagonistic way. One of the places we went wrong was the naturalist Rousseauean movement of the Sixties in which people said “Why can’t you just say what’s on your mind?” In civilization there have to be some restraints. If we followed every impulse, we’d be killing each other.”

I think we all know “what good manners are”—and when anyone treats us in a way that isn’t “good manners” then we shouldn’t endure it. There seems to be some “rule” in our society that we treat people outside our family with “good manners” but those inside our intimate relationships are fair game for being treated with poor manners.

Also, if we tolerate this behavior we can be sure that it will continue. Just as if a two year old that starts to bite to get their way is never shown that “biting is not okay” they have no incentive to quit.

The common denominator in “us” (victims) seems to be that most of us are/were fixers and tolerated “poor manners” in others, while trying to maintain good manners in ourselves, until we reached the point we were quivering blobs of pain.

Beverly

I have to join in this discussion, because good manners are high on my list of values. ‘Manners maketh Man’. My exN pretended to have the high qualities he knew I held in esteem. But because I had the good manner NOT to comment or react when I knew he was twisting me round corners, he thought I was a fool. People with poor manners and values take advantage of people who are good hearted and thoughtful – I find. People who have compassion and good manners are thoughtful and value my qualities in a beautiful sort of way.

Ox Drover

I think if you get to the BASIC concept of manners, and look at how our families of origin (FOO) treated manners WITHIN the family vs with OUTSIDE the family if there is a big difference, then there is “something not right.”

Were you expected to always exhibit good manners no matter what someone else did, but not expect good manners in return?

Who in your family was allowed to behave badly (no manners) and who was expected to behave “always politely.?”

It took me a while to realize that my mother was ALWAYS the “soul of Ms Manners” EXCEPT to me! She would not set boundaries with anyone except me–and the main boundary she set for me was that I could not set boundaries with the “bad actors” in the family. She didn’t like me setting boundaries with anyone, but she tolerated that after a while, but absolutely NOT within the family–especially with her and her designees.

Yet, behind their backs, she bitched about their “bad behavior” (mainly to me) but never to their faces, and never set any boundaries at all that she would enforce.

It was ONLY after I went NC with her that I could “see the forest for the trees” and pull myself out of the “role” she had designated for me in the family…to see the “big picture.”

As long as I stayed too close to the situation, it felt “natural” and “normal” and I couldn’t see just how dysfunctional I HAD BEEN in participating in that “play” that was the “family script.”

It never even really occured to me that I had a CHOICE but to participate, that I COULD OPT OUT of my assigned role. NC wasn’t a real consideration of a possibility for living. I felt TRAPPED with no way out, when right in front of my very nose was the WAY OUT. I felt like James’ catipillar encircled with a wall of fire and it was getting very hot. I even felt like there was a “roof” of fire above me as well. When I finally realized that there was NOT a roof above me of fire (I finally looked UP and saw God’s escape hatch) I took that route, via NC. Only when I was outside the painful ring of fire could I see what had gone on for so long. How I was buying into the things that made me a perfect patsy for dysfunctional behavior in MYSELF allowing others to abuse me.

The way out was to STOP! HAULT! ALTO! QUIT! what I was doing, and the pain would go away, the abuse would cease.

But until I learned what I was doing to fuel the ring of fire I couldn’t put it out, and I couldn’t get out.

Looking back at how “helpless” and “hopeless” I felt—and actually was, because I didn’t realize that I was the root cause by allowing it. It doesn’t mean I think I deserved what the Ps did, I didn’t, but I ALLOWED it. By owning that, I can stop the pain, and stop falling repeatedly into the same trap.

A troop of Baboons is smart enough that if you use a trap on them to catch one, you won’t catch the second one in that troop with the same kind of trap. They are baboons for goodness sake and they learn from each other’s failures, I wasn’t even learning from my own failures. Now, I am I think, AT LEAST as smart as a baboon! LOL

Beverly

Dont you think that the shadow of the Mother is to try and readjust what was not right with her. I dont know where I got my sense of refinement and good manners. My mother did not instill that in me, but my Narcissistic Father was a person of perfection, everything had to be just so, but not a thinking of the other person kind of way. He used to tell me that I was too sensitive. Now I value that. for me good manners is a sign of refinement, not in a good breeding or monetary sense. I have met poor people who have a good sense of refinement. Who knows what goes back in our genes. I have met wealthy people who are rude and take it all for granted. But I think growing up disadvantaged made me feel that somehow I was less than everyone else. In the sixties, there werent many single mothers (my mother was) and I was one of the only single parent children at school, which somehow made feel inferior. Even now, as a single parent now, my next door neighbours hardly ever spoke to me, since the 8 years I have lived here, they had, I think, views about single mothers which are not good. But I have been a hard working and good mother and woman.

I think sometimes, we look at our lives in mirror to others and think ‘well my life doesnt seem up to much’ so maybe I am not as good as others. I do love my rebellious streak though – X

Beverly

I know several women who are in dysfunctional relationships and I ask them why are you putting up with it. They say that the relationship is better than no relationship at all. Where are they getting this template from. Their Mother, all sacrificing? One of the women, her Mother who is in her eighties is still married to a Man who is very deameaning. Why is this still happening in this age? I thought the liberation of the sixties had opened Womens’ eyes. But are we still under the spell of our Mothers?

Beverly

Im trying to wriggle out of my straightjacket. Dragonflies are my favourite insects. I am trying to move to a place where I can feel more myself and dare to reveal myself more to other people, my quirky, nature ways. Importantly I dont want to feel that because I have been in the minority or not had a conventional upbringing that I am no less valid (and much more interesting) than the mainstream.

My encounter with the exN made me realise just how much I was willing to subjugate myself for other people to the point I was just like a rag. But I am not a rag. I am a really lovely person and i want to celebrate my uniqueness.

Beverly

I am on a roll today. An encounter with someone with personality disorder has to be a life changing event. Coupled with breast cancer, I feel like I have climbed quite a few mountains recently. I am a masculine type of woman – very strong and independent, but I never really valued my femininity. I realise my mother didnt value hers either, she allowed herself to be used and abused – but she was very tough, she had to be to bring up children alone with schizophrenia. This just all makes me realise where she was at, and where I am at.

I realise that my emotions – language of the soul – are my connection to who I have always been, and that I have learnt through my upbringing to disconnect from my inner world, my emotions, my intuition, (red flags) in the face of hardship. The next phase of my life, however long that will be, I will do my best to live in celebration and joy. I am sure life was supposed to be lived like that.

Thank you, Free, OxDrover

I don’t wish to interrupt the discussion going on, but I wanted to again express my gratitude to each and every one of you. OxDrover, I ordered & read Victor Frankles..”Man’s Search For Meaning”…because you had offered selections of that book on this website. I only read it when I was in a state of mind to be completely receptive to his experiences in a concentration camp. I didn’t munch on popcorn (as I usually do when I am reading) while reading it cause I thought that would be disrespectful. What a humbling experience for me! I can’t even imagine the life he barely lived for 3 years! And when he was freed, he left that camp with his soul and sanity intact! Truly amazing the power, strength of the human will to survive. Gotta have a rich spiritual life to help, grow through all the suffering, dont you think? Thank you for mentioning that book. I’m also now reading..”The Gift of Fear” which is horrifying yet fascinationg as well regarding our own intuitions and how to pay very, very close attention to it in an effort to protect ourselves, loved ones and stangers.

Free, I remember vividly reading your comments about your childhood and subsequent time with the Psychopath. I would like you to know that I truly empathize with you and the pain you suffered. I don’t wish to hurt you more by bringing this up, but I just wanted you to know I read it. And I care deeply for you & your stuggles and everyone else’s also. This website is a fellowship. A fellowship of caring, sharing, comfort and healing. It is so important, so significant for all of us to read the posts by Donna, ML, Dr. Steve, and Dr. Leedom and the comments presented for us. By doing so, I think we each of us realize how truly valuable we are as human beings. I know I am…now. Didn’t so much years ago, but now I know I am as significant in my existence as others are. 🙂

Ox Drover

Beverly, you are so RIGHT about manners and refinement.

A guy I know grew up the poorest of the poor in a family that took ignorance and low intelligence to some pretty significant levels, but though he can not even write his name, he is as refined a man as there is, his manners are wonderful as he knows them. He i s generous to a fault and would do anything in the world for another person. He is universally respected by all who know him.

The phrase “poor white trash” describes a lot of people with a lot of money! He isn’t one of them.
As far as I can tell, he doesn’t feel “inferior” to a soul, regardless of how much money power or position that they have.

I also grew up pretty poor, but I didn’t realize I was poor. My X-BF P didn’t grow up a whit “poorer” than I did, but he FELT poor, and felt that people with money looked down on “poor” people.

My maternal andfather (born in 1892) grew up in SHOCK! a family where there was a divorce. His mother was committed to a mental institution and died there in 1905 (for a dietary deficiency pelagra, which causes mental problems, she also had some sort of “female” cancer which was causing her incredible pain, and she roamed the woods at night screaming with the intractable pain) so he was doubly shamed. He was brought up by his father, who had been orphaned during the civil war and lived in hand-to-mouth poverty like many third-world people today.

When he was younger, my grandfataher didn’t have a pair of pants that didn’t have a patch on them and he was ashamed to wear them to town. After he became prosperous, and had a closet full of new pants, he no longer felt “ashamed” to go to town in a pair of patched work pants—because he knew he didn’t HAVE to wear them.

Sometimes our perceptions of “poverty” are very subjective. My grandfather was a good manager of his money and worked very hard and ended up with a large parcel of land that I live on now. It had been family land, but he bought it from various estates, from his father’s, aunts and uncles etc. He ended up dying a fairly wealthy man by his standards at least.

My divorce literally left me destitute, with a kid on each hip and no assets…but though I didn’t have any money, I managed, worked hard, put myself through the rest of my college degree and have worked like a dog since—without taking a dime from anyone. Yet, I have never felt “poor” just because I didn’t have money. My kids laugh that they didn’t know stores sold clothing until they were grown, they thought that you bought it in someone else’s front yard! Neither of my two boys (not counting the P) ever felt “poor” or that people with more money or things were “better than” they were. Both are good money managers, work hard, and are not “status conscious”—and they don’t judge others by “what they have” but by what they ARE.

I’ve been around several people in my life who were among the most wealthy people in the US and some of them are Ps and/or jerks, and others are just “people” who happen to have lots of money. BIG difference there.

I guess every girl-child in the South grew up knowing what “trashy” behavior is. It is funny now, looking back, that no matter how TRASHY some of our relatives acted, especially if they were male, that term was never applied to them.

Today lots of singing and movie stars behave in ways my grandmother would have instantly labeled “trashy ways” but it seems now that it is GLORIFIED in the media, and that being “famous” or “rich” gives you a license to act that way with impunity. Many of our young people try to emulate this behavior. I sometimes think that “Ms. Manners is dead” right along with God and Santa Claus.

But at least here, at my home, both Ms Manners and God and even Santa Claus are all alive and healthy even if the rest of the world thinks they are dead or never existed!

Beverly, you go Girl! You ARE ON A ROLL and you are one heck of a woman! I want to be just like you when I grow up! (((hugs)))))

PS. As far as being “tough”—personally I think a complete woman IS TOUGH, what man could have a baby? Being able to be independent and doing what you have to to survive is not “UN-feminine”—in my opinion at least.

I can and have: trained several teams of oxen to pull a wagon, can deliver a calf or a goat, slaugheter a hog, cure the meat, shoe a horse if I have to, break the horse, plow a garden with a horse, and plant, harvest, and process the food grown there…I write poetry, paint portraits and land scapes in oil, make pottery, weave, spin thread, knit, sew a bit, have published 3 books, can shoot a gun, hunt for food (I no longer hunt for recreation) cook over a wood fire, build a barn, plumb a house, roof a house, birth a baby, sew up a wound, comfort the dying, fly an airplane—“specialization is for insects.”

And now, I can also set boundaries! Whoopie! And, I think I can thank the Ps in my life for making me see the necessity of doing so for ME! Of all the things I’ve done in my life, I think this past year has been the most significant growth and learning I have ever accomplished. And it gives me a lot of satisfaction. Cheers Beverly, here’s to your continued good health and healing!

Beverly

OxDrover. You sound one helluva woman!! I love nature and animals and it takes stamina and fortitude to do what you do and your background has certainly endowed you with strength and conviction that comes through in your words. Lets celebrate our transformation. Hence the reference to dragonflies and butterflies that live a major part of their lives in another form only to be set free, on the wing, radiant in the most beautiful of colours.

Buddhists say that the most difficult people are our greatest teachers. I used to say that to my exN, and he used to look at me mystified LOL. Because he wouldnt budge an inch in his selfishness, it forced me to see where I was too slack and where I was too rigid. He didnt realise that whilst he was spinning me a dance, I was learning off the back of him and he could NOT understand it.

Beverly

Oh, one other thing. I bought a secondhand book about recovering from cancer and there are alot of references to Victor Frankle in it. Basically saying, that when people gave up in their heads, their physical form (cells have consciousness) followed suit.

Beverly

Free – Your friend’s neediness over rode her intuition. We’ve all been there! (((Hugs)))

Free,

You said it took you 35 years to realize you were accepting your part in being a victim. Well, I believe that only through our suffering can we reach enlightenment. IF we are receptive, accepting of ourselves and a willingness to change, to be flexible with our newfound knowledge, our experiences only then can we CHOOSE to stay on the path of righteousness

It’s not the time it took for you to love yourself, to understand how important a person you are and that you never, ever deserved to be victimized, but it’s the FACT that you finally KNOW you are. That you became resolved in searching for the truth, however painful that may be (but oh so liberating, eh?) and in the process of seeking, you now realize WHO you are, maybe broken but still a radiant, wonderful woman.

I believe that each of us has our own specific journey through life, and it’s how we utilize the lessons we learn from our experiences, whether positive or negative, to evolve into finer human beings. To serve a purpose, whatever that purpose is for each of us.

Hey, there are many folks who simply refuse to grow, to evolve, they choose to live in a perpetual state of denial to the truth, and I can’t imagine going back to that type of existence EVER! We are who we are. And I do thank the Lord for granting me eyes that now see, ears that now hear, and a heart that has always felt deeply, but focused on wrong, undeserving people. And you know the saying—better to have loved, than to never have loved at all—? To be capable of deep, pure love, the most powerful force in the universe, of people, critters, nature, music, art, everything in this beautiful world is a BILLION times more fulfilling, profound than the empty, hollow, shallow, miserable existence of Psychopaths. Oh, I don’t doubt for one single minute that they are miserable creatures. They simply don’t have the capacity for introspection, self-evaluation to comprehend the truth.

Thank you for sharing your insight, your wisdom, your struggle for self-affirmation with me and LoveFraud. I DO value you and don’t you forget it!! *hug*

alohatraveler

Free,

Trust your instincts about RED FLAGS…

Remember… NO CONTACT.

wink wink

Aloha

I just reread my comment and I sound like a preachy, little know-it-all! Get over myself, right? Wasn’t my intention at all. These are beliefs I’ve learned from 3 years of search & discover from every avenue possible. Especially from daily, hourly prayer.

I have healed my spirit, my heart from the damage wrought by the nefarious lovers/family members in my life. It takes a determination of will and constant internal coaching on my part to maintain my self love.

Nevertheless, just last year I was involved with 2 men who may or may not have personality disorders, but the signs were there, glaring at me in bright yellow neon, and I couldn’t avoid them. I left both of them without a backward glance early on in the dating period. One of them had the audacity to call me back 2 weeks after I left, using as an excuse that I left a dvd at his house. How insulting to my intelligence his action was! I flat out told him to never call me again for as long as he lives!! And…he didn’t. I guess he was on the less crazy making level of personality disorders…haha.

I know I’ll never be completely immune to duplicity, deception from bad folks. But, if I think I’m being deceived, I’ll split. No explanations, no stated reasons. Just…by-by.

James

OxDrover

Thanks for pointing this out in the bible. I too see so much of humanity and the human factor in it. Great book guess that’s why it the number one best seller now and for years to come! Two of my favorite personalities (lack for a better word) are King David and Joseph. How I loved to read their story and what inspiration they gave me concerning my own life.

alohatraveler

Free,

I was referring to your “friend” on the other thread.

No Contact.

:o)

Beverly

JaneSmith, I thought that what you had written was eloquently put – the good intention was uppermost and evident. No-one is immune from a brush with someone with personality disorder given that they are opportunists.

Unfortunately the romantic veneer they spin at the beginning of the relationship is all part of the ‘grooming’, this becomes the FOG that confuses and disorientates us. Luckily you sidestepped straight out of it – Ha, mine used that phony ‘Ive left something round your house’ trick!!

Free, Yikes, girl, we were all watching – you know where you are truly supported ((hugs)) –

Beverly

I like that ‘evolve dont revolve’ . But of course testing that we have truly evolved comes in different formats, some of which is not to be taken THAT seriously.

Beverly

Speaking of humour – I had this picture in my mind – thousands of cartoon eyes in the dark, all blinking and watching – and wondering what was coming next!!. (((Hugs)))

Beverly

Dear Free. LOL Dont be embarrassed, WE were all watching, but we KNOW what is right. One thing I learnt from the narcissist – master of manipulation and cunning, is that sometimes NO REPLY is the strongest reply you can make to avoid taking the bait and assessing what the ‘climate’ is. It is always easiest to see into the ‘circle’ when you are standing outside of it. We have all been there!!! LOL

Beverly

I say ‘WE’ in collective terms, because I value the insights and wisdom of the collective of people here. Love and hugs to you all.

Beverly

I learnt alot about personal power from the Narcissist. From someone who hasnt got much going for him, he knew how to manipulate every action to make himself look so important and me to be the downtrodden. I am not saying that I would manipulate in the same way that he did, but I realise that he must have been an astute watcher of people – assessing their motivations, their inadequacies and tapping into that.

He had the ability to cause ‘tremours’ in the relationship by doing or saying the smallest of things. I also realised that because I sometimes reacted to these tremours, that it gave him the ‘feedback’ he wanted. Like an exchange of energy/current that feeds the other person. If that makes sense.

Beverly

People say that you can learn from experience – and of course that is true. But what is also true, is that each experience comes with a different ‘hat’ on. So the real experience comes in applying what we have learnt to the experiences in all its different disguises.

Beverly

My ex narcissist TOLD me at the start, he was a ‘watcher’. Now I know exactly what he means. I cant tell you what job he does, but he has authority over difficult unruly people, so he KNOWS where his powerplay is, when to act, when not to act, when to humiliate, when to threaten. He uses his physical persona to his advantage. He knows his boundaries VERY WELL and uses it to his advantage in his work and his relationships. many men are more much ofeit (spelling!) with their personal boundaries, as men are more usually self contained and women are more usually expansive to others.

Beverly

Sorry to go off on a tangent, but this is where I think I/women need to get the feminine (intuition) side and the masculine side (doing) side working in harmony. I.e. its no good having the intuition (feminine) if we dont ACT (masculine) to protect ourselves.

Beverly

Having said that – that is why NO CONTACT is the strongest statement you can make to someone with personality disorder. There is HUGE protective power in NO RESPONSE, because there is no exchange of energy. You are VALUING and CHOOSING where to put your precious energy.

Beverly

My exN in his extreme way, had NO problem saying ‘NO’ to people or situations, and often without any justification. When people really listen to your ‘NO’, then your ‘YES’ holds much more weight. Like your ex, mine messed around with my head, he gave me hints that he might have gay tendencies and also he was brought up with women, so his male role model (his father) was brutal. But in this situation they learn to disconnect from their true selves (splitting) and they learn to manipulate, just like children who ‘pay’ you back, or pay anyone else back for their inner anger. I believe this is the root of alot of antisocial behaviour, vandalism, it is inner anger externalised on society.

I think the best thing I have learnt is to take time to assess the ‘climate’ of what the other person means/wants, before making any reaction or committments. And most importantly TUNE IN to your instincts, your radar, because however your mind can be befuddled, your instincts, your intuition is a true radar.

Beverly

And as women (and men), we maybe still learning how to assert our boundaries, but our intuition is one of our greatest assets.

rperk6069

Free,
You absolutely should not be embarrased. You seem to be a very kind, caring and compassionate woman and what I saw was you sincerely trying to help someone. Very unfortunate and a bit scary.

Reading the posts about the P’s having gay tendencies, my ex once put on my mini skirt. It was so weird and I have to say freaked me out quite a bit, especially when he got…ummm….hard. He brought it up in a couple of conversations saying he would like to try it again. Now, why would I want to see him in my mini skirt a second time when the first time was bad enough? A visual I know I can live without. Does anyone know why they have these tendencies?

Rperk-

Those fetishes, well I think it’s aabout objectifying sex. It’s an act, a different flavor, person, behavior…..

There’s an entry on this site stating Psychos are neither, gay or straight….it makes sense.

hummingbird1418

Jane Smith.

To be capable of deep, pure love, the most powerful force in the universe, of people, critters, nature, music, art, everything in this beautiful world is a BILLION times more fulfilling, profound than the empty, hollow, shallow, miserable existence of Psychopaths. Oh, I don’t doubt for one single minute that they are miserable creatures. They simply don’t have the capacity for introspection, self-evaluation to comprehend the truth

I do believe that psychopaths do not enjoy their miserable existence. I also believe that they do not have a conscience or the ability to evaluate their lives. They don’t see the damage that they have done to the innocent victims that they have left behind. They just move on to the next victim and start the process all over again. It would be nice to warn the next person who falls for his charms and advice, but I know that I didn’t listen. I thought that everyone didn’t know him like I did and didn’t understand him. BLAH!!!!!

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